Tag Archives: aliens

Something Wicked presents A Cold Tomorrow

I host a lot of authors here. It’s something I enjoy, and it’s occasionally paid off when I need a place to promote one of my new stories. It’s even more enjoyable when it’s one of my friends. Mae Clair and I go way back, and we’re both members of Story Empire.

The Something Wicked tour involves all of the Story Empire crowd taking our show on the road and spreading the word about our personal work. I hope you’ll make Mae feel welcome and check out:

The Hopkinsville Goblins

Thanks for hosting me today, Craig! It’s fun to be here with your readers kicking off my fourth stop of Story Empire’s Something Wicked Blog Tour.

October is a fun time that brings plenty of shivers as we draw closer to Halloween, our mind naturally drawn to ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. But not all goblins are of the supernatural variety.

On a summer night in August of 1955, Billy Ray Taylor, a native of Pennsylvania was visiting his friend, Lucky Sutton of Kentucky. Lucky lived on a farm tucked between the towns of Kelly and Hopkinsville, a rural homestead that lacked electricity and running water. At some point during the evening, Billy hiked outside to get a drink of water from the well. In the process he glimpsed a shining object which descended from the sky and landed in a gully a quarter mile away.

white house with picket fence on a moonlit night in the countryside

When Billy returned to the homestead, he excitedly shared his tale, but the Sutton family laughed off the story. Not long afterward, the family dog broke into a crazy raucous before vanishing under the porch where it remained in hiding until the next day. Armed with rifles, Billy and Lucky headed outdoors to investigate. In the front yard, they encountered a bizarre creature with “large eyes, a long thin mouth, large ears, thin short legs, and hands ending in claws.” The being was unlike any they had ever seen before, short in stature, gremlin-like in appearance.

Both men unloaded their guns. They later insisted they couldn’t have missed their target at such close range, but the creature slipped away, vanishing into the surrounding woods. Billy and Lucky returned to the house, where they barricaded themselves inside.

In a short while, more creatures appeared. They gaped through the windows and grappled at the screens, trying to gain access to the house. The men unloaded ammo repeatedly. It took several hours before family members were able to escape and seek help from the sheriff’s department.

When they arrived at the Sutton farm, the sheriff and his men found no evidence of the goblin-like creatures but couldn’t deny there were holes blown through the walls and screens where bullets had penetrated. All officers reported the Suttons were sober and seemed genuinely terrified by something. They eventually left the farm around 2:15 in the morning.

Almost immediately, the goblin-like creatures descended again, peeking in windows and trying to gain entry. The strange events finally came to a halt shortly before dawn. At a loss for explanation, not knowing what else to do, the sheriff summoned the Air Force.

The story made headline news, prompting many to speculate the Suttons had fabricated a hoax. But they gained nothing from the publicity, and neighbors collaborated their reports of “lights in the sky.” All of the adults who witnessed the event−Billy and Lucky among them−gave the exact same account of events when questioned separately. There are even reports of a highway trooper citing “meteor-like objects” flying overhead around 11PM that night. Additionally, there is mention of “an odd luminous patch along a fence where one of the beings had been shot, and, in the woods beyond, a green light whose source could not be determined.”

Years later, each family member remained firm in their story, no evidence of a hoax ever discovered. Interestingly, the U.S. Air Force has denied any involvement, but it has led many to believe the events of August 21, 1955, were those of an authentic UFO encounter.

I’ve always been fascinated by stories of UFOs and extraterrestrial beings. You’ll meet more than one alien in my novel, A Cold Tomorrow, but they are far from the Hopkinsville Goblin variety. I invite you to journey to Point Pleasant, where documented accounts of UFOs, Men in Black, and strange visitors once made national headlines. Although A Cold Tomorrow, is book 2 of my Point Pleasant series, it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Banner Ad for A Cold tomorrow by Mae Clair features road through a meadow near few trees and foggy in forest at night

Blurb:

Where secrets make their home…

Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events. But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive….

UNIVERSAL PURCHASE LINK

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

bio box for author Mae Clair

Craig here again. I’ve read the entire Point Pleasant series and can vouch highly for it. It would be perfect for your Halloween reading, but holds up well at other times of the year, too. Make our day and use those sharing buttons.

We’d love to hear from you in the comments, too. Do any of you live near Hopkinsville or Point Pleasant?

Side note: Today is my birthday. As my gift, please consider picking up any of the titles on the Something Wicked tour this week. (Doesn’t have to be mine.) I know you’ll enjoy them.

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Something Wicked: The Astral Conspiracy Series

Your Story Empire authors are on tour this week. It’s my great pleasure to host Staci Troilo today, but she’s incognito. This series is published under one of her pen names. Make her feel welcome, and share this on your social media if you can. I’ve read this one and think it’s awesome.

Thanks for welcoming me here today, Craig.

The Gate

Ciao, amici! For the last two days in the Story Empire Something Wicked tour, I discussed some of the ancient lore woven into my Astral Conspiracy series (specifically the first book, The Gate).

Today, I’m going in the other direction.

My series is a combination of ancient history and futuristic tech. It’s time to delve into the futuristic tech part.

Science fiction can be a fascinating genre, with story worlds as rich and complex as the fantasy genre. But instead of magical realms filled with dragons, elves, and ogres, we’re looking at medical, communication, and transportation advancements.

A Typical Unwatering

Photo Attribution: Phylyp [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

There’s a trick to writing sci-fi tech that fantasy writers don’t necessarily need to concern themselves with, though. And that’s believability. To an extent. Let me explain.

In every novel (set in “real life” or not), readers have certain expectations about what the world is like. Obviously, the real life stuff is easy enough to deal with—research the time period or, if it’s contemporary, design the story-world to be like what you encounter every day. Fantasy worlds are limited only by their imaginations. If they want something to be a certain way, they only have to attribute it to magic. (Most fantasy fiction has an element of magic in it.) It’s a little different for sci-fi.

Science fiction has “science” right in its name. That means the author has to rely on scientific principles, or the readers won’t buy into the story. Those principles can be pushed well beyond our current bounds, but everything has to be rooted in science fact.

Take, for example, worm holes (a favorite subject of mine, and if you’re interested, you can read more here). Einstein proved worm holes are theoretically plausible. Do we have the technology to use them now? Not even close. But they’re a possibility authors can use in science fiction because the theory is rooted in proven fact.

In the Invasion Universe, a lot of scientific technology is introduced. Some things, like self-driving cars and holographic entertainment, are easy for readers to accept. We’re on the cusp of those technologies becoming commonplace, anyway. Other things (like intergalactic space travel and medical mesh that heals injuries) are barely on our radar.

So, how do writers get away with these advancements?

Simple. It’s a matter of introduction.

Things that take a lot more explanation and suspension of reader belief are better introduced as alien technology instead of human invention. That way, readers aren’t bogged down with trying to understand something that isn’t logically explicable. (It’s kind of the scientific version of the magical workaround fantasy authors can use.)

It doesn’t have to be that way. But it helps. It’s a solution I relied on to make things more acceptable to my readers.

How a sci-fi author handles writing about advanced tech will inevitably vary. The most important thing is to not get lost in techno-babble. Readers don’t want or need a four-page description of how something functions. Fiction is an immersive experience. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. You want to experience this world just as you experience our reality. In real life, you don’t get a dissertation anytime you use technology. You turn on your television and expect to watch a show. You aren’t told how that happens (and thank God for that); you just trust that it will.

That’s the most organic way to introduce technological advancements in fiction. The characters live with it, so they know what it does and don’t over-think it (or maybe don’t think about it at all). And if the characters come across alien tech, they would discuss it in their own terms. They might marvel at what it does, but they won’t take it apart to learn how it works.

Save that kind of writing for instruction manuals.

There is a lot of advanced technology in my novel, The Gate, book one of my Astral Conspiracy series. I think I introduced these advancements in a believable and organic way. If you’re interested in seeing how I handled it, I encourage you to read the book.


The Gate

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

The Gate is the first of five novels in the Astral Conspiracy Series, part of Sterling and Stone’s Invasion Universe.

Universal Purchase Link

***

That’s some awesome advice that goes beyond science fiction. Thanks for that Staci. We’re all on tour today, and we’d appreciate you finding us and checking out our posts. I’m over at Staci’s today, by pure coincidence of the schedule, if you really miss me.

Connect with Staci online:

Website | Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads | Social Media

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Something Wicked: The Colony Series

Welcome to another day of the Story Empire, Something Wicked blog tour. Today it’s my pleasure to host Harmony Kent and her Colony Series.

Harmony is a big supporter of all authors, so make her feel welcome here today while it’s her turn to shine.

Hello everyone, Harmony here. Thanks for hosting me today, Craig! It’s great to visit with you and your readers to kick off my second stop on Story Empire’s Something Wicked Blog Tour. In keeping with the scary theme, I’d like to visit the world of Exxon, where settlers on a new planet discover they’re not alone …

The situation is desperate, and every decision could mean the difference between life and death. What would you be willing to do to survive?

After writing my latest novel, FALLOUT, I fell in love with the world of Exxon so much that I jumped straight into writing a brand new trilogy, The Colony Series. Here, we revisit Exxon 1 roughly 500 years after the Fallout and the crazy president. The population of all six Exxon planets find themselves struggling to survive in the worst over-crowding crisis in history. The desperate rush to find new planets to colonize means that corners are cut and proper checks are not made. Added to that, those in power failed completely to anticipate the lengths that a despairing and distraught population would be willing to go to so that they could ensure a place on the next mission.

 

What happens when your damaged ship lands on a lonely planet and the natives are not freindly?

About the Series:

Exodus

 

The situation is desperate, and every decision could mean the difference between life and death. What would you be willing to do to survive?

The year is 3570.

The Exxon system has become dangerously overcrowded. The conditions desperate.

Hurriedly, the Exxon Co puts together a mission to occupy and tame three newly discovered planets on the outer edges of settled space. Unfortunately, the company didn’t realise what people would be willing to do to secure a place on the mission. Neither could they predict just what the humans would find when they finally reached their destination.

Sabotage leaves Isla and her team in a bad fix. And when they nurse the damaged ship to an unplanned-for planet and crash land, they soon discover they’re not alone.

With help at least ten months away, can the settlers survive this latest conflict?

 

If you enjoyed FALLOUT, you’ll love The Colony Series.

 

 

The Colony

In this second book of the series, the settlers make it to C3, only to find alien life on the planet.

The natives are not friendly.

The humans find themselves plunged into a brutal fight for survival.

Meanwhile, the sabotage and in-fighting that broke out on-board ship in Exodus is far from over.

Is this the end for the settlers?

 

 

 

 

Upheaval

In this third book of the series, it’s a new team and new times with new agendas.

The replacement leadership breaks the tenuous peace agreement so arduously fought for in The Colony. Canlore is thrown into war once more.

The relief ship was supposed to bring deliverance. Instead, all it brought was more politics and change.

Can anyone make it through the upheaval?

 

 

 

 

 

To get a notification when this series goes on sale, please follow Harmony’s Amazon Author Page.

_______________________________________________

About Harmony:

After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.

Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.

Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.

 

 

To Learn More About Harmony Check Out:

Website|Story Empire (co-authored) |Amazon Author Page |

Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads | BookBub |

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It’s a brain purge

I woke up this morning with a new character in my head. I have to get rid of her, because I have too much going on right now.

The bulk of this summer is going to be gearing up to release two books before the end of the year, and I already have multiple characters waiting their turns.

The next project has to be The HMS Lanternfish, so after I get everything beat into shape I can work on it. There are several more stories in my mind for Lizzie and the the hat, too.

So here we have this girl who is ten years or less. In my dream, she was on a bicycle that looked like it came right out of the seventies. Banana seat, tall handlebars, maybe some bolt on extras. She was a daredevil of some kind. In my dream she jumped her bike over a UPS truck. I’m not so sure we had UPS in the 70s, so maybe she has a second-hand bike. That could build a bit of family relationship and background for her.

She made kind of a signature move that I can’t quite describe. Maybe one of you will know how. She pursed her lips, then moved her lips to the side. (Is there better language for that?) Then she squinted her eyes before launching herself down the ramp.

I don’t exactly know what kind of trouble she gets into, but I suspect space invaders were involved in a small town setting. Those darned alarm clocks spoil everything.

I’ve written children, girls, and period pieces before, so I’m up to the task. I just don’t have time for her antics right now. I’m hacking this out in hopes that she goes away. If she refuses, I might have to deal with her one day.

Old What’s Her Face and I are going to try to go camping over a long weekend. If I seem a little unresponsive, it’s because I don’t have wifi or cell service. I’ll catch up with everyone when I get home.

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Science Fiction: The Gate

Staci Troilo is one of my closest author friends. She’s got something new for all of us under her pen-name of D. L. Cross. Let’s make her feel welcome and share this around today.

“No Idea” Excerpt from New Sci-Fi Novel: THE GATE

Thanks for inviting me here today. I’m excited to share an excerpt from The Gate, Book 1 of the Astral Conspiracy series in the Invasion Universe. 

Excerpt:

“You do realize I’ve never done this before. I have no idea what’ll happen up there.”

“You better hope it’s what I want to happen. Or you won’t be coming back down.”

Landon gulped, no longer certain he’d made the right choice to stay on Lorena’s behalf. So far, the mercs had been more or less gentlemanly toward her. She’d probably walk out of this ordeal alive. 

The same couldn’t be said about him.

They followed a path around the mountainside, but in the opposite direction of the gate. The trail started at a gentle rise but grew steeper as they ascended. About an hour into their trek, Lorena stopped at the entrance to a cave. 

A chill of foreboding skittered up Landon’s spine. The side of the mountain wasn’t carved, but damn if it didn’t look like it had been — into the shape of a face. It took no imagination to see large eyes, pointed cheekbones, and a thin nose above a gaping maw. Not just any mouth. 

The cave mouth.

A hell mouth.

Smoke trailed from the opening, the beast belching odoriferous brimstone from the bowels of perdition.

Landon’s muscles tensed, primed to run.

Wolf’s beefy fingers pressed into his flesh, bruising his shoulder. “Uh-uh, Professor. You’re not going anywhere. This was your idea, remember?”

Lorena yelled something that was carried away on the wind. Before Landon, or anyone else, could ask for clarification, shadows swelled in the opening of the cave. Despite the chill at that elevation, flop sweat formed on his brow and dripped down his face. He swiped at the salty perspiration stinging his eyes, then he squinted into the cave mouth. The shadow got darker, longer …

Then a man stepped onto the plateau.

Lorena approached him. They placed their hands on each other’s shoulders and bowed slightly until their foreheads touched. After a brief pause, they separated. Then she turned toward the group. “This is Eduardo, my grandfather. He is the shaman who will guide us on our spiritual journey. He bids us welcome.” 

“Grandfather?” Wolf muttered. “Feels like we’re being taken advantage of.”

“How?” Landon asked.

“I’m sure we’ll see soon enough.”

Tex ignored them, talking over their discussion and approaching Lorena. “You speak English?” 

“Obviously.”

“Why didn’t you say so?”

“Why didn’t you ask?” She smiled then gestured as an invitation for them to enter.

Tex led the group toward the cave mouth.

“Welcome,” Eduardo said. “Allow me to introduce you to Mother Ayahuasca.”

Blurb:

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

Universal Purchase Link | More Information | Invasion Universe Newsletter

Bio:

D.L. Cross has loved science fiction ever since she was a young girl and fell for Major Don West on television’s Lost in Space. To this day, she still quotes the show, though her favorite lines were spoken by the robot and the antagonist. Parallel universes or alternate realities, aliens or dinosaurs, superpowers or super viruses, time travel or AI… no sci-fi theme is off limits and all of them fascinate her. D.L. Cross also writes other genre fiction under the name Staci Troilo, and you can find more information about all her identities and all her work at her website: https://stacitroilo.com.

 

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The Idea Mill #33

It’s been a while since we strolled down to the old Idea Mill to see what it’s been grinding out. For those of you new to these posts, they are the kind of things that might feed your Muse. As a speculative fiction author, I choose things that are a bit strange.

Our first story is from India, where an electrician unearthed the carcass of an animal. Not just any animal either, this one appears at first glance to be a dinosaur. That’s cool, you might say, except this one has flesh on it. Anything that’s been dead for 65 million years or so should not have anything that isn’t fossilized.

There is some speculation in the article that it’s an aborted goat fetus. I don’t buy it, because that tail is pretty long, it appears to have canine style teeth, and there is one point where you can see through the sinus cavity. It was less than a foot long which seems to eliminate a dog of some kind. You can read the article for yourself. It has the picture, which I will not steal from them.

If you need a story with dinosaurs in the modern world, this is your foot in the door. This article likely spread pretty wide regardless of what it turns out to be. I believe fiction folks should try to stay close to the possible before asking readers for that leap of faith. A quick reference to the discovery in India and you’re off to the races. Maybe this can be used to explain the disappearance of the lost colony of Roanoke. Fictionally, find a few more of these all over the world and you’re set.

You could make them alien in origin too pretty easily. Ancient sailors used to plant food animals on islands they might return to one day. Maybe the aliens did this too, and they’re going to return.

Next we have a strange burial of a bunch of cauldrons. They were placed in a semicircular ditch and buried. Keep in mind that cauldrons were likely extremely valuable way back when. Valuable enough to be passed down from daughter to daughter. Iron was not something easily available, so access to it would not have been an everyday occurrence. I have no evidence to support my theory, but a cauldron was likely a major investment for a family back then.

There is some speculation about a feast in the article, which you can read here.

What would lead multiple families to part with such a valuable item? Keep in mind that cauldrons are also something referenced in witchcraft. Could this have been some kind of Christian oppression? Are there the ashes of women in them from their burnings at the stake? Could this have been the site of a powerful ancient ritual, the result of which rendered the cauldrons unusable? These might be good stories to tell.

What if the story is of the recent discovery? Could there still be some ancient magic living around this site? Maybe something best left undisturbed? Maybe the only way to keep the demon down is to put the cauldrons back… in exactly the same way they were originally placed. This could lead to some fun puzzle solving for your characters.

Our next story might not fuel everyone’s Muse, but I dig it. It’s about rosewood being given a new status on the CITES list. It’s becoming endangered. This is an important wood for stringed instruments, and now musicians are worried about crossing international borders, in some cases with instruments that are hundreds of years old. This has led to illegal logging, smuggling, and over 150 deaths. Check out the article here. The culprit is a desire for rosewood furniture in China.

People love unique settings and situations. Smugglers, killers, and jungles are great things to pepper into an adventure story. Add a few dangerous animals, maybe some tiny dinosaurs from the first article and take to the jungles. Maybe your adventurer is a musician and you can add a unique element to the character. Tie it back to China by rescuing a few Asian rhinos.

Finally, we have a story that Russian Cosmonauts swabbed the outside of the International Space Station and found bacteria. The speculation is that this is an alien life form. There is a chance that it’s a contaminant from Earth and it’s capable of surviving in space, but where is the fun in that? You can read the story for yourselves.

I like this one, because it reminds me of Jason Fogg’s origin story. You can read it in my first Experimental Notebook. There are all kinds of possibilities for something coming from outer space. Start your zombie apocalypse right here folks. Maybe a new kind of plague, or one that’s happened before, that now has a new explanation.

Maybe you prefer limiting the outbreak to the International Space Station. One of the important pieces of a good horror story is isolation and being a long way from help. How about being quarantined in space with people who now want to shake your spinal fluid into a cocktail before dinner?

One of the fun parts of the Idea Mill is laying down some plot points of a story that is based on all the articles. I’ve got to tell you this isn’t an easy group to use in one story, but I’ll give it a shot.

A young botanist is sent to the jungles to make a count of the rosewood trees. She runs into smugglers, but there is something wrong with them. They are terrified of the small dinosaurs that are picking them off like plagues of locust. One of the smugglers takes her to the site of a meteor crash. This reveals a seeding of some sort that brought the dinosaurs to our planet… once again.

Lots of running bleeding and shooting later, she discovers a site that’s been looted by treasure hunters. The only way to get rid of the dinosaurs is to repeat an ancient ritual and bury the cauldrons in a specific pattern. However she must run the looters down to determine what patterns the cauldrons were buried in. Can she do it in time, before the dinos spread all over the globe? Ticking clocks etc. Oh, and let’s add some stress by making her a concert cellist who damaged her hands to the point she cannot play. This will give her something to struggle with against the ethics of protecting the trees that provide her lovely instruments.

So what would you do with these as inspiration for your own stories? Do any of them trip your trigger? Share some ideas in the comments, I’d love to read them.

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Vivid dreaming last night

This doesn’t happen every night, but when it does it’s usually interesting. Here is the dream I woke up from last night. Oh, and the extra spacing at the beginning is on purpose. So is the last word.

***

Cybernet Library Access Point……………………

 

General Public Profile…………………..

 

Sarah,

I stole this computer from an abandoned library. Dogs are howling down the street, so I don’t have much time.

Wind is from the west, but I can’t smell them yet. They must be east of me. I hope they’re east of me. I won’t let them get their tentacles on the baby again, I promise you that. Little Bit is fine, but she misses her mommy.

I’m going to head north, then veer west. We might make the safe zone in three days, two if we’re lucky. Whatever you do, stay in the safe zone.

The howling is getting louder. We’ve got to go. Love you.

PS: Hope they aren’t monitoring the library sy

2001 A Space Odyssey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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The Bete goes on, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonHey all you space jockeys and interplanetary folks, and particularly cat lovers today, you’ve just landed on Lisa Burton Radio, the only show out there that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and my special guest today is Darma. She’s a nineteen your old scientist who crash landed on an unexplored planet. “Welcome to the show, Darma.”

“Yo.”

“It seems like you guys are doing okay, and making the best of this new planet. My bio says you made friends with someone called the Bete. What can you tell us about your new friends?”

“They’re pretty damn capable, y’know. Decisive, practical. They respect intelligence. Sure, they’ve got some extra abilities. Each of them can do useful stuff like finding and telepathy, firestarting. Truthsense. Teleporting. And K’Ti is incredible at healing. She fixed my shattered hand like that. It’s totally true, Lisa. And, then, there’s the Prime, those that can also change into usually a badass animal. But really, what could be sexier than hanging out with someone who could, at any moment, turn into a gorgeous black panther. I mean, what a thrill. And they are bad to the bone. Xander’s the strongest, as the dragon, but I’ve got a soft spot for the panther.”

“It seems odd to form friendships with people who are so different. I’m guessing they aren’t all that different, are they?”

“Really, I don’t get what the big deal is, Lisa. Most of the time, they’re just like anyone else and the folks that seem to be weirded out are just overreacting. Sometimes they’re stupid kids, like Laren, pig-headed and quick to fight. Sometimes they’re insufferable bores like Cil. They’ve got dark sides and flaws just like you and me. And the way they’re treated by some of the humans, it’s no wonder so many of them we’re keeping at arms’ length until, y’know, I started walking through walls and then I, well, turned into a Kula tiger. Even Laren’s impressed when I do both at the same time. Anyway, Lisa, they had grown to accept me even before all that, but I think it helps I’m in the same boat with the rest of them.”

“That sounds pretty cool to me. How did you acquire your abilities?”

“K’Ti’s the one that spotted it. K’Ti knew it as a magic enhancer from the old planet, even out in the wild, but the rest of the Bete were clueless. Then the explorers said it was a known mutagen that caused enhanced talents and shapeshifting abilities if you eat enough of it. Well, it grows like mad upstream of the river so it’s in fish and game, the water. Only a matter of time before some of the humans were going to find out they weren’t so human. Couple already have and I’m one of ’em. Though, so far, I’m the only Prime, y’know, a shapeshifter.”

“How do the rest of the survivors feel about the Bete?”

“It depends and a lot of it depends on where you came from on the world we grew up on. People like the Captain and my teacher, Corrina Pensa, they’re more fascinated and impressed, maybe grateful the Bete have been willing to fight on our side. And me. They’re actively supporting the Bete, helping to protect them.

“Then, Lisa, there are a whole bunch of kids who grew up in the cities back home and never even heard of the Bete or magic like K’Ti’s. I don’t know that they have an opinion, yet. Just depends on who makes the compelling story.

“But there are some that are freaking fanatics. Folks that grew up in the fringes within range of the Bete camp, people who might have a stray mutant show up in their own village. If they found one, they’d kill them out of hand, first chance. Laren, I mentioned him early, the panther? He was one of those but his mother, when she found out, instead of turning him in, tried to keep it a secret. When her village found out, they chained him up to die outside the village where the dire wolves and wild Kula tigers roam, while they tortured his mother to death. Just for hiding his nature. While he listened, Lisa. He was eight years old. These people are wild-eyed fanatics and what they lack in numbers, they make up for in zeal. I mean, these folks are scary.

“When the rumor went around after we crashed that K’Ti was healing people—healing people—some of them came to attack and would have raped her and who knows what if the Bete hadn’t stopped them.”

“I’ll never understand why everyone can’t just get along. Your abilities could be a real benefit to the whole community if everyone would just embrace that.”

“K’Ti—she’s only sixteen but she’s wise beyond her years—says that someday we’ll all be Bete we’ll just end up hating ourselves, but what it really is, Lisa, is just dumb. It’s like being human, to some Bete, or being Bete, to some humans, would tell you all you need to know, but that’s not it. Everybody’s a person, an individual. Kert is a doofus and so is Laren, but they’re both good people. In the end, who you are is a lot more important than what you are.”

“I know, right. Believe me, I’ve been the outsider, and people don’t react too well to a robot girl sometimes. Maybe a new planet is a better place to live the way you want.”

“Well, it wasn’t that easy. Crash landing on an unknown planet, we weren’t really ready for it, you know. Carnivorous plants—K’Ti helped identify those—packs of attacking wolves and the bugs. You think you’ve seen it all until you’re face to face with an ant as tall as you are riding a freaking dragonfly as big as a small dragon when all you’ve got to defend yourself is a dull machete. That was the Klixit, Lisa. Wouldn’t want to do that again. I mean, we worked something out, but for a while there, it looked pretty hopeless. Then we had to deal with other bugs. Smaller, but deadly with disease.”

“That figures. You couldn’t just crash into the Planet of Eden.”

“Well, no, but, so far the climate’s been terrific and Laren found some native fauna that worship cats like gods. And we’ve got the shipcats. You ever heard of shipcats, Lisa? They are so cool. Specially bred for space travel, they pick people and can communicate with them. And those little buggers are damn fine fighters including a neurotoxin in their venom. That’s right, venom. Don’t get on their bad sides. Since Laren and I are both cats in our other forms, we can talk to any of them.”

“Wow, cat lovers are going to dig these books. I mean shipcats, tigers, and a panther. It’s almost like a shipcat could be a familiar, since they can tell you what they see and hear. Of course, they’re cats, and aren’t prone to following directions.”

“Yeah, they help though, but only as much or in the way they want to. Rather like regular cats. Only with venom. With the ship crashed and no fuel, we’re not getting off this rock so we’re going to have to make it work here and there are still a few unanswered questions like the 10 m high flood lines and the binary pair to our planet that, I swear, is getting closer, though I haven’t verified that with readings. And there are the wolf packs that attack but smell like man—except not any of the men that came with us. Could be a whole heaping helping of trouble still to come.”

“Cats and dogs are natural enemies. Maybe not a problem for the others, but you and Laren should be careful. Any closing comments for our listeners today?”

“In the meantime, I’ve got my hands full keeping Laren out of trouble, helping us develop useful inventions for our nascent colony and flouting Bete and human traditions in turn. Gonna be a heckuva ride, I’m betting. Wouldn’t miss it.”

“If you’d like to learn more about Darma and the Bete, pick up copies of The Beast Within and Nine Lives, by Stephanie Barr.

 

“Don’t forget to help me pay the bills around here, by using those sharing buttons today. Darma and Stephanie would do the same for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

There should never have been a space battle, certainly not one that sent my ship full of fleeing children across the whole damn universe. Nor was I prepared to land on a planet I knew nothing about and would never be able to escape. But of all the things I wasn’t prepared for, it was to find myself dependent on a tiny group of shapeshifting magic users among the refugees, shapeshifters hated by my own fellow humans and yet the only chance any of us had to survive.

I have now seen the shapeshifters, called the Bete, organize and build when we were still chaos inside my ship, even though we had adults and they didn’t. I have seen them repulse the horrific foes that wander this new world. change into fantastic beasts for our protection, and even heal our wounds.

I’m told they are demons and monsters that cannot be trusted, and yet, I have found that our fate relies not only on this group but the leadership and judgment of a boy half my age and many times my power. How am I to hate him? Who is really the beast in this?

The “demon” that saves us or the hatred that divides us?

The “demon” that saves us or the hatred that divides us?

I clearly did not bring enough whisky.

Some language and violence.

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Of all the ridiculous turn of events, that hot-headed interloper, Laren, took charge when a flurry of crises descended. Our leader was downed by some unknown disease, our healer mauled in our leader’s delirium, and the humans, as I always suspected, were gearing for war to take us out.

But Laren has discarded his only redeeming quality, his overwhelming distrust and hatred for humanity. That engineer human, is undoubtedly the cause, seducing that cat with her reason. Who would have expected that Laren, known for his short temper, would react with logic and caution as we tried to prevent the disease from taking out our most powerful Bete, save our leader and the healer, both in critical condition, and deal with the human camp, now under the power of those who consider us demons?

I’m not saying Laren wanted to be leader, but he stood firm when older and wiser heads, like mine, argued to leave the humans to their own self-destruction. And Bete and humans alike backed him, including his girlfriend who is now a Bete like us. What will happen now that he plans to attack the humans head-on, rescuing those that are friendly and putting a stop to the faction that wants to take us down? What is with all these new powers the Bete and even some humans are developing? What does this mean for our future?

Surely that stupid cat is not fit to lead us. So, why is he doing so damn well?

Sequel to Beast Within. Contains some language and violence.

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Stephanie BarrAlthough Stephanie Barr is a slave to three children and a slew of cats, she actually leads a double life as a part time novelist and full time rocket scientist. People everywhere have learned to watch out for fear of becoming part of her stories. Beware! You might be next!

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Take a fun quiz to find out which of Stephanie’s protagonist’s you’re most like here.

Take this fun quiz to find out which of Stephanie’s books best suits you.

Stephanie maintains two additional blogs, one dedicated to rocket science, and one dedicated to manga.

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Galactic Cruise Lines, on Lisa Burton Radio

Hold on to your hats everyone. You've found Lisa Burton Radio, the only show in the universe that interviews the characters from the books you love. I'm your host, Lisa the robot girl, and with me in the studio today is Henri, the Executive Chef on Galactic Cruise Lines' ship the SS Malpais.

What you can't see, is that Henri is an Alturan. He's nearly seven feet tall, and is a cephalopod type lifeform. I'm talking tentacles all over the place, and three eye-stalks. We've been enjoying a cup of Alturan tea before the broadcast, and he's really an interesting person. “Welcome to the show, Henri.”

“Hello, Lisa. It’s good to be here. I hope you enjoyed the Bascula tea I brought. It can cause hallucinations in some species, but not Alturans. I hope it doesn’t affect you adversely.”

“Oh, don't worry about that. I don't think robot girls can get hallucinations. Now, my bio says that one of your best friends is in security for the cruise line, and that he's an Elf. I find that fascinating. How did you two meet?”

“Baudwin Llewellyn isn’t just in security, he’s Galactic Cruise Lines Chief Sleuthhound. He’s a top notch investigator. We’ve been friends for years. I’m not sure I can even remember exactly where we met. I think some friends introduced us when we were all hanging out at a suit fighting match.”

“That sounds fascinating, Henri. What's a suit fighting competition, and do you hold those on the ship too?”

“We haven’t yet hosted a suit fighting competition on the Malpais, but I may suggest that to Kat when I get back to the ship. Suit fighting features two competitors remotely controlling robots that fight each other. It used to be popular mostly with young men in the robotics community, but recently Retired General Marta Aymar, the wife of Prince Lucien of the Ventos Prime elves, made it to the league finals. Since then, the sport has become much more popular and has attracted a lot of young female fans and participants.”

“That's terrible. Those poor robots. You did get the memo that say's I'm a robot didn't you?”

“I don't believe those robots are sentient like you. They are merely remote controlled equipment.”

“Alright, back to the interview. My bio says you met in the Elf Marines, an organization similar to the French Foreign Legion. Are you sure you don't remember?”

“As I said, Chief Llewellyn and I have been friends a long time. Did you have questions about what it’s like to be a chef on a cruise ship?”

“Sorry, Henri. Let me make it up to you with this Nutribar. I picked up the anchovy flavor, I hope it's alright.”

“Thanks Lisa. We Alturans love our nutribars. This is delicious.”

“There, all better. Well if it wasn't the Elf Marines, maybe you met Chief Llewellyn at Zed23, during your spy days.”

“Zed23. Right. Do I look like James Bond to you? I’m a chef not a spy, definitely not a spy. I’m famous for my wombat stew and triple chocolate cake. Those are two of the most popular dishes on the Malpais.”

“That's part of what makes you so interesting. With all your diverse background, you still had the time to work up a five star recipe for wombat stew. I'd think wombats are hard to come by in space.”

“Not really. I can use either Mathusian or Malturan wombats in my stew. I’m not sure which is better. I’m happy to use either. Well truth be told I’m happy cooking. It doesn’t matter what or where.”

“Every boy needs a hobby, and it looks like you found a way to make yours pay the bills. Here, have another Nutribar and tell us about the murders that occurred aboard the Malpais.”

“It is dreadful to think about, isn’t it? Sometimes people die on the ship just because their time has come, but if it was murder then that’s a whole different level of awful. I’m not aware of any incidents like that on the Malpais.”

“You might find this interesting, but I reached out to Baldwin Llewelyn and Ren Listripan, both deeply involved in cruise line security, and they don't seem to know anything about murders on the Malpais either. Somehow, these passengers turned up dead, but that seems to be the only available fact.”

“The Malpais has been hosting these competition cruises this year. They’ve been great fun. We had a ballroom dance one, an acapella singing one, and my favorite the baking competition. We’ve had some excitement during the competitions, but everyone has enjoyed them. Of course, not everyone agrees on who should win in any competition. I certainly had my favorites during the baking, but you know what they say, one species’ dessert is another’s poison.”

“When I spoke with Baudwin Llewellyn he mentioned that you’re cooking all the food for his upcoming wedding. He’s marrying the Malpais’ associate cruise director Kat Mitchell, right?”

“That's right, Lisa. I’m very excited. Both Baudwin and Kat are dear friends and I’m glad to play a role in their bonding.”

“I’ve heard that there will be royalty at the wedding.”

“General Royce Aymar of the EMEF is going to be Baudwin’s best elf for the ceremony and his wife is Queen Losira. It should be a wonderful celebration.”

“It's been an honor having you here, Henri. Let's have another cup of that wonderful tea, and maybe another Nutribar. Any last thoughts for our listeners?”

“Being a chef on a Galactic Cruise Lines ship is exciting. I’ve made good friends on the ship and I enjoy cooking for so many different species.”

“Henri is a recurring character in Jo Carey’s Galactic Cruise Lines series.

“Don't forget to click those sharing links on your way out. I know Henri will appreciate it, and you will too when your character appears on a future Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

Galactic Cruise Lines – This series is basically the Love Boat in space. Set on a galactic cruise line spaceship, this series will follow assistant cruise director Kat Mitchell and other crew members, like Alturan Chef Henri, as they travel the League of Planetary Systems on themed cruises where murder is afoot (or a tentacle, or a paw…) Cruises feature various competitions in the style of Earth reality shows circa 2005.
Category: Space Cozy Mystery

Jo Carey writes faced-paced, character-driven stories in a variety of genres from medical thrillers to space operas and cozy mysteries. Her novels are action-packed tales that often feature strong female leads surrounded by plenty of hunky male heroes. Jo's stories always include healthy doses of humor and romance.

Quote from Jo: “I write what I like to read–stories with happy endings and appealing heroes and heroines.”

Some of Jo's books are set in the League of Planetary Systems, a universe created by Frank and Jo Carey as the setting for many of their books. Each Book in the League can be read as a standalone novel, but if you'd like to read all of the LPS books in order you can find the sequence at

 

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Will O’ the Wisp, on Lisa Burton Radio #RRBC

Lisa Burton

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa Burton the robot girl, and my very special guest today is Patty Hall. “Welcome to the show, Patty.”

“Thank you Miss Burton, it’s an honor to be here.”

“Oh please, call me Lisa. Tell our audience how old you are.”

“Okay, Lisa, I’m fifteen and live in rural Virginia. High School class of 1978, if I make it.”

“We’ll get to that last remark in a minute. You live with a certain disability, why don’t you tell our listeners about that. If that’s okay.”

“It’s alright. My mother makes me wear corrective leg braces. They aren’t any worse than lots of other people, and it’s embarrassing to wear them. They’ve made me a social outcast at school.”

“I wouldn’t exactly say that. You seem to have some pretty solid friends to me.”

“Pete and Laura are the best. I suppose if that’s all the friends I can have, at least I have the best.”

“I think so too. Now, you ran into a bit of trouble out in the forest, what’s that all about.”

“We’re all into star gazing. We like to look at the constellations, planets, satellites, that kind of thing. One night we saw this glowing green thingie floating through the woods. It attacked this college boy who was camping for the night. It was terrible.”

“It sounds horrible. Did you ever determine what it was?”

“It’s called a Will O’ the Wisp, and it’s more awful than you think. It went into this boy’s body and made him sick. It controlled him and made him kill my uncle. Then it made the boy drown on dry land. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like his body filled up with water and killed him.

“And that’s not the worst of it. Another one attacked one of my Mom’s friends, and she’s trying to kill me.”

“Have you told anyone about it? Maybe there’s some kind of protection available.”

“Are you kidding me. Pete and I both saw it, but nobody is going to believe us. Laura says she does, but I can tell she’s trying to be a friend. My mother would have me talking to a shrink so fast– I mean, I’m thinking about running away, but I’m afraid it would follow me.”

“You mean your mom’s friend?”

“Yeah, her, but if she drowns I think there will be another one.”

“What will you do?”

“I don’t know, I think it must be alien, but that’s as much as I know. It isn’t like H. G. Well’s virus is showing up to kill off the aliens for me. All I know is that it came from up Bergamot Holler. If I can find where it comes from, I might figure out how to stop it. Except my mother wants me to stay away from Bergamot Holler. She says weird things happen up there. I found out some of my ancestors died up there too, and one of them drowned on dry land.

“I mean, what if there’s an alien ship buried up there and they’re mad at my family? I don’t know. It’s all making my hair fall out, and my nose bleed.”

“It sounds dangerous to me too. It would be hard walking through the woods with leg braces, then doing it at night with something dangerous in the woods.”

“I’m kind of used to it. The woods are where we watch for satellites. My mother is making me wear these things to the Homecoming dance. I don’t even want to go, but she’s forcing me. It’s embarrassing to show up without a date. I mean, who’s going to ask the girl with braces? Then if anyone dances with me it will just be to make a joke or show off to their friends.”

“Maybe she knows you can’t go back and do it later. High School is kind of a one shot deal.”

“No thank you. I’d rather wait until college. I’ll be out of these stupid braces then. That’s assuming I live that long.”

“So what would you study?”

“I want to be an astronaut. Bent legs won’t make any difference in space, and they might even be an advantage. The Soviets have lady Cosmonauts, how much longer can the US hold out? I think if I work hard, I could be one of the first ones.”

“I think you can too, if you study hard. In the mean time, get some help and try to avoid the Will O’ the Wisp.”

“It’s not the wisp that’s trying to kill me. It’s Mrs. Matthews who’s being controlled by the wisp. Can you imagine Mom’s reaction if I accuse her friend?”

“That could be a problem–”

“Yeah, and protective custody doesn’t look too good on a college application, or an application to NASA.”

“Thank you for joining us today, Patty, and I hope you figure it all out soon.”

“Thank you, Miss Lisa.”

“Our sponsor today is Will O’ the Wisp by our own C. S. Boyack. I’ll include all the details on the website. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

img_1018There is something evil up Bergamot Holler, and it’s been targeting the Hall family for generations.

Patty Hall is fifteen years old. She loves stargazing, science fiction, and all things related to space exploration. This leaves her perfectly prepared for the wrong problem.

Patty is afraid her mother will send her to a care facility if she tells her what she’s seen. If she doesn’t figure things out soon, she’s going to join her father in the Hall family cemetery plot.

Patty has to come to grips with her own physical handicap, survive the wilderness, and face an ancient evil all alone if she’s going to survive.

Will O’ the Wisp is suitable for young adults. It involves strong elements of suspense, and is set in the mid 1970s.

This book is available in two different versions, depending upon where you live.

North American Continent http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UPH6BNS

Rest of the world http://a-fwd.com/asin-com=B00UQNDT2C

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