Monday, July 30, 2012

Fandom

I've been known to be a bit of a fan-girl at times.  I'm certainly not ashamed by this. 

There's a good chance I got my son an Avengers poster so I could gaze fondly at Chris Hemsworth whenever I'm folding my little boy's socks...

I've been freakin' out for the movies ever since I read The Hunger Games.

I just might have every single line from all six Star Wars movies memorized. 

If you try to challenge me at Friends trivia you will lose... and lose bad.

I honestly cried when I read the final pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  It was like the end of an era!!!

Oh... and if you know me at all you know I'm have an obsession with Kellan Lutz that borders on stalkerish...  I mean, he is my dream guy to play Shaw if by some insane miracle a movie version of The Future Savior Series is created.

But never in a million years did I for one second think The Future Savior Series would garner some totally awesome fans, who are slowly creating their own Fandom! 

These wonderful residents of Meric (as I like to call them) have said some truly awesome things about my series.  They started to creep out of the wood work right after Future Savior 2: Resurrection was released and their presence has made writing the next installments exceedingly fun!  When I hit a dry spot, I remember my fans and it helps me find the creative spark again.  Here just a snippet of what they've been saying.

*   *   *

Book 1: Conception

"I give Conception: Future Savior Series book one, 5 stars! On second thought scratch that... because Conception really deserves all the stars in the sky!! Jennifer Hartz knocked my socks off and completely blew me away! I only wish I had more hands so I could give it more than two thumbs up!"

"I most definitely give Conception, which quickly flew to my favorite list, Five out of Five Stars!"

"Today, I bring you a special gem. Every once and a while you take a chance and when you do you find that diamond in the rough. Well my friends...this is that diamond."


Book 2: Resurrection

"Where, oh where do I even begin, Resurrection is incredible, I was overjoyed at being reunited with my beloved characters, yes I am beginning to feel that I know these characters, and due to the great talent of the author I feel like I have taken up residence in Meric and that I really do go on all the adventures with them!"

"Any words that I come up with won’t do this book justice. I loved everything about Book 1 and was curious to see how Jennifer could top it. With an incredible story and a surprising ending like the one found in this book, it has definitely taken the title as my favorite in the series so far."

"After reading Book one, I couldn’t wait for this book to come out. When it did, I spent the better part of a day giving myself a literary headache, because I honestly couldn’t put it down."


Book 3:  Evacuation

"I am so in love with this series, they are books I have been waiting all my life to find! I think that Evacuation is my favorite so far! There is no possible way Evacuation could have been any better, it is absolutely perfect!"

"There is so much to love about this book. I was laughing out loud one minute and then trying not to cry the next. I honestly have nothing else to say other than I loved it."

"I am a huge fan of anything Jennifer Hartz writes, and Evacuation went even higher than my expectations. After Book II’s wild cliff-hanger, I bought this book the minute it came out, and couldn’t put it down until I had read it, and re-read it!"

*   *   *

With Book 4: Desecration being released on December 1st, now would be a good time to start The Future Savior Series and become a resident of Meric yourself!  Because, as one fan put it...

"If you haven't started this series yet, then what in the world are you waiting for? Go get them now!"

... Did I mention how much I love my fans?  They are freakin' awesome and I really hope they enjoy Desecration just as much as the first 3 books!

Find me on the web:
Twitter:  @JenniferLHartz

Buy links for Future Savior Book One:  Conception


Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/future-savior-book-one-jennifer-hartz/1025599355?ean=9781936000586



Friday, July 27, 2012

Ancestral memories and the battle for true love

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Lynette Endicott and I are fascinated by the concept of ancestral memories.

Together we have written a six book series driven by this theme.

Love, hate, heartmark birthmarks and a time traveling enemy set on revenge all combine to make this a series that we hope will have readers at the edge of their seats from August 2012 all the way through December 2015!

Animal Instinct~ August 2012, Survival Instinct ~ April 2013, Pioneer Instinct ~ December 2013, Protective Instinct ~ August 2014, Maternal Instinct ~ April 2015, Primal Instinct ~ December 2015

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An evil from the past threatens to destroy the love developing between Allison and Sean.
Will ancestral memories hold the key to freedom, or overwhelm them with fear?

Prologue
 There is nothing so evil as this woman scorned.
Mildreth's sword shone blood red, raised above the couple's heads, as she swore she would keep them apart. Aleena pressed closer to Colin, cold fear curling in her chest. She cried out when a steaming drop of blood fell from the sword tip and burned into the flesh of her bare shoulder, leaving a heart-shaped mark. She clung to Colin's encircling arms, even though there was little warmth in his chest at her back. He must be as chilled as she was. Aleena was unable to breath as terror and pain swirled around and within her.
"Know from this mark that not only you, but also your daughters, will be hunted by me across the generations. They will have great tribulation in love, and a sword shall divide them from the mate of their soul."
With an angry cry, Mildreth moved her sword in a swift, slashing arc, the tip leaving a cold breeze as it barely missed Aleena's cheek, aiming for the ivory that lay on the ground in front of her, accurately dividing in two the broach that Colin had presented to her as a wedding gift. Before the beauty of their lovemaking. Before the horror of Mildreth's appearance.
A flash of evil green sparked at the division, but before it could grow it was countered by a ball of golden light coming from a motion of the Prophetess, who appeared at Mildreth's side. Mildreth backed away from the warm glow of goodness and love that countered her evil intent. Before hope could rise in Aleena's breast, the Prophetess turned sympathetic eyes on her.
"I cannot take away the Mildreth's anger and evil intent, but I can give you hope." The voice of the prophetess was as soft and airy as a summer breeze. "If Mildreth is intent on doing wrong to you and your daughters, I will protect you, at least in part. She can only intervene before wedding vows are taken. Her desire to hurt your daughters has backfired. She will be thrown through time by her evil desire to harm you and yours, generation after generation.
"You," she pointed the wand at the cowering enemy, "will be the instrument of your own evil anger, doomed to live through generations, to find each offspring of Aleena, and to prevent her happiness if you can. You cannot do actual harm to them or those who love them, but you can attempt to derail their happiness if you must. I pray one day you will see the error of your hatred and replace it with love -- but until you do, you may attempt to keep those who love apart from each other."
The prophetess turned glowing, sapphire blue eyes to them, the expression on her beautiful, semi-translucent face kind and full of empathy.
"Aleena, Colin, know that your daughters' daughters will not be alone as they battle this enemy. Each will be given three helpers."
A soft, golden glow shown around the prophetess as she uttered her assurances.
"First, each will have a helper from among the animal kingdom, as represented in the carvings of the broach. This animal will be given knowledge beyond its kin, will protect each child, and will help to bring her together with the one who will complete her soul and give her joy."
Her glow became brighter as her healing words flowed over Aleena.
"Second, your daughters will be given memories, passed on through generations, dormant until they are needed, which will assist them in the time of greatest need."
Now the glow was so bright, Aleena shielded her eyes with a trembling hand.
"And, finally, the broach." The carvings of the two parts began to glow in response to her words. "Aleena, pick up the part with the clasp."
Aleena's hand trembled as she reached for the sleeping cat carved in ivory forming the center of the piece. It was unexpectedly cool to her touch.
"This," said the Prophetess, "shall be passed down to the daughters who bear the Heartmark." She gestured to the heart-shaped burn on her shoulder. "When they find the part that completes the broach, they will know what is needed to break the curse."
The Prophetess turned her attention to Colin.
"Colin, pick up the remainder."
Colin did as he was told.
"Hold it in your left hand and take out your Sgian Dubh with your right." He pulled the dagger from his hose, below the hem of his kilt, strapped at his knee. Both the dagger and the broach began to glow in his hands.
The prophetess nodded her approval. "Press them together."
The handle of his long dagger was plain bone. When it touched the remainder of the ivory broach, the carved relief of the animals from the broach melded into the handle. "You will pass the knife to a man you deem worthy, a friend whose valor saves your life or the life of one you love. Tell him this story, and the blade will always find its way to the lover of her soul when a daughter of Aleena is in need."
In a flash of green and yellow light, both enemy and Prophetess were gone.
Aleena let out a shuddering breath and pressed closer to Colin, turning to bury her face in his chest. Immediately his warm, strong arms came around her, and she sobbed for several long moments as he stroked her hair and murmured reassurances in her ear.
"Hush, love, you're safe. We'll survive this."
"Are you sure?" She leaned back a little, and the cold flat of the Sgian Dubh brushed her shoulder as Colin shifted his hold, and with his other hand, tilted her face up toward his own.
She still held the broach in her hand. In that moment the carving on the broach was drawn to the relief on the handle. They came together in a perfect fit.
Aleena stared at the joined carvings, then shifted her gaze to the green, clear eyes of her husband. She shook her head in disbelief. "Is this real?" Her voice came out in a raspy whisper. "What does it mean?"
"I think it means that, for our generation at least, we are safe from any further interference from Mildreth." His shadowed eyes snagged and held hers. Sadness simmered within their green depths. "But God help our daughters."





Wednesday, July 25, 2012

HOW DIFFERENT IS DIFFERENT?

I once worked for a music executive who told me that to sell records you had to "find your niche." And while that advice is fine if your niche suddenly explodes into a major market type niche (think paranormal romance), many times it limits the product you are trying to sell. (Yeah, we used to call albums/CDs product—literally that's it was and is.) Don't get me wrong. I like niche markets and have absolutely nothing against them so this isn't a ragging rant.

It's more of an expression of frustration. What if your work doesn't fit into any one niche easily or comfortably? How do you define your genre when reviews range from dark to gritty to thrill ride to social commentary to almost "stream of consciousness"? What if your style is much different than everyone else in every other genre?

People like order; they like the idea of knowing what they expect will be what they expect. I despise the word "pigeonholing" but sometimes you have to use a word you hate. I've read and written tomes on blending/crossing/doubling up genre' and still have problems defining my own work within those contexts. And sometimes I think it's just as difficult for editors and readers to do so as well. I get a feeling that they don't know what they're in for when they open up my first page—they like it—they just don't expect it. That can be a good or bad thing—it's good because they enjoy it but bad because they don't know what to do with it and sometimes I think it may be a bit overwhelmingly different for them.

I'm not complaining and hopefully I'm not sounding egocentric—it's just that it can be frustrating in more ways than one. I have problems defining my genre so I have to sort of hyphenate it: "well, it's a dark-sci-fi adventure-semi-dystopian-militaristic science fiction-crime thriller-romance about drug abuse, prostitution and guilt that ends with a type of redemption." Right about semi-dystopian even I'm confused.

Yet it's all correct. All of those facets are there, part and parcel of the very fabric with which the story is woven. Hell, I've even chucked in a few historical factors as well just because I love history. It works somehow but people are still surprised because it generally doesn't meet their expectations of whatever genre' they're used to and it throws them off-balance a little. That's a really good thing.

For me that's kind of what it's about—waking up and shaking up any and everyone who reads my work though that isn't the main objective (ooh, military speak) of my writing. My objective is to write the absolute best story I can regardless categories or genre' placement. It's to write a story that grabs the reader by the throat and doesn't let go until they begin to look cyanotic.

So what to do? For me—nothing. I write the way I write and I write as honestly as I can be it romance or rogue aliens and leave it up to those who do categorize to figure it all out. If they can. LOL.

~P.I. Barrington

Monday, July 23, 2012

Comics taught me everything about romance


I'm a guy. What does that mean exactly? It means 'guys' have funny ways of finding out about romance. I'll be the first to tell you most of what we learn turns out to be 99% wrong. That other 1% women have to tell us about and we usually poo poo the whole concept you might be right. Otherwise, men wouldn't still be using the same tired pick up lines learned at the feet of our forefathers. Honestly, it's a wonder the human race didn't die out before it got started.

All that said, how did I learn enough about romance to end up writing books on the subject. The answer is simple. Comic books. Huh? Did he just say comic books? Don't worry, I knew you were going to say that so went ahead and typed it. The answer is, "yes I did" and "I did." Before you hit a bookmark and go to Facebook to laugh at me publicly, allow me to explain. This is going to take a few blogs, so expect to come back for my next thrilling issue.

Today I'm going with the basics. Comic books are the male equivalent of soap operas. I know women read comics too, but this is as close as most men come to openly stating we watch or read anything close to romance. What makes comics a romance medium? Let me give you some examples

Romance and comics both start off with a bigger than life hero. Be it Superman or Chase Michaels from my own Immortally Yours, the hero is set up to be the man every other man would want to be and every woman should want. Superman is invulnerable. Chase is immortal. Yet, they both have their weaknesses. Supes has kryptonite. Chase has his own tortured past. It isn't their strengths that make them appealing to women. It's the fact that both characters refuse to allow their weaknesses to hold them back.

Now, that we have the hero out of the way, let's move on to the heroine. Romances have strong females propelling the story, so do comics. It would be easy to toss Wonder Woman at you to illustrate this point, but I'm not. In paranormal romances, the heroine rarely has any superpowers to speak of. Most of the time it's the man who is the tortured vampire, or strong cursed werewolf. Comics have so many strong females who don't have superpowers it isn't funny, though we're talking about 'funny' books. Lois Lane is easily as strong mentally and in the spirit department as Superman. Mary Jane Watson has puny Peter Parker beat when it comes to knowing who she is and what she wants. As we well know, old Pete ain't got a clue. To dip into the super-powered side of comics, Sue Storm Richards might look like she has the weakest power out of the Fantastic Four, but not only can she level a mountain then push it out of the way, she is the glue that holds the FF together and has kept those other three knuckleheads in line for over forty years, all while raising two kids. Tell me she doesn't deserve some respect!

Romances thrive on strong females. Who wants to read about some mewling woman dependent on a man to define her, protect her, and generally keep her happily barefoot and pregnant at home? I don't. I know that you as readers don't. Neither do the millions of guys reading comics out there. We want women as strong as the Hulk out there mixing it up. We won't go into the costumes. That's the only place where men are still dragging our knuckles in the dirt and grunting like cavemen. I don't draw the costumes but as a guy I will appreciate them until my wife knocks me over the head with the club I dropped to dislocate my eyeballs leering at them. Picture to right is an ample example, but in her defense the Red She-Hulk kicks butt and takes names.

Okay we've got heroes and heroines, but where's the romance? Let's start with Superman. Clark and Lois spent nearly seventy years going round and round the romance carousel before finally admitting they loved each other and getting married. Peter Parker and Mary Jane took less time, only twenty some odd years. Reed Richards and Susan Storm had them all beat by taking less than one hundred issues to tie the knot, but Stan Lee knew that every great story revolved around two things. A boy and a girl, plus giving the people what they wanted.

Speaking strictly as a guy, and a geek, I loved the romance going on between those characters. It helped drive the story and keep me coming back. I knew that sooner or later the Green Goblin or Doc Doom would show up for a big showdown. But, I didn't know if Peter and Mary would hook up. I'll be going more into Peter Parker on a later blog, by the way. A comic book with just one fight after another would be boring. I seriously doubt they would have last this long if that was the only thing going on. The issues where Clark married Lois and Peter married Mary Jane were some of the biggest sellers in history, so I'm not the only one who must have thought that way.

So, basically what I'm try to say is that comic books taught me everything I know about romance and it must have worked. I'm happily married to the woman of my dreams, who puts up with my geekiness. Do you know how hard it is to find a woman like that? Well, believe me, it's hard. Another thing, you're reading this blog because you've read at least one of my books, so that means comics have taught me well enough for you to enjoy the fruit of my addiction to comics. So, the next time you want to read a good romance, pick up a comic. It may take you fifty years to get your happily ever after, but it is a fun ride until it happens.

Next week, check out my second part of this Comic Farce, Peter Parker is a man whore, over at my personal blog The Morgan Diaries. I'll be examining how this geeky superhero has played with the emotions of countless women and trained geeks like me in the ways of how not to romance a woman. I'm blowing the lid off this one, folks. J. Jonah Jameson will be positively green with envy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Character Excerpt - Stefan Sigmaringen from Twilight Over Moldavia

From the Diary of Stefan Sigmaringen
August 1883



I'm many things – a witch, a prince, a son, brother, and now, a fiancĂ©. The thought of becoming engaged was a terrifying one because I didn't know what to expect. For the last ten years of my life, since I was six, my mother taught me everything I needed to know about my intended, the Crown Princess of Carpathia – Edwina Moldoneavu. She possessed hair as black as a raven and piercing hazel eyes. Edwina was well read, an excellent dancer, and her embroidery was perfect. Edwina knew nothing of witchcraft, and I was counseled by my parents to never discuss this aspect of myself with her.

Then Edwina died. And with her, all my expectations.

I was told Edwina's sister, Caroline, was the new Crown Princess of Carpathia, and I knew nothing about this woman. The thought of becoming engaged to a woman I knew about was daunting.

My family traveled from Constanta to Carpathia for the official engagement. Just outside of Dragon's Keep, the home of the Carpathian royal family, in the woods, I heard the sounds of horses and decided to investigate. That's when an arrow grazed my thigh – a flesh wound really, that drew a small amount of blood. A young woman approached, wearing rider's pants. She possessed dark brown thick, wavy hair and sea-blue eyes. She apologized profusely for shooting me. Her exotic features stirred the spark of attraction in my soul. She removed her scarf from around her neck and wrapped it around my legs in an attempt to bandage my wound. A blast of heat rocketed through my body from her touch. Her eyes snared mine in a feral trap and I knew this woman was meant for me. She was mine.

My cousin, Michael, prodded me to return to my traveling party and I left the woman in the woods. She told me her name was Aurora, but I knew this: She was of noble birth and Aurora was not her given name.

We arrived at Dragon's Keep and my family prepared to meet Moldoneavus, but my mind wasn't on Caroline, it was on Aurora. She left her scarf around my leg and I had it cleaned, hoping to present it to her. It was made of the finest fabric and the Carpathian royal crest had been embroidered on it along with the initials "CAM," my only clue to Aurora's true identity.

I had no desire to meet the new Crown Princess, the girl who took Edwina's place in my life, until I saw her. She was my Aurora – and a witch, like myself.


ENJOY THIS EXCERPT:
Once everyone was seated, the dinner service began. Stefan sat next to Caroline, with their fathers on either side of them. Stefan glanced at his mother. If Queen Aurora's expression betrayed her disappointment, his mother's expression betrayed deep worry. Interesting. He followed his mother's gaze and found it on Lady Getzi's table. Now that piqued his curiosity. Lady Getzi was one of his mother's dearest friends. What would cause such worry? The word secret popped into his mind and sent a small sliver of unease coursing through him.

"Prince Stefan, do you like your meal?"

He turned at the soft sing-song quality in Caroline's voice, surprised to find it so delicate and feminine after their previous encounter.

"Yes. Roasted pork is one of my favorites."

King Mircea placed a hand over Caroline's and patted it affectionately. "Stefan is your equal. You may address him by his name."

Caroline nodded. Stefan glanced at his father and noticed he had an almost haunted expression on his face, as if he'd recently recalled Mircea's words. Was Stefan a fish out of water? The whole banquet centered around his coming and was offered for his betrothment, yet he sensed much intrigue surrounded their parents.

"Yes, Papa," Caroline replied, smiling.

Stefan sipped his wine and leaned over to Caroline, trying to dispel the uncertainty caused by his observations of their parents. "These occasions are so formal, aren't they?"

"Yes, they are."

"I was pleasantly surprised to discover you are the crown princess of Carpathia," he whispered.

"Surprised, or horrified?" she replied in a whisper.

QUESTION: What do you think Stefan's reply is? I 'd love to hear your thoughts. If you visit my blog at http://sgcardin.blogspot.com/2012/07/excerpt-monday-inspiration-behind.html and answer the question, you'll be entered into a giveaway to win a PDF copy of Twilight Over Moldavia.


5 Stars, Long & Short Book Reviews
Twilight Over Moldavia is even better than the first book in the series. It is an excellent story filled with just the right balance of romance, magic, and danger.

5 Hearts, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
The twisting story line will keep your nose in the book until you have finished. Stephanie's ability to add suspense and mystery to romances gives her stories all the more depth. If you love werewolf stories, romances, or a good book, I recommend Twilight Over Moldavia.

4 Stars, Vijaya Schartz, author
In this novel full of danger and intrigue, sexy scenes, and unspeakable secrets, the werewolves are the villains, and oh how dangerous they are, and unwashed, and uncivilized. The kind of villains you love to hate.

5 Stars, Mona Risk, Author "No More Lies"
Burkhart's writing style grabs the reader from the first page. She keeps you breathless with her suspense as she transports you to exotic areas you will enjoy discovering.

5 Stars, Karen Michelle Nutt, Author of the "Fallen Angel" Series:
"Ms. Burkhart paranormal tale is rich in history, painting a picture as clearly as if the reader is standing beside Stefan and Caroline."

5 Stars, Barbara M. Hodges, Author of "The Blue Flame"
Twilight Over Moldavia whisked me into a part of the world I knew nothing about, and gave me a wonderful love story filled with suspense too. What more could a reader desire?

5 Stars, Reader's Favorites, Brenda Ballard


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ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS:
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PUBLISHER'S BUY LINK:
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-247/Moldavian-Moon-Book-Two/Detail.bok

B&N NOOK:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moldavian-moon-book-two-stephanie-burkhart/1108111730?ean=2940013822177&itm=1&usri=twilight+over+moldavia

FIND ME ON THE WEB AT:
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Biblical Mirroring

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to let you know about a giveaway!  You can enter to win a Amazon Kindle copy of Future Savior Book One: Conception.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Okay, last week I visited A.R. Norris' blog and talked about why I decided to incorporate Biblical mirroring in The Future Savior Series.  Today, come along with me as I break down the first three novels in FS (Future Savior) and pull out the Biblical stories that enhance each book.  Of course, there are many small snippets of mirroring all throughout The FS Series, I'm only going to talk about a few today. 

Be sure to stay tuned to the very end!  You can catch a small excerpt from the much anticipated FS4: Desecration!

Future Savior Book One: Conception


There's the obvious theme of the Creator that runs through the entirety of not just FS1: Conception, but the whole FS Series.  However, I think for the purposes of this blog I'll stick to actual mirrored scenes and not themes... If I discussed themes we'd be here all day!

I think the first one that really stands out in Conception is the fake name Shaw uses when he's disguised as a teenage book:  Russel Samson.  Yep, this is an obvious reference to the Biblical Samson and that becomes quite clear in FS2: Resurrection.

The next scene that has significant mirroring is in King Quafin's throne room.  The way he badgers Christina to use her powers is very reminiscent of King Herod.

Another obvious one is the entrance into Verna Mount.  She's riding on a small pony and the Elves are cheering and waving branches at Christina... yep, pretty obvious.

I'm going to skip a couple for sake of space and time and jump straight to Jonus' victory over the Leviathan ruler.  This is a definite mirroring of King David slaying Goliath.

I guess I could talk about the biggest Biblical mirroring that takes place at the end of Conception... but I really don't want to ruin the ending!!!  You'll have to check it out for yourself.


Future Savior Book Two: Resurrection


In the very Prologue of FS2: Resurrection there's a little bit of mirroring.  Someone has killed themselves and it's an obvious reference to Judas Iscariot.

Christina's return to Meric is, of course, laced with mirroring.

We learn Drexton's story and I might as well have just called him Job!

Jonus continues to resemble the Biblical King David in so many ways.

And Shaw's entire journey in the Xertic realm has quite a few scenes of mirroring.  Including Samson and Daniel.

Not to mention young Kendalwyn is a direct mirror reflection of Ester.


Future Savior Book Three: Evacuation


With all the different story lines running through FS3: Evacuation, there's a ton of Biblical mirroring in this one!  One of the biggest, and one of the most important, is the people taking Leticia's mark of loyalty.  The only way I could have made that one more obvious would have been to make the symbol three 6s!

Trayd's left-handed escape from Eglan's mansion mirrors the Bible story of Ehud.

The walls falling down around the city of Newnan was a direct reference to the walls of Jerrico.

Brezkin's interaction with the giant fish is pretty obvious.  But his less obvious scene is where he and Kayliah save the children of Travers from twenty Vaipes using only one sword.  I pulled this from Jonathan and his armor bearer defeating twenty Philistines with only one sword.


*     *     *

There's so much more Biblical themes and mirroring in The Future Savior Series than just this little bit I talked about here today.  I have a friend who likes to refer to these as "Finding Easter Eggs".  Check out the series for yourself and see how many Easter Eggs you can find!  But before you do, here's an excerpt from Future Savior Book Four: Desecration...  Sorry, to all of you die hard FS fans... this isn't about Christina and Shaw!  This is an excerpt containing some obvious Biblical mirroring.



Future Savior 4: Desecration

(This excerpt is unedited and may vary upon publication)


Nebuch walked up to Kayliah, Brezkin, and Vetter getting just inches away from their faces.  He meticulously eyed each of them in turn.  His steely grey eyes were hard and cold.
"They will not take the mark," he declared.  "And since they will not pay allegiance with the branding of their hand, they will pay with their lives by the burning of their flesh.  There…" Nebuch pointed toward a small shed-looking building close to the waters of the lake.  I was filled with so much dread.  What did he mean by "burning of their flesh"?
The strongest looking men in the crowd moved forward and grabbed my friends.  They untied them from the railings, but they quickly bound their hands behind their backs.  Then the men shoved the three of them toward the small building.  The other men began lighting torches and I realized what was going to happen.  They were going to lock my friends in the shed and burn them alive.  Brezkin and Vetter cast sad glances back toward the lifeless body of Legion, but Kayliah found Skarr in the crowd and glared at him the entire time she was moved to the shed.
Kayliah, Brezkin and Vetter where thrown into the small wooden building.  The door was securely locked behind them.  The men with the torches came forward and began setting the shed ablaze.  It didn't take long before smoke started billowing out of the crack under the door and the small windows of the shed.  Through the windows the flames could be seen reaching the whole way to the ceiling. 
As Nebuch and the others looked on, something amazing happened in the fire.  A silvery light filled the shed, over powering the glowing flames.  The light slowly formed into the shape of a man and walked in the flames alongside my friends.  I knew this form.  I had seen it in my visions multiple times.  It was an angel and I was filled with instant relief because I sensed it was there to protect my friends. 
"Didn't we throw three people into the shed?" Nebuch declared in amazement peering in the windows.
"Yes, there were three," one of the men replied.
"But look!  There are four now and it appears as if all of their ropes have been cut," Nebuch gushed.  "And the new one?  It's glowing… I mean, it doesn't look real."
"I wonder sir," a different man with pencil thin mustache said, "could it be the ghost of that man." He gestured with his head back toward Legion's dead body.
"I don't know," Nebuch replied.  Horror laced his previously fierce voice.  All of the husky men standing there watching the shed looked like frightened children.
The door to the shed burst open and the flames fingered out the door, but along with flames came Kayliah, Brezkin and Vetter.  The fourth person, the angel, vanished from sight, nowhere to be seen.  My friends were completely unharmed.  Not even their hair had been singed or their clothes blackened.  They hurried over to where the men of the village had left their discarded weapons on the ground.  Brezkin grabbed his spear and the two Mortifs their swords.  The men of the village didn't even move.  They were transfixed at the miracle they just witnessed. 






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Friday, July 13, 2012

This morning I thought I would chat about my book, Innocent Deception.

I tend to wright in favor of the misunderstood. Ethan, my hero, is a Scottish laird who has a speech impediment. Imagine how difficult it would be to command respect when almost each word you speak is accompanied by a stutter.  I did imagine that very thing, and, before I knew it, Innocent Deception was born.
I came to care about Ceana as she developed witin this story. I would have to say it is her terrified courage that 'gets' me, right in the heart. She has a lifetime of abuse to contend with, and since marrying Ethan she is treated with respect and caring for the first time. Yet she is deceiving him and her guilt and internal since of right and wrong torment her each time he is kind to her.
Ethan is a man who, although he is ashamed of his inability to speak clearly, he forges ahead and builds a life for himself and those under his care. He lets nothing stop him from protecting his clan, and although he is devastated and angry when he learns of his new wife's deception, he struggles to understand why she did so.  His forgiveness and trust, however, is much more difficult to achieve.
I've posted a review snippet, and an excerpt, I hope you enjoy and if by some chance you've read Innocent Deception, I'd love to hear what you thought. :-)

Royal Ethan Anderson… a first born son cheated out of an inheritance by his father in favor of his illegitimate half-brother.
Ceana Sinclair, a girl who has no choice but to masquerade as someone else.
An unexpected death… A forced marriage…
Can a foundation of trust and love be built upon a lie?
Or will this case of innocent deception destroy any chance of happiness Royal and Ceana might have had?

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                                                10 out of 10! ...From the very beginning, I was intrigued by the characters and the plot. We meet such different individuals that trying to predict how they all come together is nearly impossible. I loved the many twists and turns that this story takes as we journey together with the characters....
                                          Eye on Romance official reviewer

Please enjoy this excerpt:
Caoimhe bit her lip and forced the question plaguing her mind. "Will ye truly send the lasses back to Lady Gormal's clutches?"

The young laird, a man she had watched grow from a too thin, frightened lad who was afraid of his own shadow and terrified of speaking more than a pair of words at one time might he shame himself, stared pensively at her sleeping daughter.

A daughter likewise carrying a great fear within her, clutched about her as if it were a second skin.

She could understand the deception, Ceana marrying Ethan to assure his wee brother be returned and fear for her own life pushing her.

And she could see how Ethan's trusted guards would wish this quiet lass as his bride rather than the demanding Sorsha.

But the choice they had made had been a mistake, one that would be imprinted on Ethan's mind and heart for years to come.

Perhaps it was mother's intuition, or maybe simply wishful thinking, Caoimhe felt in her bones if the pair could get past the deception, a love between them could blossom and grow, and heal all the hurts and betrayals which each had suffered.

Yet wishing on her part did nothing for Ethan and Ceana.

Her heart was a painful knot within her breast. Nay, the laird would have to forgive his wife, and she would have to forgive herself, before any trust, or love, could grow.

So lost in her musings she started when Ethan reached a hand out and brushed a wisp of hair off Ceana's forehead.

Oh, aye, the lad cared for her already, and she knew from her observations of Ceana that she also cared deeply for her husband.

Not taking his eyes off his bride, he spoke. "In light of all ye've t-told me, Caoimhe, I w-will have to give the matter of Ceana and Sorsha more thought." He turned his steel gray eyes to her. "Whilst at the moor, I had t-told Diarmad I w-would be sending the lasses to Balvack to live, Lady Gormal overheard and claimed she w-was not Sorsha's mother. At that moment a messenger came and told us of their capture, and I could not question her further."

His lip pulled into a half smile. "Apparently she spoke the truth."

Caoimhe could not gauge what he was thinking. His young, handsome face was void of any emotion. She nodded once, a stiff jerk of her neck, not knowing what, if anything, she should say.

She wanted more than anything for both Ceana and Sorsha to remain here, behind the safe walls that had sheltered her all these years.

She shuddered to think what would happen to the lasses if he did send them back. If Lady Gormal still lived, it mattered not a good man, such as Diarmad, was the new laird.

Lady Gormal would make her daughter's life unbearable.

Considering she had now disclaimed Sorsha as her own, that daughter would suddenly experience what Ceana had lived through the whole of her life.

The heavy oak chamber door burst open and Caoimhe quickly covered her head.

Lady Sileas stood in the threshold, her hair coming out of its braid and her eyes wild.

Two guards hovered behind her, looking at Ethan helplessly.

Caoimhe's heart sank.

The laird would never let her daughters remain within these walls if the Lady Sileas did not wish it.

Sileas pointed a trembling finger to the bed. "Why did ye bring them back?"

Ethan motioned for Caoimhe to take his place sitting at the edge of the bed. On legs suddenly too weak to hold her, she sat, keeping her hooded head down.

He moved to his mother and wrapped his arms around her while she cried.

"Shh, Ma," he soothed. "Wee Sionn is h-home safe now, ye need not w-worry anymore."

She sniffed and Caoimhe's heart went out to her. The woman had had a hard life. Her mind was weak, and as of late, becoming weaker.

"I ken he is safe now!" she cried. "But why did ye bring those lasses back within our walls? Ye don't need them anymore, ye should have let the Vikings keep them!"

The venom in her words made Caoimhe wince and she instinctively picked up Ceana's ice-cold hand and rubbed it between her own, which were in truth, not much warmer.

She hoped the draught she gave her was strong enough to keep her sleeping whilst Ethan's mother was here. She did not wish her Ceana to witness the anger coming off the woman in waves.

"Mother," Ethan said, his voice strained. "It has been explained to ye w-why Ceana lied about who she was and married me. She feared for Sionn, Ma, she w-was trying to protect him and see to it h-he be returned home by marrying me."

Her voice rang out with frustration, "I don't care!"

He continued speaking despite her outburst, his breathless, halting words desperate to sooth his mother, his face strained and flushed with the effort he made to control his stutter. Caoimhe's heart wrenched, knowing that although he did not fear taunting from his mother, or herself, his halted speech still embarrassed him greatly. "Sorsha h-had nay part in the deception when she arrived here, she did not k-ken who she w-was or where she came from, Ma. Even if she had not lost h-her memoires, she had nay choice in her father's decree she marry me in order to h-have Sionn returned to us."

There was a swishing of material and Caoimhe guessed Lady Sileas pulled out of her son's embrace.

"Why are ye defending them?" she demanded.

Ethan sighed. "Ma, I just explained w-why," he said his voice soft and caring despite the breathlessness that accompanied his stutter. "They are h-here, and will remain so until I can decide w-what is best for all. Ye h-have nay reason to w-wish either lass ill."

Relief filled Caoimhe's eyes with tears. He would not send her daughters away, at least not yet. And, despite his mother's wishes.

There was a scraping of feet against rushes and Caoimhe turned in time to see Lady Sileas break the hold her son had on her upper arms and make her way to the bed.

Caoimhe stood, placing herself between the angry woman and the sleeping girl.

"Lady Sileas," Caoimhe began, choosing her words carefully. "It has been a long journey for ye, from the time wee Sionn was taken to now, and ye need rest. Let me take ye back to ye chamber, I will fix ye a drink to help ye relax."

Her eyes, unclear and frightened, seemed to search hers, even though Caoimhe knew she could not truly see her eyes under the deep hood. "I don't want the lasses here, in my home."

The words shot spears through Caoimhe's heart, but were so pitifully spoken, she could not hate her for them.

Caoimhe took both her hands into hers and rubbed them slowly. "Tell me why, My Lady," she asked softly. "I ken ye understand all that happened with the lasses, the deceit was never meant to hurt, but to help. Yet ye are determined to see them ousted, especially Ceana, will ye not tell me why?"

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Ethan move to stand by the hearth. She could sense by the stiff set of his shoulders and the way his head was cocked he wished his mother to answer her questions as much as she did.

Lady Sileas sank to her knees into the rushes. Ethan moved to come to her and Caoimhe shook her head, halting his steps.

Caoimhe knelt in front of her, not releasing her hold on her hands.

Tears ran in a stream down Sileas cheeks as she raised ravished eyes to her. "She reminds me of myself." The words came out an anguished whisper. "When I look into her eyes, I see the terrors of my own past, from when I was under The MacLean's thumb and I can't bear it. To this day my husband haunts my dreams. I fear I will see him, or his evil son Aodh, around each corner I turn."

Sileas grip tightened painfully, yet Caoimhe did not pull away.

"Don't ye understand?" she cried. "As long as my husband lives, I still belong to him. He could find me, take me back, I can't go back, healer, I can't!"

Ethan knelt behind his mother and wrapped his strong arms around the weeping woman, his dark head rested atop hers, his knees bracketed her swaying form.

Caoimhe met Ethan's eyes for a pregnant moment, she read the anguish, confusion and helplessness within the storm gray depths and her heart pinched for him. Carefully, she released Sileas' hands, her own heart breaking for more reasons than she could contemplate at the moment, and stood.

She checked on Ceana one more time, assuring herself her daughter still slept, then, with one more glance at the kneeling couple she stepped into the drafty hall and pulled the heavy door closed behind her.

The chances of Ethan allowing the lasses to remain now that he knew why their presence hurt his mother so much were all but none.

Caoimhe would lose her daughters for the second time. There was nay way she would be allowed within the walls of the Moor of Balvack. Even with Diarmad as laird, he could not stop Lady Gormal from slaying her the moment she set eyes on Caoimhe again.