Two Minutes of Darkness

 

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Did I drop gray-lenses glasses over my eyes? That’s what it looked like at ten this morning when the moon cast the sun in its shadow.

Yes, my home was near the path of “totality” in Oregon. Since today is my son’s birthday, we headed south to his house into the path of totality.

Two minutes of darkness on a bright sunny day must have sent people in the Middle Ages into a frenzy. (Maybe that’s why they called it the Dark Ages? Okay, I’m being sarcastic. I understand what made those “dark” times.)

The Setup

After I made a delicious birthday breakfast of French toast and bacon, we headed out into the sunlight. A golden ball shone from the crystalline aquamarine sky.

My husband had two camera rigged up. The rest of us were making bad puns, occasionally glimpsing through our “approved for eclipse” glasses.

The warning on the flimsy frames said I shouldn’t look at the sun for more than three minutes at a time.

Someone suggested an eclipse playlist. Of course, Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” made the top of the chart. I quoted “You’re so Vain” because a local station played it yesterday, so it was fresh in my mind.

We made plenty of suppositions about how many human sacrifices the Aztecs fed to their volcanoes during the two-minutes of darkness during their hey day.

The shadows reflect the crescent shape of the sun behind the moon

And of course, I wondered what might happen if your shift to “werewolf” was tied to the solar eclipse rather than a full moon. In fact, we decided an Ocelot-shifter might be a better choice. Something that loved the sun but went into hunter mode when the sun set.

Look for that story in the near future.

The Reaction

After the Chiquita banana stage, I glimpsed through my special spectacles more frequently. Soon a bare cuticle of a thumbnail of sun could be seen.

The glasses came off and the midnight sky turned granite as the sun-powered corona transformed the mid-day-night-like sky.

Whoops rose in the air. Neighbors ignited fireworks (apparently, in Woodburn, OR, any time is a great time for fireworks). Crickets sang their songs.

It was a glorious view. Amazing. Awe-inspiring.

And story-inspiring for my author brain.

Faces were ringed with joyous smiles. Eyes sparked, lit with an inner fiery star.

Afterward

 

My daughter hightailed it to her job. Sadly, everyone had the same idea.

Traffic slowed. Suddenly, freeway travel between the Oregon state capital to the largest city in the state looks strangely like a day in Los Angeles.

Ugh.

Thankfully, my husband was telecommuting. And there’s internet at my son’s house (or the home of his second parents where we enjoyed the total eclipse of the sun outside by their gazebo) for me to do a little writing.

These pictures don’t do it justice. Once I can get to my computer and my husband can download his GoPro footage and his speedy-lens still photos, I’ll share the cream of the crop with you.

If you were in the path of totality, what was your experience? When have you been awed by two minutes (or less)? Continue reading “Two Minutes of Darkness”

Favorite Fantasy Species: Meet the Authors of Masked Hearts

Masked_heartsToday, I welcome my fellow authors to the blog.

In honor of our latest release, Masked Hearts: A Fantasy Romance Anthology, each of my co-authors will talk about their favorite fantasy creatures. Since we read fantasy (as well as write it), I took our penchant for the genre into consideration when I worded the question.

So, fellow authors, what are the top two fantasy species you love to read (or write) about? Why?

Dana Wright says: “I love shifters and fae. They have a hidden pulse of energy that transcends the mortal world and I can never get enough. Nature and the call of the moon resonate through the mythologies behind them both and I love that. Witches too. They all give us a spark that can be missing from the day to day and I live for that.”

It’s no surprise then when you discover what her story Affinity is all about.

 

A magic mirror and a houseful of ghosts await Kristen when fate leads her to Wanderly House. Secrets and spirits consume her days, but one look in the magic mirror and her heart falls fast. 

Connor is trapped in Faery. With only a view through a bewitched mirror to the real world, his attention is nabbed by a curious cat shifter with a ghostly following.

When the forces of Faery and Wanderly House collide, will Kristen and Connor’s love be enough to save them?

Clair Devon says: “When I was a teenager I was fascinated by Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern so dragons have long been my top fantasy species of choice.  To this day if given the opportunity I would gladly be a dragonrider. After that it is a little clear although I love the idea of were creatures that are not werewolves, were cats in particular. I’m currently revising a fantasy Christmas story involving a were mountain lion and a Polish fairy.”

You won’t find any dragons or dragon riders in Clair’s story Water Woman. I met some new-to-me magical creatures here.

Sparks fly when a Spanish water woman, and an African two-horned horse shifter meet at a masquerade. Kimoni has gone to ask Isidora to use her skills to aid him with his ailing grandfather. When strangers claiming to be Isidora’s relatives try to force her to share her powers, the pair is plunged into danger. Can love between them blossom? Can a water woman and a horse shifter find happiness together?

Nemma Wollenfang answers: “Top species? Dragons! Of course. Those flying, fire-breathing, scaly monsters have it all. As to my second top fantasy species, that’s hard to say, there are so many great ones. But I think it has to be… mermaids. There aren’t enough stories about those – especially when they come with fangs. *Toothy grin* I’d like to read many more romantic stories about both species but I’ve found literature of that type to be a little thin on the ground. Which is a shame. But, you know what they say, write what you’d like to read! So that’s what I’m doing.”

A kindred dragon-lover. There’s no big mystery that the one title with the flying force of fantasy is Nemma’s, Dragon Law.

The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.

For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair. 

Sheryl Winters says: “I’m a dragon lover. Shifters in particular. I wrote Skydreamer with Dragon-shifters in mind. Lately, though, my interest has shifted to Swan shifters. Brooke from Masked Hearts isn’t able to switch to her swan form. I researched Tundra Swans to see what they might normally eat in the wild and the more I read about them, the more I enjoyed writing Brooke and finding unique solutions to her shifting problems.

I’ve read Skydreamer, but I was equally thrilled to read  Feather Fall. Ms. Winters does a fabulous job of bringing her characters to life.

Brooke Adair’s autism has turned the world into a constant puzzle, especially when it comes to men. When she meets fellow swan shifter Blake Landen in a dream, though, Brooke feels a potential connection to someone who could understand her. But trusting in Blake takes a whole lot more courage than Brooke has. Can Brooke overcome her fears and take the leap?

My top two: 

Dragons are my number one because…dragons. You can do so much with them, including different species, different abilities, making them good or evil, having them as a beast carrying a rider or as an independent and magical species of dominance.

The second is more difficult, but I think I’m going to go with Pegasus. Mostly because I love horses and the idea of a flying horse is awesome beyond measure. I’ll admit, though, I haven’t written a single story featuring one of these magnificent beasts and can only remember one series I read that included them – in a mostly minor way.

And, no, my fantasy romance doesn’t include dragons. Sorry. Someday, a publisher will fall in love with my young adult dragon story. Here’s the blurb for Duty or Desire:

Alyona Wyrden dwells contentedly in her elven realm, but when her brother disappears, she travels to Earth to bring him home. Camden Kerr hunts down magical artifacts, keeping them out of the wrong hands. The amulet that draws Alyona to her brother is just the sort of object Cam’s after. The way his flesh responds to the lithe, blonde necklace-wearer is a different matter altogether. When their paths keep crossing, Cam decides they can work together-until he discovers her elven heritage.

Can their attraction defeat prejudice? Which will rule—duty or desire?

As you can see, there’s magic and fantasy creatures galore in Masked Hearts. The stories are the perfect length for a fiction reading break.

Need to add a little fantasy to your life today? Pick up a copy of Masked Hearts at your favorite online retailer. Here are some of the links:

Amazon | AmazonUK | ARe | B&N |Bookstrand Createspace  | Roane  |  Smashwords

Also, don’t forget to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card – perfect for all your reading (or other shopping) purchases.

Enter the Giveaway

Check out the rest of the tour, too. Today, you can read an excerpt from Feather Fall at Bookgirl Knitting.Masked_hearts_tour_button And here is the rest of the schedule:

May 27th

On the Broomstick  –  Author Interviews
Written Love Reviews  –  Review

May 30th

Red Penn Reviews  –  Author Interviews & Review

May 31st

A Moment with Mystee  –  Review / Ebook Giveaway
Scribbler’s Sojourn  –  Promotional  /  Exclusive Excerpt #4 from Duty or Desire by Sharon Hughson

June 1st

Liz’s Reading Life  –  Author Interviews
Musings about the Writing Life  –  Author Interviews / Ebook Giveaway

June 2nd

Books, Movies, & Wine  –  Promotional  /  Exclusive Excerpt #5 of Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang
Alpha Book Club  –  Review / Ebook Giveaway

June 3rd

Book Reviews Virginia Lee  –  Review / Ebook Giveaway

Third Time Charm…is a Fantasy

You heard it here: the third time’s a charm. I’ve sold my third short story to Roane Publishing, and at last, it’s in the fantasy genre.

And by fantasy, I mean elves. And magic. And enchanted objects. Oh, and there’s romance, too because this anthology is filled with fantasy and romance. Because everyone has a romantic fantasy…or is that the same thing?

On to the awesome cover – and story blurbs for this collection of shorts which will be released on May 23, 2016 (just in time to be my anniversary gift to myself).

Masked_heartsMasked Hearts
A sweet romance anthology
By Various Authors
Publisher:
Roane Publishing
Release Date: May 23, 2016

What secrets do the Masked Hearts hold?

Dragons, elves and shifters abound in these five sweet, romantic fantasy tales. But, no matter the realm of origin or the race of the species, one theme resonates throughout. To find a love that’s lasting, one must be willing to take off the mask and reveal their true heart.

Affinity by Dana Wright

Behind the shadows lies the truth…
A magic mirror and a houseful of ghosts await Kristen when fate leads her to Wanderly House. Secrets and spirits consume her days, but one look in the magic mirror and her heart falls fast. A mask, a cloak, and a key leading her to an enchanted evening in the faery garden might be Kristen’s end as all that glitters may well have sharp teeth.
Magic mirror on the wall…
Connor is trapped in Faery. With only a view through a bewitched mirror to the real world, his attention is nabbed by a curious cat shifter with a ghostly following. Can he find a way to break the spell that binds him so he can reach the girl that haunts his dreams?
When the forces of Faery and Wanderly House collide, will Kristen and Connor’s love be enough to save them?

Water Woman by Claire Davon

Sparks fly when a Spanish water woman, and an African two-horned horse shifter meet at a masquerade. Kimoni has gone to ask Isidora to use her skills to aid him with his ailing grandfather. When strangers claiming to be Isidora’s relatives try to force her to share her powers, the pair is plunged into danger. Isidora and Kimoni look for a way to fight the ruthless intruders, while also saving his grandfather.
Using their combined powers, they meet the challenge, all the while conscious of the growing attraction between them. It has been a long time since Isidora has met a man who calls to her as Kimoni does. The strong, handsome horse shifter sings to her senses, and she sees a matching spark in his eyes. Can love between them blossom? Can a water woman and a horse shifter find happiness together?

Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang

The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.
For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair.

Feather Fall by Sheryl Winters

Brooke Adair’s autism has turned the world into a constant puzzle, especially when it comes to men. When she meets fellow swan shifter Blake Landen in a dream, Brooke feels a potential connection to someone who could understand her. If she lets him.
But trusting in Blake takes a whole lot more courage than Brooke has. After all, if she doesn’t take this leap, Brooke might miss out on meeting the one man she could actually learn to understand.

Duty or Desire by Sharon Hughson

Alyona Wyrden dwells contentedly in her elven realm, but when her brother disappears, she travels to Earth to bring him home.
Camden Kerr hunts down magical artifacts, keeping them out of the wrong hands. The amulet that draws Alyona to her brother is just the sort of object Cam’s after. The way his flesh responds to the lithe, blonde necklace wearer is a different matter altogether. When their paths keep crossing, Camden decides they can work together-until he discovers her elven heritage.
Can their attraction defeat prejudice? Which will rule—duty or desire?

Dragons, elves, shifters…magic mirrors, cursed amulets, spells. Sounds like these stories will satisfy any lover of fantasy tales.

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