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Monday, April 29, 2013

Ending a Series

They say time flies when you’re having fun. I can’t believe how the time has flown since I started writing SWITCHED back in the 1990s. After rejections from several New York publishers, SWITCHED found a home in 2001 with ImaJinn, a new niche publisher of paranormal romance.

SWITCHED started with a “what if . . .” as so many stories do. What if a young woman was abducted by aliens? What if those aliens (many of whom looked human) had been studying us as a primitive species? What if an unethical scientist had separated Terran twins before birth to study their behavior? What if one of those twins, raised on an alien planet, wanted to find her biological family on Earth and accidentally switched places with her identical twin?

I didn’t set out to write a series. I just wanted to tell a story of the Earth twin who ended up on a starship and fell in love with the captain. As I wrote Jessie’s story, her twin who had been raised in a restrictive society intrigued me. They were such opposites. Many environment did have the greatest impact on one’s personality. Before fans asked when Veronese’s story was coming out, I’d already started writing her story.

Life’s circumstances prevented the publication of SWITCHED, TOO until last June. I wanted to tell Veronese’s story in space plus what was happening on Earth to Jessie and her captain, a victim of the same experiment as Jessie and Veronese. In order to stay on Earth, the captain switched places with his twin, a NASA reject. By the time I realized wrapping up those two stories would make the book way too long, I knew a third book was necessary. 

That’s how SWITCHED RESOLUTION came about. True love never runs smooth. Doubt and insecurities are bad enough, but what if villains planned more dastardly deeds? What if . . . Well, you get the picture.

For over fifteen years, the characters—those on Earth and on the alien starship—became as familiar as if they were part of my life. Okay, my imaginary life. LOL Like most authors who write a series, especially one with a cast of characters, I had to keep everybody straight. Some writers call it a “bible”—I called my files “details” and “characters.” Real original, huh? But if I didn’t, sharp-eyed readers would call me on it.

I had a blast writing the series. While I love Jessie and Marcus, Veronese and Scott, Drakus and . . . well, all of them, it’s time to let them go. I’m saddened, as if moving away from dear friends, but they’re on their own now to live their own lives. Will I return to that world? I don’t think so. But . . . You never know when the “what ifs” will start up again.

I hope you enjoy SWITCHED RESOLUTION. 

Come on back here next Monday for the launch.

Here’s a first time ever excerpt:

Something was very wrong.
Lilliam Cabbeferron had returned to Spacedock to retrieve her dress uniform from her quarters aboard ship. She never needed it during shore leave on Serenia before. But Space Fleet Command had just ordered the entire crew of the Freedom to serve as General Porcazier’s honor guard at the next day’s opening ceremonies of their Founders’ Day Celebration.
As she walked down the deserted corridors on Freedom’s Secondary Level, she had the strangest feeling. The ship felt . . . different.
It wasn’t unusual to find no one about, at least on this level. The Maintenance and Repair crew had come aboard immediately after the Freedom docked earlier that day at Serenia Space Station Alpha. The M & R crew would be in the tail of the ship overhauling the engines. The Janitorial crew usually started on Primary Level of the main section, saving Engineering for last as they thoroughly cleaned the ship, literally, from top to bottom.
She’d thought it odd to find the main ramp and airlock to the ship barricaded but assumed the Janitorial crew had finished that area and didn’t want the night M & R crew to traipse through when they arrived to relieve the day crew. Someone should have put up a sign.
Having been aboard the Freedom for three tours, she knew other ways to enter without disturbing the workers who would be very irritated if they had to leave their work just to open the airlock for her. However, that meant she had to retrace her steps down the docking bay and around to another near the ship’s shuttle bay, but Lilliam preferred to avoid conflict.
The Freedom had just returned after six months of war, followed by three weeks of sabotage from an unknown terrorist. Conflict avoidance seemed like a precious and rare commodity—something she hadn’t always done. But then she’d put that part of her life behind her when she reinvented herself and joined Alliance Space Fleet.
In her quarters, she retrieved her uniform. While looking for her Lerossian insignia and her Alliance commendation pins, a source of immense pride, she heard the main engine power up. Although she had never come aboard before during refit, she supposed it wasn’t unusual to test the engine during routine maintenance while in Spacedock.
Lilliam checked the chronometer on her link. Planning to meet friends at a small cafe not far from the Spaceport terminal, she didn’t want to be late. Since shuttles regularly transported people down to the surface, she shouldn’t have a problem. Still, as soon as she left her quarters she hurried down one corridor then another. One of her shipmates likened the midsection, where the majority of the crew had their quarters, to a maze. On her first tour, she’d frequently gotten lost. With the conveyance to the shuttle bay still a distance away, she quickened her step.
Ten meters from the main corridor, she heard the conveyance open and the automated voice say, “Secondary Level.”
The conveyance was another fifteen meters down the main corridor and around a curve. With little time to reach it, she started to run. Suddenly, a sense of warning came over her and she stopped. That’s when she heard the voices. Stygian voices.
How unusual for Stygians to be on Alpha Station’s M & R or Janitorial crew, especially with tension running high between Serenia and Stygia.
“I don’t see why we have to search this level,” a male said. “Let those other two do it.”
“They’re searching Primary Level. This is our job.” Another male.
Lilliam’s specialty in xenolinguistics enabled her to understand him and his companion without the aid of a universal translator. For some odd reason, the tiny device that the crew wore behind their ears irritated her skin. If not for her training in languages, she would have had to wear an earpiece even bulkier than the device she wore when on duty, which enabled her to receive communication from outside the ship.
“But that warning about a maleferrus leak already cleared the ship.”
Lilliam’s heart jolted before she remembered the Freedom didn’t carry that deadly gas.
“Yeah. Did you see how fast those guys left Engineering?”
“Not as fast as the cleaning crew. Kabosec had a good idea.”
Wait a second. Kabosec? Lilliam had heard that name before. He was one of the captured rebels.
The voices grew faint as the men entered rooms. Lilliam debated what to do. They were in the main corridor. Between her and the conveyance.
“I don’t see why we’re doing this?” The male must be back in the main corridor—out so quickly he could only have done a cursory check. “The ship is empty except for us.”
“You heard Hervimb. She ordered every level checked. If you ask me, she should be in charge, not that Serenian.”
Now Lilliam knew something was very wrong. Captain Viator had incarcerated Hervimb—that traitorous fem—along with the rest of the captured rebels. She couldn’t be giving orders.
Lilliam backed around a corner. A beep from a general comm speaker above her head made her jump. It signaled a ship-wide broadcast.
“Engineering, are all systems ready for departure?” That sounded like Science Officer Xaropa.
“Aye, Captain.” The gravelly voice—not Chief Luqett’s—sounded like a Fleurian male. Even odder than Stygian searchers because Fleurians never worked on Serenian vessels.
Hold on. The Fleurian said Captain Xaropa. Surely Space Fleet Command hadn’t demoted Captain Viator because of his detour to Earth. Then another thought occurred. How odd that Mr. Xaropa was leaving Serenia when the entire crew was supposed to be at the opening ceremonies in a few hours. The celebration was part of his Serenian heritage.
If the ship was preparing to depart Spacedock, she had to get off without the Stygians seeing her. Maybe she could go back through the maze of quarters, circle around and reach the conveyance from the other direction. As she dithered, she heard Mr. Xaropa say, “Clear all moorings” followed by the release of the latches that attached the starship to the Space Station.
“Captain, I told you the bio-scanner is not working. My people haven’t made sure the ship is cleared.” That came from Hervimb, the Freedom’s former Security Chief. The traitor.
An icy chill raced down Lilliam’s spine. By the stars, Hervimb had escaped. She and the rest of the rebels.
“Continue the search once we’re underway," Xaropa said. "If you find anyone, push them out an airlock and let them float home.”

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sneak Peek Sunday - Switched Resolution

Welcome back to Sneak Peek Sunday. Unless you read the end of Switched, Too, this is the first peek at SWITCHED RESOLUTION (formerly called Switched the Aftermath).


Actions have consequences as Space Fleet Captain Marcus Viator and NASA reject Scott Cherella discover when they switched places. Switched Resolution, which wraps up the Switched series, takes the reader from Earth—where Marcus adjusts to a pregnant Jessie—to the starship Freedom commandeer by rebels, to the chase ship with Scott and Veronese aboard.

Sneak Peek:

     “I want to meet my mother,” Marcus said. For too long, he had put off meeting the woman whose genetic makeup he shared.

     Jessie looked up from the appliance she was repairing. “Are you sure?”

     Marcus folded his arms and leaned against the garage’s overhead door frame. “Is one ever certain of such events?”

     “Pretty momentous.” She arched her eyebrow in what he imagined was an imitation of him. “Do you think you’re ready?”

     “I very much doubt I will ever be ready. However, the longer I delay the more difficult it will be.”

     She acknowledged that with a nod. “She should be back from her trip. Frankly, I thought she would be over here by now. She’s the Ms. Fix-it Shop’s best customer. It’s been a while since something broke. Notice, I did not say she broke anything.” She gave him a droll look. “Your mother has the worst luck with appliances.”

SWITCHED RESOLUTION will be available on May 6th.

To read Sneak Peeks from other authors click here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Welcome Anne Ashby

 Author Anne Ashby is here with her latest book. Welcome back, Anne.

Hi Diane, thanks for inviting me to visit with you. I've interviewed Jason McEwan from my latest release The CEO Gets Her Man and hope I've conveyed just a little of how he's definitely an all-round-mister-nice-guy.

Meet Jase McEwan from The CEO Gets Her Man

Good morning Jason, thanks for joining me today. As you know we are compiling an article about New Zealand hotels off the beaten track. Riversleigh Resort definitely fits that premise and your manager suggested we speak to you. Thanks for agreeing to participate.

(Jase settles into a chair with a welcoming smile)

You're better known to us all for your prowess on the rugby field. How did you get into the hotel industry?
My parents were quick to point out that my chosen career wouldn't last a lifetime, they encouraged me to have a back-up plan.

But why hotel management?
(With a shrug) I enjoy people. I like showcasing our country. I like the variety the hospitality industry allows.

You're not tempted to work in some of the big city hotels?
I spent enough time in big city hotels during my playing days. They can be quite sterile and lack character. I prefer it here. Besides, I grew up just over the hill from Riversleigh. This is home to me.

You were a member of our national rugby team the All Blacks for many years. It must have been a huge change in lifestyle to join hotel management?

Wasn't it difficult to give up such a high profile lifestyle?
(Stirs uneasily in his seat) I didn't give it up by choice

No, of course, you were injured. The doctors couldn't restore you to full fitness?
(Jase's hand begins to rub his shoulder) I thought this interview was about the hotel?

Yes, yes, of course. It's just I'm sure the readers would be interested to know why a famous rugby player is now working in a hotel.
I assure you you'll find ex-rugby players working in more interesting and unusual places than Riversleigh. If you want to do an article about that do some research and I'm sure you'll find stories more exciting than mine. (back stiffens) Now what did you want to know about Riversleigh?

Riversleigh Resort had been having staffing problems for some time, I understand?
We had some problems but we were working our way through the difficulties.

Were you really? I understood your chef and kitchen staff were on the brink of leaving?
That's not quite true.

I heard the chef had been dismissed. Why didn't you approach Head Office in Wellington with your concerns about the General Manager?
We sort out our own problems, not go running to the boss. Anyway I understood unattainable constraints had already been imposed by those in Head Office.

It must have been a shock for you to discover that untrained waitress was actually Debra Laurie?
(One shoulder lifts)

How did you feel when she walked into that conference room?
In a word, gutted.

You had no idea who she was?
I knew she wasn't a waitress.

You'd developed quite a close relationship with Debbie the waitress?
(Eyes narrow) I don't know where you got that idea from.

You spent the night together in Queenstown.
We did not spend the night together. We were unexpectedly forced to stay the night because of a road accident. Yes, we were in the same hotel. (Leans forward and glares) No, we were not in the same room. No, we were not together.

You were also stuck in a lift for some hours together, what did you talk about?
(an angry hiss of air escapes) Explain to me how this has anything to do with Riversleigh or this supposed article of yours?

Ahh. Where do you see the resort going in the next five years?
We are currently concentrating on increasing our guest numbers. Finding ways to attract them. We have some tourism ideas we intend to discuss with the local residents. See if anyone is interested in pursuing a couple of adventure businesses which would be ideal for the area and will help attract visitors to the region.  We also want to develop our facilities further and hope to enlarge the gym and increase the spa area to include a steam room alongside the existing sauna.

You have developed a good working relationship with Debra's mother?
I think we'll be able to continue working together successfully.

It doesn't bother you that she is Debra's mother?
Why should it bother me?

Do you ever discuss Debra?
Why would we discuss Debra?

Does Karin realise you had become quite close with her daughter before she returned to Wellington?
Is there anything else you'd like to ask about Riversleigh? (looks at his watch) I have a staff meeting in a few minutes.

I understand there is a managers' conference in Wellington next month. Will you be seeing Debra?
As she is the company CEO I dare say she will be present

Are you intending to make any personal approaches to her?

Do you expect she will be singling you out at all?
I think you must have enough for your article now (stands up). You know your way out?

Do you wish she'd single you out? Do you have any aspirations for a relationship with Debra?
Good luck with your article. Goodbye (thrown over his shoulder as he walks out)

Back Blurb: The CEO Gets Her Man
Ensuring her company's success is Debra Laurie’s life. But when she goes undercover to investigate a failing hotel in southern New Zealand, she finds her confidence crumbling. Masquerading as a waitress is a disaster—especially when the hotel’s assistant manager is a former rugby star she once had a crush on.

Jase McEwan is struggling to keep the hotel afloat. An unpredictable manager, ridiculous demands from the head office, and employee unrest are problems enough. Now a haughty new waitress is causing mayhem in the restaurant—and in his heart.

Determined to be impartial, Debra sets out to discover if Jase is responsible for the hotel’s drastic situation. But the more she investigates, the more she likes his work—and the more their attraction sizzles. Before long, Jase has turned Debra’s world upside-down. But what happens when he learns the new waitress is really his CEO?
Excerpt from The CEO Gets Her Man
Jase dragged his lanky form from the car with all the enthusiasm of a condemned prisoner taking his final walk. Ignoring the squally shower’s skipping water across the puddled pavement Jase trudged across the car park.
He rubbed the persistent ache in his shoulder. The winter chill gnawed incessantly at the injury and was a constant reminder of his hopelessness.
Jase’s heart tripped and he stumbled at the edge of the glow of Riversleigh Resort’s main entrance. His mouth dried and the now-familiar tightening at the rear of his throat was back, threatening to choke him. Why?
The light wasn’t reminiscent of Twickenham, Ellis Park, or any other international rugby stadium. Hell, the sight wasn’t even reminiscent of the local Rugby Park in New Zealand’s southern-most city, Invercargill. So why did those images always materialize to haunt him? Every day this view reminded him of what he’d lost.
With his eyes clenched to obliterate the vision, he sucked in a deep breath and let it whoosh from his mouth with all the force of a tsunami conquering an unsuspecting beach. The mantra of numbers reverberated through his brain, his rigid lips mouthing the words until he’d regained his acceptable facade. He’d practised this pretence so many times he felt almost comfortable.
With measured determination he straightened his suit jacket and checked his tie. He’d conquered his demons again--for now. Jase drove back his broad shoulders and concentrated on lightening his gait as he strolled through the automatic doors.
The cheerful greeting he intended never sounded. Remembered bitterness had frozen his vocal cords. He tried again.
“Morning, people.” The words sounded harsh and scratchy to his ears. He hoped his twisted lips resembled some sort of smile and covered any perception of displeasure as he approached the main reception desk. The young porter’s scramble to attention suggested his expression was probably more grotesque.
“Good morning, boss,” the receptionist answered with the cheery smile required by her position. The night manager’s head shot from behind the office door and he pointedly checked the clock behind him.
“Hey boss-man, it’s not even five. You trying to catch us napping or something?”
His friend’s quip helped to further ease the tension inside him. “As I remember it, you were always too cunning to get caught,” Jase’s plastic smile turned genuine.
White teeth flashed as Hemi Nikau rounded the reception desk. He chuckled as he accompanied Jase past the bank of elevators and toward the administration offices at the back of the hotel. “What you need is someone warm in your bed. Coming to work at these ungodly hours would soon lose its appeal.”
Anxiety scoured Jase’s smile. The death of his career had signalled the death of his social life, too. Hell, in a town this small he already knew everyone and also knew there was zero chance of developing any meaningful relationship.
The girls he’d known at school were either long married or long gone. Fraternising with guests didn’t appeal. It wasn’t professional, nor could that type of socialising be the answer to his forlorn existence.
The vice around his chest tightened. Hemi expanding on his theory would only stab more pins into Jase’s still leaky self-control. With his mouth drier than the Sahara, he quickly changed the subject. “Anything I should know about?”

The CEO Gets Her Man is available at all major online book sellers.

The Wild Rose Press:  http://bit.ly/10fl6ur
Amazon:                   http://amzn.to/U5cnYb
GoodReads:              http://bit.ly/132jqYX

In case the shortened links don’t work, here they are again

Anne Ashby bio:
I grew up in the tiny township of Colac Bay, in New Zealand's most southern province, Southland. Books and my widowed mother's storytelling filled a huge part of our family life when I was young, mainly because it felt like we were the last family in New Zealand to get a television set. I guess I'm a chip of the ole block.
For years I was a closet romance reader. All through a very satisfying career with the Royal New Zealand Navy I dreamed of writing but never imagined those dreams might one day materialise.
Temporarily living in USA in 2000 I found the courage to attend a romance writing course - after all, no-one would know me there - instructed by multi-published Silhouette writer Loree Lough and my life changed forever. Not only did I throw open the 'romance' closet doors, but I wrote my first 100K story. I'd become a romance writer.
I'm so lucky my husband supports my writing ambitions. Both he and our four children are always ready to give me new ideas or supply the odd word or phrase that might be escaping me. Their help and encouragement is invaluable. Now, if only I could figure out how to convince them housework is great for the soul.
I have five books currently published with The Wild Rose Press with both digital and print. There will always be a touch of New Zealand in my stories, normally the setting, but if not, at least one of my main characters is a New Zealander.

Find Anne Ashby Here:
Website:       www.anneashby.com
Twitter:        www.twitter.com/AuthorAnneAshby

Anyone leaving a comment, please be aware I live on the opposite side of the world from you and may not be able to reply close to when you post. Though I will reply to everyone as I'm able to.

Thanks again Diane, I'm looking forward to hearing from your readers.

My pleasure, Anne. It's always great hearing about your new books.

Readers: Anne has graciously offered a PDF copy of The CEO Gets Her Man to a lucky commenter. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment.