Saturday, November 27, 2010

Excerpt: Duty and Devotion

Alright, here's my first excerpt for Duty and Devotion, which will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing June 2011. Duty and Devotion is about sisters, Nettie and Rinny Matterville, who head off to war. Along the way they discover true love can be found even in a time of conflict. Nettie learns true love isn’t always obvious; sometimes it’s right in front of your face. Rinny learns that love at first site can and does happen, but the real challenge is keeping it.

Just a reminder: The following excerpt is unedited and will vary upon edit and publication.


Sitting down to her music, Rinny meditated a few moments on her mood and decided upon upbeat and romantic. She pulled up a retro-romanticism Mendelssohn composition, one full of drama and energy. The notes flowed from her lips easier than any words ever could. All the passion and sensuality she buried during her average day released through her body and out the trumpet. Rinny displayed a depth of emotion and innermost truth through the composer’s musical elements and harmonies.

On the last note, she leaned back in her chair and enjoyed the moment of accomplishment. She’d booked the room for two hours. It was a great space in the arts and entertainment wing, which used to be part of the civilian city. Since it was a temporary take-over, the militia left it as-is. The owners continued to run it for soldiers on off-duty.

She looked up through the glass wall to see Lieutenant Gubvre. He gestured to the handle with an inquisitive expression. She sat the trumpet down on its holder and waved him in.

“You and I shouldn’t keep meeting like this,” she joked.

He smiled and shrugged, then clasped his hands behind his back. She realized this was a habit of his and for some reason it was appealing. The height of him was refreshing to someone who was always taller then everyone. From her sitting position, the feeling was exaggerated. By his posture, she could tell he came from an upper class family. Not from the Earth region, like her, but somewhere more exotic by his accent. Possibly the Saturn Rings.

“Yes. Well, I was passing through to see the painters and spotted you.” He released a hand long enough to gesture towards the music sheets. “I didn’t realize you played. You play well?”

A sound proof room, he wouldn't have heard her. Rinny patted the chair next to her. After he sat, she picked up the trumpet, pressed for another musical piece, and started playing. After the first few bars, she closed her eyes and continued. She relished the feeling of power that rose in her as she made what so many couldn’t. Felt from it what so many weren’t able too. The notes created a whole world just for her and a select few. She’d loved playing in the concert group and suddenly realized she’d missed it.

Halfway through she stopped, opened her eyes, and looked at him with a grin. It died on her lips. The intensity in his eyes flared the heat in her system. She lost her breath as she watched him look towards her lips and then back at her eyes.

“Don’t stop,” he whispered. “Please.”

Unable to trust her words, she picked the song back up. She closed her eyes again, but this time to keep her concentration. His gaze unnerved her, sending the attraction she felt into overdrive. She felt him draw his chair closer, his knee lightly tapped hers. Only years of experience enabled her to finish the song. For a moment, she kept her eyes closed.

They fluttered open when his fingers lightly grazed along the side of her face. Her breath caught and started again, more shallow. They stopped at her chin before sliding to the back where he grasped the nape of her neck. He looked over her hair, her face, her eyes, then at her mouth before drawing in. The kiss was soft, exploring, and perfect. Rinny let the breath seep out as she leaned in and it deepened. Then it was over and he stood.

“I’m…this…” he seemed to search for words. Stumbled over himself. His hands gestured. His eyes looked a little wild. Rinny stood, turned to put her instrument up.

“It’s okay Lieutenant. It was unexpected. No one needs to know it ever happened.” She turned her head back towards him, where he stood rigid. “Our little secret.”

Matterville, this would just be impossible. War is not a time to start a relationship.”

The anguish on his face softened her anger. He meant it, and she knew it was the right decision. “I know. It’s okay.”

She took his hand for a fleeting second, squeezed, and then released. He nodded awkwardly and left.


Okay, well there is my first excerpt to you all. Hope you liked it. This has been such a fun journey getting to publication and I can't wait to see it all together and released. If you'd like to know more or to see other books by Desert Breeze Publishing, click on the link below:

Desert Breeze Publishing:
Author Page:

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I've hit that familiar wall and soooo at the wrong time.

I've committed myself to NanoWriMo. I'm 10K from finishing...and I've hit my last scenes of Echoes of Regret. Since I'm a layering writer, this happens to me every time. I get to the end and cannot write it out until the other layers are put on. This wouldn't be such a problem, if I hadn't already started the manuscript (about 15K in). Now, if I were to start my layering fills, part of my NaNoWriMo word count would be in word count I did before NaNoWriMo began.

What to do? What to do? I could force the end, but I know it won't work. I've got too many already identified plot holes I know will affect the ending too significantly. I hate inefficiency and wasted effort.

I guess I could put on track changes and copy/paste into a side document at the end of each writing session. It's cumbersome, but I think the most plausible plan that fits my writing style.


Good writing all!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Author Interview: Stephanie Burkhart

Okay crew. I'm so excited about today's post. It's my first author interview. Stephanie Burkhart is a contributing author to Desert Breeze's newest SFR release, Borealis II. I thought I'd interview her about writing the anthology and about her story, Shadows and Light. Ready? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Steph: First, I'd like to thank Amber for having me here today to talk about the Borealis II Anthology and my short story, "Shadows and Light."

Just a little about me: After being raised in New Hampshire and growing a wicked New England accent, this Patriot fan joined the US Army for a great adventure. I spent 7 years in Germany and I miss Lullusfest, a weeklong bonfire festival in Bad Hersfeld that has really hot cinnamon schnapps. In 1991 I married a fair-haired California boy and in 2000 we settled in Castaic, just north of LA. I now work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher, and my wicked England accent is practically a whisper these days.

Amber: Before we get to your specific story tell us a little about the anthology and how you became a participating author.

Steph: Author J. Morgan was chatting to Gail Delaney, Editor-in-Chief, Desert Breeze Publishing, and said, "Wouldn't it be cool to write a science fiction anthology?" Gail ran with it. There are 3 stories in the Borealis II anthology, each centered around a backdrop of a space station.

One day at lunch, Gail mentioned it to me, and I told her I'd be interested. She kept me in mind. A couple weeks later she came up to me and asked if I wanted to write a story. I said sure. I had never tackled science fiction romance before so I was excited to try my hand in it.

Amber: Tell us a little about Shadows and Light.

Steph: Sarina, (from Gail's story in Borealis I, Forgive us our Debts) asked my heroine, Persephone Talon to investigate the Uudon Trade on the Borealis. Elijah Kess, also a member of the Rebellion, is there undercover. Soon, they start stepping on each other's toes. Persephone provides the shadows, Elijah provides the light in the story.

Amber: What was your inspiration for the story?

Steph: I was given a basic plot so I took inspiration in the little things. Casting my characters gives me inspiration, so I cast Frieda Pinto as Persephone and Kellan Lutz as Elijah. With Persephone's name and the cast of characters that support her, I turned to Greek mythology. Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit," inspired Persephone's bar, Korn.

Amber: What kind of research did you do for the story?

Steph: I just called on my love of Star Trek for my research. There's a little Savvik in Persephone. (She's telepathic and telekinetic) DS9 let me picture a space station in my mind.

Amber: What do you enjoy most about writing science fiction?

Steph: The creativity it allows an author to use.

Amber: Can you tell us more about your other published works?

Steph: "The Hungarian" is a paranormal romance about a werewolf who falls in love. It takes place in 1901. "The Giving Meadow" is my children's book with 4RV Publishing. It's about a caterpillar who travels through a meadow making friends and learning to share.

Amber: Any upcoming projects:

Steph: My next release with Desert Breeze is "The Count's Lair" and it's about Anton and Amelia from "The Hungarian."

I have a Christmas sort story coming out in a "A Christmas Collection, Stimulating" from Victory Tales Press on 15 NOV called "Christmas in Bayeux." Aiden reconnects with Noel on the Beaches of Normandy.

My horror short story called "The Scorpion Temple" will be released in issue 12 of the Ethereal Gazette in DEC 2010 with Lake Fossil Press. It has a Lovecraftian influence, and will be under my pen name, SG Cardin.

Amber: Where can we find you on the web?





Here's a link to the Shadows & Light Story Teaser on You Tube:

Apollo and Dan walked out. Persephone used her telekinesis to exit through the access hatch. She moved with elegant grace, like a panther through the tunnels until she climbed out through a hatch in the hallway near the lift that was next to the space dock. Civilians mulled about, not giving her a look. It was best for a civilian to mind their own business, especially in this area of the station.

Persephone waited next to the lift door, arms crossed. Adrenaline spiked through her body when the lift hummed to life. This was it -- the reward of the pursuit. This was where the rush of the thrill took over. It was a sensation she gave herself completely over to. Instincts, raw and powerful, were the only things that would save her and Elijah and get them off this Hades- forsaken station.

She stepped in front of the lift. The door slid open with a cold, metallic hiss.

Elijah stood between of two TPP enforcers, his eye still swollen, his lower lip cracked with dried blood. She marched into the lift and lashed out, striking both the enforcers in the stomach with her fists. They crumpled over, reacting as she expected them to. She shoved an elbow into one enforcer's back, forcing him to his knees. Her leg surged up, kicking the other enforcer in the jaw. He tumbled backward, struck his head on the sidewall, and fell unconscious. She spun around and saw the second enforcer fumbling for his pistol on his belt. She swung, her hand connecting with the side of his head. He fell over unconscious.

Elijah looked at her, his back against the wall of the lift, looking winded. "I thought you'd never come."

She pulled out a sim laser from her belt and motioned for Elijah to move away from the wall. Carefully, she used the laser to break the metal links of his cuffs. They fell, clanking to the floor.

"You needed a good sweat."

Elijah bent down, a little unsteady, and took the pistols from the unconscious enforcers. "I take it you have a plan?"

"Yeah, but it involves walking through Hades."

"You shouldn't have."

She grabbed his arm and looked directly at him. "Just point and shoot when we get to the space dock."

His lips curved into a small smile. "A woman after my own heart."


Goodie Time: Leave a response and I'll be back tomorrow, 10 NOV to pick two people to receive an autographed postcard of the Borealis II cover.

Answer this question: What's your favorite Star Trek series? How has Star Trek resonated with you? I'll pick a winner to receive a $6.00 GC to Amazon.

The Borealis II Anthology is available for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ebook Reader, All Romance Books and at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Here's a link to the Borealis II Anthology on the Desert Breeze Site:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Knowing and Understanding Limits

All is going well. Just finished a fun filled family day and now hitting the laptop for my daily NaNo word count. So far, NaNo has done three things for me.
  1. Confirmed I do have a very healthy writing habit that is consistent and productive
  2. Proved my plotting method really does work in streamlining and emphasising my creative flow
  3. Proved I could double my productivity without impeding on my family or stressing my creative boundaries
As a result, I will be adjusting my normal word count to increase my monthly goal. That is, NaNo aside, I commit to write 6K a week (two 1500 word count sessions during the week/one 3000 word count session on the weekend). Now, I will be committing myself to four 1500 word count session during the week and one 5000 word count session on the weekend. My new weekly writing goal will be 11K.

Of course, this will decrease when a manuscript is complete and I engage in my editing/revision phases. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Good writing all!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Guest Blogger: Vijaya Schartz on Writing The Chronicles of Kassouk

Please welcome Vijaya to the blog. I've been reading her series, The Chronicles of Kassouk and have fallen in love with the sci-fi behind the whole concept. So, I asked her to come on and tell you all a little about it. I'm telling you, it is well thought out, realistic, and...well...REALLY COOL! Without further ado, Vijaya!

Amber, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog.

Since the third book in THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK, BLACK JAGUAR, is out this month from DESERT BREEZE PUBLISHING here are a few points that make this series so special.


Each story in the Chronicles of Kassouk stands on its own, but reading all the novels in the right order allows the reader to perceive the evolution of the various societies I created for this series. The entire concept of the series is based on the contrast between people at different stages of evolution. What happens when an advanced galactic race decides to take advantage of a less developed population?

In Book One, WHITE TIGER, powerful aliens are worshiped as deities in the temple when their galactic enemies attack, and the Human population, at a medieval stage of development, is caught in the middle. In Book Two, RED LEOPARD, a Hybrid race of Mutants rules the planet, but forbids Humans to develop or use technology. And when their galactic Fathers return, the Mutants are divided. Again, the Human population is caught in the struggle. And in BLACK JAGUAR, Humans are exploring the other continents and find themselves as the high-tech race, compared to the natives... until they discover a scheming galactic interloper...

But in all these stories, although technology is powerful, Human ingenuity, courage, and will power usually triumph in the end, even against impossible odds. I am partial to good endings, where the villains get their due and the heroes their rewards. That’s why we read fiction.


Because the Human population of Kassouk originated from the crash of Noah’s Ark, a science vessel from Earth, meant to seed another planet with animal life, many familiar species are found on New Earth, and large felines abound. After the Human technology was destroyed in the harsh conditions of the frozen planet, the knowledge was lost over generations in favor of survival skills, like hunting. Eventually, a new low-tech society emerged, and only legends tell of their origins.

But the Humans of Kassouk have learned to tame wild felines as pets (a kitten is a kitten after all, no matter how big) and they enjoy a special bond with them. They also train them for battle. These fiercely loyal companions are found throughout the series, and Human warriors like to take feline battle names. Each title in the series is the battle name of a warrior (male or female). The animals risk and sometimes sacrifice their lives to protect their Human masters. A few special characters, like Tora in White Tiger, and Talina in Black Jaguar, can even communicate with them, mind-to-mind.


I always loved sci-fi, but as a woman, I often missed the feminine element. I remember my mother saying "I don’t like movies with no women." Later I understood that what she missed was not just the women, but the interaction between the two genders, and the complications, romantic or otherwise, that derive from their being thrown together into some kind of conflict.

Early on, while writing straight sci-fi, I joined Romance Writers of America, because they offered sound guidance and professional advice for new writers. Then I realized that what was missing in most Sci-Fi stories was the romantic element. So, I decided to write sci-fi romance, a complete science-fiction or fantasy plot, cool aliens, lots of action, with a love story, emotional conflicts, and sensual scenes throughout, all the elements I love. Unfortunately, at the time, no one was publishing sci-fi romance. Until a few gutsy small publishers launched this new genre, and it has been growing exponentially ever since. Thanks to them, sci-fi is now open to the female market.

Find out more about all my books at:

You can also find my books on Amazon at:

And at Are (All Romance eBooks) at:

Hope you enjoy burying yourself in the CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK. I’m presently writing book Four, titled BLUE LIONESS, and scheduled for release in August 2011. Noah’s Ark, the prequel and last book in the series, will follow in April 2012.

Thanks again, Amber, for the chance to appear on your wonderful blog.

Vijaya Schartz

Thank you, Vijaya, for giving us an insight into your series. I would recommend this series for anyone interested in SFR with equal doses of SF and R. Top quality writing and top quality world building.

Good writing all!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Coming Attractions

Hi all! I just wanted to let you all know about some exciting coming attractions this month. Sprinkled in with the chaos of NaNoWriMo, I'll be blogging about the following groovy things:

Wednesday, November 3rd: Guest blogger, Vijaya Schartz on board talking about the science fiction concept behind her series Chronicles of Kassouk.

Tuesday, November 9th: Author Interview with Stephanie Burkhart talking about her short story, Shadow and Light, which appears in the newly released Borealis Book Two Anthology.

I'll also being doing two book reviews this month. Jack McDevitt's The Devil's Eye and Dean Koontz The Taking. Last but not least I'll be posting my first of many monthly conference debriefs. This first one is on marketing materials and tools I learned about. I might throw in a resurrected Science Update too...but we'll see.

Oh! And I'll be giving my first ever excerpt for Duty and Devotion (due out June 2011) towards the end of the month.

Alrighty, I think that's all the coming attractions for November.

Good writing all!