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Katherine Eddinger Smits: The Chambered Nautilus (Contest)
Friday, March 29th, 2019

UPDATE: The winner is…Debra Guyette!
*~*~*

My new release, Water Desires, Love’s Siren Song book two features a chambered nautilus on the cover. It’s an important symbol to the story and one that has fascinated me for many years.

The chambered nautilus is a sea creature mostly found in the Pacific and Indian oceans at depths of between about 300 and 1500 feet. They have a spiral shell similar in appearance on the outside to a snail. The inside is made up of rooms that the animal uses until it grows too large for the space, walls it off, and creates a new room. They can grow up to two pounds in weight and their shells can have as many as 30 chambers. Their natural life span can be 15 to 20 years. Unfortunately, they are endangered due to people harvesting them for their beautiful shells and loss of habitat as the coral reefs die.

The chambered nautilus is often called a living fossil because it has not changed its shape in millions of years, yet it constantly grows throughout its lifetime. It is a symbol of strength because it can withstand the pressure of deep water. It is also a symbol of balance. Its shape is an almost perfect logarithmic spiral and an example of a golden spiral. This leads to way too much geometry for me. However, if you are interested, a lot can be found on the internet about the spiral shape.

To me, the chambered nautilus represents the complexity of the labyrinth within the eternity of the circle. Since it is a sea creature, it is a perfect icon for the Nerei, or mermaids and mermen who are the main characters of my books.

Did you know that the poem, “The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell Holmes references mermaids? Here’s the first stanza:

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

In the poem, the nautilus shell is broken and lying open with the chambers exposed. The creature that lived within is gone. This should be an image of sadness and death but though poignant is actually hopeful. Maybe the animal has found another home, one that is even more wonderful than the shell he left behind.

That’s what the chambered nautilus means to the characters in Water Desires. It gives them hope for the future and something to hold on to when storms of all kinds rock their world.

The sea and its denizens are of vital concern to me. Too many are endangered (manatees, sea turtles, and whales, for example) and pollution is a major threat, especially plastic melded into virtual islands in the oceans. I’m supporting removing plastic in order to help save our water and our planet.

4Ocean is an organization that makes super cute bracelets out of recycled plastic. With the sale of each bracelet, they use part of the proceeds to remove one pound of plastic from the ocean. Here’s a link to their site: https://4ocean.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiA4t_iBRApEiwAn-vt-5bfdPJp-XGrCzIP5ZuC73fjs5IFJCov8b3mqvmnMl6YsmPhTj5WpBoC1I8QAvD_BwE

I will gift one reader a 4Ocean bracelet.

Do you think mermaids would hate plastic except as a recycled bracelet? Tell me your thoughts about how we should work to save the oceans. Or tell me which sea creature is your favorite. You don’t have to say why, although I would love to know. I’ll pick one comment at random and send that person a 4Ocean bracelet. You can choose the color.

Thank you for hosting me here, Delilah. I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to talk about the chambered nautilus, my new release, and my passion for cleaning up the ocean!

Water Desires

When a strange Nerei (merman) carries an unconscious and badly injured Bas in from the Aegean Sea, Nik (a human woman) knows she must get him to an island in the Atlantic where a hidden spring of healing water will restore her secret Nerei lover.

At the same time, her adoptive father is dying from a boating accident in her home town of Tarpon Springs, and he’s asking for her. While battling a strange illness which antibiotics won’t cure, Nik must figure out a way to save Bas and get home to help her father. When Bas follows Nik to Florida, he is forced to keep his distance from her.

He has already escaped one death sentence for having a relationship with a human and he can’t risk another one. Still, he’s furious when Nik turns to her old friend, a mage Bas dislikes, to help her unravel the hidden truth behind her father’s accident.

Water Desires is Book II in the Love’s Siren Song Series. The thrilling sequel to the award-winning Water Dreams will drag you under and not let you up for air until the end. If you like mermaids, mages, and magical romance, you’ll love this book. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/mermaidromance

About the Author

Katherine Eddinger Smits started writing stories in grade school. While she raised her family and worked as a Clinical Social Worker at four different Veterans Affairs Medical Centers around the country, she honed her ideas for novels. Since she retired to pursue her passion for writing, she has published three paranormal romances. She has also written numerous blogs and book reviews. Katherine lives with her husband in Homosassa, Florida and Falling Waters, West Virginia. They have a daughter who resides in Alexandria, Virginia and a son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters in Chesapeake, Virginia. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sunshine State Romance Authors, Florida Writers Association and Outreach International Romance Writers. Information about her books, blogs, reviews, and other activities is available at her website: www.katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com

Augustina Van Hoven: The Scattering of Seeds
Thursday, March 28th, 2019

The other day I was watching Apollo 13. I love that movie. The signature line of the movie “Houston, we have a problem” is now a regular part of our slang vocabulary. My favorite scene in the movie is where the engineers enter a work room and place a lot of objects on the table. The lead engineer tells everyone that they need to make a square filter fit into a round filter holder using only the items on the table. The engineering and work that made our space program possible was amazing. I was a child when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. I remember sitting in the living room with my family and all of us glued to the television set. My love for space and science fiction stories dates back to that time.

As I got older I watched the STAR WARS movies and television shows like STAR TREK, BABYLON 5, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and FARSCAPE. I love space stories and all the imagination it takes to create new worlds and non-human sentient beings. I often fantasized about traveling to different worlds and meeting their inhabitants.

In 2006, Stephen Hawking stated that humanity faces two options: either we colonize space within the next two hundred years and build residential units on other planets, or we will face the prospect of long term extinction. NASA has as its ultimate goal, space colonization. With this in mind, I have created my New Frontier series involving a group of people who are leaving earth to colonize a new world. The prequel to the series is THE LAST CHRISTMAS ON EARTH. The first book is THE SCATTERING OF SEEDS. The second book in the series is coming out in June.

Do you like to read and watch stories about space?

The Scattering of Seeds

Two worlds, one other-worldly adventure…

The handsome, Duncan McGregor believes the answers to the questions in his soul can be found by looking to those who have come before him. And just like his ancestors, he’s venturing into a new world to begin a life they could only have dreamed of—a life in outer space. And yet as he reaches this wild new frontier, he finds that his old-fashioned values are being tested by this hard-edged life.

And his first hurdle is no less than Ariel Lindstrom, the daughter of the governor, who may look like an aloof fairy princess but who acts with strength and courage. Thanks to her experiences inside the corrupt world of politics, she’s been forced to grow up fast and hard. She fears her life is about to grow more difficult if rumors of an alliance between the corporation she works for and an alien regime are true.

For them to survive, they must blend the lessons learned by experience with the freedom and bravery that lies in the hearts of an explorer. Can their two worlds come together, or will their adventures in outer space only end in disaster?

Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Scattering-Seeds-New-Frontier-Book-ebook/dp/B07BTFG5Y2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1524717739&sr=8-3&keywords=augustina+van+hoven
Barnes and Noble
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-scattering-of-seeds-augustina-van-hoven/1128330207;jsessionid=69EB820E377D07864CBF87D654A8B165.prodny_store02-atgap11?ean=2940155573609
iBooks
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1366513065
Kobo
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-scattering-of-seeds

Taking a deep breath…
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Maybe you can see it. The white fingertips on the black coffin. Those were made by one of the members of the military honor guard at my father’s funeral. The pallbearers left their boutonniere’s on top on top of the casket. The hearse is in the background. What you can’t see is the rain. This photo and the ones below are from Friday’s funeral. I’m  backdating the post, because I shut down my computer for the week, which meant I didn’t blog for all those days. But now, I want to catch up and share with you what happened in my life, and what the authors who were scheduled to appear wanted to share with you over those missing days.

All my father’s children came to the funeral. As well, all the “grands” and most of the “greats” were there to see him laid to rest. Mom couldn’t have been happier about that. Or more proud of this moment…

It was a hard week. And we let many things slide because every bed was filled in our house, and every night was spent in great company, eating wonderful food provided by our extended family. On Friday night, we had a wake at the house. There was beer and wine, a guitar came out and the living room was filled with our voices. There was a lot of laughter after a week filled with many, many tears.

Had to share this photo of the 5-year-old. No gray or black for her. She wanted to wear her “graduation” dress — the dress she’ll wear when her dad graduates from the police academy in a few weeks. She was a ray of sunshine in a sea of dreary color and a lovely symbol of our hope for the future of my father’s most cherished legacy — his family.

 

The funeral’s set for Friday…
Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

The funeral’s set for Friday. The family is gathering. Because my parents had a burial policy and a funeral home already selected, there’s not a lot of stress involved with the “arrangements.” It’s nice to know family is ready to converge, but at the same time, I crave quiet.

My dd and my sister have been gems. Both working so hard to get ready for company and organize dad’s “effects”. Mom’s been making lists of relatives to call and agencies to inform. My sister has already written what she wants to say at his funeral, and I haven’t been able to organize a thought about what I would say. I won’t. I’ll be there, but I don’t want to be. They’re eager to honor him, but I want to climb into a deep dark hole and sleep. And I feel guilty about that and the fact I haven’t cried as much as they have.

While everyone efficiently went through his clothing to see what family members might use and what might be donated, I wanted to shoo them all from the room, because they were moving too fast for me. I did have the thought that I wanted some of his shirts, ones I remember he wore a lot because I needed to keep something, and I thought…pillows. Just to cling a while longer, because everyone else is so eager to purge. Or that’s the way it feels to me. And now, I don’t want them to read this, but I’ll leave it anyway and hope they don’t.

All I can think is that, like with Grandma, I’m thankful he needed me at the end. I was here when shit hit the fan. I called the ambulance. I tended the sores on his feet for months, cleaning them, bandaging them. I made him breakfasts and brought him coffee. I don’t have to say words over him. I won’t. When they are all gone, I’ll be here for Mom.

Okay, so there’s a tear. Two. Three. I’m done. I just have to get through Friday.

RIP, Dad
Monday, March 25th, 2019

Captain of the Go-Devil football team. A proud Air Force veteran.
As cute as could be.

My favorite photograph of us, because he felt foolish holding the photo-booth sign and hated getting his picture taken, but he did it anyway with a twinkle in his eye.

Michal Scott: The Fourth ‘R’ – Resilience
Sunday, March 24th, 2019

School Days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days

How many of us can fill in the three ‘R’s that make up the next line?

I’ll bet many, if not all of us can. Those three ‘R’s explain why, in this country, education prizes what’s right-brain over left-brain, what’s in the head over the heart or the spirit. But it’s what’s in our hearts and our spirits that enables us to thrive. It’s in our hearts and our spirits that the fourth ‘R’ lies, and this ‘R’ to my mind is so much more needed if I am ever to make use of the other three.

It’s this fourth ‘R’ that pulsed through Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive and Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman. It’s this fourth ‘R’ that showed up big time as thousands of women marched in January 2017 in Washington D.C. and all over the world. It’s this fourth ‘R’ that rings loudly and proudly in Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise”. It’s this fourth ‘R’ that I found (and continue to find) over and over again as I research African-American women for my historical romances. I found inspiration for my latest heroine in one of those women, Frances E.W. Harper.

Born in 1825, Frances and her family were free blacks living in the then slave state of Maryland. She started publishing poetry in 1845 and wrote regularly for anti-slavery newspapers. She left Maryland in 1850 and taught at Union Seminary in Ohio. She began lecturing in 1854 and from 1856 to 1860 spoke for the Anti-Slavery Society in Maine. Imagine if you will the harassment a woman of color must have encountered during the pre-civil war era, yet she persisted. That takes heart. That takes spirit. In short, that’s resilience. During reconstruction she persisted in her activism, and in 1896 she helped found the National Association of Colored Women. By the time of her death in 1911, she had at least six collections of poems and several novels.

I’m grateful for women like Frances E.W. Harper and hope I do justice to the resilience in lives like hers by the resilient heroines I create for my stories.

From STRANDED, Put It In A Book
by Michal Scott

Stranded

The daughter of ex-slaves, Aziza Williams uses her freedom to teach slaves to read, a law-breaking activity that forces her to flee the United States for the Free and Independent Republic of Liberia where her independent and injustice-confronting ways garner the unwanted sexual attention of a dibia, Dulee Morlu. In a cruel twist of fate, Morlu uses Aziza’s love for education against her and imprisons her in a book. He declares she will remain there until she submits to him. After a month of imprisonment, Aziza despairs that Morlu is right: no one will ever read her book. Fear that she may surrender to him begins to overwhelm her. Then one day, hope flutters through her spirit as she senses the unfamiliar touch of Sekou Caine, an audacious and inquisitive thief, leafing through her pages.

Excerpt:

A multiple volume encyclopedia stood on shelves at chest level in a far corner. Morlu would want his wealth within easy reach. Sekou pulled down the first volume and riffled through the pages. Paper currency of all types fluttered to his feet like leaves whirling from the branches of bombax trees in winter.

Clever, Dibia. But not clever enough.

Sekou chuckled and rifled through volume after volume. By the time he reached Z a pile of money lay on the floor. He scooped the cash into his swag sack, laughing quietly at his haul.

He thrust the last volume back into place, knocking a slender manuscript off the shelf.

The Story of Aziza.

He recognized the title of the book with which Morlu had taunted him. He picked it up, fanned the pages with his thumb. A sigh drifted past him. Startled, he crouched and looked left then right. Only the night breeze disturbed the silence. He fanned through the pages again. This time a scent – light like rain, sweet like honey – graced the air.

He stared at the face of a withered old hag on the book’s cover. The image had repulsed and fascinated him. The gaze in her eyes shone with intelligence and defiance, so unlike the villagers lionizing the dibia at this moment.

Sekou opened to the flyleaf. There the image of a black beauty stared back at him. Her skin was as smooth as the hag’s was wrinkled, but the same intelligent defiance shone in her eyes. He traced the outline of her chin jutting forth with pride.

“So, ladies…” He feathered his fingers along her full lips then examined the woman on the cover again. “To which one of you does this story belong?”

Aziza’s chest heaved. Warmth from the intruder’s fingers suffused the book’s cover, intoxicating her mind and her spirit with hope. The rapid flutter of her prison’s pages kindled arousal along her labia. She shivered as delight saturated her deadened limbs.

Once again, the rapid riffling of the pages sent tremors of pleasure through her. She knew not whose hand cradled her prison, but the respectful caress told her this couldn’t be her captor. Dared she hope this might be a person she could trust to set her free?

Pre-order link: https://amzn.to/2JyIK4V

About the Author

Michal Scott is the penname of Rev. Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. A native New Yorker, Anna is a recent transplant to the Southwest and is enjoying the great weather along with her husband of twenty-nine years and their two cats. Her loves of history and romance came together in her first novella with Wild Rose Press, One Breath Away.

Anna has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 2003 and holds membership in six of their chapters. She also writes inspirational romance as Anna Taylor and gothic romance as Anna M. Taylor. You can connect with Michal on Twitter @mscottauthor1 and learn more about her writing at www.michalscott.webs.com.

Flashback: Bad to the Bone (Contest — 3 Winners!)
Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

I’ve been writing for a while. I have numerous series, standalone titles, and short stories. If you’ve never read or barely read me, I can keep you busy for a while! 🙂

One of my first series, that’s still ongoing, is my Night Fall series. It’s near and dear to my heart. And there are 14 stories in the series, so far. One of my favorites centers around a badass vampire readers met when he wasn’t acting villain-y early in the series. Of course, he had reasons to be grumpy and dark. You’ll meet his reason in the excerpt below. And there will be more stories. So, dive in. None of them are terribly long. You can consume them like candy. I dare you to give them a try…

Comment for a chance to win your choice of download from among the stories shown below! I’ll pick three winners!

Click on the covers to learn more about the stories!

Sm(b)itten Truly, Madly ... Deadly Knight in Transition Wolf in Plain Sight
Night Fall On Dark Mountain Frannie and the Private Dick Sweet Succubus Truly, Madly...Werely (Night Fall Book 9) Bad to the Bone
Long Howl Good Night Big Bad Wolf Silent is the Knight

Bad to the Bone

Bad to the Bone

 

One night of pleasure…

His name is Viper—a dark mysterious enigma who rules the seedy, dangerous vampiric underworld. For one night, he will escape his murky prison and tempt an innocent.

…can last a lifetime…

Beautiful Mariah haunts him. Lures him from his den with a glimpse of his past. One she doesn’t remember. This night, he’ll be her dream lover. He’ll seduce her, make her fall in love with him—then leave her. Again.

One night of pleasure is all they must know.

But Viper leaves her a clue. One he hopes deep down will lead her back to him although he dreads the consequences, because he’s not the same man he was. He’s not a man at all…

Excerpt

One week ago…

Slim hips swished beneath a short, flirty skirt, drawing his gaze like iron filings to a magnet. The splash of large pink flowers on white stood out like a beacon in the darkness. Beneath the hem stretched a pair of nude legs, toned, and nicely curved at the ankles. Perfectly made to lightly clasp a man’s waist as he slid into moist heat…

He suppressed a low, rumbling growl from the beast rising inside. Something he rarely bothered to do in the squalid dens he roamed most nights. The creature lurking deep within was a sexual animal, a lustful, ravenous host who found partners only too willing to let him feast. But this woman was different. Her soul was pure. Her mind unawakened to the darkness.

He followed her as she left her apartment, sticking to the shadows, ducking into stairwells when she looked behind her as though checking whether someone followed. A frown marred her smooth brow, and her lips tightened. The clip of her heels on the pavement quickened.

Shoulder-length, flyaway brown hair bobbed across the tops of slender shoulders. The creamy skin of her exposed arms and legs swung in a rhythm that his heart picked up and matched, beat for stride.

Feeling more than ever like the true predator he was, he tamped down the shame that burned like battery acid in his stomach and continued stalking the woman who walked more briskly now along the darkened sidewalk.

When she turned onto a crowded walkway, her shoulders sank and her footsteps slowed as she relaxed.

Now, as she mingled with others strolling along the promenade, she believed herself safe. Little did she know, but her “spontaneous” decision to leave her apartment had been at his suggestion—a message telegraphed with tantalizing snippets of the smell of fresh salt air, the caress of a soft breeze, and a glimpse of sensual pleasure.

She hadn’t heeded her own natural inhibition. Hadn’t paused to check the clock and note the waning evening hours. Instead, she’d made her decision, wriggled into a sexy little skirt and snug pink tee, slid her feet into strapless sandals and bounded down the stairs, ready to kick off winter’s gloom in an unseasonably warm spring night.

He’d made sure she didn’t glance even once at the calendar resting on the bureau in her foyer. Nothing would trigger a fleeting memory. And while he’d provided himself the opportunity to see her, he’d decided days ago he wouldn’t use his persuasive gifts to bring her straight into his arms.

Tonight, he wanted to savor a natural seduction.

She paused along the gangway that followed the curving street through a long, outdoor strip mall. At the bottom of one set of stairs leading into a seafood restaurant, she lifted one foot, planting it on the first paved step.

As he drew back the suggestion that had led her here, her brow furrowed, and she shook her head. Her foot slipped off the step and slowly settled beside the other.

In a blur of movement no human would detect, he slid in behind her. “Did you forget something?” he murmured, careful to keep his tone innocently inquiring.

A gasp escaped, and her head jerked to the side then tilted up to meet his gaze. Her eyes widened, and then slid over his shoulders before rising again. “You frightened me.”

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