3/30/12

Saving the Selkie


I drag him,
hair twisted like rope around my hand.
The next swell tosses us ashore.

Bodies wreathed in foaming surf.
Solid male, oozing testosterone.
Sculpted abs sequined with droplets.

I lower my head, inhaling
scents of sea and secrets.
His eyelids flutter.
My fingers tighten in his hair.
Mouth-to-mouth now mandatory,
needed or not.

~Nara Malone

* This post inspired by Make Me Wet, my current WIP, and shared as a contribution  to G-man's Friday Flash 55. Drop by to see what others write or to join the fun yourself.

Nara's Name Before the Masses Book Tour

I'm doing book tours for Snatch Me during the month of April and it would be wonderful to see my blog friends drop by a stop or two to say hello. Scheduled dates and stops are posted below. Prize giveaways to commenters  selected in the drawings include gift cards for Ellora's Cave books and a copy of Snatch Me at one of the stops. Hope to see you and good luck.








April 2: Urban Girl Reader
 April 3: Curse of the Bibliophile
 April 4: Delighted Reader Book Reviews
 April 5: Dark Haven Book Reviews
April 6: Immortality and Beyond
April 6: Louisa Bacio -- Love Knows No Bounds

3/29/12

Whoa..Photography in Exodus Viewer



I was checking email this morn and found a message from James OReilly linking a rave about the Exodus viewer for virtual worlds. I'd already downloaded a copy, but hadn't gotten around to checking it out. Since I was avoiding getting down to work, I decided to install and have a look. And whoa, is it loaded with photography features. I'm going to have to pull out some photography manuals to figure out what they all do, but right off the top I was impressed with the results I got.

Texture and shadow rendering is amazing. The above picture was reduced in size by 50% which creates a loss, but the results were still pretty good. Below is a crop from that image before resizing.



I could tweak and get better highlights and contrast, but I've done nothing to the image at this point. All the images here are unaltered, just as I took them with the viewer snapshot feature. Even after saving and uploading, you can still almost make out the lace in the bra. I'm not using a face light but the cast light of the laptop screen appears to be reflected.





Again this image was resized down by 50%. In the original you can see the detail of the overhang in the upper window and the wood texture in the base of the statue outside. A crop of the original is below.



Note the cast shadows of the avatar's hands on the laptop keys. I'm hoping that means no more time spent creating shadows in Photoshop. I'll have to experiment more to see what's possible.



Last up--Media on a prim. The laptop is displaying my blog, the post just prior to this one. Not crisp from this angle but a fair representation of what you get when viewing a laptop screen at an angle and from a distance. I'm looking forward to digging in and learning how to use all the features in Exodus.

 ***Another interesting note: I'm on a WiFi connection and was able to stay connected to Second Life with graphics settings at full throttle without crashing. That's something I haven't been able to do with the SL viewer. The viwers look very similar, so I'm not sure what the difference might be in that respect. Things were crawling with graphics high, but speed returned when I changed to more moderate settings.

3/26/12

Where Stories Come From

This is what I know:

That she was brave and loved adventure. Than she loved to soar high above the clouds. She took off on that final journey intending to be the first woman to fly around the world.

This is what I suspect:

It ended like this.



I've never felt compelled to research the rest of the story. Until...

I was standing on the rocks above this wreckage and a character started to whisper in my ear. She calls herself Eve, though she admits the rest of the world knows her by another name. This wasn't the end of Eve's story. It was the end of a famous female aviator's story. The rest of that story was a beginning, the start of a new life in a new place, where she was the first inhabitant.

I wasn't sure I wanted to know more. There are other projects I'm supposed to be working on, other stories ahead of hers. But I know how these things work. Characters like Eve find me and they don't go away until they've had their say and I've written it down. I know it's no use fighting, but I will. The only real question is how long it will  take for Eve to get her way. How long can I resist these flashes of her past?


This post is a response to the Sunday Scribblings prompt: What is the rest of the story? Visit them to see what others wrote or to join the fun yourself.

3/24/12

Distopian Prey



The Oh Get A Grip bloggers invited me to blog about Dystopias today. I talk about why I love Dystopian Role Play and taking the role of prey:

I arrive in the city via computer, spit out by a server rack. It looks deserted. Dystopias always do. But I'm not alone here. I don't need my scanner to tell me there are others. You know that feeling you get, fine hairs lifting on the back of your neck, a hyper-awareness--as if your skin has thousands of invisible antennae? I have that feeling and know I'm watched. Read More...

3/22/12

More Like Me


I've got another special treat this week. Ellora's Cave author Missy Jane is guest blogging today. Give her a big welcome.


  twodatesmax_msr

I’m not a huge fan of “fiercely independent” heroines either when I read or when I write. I don’t like doormats either, but I like a touch of realism in my women. In short, I like them to think and react much like I would to the alpha males in their midst. A hot and hunky guy wants to put me on a pedestal and slay my dragons? Hell yeah! I don’t mind being wrapped in cotton and pampered a bit. I’m not saying it wouldn’t get old…eventually. But hell, what doesn’t? So, when I write from a female character’s point of view, I usually have her say things I would say, do things I would do, and just generally be as “normal” as I can make her.
 
In my newest erotic romance, Two Dates Max, Megan Nettle is a twenty-four year old woman who works at the neighborhood gym. She has a group of friends she likes to hang out with, and a best friend whose drama keeps Megan on her toes. Her life is good but not complete because she still crawls into bed alone every night. 

Sean Maxwell lives close enough to Megan that they run into each other almost daily. He also uses her gym, and she shops at the store he manages. They’ve been out on two dates and really hit it off. So, why won’t he go out with her again? That’s the question that plagues Megan, who simply can’t understand his rule of two dates max.

Blurb:
He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me…okay, the truth is he doesn’t really like me right now, but I have a plan to change his mind. I see the way he looks at me with heat in his eyes. Sean Maxwell might be a confirmed bachelor, but a taste of Ms. Megan Nettle is just what he needs to soften his hard exterior. And once I get him in my bed, he won’t want to leave. There’s nothing some hot lovin’ can’t fix.

But my persistence backfires when he decides he’s too dangerous for little ol’ me. Something in his past is driving a wedge between us, and he’s determined to stay away. That’s not going to happen. This calls for some serious seduction. I’ll use those sparks between us to melt away his rule of two dates max.


What do you think of fiercely independent heroines or overwhelming alpha males? Leave a comment to be entered to win a book from my back list. I’ll draw a winner tomorrow morning via random.org. Please include your email address in your comment. Plus, all commenters will be entered to win the grand prize of a Missy Jane tote full of gently used books at the end of my blog tour!
Good luck!

-Missy Jane
*Make reading a guilty pleasure…*

3/21/12

The Titanic Comes Home to Belfast

 One hundred years after it carried 1,517 people to their deaths in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, the Titanic has come home to Belfast. I'm not talking the rusting physical remains of the original, but her digital ghost, a virtual replica resting in the waters in the harbor at Virtual Belfast.



I've seen the movies, read the books, listened to the history lessons, but nothing brought home the full tragedy and loss of that night like my first sight of the hull's ghostly silhouette in the murky gloom. You feel the cold in this place. You strain to identify objects looming in the dark. The silent circling of sharks and fish send shivers up your spine. You can imagine this being the last thing someone saw as the cold sucked heat and life from their body.

  

I'd heard the numbers before, seen the dramatic reenactments, but when you're in that water you recognize the drive to nurture behind the numbers. Women and children first. It took courage for the men to stand back. To choose this.



One hundred percent of the children in second class survived. Only 86% of their mothers did. People chose this end, stood aside willingly, to save someone they loved. Men and women chose this end, stood aside willingly, to save people they didn't know.

I ran into a crew member. He died doing his job. He is still doing it. I watched him diligently retrace his steps, over and over, a memorial to the 91% of the crew that went down with their ship. I’ve heard the second guessing, that hindsight analysis that they died due to overconfidence, negligence, poor training, stupid mistakes. When it comes to looking this kind of death in the eye, aren’t we all amateurs? How many of us would get it right? How many of us would step back from the lifeboat?


Inside the ship you see the grandeur. I visited the tea room, sat amid opulence submerged. Watched the spectral flame of a tea candle flicker.


 Contemplated ghostly grandeur.









But it was the purser's desk that undid me. Perhaps because of the simple and familiarity of something so prominent in my life, a desk full of paperwork.  The picture of the man it belonged to, sitting right above it, brought the loss that was the Titanic home in a personal way. 




I needed to be back in the air and light. 

 Along the harbor you'll see a replica of Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built. 













 There's more to see in Virtual Belfast than the Titanic exhibit. There's much more to the haunting Titanic exhibit than I could show you. Drop in and check it out if you get the chance. You can find it in OsGrid and Kitely.








Update: Stiofan MacTomais, builder on this project and grandson of one of the carpenters who built the Titanic, shared these images of the Titanic build without the water effects. You can see the interior in its full glory.
~Nara
This post was written as a contribution to Three Word Wednesday. Drop by to see what others wrote or to join the fun yourself.

3/15/12

What kind of garden are you?

Villandry - Renaissance Formal Garden

Me

I envy the beauty of a formal garden.
I imagine appearing neatly clipped, colors coordinated.
What a wonderful thing it would be to think in tidy paths
that take me past each important element.

All my blooms would open at the proper time,
in proper order, and in their proper place.
All would arrange themselves around an exquisite centerpiece
of good sense and logic.

I'm more like a tangled wood,
honeysuckle vines and thorned blackberries marking my borders,
tiny violets hiding in my shadows.

I'm a web of branches and green growth,
reaching for sun and sky by day,
moon and stars by night.
My roots burrow into a rich carpet,
hidden things that feed the growth.

At my center -- a twisting, babbling stream of moods,
ideas, desires, and dreams.
I envy the order of a formal garden, but my soul knows it could never grow there.


Filling the gaps: Today's prompt from dVerse asks that we explain the circumstances that led to a poem we wrote. "Me" started as a dream in which I was a patch of woodland with a stream at a center. I was home to flowers and berries and a multitude of creatures. Then the bulldozers came and carved me up into something like you see above. My paths were paved and my hedges trimmed. I think the dream came from a personal frustration with how disorganized I am and that I can't seem to get from point A to point B along a straight course. My progress toward a goal prefers the winding scenic route with lots of backtracking. 

I still get frustrated, but I always wind up thinking back to this dream and this poem. I envy people with ordered minds, but I know I wouldn't be at home inside one.

How does your garden grow?


secret garden

This post is a contribution to dVerse Meeting the Bar. Stop by to see what others wrote or to join the fun yourself.

3/14/12

Happy Pi Day!!!

Pie

Elegant is a word only the nerdiest would apply to pi. Most people find it baffling. But I think we can all agree that a Pi Day celebration is something even the most diligent defamers of Pi, wouldn't neglect.

And if we can't celebrate Pi day out of a pure love for Pi, let's not forget it's also the birthday of the greatest nerd of all time. Happy birthday, Al.  As proof that even nerds are cool on Pi Day, check out this Einstein Rap.

 

So how are you celebrating Pi Day?

This was posted as a contribution to Three Word Wednesday Drop by to see what others wrote or to join the fun yourself.

3/9/12

Winter's Weeds

forest by night

With the cycling season
pines bow under winter's last snow,
white-haired crones, mourners lined up at the junction.

With the cycling season
ice-studded river dressed in black silk,
flanked by sequined shores, spectral mist infusion.

With the cycling season
gray-scale landscape inked on white canvas
awaits exchange--black crepe for spring pastel profusion.

Daffodil, Beckenham

I'm a greenling when it comes to the fine craft of poetry forms, but this is my crack at writing a kinda, sorta triolet for dVerse Poets and a Friday Flash 55 in one post. The last five words (not necessarily the last five words in the poem) were the hardest.

Image credit:forest by night by gyst on Flickr; Daffodil, Beckenham by dan taylor on Flickr

And the Winner is....


 Tory Michaels !!! Congrats Tory, I know you'll enjoy :)

3/8/12

Siobhan Muir talks Women's Day and Vampires




We have a special treat today: author Siobhan Muir has dropped in the guest blog. Give her a big welcome in the comments.

Thank you for having me here today, Nara.

Today is March 8th, which most of Europe celebrates as International Women’s Day. In the US, we celebrate Mother’s Day, but this day is for women of all ages, whether your little sister or your aging grandmother. I believe it started from the idea that every woman is a representation of the goddess from Pagan times.

And speaking of the Goddess, the heroine from Her Devoted Vampire, my recent release from Evernight Publishing has been told by the sexy man who kidnapped her that she’s the Avatar of the Goddess. That ever happened to you? Some sexy guy tries to convince you you’re the goddess just to get on your good side? Yeah, me either, but it did happen to Bridget Shanahan, and she thinks Fredrick MacGregor, the sexy guy, is a complete lunatic.

Unfortunately, he has the strength and speed to keep her whether she wants to stay or not, and he’s determined to keep her, claiming she’s in danger.
Sheesh, if he wanted to honor her as the Goddess, all he had to do was offer her a flower, a card, or better yet, a book. ;)

Speaking of books, did I mention Her Devoted Vampire is available and makes a wonderful gift? LOL I’m offering one digital copy to a lucky commenter. Please leave a valid email address or Twitter handle in your comment so Nara can contact you if you win.

So today, celebrate International Women’s Day, and give a hug or a flower (or a book) to a special woman in your life.

BLURB
Bridget doesn't believe in vampires or werewolves, but that doesn't stop one from kidnapping her.

BRIDGET SHANAHAN’S life seems bleak and boring until she gets mugged and abducted from her favorite coffee shop by the sexiest man she’s ever met. Unfortunately, he’s a lunatic who believes he’s some kind of vampire savior surrounded by a security force of werewolves and he’s determined to keep her.

FREDRICK MACGREGOR has been having visions of this woman in danger for the last six months, a woman he must protect because she’s the Avatar of the Goddess. However, when he brings her home, she doesn’t believe he's a vampire or that she is the Avatar, and she definitely doesn't want to stay. But the sense of danger persists and he'll do anything to keep her safe, even if it means risking the loss of the only woman who makes his endless life bearable again.

EXCERPT
“Do you remember me, Bridget? I met you at Snickerdoodles.”
Oh, she remembered, all right. She remembered the scent of his skin and the warmth of his body beside her. At least, she thought she did. He’d wrapped his trench coat  around her, hadn’t he?
She closed her eyes and shook her head to clear the cobwebs of mixed memories.
“I returned your book and tried to hail a cab for you. Do you remember that?”
No. Wait. Yes, she remembered the terrible kidnapping scene in the book and how she’d left it on the table in the coffee shop. Her memories played out in a reel until it ended with red eyes and searing pain.
    Bridget’s eyes flew open, and she stared at her companion with dawning unease. His expression filled with concern and compassion, his eyes a deep chocolate brown. No sign of red anywhere. They weren’t even bloodshot.
    “You’re Fredrick MacGregor.”
    “That’s right.” A smile flitted over his lips.
    “And you smell like spiced apples and vanilla.”
    His black eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, one tendril falling across an eye. It looked soft and smooth, and she wanted to push it behind his ear for him. His smug look banished any tender feelings that might have developed.
    “You were stabbed in the side, and I brought you to my home here in Gloucester to take care of you.”
    Stabbed? She’d been stabbed? Gasping, she wrenched the emerald bedclothes away from her body and scanned the skin of her belly. The bruised pain she felt directed her eyes to her left side, but there was nothing there, not even discoloration. If she’d been stabbed, where was the scar, the scab?
Is he just teasing me? What kind of a jerk does that? Then the rest of his words sank in.
    “Gloucester?”
    “Yes. It was the safest place I could think to take you.”
    Bridget narrowed her eyes as she raised her gaze to meet his again, her hands still holding the bedclothes up.
    Safe for whom, you chocolate-eyed kidnapper?
“Normally you take injured people, like those with stab wounds, to the hospital. Or at least call the paramedics.” What was she doing in Gloucester in a richly decorated bedroom? Was it his bedroom?
There are worse places to be, a traitorous voice remarked.
“There was no time, and I knew I could care for you as well or better than any hospital,” Fredrick replied to her unasked questions.
Riiiiggghhhtt, that’s what all the sociopaths say to their victims.
    “I have to go.” She tried to sit up again. She’d make it home come hell or high water. Goosebumps zinged along her leg when it appeared out of the covers.
“Whoa!” She jerked her legs back under the emerald sheets and stared incredulously at the man sitting next to her bed. “Where are my clothes?”
    “I haven’t had time to get any from your apartment.” His eyes never dropped from hers. “I’ll send someone presently.”
    She raised her eyebrows. “Presently? Who uses words like ‘presently’? And how do you know where I live?” She groaned, frowning. “You looked in my wallet from my coat.”
    “That seemed to be the most logical place to look for your name and home address.”
    “That’s just great. A perfect ending to a perfect day.” She sighed, slumping back in the bed. “Stabbed, kidnapped, and naked in a stranger’s bed. It just doesn’t get much worse.”
    “Except, perhaps, being kidnapped by a vampire with a house full of werewolves,” he suggested, a half-smile curling his kissable lips.
    She snorted. “Thank God there’s no such thing as vampires or werewolves.”
    He stilled as if the life within him bled away, leaving nothing but a quiet, waxen shell, and his face lost the humor in it. Unease crept through her as she stared hard at him, clutching the covers so tightly her knuckles turned white. The scent of spiced apples shifted to a dirt smell, like moist earth or the desert after the rain, and her stomach cramped with visceral fear.
    “Thank you.” She cleared her throat. “Thank you for whatever you did. I think I remember being stabbed. It hurt like hell. How bad was the damage, and how long have I been here?”
    Life seeped back into him as he cocked his head to one side, his eyes narrowed in consideration. “You have only been here a few hours. We didn’t do anything but look at your wound. You healed all by yourself.”
    “Yeah, I know I’m healing. I just want to know what you did to close the wound and how many stitches I needed.”
    “I told you. We didn’t do anything. Your body healed on its own.”
    “What are you talking about? What do you mean, ‘healed’?” She lifted the bed sheets away from her body again to get a better look at her left side. The skin appeared a little pink at her waist, but nothing suggesting a stab wound. She looked back up at him, anger coiling. “What did you do to me?”
    Fredrick shook his head. “Nothing, Ms. Shanahan. I would like to know how you managed to heal so quickly, but it appears you didn’t know you could do that.”
    “Of course I didn’t know I could do that!” Bridget dropped the bed sheet to her waist. “No one can do that except in science fiction novels.”
    His gaze locked onto her chest, and a predatory expression flooded his features. An odd combination of exhilaration and lust zinged through her, which only pissed her off more. She growled and jerked the sheets back up.
    “Nice.”
    He coughed and had the grace to look chagrined. “Forgive me, but I’ve found it very difficult to turn down an opportunity to view such beauty.”



BUY LINKS

SIOBHAN LINKS

3/5/12

Snatch Me: Capture Role-Play Romance



 When I talk about capture role-play or virtual world romance, most people give me a blank look. When I explain further, sharing some of the adventures I had in virtual worlds like Second Life while researching capture-roleplay to write Snatch Me, and in making this video, then they're intrigued--leaning in to hear more, asking how they can visit such a world. Well, one way is to read Snatch Me. Another is to click that Nara's Worlds tab in the navigation bar above and visit the links for the Quarterz City, Quarterz Swamp, and Quarterz Wasteland. But the quickest way to get a taste of what capture role-play and the novel it inspired are all about is to view the trailer above.

The first capture role-play sim in Second Life was Hard Alley. I used it as the setting for the trailer. Thanks to Hard Rust for agreeing to let me do that.

Snatch Me at Ellora's Cave
Snatch Me at Amazon

3/4/12

March is Coming in Like a Leopard

Forget the March lion, leopards are sexier, so I'm launching a new feline look here for spring.

I took a break from the hair-pulling task of timing scenes and music in my book trailer to update the blog with a sexy new header from author/artist Brandi Evans. While I was at it, I updated the theme and settings to give the blog a fresh new look in anticipation of the coming release of Blind Heat, the second in my Pantherian Passions series from Ellora's Cave. I'm anxiously awaiting the cover art for that one, but Brandi designed the header around that story, so now you have an idea what's coming.

Special events coming to the blog this first week of March:

1) The book trailer for Snatch Me will go up tomorrow. Monday, March 4. I have been working on a mix of avatar art, and real photography, bound together by the magic of iMovie to create a trailer that conveys the otherworld qualities of a story that takes place in both reality and virtuality. We'll know tomorrow if I pulled that off.

2) I'll be blogging at Therianverse.com (a new group blog I started with authors Cyndi Friberg and Xakara) on Monday as well. If you haven't seen Cyndi's riveting, free, web-only read--Therian Priestess--you should hop over and check it out.

3) Look in on Wednesday to catch my latest tale from the metaverse.

4)Siobhan Muir will be guest blogging on Thursday in celebration of International Women's Day. She's got a cool prize to give away, so be sure to check back in for that.

5)And of course I'll check in on Friday with another bit of flash fiction for G-Man's Friday 55.