Mae Clair Presents: Gemma Brocato with An Ancient Introduction to Christmas and MISSION: MISTLETOE

It’s always a pleasure to have Gemma Brocato, friend and Kensington/Lyrical Press sister author on my blog. Not only does she have a great post today about the ancient traditions of Christmas, and her new holiday release MISSION: MISTLETOE, but she’s also brought along a special treat.

Gemma’s novella A WINTER WEDDING is FREE today on Amazon! A continuation of her HEARTS IN HARMONY novel, it’s an ideal holiday read. Grab your copy, then make sure you come back to read Gemma’s post and get the deets on her other holiday romance!

A Winter Wedding Free

Saturnalia — An Ancient Introduction to Christmas
By Gemma Brocato

When I first thought about writing my holiday science fiction novel, I knew I didn’t want to make the story about Christmas per se. I wanted to detail a celebration that went much further back. I began researching the Winter Solstice and discovered Saturnalia, an ancient Roman celebration that laid the foundation for our present day Christmas celebrations. It seemed a perfect solution.

Originally a one-day festival, Saturnalia soon evolved to a full week of celebration due to its popularity. The Emperors Augustus and Caligula tried to reduce the number of days, but the mass populace resisted their efforts. The event was more than just fun, feasting and games. It was a festival to honor Saturn, the god of sowing and the harvest. During the banquet, an effigy of the god could be one of the honored guests.

The best part of the festival was the temporary reversal of roles between masters and their slaves. Masters served meals and slaves were granted luxuries such as gambling and lazing around the house for a change. Their style of dressing tended to be more relaxed during the event. Santa’s hat supposedly originated at this time, a peaked woolen cap that symbolized a freed slave. This is also the time the Lord of Misrule made his first appearance in history. A family member was appointed to serve as host for the celebration.

Many of the traditions of the festival are still visible today. Decorating outdoor trees, placing greenery over doorways, merry-making pranks and gift-giving.

particular tree bare of white poplar and shrubs in the branches of mistletoeMy novella, Mission: Mistletoe is set in the future, where religious celebrations have been outlawed, but a festival for the harvest was allowed. So I set the story on a space station in orbit around Saturn, in December. It’s a story about the medicinal properties of the parasitic plant which is one of the symbols our present day holiday celebrations. The plant thrives off the nutrients of its host, usually an oak or apple tree. Kissing under the mistletoe was first associated with Saturnalia. People revered the plant as the bestower of life and fertility. Ancient Celts worshipped the plant for its mystical powers. It was also believed that Loki used the plant to poison Balder, the god of the summer sun, plunging the world into winter. Balder’s mother, Frigga, goddess of love, wept for her son, and it is said that her tears became the sticky white berries of the plant. She managed to bring her son back to life and in gratitude, kissed everyone who passed beneath the tree on which mistletoe grew.

mistletoe isolated on a white backgroundNow, here’s the sad part. Generally, when you are researching Mistletoe, you’ll come up with sites that display pictures of holly. The holly plant features sharp, pointy leaves and red berries. Mistletoe has white (and sometimes red berries) but its leaves are smooth, elliptical-shaped. So don’t be fooled. Kissing under the holly might be fun, but under the mistletoe, it’s magical.

~ooOOoo~

MISSION:  MISTLETOE
Genre: Science Fiction romance
Publisher: Gemma Brocato
Date of Publication: Nov 19, 2014 
Number of pages:
120

Mission_Mistletoe_Cover_CompressedBook Description:
In her quest to find a cure for the disease that killed her father, Rhayne Drake accepts a position as a researcher on a remote space station. Once in orbit around Saturn, she uncovers the true intent of the study: the ruling political party plans to use her research to kill, instead of cure, anyone carrying the genetic marker for the disease. Including Rhayne herself. 

Griffin Cooper, the station’s recreation manager, is charmed when he meets Rhayne. First he saved her from death by cargo-mover. Now he’ll fight to save her from a worse fate.

Set against a Saturnalia, a winter holiday festival, Rhayne and Griffin must find a way to defeat the political Coalition’s sinister plot before it’s too late.

Excerpt:
Rhayne froze as the over-laden Airfloat bore down, her mouth opened in a silent scream. Holy Titan! She’d die on this transport without ever stepping foot on the space station, not to mention Saturn.

Her breath squeaked out in a rush as someone grabbed her around the waist and swung her out of the path of crushing death. Her body went one direction while her briefcase flew the other. The screeching sound of the airbrakes engaging on the cargo float rang in her ears. A cacophony of other sounds erupted—men roared warnings to watch out and glass broke as boxes crashed to the floor with the sudden stop.

Rhayne’s body came to rest between the solid wall behind her and a hard, man-sized body that covered her, protecting her from falling containers and shattering glass. The aroma of Cassini Ale tainted her olfactory cavities, bitter and astringent, as broken bottles released their contents onto the floor in front of them.

“Are you okay? What in Titan’s name are you doing in the cargo bay? This area is off limits.”

The deep voice was velvety smooth in her ear. Warm breath tickled her cheek, and she rubbed the spot as she nodded her head. The large man eased away enough to give Rhayne her first glimpse of his rugged features.

The flow of his face was mesmerizing. From the top of his perfectly-shaped and completely bald head to strong brows, poised over eyes the color of Earth’s sky just before leaving the atmosphere. A shiny gold earring winked on his earlobe, an oddity in a society that had ceased mutilating their bodies with piercings and tattoos generations ago. He was the kind of rebel she’d fantasized about while at university, where she’d been forced to conform to a regimented curriculum with no room for individuality. Sharp cheekbones and a square, stubbled jaw completed the look. This man was beautiful and dangerous. Rhayne’s breath caught. She cleared her throat attempting to appear less awestruck.

“I turned right when I should have turned left. I’m looking for the off-load bay.” Rhayne frowned at the raspy quality of her voice.

Suddenly aware of her rescuer’s body pressed intimately against hers, she put her hands on his chest and pushed. “You can back away now. The danger is past.”

Purchase MISSION: MISTLETOE from Amazon

Author, Gemma BrocatoAbout the Author:
Gemma’s favorite desk accessories for many years were a circular wooden token, better known as a ’round tuit,’ and a slip of paper from a fortune cookie proclaiming her a lover of words; some day she’d write a book. All it took was a transfer to the United Kingdom, the lovely English springtime, and a huge dose of homesickness to write her first novel. Once it was completed and sent off with a kiss, even the rejections addressed to ‘Dear Author’ were gratifying.

After returning to America, she spent a number of years as a copywriter, dedicating her skills to making insurance and the agents who sell them sound sexy. Eventually, her full-time job as a writer interfered with her desire to be a writer full-time and she left the world of financial products behind to pursue a vocation as a romance author.

Connect with Gemma at the following haunts:
Website and Blog 
Facebook
Twitter 

Goodreads 
Wattpad
Google+ 

Also By Gemma Brocato:
Cooking Up Love
Hearts In Harmony
Exposed To Passion
A Winter Wedding 

Mae Clair Presents: Daisy Banks and A Perfect Match #sci-fi #dystopian #romance

Today, I’m turning my blog over to my friend and sister author, Daisy Banks, who has brought along the characters from her newest release, A PERFECT MATCH. Sit back and enjoy as Daisy whisks us to a futuristic world and introduces a truly unique couple:

~ooOOoo~

Thank you so much for inviting me onto the blog, Mae. I am still celebrating the release of my new story A Perfect Match, published by Taliesin Publishing.

This is the longest story I have ever written and a step toward a new genre for me as it has a touch of sci-fi about it. I found this story very hard to classify into one genre. It is a kind of romance, a love story, set in a futuristic world very different from our own. There are elements of a dystopian society and a lot of political maneuvering happens to keep my lead characters safe. I had a lot of fun writing this cross genre story.

I’ve decided to post an interview with Anwell and Varon, the hero and heroine in A Perfect Match.

This interview takes place in the story, so this is an excerpt too. I hope readers enjoy it.

~ooOOoo~

A_Perfect_Match-Daisy_Banks-500x800

Interview with Varon and Anwell.

Varon and Anwell sat enjoying the evening temperature and the sounds of the small fountain in the miniature lily ponds until Drimit announced their guest. Varon rose to welcome the reporter Nathan.

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am, Commander. You’ve a beautiful home.” Nathan took a seat opposite them. His pale blue gaze locked on Anwell. He gawked to the extent he almost missed grasping the goblet of water one of the slaves presented.

“I’m sure you’ll find ample ways to show your gratitude, my friend. Would you like some images first, or shall we answer your questions?” He stifled a chuckle at the reporter’s rapt gaze on his wife.

“If you don’t mind.” Nathan took a sip of his water, coughed and found his voice. “I’d prefer images at the end of the interview, if that’s agreeable to you both.”

“Of course.” Anwell settled back in her seat.

Varon glanced over, and she wore the bewitching sweet smile he found so alluring. “This, Nathan, is my wife, Lady Anwell.”

Nathan shoved the carved crystal water cup down, rose and offered a clumsy bow.

If Varon hadn’t known better he’d have laid good coin on this male having Netherling heritage.

“Lady Anwell, it’s a great privilege to meet you,” the reporter said.

“Thank you, but do sit and relax, Nathan. Varon and I, we’re all yours for the next hour.”

“There has been much interest in you in the city, my lady, since the announcement of your marriage to the commander. I’m honored to have this opportunity to talk with you.”

“It’s a pleasure. Varon and I know there has been a great deal of interest. Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising.”

Her smile could have melted the ice dragons of the Tranquil Crest, the first cold world he ever found. “Anwell is a phenomenon, Nathan. A female who has given up much to offer the people hopes for the future.”

The reporter nodded. He made a dashed line of notes. “Has it been difficult for you to adjust to life outside the Temple, my lady? Many Astans believe it must have been a great shock to be removed from the Temple precinct at your age.”

“Yes, the first day or two were very strange. I’ve just begun to explore life in the city,” she said and placed her hand on Varon’s. “But my husband has helped me so much.”

The memory of their first conversation in the litter splashed over him. How could I have been so cruel? He lifted her palm and placed a kiss on it. “My wife, I wish I could have given you as much as you deserve.” His assessment of her response found no resentment.

Tonight, her hazel eyes glowed, shining like pools of water in the stone cliffs at the nuptial retreat. He turned back, but not before deciding he would find a way to make his wife forget he once threatened to send her to the house in the mountains to live alone.

The reporter flashed a glance his way. “And you, Commander? If I may ask, did you find it difficult to surrender a bachelor’s life for that of a married man? Some say twenty-eight is far too young to be married. How do you feel about such statements, sir?”

“Anwell and I feel we’ve been blessed by the gods,” he said. “I am luckier than other males, but the populace already knows this. Of course, I recognize such an experience can’t be guaranteed for all. I am honored to be entrusted with Anwell by the gods and Lord Chardel.

“As to twenty eight being too young, I don’t think so. Anwell and I will have more time together than most Astan couples. The pleasures of the life of a bachelor have their charms, but I’ve discovered being a husband is a superior occupation. Is that enough for your readers, Nathan?”

The reporter nodded with a gulp. “Yes, sir. My thanks for your candor.”

Blurb
Daisy Banks whisks you into a futuristic world, where you might fight for water, or offer up your freedom and become a slave for the promise of enough to drink. Passion and politics ripple through A Perfect Match where the enmity between the government leader, Lord Chardel and Commander Varon, head of the Astan water acquirement fleet, is at flashpoint. 

The enforced marriage of Anwell Nastor, a young Temple adept, to Commander Varon, not only breaks Astan religious rules, but could break untried hearts. This cruel ploy meant to silence Varon’s opposition to current circumstances in the city-state brings unexpected results. Through careful manipulation of the news links, Varon and his bride become the city’s most adored couple, but danger shadows their steps.

Join Anwell and Varon as they discover the power of A Perfect Match on their perilous journey in a world full of dangers and political intrigue.

AUTHOR BIO
Daisy Banks writes sensual and spicy romance in the Historical, Paranormal and Fantasy genres. An obsessive writer, Daisy is passionate about her stories. Her focus is to offer the best tale she can to readers. Daisy is married, with two grown up sons. She lives with her husband in a converted chapel in Shropshire, England.

Antiques and collecting entertain Daisy when she isn’t writing.

Connect with Daisy at the following haunts:
Blog
Website
Twitter @daisybanks12
Facebook
Pinterest

Purchase A PERFECT MATCH FROM:
Amazon
Barns and Noble 

Taliesin Publishing  

Pippa Jay talks Sci-Fi and Writing: Terms and Conditions Apply

Love letterToday, I’m welcoming “Pen Pal” Pippa Jay to my blog as she shares her sci-fi romance, TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY. I don’t know about you, but sci-fi has been a genre I’ve adored since junior high.

As I got older, however, the romantic in me couldn’t help wishing for some tender interludes between hero and heroine. Remember the first time you saw that spark between Han Solo and Princess Leia? LeSigh! And what about Dr. Daniel Jackson and Sha’uri in the film Stargate? That’s still one of my all-time favorites.

I’m anxious to see what Pippa has to share, including the story behind an interesting space-station called Venus Ascendant that has the ability to make romantic dreams come true!

Thanks for visiting with me today, Pippa. Let’s start with your writing habits. Do you have a favorite place and/or time of day to write?
These days I’m curled up on the sofa with my laptop, while my three little monsters are at school.

LOL! I bet they’re adorable. Especially when they scurry home at the end of the day, flush with excitment. Which do you find easier to write and why – description or dialogue?
Descriptions, definitely. I love writing descriptions and creating settings.

Terms & Conditions Apply_600x800_300dpiI’m partial to descriptions too. There’s something about painting a picture with words. Let’s talk about your title next. I think it’s extremely clever. How did you choose it?
My two characters were discussing the contract under which my hero was tied to the space-station the story is set on. As soon as I wrote the word ‘terms’ it reminded me of the phrase Terms and Conditions Apply, which we see on almost everything these days – contests, contracts, sales info on pretty much everything we buy etc. I just thought it would be fun to use a common but often ignored legal phrase as a title.

Fantastic idea! Which character did you enjoy writing the most and why?
I quite liked Marie, because she was different to the characters I’d written before. Maybe not a strong person at the start and definitely naïve, but you see her develop even in such a short story, and her bravery over her final choice proved she was stronger than I’d thought.

Isn’t it great when characters surprise you? How did you choose your setting?
The setting was chosen for me! I originally wrote the story for an anthology call, and the space-station Venus Ascendant was part of the canon. I’d not written anything set in such a confined space before, and it had some interesting quirks to use – Frisnik’s bar, for example, and the holographic suites that could be anything the customers desired. In fact, the suite was the greatest challenge because I had to imagine something that Marie really wanted.

I’d love a vacation at a holographic suite, LOL! Was there research involved in this novel? If so, what was the most interesting item you discovered?
I’d done a lot of research on artificial intelligence, artificial skin and robotics before this story, so I put them to good use.

Share one sentence – – yes, only one! – – of dialogue or description you love.
That’s so mean! Okay, one line of description that I love: “They hovered in the fiery remnants of a long dead star.”

Coming up with just one is really tough, isn’t it? 🙂 But I love the line you chose. To me, it’s visual and poetic. Do you have any guilty pleasures (i.e, type of food, music, TV show, shoe obsession, silly distraction) you’d like to share?
I’m a scifi geek, so rewatching some of my favourite series, making costumes, and collecting the odd bit of scifi related goodies are some of my indulgences.

I have a small collection of sci-fi too, mostly old magazines, books and DVDs related to favorite shows and movies. Now for a quick glimpse into some of things you enjoy. Please share your:

Favorite color: Turquoise
Favorite type of music: Alternative rock
Favorite TV show: Doctor Who
Favorite social media platform: Twitter
Pie or cake: Cake!

Ooo, I  love the color choice of turquoise! I’m wearing a turquoise jacket as I type this. Beautiful color. Pippa, thanks so much for dropping by and being my guest for the day.
Thanks for having me!

You can find Pippa at the following haunts:
Website
Blog 
Twitter
Facebook

Goodreads

Author Bio
A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head. Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the SFR Brigade, a community of science fiction romance authors and publishing professionals committed to writing and promoting the very best in the genre.

Blurb for TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY
“Welcome to Venus Ascendant, a Public Grade space station in the Andromedan Galaxy. With our open-to-all policy, any being in the universe can find their perfect romantic getaway at our purpose built resort. The on-board empathic AI Ganesa ensures that anyone coming to Venus Ascendant will find their heart’s desire, with suites that transform from luxurious boudoirs to sunset-lit beaches. So come to Venus Ascendant and find exactly what you’re looking for!”

It was meant to be a romantic getaway for Marie and the love of her life Jaisen; a chance for him to get to know her better after months of her denying him more than a few stolen kisses. Instead, Marie finds herself dumped and alone on Venus Ascendant with no credit for a transmat and the next starship home not due for another hour.

But the all-seeing AI isn’t going to leave anyone aboard the space station with their dreams unfulfilled. Marie’s boyfriend might not have made it to the station, but there are others willing and able to take on the role – even if they aren’t entirely human.

A Science Fiction Romance Short Story
A Gulf Coast RWA Chapter Silken Sands Self-Published Star Award Finalist 2013

Buy links
B&N
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Smashwords 
Add it to your Goodreads shelf here