Thursday, February 19, 2015

Can a man write romance?

Yes! Here’s an author who proves it!  First, because this is a Thursday Thirteen post I want to share the opening 13 lines from SON OF THUNDER, my favorite novel he’s written.

Header courtesy of samulli

What the heck was this thing?
The supple leather strap felt buttery smooth as Meghan Larson ran her hand over it. It appeared almost new. There were no cracks, no dry spots. She glanced back to the report she’d received about it that afternoon. The leather had been carbon-dated at over two thousand years old. It should have been dry, brittle and crumbling to dust. There had to be a mistake.
            The rectangular metal medallion attached to one end presented a whole new set of problems and contradictions. The Nordic runes on it were definitely Elder Futhark, dating them somewhere in the third to eighth century A. D., yet it appeared to be made of titanium, which hadn’t been discovered until the late eighteenth century.
            The whole thing looked like a belt of some sort, but the buckle, if that was what the medallion was, had no mechanism to latch on to the leather. There were just so many contradictions. Who imprinted a dead language on a new piece of metal, then attached it to a two thousand year old strap of perfectly preserved leather? It didn’t make any sense.

As intriguing as the cover was, these paragraphs pulled me in, and got me to give this author my attention. I liked the story and I’m betting you’ll enjoy his writing, too.

I’ll let Steve introduce himself and tell you a little about his novels.

What is a guy doing writing romance?
Yes, I am a guy. A guy who reads, writes and loves romance. We’re few, but we’re here. I love writing romantic tales set in fantastic worlds, and I’ve created a few of them.
I started out writing science fiction and fantasy, and I am still pursuing projects in those genres, but I found when I mixed in a romantic element, the story always got stronger and more satisfying.

I was an avid comic book collector as a kid, right up into my 20’s. From comics I discovered Robert E. Howard’s Conan series of books. It was only a short jump from there to Tolkien and other fantasy and science fiction authors, my all time favorite is Anne McCaffrey. I’ve spent many wonder filled days on Pern and her other fantastic worlds. It was my wife that introduced me to the romance genre with Nora Roberts book Enchanted. (You never forget your first romance.)

My first published work, Swiftly Beats the heart, is a romance novella about two superheroes, a direct tribute to my early years of neglecting my homework, lost in a comic book. There are a lot of fantasy and science fiction elements (magic, fantastic creatures, dimensional rifts) in my Demons Rising trilogy. And in my novel, Son of Thunder, I was able to blend in my love of Norse mythology as well.

In my latest series, I’ve given myself the whole galaxy to play in. Inspired by Star Wars/Star Trek/Guardians of the Galaxy, Hearts in Orbit is my interstellar playground for adventure and romance. The first book launched in December and is titled The Blarmling Dilemma.

I often have to remind myself that the heart of my story is the romance itself. The fantastic elements are really just window dressing. The real story is two people falling in love. The prize/triumph/payoff isn’t defeating the nasty villain. It’s the love the two discover along the journey. If I stay grounded in the love story, I can add in just about anything else.

Here’s the blurb from The Blarmling Dilemma (Hearts in Orbit-Volume 1) 

“They’re not animals. They’re people!”

Phoebe Callista’s pleas fall on deaf ears and she’s forced to rescue two helpless Blarmlings from certain death. Fleeing across a backwater sector of the galaxy, with Galactic Marshals in hot pursuit, Phoebe falls into the hands of a handsome but determined bounty hunter.

Rigel Antares has captured wanted criminals throughout the galaxy rim, but he’s never come across anything like Phoebe Callista. The gorgeous blonde is playing the innocent, and something deep inside wants to believe her, but Rigel has problems of his own—a ship that’s falling apart and an unscrupulous Galactic Marshal looking for any excuse to send him back to the prison planets of the Theiler System.

An intergalactic circus, vicious space pirates, and a planet full of backtechers cross their paths as two hearts go into orbit to save a pair of adorable Blarmlings.

Hearts in Orbit - Volume 1: The Blarmling Dilemma is a science fiction romance set in the far-flung space traveling future, and sets a new course across the galaxy that leads to love and adventure.

If you’d like to know more about Steve or his novels, here are some helpful links:
Amazon Author Page:

If you'd like to read a sample of S.C. Mitchell's awesome storytelling for free. Follow this link--

And as always, I look forward to your comments.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sweet Reads: Thirteen Plus Messages in my Valentine Sweethearts Box

If you’re looking for portents and secret messages in your candy hearts you probably won’t find them, but you will find many cute sayings.

This is what I found in mine.
  1. I love you
  2. Miss you
  3. BFF
  4. XOXO
  5. Je T’Aime
  6. Best Day
  7.  Pugs and Kittens
  8. Dream Big
  9. Yes
  10. Real Love
  11. Marry Me
  12. First Kiss
  13. My Love
  14. Live N Love
  15. Be Happy
  16. Real Love
  17. Cute
  18. Giggle

While I savored the hearts’ sugary goodness, I did some research. Every year Nesco, the company that has made candy hearts since 1902, updates the sayings it prints. Last year they held a contest where they allowed fans to submit their ideas for new messages. Over one hundred and fifty ideas came from thirty-two states and the winners were:  Girl Power, Pugs and Kittens and Love to Dance. In addition, this year, the company added these new sayings: Te Amo, Je T’Aime, BFF, and the emojis of a smiley face and a mustache.

What message would you like to see on a candy heart? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.

Works Cited

TUDER, STEFANIE. "The Story Behind the 8 New Messages On Your Candy Hearts This Year." ABC Good Morning America Yahoo! News. Good Morning America, 15 Feb. 2015. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. .

Zerello, Amy. "10 Years of Conversation Hearts." Reader's Digest. Reader's Digest, 22 Jan. 2010. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. .

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

To Have and Have Not: The Experiment

By Elizabeth MS Flynn w/a Eilis Flynn
We see classic movies from another period and see how they translate to the modern day. So far, it’s been a mixed bag (The Philadelphia Story? Nope. The Marx Brothers’ Day at the Races? Yes! As two examples). Unfortunately, this movie, famous more for the first movie that Humphrey Bogart and the very young Lauren Bacall ever did together (and actually how they met) than the movie’s quality, is good only as a historical note.

The timing of this movie’s production and release notes to what might have been in the minds of those who greenlighted this film into existence. Only a few years after the success of Casablanca, dealing with the same war but taking place across the Atlantic Ocean (in Martinique), we realized that it might as well have been written on the same template. It takes place around a bar, but not owned by Bogart’s character this time (called the Zombie Bar instead of Rick’s), with two hot blondes, because just one wasn’t enough (although the producers had intended for the actress not Lauren Bacall to be the breakout star, and that just didn’t happen). This is, of course, the movie that the 19-year-old Bacall fluttered her eyelashes and purred her famous line about whistling. It enraptured the audience and, it turned out, (the much older, married) Bogart. She was memorable, certainly, and if that’s what age 19 looked like back then, really, women really did mature a lot faster back then!

I have to confess that I drifted off for a few minutes about halfway through, only to wake up to see a few minutes that reminded me and my husband both very, very, very strongly of Casablanca. It didn’t have enough tension or enough twisty things happening to keep my attention (I’m spoiled, I admit it, when it comes to story) to keep me glued or awake. But you couldn’t fault the movie for the cast; it did have Walter Brennan, actors who resembled Sidney Longstreet and Peter Lorre (I did say that Casablanca was an inspiration), and Bacall. And with this movie, this time, Bogart got the girl (Bacall).

If I had had my druthers, the story would have veered away into the Zombie Bar and voodoo. I would have been a lot more interested, but then, they probably wouldn’t have had the cast they had, either. If you’re a movie buff, you might like this film, even without the history around it. But me? I saw it long ago and couldn’t remember much about it. I just saw it again and it wasn’t that memorable! So as far as I’m concerned, it didn’t age well. But to each to his own.

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at and reached at If you’re curious about her books, check out In any case, she can be reached at

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thirteen Facts You Might Not Know

Rumor has it that the characters authors create possess elements of their creators’ personality. I’m not sure that’s always true, but in this instant, it might be.

I love doing research and learning new things and fortunately in my latest fiction endeavor I’ve got a brainy character who likes to drop facts into his everyday conversations, so here are thirteen bits of trivia, my character knows that you might enjoy.

  1. Blood is complex. There are 250 million separate cells in each blood drop. (Mastoff, 18)
  2. You’ve much more hair than you think.  An ordinary or normal person possesses about five million hair follicles. (Mastoff, 35)
  3. But don’t sweat it. You’re probably not visibly hairy. Most of those hairs are vellus hairs, those really fine baby hairs you can barely see.  (Mastoff, 35)
  4. Speaking of sweat, would you like to know how much you perspire? If you’re an average human on an average day, you sweat about four cups. (Mastoff, 21)
  5. Four cups sounds like a lot of liquid, but guess what? You actually produce about a quart and a half of spit, politely called saliva a day. (Mastoff, 121)
  6. What do we do with that much saliva? We eat. For us to taste food, we have to mix that food with saliva. (Seuling, 7)
  7. And the average person eats about 1095 pounds of food a year or about three pound of food a day. (Mastoff, 121)
  8. That’s about a pound less than the average human brain. It weighs in at about four pounds. (Seuling, 7)
  9. But most of the brain’s weight comes from water. (Seuling, 7)
  10. Some other interesting facts about the brain are, according to You Blink Twelve times a Minute: And Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body, it takes about ten watts of electricity to power a brain. (4)
  11. And if you stub your big toe, it takes less than a second of the sensation of pain to register in your brain. (Seuling, 4)
  12. Technically the brain doesn’t experience pain itself because it doesn’t have any pain receptors. (Greenwald)
  13. Still it’s important to care for your brain because unlike the rest of the body, it doesn’t replace the cells it loses. (Seuling, 5) That said, the brain makes new connections, even clusters of connections when we learn (Stephens) and that’s an over simplification of the process, but it’s encouraging to me and I hope it encourages you.

As you’re reading this blog, your brain may be making some new connections. Thanks for stopping by and if you have an interesting fact or opinion to share, please leave a comment.

Works Cited
Greenwald, Brian. "Can the Brain Itself Feel Pain?" Can the Brain Itself Feel Pain? Web. 22 Jan. 2015. .

Masoff, Joy, and Terry Sirrell. Oh, Yuck!: The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty. New York: Workman Pub., 2000. Print.

Seuling, Barbara, and Ryan Haugen. You Blink Twelve times a Minute: And Other Freaky Facts about the Human Body. Minneapolis, Minn.: Picture Window, 2009. Print.

Stephens, Tim. "New Brain Connections Form in Clusters during Learning." UC Santa Cruz News. 19 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. .

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I Bet You Didn't Know! Strange and Wonderful New Year's Customs
If you’re like me, you spent New Year’s Eve watching the big ball drop in Times Square on TV and counting down the last seconds of 2014. You may have shared a champagne toast or you might have spent the moment in quiet reflection.  But have you ever wondered how other cultures celebrate a year’s beginning?
I have and it inspired a little research. Here are thirteen other ways people recognize the next year’s birth.

  1. In China people make noise to frighten off evil. Often they ignite fireworks.
  2. In Denmark, celebrators throw dishes at friends’ doors. Apparently the person with the most friends had the most broken china outside their entrance.
  3. In England, some believe the first guest to enter their home in the New Year will determine that year’s fortune. That puts a little pressure on that visitor. He’s supposed to bring a gift along with his well-wishes.
  4. In Belgium, New Year’s Eve is called Saint Sylvester Eve. People throw family parties, kiss family and friends and toast in the year’s birth.
  5. In Brazil, some people serve lentils, which they consider to be lucky. Others wear blue and white, while still others go to the beach of Rio de Janeiro and launch boats filled with candles and flowers into the ocean.
  6. In Austria hosts serve piglets and peppermint ice cream for good fortune.
  7. In Germany some celebrants pour molten lead into cold water to predict the future. If the lead forms a heart, romance and possibly marriage may happen in the next year.
  8. In Japan, many people visit temples, where the bells ring 108 times to ward off evil.
  9. In Puerto Rico, people clean their homes and throw buckets of water out their windows to clean the old year and its troubles away.
  10.  In Spain, exactly at midnight, celebrants eat twelve grapes to secure luck in every month of the coming year.
  11.  In many Jewish homes, New Year’s Day is called Rosh Hashanah and it’s a day reserved for prayer and introspection.
  12. In the Netherlands, New Year’s birth is proclaimed by lighting a bonfire, which might have the old Christmas tree at its heart. In this way people burn away the old and welcome in the start of something new.
  13. In the Philippines, people look for round objects, which are considered auspicious. Eating grapes, throwing coins and wearing polka dots are popular.

There are many ways people mark a new year’s arrival and all of them are intriguing. Did you do something special? Or do you know of an interesting New Year’s custom?    Please share.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Water Beasties Across The Seven Seas

By Elizabeth MS Flynn w/a Eilis Flynn
My friend Jacquie Rogers and I offer an entire series of workshops about myths and legends around the world, but it was only last year that a regular at our workshops suggested that we might consider the myths and legends around the world…of the seas. We grabbed at the idea, because it was something that we had noticed during our research on the subject. There were mermaids and fishies and kraken, but what else could we pinpoint about the myths?

Good question. There was a lot, even in areas we think of being desert (remember the Middle East? Not all desert! Sure, big chunks, but not all desert!). What I found fascinating in particular was the river myth, not just the river nymphs and demons lurking thereabouts, but the concept of death that accompanied the river myth that popped up consistently around the world. In every region there was a story about a river one had to cross to get to the land of death, whether by paying off the ferryman (not just the river Styx) or by finding a certain shallow point at the river in question in order to cross to where death resides.

If you think of it, the water is the one part of the world that remains not completely and thoroughly explored. Every day there seems to be a story in the news media about a fish or other form of marine life assumed long extinct that shows up in a fisherman’s boat, alive, kicking, and clearly not extinct (and not even the last of its species). So maybe those water myths aren’t so mythical after all. In the wilds of Africa, there are numerous instances of river and swamp creatures thought to be mythical, but there are fossil records of dinosaurs long gone that are very similar to the descriptions of those water beasties. Myth or reality?

And water ghosts! There are ghosts that hang out specifically around lakes and seas in order to bring down the unsuspecting mariner or water-traveler. But some of them also hang around in order to protect the unsuspecting mariner or water-traveler, depending on how obnoxious they are (your choice who the “they” refer to).

The oceans are truly the final undiscovered country of Earth, and they’ve been feared and respected in perhaps equal parts as long as mankind has been around, spinning tales about what could possibly dwell down below. From the sinister kappa that wait in the rivers to attack the unsuspecting human in Japan to the water ghosts of the Nordic countries, join me and Jacquie Rogers as we take a trip around the world in a glass-bottomed boat and see what awaits under the sea. Water, water everywhere, but it’s always been mysterious. And as always, what people don’t understand, they make up. You can sign up at The workshop starts on February 2.

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at and reached at If you’re curious about her books, check out In any case, she can be reached at

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!
We hope this holiday finds you happy, well and with those you love. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

So You Think You Know Your Christmas Carols. Put Your Holiday Savvy to the Test

It’s that time of year again. Christmas carols are on most radio stations, featured in elevator Muzak and played throughout most malls, but do you really know your Christmas carols? Apparently many people mishear the traditional songs. Do you have the holiday expertise sort out these messed up lyrics?

  1. See the grazing mule before us, fa la la la la la la la la…
  2. Later on we’ll perspire, as we drink by the fire…
  3. Olive, the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names.
  4. Yet in thy dark streets China
  5. Dawn we now our day of peril…
  6. Joy to the world! The Lord has gum…
  7. With a corncob pipe and a butt and a nose…
  8. Here we are, as in olden days. Happy golden rays, up yours…
  9. You’ll go drown in Listerine…
  10. O tiny bomb, O tiny bomb…
  11. Good King Wences’car backed out, on the feet of Steven…
  12. He’s making a list of chicken and rice…
  13. Get dressed, ye married gentlemen…

Make your guesses in the comments. You’ll get full marks if you can fix the line and tell me the title of the carol it comes from. Later today or first thing tomorrow, I’ll post the answers.

Happy playing and Happy Holidays.