Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Moonlight Market

I'm excited to bring a little magic to your life:

The Moonlight Market
by Aidee Ladnier

Publishers: Loose Id
ISBN: 978-1-68252-185-4
ASIN: B01KIQNTNU
Editor: Kierstin Cherry
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Buy: Loose Id | Amazon | Kobo | Barnes and Noble
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The Moonlight Market


College senior Cory Long tracked his missing sister to the magical Moonlight Market to bring her home. Instead, he found a disorienting world of performers and hawkers, bizarre sights and sounds, and one very familiar showman, Sanderson Beets. Like a drowning man, he latched onto Sanderson, trusting him to navigate the twists and turns of the Market as unerringly as he had steered Cory to passion in their furtive trysts on campus.

But Sanderson was tired of being the quickie in the alley.

Sanderson Beets had escaped the Moonlight Market to attend college, hoping to settle into a normal life, maybe meet someone and fall in love. To obtain that new life he made a dangerous bargain. And when the sinister woman known as the Weaver of Dreams is involved, second chances always come with strings attached…and sacrifices. Sanderson’s debt has come due, and the only payment he has to offer is Cory, and their chance at a relationship.

Excerpt:

Cory inhaled the heavy air and coughed, the smoke from the fire and the steam from the calliope mixing with the smells of fried food and strange spices. His eyes burned, and he pushed under his glasses to rub at them. He fished his phone out of his pocket. With a sinking feeling, he watched the display die with the last of his battery’s charge. He should have plugged it in during his drive.

“See the wonders. 
Experience the thrills under cover of darkness. 
Fun for children of all ages. 
Fri & Sat night only. 
Visit Kindle Bay’s Moonlight Market. 
Have an adventure.” 

The flyer had stated that the Market would begin Friday night and close at Saturday’s sunrise before opening again at sundown. He’d only been here a few hours, but the crutch of the digital clock on his phone had been a comfort. Now how would he know how long he had? 

Poe’s face stared up at him from the photo, her sad expression tugging at him. He would find her. He had to find her. Cory returned the picture to his shirt pocket and shoved the useless phone into his jeans. He was startled when the raucous calliope music died midnote. 

“Ladies and gentlemen.” 

A commanding voice trumpeted over the noise of the crowd. Steam billowed from the muted calliope, and Cory’s gaze was drawn to the hazy shape of a tall figure obscured within the dense, swirling cloud. After a moment, the coalescing form emerged, revealing itself as a young barker who sprang to perch atop a crate in front of a green-patterned performance tent. His top hat brushed the silver tassels hanging from the tent, and he doffed it, bowing low to the audience. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, don’t let hotheaded women turn your heads. Step this way to see the real wonders of the human body.” 

The barker’s close-cropped blond hair glinted with perspiration. It glowed in the bright lights that burned away the shadows along the Moonlight Market. His long-tailed jacket, wrinkled by the steam, covered his bare, muscled chest and matched his silvery pants. His dimpled smile promised mischief as he gestured with his top hat, arms flung wide to embrace the crowd. 

Cory’s breath caught, trapped in his throat. 

It was Sanderson. 

It was Sanderson, but not the nice, sexy guy from college. 

This creature was something preternatural and beautiful. 

The fire-eaters flounced off-stage and into their red tent, disheartened by the loss of attention, or more likely because their set had finished. The crowd deserted their stage to cluster around the barker’s crate, and Cory followed them, pulled in by Sanderson’s charm and commanding voice. 

Sanderson beckoned everyone closer and leaned down to speak as if he had a secret. 

“Come and be amazed by Lila the contortionist, as nimble as the serpent she charms.” 

Alarmed murmurs exploded from the crowd at the mention of a snake, but Sanderson smiled his charming smile, quieting their fears with a sly wink. 

“Marvel at the gaping jaws of Parry as he swallows swords, knives, and fear.” 

The crowd around Cory surged, pressing toward the open curtain door of the tent. The mob was ready to follow Sanderson’s seductive commands. 

“Don’t push. Five dollars to see the show and witness the balance and strength of the Atlas Brothers as they defy gravity with their limbs and their luck. This way, everyone. The show is about to begin.” 

Sanderson bounced his top hat up his arm and then ducked under it. The hat landed atop his head at a jaunty angle. A smattering of laughter and applause burst from the people around Cory. In a surging wave, the crowd streamed toward the tent, carrying Cory along with it. He fought the flow of people until an arm reached out and plucked him free of them. 

He looked up to spy Sanderson grinning at him. The tiny silver hoops in Sanderson’s ears sparkled in the lantern light. A dapple of metallic makeup glittered on his cheeks, creasing at his eyes. 

“Cory, you found me.” 

Sanderson followed up his words with a sultry wink that tied Cory’s tongue. He wanted to step back into the anonymity of the crowd, to escape the direct appraisal and focused attention of this handsome man who didn’t seem at all familiar now. But Cory wasn’t here for himself. 

“I forgot your number, and then my phone died.” 

Sanderson waited a beat and then nodded. “But you found me anyway. You must not be having as much trouble navigating the Market as I feared.” 

Cory pulled Poe’s photograph from his shirt pocket. 

“I’ve got this picture, but everyone I’ve asked hasn’t seen her.” Cory winced hearing his husky, leaden voice broken by the long night and the repeated question. He wanted to rant about his disappointment. No one had seen Poe, and no one could tell him where to find Sanderson. But Sanderson was here now. Things would get better. 

Sanderson’s eyes softened, and he took the photograph with gentle fingers. He looked up once to scrutinize Cory’s features before glancing back down. 

A flicker of something chased across his face. 

“I don’t recognize her.” Sanderson smiled, but there was something colder and more calculating in his eyes. “But you know what? We’re about to do our last show of the night. Come inside. It’s just a fifteen-minute set.” 

Cory shook his head. “I don’t have the time to spare. I need to—” 

“Look, my family has been here since the Market went up earlier this week. They know a lot of people here.” Sanderson passed the picture back. “It’s only fifteen minutes, and then I’ll be able to help you out.” He fretted with the brim of his top hat. “Unless you don’t want my help now.” 

And that was it, the reason Cory’d come—the reason he’d searched for Sanderson’s performance tent, cursed his lack of foresight, and been so relieved to find him. Because Cory knew he wouldn’t have to continue searching for his sister alone. He was tired of being alone in everything. Alone in worrying about Poe. Alone in running the household and keeping up with his schoolwork. Alone. Alone. Alone. The only time he’d felt less alone had been the few moments he’d stolen with Sanderson at the library and the encounter in Sanderson’s dorm. Cory tucked his photo away. He was willing to barter a few more minutes to have Sanderson search with him. 

“Okay.” 

Sanderson grinned the full wattage this time and bestowed on Cory a red ticket covered with cramped writing. Cory took it, the calluses on Sanderson’s palm leaving a tingle of awareness on his fingertips. 

Sanderson gave an elaborate bow, directing Cory to the tent door that the rest of the crowd had entered. Cory ducked into the curtained entry to present his ticket to the smiling teenager seated at a table inside. 


SANDERSON TRACKED CORY until he disappeared inside the performance tent. Then Sanderson tied off the entrance with the PERFORMANCE IN PROGRESS sign and bolted around to the packed ground backstage. But as he grasped the curtain to slip inside, a shimmer in the darkness halted him. 

He almost ignored it. 

Almost. 

Tiny bells tinkled nearby. 

They sounded closer. 

His skin tightened with goose bumps. 

Niari glided into the pool of light cast by the lantern hanging on the back of the tent. Her long, inky dress brushed the bells on her ankles and pulled the shadows forward with her. 

“Your debt is coming due.” Her trilling, accented voice floated over the noise from the fairway beyond. In front of the tent children giggled and laughed, the calliope blared out its joyous concert, and the lanterns burned away the darkness. But Sanderson stood in the shadows behind…with her. 

Sweat coated his palm, and it slipped from the curtain. He swiped at the bead of perspiration on his upper lip, the pit of his stomach icing into a lump. 

“I found someone.” He blurted out the words. “A lost soul. Someone who’s lost something.” 

Panic bloomed in Sanderson’s chest. Was he actually going to offer Cory to the Weaver? Cory who just wanted to find his missing sister. Cory of the soft hair, bitable nipples, and beautiful, slim cock. Who made Sanderson feel normal. Like a regular guy. 

“Good.” Her smile widened, filled with too many tiny teeth that gleamed bright in the lantern light. “Are they tasty and ripe?” 

“Madame?” Sanderson’s gut twisted at the hard glitter in her eyes. A chill crept down his spine. She looked…hungry. 

He blinked. Niari stood before him, still and silent, waiting, just a woman again. The malevolent flash must have been a trick of the dim light. He shrugged off the unease and shook the numbness from his fingers. 

“If I bring him to you…you’ll delay calling in the debt until I’m out of college, right?” 

The Weaver smoothed down the thin fabric of her long dress that covered all but her ankles strapped with tiny bells. She had to let him finish his degree. That was the bargain. A new life. He needed those three years to establish that new life. His family would never believe him if he just ran away to the normal world and joined the workforce. Sanderson needed to be settled, staid, if they were to stop calling him at every little setback. He’d told them this was the last time, and maybe they believed him. They’d seen he had other obligations, other people who needed him. But if he came back now, he’d never escape. 

“Such a good boy.” 

The Weaver touched his cheek and smiled her toothy smile, the predatory gleam in her eyes making him want to run like a gazelle on the savanna. 

“Sanderson, are you— Madame.” Lila halted as she pulled back the rear flap of the performance tent. She inclined her head in a show of respect, but when her eyes lifted back to the Weaver, there was pure hatred in them. 

Niari turned from Sanderson with a smile, ignoring Lila’s scathing glare. “Lila.” She pronounced the syllables of the name in a singsong. “How is your little girl tonight? She grows longer every day.” 

“She is well.” Lila frowned, like the idle chitchat tasted bitter as it left her mouth. 

“Such a sweet girl. I’m so glad I could weave her a new skin. And her humanity is particularly delicious at this age.” 

“Yes, Madame.” Lila’s eyes fell when confronted with the Weaver’s steady penetrating gaze. 

Niari spun back to Sanderson, biting down on her lip in a coquettish gesture. A drop of blood welled against the unnatural white of her teeth. “I must return to my loom. It grows ravenous. I will see you tonight.” And with that threat, the Weaver of Dreams melted into the shadows. He searched the inky blackness for movement, strained his hearing to listen for the tinkling of bells, but she’d vanished. 

“Come on, the audience is in the dark.” Lila touched his arm and drew Sanderson inside. 

In the red glare of the backstage light, he threw off his top hat and flung the ringmaster’s jacket aside. Lila took off the silk robe that covered her scaled yellow and white leotard that matched the fat, somnolent snake sprawled in the reptile tank beside the dressing table. 

She reached inside and gathered up the snake to place it around her shoulders. It hissed a tongue against her cheek in a tickling kiss. She smiled and patted the snake’s sleek head. “Be a good girl now.” 

Sanderson caressed the snake’s back in a fond gesture. 

Lila lifted her gaze to look him in the eye. “You need to stay away from Niari. She preys on people when their fate is thin and insubstantial.” 

Sanderson ignored his sister’s scrutiny. He remembered that night six years ago when she was round and pregnant…and red with blood. 

Parry had been despondent, cradling his dying wife and child. Sanderson, Dmitri, John, their parents, they’d feared losing her and the baby before they could get them to the hospital. Then the Weaver had appeared. 

“She helped you.” 

And she had. Alexandra’s birth had begun with fear but ended normally, almost like magic. He and Parry had driven Lila to the hospital in time. The baby had been pink and innocent and whole. They had each counted Alexandra’s fingers and toes to be sure. It was not until the next year that the Weaver’s debt had come due and his niece had begun her double life. 

“She didn’t help Alexandra.” Lila soothed the snake a last time before stepping onto the darkened stage. 

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Time Travel News





 


News of the Future!

Okay, just news about the future. So the first book in my Busted Labs series, The Applicant, is due to be republished in January 2017 by Dreamspinner Press. The story has evolved from a short story into a full-blown novella with more than double the content.

There's more applicant wackiness. Exciting robot rampages. And the real reason Oliver time travels is revealed.

Keep an eye out for it early next year.




Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why Write F/F Romance?


So to date, I’ve written mostly Male/Male romance, but my first Female/Female science fiction romance, Elusive Radiance, is now on the shelves. And I’ve had a few people ask me why I’ve switched from same-sex men to same-sex women and why not just switch to Male/Female romance?

Well, that’s an interesting question…but to me it boils down to one major detail.

My characters.

My stories usually begin with a scene. I can see that scene so clearly it’s almost like a painting in my mind. I know where each character stands, what words come out of their mouth, their facial expressions, their backstory that makes them respond in a certain way, the clothes they wear, what job they're employed at, what their mother's first name is, what the weather is like…you get the idea.

But I also know if they’re male or female or trans or a robot or an alien.

So when I sat down to write this story, ELUSIVE RADIANCE, I knew both the bodyguard Sec Anais and her love interest, Delegate Savea Blackmun were both women. The first scene I saw them in was the elevator. I saw the sparkling Savea, looking elegant, beautiful, and leaning against the rail, a smile on her face. Beside her, ramrod straight spine, was Anais, drawing in a deep breath of Savea’s wonderful scent, tasting cinnamon and something hot on the back of her tongue.

I know there are authors that can simply switch a character’s gender and write what is popular and what is trendy, but I’ve never been able to do that. You see, men and women approach sex and romance differently. And my characters do, too. Savea might not have opened up to a man guarding her. Anais might not have offered her knowledge of galaxy trade to a male delegate. Their gender and their identity, basically who they are, is important to the story I’m telling and how it progresses.

So they both had to be women.

And I think their story as women is worth telling. I hope you’ll give ELUSIVE RADIANCE a look and meet my two strong, capable women who just happen to fall in love.


About the Book

Title: Elusive Radiance
Author: Aidee Ladnier
Price: $2.25
ISBN: 978-1-78651-423-3
ASIN: B01EV4I1KG
Pages: 32
Editor: Shannon Combs
Buy Now: Pride Publishing | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Barnes and Noble | All Romance eBooks
Review: Goodreads

Blurb:

A young bodyguard finds her special abilities are no match for a flirtatious delegate willing to gamble everything on the galaxy trade talks.

Assigned to guard a diplomat at the galaxy trade talks, Security Officer Anais wants to shine during her first solo mission for the Chezeray Palace Conglomerate. An Elusive with the ability to make herself invisible, Anais knows her modified genes designate her servant class, but she yearns to be more than simply a protector to the beautiful delegate.

Savea Blackmun arrives alone to the trade talks with the weight of her planet’s future resting on her slim shoulders. Flirting with her pretty bodyguard reveals Anais’ knowledge of the colony markets and Savea realizes there’s much more to her protector than meets the eye.

As their attraction grows, will the diplomat and the bodyguard reject society’s rules to give in to desire instead?

Excerpt:

“Are you supposed to be my bodyguard?”

Her overflowing breasts strained at the corseted front of her evening dress while her black hair cascaded from an intricate topknot. The sleeves of her burnished gold robe cupped her arms, half-revealing the tiny quatrefoil-shaped shoulder tattoos that signified her status and caste on her home planet.

“I am Sec Anais.” Feeling dowdy in my dun-colored jumpsuit, I offered a small bow. “Councilor Armen of the Chezeray Palace Conglomerate assigned me to you for the duration of your stay at the Levantar Los Ojos Spindle.”

She snorted. “I thought he’d send a male.”

My eye twitched. I’d been warned not to be offended by her ways and speech. Off-worlders from conservative planets like hers often had outmoded ideas. “I am female, but I assure you I am more than capable of protecting you while you conduct your business here.”

She raised an eyebrow but moved away from the doorway and spun into the room, her skirt billowing around her like a cloud. “Come in. I’m not quite ready.” Delegate Blackmun glided into the adjoining dressing room.

I hesitated but stepped over the threshold, the biometric scanner in the door confirming my identity even if the delegate had neglected to ask for it. I closed the suite door, my gaze sweeping the wide glass windows and ornately molded doors, checking entrances and weaknesses despite the fact that I knew this area well. This was my first solo assignment, but I’d been part of details around the hotel all my life.


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