Sunday, August 18, 2013

Toni V. Sweeney visits today

Bringing an Old Manuscript into A New Century.

’Way back in the late Eighties, I wrote a novel called The Rose and the Dragon. Medieval-sounding, I know, and I’m certain some were disappointed if they bought it without reading the blurb, then discovered that while there was a rose and a dragon in the story, they were merely part of a design cut into the hero’s shoulder.  Neither the plot nor the characters had anything knightly about them, either.  When it was accepted by Class Act Books for re-issue, I found that a lot of things needed to be changed.  My writing technique had improved greatly since the story was written so the first thing I did was go through the story and add and delete, re-arrange and tweak. Then I explained more about certain sections, and—I hope—making it an even better story.  

At the time it was written, computers were huge, clunky objects with massive towers and bulky terminals, cell phones—for those who could afford them—were almost as big as those old army walkie-talkies, Smart Bombs had just come into use. Because this was a futuristic story, my aliens were the possessors of computers which were really desktop—they were embedded in, and part of, the desk instead of sitting on it.  Their cell phones are small handhelds, which not only transmit audio but also images (Can you say Smart Phone?)  Their missiles are programmed to seek out a target with a specific DNA, and they’ve discovered cold lasers.  I made up that last item, not knowing that real scientists were at that moment attempting to do the very same thing.  

Now, the story needed updating.  No longer could my heroine appear awe-struck as the small object on her boss’ desk began buzzing and when picked up, an image appears demanding to speak to him.  There was definitely a whole lotta re-writing goin’ on!

The characters themselves didn’t need so much revision as remodeling. Miranda was still slightly na├»ve but plucky and a little more up-to-date in her observations, her boss, Dominic Andrus was still droolworthy and GQ metrosexual-ish, as was his son Niki.  The fourth character, but the most important to Miranda, the one I needed to work on, as well as his relationship to her. That was Dom’s younger brother with the highly unusual name of Kitten…  

What to say about Kitten Andrus?  

Well…he’s a good father, if not the best husband-material, though that’s not his fault.  The multi-married Kit has the misfortune to attract women who are social-climbers.  They leave him as soon as they discover life with a younger Andrus isn’t as glamorous as life with the head of the family would be.  The fact that Kit has a habit of getting his wife pregnant the first time they sleep together doesn’t help, either.  As a result, at the time he meets Miranda, Kit has been married seven times and has eight children, and he’s not looking for Mrs. Kitten Andrus Number Eight.  In fact, he’s decided never to marry again and he’s also had himself sterilized…just in case his oath to himself is sideswiped and he gets tempted by another pretty face.  Nevertheless, he likes the way the little alien nanny looks as well as the way she accepts things, so it appears there may soon be another applicant for lady of the house, and a reversal of a certain procedure.

I really had to work on Kit because, unlike Dom, who’s fairly upfront about things, baby brother hides his feelings, broods over them, and never speaks about what’s important.  He’s attracted to Miranda—yes—and she to him, but because his last wife died in childbirth, he’s determined never to be the cause of losing another woman he loves, or—as he considers it—killing her by having her bear his child.  Miranda thinks Kit runs hot and cold and he drives her to distraction because of this.  He has other secrets, too, and a very dangerous position in his brother’s household. The continual risk of being killed makes him hesitant to tell Miranda how he feels.  And then there’s that damned Isolationist Edict the Empire has, forbidding contact with any world outside their own system, and that definitely includes marriage with an alien.  Kit and Miranda not only have his past fighting them but the entire Empire also.

The Rose and the Dragon was fun to write because it was a kind of “duck out of water” story…taking a person out of her own environment and placing her in one where she’s the foreigner, the alien, and having her learn to adjust.  Miranda does just that because she loves the people she’s involved with…the three children for whom she’s a nanny, her boss, and, of course, Kit…and when they’re threatened, she’s there to do whatever she can to protect them in her own, bumbling, Earthling way.

The Sequel, Dragon in Chains, is a continuation of Kit and Miranda’s story, of what happens after the danger is past and a new and more dangerous threats looms. There’s a secret in Miranda’s past, also, one which will change her relationship with Kit more drastically than anything else that’s happened. 

There’s more about Ceran Syndibus also. The vengeful Imperial officer of the law is out to get Kit and he’s sworn Miranda will be the key to bringing down the House of Andrus for good. 


With the death of Xander Taluti, the Andrus clan attempts to return to peacetime.  Though Imperial Law has forbidden their marriage, Kitten Andrus openly declares his feelings for Miranda Wilson, but uncertain times lie ahead for the lovers.  Amid the joy of nephew Niki's long-awaited marriage to his adored Ardala, Dominic Andrus' plans to transform his family into law-abiding citizens is destroyed when Imperial Detective Synubis invades the House of Andrus and arrests Kit, Dom, and Niki, Taken into protective custody and separated from those she trusts, Miranda finds herself the Prosecution's chief witness and must summon every ounce of courage to enable her to brave an alien justice system where the truth will convict the man she loves of a crime he didn't commit and only a miracle--or a long-hidden secret--can save him....


“Kit! Kit! Open up!” Someone pounded on the bedroom door, violently and loudly.
“Damnation!” Kit released Miranda, leaned across her and hit the button unlocking the door. “What the hell is it?”
“Kit…” Niki nearly fell into the room.
“Niki, why the hell are you still here?”
Niki looked at Miranda, hesitated as she grasped the sheet and clutched it against her breasts, then went on breathlessly,  “Kit, the trogs, they’re in the House! That Lieutenant Synubis. He’s got warrants, Kit!”
“Does Dom know?” Kit was looking around frantically, trying to remember where he’d dropped his gun.
“Papa’s been arrested.” Niki broke off as the outer door burst open and four white-uniformed men rushed in. They were armed with short-barreled rifles.
Kit sat up, pushing Miranda behind him. Niki drew his gun.
Niki, no!” The gun stopped in mid-aim, Niki freezing, obedient as a dog to the Master’s commands. “Never draw on an Imperial officer.”
“Very wise.” Lieutenant Synubis pushed through the men, pulled the gun from Niki’s grasp and handed it to one of them. “Dominic tas Andrus, by the power given to me as an officer of the Gataen Justice System, I hereby place you under arrest.”
Niki was surrounded, arms twisted behind his back. He was pulled into the hall. Miranda’s hands tightened on Kit’s shoulders. He leaned against her, his back cold against her breasts.
Synubis came toward the bed.
“Kitten Andrus.” His eyes flicked past Kit to Miranda, who raised her chin defiantly and looked through him. “I arrest you in the name of the Margrave.”
“You’ve never been able to make anything stick, Synubis,” Kit replied. “What’s the charge this time?”
“You’ll find out at your trial.” He made an impatient gesture toward the door. “Come with me.”
Throwing back the covers, Kit got out of the bed.  He stood looking down at the stocky policeman contemptuously, not in the least intimidated by being naked before a man who supposedly having the upper hand. “Do I get to dress first or am I to be taken to the Station like this?”
“If I had my way, you’d be dragged out of here in chains.” Kit’s refusal to react brought a violent response from Synubis. “Get dressed!” The lieutenant snapped. He gestured at the pile of clothes littering the floor, saying to one of the men, “Check those. Make sure he doesn’t have any weapons or poisons hidden in them.”
“Poisons?” Kit’s dark brows arched scornfully. “And cheat you of your triumph?” He shook his head. “Never!”
He sat down on the bed and dressed while Synubis stood impatiently in front of him, throwing Miranda an angry glance. She ignored him, her eyes on Kit.
When he stood up, one of the remaining uniformed men pulled his hands behind his back, slipping a set of clear rings onto his wrists. They widened elastically, went over his hands, then shrank, snugly adhering to each other as the man took a small control unit from his belt and pressed a button on it. Taking Kit’s arm, he led him away and Kit went with him, not speaking. He didn’t look back at Miranda.
Synubis walked over to the bed. “Miranda Wilson, will you come with me, please?”
“Am I under arrest, too?”
“Of course not. You’ve committed no crime.”
“Then, why…”
“I told you before, Sentira Wilson.” Synubis smiled and she didn’t like it at all. It held the vicious curve of a wolf’s fangs. “You’re going to help me bury the House of Andrus. You’re the Empire’s material witness.”

Dragon in Chains will be available from Class Act Books on August 15.

Author Bio:

Icy Snow Blackstone was born in1802, in northern Georgia where her father, the Reverend John Blackstone, was prominent in local politics.  She married a minister, raised seven children, and lived there all her life. Two hundred and five years later, her great-great-great-great-granddaughter began using her name as a pseudonym for her romance novels. The present Icy Snow Blackstone lives far from her Southern roots in Lancaster County, Nebraska, where she continues to write romances generally set in the South.  Her seventh novel, Dragon in Chains, a sequel to The Rose and the Dragon, will be released in April, 2013, by Class Act Books