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Research: I Draw the Line at Goats

I have done a lot of crazy things for research. The longer I'm an author, the more likely it is that I'm going to go out on a limb for the sake of accuracy. I am, in fact, in the middle of some wacky research I'm going to use for a story I hope to publish around Christmas this year.

I'll likely embarrass the heck out of myself at some point by telling y'all exactly what that research entails, but there are some lines I refuse to cross.

Goats just happen to be one of those lines.

A few years back, I was visiting my Aunt Bonnie who, at the time, had a small flock of goats. The billy wasn't mean, exactly, but he insisted on head butting my thighs the entire time Aunt Bonnie was giving me the tour of her goat pasture. No matter what I or anyone else did, Billy trotted after me, head lowered. It was so bad, I had to give the baby I'd been holding back to her mother so I could use both hands to fend him off. I ended up hobbling home, and I never forgave that goat. In fact, I've pretty much avoided caprids ever since.

I bet you're wondering what goats have to do with the price of tea in China or, more specifically, which story will feature these agile creatures. Believe it or not, they'll show up in Alien Mine, a SciFi Romance set here on Earth and the very next Pruxnae novel scheduled for publication.

The heroine in Alien Mine is Rachel Hunter, an Earth woman with two extraordinary daughters, the youngest of whom warrants protection in the form of sexy Pruxnae Dyuvad ab Mhij. You met Dyuvad's middle brother Benar Q'Mhel in A Warrior's Touch, which offered a quick peek into a culture (the Q) that will turn up again in future stories.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Rachel is a single parent. She supports her small family in part by raising milk goats. Caring for them and turning their milk into products she can sell, like goat's cheese, takes up a significant part of her day. Normally, I'd research exactly what that entails in a more hands-on way by, for example, visiting a local goat farm, but after my last experience with goats, I decided I'd rather pass on that particular adventure.

After all, the goats aren't the focus of Alien Mine. I can't clue you in yet on what its focus is. That would give the entire story away! But you will get a hint or two of the bigger picture and what the Pruxnae Series is building toward.

Ok, ok, just a few clues:

  • In The Choosing, we met the Sweepers.
  • In Thief of Hearts, we learned a little about Origin Space and the Great Migration.
  • In A Warrior's Touch, we were introduced to the Q.
  • In Alien Mine, we'll learn a smidgen more about the Net telepaths.


I know how random the Pruxnae Series must seem to readers, but I promise, there's a purpose to each installment beyond each one featuring a bride-stealing (or in one instance, a groom-stealing) Pruxnae. All of the above will come together to some extent in the fifth book in the series, but it's just the beginning of a much larger tale. Do you remember that Christmas story I told you about earlier? It will be the bridge between the Pruxnae Series and the story yet to come, and will feature Fate, Rachel's wily, homespun brother.

I promise, you're going to love Fate, but again, I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Rose-eating goats aside, Alien Mine is shaping up to be a sizzling romance seasoned with a good dose of mountain humor. Dyuvad's innate sensuality gets Rachel in a tizzy from time to time, that's for darn tootin' (as she would say), but the way they interact is wonderful to watch. I can't wait to get their story in the hands of readers so y'all can read another piece of the growing puzzle that is NetVerse.

I love hearing from readers, so if you have questions or comments about the Pruxnae or what's in store for the residents of NetVerse, drop me a line. Just, you know, don't ask about the goats.

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I’ve been ruminating on transitions lately, on the many in my own life recently, and in the lives of the people I love best and most. My focus as a writer has shifted a little over the past few months, in ways I’ve partially discussed here, such as the decision to expand the Pruxnae universe into a series. Other changes I’ve kept to myself, holding them closely to my chest to reveal at a later date.

There have also been big changes on the home front. My son just hit a milestone and is now officially an adult. Watching him grow from a sweet baby into an articulate young man has been full of moments tender and bittersweet. I’m so proud of who he’s become and what he’s accomplished in his life. But those are his accomplishments to share, and only mine to brag about, as any parent would.

Richard’s mother is mentally strong during this hardest part of her life, but physically declining, as we expected she would be. For those of you who are new to this blog, Richard is my alpha reader slash developmental editor and one of my closest friends. He held my hand (literally) after my mother died six years ago. I’m sorry to say that I will now be holding his hand through a similar hardship, though I’m happy to lend my shoulders to him and his mother, as they have lent their wisdom and strength to me.

So, lots of changes here, some positive, some inevitable. One of my high school English teachers always said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that the only thing we can count on is that everything changes. Coach Wayne’s nugget has stuck in my head for decades now, and becomes truer the older I get. Things change. Life happens. People move in and out of our lives, sometimes so gradually we look back and wonder when they really entered and how we could possibly have let them go. At other times, they breeze through, barely leaving an impression beyond the soft heartache of never having known them well.

And we endure, not out of some conscious desire to remain, but because we know nothing better. We continue on, accepting the seasons as they roll from winter’s frost into summer’s heat and back again, only dimly aware that our role in the grand universe is inconsequential outside our own narrow purpose. We exist, we adapt, we change to fit our surroundings and the newness of our situations, often without pondering the transition or even registering it. It simply is, like the sun cresting the horizon day after day, unquestioned. It is only when the sun fails to rise that we miss it.

And so it goes. Change is the one true constant. (I believe those were Coach Wayne’s exact words.) It’s the only thing we can count on. That doesn’t make change easier, but it does foster an appreciation for the people whose presences grace our lives, however fleetingly, and for the moments we share while they are upon us, long before they fade into the shadows of memory.

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