Thoughts on the wild, the weird, and the romantic from author Joy Nash

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Joy Nash is a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award Finalist applauded by Booklist for her "tart wit, superbly crafted characters, and sexy, magic-steeped plots."

» Saturday, February 21, 2009

Aliens among us?

The very first thing I noticed was how normal everyone looked.

Oh, there was more than your usual percentage of bearded men. Ditto for guys with long hair. But in general, it looked like a tame gathering. I mean, no one was even in costume!

Somehow, I expected a UFO conference to be a little more flamboyant.

But things quickly picked up. For one thing, the community college auditorium was packed – people sitting in the aisles and standing in the back. About 60-70 UFO aficionados had been expected. More than 400 showed up. And more than a few of them totally believe that aliens from other planets have visited Earth.

Some of them also believe in ghosts and Bigfoot.

There were a number of knowledgeable speakers with impressive resumes, including the head of a local UFO group, a journalist from a national UFO magazine, and a college professor who has made it his life’s work to uncover the hidden memories of alien abductees through hypnosis.

There was also some cool eye witness testimony from a few very sane-looking people who had seen UFOs flying over their homes at night.

It was an extremely interesting afternoon! Here's a recap of what I learned:
  • Aliens have been visiting Earth since the 1920s.
  • They fly in aircraft that can change direction and speed very quickly.
  • Some spaceships have been recovered by the military, but the brass isn’t talking.
  • For whatever reason, it is extremely difficult for a human civilian to take a decent photograph of a UFO.
  • The military has been reverse engineering military aircraft from alien spaceships.
  • If scientists don’t acknowledge the alien presence on Earth it’s because they are not looking at the data logically.
  • Aliens have abducted a lot of people over the years.
  • Abductees’ memories are mostly wiped out afterward, but can be recovered through hypnosis.
  • Many of the abductees have had similar experiences, even people who have never heard any other abductees’ stories.
  • Aliens can control humans’ minds.
  • UFO believers do not have a high opinion of Bill Nye the Science Guy (though I was unsure whether the heckling was directed at Bill! Bill! Bill! himself, or whether Dr. Nye was simply a symbol of the entire disbelieving scientific community).
  • Aliens do a lot of reproductive experimentation on humans, gathering sperm and egg samples.
  • Aliens do this because they are creating a hybrid alien/human race.
  • Over the years, the alien/human hybrids are becoming more and more human-looking.
  • There are a lot of hybrids living on Earth now, posing as humans. They could be your next door neighbor (I always suspected…).
  • The aliens are probably planning an invasion of Earth, and the hybrids have probably been stationed here to help when the time comes.
  • Some UFO believers think this invasion will be a good thing. Others are not so sure.
None of this was really a news flash. It was all stuff I learned watching the X-Files.

But this WAS the first time I’d heard the theories seriously presented by intelligent people in a non-fictional environment.

Am I now a believer?

Well, not really, but I have to admit, it’s more than a little spooky. While even the most hardened UFO enthusiasts admit that 90
% of UFO sightings/abductions are false, there’s still that 10% that can’t be explained.

And that ½ of 1% that REALLY can’t be explained.

So….here's what I took away from my first UFO conference:

*Something* weird and unexplainable has happened to many people over many years.
As for what it is…I haven’t a clue. But it sure inspires story ideas!

Vampire conference, anyone?


More Immortals adventure
available at the end of February!

Read an excerpt of "Blood Debt" by Joy Nash

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» Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Viscount Vexation!!

I love anything to do with ancient Rome (of course!), and I'm also a complete sucker for Regency Romances...

So I'm REALLY excited about Emily Bryan's latest book - Vexing the Viscount - in which the hero and heroine track down a pile of ancient Roman loot! And guess what, there's even a mysterious Druid island!!! Completely my kind of story. :-)

Here's a peek at the book, a few words from the author, and excerpt, and...

drum roll please!!.....

A CHANCE TO WIN a copy of Vexing the Viscount!! (Read on for details.)

Daisy Drake is leading a double life! By day, she's Lucian Beaumont's unwanted assistant and by night, she masquerades as the masked courtesan, Blanche La Tour, a Frenchwoman who agreed to give Lucian lessons in sensual love!

There's only one problem. Daisy speaks fluent French and can read ancient Latin without moving her lips, but she doesn't know the first thing about the pleasures of the flesh! Good thing she has the real Blanch La Tour's very explicit memoirs for guidance.

Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland, longs to see his family's standing returned to its glory days, before his father lost their fortune. And he thinks he can manage it, if he can only discover the hiding place of an ancient Roman payroll.

Daisy never forgot her girlhood fascination with Lucian, even though his father has a score to settle with her uncle. Now that they're all grown up, she's determined to help the viscount find his Roman treasure.

Whether he wants her help or not!


JOY: You've already distracted a duchess and pleasured a pirate. Now you're on to vexing viscounts! Writers often weave a whole story from a single spark of inspiration. What was the single spark that started you on the journey of writing VTV?

EMILY: A few years ago, I tagged along with my DH on a business trip to Germany. While he had a day of meetings in Hanover, I took the train to Koln (sometimes known as Cologne—the border between Germany and France has been fluid over the years) to visit the Römisch-Germanisches Museum. I’ve always been fascinated by Roman culture, as I know you are, Joy. There had been a major Roman settlement at Koln and in the museum, there was an entire room filled with clay lamps. That’s not so unusual, but these lamps were all shaped like erect phalli (Some were more ornate than others, sporting wings—I kid you not!—or spindly little legs like a half grown tadpole!) It seems the Romans believed depictions of the male member would bring good luck (Hence the term “getting lucky?”) (note from Joy: Where exactly on these little wiener lamps did they light the wicks? Ouchie!)

EMILY, continued: Anyway, I found the whole idea totally bizarre and filed it away as something to use later. We writers gather useless bits of information like a corner gathers dust bunnies, always intending to do something about both of them someday.

So, it seemed right to me to open VEXING THE VISCOUNT with our heroine Daisy, scrunching down to get a better look at a decidedly lewd little lamp. And having our hero Lucian (the viscount of the title) catch her at it. :)

JOY: LOL, I remember seeing some pretty silly ancient male members in Pompeii!! But Emily, now tell us about your hero. Why are you in love with him? (I know you are, since all we romance writers fall in love with our heroes!)

EMILY: Lucian is driven, single-minded and looks totally yummy with his shirt off. Well, he would, wouldn’t he? He’s been digging up Roman antiquities all summer and the manual labor has done wonders for his pecs and biceps!

And why is this titled gent resorting to manual labor, I hear you ask? Because his father lost the family fortune and Lucian thinks he can restore it by excavating the Roman ruin he discovered on their estate and following the clues to a lost Roman treasure. It was a year’s pay for the entire legion stationed on Britannia in 405 AD! (note from Joy: Yikes! That's a lot of denari! A Roman legion consisted of about 5000-6000 men)

Lucian is a rarity in a time of rakes. He’s a virgin when the story opens (Don’t worry! He’s a very quick study!) because he loathes the idea of marrying for money, won’t take unfair advantage of the serving girls, and hasn’t the wherewithal to keep a mistress. However, when “Blanche La Tour” (Daisy pretending to be a French courtesan) offers to teach him the pleasures of the flesh in exchange for allowing her to partner with him in his excavation, he’s quick to accept.

Mostly, I love Lucian because he exhibits that most attractive quality in a hero. He becomes totally devoted to the heroine, willing to dare anything for her. (note from Joy: Awwwwww, how sweet.. :-)

JOY: What is the main lesson your heroine has to learn about herself in order to reach her happy ending?

EMILY: Daisy has always fancied herself an amateur actress, so her masquerade as “Blanche La Tour” started as a whim born of her desperate desire for an adventure. During the course of the story, she’s paddling furiously, trying to stay ahead of Lucian by studying the real Blanche La Tour’s very explicit memoirs. She learns all a courtesan’s tricks.

But even once Lucian learns the truth and they become lovers, Daisy hides behind naughty little love games. She has to eventually come to terms with what Blanche says in her journal. “The moment when lovers step back and say, ‘I know you and I won’t turn away,’ is the moment when true lovemaking begins.”

Only in being completely herself can she be happy because that’s the only way her relationship with Lucian can be real. And knowing another person deeply, and not turning away, is the greatest adventure one can hope for. (note from Joy - yep, I tell my hubby that every day...)

JOY: The book is over, and your hero and heroine decide to start their happily-ever-after with a much-needed vacation. Where do they go?

EMILY: Why, after a brief stop on the Druid island that features prominently in the story, they go to Rome, of course. It was their fascination with Roman antiquities that threw them together. They may as well visit the source!

This might be a good place to tuck a little excerpt in, but it’s not from Daisy and Lucian’s part of the book. In VEXING THE VISCOUNT, I flash back from time to time to Roman Britain to explain how the legion’s payroll came to be lost. And it all starts with a love story, of course, between Caius Meritus, freedman, and Deirdre, a Celtic slavegirl . . .


Londinium, 405 A.D.

The sound charmed Caius toward the garden. The girl’s voice was like a flute, all rounded and wispy with air wrapped around the tone.

And sad.

In all his life, and as nearly as he could reckon it, he was around thirty years old, Caius had never heard such a lament. The song weaved its melodic fingers around his heart and squeezed.

He peered from the corner of the villa into the mistress’s herb garden. The air was alive with tiny honey bees and the steady, constant hum of green, growing things. The new girl, Deirdre, was bent over, clawing at weeds, singing her sad, Celtic song as she worked.

Then the song stopped and she straightened, arms extended over her head in a huge stretch. Her palla rose almost to her knees, baring shapely calves and delicate ankles. Her feet were naked, her toes and heels grass-stained. The fading sun flashed behind her, showing the separation of her thighs and a shadow of the dark triangle of hair under her thin palla. When she leaned down to grasp a long-stemmed cankerwort by the stubborn root, Caius saw the outline of her breasts swinging free.

The girl yelped suddenly.

‘Bee sting,’ Caius decided.

She stuck her finger in her mouth, sucking fiercely. The innocent gesture made his body respond in a not so innocent way. He’d desired women before, but none had ever made him stiffen quite so unexpectedly.

He’d never had a woman.

When he’d been a slave, his master hadn’t permitted it. But now, Caius was a freedman. If he wished, he might take a woman to his pallet. Though male slaves were in danger of emasculation if they were caught in unsanctioned coupling, a female slave was more prized if she proved fertile. He would bring the girl no harm if . . .

Without conscious volition, he walked toward her. In the sparse amount of Celtic he’d gleaned from his dealings in the market, he told her to show him her finger. With care, he plucked out the stinger, still pulsing its venom into her reddened and swelling skin. He pursed his lips and blew softly on the spot.

“Better?” he asked.

Her smile washed over him like a breaker.

And he knew in an instant. He was a drowned man who just hadn’t quit struggling yet. It was said to be not at all an unpleasant end once a man gave up.

Best to let the deep claim him.

EMILY: Thanks so much for having me here today, Joy. I can’t wait for your next Druids of Avalon title!

JOY: Thank YOU, Emily! Hey all you readers out there... please leave a comment or question to be entered in Emily's daily drawing for a copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT!

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