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Of Planets and Pufferfish

Gifts are nice. At their best, they’re a thoughtful token of esteem or affection.

But sometimes the best kind of gift you can give someone is an experience.

My husband gave me a unique experience recently that I wanted to share, in part because it directly pertains to the book series I’m working on. And in part because…well…it’s straight-up awesome.

I visited hubby’s office last week to take him to lunch, and he first took me on a detour into the studio to see the new “toy” his company has been working on for NASA. This, ladies and gentlemen, is called a Pufferfish. A touch-responsive spherical display.

PufferSphere M(i.e. crystal ball)

The image you see here is a projected compilation of satellite imagery.

Not only was it an accurate representation of the Earth set in a glass globe too large for me to put my arms around, it was also rotating on its axis and responsive to me “tilting” the projection with a flick of my finger. For a moment in that darkened studio, I felt like cosmic giant. My sci-fi obsessed inner child may have squealed. A lot.

But that wasn’t the coolest part.

Earth isn’t the only celestial body that’s been thoroughly mapped, after all. When I casually mentioned to my husband how neat it would be if I could see Mars in the same “light”, he disappeared for a few minutes and then convinced the magic ball to give me THIS:


I have to admit, I got a little choked up.

I’ve been studying flat maps of Mars for several years now as part of my research for the sci-fi series I’m writing. It has about 1/3rd the gravitational pull of Earth, but a huge percentage of my personal affection. Seeing the whole of the red planet up close…

Let’s just say, to me, the experience was about a thousand times better than a bouquet of flowers. ^_^


To give a better feel for scale, here’s me pointing out the more precise location where the first book in the series is set. That’s Olympus Mons, in an area called the Tharsis region.

Seeing Mars in all of it’s 3-dimensional glory was inspiring. To turn and tilt and get an almost literal “feel” for the geography of another planet was certainly one of the more memorable experiences I’ve been given as of late. It brought me closer to my story.

Maybe a little too close.


And here I am, hugging a planet.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity.
(My apologies to whoever had to Windex away all evidence of me afterward.)

Oh, and kudos to my dear, wise husband for not doing THIS to me:

I know it must have taken all of his self-control… and most of his self-preservation.

Once Upon a Road Trip – The Facelift (Plus giveaway!)

Just a quick note to announce the second print run for Once Upon A Road Trip will see a few improvements! 🙂



I’m more than delighted the cover now specifies that the book is a memoir. (Despite its genre listing, the blurb, and the disclaimer, we kept getting reports of readers not realizing they were reading a true story–especially those who’d grabbed the digital version. This will hopefully help remedy the issue!)



Another quick note: There have been questions as to whether both books in the series (Once Upon a Road trip and Once Upon an Ever After) will eventually be bundled and sold together. I can now confirm that the plan is to have the digital bundle available by the end of 2015! 🙂

So, what do you think about the cover alterations?
Oh, by the way…commenters who accurately point out any one of the changes from the original version (front or back) will have their name entered to win a deluxe “On The Road Again” prize pack–not the least of which involves a $15 Barnes & Noble gift card! One is enough to get you into the drawing!

(Open internationally. Author reserves the right to substitute prize package components if an item turns out to be inapplicable or illegal in your country of origin. >.< Drawing ends Thursday, February 12th.)

Incandescent: Release-Day!


The first book in the Hidden Races Series

by M.V. Freeman

“When fire meets a force of nature an Incandescent is born.”

Laurie Hudson gave up “normal” a long time ago. Isolated from friends and family, she becomes a bartender for an upscale restaurant while she fights to suppress her strange affinity for fire. Around new owner Mikhail Petrov, her careful control disintegrates. She is at once drawn to his urbane, cool demeanor and irritated by his overbearing manner. Now she finds all of her hard won choices being taken away as she is catapulted into a world of Mages, Darks, and mysterious Elementals, all working just below the surface of humanity. As she learns to survive, Laurie realizes her freedom could mean the destruction of the frustrating man she’s come to care for.

A formidable figure in this strange world, Tri-Elemental Mikhail Petrov commands earth, air, and water. He doesn’t give a damn what the untrained Fire Elemental Laurie wants. Her rare power is the key to his freedom, and he doesn’t hesitate to seize her for his use—an act that propels him into a war he isn’t ready to fight. The cost could mean his life and the destruction of his people. With the Mages closing in, Mikhail faces a choice: destroy the fledgling relationship with Laurie to gain his coveted freedom, or sacrifice himself for hers.

Available Now:


Author Bio:

M.V. Freeman lives in North Alabama. A nurse by day, at night she enjoys creating and exploring alternate worlds within our own.  She gravitates toward stories of determined heroines and anti-heroes who push the boundaries as they both fight to find their light in the dark.

M.V. is represented by Victoria Lea from The Aponte Literary Agency. Her award-winning and best-selling debut novel INCANDESCENT is the first in the Hidden Races Series.  Currently she is working on the third book in the series, while plotting others. When not writing, she can be found reading, cooking, throwing around kettle bells, or making coffee. You can find out more about her here at:

Review of C.J. Redwine’s Deliverance + Giveaway!

 Enter to win a signed ARC copy of Deliverance!
(You won’t want to miss this.)


Everything hangs in the balance, and nothing is certain: Rachel has been kidnapped by enemy forces and is being taken to Rowansmark while Logan, imprisoned and awaiting trial, is unable to leave Lankenshire. Separated from each other and their Baalboden comrades, each must find a way to achieve what they desperately want: to rid their world once and for all of the Commander and the tech that controls the deadly Cursed One.

Fighting through her pain and embracing the warrior she’s become, Rachel will do whatever it takes to escape her enemies’ clutches and join Logan in his fight. But when she learns a secret that changes everything, she realizes that escaping Ian and his tracker friends is no longer an option if she wants to save the people she loves. Instead, she’ll have to destroy Rowansmark from the inside out—if she can survive the journey through the Wasteland.

Logan needs allies if he wants to thwart Rowansmark’s power grab and rescue Rachel. But securing allies will mean betraying his beliefs and enlisting the help of the man he hates more than anyone: Commander Jason Chase. Driven by his fierce love for Rachel and his determination to make their world safe, Logan may be just the weapon the city-states need to defeat the Cursed One.

But as Rowansmark bears down and uneasy alliances are tested, will Rachel and Logan’s love for each other be enough to surmount the unbelievable odds against them?


A worthy conclusion to this epic dystopian fantasy series.

Climbing down off of that cliffhanger Deception left us on, we find Rachel still injured and being dragged across the Wasteland by Rowansmark trackers—one of whom is especially bent on killing her. Logan, meanwhile, is forced to forestall rescuing her while he strikes off to amass an army with the excruciatingly hesitant “help” of the ever-vile Commander Chase.

Just when you think there can’t be anyone more loathsome than the obsessively brutal Commander, readers are introduced to the cult-leader-like Rowan and all of his manipulating sociopathic glory. (You know, just in case Logan’s vindictively psycho brother didn’t add quite enough crazy to the pot.) Ultimately, the overarching story begins and ends with the clash of these two madmen, and all of the lives caught in the middle of their deranged power struggle.

After the wanton good-guy slaughter of the second book in this series, this reader was jazzed with righteous indignation and eager to finally see some bad guys getting smote for a change. Redwine /really/ makes you wait for some satisfying taste of justice and closure in this final book—and without giving anything away, I can only say that she does deliver with that solid sense of closure.

For those most interested in the romance part of the plot, I’ll warn ahead of time that the vast majority of the story sees our hero and heroine kept separate from one another in all but thought. This reader found the division fitting, as they were both fighting different internal conflicts and coming to terms with their own personal demons, producing significant character growth as refined–and in many ways redefined–individuals. There’s no shortage of emotional depth, as themes of revenge vs. justice, misogyny, hatred, grief, healing, and sacrifice are explored with agonizing intensity.

Kudos as ever for the strong female characters, and the warning still so highly applicable in much of the modern world:

*”We walked through the streets with our protectors. We wore our dresses. We gave up our education because that was the price of safety. That was the bargain we made with the devil we knew to escape the devil we didn’t.” –Rachel

A few new character introductions round out the characterization, with the silver-tongued Lankenshire emissary, Conner, leaving a particularly vibrant impression. (Personally, this reader is hoping he gets his own book…or at least a novella. >.>) I’d love to know what happens to Samuel, but unless I missed something, that particular end didn’t seem to get tied up. (Potential room for another spinoff, there?)

After so much running around, near-misses, and a pretty significant twist, the wrap-up felt a bit hurried. But overall, the breakneck pacing and poignant introspection finished off this series on a memorable note. This reader will be more than happy to own the whole set. 🙂

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