Excerpt from THE LIGHT FROM OTHER SUNS by V. E. Lemp

In late afternoon Karen found a quiet spot behind the main quadrangle and sat on a stone bench to capture some quick sketches of crimson roses spilling over a salmon brick wall. The scent of the flowers hung heavy in the still air. A soft hum of insect wings was all that broke the hush blanketing the enclosed garden. Colored pencils in hand, her gaze focused on the shapes and hues of the scene before her, she felt at peace.
But when a shadow fell across the grass, she turned her head. Another person had entered the garden. Much to her dismay, Karen recognized her.
It was the dark-eyed woman from the lobby of the Indigo Building.
Karen leapt to her feet, dropping her sketchpad on the bench and casting a handful of pencils across the ground.
“Please don’t be alarmed.” The woman’s voice was low and strangely lacking in intonation.
“Who are you and what’re you doing here?” Karen gazed into those odd eyes and realized the reason they appeared so dark—there was too little white encircling too much iris.
“My name is not relevant, but you may call me Alice if you wish.”
“Alice? Alice what?”
“Just Alice.” The woman moved a few steps closer.
Karen instinctively backed away. “You were in the lobby of the Indigo Building the other day, asking for Dr. Vance.”
“Yes, but I was looking for someone else. I thought Ian Vance’s name might get me into the back offices, but that did not work out as I had planned.”
“Who were you looking for? Me?”
“No, not then,” said the woman who called herself Alice. “But I am glad to have found you now. I have a message for you. And another for someone else, if you will deliver it for me.”
“I don’t understand. What kind of message? I don’t know you. Why would I deliver any messages for you?”
“You don’t have to do so, but it might be in your best interest for you to agree.” Alice turned her head slightly so her discomforting gaze was focused over Karen’s shoulder. “I am actually taking quite a risk in coming to you like this. I hope you will grant me the courtesy of listening to what I have to say.”
“Very well.” Karen sank down onto the bench. “Give me this message, or messages or whatever. I’m listening.”
“Ah, but are you really?” Alice turned her gaze on Karen, who bit her lip and tried not to look away. “I wonder. But I feel compelled to warn you, despite your intention to dismiss what I say.”
“What, you can read my mind now or something?”
Alice stared at Karen for a moment. “Or something. At any rate, Karen Foster—yes, I know who you are—here is my message for you. Leave the Morpheus Project now, before more harm is done.”
“Harm? What in the world are you talking about?”
“‘What in the world’?” A faint smile crooked the corners of Alice’s mouth. For some reason this smile was more disconcerting than any of the woman’s previous expressions. “The Morpheus Project is not what you think, Karen Foster, and you were not recruited on a whim. There is great harm in what a few individuals are doing. I know I cannot stop them. But I can at least warn you. These people—what they plan to do—could be very dangerous for you, and those around you. This is all I can tell you.”
“What do you mean, recruited? For your information, I met one of the project researchers by chance, the night that meteor struck the campus.”
“Meteor? Ah yes, I see. Clever,” Alice muttered, as if talking to herself.
“Anyway, the Morpheus Project is just a university research study,” Karen said. “You must be mad, showing up and talking about harm and danger and I don’t know what else.”
“You are probably right. I am acting irrationally.” There was a hint of sadness in the woman’s voice. “But I can assure you I would be in great danger if I were to be discovered warning you. Or contacting you at all, for that matter. I can tell,” Alice added, with another of her piercing stares, “you will undoubtedly ignore me. Very well—at least I will have the comfort of knowing I attempted to change the course of events.”
The deadly seriousness of Alice’s expression raised the hair on Karen’s arms. “Was it you, then, in the street that day?”
“No, though I am aware of that incident.”
“It looked like you. Do you have a twin?”
“A twin? I suppose you could say so.”
“You either do or you don’t.”
“Things are not always so unequivocal.” Alice appeared lost in thought for a moment. When she spoke again her voice was tinged with sorrow. “You are in great danger. Perhaps less physical than mental, but I am concerned …” Alice met Karen’s stubborn gaze. “You have a talent, Karen Foster, granted to only a few. There are those who wish to exploit it, and you.”
“I don’t understand. Are you still talking about the Morpheus Project?”
“That is part of it, yes.” The odd, dark eyes looked Karen up and down.
Karen refused to glance away. “I’ve freely chosen to continue working there.”
“Have you? I thought perhaps you had been persuaded. And by someone who should know better,” Alice added, in a softer voice.
“It’s my choice.”
“But do you know what you are choosing?” Alice sighed and turned away. She walked to the open gate, pausing only long enough to cast one more glance at Karen. “Leave the Morpheus Project, Karen Foster.” Her voice rang out across the small garden.
“Wait!” Karen jumped from the bench and took a few steps toward the dark-haired woman. “You said you had another message, one for me to deliver. What is it?”
Alice turned and her expression, full of pity and remorse, stopped Karen in her tracks. “Yes, that is correct. One more warning, though I daresay it will fall on deaf ears just as this one has. But I must try. Very well, here is the message: tell Alex Wythe now is the time to choose. Tell him to think deeply and consider all that means anything to him and then to choose wisely.”
With that, the woman left the garden as silently as she had entered. Karen, frozen in place for a moment, finally shook her head and ran after the dark-haired stranger. But when Karen reached the break in the brick wall and stepped onto the gravel path outside the garden, she couldn’t see Alice anywhere.

Artist Karen Foster draws while dreaming. Scientists label her a valuable commodity. Aliens call her their perfect messenger.
Seeking money for art supplies, Karen is thrilled when charming researcher Alex Wythe recruits her for a dream study called the Morpheus Project. But the Morpheus Project is not what it seems, and neither are the detailed technical illustrations Karen draws in her sleep.
Warned off by government agent Mark Hallam, Karen refuses to leave the project, even after her fellow subjects suffer breakdowns. Like the sun, her love for Alex blinds her.
Karen believes their love is forever, until a tragic accident blasts both their lives.
Aided by Mark—as well as a UFO investigator, his psychic daughter, and the dark-eyed strangers who haunt her dreams—Karen must fight to uncover the truth.
A truth that includes humans trading lives for profits—and a powerful cabal that will kill to keep such secrets from the world.
A truth that unveils the ultimate, terrifying, reality –
We have never been alone.

Older than our recorded history, and far superior in knowledge and technology, the Oneiroi are too alien to ever step foot on Earth.

Yet, aided by powerful human collaborators, they invaded Karen's dreams, stole her art, and shattered her life.

Now Karen must prevent them from destroying her planet.

The Oneiroi, extraterrestrials who’ve studied Earth for centuries, consider humans their lab rats. But a contingent of this ancient race—seeking to halt all experimentation—has launched a rebellion. Their mission, while just, is poised to ignite a battle that could blast Earth to a cinder.

With the planet tossed like a ball between fearsome forces, hope lies with a small band of humans and sympathetic aliens. Pursued by ruthless collaborators happy to sacrifice millions to silence the truth, Karen and her allies discover that only evidence bought with blood can expose those trading Earth’s autonomy for wealth and power.

It's time the world knew --

We are not alone.

If there’s one word to describe Vicki it’s “eclectic.” Equally enchanted by classical music and current chart-toppers, and appreciative of pop culture as well as high art, Vicki loves good writing in all genres. A lifelong fan of fantasy and science fiction, Vicki also enjoys a twisty mystery or mind-expanding literary fiction. Although her focus is on novel-length works, a few of Vicki’s short stories and poems have appeared in print and online literary magazines.

Coffee, cats, and chocolate are basic essentials in Vicki’s life. A library director for a performing and visual arts university, Vicki loves foreign films, but will defend the merit of television shows like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, FRINGE, and TWELVE MONKEYS against all naysayers. She’d be happy to travel the world, if someone would just provide the ticket.

Vicki is represented by Frances Black at Literary Counsel, NY, NY. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats.

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Twenty-Two: Protagonists, Describe Yourself in Five Words

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

(Please note, as this is protagonist takeover week, all posts are written by my age-gap romance protagonist Jade Landon). 

Oh jeez, way to put a girl on the spot. Thanks. So, I'm loyal, independent, creative, friendly and cheerful. 

WIP Joy Challenge - Days Nineteen, Twenty and Twenty-One

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

I'm playing catch up on the WIP Joy Challenge today, as I was sick Thursday and Friday, and didn't feel like posting.

So here's Days Nineteen, Twenty and Twenty-One!

 I love my world or setting because it's loosely based on the closest city to me, Birmingham. All my books are based on my loose interpretation of the West Midlands, simply because I know the area so well, as it's easy for me to draw inspiration from real life places. For example, one of Birmingham's biggest spots for night clubs, bars etc. is Broad Street and the surrounding area along the canal. The hotspot became the perfect setting for a TV studio (in fact, I think there actually is one near by or used to be), and because of all the clubs, bars etc. Jade and friends have plenty to do when they're not working.
The relationship I root hardest for is Jade and Seth. They are the main characters! I just really want them to work it out, despite all the shit that's thrown their way. Even though there's a gap of twenty-five years between them, I think they're really good for each other, and when people stop selling stories about them to their paper, and Seth's ex-wife backs off, I think they'll be really happy together.

I'm most impatient to hear reader reactions to Seth and Jade's romance, and Seth as a love interest. It's not common in contemporary romance to have a love interest twice the age of the heroine, and I hope people aren't put off by the fact Seth is in his fifties (there's some hot guys in their fifties!). 

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Eighteen: Share an Example of Your Best Prose.

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

I've shared a few snippets already, but I'm always up for sharing more.

Enjoy ...

“It’s just a thing, it’ll pass.” I buried my head again, and even as I closed my eyes, I knew it wasn’t true. When it was ‘just a thing’ your heart didn’t flip-flop inside your chest when the person smiled at you, and the days they weren’t around didn’t suck just because they weren’t there. This was way more than just a thing. 

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Seventeen: I Love The Way I Depict My Characters Because ...

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

They're real!

I hope readers will connect with Jade and think "this could be me/ someone I know."

I want her words, actions and emotions to resonate with readers, so they feel what she feels. 

An example of that is this scene:

I woke up with the worst headache I’d ever had in my life. My mouth felt like it was filled with cotton wool, and my eyelids were stuck together. I forced my eyes open, and looked around.
I was lying in a strange bed, in a room I didn’t recognize.
Images of the night before flicked through my mind, and I saw the two guys who’d obviously slipped something into my drink, and then tried to take me from the club. 
Hot claws gripped my body, and I threw off the bed covers. Leaping to my feet, I found I was still fully clothed apart from my shoes, which had been placed neatly on the floor at the foot of the bed. 
My heart hammered, and I creeped from the room. As I stepped out into the hall, I heard snoring coming from the room where the door was half open. 
Terrified of what I’d discover if I looked in, but desperate to know whose house I was at, I peered around the door. 

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Sixteen: I love How I Describe Things When ...

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

For me, I love how I describe things when there's the perfect amount of realism, that will hopefully have the author nodding their head long with the book, thinking "I could have said/ thought that."

“Is someone dating a person older then themselves against the G.E.M rules? Because, I’m quite sure inter-staff relationships are allowed, and as I’ve already said, twice, Seth is separated from his wife. Many people start dating again while separated. Or did you have this same conversation with Philippa Johnson when she was going through her divorce, and started seeing someone?”

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Fifteen: At It's Best, my WIP's Dialogue Is ...

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

I hope when people read my age-gap romance the find the dialogue funny, honest, and realistic.

Here's a snippet, what do you think?

I turned to Maria. “So, what’s the score with you and Rich?”
Maria laughed. “What? Me and Rich?” 
The alcohol making me forget my earlier promise, I said, “Yeah, he likes you.” 
Maria’s eyes widened and her body went ridged. “Seriously?” 
“That’s what he said to me earlier. But shit-” The memory came flooding back. “I wasn’t supposed to say anything.” 
“Oopsie,” Kelly interjected, and we all started giggling. 

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Fourteen: Which Characters Gt Along Worst With Each Other?

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

I've already touched upon the fact that Jade and her co-worker Courtney have a mutual hatred for each other.

Here's a scene that really exemplifies that:

As I deepened the kiss, I heard a screech from behind us.
“Oh my god. So, the newspapers weren’t lying. You two really are together?” 
My heart felt like led. Of all the people who had to see me and Seth kissing, it was Courtney Sinclair.  
I turned around to face her, my eyes narrowing. “Yeah, we are. Do you have a problem with that?” 
“A problem? This is fucking hilarious. Miss high and mighty, having me about accidentally showing a little more of myself than I’d intended on a night out, and here she is making moves on a man twice her age. What’s the matter, Jade? No one your own age interested in you? Or do you hope you can get your claws in good and proper, and score yourself a nice sugar daddy?” 
Before Seth could stop me, I’d jumped up off the couch and charged towards Courtney, my hand hovered just inches away from slapping that smug smile off her face. 
I stopped myself just in time, let out a breath, and stepped back. “Not even you’re worth losing my job over.” 
“Oh, you’ll lose your job. When I tell HR you raised your hand to me, you’re out of here.”

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Thirteen: What's A Message About Relationships in your Book?

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

The core key message about relationships in my age-gap romance is not to over-think things, or assume what the other person is thinking/ feeling, and to keep the lines of communication open.

Seth sums this up perfectly in a conversation with Jade early on in their relationship:

“Thank you for being honest with me.” 

“I want us to have a chance. If we decided later down the road there isn’t a spark there or whatever, we’ll deal with it. But I couldn’t bare thinking I’d messed things up before they even got going by not being open with you. That’s one mistake Tessa and I made, and I don’t intend to repeat it.”

WIP Joy Challenge - Day Twelve: What Was Your Antagonist's Past Like?

For the month of January, I'll be taking part in the WIP Joy Challenge, created by Bethany A. Jennings (found via a share from Adam.C.Macdonald).

My age-gap romance has two antagonists. 

The first is soap actress Courtney Sinclair, who DOES NOT get along with my protagonist Jade at all; in fact, I'd go as far as saying she bullies Jade.

I haven't given much thought to why Courtney is the way she is. She's just one of these arrogant people who believes the sun shines out of her arse, and everyone should bend to her every whim, so when someone doesn't, she goes to war with them.

I guess it stems from growing up as a spoiled child and teen, getting anything she wanted, including lots of attention because of her natural good looks.

The second antagonist is Seth's ex-wife, Tessa, a former Page-3 model, who is actually vary similar to Courtney on the surface, but the reason behind her behaviour runs much deeper.

Their relationship was the classic tale of rock-star marries model, that you see a lot in real life celebrities. 

Tessa was happy to live the celebrity life, and hoped her marriage to Seth would further her career. But after a few years of her aspirations of being an actress not taking off, Tessa decided instead that she'd devote her life to being a mother, and quickly convinced Seth to try for a baby - even though he was struggling with a cocaine addiction at the time.

However, motherhood wasn't what she imagined, either, and with Seth still away a lot (first in rehab and then trying to reignite his music career) Tessa became bored and lonely, and turned to alcohol and partying to combat this.

Eventually their marriage broke down, and when Tessa shows up the the story, they're in the middle of a divorce.

She doesn't want to be with Seth anymore, but she can't stand to see him happy with someone else, either, when she is so miserable, so she tries to cause as much trouble between Jade and Seth as possible.