I wish you could see our tomato plants. You would not believe your eyes. They are enormous. They are gigantic. They are Jack and the Beanstalk colossal!
Oh, all right. I exaggerate, but not much. I took a photo of them to back up my claim.
For months, the Continent has been mired in a devastating war: artillery barrages lasting days, the death rattle of machine guns, toxic chemical gas, futile charges across no-man’s-land toward enemy trenches. Caryn Hallom, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Deugan and the first woman to have achieved such a powerful position in the fledgling democracy, is horrified that she failed to prevent the war from breaking out on her watch.
Let’s give a Serious Whimsy welcome to my special guest, author Diane Burton! I invited Diane to drop in to tell us about her brand new release, The Chameleon, the second novel in her Outer Rim series.
Jolana Malkston: Before you tell us about The Chameleon, Diane, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you write.
Diane Burton: Thanks for having me here, Jolana. I’m a Michigander who loves the seasonal changes. Just wish this past winter hadn’t been so brutal or lasted so long. I live near the Lake Michigan shoreline with my husband of over forty years. Since we’re both retired, I’m fortunate that I can write full-time now. We recently moved into a brand new house and Hubs decided to finish the basement. Alas, that means I have no office—yet. So I write on my laptop on the living room sofa. I write romantic suspense and science fiction romance.
JM: Your Switched trilogy novels [Switched; Switched, Too; and Switched Resolution] contain references to Star Trek. You’re a big fan. [Me too.] What was it about the series that captivated you?
DB: Star Trek offers a glimpse into the future where people of all races, ethnicity, and species work together in harmony. The crew of the starship Enterprise has a mission, not to go out and conquer but to discover. It’s an adventure. Star Wars appeals in the same way. Adventure. And there’s a little romance in both series. 🙂
JM: The Pilot, Book One in your Outer Rim series, appeals to Firefly fans. Are you a Browncoat by any chance?
DB: You have to ask? LOL! A few weeks ago, I admitted publicly that I have a crush on Nathan Fillion. Whether he’s Captain Mal or Rick Castle, I love his sense of humor and daring.
JM: He is fun to follow on Twitter, isn’t he? 🙂 Um, we can talk about that later, Di. Now let’s get back to your new title. Yesterday, you released Outer Rim Book Two, The Chameleon. Please tell us about the characters and give us a little hint about the story—and I’m sure we’d all love to read an excerpt.
DB: Remember back in high school English class when we had to determine the theme in books? I never deliberately plan a theme. It sort of happens. The theme of The Chameleon is that people aren’t always what they seem. Thank you, Jolana, for suggesting the high concept tagline for The Chameleon—
Socialite Jileena Winslott has perfected the image of the spoiled, rich, bubble-headed daughter of an industrial magnate. In reality, she’s a smart, savvy aide to her father in social situations where she is his eyes and ears. She yearns to be her true self and run the family business. When her father sends her on a covert mission to the Outer Rim, she has the chance to prove herself. Big problem. He insists she take along a fake fiancé—the man she’s secretly loved for years.
Security Officer Laning Servary has better things to do than babysit a spoiled rich girl on a tour of the Frontier. If he refuses, he can kiss his career good-by. Then Jileena’s father sweetens the pot. If Laning keeps her safe, his family will receive the land they sharecrop. He can’t refuse.
In the close quarters of her ship, Laning and Jileena discover they aren’t who they seem. Pirates, weather, and her recklessness threaten to derail the mission. As Laning and Jileena revise their impressions of each other, they’ll have to make hard choices about their goals. Can their budding love survive?
“The company belongs in the family,” Jileena said.
“You have to accept that your brother is dead.”
Despite her heartache, she stood in front of her father, hands on her hips, determined to bring this to a head. She’d danced around the subject long enough, dropping hints that he ignored. He may have groomed her older brother to take over, but she wasn’t going down without a fight. “I am family.”
With his trademark stare—one that made competitors back off and employees quake—he pinned her in place. “You don’t have what it takes to replace me.”
His remark sent such an arrow of hurt through her she snapped, “Neither did Konner.” The moment the words left her mouth, she wanted to retract them.
Father slumped back in his chair. The desolation in his expression broke her heart.
Immediately, she dropped to her knees in front of him. “I’m so sorry, Daddy. I shouldn’t have—”
In a gesture she remembered from childhood, he smoothed her hair away from her forehead then tipped up her chin. “What you say is true. He had no stomach for this cutthroat business. And neither do you, thank the Divine One.” He patted her head twice. “You don’t have to worry about that. Now get up. We have work to do. Plans to make.”
“Baby, I’m sending you to Galeria 7 to check out this discovery.”
“To the Outer Rim?” Jileena’s jaw dropped. While her father had sent her on discreet missions before, he’d never sent her that far from the Central Planets—especially since Konner had died out on the Frontier.
“You will check the site and do your own analysis. Put that geology degree of yours into practice. If, indeed, it is high-grade lambidium, you will negotiate mining rights with the local tribe.”
He’d done it again and seemed to enjoy surprising her. She stumbled to the visitor’s chair.
“I certainly can’t send Sindaro. As soon as reporters learn he left for the Rim, rumors would fly and negotiations would fail.”
He was right about that. If secrecy was paramount, Father had to send someone whose presence was innocuous. Someone like his fluff-brained daughter.
“Discretion is imperative. No one will suspect you are going out to the Rim for anything other than a vacation.”
Hope began to trickle through her. He’d never had her negotiate anything as important as mining rights. He was giving her a chance. A chance to prove herself.
JM: The Chameleon sounds like a terrific read. What’s up next? Do you have another novel in the works?
DB: I have a contemporary mystery coming up, featuring Alex O’Hara, a female private investigator. This book will be released in late June.
JM: A female PI—that sounds intriguing. I’ll be looking forward to it. Thanks for stopping by, Diane, and I hope you’ll drop in again soon. Best wishes for success with the launch of The Chameleon.
DB: Thank you for inviting me. It’s been fun.
[ Full disclosure: Diane and I are good friends and critique partners, get each other’s off-beat sense of humor, and take great delight in breaking each other up with some of the stuff we write. 🙂 ]
For more info and excerpts from her books or to connect with Diane, visit her at: