Guest Toni Sweeney

Welcome everyone. The garden is a little cool, so grab your goodies from the table and fill your glass with your favorite beverage. I have some heaters placed around to make sure everyone stay's warm. Please welcome Toni V. Sweeney.

Author Bio
Toni Sweeney was born in Georgia after the War between the States but before the Gulf War. Her writing career began during an extended convalescence following an automobile accident. Since her recovery, she has survived hurricanes in the South, tornados and snow-covered winters in the Midwestern United States and currently lives amid the sunshine, earthquakes, and forest fires of Orange County, California. She's now trying for her second 30 years as a resident of the Great Plains.

Currently, she reviews books for amazon and is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild. She was recently named a Professional Reader by She is also promotion manager for Class Act Books publishers. also writes Romances under the pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone.

Her novels have received awards from 2010 onward from both Preditors & Editors and Paranormal Romance Guild. In 2008, her novel Earthman's Bride won 1st place in the Maryland Romance Writers' "Reveal Your Inner Vixen" Contest, and Icy Snow's Jericho Road placed 8th in the 1997 National Writers Novel Writing as well as 2nd in the Paranormal Romance Guild's Reviewer's Choice award in 2012. In 2014, her western NEBRASKA: Vengeance from Eden was voted #1 in General Genre by Preditors & Editors Readers Poll, and the romantic suspense novel Tuesday's Child was voted best in contemporary romance by Paranormal Romance Guild's Reviewer's Choice. In 2015, NEBRASKA: Walk the Shadow Trail was voted 1st in Historical Romance by PRG, and her Western novel the Man from Tipperary finished in the Top Ten in General Genre in the 2016 Preditors & Editors Readers Choice awards.

Thinking Outside the Box and into Editing Trouble

There’s one thing more than any other that’s influenced the way my books are constructed, something people have come to call my “style.” I suppose I’m a child of my time…and my time was the early 50’s, when moving pictures were the most popular form of entertainment before the Boob Tube usurped it.

In those days, there were not only dramas and westerns but sweeping epics of adventure, costume tales of pirates, Robin Hood, the Scarlet Pimpernel, rogues and rascals, and villains. Nowadays, you rarely see those, except for an occasional Indiana Jones rip-off or something ike Game of Thrones, or if Cinemax steps in with The Borgias. It was the time of Frank Yerby, Samuel Shellabarger, Rafael Sabatini…men who wrote what would probably be termed the picaresque novel, tales of heroes conquering mountains and nations, and discovering new worlds simply because they were there, between bedding every viable female in sight. Their stories were made into Technicolor sagas enthralling this little viewer for hours (in those days, you could pay your money and stay in the theatre the entire day if you wished.) And when I began to write, I unconsciously patterned my stories after theirs.

My series The Adventures of Sinbad seems to mirror those stories enough that several readers have told me they “absolutely adore” my main character. I admit it’s easy to see him swinging across the deck of a ship, with dagger between his teeth while he hangs onto the heroine with one hand and a rope with the other, a la The Crimson Pirate. In fact, I think I had him do something almost like that in one story…

Sinbad’s current adventure is in combat. The title is Sinbad’s War, and it reflects what happens when planets are invaded and the galaxy retaliates. It would be Pearl Harbor, In Harm’s Way, or The Winds of War, SciFi-style. It delves into the lives of a family caught up in the war, and what happens to the women they love.

In telling my tales of adventure, romance, violence, danger, and—on occasion—lust, I harken back to those days in those darkened theatres as I shoveled in the popcorn while my eyes were glued to that silver-beaded screen. Good or bad, that’s just the way my mine works, and so far, it’s successful. The results are, in several reviewers’ opinions, “readable and enjoyable tales…outside the box”…which I owe to two things: my imagination and those childhood entertainments.

And then television came along…and opened the box even wider…

More about Toni at:
Amazon Author’s Page:
Twitter: @ToniVSweeney

Sinbad sh’en Singh, smuggler-turned-shipping magnate, has become quite the family man, knee-deep
in offspring and complacent with his life...but Fate is about to interfere...

Terra is again at another war, attacked by the Severani, members of an aggressively militant planet daring to challenge the Federation.

That was the enemy's first mistake.

Bombardment of other Federation planets follow...then they invade Felida, and among the casualties are the people Sin holds most dear...

...and that is mistake Number Two.

The hostile Severani are about to discover there’s nothing quite so dangerous as a Felidan who’s lost his mate...especially if his name's Sinbad sh'en Singh.

Excerpt from Sinbad’s War:
The young man jumped to his feet, staring at the tall figure who stopped, looking down at him. V Nils Van Lewen considered himself tall, but the man coming through the door was a giant. He was also the first Felidan Nils had ever seen. The captain of the transport ship bringing him to Felida was Arcanian and the man meeting the shuttle had been Terran, introducing himself as Alda March, sh’en Singh Shipping’s Operations Chief. He knew the owner of the shipping line was half-Terran and expected someone looking like himself, but nothing had prepared him for this…

The creature said, “I’m Sinbad sh’en Singh. You wanted to see me?”

Nils stared up at him, noting the black leather trousers, boots, and vest, and the blazing white shirt. He remembered how March was dressed in soft Felidan robes.

Before he realized it, he stuttered, like a fool, “G-God, you’re tall!”

More than once he’d used his own height to intimidate someone and now he knew how that felt.

“We all are.”

A slight smile touched the giant’s mouth, revealing another shock.

Pointed canines.

He leaned against the desk, arms crossed over his chest. “What do you want…” Green eyes flicked to the insignia on his right shoulder. “…captain?”

Good God, they looked like a cat’s. The young man’s thoughts were a jumble.

“Van Lewen…Nils Van Lewen, Captain, Federation Armed Services.”

Thank God, he sounds like a Terran, speaks Inglaterre well, too. No accent at all.

“I don’t want to seem rude, but I’ve a business to run. I’d appreciate it if you’d state your purpose in being here so I can get back to it.” Sin stared at Nils expectantly.

Nils stared back.

“Well?” There was a hint of impatience in the deep voice.

“I’m sorry, but I was told you were paraplegic,” the young officer began, then shook his head as he realized the statement came out sounding like an accusation.

His assignment seemed so easy. Go to Felida, talk to the invalid owner of sh’en Singh Shipping, an old man partially paralyzed, dazzle him with Federation authority. Already nothing was going as it should.

“You are Andrew Malcom McAllister? Sinbad sh’en Singh?”

“I am,” Sin answered, a little brusquely. “And all that moving around you’ve witnessed is merely the work of a very finely-programmed micro-computer implant.”

For another minute Nils continued staring before bursting into explanation. “I’m going to get right to the point, Mr. McAllis…uh…sh’en Singh…sir.”

“I’m waiting.” Sin didn’t hide his sarcasm.

“Terra’s at war.”

“Am I supposed to be surprised? What else is new?” Sin shrugged. “Who’s the unlucky aggressor this time?”

“A planet called Severan.” Nils ignored his sarcasm.

“Never heard of it.”

“Not many people have. It’s a small world in the Drexus Cluster. A petty bunch of blackbirders barely surviving in the slave trade until about fifty years ago, when a dissident faction overthrew the emperor and set about establishing a military-controlled planet.”

“And they’ve been stupid enough to attack Terra? I doubt Earth attacked them.” Sin went on, before Nils could answer. “Tell me, has there ever been a conflict in which Earth was the aggressor? Still, fifty years isn’t long enough to get the military power to attack a planet that size.”

“That’s what the Federation thought when it was told a fleet of Severani warships were headed toward Terra, but they were wrong.” Nils shook his head. He got to his feet again. “The Severanis have devoted themselves entirely to building up their armed forces, sacrificing public welfare and natural resources to achieve their goal…and they succeeded. The attack on Earth was not only successful, but there was a sixty-five percent destruction rate in the areas hit and a severe loss of life. They fire-strafed both coasts. If the Federation hadn’t had that brief warning of the attack, the war might’ve been lost and won right then.” He shuddered.

“Damn.” Sin breathed the word. “I never thought I’d hear anyone say that. But they retaliated?”

“Of course, what else could they do?”

“Of course.” Once more that ironic tone.

“Nevertheless, this fight’s going to be a bad one. The Severanis are well-trained, dedicated, and fanatical in sacrificing for the Mother Planet.”

“This is all very interesting, Captain Van Lewen.” Sin went around the desk, dropping into the chair behind it. He frowned at the look of wonder still lingering in the young man’s eyes. “But what exactly does it have to do with me and mine?”

“The Fed’s sending officers like myself to members of the Federation, setting up enlistment stations.”

“I see.” Those two words weren’t encouraging.

“We’re going to need all the man-power we can get for this one. If we don’t get volunteers, we’ll have to start inductions, and they don’t want to do that. We haven’t had a true draft in three hundred years.” He carefully omitted mentioning the conscription in effect during the Terro-Felidan War. “Quite frankly, with so many worlds involved, I doubt it could be effectively enforced.”

“You want to set up this enlistment station in Khurda?” Sin struggled to glean information from what Van Lewen wasn’t saying.

The young man nodded.

“Why come to me?” Sin spread his hands. “I’m merely a humble merchant. You should be talking to the emperor.”

“I have, sir, or at least his representative. Before I landed. His Excellency gave his permission, but told me since Khurda, as the largest pride on Felida, was chosen as the site, I had to get the Pride Chief’s permission also. You’re anything but a humble merchant, sir.” And you damn well know it, Nils thought.

Sinbad’s slight smile said so.

“So, here I am,” Nils finished.

“I’ve very little love for the Federation, Captain Van Lewen, and consider myself having no loyalty to it, either.” His answer was short and sharp. “This business now called sh’en Singh Shipping was originally a smuggling operation illegally supplying goods while we thumbed our noses at the Fed as we did it.”

“I’m aware of that, sir.”

Damn, the kid’s so polite, I want to deck him. How can I continue being rude to someone sounding so respectful?

“We…” Van Lewen’s expression changed to one of absolute terror. He swallowed convulsively and cleared his throat. “We were hoping you’d volunteer your ships, sir.” It came out in a near-whisper.

“My ships?” Sin’s exclamation exploded into the air.

Nils jumped, knowing his reaction wasn’t very officer-like. “Y-yes sir. You see, your darters are nothing more than modified Federation Thunderbolts, and your pilots are already combat-trained and if we had them…” Sin glared at him.

“…we wouldn’t have to waste time training a Felidan Defense Force…to…” His voice trailed away.

“A Felidan Defense Force.” Sin laughed. “Isn’t that contradictory? According to the Peace Proclamation between Terra and Felida, we aren’t allowed to have a defense force. I suppose technically, my having these darters to protect my cargo ships is also in violation of the Treaty.”

“That part of the Proclamation’s been amended, sir,” Nils answered.

Sin frowned. “And…?”

Nils shook his head as if he didn’t understand.

“…do I need to remind you Felida isn’t a member of the United Terran Federation?” Sin’s voice went bitter. “No animals are allowed.”

“A special act of the PanGalactic Congress was passed before I left Terra. It also revoked the Federation Edict declaring Felidans non-humans, giving them First Class citizenship and bringing Felida into membership.”

“That generous move wouldn’t be just to get my ships, would it? Well, you can’t have them.”

Realizing he was wringing his fingers in a completely unofficer-like manner, Nils looked down at them and forced their nervous movement to cease.

The Felidan stood up, towering over him again. His ears seemed to flatten slightly, eyes narrowing.

Nils wanted to cower against the wall, but managed to stand still. His reactions had probably already disgraced the Federation and the uniform he wore. He hoped he wasn’t about to void his bladder, too. He definitely felt weak in the belly-region. Trying to do so without being obvious, he pressed his thighs together, grateful his tunic-tail covered that area of his body.

“I’m overjoyed I’m now a true citizen of the Federation.” Sin’s reply was deep and sarcastic. “I’m certain my wife’ll be greatly relieved to know she’d no longer sleeping with an animal, but you aren’t getting my ships, Captain Van Lewen. You’re here on sufferance, so be thankful you’re being allowed to stay at all.”

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Thank you, Toni, for visiting today. I hope you can visit again soon.


Nightingale said…
I've read this book and can highly recommend it--well, the whole series in fact.
Melissa Keir said…
Wonderful excerpt! It is great to learn more about you and your writing process. All the best!
stanalei said…
I love the backstory of how you came to write your stories, Toni. Wishing you best in you next Sinbad saga!

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