Saturday, December 16, 2017

Genre Wars: Why I Like Combining Science Fiction with Romance @CarmenWBuxton


By Carmen Webster Buxton



Romance and science fiction are seen by many readers as two unrelated genres. Of course, you could call any story a romance if the primary plot is the development of a romantic relationship. A benefit, to me, of focusing on a romance means, to some extent, the book will have two protagonists. On the other hand, science fiction can involve extrapolating future technology, human evolution, alternate history, alien contact, and any number of other non-real but non-magical things, with any number of protagonists.

Some people want to make genre into a folder into which they put stories. I find that limiting, because if you have a physical document, you can only put it into one folder. I consider genre more a label than a folder, and stories can have as many labels as they need. That’s one reason I like ebooks; you don’t worry about where to shelve them because an electronic shelf is virtual and can exist in more than one “place.”

What appeals to me about combining the two genres is that while I find the future intriguing, I want it to be at least a little bit familiar. Looking back at history, we see that societies change, but human emotions are more constant than politics or technology. People still fall in love. Parents still love their children. Family relationships are still with us.

Most of my books are set in the far future. A common thread in many of them is that our world could become a crappy enough place that some people might be willing to leave it permanently. In the two Haven books (The Sixth Discipline and No Safe Haven) the colonists included New Age mystics, libertarian survivalists, and entrepreneurs seeking resources to exploit.  In Tribes, the entire world was populated by prisoners. In Saronna’s Gift, my most recent romance, the colonists were followers of a patriarchal religious cult leader. I like to make my two protagonists come from totally different backgrounds, because it’s a great way to create conflict, and it means the relationship requires both work and change for both of them. Creating my own worlds lets me do this with a vengeance.


I do think that our future is bound to bring change. Advances in science and technology might well wipe out inherited flaws and other diseases. We may someday eliminate hunger, disease, mental illness, and even some accidental deaths. But I don’t think science and technology can change human nature. This might be bad when it comes to evils like war and social inequality, but I think it’s good, in that it also means that love will always be love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Saronna's Gift available here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S3GH9ZW

Follow Carmen Webster Buxton: http://carmenspage.blogspot.com/

 

Note: the views expressed are solely those of the author and not the SFR Brigade.


 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When Series Collide @CynthiaSax

by Cynthia Sax



Dark Warlord, the sexy SciFi Romance story I contributed to the Alien Alphas box set, spans two series – the Dark Thoughts series and the Barbarian Warlord series (to be expanded and re-released in 2018). Since the Dark Thoughts series is a spinoff of the Cyborg series, I guess you can say it involves that third series also.

Dark Warlord is a standalone story. You don’t need to read the Dark Thoughts series to enjoy it. But if you have read that series, there is a returning character you’ll likely enjoy seeing again. You’ll also get some of the casual ‘throw-away’ references in the story.

As a reader, I LOVE when two series written by the same favorite writer collide. I find out more about both worlds. I witness how the characters from the two series interact. Sometimes we get updates on favorite characters from previous stories. It gives even more fullness to the setting and storylines in both series.

In SciFi Romance, it makes sense to me that multiple series would overlap. All of the characters in my current series are living in the same wonderful universe at the same time. The Chameles from the Barbarian Warlord series are super skilled alien warriors. It is logical that the Humanoid Alliance from the Dark Thoughts series would take the genetic makeup for a Chamele warrior and genetically enhance it, making that warrior even deadlier.

From a writing point of view, crafting overlapping series is more difficult in some ways and easier in others. We have to keep track of where each series fits in the larger universe, be conscious of how actions in one series might affect other series. That can be challenging. On the other hand, when we write a scene like the Cantina scene in Star Wars, we already have a host of alien species to casually feature. I know how a Chamele (one of my alien species) looks and tends to behave because I’ve written an entire series about them. That’s an easier scene to write.

And it means more to me as a reader. If I know, for example, that two species don’t get along and are in the same closed space, I anticipate that a fight will break out. I’m waiting for it and I get a thrill when it happens.

What are two series (by any writer) you would like to see collide?  

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Alien Alphas: Twenty-Three Naughty Sci-Fi Romance Novellas

Fierce warriors. Savage barbarians. Powerful warlords.
All ready to claim their mates.

Alien Alphas is a collection of panty-melting sci-fi romances featuring dominant alien heroes, penned by New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors. This decadently naughty box set includes twenty-three ALL-NEW, stand-alone novellas full of hot alien alpha males, breathless passion, and reluctant surrender. Take an exhilarating trip beyond the stars with this limited time only bundle that’s sure to leave you turning the pages late into the night.

Featured authors: Cari Silverwood, Cynthia Sax, Renee Rose, Lee Savino, Addison Cain, Kallista Dane, Maren Smith, Ava Sinclair, Sue Lyndon, Emily Tilton, Ashe Barker, Korey Mae Johnson, Grace Goodwin, Ivy Barrett, Jane Henry, Jaye Peaches, Katie Douglas, Lili Zander, Loki Renard, Maria Monroe, Megan Michaels, Myra Danvers, Sara Fields, and Sophie Kisker

Publisher’s Note: The stories featured in this collection involve MF and MFM pairings. They include spankings and sexual scenes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this box set.

Buy Links:







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About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists.

Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com



Facebook:  facebook.com/cynthia.sax

Twitter:  @CynthiaSax


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Watching For Trends To Write To Market by @vscotttheauthor


by Veronica Scott

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look into the future and know what the hot trends were going to be in the scifi romance field? Especially if you were trying to write to market?

I do a New Releases report every week on my blog, and have been doing it for well over a year now, and through that lens I can kind of see the trends as they develop, if not in advance.  Because of the sheer volume of new releases I look at in three genres every week – SFR, PNR and FantasyR – and the many sources I use (including authors sending me information) I do get a feel for what may be ‘hot’ soon. Reverse harem stories for one. I’ve been seeing a gradual increase in the number of them across all genres and in fact just interviewed some RH authors for my USA Today Happy Ever After platform. Definitely a growing favorite with a lot of readers.

Dragon shifters – I saw that one coming and sure enough, every week I have more and more dragon-themed stories. There are certain authors I watch (my little trade secret) and I have no idea how they figure it out, but if one of them suddenly starts releasing novels with a purple penguin shifter hero (to be ridiculous), I’ll know that’s the next hot place to be if you’re trying to write to market. In all honesty, I think the dragon craze may have been helped by the popularity of the character Daenarys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons in the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series. Always a good idea to pay heed to what’s being presented and getting a lot of buzz in the movies and on TV.

Time travel is on a slight uptick…hello, ‘Outlander’….and probably also due to many really well done historical programs which are piquing reader interest in past times.

I’m seeing a new trend right now, of using the standard tropes from category romance – secret babies, billionaires, stepbrothers, fake fiancées and on and on – and just moving them bodily over to the SFR and PNR genres. And putting all those key words right into the title!

I hear whispers that cozy SFR will be next and when you figure that formula out, let me know because I want to write something that can have one of those adorable cozy covers! I do think the Ilona Andrews Innkeeper series could almost fall into this category. It’ll be interesting to see how ‘cozy’ gets redefined for scifi romance if it happens.

And I’m betting on the continued popularity of fairy tales and the whole “marry a prince” trope, thanks to Harry and Meghan.

I don’t write to market, as it happens. I write what I write – that’s what my Muse presents to me to put on the paper (or into the computer) and what I enjoy reading the most as well, so I’m only an observer of these specific trends. The nice thing about being independently published is that if I did want to try to jump on a hot trend, I have the flexibility to do so and get a properly edited book out in 4-6 weeks, versus the much longer timetable at a trad pub house. And once established, a popular subgenre like cyborg romances tend to remain favorites with readers for a long time and as they evolve, creative authors think of new twists and fun developments to keep the stories fresh.

What trend do you see coming? Or wish would take off with readers?

There was fortune telling of a different sort in my most recent scifi romance, The Fated Stars, with my hero Samell being an alien empath held captive and forced to deliver fake fortunes while he was actually spying. Here’s a short excerpt from the book where Samell and Larissa, my kickass space mercenary heroine, are discussing what he does. The conversation is taking place mind to mind, in a dream. Samell is speaking

“The most venerated legends of my race are about warriors and priestesses, and the noble deeds they accomplished together. Rarely, if ever, do the stories feature a priest and a female warrior, although we’ve had many famous women fighters in our history. You intrigued me, Larissa Channer, on many levels.”

“You can cut the flattery—it doesn’t work on me. Better men than you have tried.”

He surveyed her from head to toe with open admiration. “Their loss.”

“I’m gonna wake myself up in a minute, if you continue this chatter. Or touch me again without my permission, even in a dream.” She took a deep breath because despite her stern warning, she was craving his touch and wanted to run her hands freely over his body. Her attraction to him was scary in intensity, so unlike her. “Stick to the facts.”

“As you prefer. I told you the truth—I’m a prisoner and Kinterow forces me to do his bidding. I extract information from certain minds, as the controller commands. I deliver meaningless ‘fortunes’ to anyone who enters the tent, based on what my power to read emotions tells me the person most wants to hear.”

“So you’re a telepathic empath.”

“You can categorize my gifts from Thuun as you wish.”

“Why did you lie to the sheriff? Why didn’t you take the chance I gave you?” She couldn’t keep the bitterness out of her tone. “You let me take big risks for nothing.”

“I’m one of many kidnapped from my world. Kinterow threatened the lives of the others if I said anything but what he commanded to the sheriff. He says he holds many Tulavarran imprisoned.”

“Did you ever consider he could be lying?”

Samell leaned closer. “He also threatened to have you killed in the prison if I disobeyed.”

She snorted. “I’d like to have seen him try.”



The story:

Larissa Channer, a tough no-nonsense mercenary in the Sectors, is celebrating success on her last job and a big bonus, with no slightest thought of taking on another assignment anytime soon. Out for a night of carousing with her friends at a third rate carnival on a backwater planet, she walks into the tent of a fake fortune teller and finds herself confronting the most intriguing man she’s ever seen. But something’s wrong, ominous currents lie beneath the surface of their encounter and Larissa can’t leave well enough alone.

Samell, a powerful, high born empathic priest, has been kidnapped from his own primitive planet along with a number of his people, and sold to the shady operator of an interstellar carnival. Kept enslaved, pretending to be a fortune teller while forced by his captor to steal information from the minds of all who come before him, Samell despairs of every breaking free.

Until Larissa walks into his tent and he recognizes the warrior who might mean the difference between life and death.

The situation becomes dire when Larissa and Samell come to the attention of the Shemdylann pirates who kidnapped him in the first place and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the empathic alien noble, and derail the Mawreg plot against the Sectors? And will the soldier end up with her prince when all’s said and done?

Buy Links:  Amazon     Kobo     B&N     iBooks     Google




USA Today Best Selling Author
“SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog

 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

 She was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When Researching Cloned Cybernetic Cats by @Vivien_Jackson



by Vivien Jackson

It’s kind of  secret and please don’t tell the dogs, but…I’m a cat person. I grew up with cats—we always had at least one cat in our family, and for many years a gray domestic shorthair named Rascal was the most reliable alarm clock in the house. Every morning at 5am, she would sit on somebody’s neck until they couldn’t breathe and were forced to wake up.

With all this cat experience and know-how stored up, it’s kind of weird that recently I found myself both felineless and urgently in need of a cat.

For research purposes, right.

One key character in my book Perfect Gravity is a cloned, cybernetically altered, talking cat named Yoink. And no matter how small they are or how innately judgmental or pushy, the tiny Chihuahua dogs currently living in my fuzzy blanket weren’t going to give me the research nuggets I needed.



The search for a feline subject matter expert yielded two candidates: Oreokitty and General Leia. Oreokitty is my mother-in-law’s cat, and for a few months she came to live with me (the cat, not my mother-in-law), so I could observe her day-to-day and learn all things cat. However, it quickly became obvious that Oreokitty not a right cat. In fact, she was once a rat, or rather, she was a feral kitten who lived underneath the house and who got barked at by dogs so often that my mother-in-law at first thought she was a rodent infestation. Once MIL realized the infestation was instead black and white and adorable, Oreokitty became a legit part of the family. Nowadays, she’s a girl who’s seen hard times and is persistently appreciative of the fact that she’s living the good life. Like, really appreciative. You can feed her anything and she will love you forever. She starts purring when a human so much as enters a room. She seeks head rubs from my cell phone. 



I needed Yoink to be somewhat less accommodating, so I hit up my critique partner for advice from her cat, General Leia, who is much closer to the character I needed for my story. General Leia is also a rescue kitty and so has some personality quirks, but it is from patient observation of her that Yoink developed a pushy demand for belly rubs and the ability to judge you constantly because you are clearly failing. At everything. She is judging you right now. And she is IN CHARGE.



To fill in the blanks left by these two real-life kitties, I did some casual online feline research as well. My favorite site for this kind of browsing is a thing called Quora. Kind of like Reddit in structure, it’s a web site where someone asks a question and then people of varying levels of expertise attempt to answer. From Quora, I learned these gems of cat behavior:



  • If your cat persistently leads you to the kitchen and meows even though the food and water bowls are full, she probably wants you to stand there and watch her eat. Quora expert Ben Wu (owner of three cats) says his parents call this phenomenon, loosely translated, “accompanying the princess while she eats.”

  • Cats can not only be innately intelligent and empathetic but can also teach themselves a lot through observation and mimicry. Quora expert Jaimes Roe says his cat Stiles “hugs us, and he pets me when I’m not feeling well. He is always watching us to figure out how to do things like get into the cabinets or turn on the faucet.”
  •  Cats live in the moment, so they don’t spend a lot of energy on missing you when you leave. After a brief re-integration period, a cat will return to a previous relationship routine even if you’ve been gone a long time. Even a really long time. (In my character Yoink’s case, ten years and three clonings have occurred since she last saw her favorite human, but it takes her only seconds to realize that Angela, in fact, her human.)

I also learned why cats like boxes (conservation of heat and protection on all sides while they sleep), why they like to sit on computers (heat again, plus there’s usually something interesting to look at, not to mention a human to annoy/laze near), and why Rascal woke us all up at stupid o’clock every morning (she was evil and … no, more likely she was hungry and we let her rule the house).

Also (not at Quora this time) I read about crazysauce CIA experiments to create Cold War-era cybernetic spy kitties. Not even kidding.

In the end, I have to imagine that Yoink, despite her quirks, isn’t the weirdest cat in the history of people being owned by cats. But she sure was fun to write and research.

 

Vivien Jackson writes fantastical, futuristic, down-home salacious kissery. A devoted Whovian Browncoat Sindarin Jedi gamer, she has a degree in English, which just means she's read gobs of stuff in that language. Her debut science-fiction romance, Wanted and Wired, was selected as an Amazon Best Romance of 2017. The follow-up, Perfect Gravity, was a Amazon Best Book of the Month. With her similarly geeky partner, children, and hairy little pets, Viv lives in Austin, Texas, and tweets a lot.






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