Thursday, April 23, 2015

SFRB Recommends 38: Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake #sfrom #scifi #romance #ebook

This recommendation comes from Rachel Leigh Smith.

Skulking around in the ruins on a planet swarming with treasure hunters, slavers, and bounty hunters isn’t good for one’s health. But Ankari Markovich needs a few archaeological samples for her latest business venture, a venture that might prove lucrative enough to move her family off the impoverished planet where she grew up. Unfortunately, she has no sooner collected her samples than she’s captured by a band of brawny mercenaries. The captain might be handsome, but he’s intent on turning her over to some finance lord who has, for reasons unknown, put a bounty on her head, a ridiculously large one at that. If she can’t figure out a way to escape before she’s delivered to the lord’s home world, she could be forced into a life of indentured servitude—or worse.

Captain Viktor Mandrake doesn’t usually take on piddling bounty hunting gigs, but when his intelligence officer informs him of a criminal on a nearby planet, he decides it wouldn’t hurt to take a shuttle down to collect the woman. But Ankari Markovich is trouble from the start, nearly eluding his elite forces, then fighting and tricking his people left and right. He finds himself admiring her spirit, but according to her warrant, she’s a criminal. The safest thing is to keep her in the brig and ignore her until she can be handed off to the man who wants her.

But the situation grows more complicated when other bounty hunters show up, wanting to claim Ankari for themselves. Thanks to this woman, Viktor’s ship is in danger, his crew members are going missing, and he’s fighting enemies he never asked for in a jungle in the middle of a hurricane. He’s either going to strangle Ankari… or fall in love. Either scenario could get him killed.

Mercenary Instinct is a full-length, stand-alone novel of 90,000 words. It is part of the “Mandrake Company” series of science fiction romance stories and is recommended for readers who enjoy space-based adventure (such as Firefly) and steamy love stories (in the style of Linnea Sinclair).



The characters are well balanced. The hero was alpha without being a dick about it, and the heroine was capable and competent and participated in her own saving, without being a bitch about anything.

It's an engaging universe, and one I look forward to exploring in the rest of the series.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Take That Anti-Hero for a Fall


by Cathryn Cade

Some heroes are loveable right from the start, aren’t they? Stand-up guys who give their money to the local church instead of the bars, bring flowers to their sweetheart every Saturday night, love her cat and chew each bite twenty times before swallowing.

Yeah, I really don’t write those kind of heroes. Mine are more the kind that need to be tamed—by a heroine with a spine of iridium. Doesn’t hurt if she knows some fighting moves, too.

My SFR space opera heroes are as wild as the galaxy, barely tamable … even if they’re one of the wealthiest guys in that galaxy.

Logan Stark has been described as an ‘alpha-hole’, unsympathetic, aggravating and … well, you get the picture. He’s my SFR hero that readers love to hate.

And that’s okay! Because I wrote him that way. Yep, you read that correctly.

Stark is an Anti-Hero—one who can only be redeemed by suffering. And the more arrogant the man, the harder the fall.

In Book 1 of The LodeStar Series, ‘Stark Pleasure’, Logan Stark is a self-made man, a magnate not only of his world, but with businesses spread on civilized planets across the galaxy. When he meets Kiri te Nawa, he quickly decides she’ll be the next lovely woman to grace his bed. And he gets her there, because that’s how it works in his world. Did I mention he’s suave and sex on a stick?

But she doesn’t stay in her satin-lined boudoir. Because like any self-respecting heroine with a spine, she won’t put up with a man who thinks he always knows what’s best not only for himself, but for everyone in his sphere. She sets off to make her own way in the galaxy—and nearly loses her life in the process!

In Books 2 & 3, Creed of Pleasure and Captive of Pleasure, the space magnate manipulates both his younger brothers in turn into romantic relationships, setting off some mighty fun adventures in space. They get their ladies, but are not very happy with Big Bro.

And Kiri, who was teetering on the verge of coming back to him, decides she can’t watch him treat other people like pieces on a holodice board. He nearly loses his relationship with his brothers, and he does lose the woman he wants.

But notice I didn’t say ‘the woman he loves’. Oh, no. Because that would entail Stark admitting he needs this vulnerability-inducing emotion just as everyone else does. And he’s above all that.

Muwahahaha … evil author laugh. Love is the most powerful force in the Cade-iverse.

But we’ve got some work to do. Before he can have his HEA, this guy Stark must be made appreciative and deserving of love. And frankly, readers, you and I both want him to earn it the hard way. This arrogant alpha needs to lose everything to learn his lesson.

He’ll be burned to purity in the crucible of one of the most dangerous places in the galaxy—the slums of the city of his birth. Served with adversity that balances his arrogance.

Now watch as I flick my fingers and cause this titan of space travel to fall from his mighty perch. And readers, it’s a loooooong way to the bottom.

Stark Surrender; the Space Magnate’s Bride, Bk 4 in The LodeStar Series debuts April 28th
 
 
 
 

He climbed from the slums of New Seattle to a life of power and wealth ... but now he must survive those cruel streets again, without even his memories to guide him.

Logan Stark has fallen from his throne at the pinnacle of a financial empire spanning the galaxy. He's lost in the filthy, crime-ridden streets of New Seattle, Earth II. Even worse, he has no memory of who he is, or how he got here. But the worst villain in the history of this city knows exactly who he is ... and Mordacity is after Stark.

Kiri te Nawa swore she'd never return to the place where she lost everything. But to help find the man she can't forget, she must put aside her new life on Frontiera and accompany his brothers back to New Seattle. Will they find Stark before he is claimed by the surging darkness in his mind, or by death? 

If you like to watch a good man fall, and then get up again, join me in the world of The LodeStar Series!

Best,

Cathryn Cade

Best-selling author of sci fi romance

RT 4.5 Stars and Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK

http://www.cathryncade.com


And sign up for My Newsletter for a chance to win goodies!


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are solely that of the author and not of the SFR Brigade.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Character Descriptions – Lessons from Jane Austen

by Aurora Springer


I recommend the novels of Jane Austen for examples of memorable characters and romance stories with long lasting impact. Jane Austen wrote her stories more than 200 years ago, yet they are still read and loved today. Why are her books so readable? One reason is that Jane described ordinary people in ordinary settings. You will not find details of historical dress or mannerisms. In many ways, she was a very modern writer, her works lack the florid, emotional, and lengthy descriptions employed by the Victorian authors.

Her stories were romances, filled with her unique light hearted and caustic wit. Her characters resonate today. Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice” fits the romantic ideal, even among modern young women. He is tall, handsome and wealthy. Many of Jane’s male romantic characters, however, were not wealthy landowners, tall or handsome. Several were clergymen of modest means. In “Sense and Sensibility,” Edward Ferrars rejected his wealthy inheritance when he refused to marry the woman his mother chose. He followed his principles, even though he could not wed Elinor, the woman he loved, because he was engaged to an inferior woman due to a youthful infatuation. A love triangle! The male leads in Jane’s stories demonstrate heroism by doing what is right, despite the personal disadvantages.

How did Jane Austen create her memorable characters? Her stories rely on dialogue with little action. She gives minimal physical description. Instead, she describes distinct personalities that we recognize from our everyday lives. Her descriptions are pithy; she can define a character in a single, eloquent sentence.

Here is her first description of Mr. Darcy at a ball: “Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance of his having ten thousand a year.” A billionaire romance! But, Jane has set him up for a rapid fall: “…he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity…” Even his ten thousand does not save him.

In contrast, look at Edward Ferrars in “Sense and Sensibility”: “He was not handsome, and his manner required intimacy to make them pleasing.” In fact, he is shy and awkward, and possibly the least likeable love interest in Jane Austen’s stories.

If we follow the example of Jane Austen, we should emphasize the personality of our characters and minimize the physical details. Cattell’s 16 factors may inspire ideas -(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16PF_Questionnaire#Raymond_Cattell.27s_16_Personality_Factors). Of course, in science fiction, we often need detailed descriptions for aliens or other worlds. The great advantage of emulating Jane Austen is that much of the narrative falls into place once the personality of the character crystallizes in your mind. You can imagine how they will react to other characters and the conflicts in the story. I love that moment of insight when I can begin to compose the scenes of the book.


Aurora Springer’s latest release is GRAND MASTER’S PAWN.




Blurb

A thousand years in the future, wars and portal failures disturb the fringes of the galaxy. On Terra, twenty-two year old Violet Hunter seems an ordinary student of the Space Academy, who dreams of exploring unknown planets. She applies to serve as the pawn of one of the twelve Grand Masters, although her hidden talent of empathy makes her ineligible. Violet has defied the prohibition against psychics for half her life. Why should she stop now?

Isolation is the penalty for a Grand Master’s great power because their touch is deadly to a normal person. The Grand Master with the griffin avatar selected the girl with the star-shaped birthmark in spite of her father’s dire prophesy. He is suspicious about his disobedient pawn, yet he cannot deny the success of her missions to strange planets where she finds more than he expected.

Violet seeks the truth about the mysterious Grand Masters. Who or what are they? Do they threaten or benefit civilization? While searching for answers, Violet does the unthinkable. She makes a bargain with her obnoxious Grand Master and challenges him to meet her face to face, risking her secret to discover his purpose. She plunges into an impossible love and a world of intrigues. She needs all her new powers and allies to survive the vicious conflicts and save her newfound love.






Bio:

Aurora Springer spent her career in science describing new discoveries in research articles. In 2014, morphing from scientific research into fiction, she achieved her life-long ambition to publish her stories. Her works are character-driven romances set in weird worlds of science fiction and fantasy with a sprinkle of humor. She was born in the UK and lives in Atlanta with her husband, a dog and two cats to sit on the laptop. Her hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.





Media links:


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Aurora-Springer/e/B00K2C4NL8







Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are solely that of the author and not of the SFR Brigade.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Call To SFR Brigade Members - Upcoming Summer Event


***UPCOMING PROMO OPP!***Brigade Members ONLY!***
Hello Brigaders!

The long term members here will be familiar with our annual Midsummer blog hop, which has run for the past three years with moderate success. However, it has been decided not to run it this year. I know that may come as a shock and a disappointment to many, but we felt that for many reasons, the Midsummer blog hop had become somewhat redundant. With Corinne's hop running this April, the SFR Brigade House Party in March, the issues with rafflecopter last year and Facebook's new policy on forbidding Page Likes as a rafflecopter entry, and some unhappiness last year with the restrictiveness of a single overall theme that some felt left them out of participation, we decided it was time for a change. And time for something bigger and hopefully better!
We'd like to introduce you to the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - a six week event starting in June and featuring a sizzling smorgasbord of science fiction romance!
How's it going to work? Well, each of the six weeks will have its own theme (see, we want ALL of you to have a chance to get involved). The themes will be:
  • Space Opera
  • Dystopia
  • All the Punk (any kind of punk including steam, deco, bio, cyber, diesel...if you can punk it, it's in!) 
  • Weird Science (this can include any kind of weird science - zombies, superheroes, advance/enhanced humans, biological experiments, Frankenstein's Monster type stories - if it's science and it's freaky, it's in!)
  • Androids and Aliens (any and all kinds of artificial beings from biomechanical to cyborgs to full machine, plus any kind of alien you have)
  • Supernova Hot (our erotica selection - the hotter it is the better!)

Each week will have a 'Menu' posted on the Brigade blog and the SFR Station with each participant for that week listed as a Starter, Main Course or Dessert (we'd like to feature shorts/novellas for the starter, novellas/novels as mains, and sweeter romances for dessert, but that's just a suggestion).
You'll be required to have a post up in good time for the start of that week (every Monday). We'd love for you to include a recipe to tie in with your book/story/post etc (a food, a drink, or even on the theme of a recipe for love or for disaster etc) but it isn't required. You don't have to have a giveaway on your own post either but we do ask you to contribute to the weekly prize basket which will be on the same theme as that week's menu (ebooks and Kindle only gift cards (or B&N and ARe GCs) are prefered for international entries, but if you want to give away physical swag we will ask you to be responsible for sending it to the winner). Winners for each week will be chosen and posted over the weekend.
You will also need to include links to the other blogs (or back to the Brigade blog post), the rafflecopter for the weekly prize, the Cafe button or banner (to come), and your post. You can ask visitors to do whatever you like to qualify for a prize on your own blog, but please be reasonable. You may ask visitors to sign up to your newsletter or follow your blog or an option of your choice in return for a donation to the main prize basket (it will be made part of the rafflecopter).
There will be separate inlinkz for each theme, but the initial sign up will be via Google doc so that the details for your book, giveaway etc can be included. Any theme receiving less than three entries will be removed from the options. We've tried to make the themes as open as possible, and so that if you don't get into your top category (we have a limit on entry numbers) then hopefully you can fit into one of the others.
PLEASE NOTE: This event is for members of the SFR Brigade ONLY! Please don't share the sign up outside of the Brigade. Also, you may only sign up for ONE post during the event unless we are short of numbers for a specific category, at which point we will open it up to further entries.
Any questions, please ask in the comments, PM me via Facebook as Pippa Jay (I do check my Other message folder regularly) or use the email sfrbrigadebloghop at gmail dot com
The sign up doc is here>> http://goo.gl/forms/IDttzBscEB

Thursday, April 9, 2015

SFRB Recommends 37: Phoenix Rising by Corrina Lawson #sfrom #scifi #romance #superhero #novel

This recommendation comes to you from Rachel Leigh Smith.

"He was born to be a weapon. For her, he must learn to be a hero. "

Since birth, Alec Farley has been trained to be a living weapon. His firestarter and telekinetic abilities have been honed to deadly perfection by the Resource, a shadowy anti-terrorist organization the only family he has ever known. What the Resource didn t teach him, though, is how to play well with others.

When psychologist Beth Nakamora meets Alec to help him work on his people skills, she s hit with a double-barreled first impression. He s hot in more ways than one. And her first instinct is to rescue him from his insular existence.

Her plan to kidnap and deprogram him goes awry when her latent telepathic ability flares, turning Alec s powers off. Hoping close proximity will reignite his flame, she leads him by the hand through a world he s never known. And something else flares: Alec s anger over everything he s been denied. Especially the passion that melds his mind and body with hers.

The Resource, however, isn t going to let anything or anyone steal its prime investment. Alec needs to be reminded where his loyalties lie starting with breaking his trust in the woman he s come to love.

Warning: Contains telekinetic sex, nuclear explosion sex hot enough to melt steel, and various and sundry swear words.


I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into my first superhero romance. And wow! It sucked me right in and I blew it through so fast.

This book hit my hero sweet spots to perfection. It was a story about the hero, told mostly from his POV, and Alec himself is awesome. A wonderful change of pace from the usual dark and broody tormented hero. Everything about him was a perfect balance combining to make him one of my favorite heroes of 2014.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

5 Steps To Finding Your Author Brand

I've had a lot of people recently complimenting me on my consistent presentation across my website and all of my social media. I promised a blog post about how I did it. This will probably go long, like my Google Play post, but I promise it's worth it! Consistency is key to finding your readers.

My web presence is not something I arrived at overnight. It's something I've been working on and thinking about since 2007. My current writer persona took me several months to craft. I'm going to distill what I did into steps you can follow.

Step 1: Who are you as a person? Who are you as a writer?

This one absolutely cannot be skipped. If you don't know who you are, how can you tell your readers what to expect when they pick up one of your novels? I hope most of you know who are you are as a person, but I'll go ahead and use myself as an example.

I'm a girl who's as comfortable in jeans, a t-shirt, and no makeup, as I am with full makeup, my hair in an up-do, and wearing a dress. Both versions are totally me. But the former doesn't fit a romance writer, and it definitely doesn't fit the type of romance I write. When I did my author headshots, I put some serious thought into how I wanted to look.

There I am. The shirt I'm wearing is satin, and it's one of my favorites ever. I wear it a lot when I want to look really nice, but not stuffy. The necklace is freshwater black pearls from Hawaii. I am wearing full makeup in the picture and even remembered to touch up my lipstick before the session.

This headshot captures who I am as a person, and presents the exact association I want readers to have when they see me or hear my name. I am clearly a romance writer. My hairstyle and glasses are reminiscent of the 1940's on purpose, because it happens to be my favorite fashion decade. If my hair is up, it's a modern twist on a 40's style. Wherever I need a profile picture or an author photo, this is the one I use. Consistency is key.

For contrast to my look, go take a look at my crit partner Winter Austin. You can tell she writes gritty, dark thrillers.


Step 2: What's your tagline?

Mine is "romance for the hero lover." It's my guiding philosophy. I write romance. Romance is a HUGE genre. So I started early in my writing days figuring out how to stake my claim to a piece of romance real estate. My historical romance persona revolves around "romance with old-world charm." It was a great starting place, and old-world charm is still something you're going to find in my work.

While it aptly describes who I started out as a writer, it doesn't describe who I've become. My favorite character is always the hero. He's the star of the story and hogs most of the screen-time. That's natural to me. Putting the heroine front and center is hard work, and it never comes out as well as when I let him drive. So he always drives.

If you want your romance heroes to have more time on the page than average, and you want to read about a romance hero who carries the story, give me a try. If Rachel Leigh Smith is the author, you will find a hero-centered romance every single time. Come join me! It's fun.


Step 3: Pick a color scheme

Yes, colors. Remember, the key is consistency. You want all of your author stuff to be consistent. Color plays a huge part in that. It's easy for me. Purple is my favorite color, in case you haven't guessed. :D It's a color with a huge shade range, and I work within the full range. Except for electric/neon and pink undertones.

It took me several months to settle on a template for my website, and I'm really happy with what I have right now. There are screenshots further down in the post, or you can go look.

Readability is key. DO NOT sacrifice readability for a cool color scheme. If visitors can't read your website, what's the point of having it? To that end, please please please do not put white text on a black background. That was dumb even when it was cool 15 years ago.



See my color scheme? It's soft, evokes a romantic mood, and is totally readable. I have no italics or bold anywhere in the text. You land here, and you don't have to read a word to guess at the genre I write. That, my friends, is what you want.

Step 4: Build your website

I won't go into details on this point, because fellow Brigader Pauline Baird Jones covered it wonderfully last week. So go read her post.

I do have a couple of things to mention.

First, buy a domain name! Once you own it, you can point it anywhere you want. My site is currently a Blogger site with my own domain name. I paid $10 for it doing it through Blogger/Google. And I've been very happy with it. I did it mainly so I could run all of my author email through Gmail, and have Google Drive accounts associated with my domain name.

Domain names present you as a professional. Ones ending in blogspot or wordpress aren't bad, but they're not good either. Why would you do that when you get a custom domain for as low as $10 a year? Make sure it has your author name in it. If you have to, put "books" or "writes" into it. You will never show up on the first four pages of a Google search if your author name isn't part of your URL. It's also a business expense and you can deduct it on your taxes.

I plan to switch to self-hosted Wordpress over the summer, but my color scheme won't be changing. I really like what I've settled on, plus it stands out in a sea of rpmance sameness.

Second, use a responsive template! These templates automatically adjust to screen/window size and look super professional. Also, Google is about to start penalizing sites that don't have a mobile friendly interface. Responsive templates are inherently mobile friendly.


Step 5: Cohesion and consistency

This is where I'm going to share some of the little things I do. You may or may not want to go this far. It's totally up to you, and needs to match your answers in step 1.

I'm so much of a nerd that I have a favorite font, Microsoft's Georgia. I'm considering buying it... 

See all the text on my website? It's in Georgia. Took me two hours of digging in the Blogger code to get it all changed, but I deemed it worth the effort. From what I've heard, Wordpress themes make changing fonts no big deal. This template is adapted for Blogger from a free Wordpress one. You can click on the screenshot to make it bigger.


I also decided to have my name on my book covers always be in Georgia, as well as the series name. It's a minor thing most people will never notice, but it's important to me to be consistent. I may be one of those rare people with a firm opinion about fonts, but if you're like me, by all means pick a font and use it everywhere. Just not Comic Sans okay? And don't put everything in italics or bold. It's hard to read.

I have newsletter signup in multiple places. I made my decision to only put my social media links into the icons at the top of my site. I want my site to be clean and load quickly. To that end, I'm considering ditching a couple of my sidebar elements.

Note: Slider images are FANTASTIC!! My page hits went up when I switched to this template and linked my images. Currently it's three, I'm considering making it four. I doubt I'll ever go over five, though. Gets kind of clunky after that, in my opinion.


This should give you plenty to think about. And take it slow! There's no rush. You want to get it right, not do it fast. And be open to changing and tweaking, even once you've made most of your decisions. Like I said, it took me several months to settle on my current look. I went through about four templates in a month looking for just the right one.

If you know who you are as a writer, and you keep your online presence consistent, readers will find you and readers will recognize you. No matter where you show up. Go forth and have fun crafting your online presence!

Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. Her debut novel, My Name Is A'yen, is available at AmazonB&NKoboGoogle Play, All Romance Ebooks, and iBooks. The sequel, The King's Mistress, released January 20th, and To Save A Life releases May 4th.
She blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook, and can sometimes be found on Twitter, @rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Psst! See what I did there? I'm at the Brigade blog, but this post is in Georgia. Consistency.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are solely that of the author and not of the SFR Brigade.

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