Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have a Very Merry SFR Brigade Christmas! #scifi #romance #sfrb

Christmas redesign courtesy of Tara Quan

On behalf of the SFR Brigade, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your ereaders be full of scifi romance goodness for the season!
See you in the New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

SFRB Recommends #30 - Spark Rising by Kate Corcino #postapoc #dystopia #romance

Book Description:

All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.
Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.
Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.
Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.
The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.

My thoughts:

This was my favourite read of 2014. A post apocalyptic romance with a difference, it has action, intrigue, sexual tension, some hot sex scenes (although that's not a top priority on my personal reading checklist), and superb world building. If you're looking for something that isn't zombie apocalypse dystopia and/or a Hunger Games style world (without the game) that's more orientated toward adults, this is the book for you. I couldn't find one thing to complain about, and the fact that this is self published goes to show that you don't have to go to a Big Five book to get Big Five quality story telling. I couldn't find anything to pick on, and believe me I am super picky about my reading these days. This full length novel will keep you on the edge of your seat, and leave you wondering about it long after. And although it isn't relevant to my enjoyment of this book, look at that gorgeous cover!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Farewell Andromeda

A big thank you to the SFR Brigade for hosting me today.

I'm delighted for the opportunity to present an exclusive cover reveal for my debut story and to tell you a little about my upcoming Science Fiction Romance release.

So with no further delay, Farewell Andromeda.

Let me first give credit to Danielle of Definition by Danielle Fine, the very talented artist behind the cover, an image that beautifully illustrates the location of the story--a remote space station at the extreme edge of the Milky Way Galaxy. (The multi-talented Danielle had an inside track on visually capturing the essence of the story because she's also the editor.)

I'm especially excited about the cover because:

1) It's unapologetically Science Fiction Romance,

2) The image perfectly captures the characters and their "natural habitat," and

3) The novelette introduces my upcoming Science Fiction Romance series.

Here's more about it.

What's a novelette?
A novelette is a complete work of fiction that's longer than a short story (which run 7,500 words or less) but shorter than a novella (which ranges from 17,500 - 40,000 words). Farewell Andromeda is approximately 16,000 words or 60 pages in length. Here's the Wikipedia guideline on word count.

What's Farewell Andromeda about?
Fresh off a painful jilting, the last thing deep space pilot Tiharra Bell needs is another romantic entanglement. Certainly not with the galaxy’s most famous astronomer—who also happens to be single, inconveniently handsome, and a resident of the remote Andromeda Station. But Tiharra soon discovers two terrible truths about Dr. Dante "Donner" Dane—1) he’s not the man he appears to be and 2) he doesn't have long to live. Before her fourteen-day layover is complete, she’ll put her life and career on the line to protect his heartbreaking secret.

Is it stand alone?
Yes, absolutely. Although there are ties, hints and clues to the upcoming series, this tale of love and sacrifice at the edge of the galaxy is a complete story.

What's the heat level?
The love scenes are more revealing than "sweet" romance, but less than "steamy." The sensual encounters are brief but very important to the character and story development.

How would you tag it?
I think the new label of Top Gun SFR would fit well, though there isn't a lot of edge-of-your seat piloting in this one. The heroine is very much a career professional and she "pushes the envelope" just by being what she is--a deep space, dimension-jumping pilot--so I think the category suits it. If you're curious, the Top Gun SFR label was coined via Brigade author Pauline Baird Jones in an interview about how she developed the tag.

What's the release date?
Farewell Andromeda is scheduled for a mid-January 2015 release. (It's being co-published through my agent, Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary, Inc.)

Why does that title sound familiar?
The title manifested as a perfect fit for the story, but it comes with a bit of a homage to one of my favorite music stars. I dished about that earlier on Spacefreighters Lounge.

How can I learn more about your upcoming books?
If you'd like to know more about my upcoming Science Fiction Romance series, please visit my Author Laurie A. Green website to read more and sign up for my newsletter. (This comes with a no-spam promise not to fill up your inbox with constant mailings, just the important news, announcements, and genre-related articles that SFR readers might like.)

Thanks to you all for joining me for my first-ever cover reveal. I hope you all love the cover as much as I do, but please let me know your thoughts.

Author Bio
Laurie A. Green is a three-time RWA® Golden Heart® finalist and Science Fiction Romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers, which now totals over 500 members. Her extended family includes her husband, David, four dogs, three cats and several horses, all who reside on a ranch in beautiful New Mexico.

When she’s not writing, networking, or searching out the perfect cup of Starbucks, she’s usually busy exercising her left brain as a military budget director.

You can connect with Laurie via her web site, Facebook Author Page or @SFRLaurie via Twitter.

~~~ * ~~~

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Uploading to Google Play

Not a lot of people are aware Google Play is open to indies. I wasn't sure they were until I decided to go looking. Why did I look? Because I buy most of my ebooks there. There's not a lot of SFR there, either.

I hope this step-by-step tutorial will remove some of the fear about selling in the Play Store. It's not as hard as you may have heard in places like Absolute Write and the Kindle boards. I'm going to share what I learned and hopefully some other SFR authors will join me. I'm writing this as I upload my next book to the Play store to make sure I get everything explained right.

My first two questions when I decided to do this were as follows:
Does Google Play do preorders? YES!
Does Google Play require an ISBN? NO!

You need a 100% clean epub. You may see people saying Play will never take a Calibre-produced epub, but that's not true. The trick is to make the epub from the Libre/Open Office file format .ODT. This gets rid of all the extraneous, unnecessary code in Word that causes so many problems with epub conversion. Calibre will also convert straight from .DOCX with no PDF in the middle, however I don't use Word so have no idea how clean the epub is.

Also, Libre and Open Office are free. I've been using them for years and will never go back to Word. Calibre is also free and I use it for producing ARC's and managing my non-B&N ebook purchases (I'm a Nook owner).

Make sure you've formatted your Table of Contents, however it is you do that. I use the Edit TOC function in Calibre and build it from the epub files. I then make sure all the chapter titles are what I want.

This one is VERY important! If you have links in your end matter, make absolutely positive they are formatted properly using your word processor's Insert URL command. Otherwise Google's validation system will kick it back out. Learned this one the hard way. Don't make my mistake. If it still won't go through (and it won't give you details about what's wrong) just remove the www so they're not links at all. Annoying, but it works.

Step One: Go here and set up your publisher account: Publisher registration page It's very important to use this link. You don't want to do it as an app developer because it doesn't work, and app developers have to pay a fee to get into the Play store. If you don't have a Gmail address you'll need to create one. I run my website through Google, so I'm able to use my domain name email since it runs in Gmail. The royalty rates are outlined in the Terms and Conditions. Google pays on List Price, not retail price like Amazon. More notes on pricing at the end and these notes are VERY important.

TIP FOR GMAIL USERS: If you're using a different account for publishing than your every day account, do yourself a favor and do all the Play stuff in a different browser. I do all my every day stuff in Chrome, and Firefox is logged into all of my RLS email/Google stuff.

Step Two: Ignore the template and spreadsheet suggestions in your Welcome email. It's going to be more trouble than it's worth, so don't bother. Unless you like wasting time, in which case go for it.

Step Three: Once you're logged in you'll see Home, Book Catalog, Analytics & Reports, Promotions, Payment Center, and Account Settings. All the work we're going to do is in the Book Catalog section.

Step Four: There's a blueish button that says "Add Book." Click this to start the process. Since I have a book for sale there already I see that book listed with the cover, my author name, the GG Key (Google's internal tracking number), and the book's status. If you have an ISBN that you own it'll show up here instead of the GGKey.

Step Five: If you have an ISBN of your own (NOT one via Smashwords or Draft2Digital), you can put it in. Otherwise hit the checkbox underneath. Don't change the template setting. Now we're ready to create the book.

Step Six: Time to upload. Click Next and hit Upload Content. Do this twice. Once for your cover image, once for your epub. It says you can do PDF, but I personally haven't tried that so I don't know if it works. Hit refresh and your file list will show up. DO NOT PROCEED until your files have processed and uploaded. If you've followed my formatting instructions above, or run your epub file through validation software and fixed any errors, you should be good to go.

Step Seven: Enter your title. Before copying in your description (back cover blurb) remove all formatting. I keep mine in Evernote and it's a simple matter of highlighting, right click to get the full edit menu, and remove formatting. If yours is in Word, copy it into Notepad! All that Word formatting gives the Google system fits. Same goes for your bio. Get rid of the link formatting too and do it like you would in a browser. Don't get fancy.

DO NOT PROCEED until your files have uploaded! Otherwise it won't save anything you did. I forgot this important step and kept going so I could write this out, and now I have to go back and do it all again. Once your files have uploaded, the Next button changes to Save. Don't go forward until you see the Save button.

Step Eight: Keep going and fill out your price information, pick your categories, and finish the process. The BISAC science fiction romance category is an option. I only do two categories, so I have no idea what the max is.

When you get to the BISAC options, type in romance and it'll give you a drop down of the list. I sell under Romance/Science Fiction, and Romance/Paranormal. Also on the Settings page is all the stuff for your book to be searchable in Google Books, which is different from the Play Store. It means Google can index however much of the book you've said it can preview, and it'll show up in searches. The more Google juice you can get, the better! The default preview setting is 20%, and that's the lowest it goes. Which I'm fine with. I like big samples.

Step Nine: Once everything is saved, which can take a couple minutes so be patient, then you can hit Publish. If you go past, say, the two minute mark and the Google circle is still spinning, go ahead and hit refresh. Then double check your description and bio formatting because you probably need to separate your paragraphs again.

You're done! Go back to your Book Catalog page and you should see the book. Once the book is uploaded, put together, and the listing is live in the store it'll say "Live on Google Play" under the book. To edit the book once it's live, click on it and it'll open all the details. Like for me, while I have it open, I need to update my bio and fix the URL issue that's driving me crazy. Tip: Use http:// in your bio links, don't try to copy in ones you've made in your word processor with links coded into text. They don't translate. No idea if it'll work with HTML coding in the Bio box. If someone wants to check and report back, feel free.

Downsides: No keywords. But the store is still growing as Google figures out how to sell books and compete with Amazon, so I'm hopeful it'll change. The analytics are also lousy at this point which is kind of surprising considering this is Google, the king of analytics. Just in the last couple years since I've been buying ebooks there the changes have been incredible, and all for the better. They're on the right track, just behind the curve in comparison to Amazon, Kobo, and iBooks.

Notes on pricing: The Play store uses a pricing scheme different from everyone else. They pay on list price, and they discount. When I was researching how to upload to Google Play I found a great blog article (for the old interface, hence why I'm writing this one) and a ton of helpful stuff in the comments. Including a price conversion list from author Ruth Harris. Here it is.

The price on the left is the price you want to sell at, and the price on the right is the price you need to give Google.

99 cents: no change
$1.49: no change
$1.99 = $2.40
$2.99 = $3.93
$3.99 = $4.99
$4.99 = $6.48
$5.99 = $7.78
$6.99 = $8.32

I sell at a price point of $4.99, so I tell Google $6.48. I have this price list clipped into my Evernote for easy reference.

Now, a note about sale prices. The consensus is DON'T. The Play Store reserves the right to change prices at will, like Amazon, but when you lower a price at Play for a sale and then put it back to your normal price, there's no guarantee it'll go back up and no way to contact them to get it changed. I did my first sale last month and decided not to include Play in the sale for this reason. I also don't have the sales to justify it. I went in the Play Store because I wanted to, not because I thought it was a viable market.

Is Google Play as easy KDP? Not by a longshot, But it's not impenetrable either. I personally find it easier than Smashwords, since I did my research first and found a bunch of tips and tricks.

Have I sold anything there? Just to my dad, because it's DRM free and my Nook version isn't. As a Google Play shopper (music, books, and an Android phone) it's important to me to have my books in my preferred bookstore. I go there because the prices are usually a little cheaper for traditionally published, but without stiffing the author on royalties like Amazon does.

I hope you'll work up the nerve to try it. If you can conquer the Smashwords Meatgrinder using Microsoft Word and having to follow the style guide, you can conquer the Play Store.

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 PlayiBooks, and Smashwords.

She blogs sporadically at, can be found on Twitter @rachelleighgeek, and hangs out on Facebook. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December SFR Brigade Showcase!

The SFR Brigade Showcase is the chance for our Science Fiction Romance authors to showcase excerpts from their latest releases, snippets from a work-in-progress, a new cover for their book or just have fun with something silly, like a character interview!

We'll have a new showcase the first weekend of each month, and we encourage all our members to participate by posting, commenting and sharing. Some months, we'll even be doing a giveaway!

CURRENT SHOWCASE: December 12, 13, 14


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Thursday, December 11, 2014

#EPIC Brigaders 2014

There's nothing we love more in the Science Fiction Romance Brigade than seeing our members and their work do well. So we're delighted to announce that two books by Brigaders have made the finals of the EPIC eBook Awards this year!

First up is Jael Wye with her novel Ice Red in the science fiction romance category.

Book description:

Mirror, mirror, full of stars,
Who will claim the throne of Mars?

The princess: Engineer Bianca Ross, heir to a megacorporation and the Mars elevator, needs to acquire a mine on the surface to secure her place in the company. All that stands in her way is the mine's charming owner, Cesare Chan.
The evil stepmother: Victoria Ross is plotting to gain control of Mars. She plans to assassinate Bianca and seduce Cesare to further her goals, and Bianca's trip is the perfect opportunity.
The charming prince: Cesare shouldn't get involved. Bianca's visit could reveal the escaped slaves he's hiding at his mine, but he can't ignore a damsel in distress—especially one as beautiful as Bianca.
Alone, neither would stand a chance against Victoria. But together, they could rewrite a tale that's meant to end with Bianca's blood.

You can check out her website HERE for more information about her and her books. In the meantime, please go congratulate her - you can find her on Twitter as @jaelwye.

And the second? Um, well, that would be me. My YA SF (with a smidge of romance) Gethyon - a SFR Galaxy Award winner earlier this year - also made it to the finalists, in the science fiction category. The EPIC has been one of two awards I've been aiming for since becoming published in 2012, so I'm stoked to have made it this far.

Book description:

Abandoned by his mother after his father’s death, Gethyon Rees feels at odds with his world and longs to travel the stars. But discovering he has the power to do so leaves him scarred for life. Worse, it alerts the Siah-dhu—a dark entity that seeks his kind for their special abilities—to his existence, and sets a bounty hunter on his tail. 

When those same alien powers lead Gethyon to commit a terrible act, they also aid his escape. Marooned on the sea-world of Ulto Marinos, Gethyon and his twin sister must work off their debt to the Seagrafter captain who rescued them while Gethyon puzzles over their transportation. How has he done this? And what more is he capable of?

Before he can learn any answers, the Wardens arrive to arrest him for his crime. Can his powers save him now? And where will he end up next?

You can find out more about me at my website HERE.

Winners will be announced at EPICon-2015 in San Antonio, Texas in mid-March next year. For more information about the event and the contest, visit the EPIC awards website HERE.

Congrats and good luck to all the other finalists in the EPIC eBook awards!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Recap of PhilCon - Guest Post by TK Anthony

L to R: Alex Shvartsman; Berakha Lana Guggenheim; Robert C. Roman; Steve Miller; Brian Thomas; Lee Gilliland

First held in 1936, The Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention is the oldest in the nation, and arguably, the world. According to Wikipedia, our Friends Across the Pond claim that distinction, because the first UK SF convention in 1937 was less ad hoc and more organized. As an upstart colonial, I will point out that the first PhilCon had a chairman, a secretary, discussions of SF, parties, filk, and gaming--although the gaming was craps. Seventy-eight years later, many of those same elements filled this year's schedule.

It's been a while since I've been to an SF convention--not since Lois McMaster Bujold was guest of honor at Boskone sometime in the early 2000s.  I'd forgotten how much fun they were. Part of the fun is going with the right people. In this case, two of my sisters, one of whom was celebrating her 29th birthday (that's her story and I'm sticking to it). All three of us managed to clear our schedules so we could arrive on Thursday night. The weather was cold (especially for this Texas transplant), so we decided that, having checked into the conference hotel, we would just eat dinner there. The waiter led us back to our table. And at the next table sat...

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. (Pause here for total fangirl moment.) I've been a fan of Lee & Miller since maybe 15 minutes after they published their first book, Agent of Change, back in 1988. I quashed my first inclination to jump up and down, screaming and pointing. And really, there was no need. My sisters knew exactly who they were.

Not wanting to scare PhilCon's principal speakers running into the frigid night, we played it cool. Yeah. Cool. Until finally I leaned forward and said something on the order of, "I don't mean to intrude...but, we're fans."

Sharon and Steve were all that is gracious, and thus ensued an hour's lively conversation. We chatted about everything from deleting scenes to improve the story's flow; our favorite childhood books; the emotional challenge of weeding one's library; to "Swifties." (For the uninitiated, "Swifties" are based on the writing style of the Tom Swift books. As in: "Look, there's a bridge!" said Tom archly. "There's a pop quiz today," said Tom testily.) I think I mostly managed not to stutter in awe. Truth said, I could've gotten up from the table and gone home, and the trip to Philly would've still been worth it.

Because of commitments on Sunday, I only had two days to spend at PhilCon. After stuffing some fliers for my books in Filthy Pierre's SF Info rack--which travels with the owner from con to con--I made the most of my time, attending several interesting panels. Some of the standouts included:

How to Set Up a Crowdsourcing Project gave attendees the benefit of the real-lfe experience of the panelists. Critical elements of success include: Backers need to be confident in your professionalism and transparency. If you just can't do a video, then do a slide-show with voice-over. Calculate your costs carefully, and show how their support matters. Use social media to promote your campaign; Twitter casts a wider net than Facebook. Think creatively about donor rewards and stretch goals--and keep it simple. (No apparel! You don't need the headache of managing sizes, shipping, and storage.) People want to feel appreciated, and involved. (Sometimes, it's as simple as listing their names on a thank you page in your next book.) Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod); Rob Balder; Neil Clarke; Gil Cnaan; Alex Shvartsman; Alyce Wilson.

In the session Does Science Fiction Need to Lighten Up? it took a little while for the panelists to decide what their topic really meant. Some thought it meant we needed more humor in SF. Others thought both authors and readers needed to stop bringing today's social agendas into every story; the story matters more than agenda checkboxes. Everyone seemed to agree that casting evil nastiness in a positive light is a good thing to avoid. Some elements of SF seem to be going toward a darker literary approach, while others are reviving the best traditions of SF as genre fiction. The panel discussion also touched on the role of YA in building the fandom. Steve Miller, bringing 40 years' of commercial writing to the table, asked what SF had to offer the 10-15 year-olds to bring them into the genre, building our future fandom. (Or, as my sister the librarian put it..."Where's the SF gateway drugs?") Panelists: Alex Shvartsman (mod); Brian Thomas; Berakha Lana Guggenheim; Steve Miller; Robert C. Roman; Lee Gilliland.

Side note: One of my writing buddies, Robert C. Roman, was on this panel--a nice surprise. Bob and I met online about seven years ago, critting each other's stories on Baen's Bar, and have kept in touch at least sporadically ever since. This was the first time we ever met in person. Which is exactly why people attend cons. 

The panelists on Building Believable Relationships in SF offered some stellar advice. Portray emotional truth, so that your reader can find something that resonates with them. Be sure to show them emotional consequences to give them a reason to care. And an interesting insight: Your culture is actually the main character in your book, because your characters exist in a cultural context, and whether they swim with current or against it, they are an expression of their culture. Panelists: Gregory Frost (mod); Rob Balder; Meredith Schwartz; Anastasia Klimchynskaya; Gail Z. Martin; Sharon Lee.

In their principal speech, Lee and Miller outlined the choices that had led them to become first writers, then writing partners, generally eschewing opportunities to rise in the ranks of more traditional employment--no matter how many times the opportunity presented itself-- in order to do what they truly enjoyed doing: building worlds and creating the characters who populate them. Characters and worlds they love, and so their a total fangirl/fanboy fashion.

In the time since the first PhilCon, the publishing industry has endured dramatic changes. Books went from hardback to pulp to ebook. As Sharon and Steve reviewed a lifetime of decisions that had led to them to the role of principal speakers at the 78th PhilCon, I was struck by the realization that no matter how the industry changes, or the genre changes, the bond between author and reader remains essentially the same: the story that touches our minds and hearts in a shared experience.     


Warped in childhood by too much reading, T.K. Anthony made her living in the world of words, spending two years on Capitol Hill as a press secretary before moving on to Corporate America in business communications and human resources.
She grew up in Pennsylvania, has lived in Illinois, Virginia, Upstate and Central New York, and Massachusetts, and has seen much of the United States by road trip, visiting a whole raft of cousins. Travel outside the US includes Canada, Scotland, England, Italy, France, Belgium, and Spain. With her travel bag packed, she now resides in Texas with her husband, two cats (Pip and Taz are close collaborators in her writing, and keep her keyboard furry), and all the people in her head who talk to her.
She loves to talk to other people, too–so leave a comment, or send her an email at tesskanthony AT gmail DOT com.

Warned by a Seeing… 

The high king of the Scotian Realm expects the arrival of an enemy, a race of psychic predators bent on galactic conquest. The Realm’s one hope is alliance with the neighboring star domains in defense of a shared colony, Forge. 

Caught in Fate’s grim weaving… 

Mindblind, amnesic, Tazhret lives out his drug-induced visions of servitude on Forge. He wants to believe the beautiful woman with the nut-brown hair who whispers reassurances to his harrowed heart: “You have a name.” But is she even real? Or just one bright thread in his dark dreams? 

An unexpected hope… 

Tazhret’s destiny leads him to freedom and the woman he yearns for—and to a desperate struggle against the enemy. 

Tazhret can save Forge, and his beloved. But only at the cost of all he has gained: his name, his freedom, and his love.

Buy links for Forge: 

Barnes & Noble -
Decadent Publishing -
Smashwords -

Twitter:       @TK_Anthony_

Monday, December 8, 2014

Meet the #Author Monday - Kate Corcino

Please tell us a bit about yourself: I was raised as an “Army brat” and grew up moving every two to three years. I think that lifestyle had a huge impact on me, as the need to learn to adapt and to read people was learned very early. It also made me a bit of a nomad. Professionally, I moved around, too. I was a legal videographer, a middle and high school teacher, a cheerleading coach, a law student. Through it all, I wrote poetry as catharsis and started but never finished many stories. After I left school, I realized it was time to get serious about the one constant through it all, my writing. I did, and the results are Spark Rising and Ignition Point.

Tell us about Spark Rising: Spark Rising is a romantic, post-apocalyptic adventure set in the southwestern United States of the future. It’s the story of Magdalena Gracey, a young woman with the power to create and manipulate the only form of electricity left in the world, and Agent Alejandro Reyes, a man trained from childhood to be an elite soldier for the ruling government. He’s sent to investigate a report of an illegal Spark living in the desert. But Alex has his own agenda. And if the two of them can learn to work together instead of killing each other, they might have a chance at sparking a revolution…and love.

What inspired you to write this particular story?: I’d seen several images that fired my imagination—a photo set of what the skies over major cities would look like if there were no lights, pictures of desert sand overtaking an abandoned town. But I originally sat down to continue writing an old story, a fantasy. When I began, Lena and Alex started telling me their story instead. They were just there, fully formed and very vocal. I couldn’t very well tell them to shush!

Please share a favourite snippet from your book: One of my favorite scenes comes when Lena and Alex are finally alone, and he’s asked her to help him learn how to do some of the things with the Spark ability that he’s struggled to master. It’s the moment immediately before their first kiss.

She stood with her arms crossed, waiting.
He focused, grateful for the shift in mood. Instead of trying to affect the Dust inside the body, as she did in her attacks, he’d try for the Dust attracted to the outside of her. Perhaps the Dust living inside was simply too protective of their very strong host? He breathed out and reached with his mind.
Nothing happened, exactly like all the times before.
“Um.” She wrinkled her brow. “Did you start yet?”
Alex groaned in frustration. He dropped his gaze to the ground at her feet, not wanting to see her expression after the latest failure. Push, dammit!
A flash of light and heat arced out in jagged white light from the ground. It threw Lena off her feet, over the bench and to the ground.
He stared, slack-jawed for a bare second. In two long steps he crossed the clearing and hopped onto the bench looking down at her.
She wheezed in an attempt to reclaim her breath.
He jumped down to her side, hands moving over her head and neck, and then down her sides, to be sure she was otherwise okay. She projected such a huge persona he was shocked at how fragile she felt under his hands.
She batted at him weakly.
Once he’d reassured himself she wasn’t broken, he wrapped his hands around each of her thighs and pulled up her legs to inspect her feet.
The indignity of it helped her find her voice. “Get off of me!”
“Lay still! I could have hurt you!” He barked the words, guilt and dismay making his voice harsh.
“Reyes. Alex. I’m fine.”
He propped one elbow on his knee in front of him and rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand. “Dust, Lena. I could have hurt you.”
“Yeah.” She agreed. “You could have.” Her voice changed, and he could hear the sly grin under her words. “You really could have.”
The mischief on her face was contagious.
“I did it.”
“You did something.” She wiggled a bit and then made a move to rise.
He jumped to his feet to help. His pull and her slight weight made her sail up into his side. He wrapped his arm around her to steady her.
She grinned up at him, mouth opened to make another wise-ass remark, no doubt.
He focused on her mouth just a beat too long.
She stared back up at him, her eyes wide and her body very still. Before Alex had a chance to process the movement or talk himself down, his body shifted, turning to fully face her. He slid his other hand up to cup the back of her head, lifting her face as he lowered his.
Just a taste. One taste. I have to know.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?: With these two, it seemed that they came to me ready to go. All three elements were there from the start. But if I had to choose one, it would have to be personality. They were very much alive, and they had attitudes.

Any tips for aspiring authors?: Everyone has a well of creativity inside of them. Figure out, as soon as you can, what it is that refills your well. I think that what we call “writer’s block” or the inability to finish is rooted in pulling too much up from that well without refilling it. We sit down and bang away and then when the well empties and the words and ideas stop flowing, we despair, thinking the story is broken—or we are. Instead, take a step back, go do whatever it is that feeds your soul—for me, it’s reading particular authors or driving aimlessly through the desert. Refill your well. Then come back and write.

Questions for fun:
What super-power would you choose?: The ability to heal others. Or flight.

Coffee, tea or wine?: Ooooh, tough one! I’d say coffee, chased by wine.

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!): Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey.

Favourite genre and why?: Speculative fiction. It keeps me most rooted in the magical childhood mindset that anything is possible, if we only believe. That’s why it goes so well with romance!

Favourite colour?: Red. Or purple. Or brilliant, lapis blue. Hmm, I’m not very good at narrowing things down to just one, am I?

Upcoming news and plans for the future?: Spark Rising releases on December 15, 2014, which is amazing and consuming! I’m currently working on its sequel, as well as another collection of related short stories, similar to Ignition Point, that take up the stories of secondary characters. The collection will release before the sequel.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

Thank YOU! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

In lieu of preorders for Spark Rising, through 12/14/14, I’d be delighted to offer a free review copy e-ARC of Spark Rising to those interested. Please contact me at with your preferred format. Thank you!
(psst, I gave this book a five star rating AND a review quote because it's THAT awesome! ~Pippa Jay)

Blurb for Spark Rising
All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.
Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.
Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.
Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.
The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.

Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it...a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, descriptive profanity, and cackling over wine with good friends. She’s been a legal videographer, a teacher, and a law student, and believes in chasing dreams. She also believes in the transformative power of screwing up and second chances. Cheers to works-in-progress of the literary and lifelong variety!

She is currently gearing up for the dual releases of Ignition Point and Spark Rising, the first books in the Progenitor Saga, a near future post-apocalyptic dystopian adventure series with romantic elements, science, magic, and plenty of action.
She lives in her beloved desert in the southwestern United States with her husband, several children, three dogs, two cats, and a fat, happy guinea pig.
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

SFRB Recommends #29 - Erasure by Misa Buckley #mm #gaylit #LGBTLit #scifirom

Book Description:

When Malik Foster crashes back into his life after a three year absence, Damaris wants nothing to do with his ex-lover. Especially once he learns that Malik has cybernetic implants – something made illegal by the Restoration. Dam does not want a Purity Squad beating down his door. Yet neither does he want to leave Malik to their less than tender mercies. He agrees to use his surgical talents to remove the tell-tale tattoo that’s been branded on to Malik’s wrist.

As they reignite their past relationship, Dam learns about the life Malik has led since the Restoration came into power. He has to face the fact that his future as a plastic surgeon is increasingly insecure in a city that’s becoming ever more obsessed with “natural” bodies. Then the Purity Squads come looking for Malik, and they know an escape is now or never.

But can there be an escape from a regime that wants to erase anyone not falling into their definition of human?

My thoughts:

If you're a newbie to m/m romance (like me) and/or a newcomer to scifi romance as a genre, this is a great place to start. Tight world building that won't overwhelm even the least technically minded, well done sex scenes, well balanced conflict and tension between the two characters, and emotionally satisfying. Be warned though - this is a short story, not a novella or novel.

Amazon US $2.99

Author site: Misa Buckley | Author of Scifi Romance

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Disability In SF - Taking A Different Approach

Perhaps I'm not the best qualified person to tackle this subject, but it's one that I've thought about a lot this year. I see the constant calls for diversity in fiction, and especially in science fiction. Not enough PoC characters, disability not being considered, not enough gender equality, variety etc. But here's why I struggle with disabilities in my own stories.

In October this year, a man left paralyzed from the chest down was able to walk again (albeit on crutches) using cells taken from his own nose to regrow nerves in his spine. 3D printing has enabled the creation of an artificial spine. I watched a medical show involving a man who had his windpipe damaged in a car crash that left him unable to speak and forced to breathe through a hole in his chest for seven years. After radical, experimental surgery and using an artificial windpipe scaffold with some of his own body cells grown on it, he woke up immediately able to speak and breathe through his mouth. A woman has given birth after having a womb transplant from a donor.

Since I write far future SFR, the fact that we are already able to perform such medical miracles right now makes it hard for me to imagine ANY disabilities existing in my worlds, though they still could. Of course, not all the civilizations are as advanced in my universe, so there are opportunities. But those don't tend to be the focus of my stories so far. So perhaps I need to consider that the whole concept or definition of disability itself will have to change in my stories.


An example is the Earth Girl trilogy of YA SF written by Janet Edwards and published by Pyr in the US (my eldest is a huge fan). In these books, the heroine is considered disabled because a problem in her immune system means she can't travel from planet to planet and has to remain on Earth. This makes her a freak in the current society.

I also have a WIP with a heroine who has a similar issue. After breaking her neck which in present day would have left her paraplegic, my heroine's own body rejects attempts to regrow her spine or repair it using stem cells, and she's forced to have a cybernetic replacement. While this actually enhances her abilities in some ways, it makes her a medical liability due to the additional costs and difficulties of providing her with full medical care and repairs (something that must be paid for and supplied by her employer). So the ability to fix and/or prevent leaving her with one disability creates a whole new one.

Of course, current advances in medical science don't necessarily mean we'll be able to fix every form of disability, or that curing it might not have side effects or create other issues such as ethical or religious conflicts, for example. Any ST:NG fan will be familiar with Geordi's blindness and how the writers tackled that throughout the series, including how losing his visor caused major problems, and how an offer to cure his blindness by the Q was used to tempt him. In Neal Asher's The Technician (heavy, far future SF) one character is autistic (autism also runs in my family, so it's something I'm familiar with but don't write for personal reasons. I'm just as guilty of not writing disability into my stories). In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Xavier is taking a drug that enables him to walk but costs him his telepathy (though at the start of the story, he's actually glad to lose his powers). And if you're looking for a story where physical disability is dealt with very well, I suggest you read Tin Cat by Misa Buckley (and here, the hero is curious about the heroine's disability as he's come from a future time where it's curable/repairable). There are many reasons why someone might chose not to accept medical help. I vaguely remember an episode of Babylon 5 where parents refused to let their son undergo life-changing surgery because it went against their religious beliefs to pierce the body, despite the fact their son would otherwise die. The doctor disagreed, went ahead, and was devastated to discover the parents had euthanised their child because of his actions.

Yes, there should be more stories featuring disabilities, and even disabled heroes/heroines. But if you are uncomfortable to write them, or concerned that even with research that you could get it wrong, perhaps it's a good idea to think about what a disability in the far future might be when we are already on the brink of being medically able to do so much more.

With thanks to my daughter for the information on Earth Girl.


After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult scifi, scifi romance, and paranormal titles, and she’s one of eight authors included in the science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreenYou can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, and Wattpad.

Her latest work is an alternative 1920s superhero romance--When Dark Falls--released 21st November by Breathless Press.
Available at... Breathless Press

All Romance eBooks | Bookstrand
Smashwords | Barnes&Noble
Amazon US | Amazon UK
In a city where Dark Technologies Inc. now runs the show, Kadie Williams has more immediate concerns than the fall of Blaze, their guardian superhero. Almost every morning for the last few months she’s woken up with cuts and bruises on her body, and no idea how she got them. There are no nightmares. No evidence that she sleepwalks, or any sign of a break in. And nothing to tell her who’s been cleaning up after her. As just one of thousands of civilians conscripted to slave away in the labs of Professor Dark, she knew there'd be trouble ahead. But she never expected it to be so bad, or so personal.

Desperate for answers, Kadie looks to the new defender of the night, the only person who can hinder the total domination of Professor Dark—Nocturnelle. The mysterious vigilante superhero came from nowhere with her cybernetic sidekick Shadow, set on putting an end to the brutality of Dark's regime. But as his laboratories work on a new secret super-weapon, Nocturnelle and Shadow may not be enough to save Nephopolis...or to save Kadie either.

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