Thursday, January 30, 2014

Valentine #scifi #romance #giveaway

To celebrate the approach of Valentine's Day, Lyn Brittan has organized a giveaway to get you in the spirit. So, want the chance to win one of four scifi romance ebooks or a paperback omnibus? Simples! Just fill in the rafflecopter below. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer - Giveaway ends February 13 at 12:00 AM EST. Open internationally. Warning: content possibly not suitable for minors under the age of 17. eBooks and Digital Prizes will be sent electronically via email. Other prices may be sent U.S. Postal Service or similar service. Winners will be selected on or before 2/123/2014 by and be notified by email. No purchase necessary. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to participating authors. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting winners.

SFRB Recommends #9: Eroma by Piers Anthony #scifi #romance #scifirom

Eroma - Piers Anthony

From the book description:
In the futuristic multi-player Virtual Reality game of erotic romance (EROtic ROMAnce), sight, sound, and touch all work, and sexual climaxes are immediate and mutual. The audience of millions watches in 3D-TV every interaction, down to the most intimate and sometimes transparent detail. As players conquer difficult sexual tests, they are challenged to see what they are willing to do in order to win.

Not for the sexually faint of heart.
Piers, in his inimitable style, writes a vivid book that, in this case in particular, leaves very little to the imagination. Or rather, it sucks the reader right in to the world he creates until they live, breathe and feel just about all the characters do. Focussing on the sexual interactions of the main characters and the VR game challenges they face, the romance comes to the fore. However, it (the romance, that is) would not exist without the underlying technology that makes a multi-player realistic VR game possible.

This book is recommended for adults only, and you gotta like reading sex. And LOTS of it.

Author site: Piers Anthony Official Website

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Don't Miss Out On The Growing Audio Book Audience + Giveaway

Talking about audiobooks today and giving away one copy of the WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM audiobook to a randomly selected commenter.

People often ask me why I'm so determined to have audiobook versions of my novels and the simple answer is that there's a huge and growing audience out there who enjoys listening to a good story. While many people listen to audiobooks in their car or otherwise commuting, there's an audience which enjoys the experience of hearing a good book while they multitask. Even in the shower!

Last year I had the wonderful experience of making an audiobook version of my award winning WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM with Actor/Narrator Michael Riffle. I've written extensively about the process in a series of posts on my own blog. You can find the first post here which links to the others, if you're interested.

Briefly, I went through Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), which is a division of Audible, so I can only speak to that experience. ACX is wonderfully set up to keep things simple for the author, the actor and the producer, which I appreciated. For my first audiobook I couldn't afford to pay an hourly rate (usually between $200-$400 per "finished hour" - my book runs about 9 hours). ACX offers a contract vehicle whereby author and actor split the royalties 50/50 and no money is paid up front. Of course if it turns out you've created the Harry Potter or 50 Shades of audiobooks and have a runaway hit, your actor will become very wealthy over the life of the distribution contract!  Now WRECK may be an Amazon best seller and award winning, but I wasn't too concerned that I might be signing away millions. (And I appreciate working with Michael so much I might not have minded anyway LOL.)

At first though, I wasn't getting very many quality auditions. Then ACX put my book into their stipend program, where they pay $1500.00 to the actor when the book is completed. I paid nothing, just split future royalties as they come in. Then I got numerous auditions and was fortunate enough to find Michael, who embodied my special forces hero of the future perfectly.

Unless you're a trained actor as well as an author, don't read your own book! First of all, reading is very different from acting and getting all the characters to sound different and believable, and convey the right emotions is a huge challenge. Secondly, there's a definite art involved in the production of the sound quality. Michael put in many hours behind the scenes for every finished hour of the book.

I LOVED listening to the audiobook as he finished each chapter. I found that hearing how a trained actor interpreted the dialog and what he brought to the characters gave me new insights. Of course the book had already been published so we couldn't change anything, but I got a lot of ideas for the sequel. Chapter 7 is my favorite, listened to it three times. Even Michael said he got choked up while narrating that one and had to re-record parts of it. (No spoilers here though!)

This year Michael and I are doing the audio version of ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE, and we've cast an actress to read the heroine and other female characters with him. I think this is going to be an amazing project and can't wait to have the audiobook available.

I'm happy to answer any questions and I am giving away a free copy of WRECK to one randomly selected commenter. I'll pick the winner at 6PM on the 29th.....

Here's the blurb for WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM:
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?
Available at Amazon in all formats and wherever else eBooks are sold.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Meet the #Author - Tara Quan

Please tell us a bit about yourself:

I’m a newbie author, sci-fi fan, romance junkie, and self-proclaimed globetrotter. I’ve lived in Thailand, Australia, the U.S., and thanks to my husband’s job, the U.A.E. and Pakistan (all before my thirtieth birthday). I’m now preparing for our move to Italy. Our vagabond lifestyle makes it impossible for me to have a traditional career, so I get to learn different languages and embrace being a starving writer guilt-free.

Tell us about your Undead Fairy Tales series:

A year and a half ago, for reasons I can’t quite recall, I decided a post-apocalyptic zombie word would be the perfect setting for fairy tale-based romances. Inspired by Rapunzel, Tower in the Woods was my debut work. A fateful snowstorm pitches my tower-bound sniper against a mysterious federal agent, and several hot nights and near-death experiences later, they get their happily ever after.

The second book in the series, Catching Red, is scheduled for release on February 3, 2014 (so this interview is basically my cover reveal). My knife-wielding Little Red Riding Hood gets herself into a world of undead trouble, and it’s up to Agent Marcus Woodsman to save her. Writing this novel was loads of fun since I could let my sci-fi side come out to play. Not only did I describe the progression of the Undead Reanimation Virus in great detail, I set quite a few scenes in futuristic Washington, D.C.

What inspired you to write Catching Red?

That’s easy–finishing the first book. Because Tower in the Woods was a Rapunzel story, about 70% of the world I sketched out never made it into the novella. The romance is, after all, set in a tower. As soon as I was done whipping Book 1 into shape, I was dying to create a heroine who could hack and slash her way through a zombie-infested world. Little Red Riding Hood seemed like just the ticket.

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:

This is how Red and the Woodsman first meet [pre-final version]

Before she could process what had happened, a dark shadow appeared. The tall broad-chested man hacked through the creatures like an angel of death. Wielding a modified woodcutter’s axe, he removed heads with the apparent ease of cutting grass. Lethal and silent, her savior made his way through the swarm. He moved so fast her blurring eyes struggled to capture his progress.

She heard sounds of parting flesh and breaking bones -- thuds as bodies and heads fell to the ground. The axe’s crescent blade appeared as silver arcs against the black and gray tableau. The only other source of color was the man’s golden hair. For a moment, she was certain he was a delusion spawned from blood loss and terror.

A large hand closed over the scruff of her neck and yanked. Jerked to her feet, she gazed into eyes of brightest blue. Knowing she wasn’t fighting alone gave her failing body a second wind. Turning so their backs met, her knives and his axe slashed out in tandem. Before long, the undead around them became a mound of body parts on the dusty white floor.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:

Oddly enough, it’s always been the name. Once I decided on Scarlet “Red” Ryding, it seemed only right to make her a petite redhead.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:

I’m an aspiring author myself, so I’m drawing a blank. Oh—once you have that first contract, all the books you buy (as well as your laptop) are considered “business expenses” for American tax purposes. According to my husband, I contribute to our family income in the form of deductibles.

Questions for fun:

If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:

I would stop myself from getting that horrible haircut in high school.

What super-power would you choose?:

Teleportation. Words cannot describe how much I hate going through airport security.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:

1.    Become a NY Times bestselling author
2.    Be able to afford a private jet that will take me wherever I want whenever I want
3.    Be able to stay in shape without exercising

Coffee, tea or wine?:

Tea. Specifically, Cacao Mint Black from Teavana (which I just discovered they might have discontinued).

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):

I’m cheating by naming what I think are now 7 books­–the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh

Favourite genre and why?:

I’m not sure I should admit this here, but I have a love affair with paranormal romance.

Favourite colour?:

Let’s see. My laptop’s cover is pink. My keyboard protector is pink. I have a pink Hello Kitty ATM card. My favorite purse and shoes are pink. I’m going to insist it’s purple.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:

I’m taking a full-time Italian course right now, so I’m on a self-imposed writing break. Nonetheless, I’m mulling over a shifter romance and a fairy tale set in space. By March, one of them will emerge victorious.

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

Catching Red (pre-final blurb) – Coming February 3, 2014

Scarlet “Red” Ryding is on a mission. To prevent mass suicide, she must fulfill her grandmother’s evil wishes and return posthaste. With knives in hand, she dives headfirst into an abandoned hospital full of zombies. But after getting trapped within, she is forced to accept help from the world’s most dangerous predator—a man.

Covert Agent Marcus Woodsman received strict instructions against interfering in the affairs of nomads. As a spy for the Federal Military Agency, his mandate is to observe and report. But when he finds a little redhead caught in the center of a brain-eater swarm, conscience compels him to put his axe to good use. By the time he realizes this smartass scout comes equipped with a world of trouble, it’s too late—he would do anything to keep her safe.

As Red and her Woodsman work together to survive undead, brave a snowstorm, and bring down an evil cult, they learn to laugh, love, and fight for happiness. The second book in Tara Quan’s Undead Fairy Tales series, Catching Red is a post-apocalyptic thriller with a happily ever after.

Consolidated Buy Links:

Where Readers Can Find Me:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SFR Brigade Library Update Time!

All Hands On Deck!

You know the drill, Brigaders. We want to get the SFR Brigade Library spit shined and polished before the holiday shopping season descends upon us. That means we need your latest titles to decorate with.

Send Liana an email with the following information:

Genre: Action/Adventure, Anthology, Comedy, Cyberpunk/Speculative, Military, Near Future, Paranormal, Simply Romance, Space Opera, or Not Romance
Heat Rating: Sweet (fade to black), Hot (sex on screen), Erotic
Author Name: 
Buy Link: a link to your website or some other page featuring the book
Release Date: For new books or any books coming out between now and April 1, 2014

liana . brooks1 at gmail

If you send an email and don't get a response you can track Liana down on Twitter. Look for @LianaBrooks and tell her to check her spam folder.

If your book is in print, please include cover art (600X900 is fine) and a one sentence blurb/teaser/pitch. We're still working on the formatting for the SFR BRIGADE IN PRINT page, so this will go up slower, please be patient with us.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meet the #Author Monday - Frances Pauli

Please tell us a bit about yourself:
I'm a long time brigade member who writes in too many genres. However, my first love is SFR and I try to get back to her as often as possible. I've been writing for too many years to count and a fan of science fiction since infancy. The Princes of the Shroud series is my first scifi series in awhile and I am thrilled to be playing in space again.
In my mundane life, I home school my two children, raise hairless dogs and tarantulas, crochet and watch a great deal of Star Trek. 

Tell us about Shrouded:
Shrouded is the first book in the Princes of the Shroud series. The stories are not traditional romances, but have a central theme that is definitely romantic in nature. Shroud introduces the Princes, who live on a world with a thick, protective atmosphere and rarely interact with the rest of the galaxy. They are descended from seven original colonists and their genetic makeup is such that only sons are born. Thus, they have to import bride candidates in order to perpetuate the species. My heroine, as you might guess, is one of these Brides. Unfortunately her appearance is orchestrated by outside forces trying to worm their way into Shroud.

What inspired you to write this particular story?:
 My novels usually begin with characters, but in this case it was the world and the culture that first inspired me. I was doing some studying about planetary science and became fascinated by the idea of a culture evolving underneath a heavy atmosphere. The seclusion and the nature of the Shrouded people then spawned the original two characters Vashia and Dolfan. Their story came naturally after that.

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
My favorite bits in Shrouded are the sparring between Dolfan and his rival, Mofitan. (who gets his own story in book three) In this part, they are both convinced that Vashia is their heartmate.

Dolfan watched her slip back into the crowd. The girl behind her, the redhead, squealed again and pretended to faint. Maybe she was Mofitan’s mate. Maybe their little pissing match had been only a misunderstanding. He peered at Mof and shook his head. No. It had been Vashia that held both of their attention. Impossible, but undeniable.
“Murrel, dear, calm down please.” Madame Nerala tossed a pleading look in his direction.
“Oh!” The girl teetered. She wobbled in his direction and then swerved toward Mofitan. Her knees gave out a little too quickly and she fell backwards. He had to admire her commitment. If Mofitan hadn’t caught her, she would have cracked her head.
“Girls!” Nerala almost shrieked. “Back to your rooms, please.”
The women scattered into the plants. Mofitan held the still whimpering imposter. He cleared his throat and looked to Nerala for direction. The panic on his face earned him a speck of pity, but it didn’t last.
“Set her down,” Nerala ordered. “What just happened here, gentlemen?” Without warning, she turned her pursed lips toward him. She cast a suspicious glance at each of them in turn.
“The Kingmaker,” Mofitan released the girl, who turned her wide-eyed face up at him in worship. “I can feel her.”
“Good.” Dolfan nodded to Nerala. He pointed a finger at the woman on the ground. “She’s his Kingmaker then.”
“Not her.” Mof stood tall and faced him again. “You know which one it is.”
“I haven’t a clue which one is yours.” Dolfan felt his lip cure. He couldn’t help it. Mofitan had damn sure been eyeing Vashia, and he was having none of that. He growled and balled his fists at his side. “Do you?”
“You son of a—”
“Gentlemen!” Nerala clapped her hands together. The smack echoed to the glass walls. “Highnesses, please. I believe we can discuss this later.” She dropped her eyes pointedly to the woman in their midst. “After I have a little talk with Murrel.”
He stared at the girl. Her huge eyes dropped away immediately, but he caught the glimmer of tears there, and a wave of shame shook him. They’d been brutal in their rush to out snarl one another. He shook his head, even though she wasn’t looking at either of them now.
“I’m sorry. Of course.” He backed away, hoping Mofitan could pick up on the not so subtle cue from Nerala. They could hash this particular dispute out later in private.
All their little display had done was cue Nerala in to the problem and possibly hurt someone innocent. Foolish, perhaps, but innocent enough. Now they’d have to answer for it, both to the trainer, and to the women who would, no doubt, hear about the scuffle. She would hear about it, and he’d look like some kind of possessive brute. 
Not the best foot to put forward, was it? He scowled and turned for the exit. The Heart would sort it out, of course. He’d only been riled by Mofitan’s reaction to his mate, a reaction that should not be possible. He frowned. Only the Heart would be able to fix the mess. They were just too far away.
He nodded and left the courtyard. Let Mofitan posture all he wanted, as soon as they took the Brides under the Shroud, the truth would out. The Heart would sort out the mess, and it would sort it out in his favor. He felt the pull. He recognized his Heart mate, and that booked no argument. The Heart was never wrong.
As he stalked the corridor back toward the atrium, he forced down the thought that Mofitan was no doubt counting on exactly the same fact.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
I almost always begin with a character's personality. I think looks and name depend a great deal on who I want the character to be and both can be used to symbolically reinforce the character inside. In Shrouded's case the cultures came first, then the characters and then descriptions and names.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:
Keep going. That's so cliché, and yet it's so important. So, I'll add  study, learn every bit of information you can about craft and industry and be educated before you leap into anything. But really, what it comes down to is keep going. Keep writing, keep submitting or publishing, keep believing in yourself, because that is what will make or break you in the end.
Write on!

Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?: No. (though it might be fun to go back and observe) I believe we don't have a big enough picture to know what the right changes would be. Everything that happens feeds into a giant puzzle of events, and I wouldn't want to be the one who averted a past disaster only to cause a larger one in the future!

What super-power would you choose?:
I just want to fly.  Really. It might not be the most useful, but give me wings!

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:
I would wish that my children were always safe, healthy and happy. If that could count as one wish, then I'd add world peace and prosperity for myself.

Coffee, tea or wine?:
Coffee, then wine. Wine is lovely, but the coffee must flow! I love tea as a decadent treat from time to time (usually herbal) but Coffee is not optional.

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!): The Year of the Unicorn by Andre Norton and very closely after that, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip.

Favourite genre and why?:
I don't do this. Never could choose between fantasy and science fiction, not even as a reader. I love humor a great deal, and that can cross genre borders. Favorite genre.....hmm I'll take the cop-out. Speculative Fiction.

Favourite colour?:
Copper. I love oranges and Burnt Sienna, but mostly because they remind me of copper.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
Book two of Princes of the Shroud is finished and sent off to the publisher. I'm very excited about that one. I have other series running as well, some indie and some with publishers. My next SFR should be the sequel to Shrouded though. I have an amphibious humanoid series in the back of my mind as well as a time travel foray, but I guiltily squeeze some fantasy in there between scifi, so they might be awhile coming. Of course, there are at least four (okay, maybe five) Princes of the Shroud books planned too.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
Thank you for having me and for all that the Brigade does for the genre! 

Author Website:

Vashia’s father is the planetary governor. Unfortunately, he’s also a complete bastard. When he promises her to his lackey, Jarn, she panics. On the run in the nastiest corner of the galaxy, Vashia seizes her one chance at escape and signs on as a bride candidate for the elusive race of aliens known as the Shrouded, unaware that she very well may be chosen as the next Queen of Shroud

Of the seven, volatile Shrouded princes, Dolfan may be the only one that doesn't covet the throne. So the last thing he expects to find in the future queen is the woman of his dreams. If he wants Vashia, he must accept the throne as well. Unfortunately, his long-time rival has the same idea. Now, only the planet’s sacred crystal can decide their fates, but what happens when the right woman is paired with the wrong man? And when Jarn comes after what was promised to him?


Thursday, January 16, 2014

SFRB Recommends #8: Empire by Michael J Hicks #scifi #romance #scifirom

Empire - Michael J Hicks

This is probably the first book I picked up that I could truly place within the modern SFR genre - that is, since my reading of Anne McCaffrey's novels. It is free on Amazon, and if I could put my reading of it into a single word, it would be 'Wow!' The book is arguably a war story, but it focuses on the brutal military training of Reza Gard, a human captured by the Kreelan Empire (yup, aliens, and about as alien as they can come) and a very unlikely romance.

The vision of this book is incredible, though I must admit I have yet to pluck up the courage to read further in the series. That should not detract from this recommendation, though. It's that one becomes so immersed in the alien mindset and world that coming back to reality almost induces culture shock! An excellent escapist novel - but don't expect it to be a pleasant read, necessarily. The Kreelans are brutal!

Author site: Author Michael J Hicks

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Tales from the #SFR Brigade - rare #print edition #giveaway #scifi #romance

As an early Valentine's Day present, the SFR Brigade is proud to be offering an ultra-rare, not-available-to-buy-anywhere print edition of their first anthology - Tales from the SFR Brigade - a collection of eight science fiction romance stories in a range of settings and heat levels that should appeal to a variety of tastes for futuristic romance. Experience love and adventure among the stars in Tales from the SFR Brigade:

• A space captain discovers the cyborg she loves just might be her greatest enemy.
• A mind-wiped prostitute risks all when she recruits a dangerous stranger to help her escape a terrible fate.
• A prisoner-of-war confronts the comrade who loved her, then left her for dead.
• A space-obsessed physics teacher is kidnapped by a far-too-charming alien.
• An apocalypse survivor battles the biomech-enhanced hunter who seeks to capture her.
• A young artist must choose between her comfortable life on Earth or a war-torn space colony with her beloved.
• A daring thief is on the run from the alien law man who is determined to bring her to justice.
• A widowed rebel leader tries to save the last remnants of humanity, one stranger at a time.

From Earth to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, explore the worlds of Science Fiction Romance with stories from Linnea Sinclair, Marcella Burnard, Erica Hayes, Liana Brooks, Pippa Jay, Berinn Rae, Amy Laurens, and Kyndra Hatch.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tales From The SFR Brigade by J.C. Cassels

Tales From The SFR Brigade

by J.C. Cassels

Giveaway ends February 14, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

 Enter to win

But if you can't bear to wait and see if you're the lucky winner, don't forget you can download the digital version for FREE from most online retailers.

Available for FREE from...
 Amazon US | Amazon UK | ARe
 SmashwordsB&N | Kobo

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Perfect Hero

I have a thing for heroes. Really, I do! I don't really care about her when I'm reading a romance. I want to know about him. I want to be in his head. It's taken the market many frustrating years to catch up with my reading preferences. While it is getting better, there's still a long way to go before I'm overwhelmed with choices.

Creating heroes is the easy part of a romance for me. Creating her is like climbing Mount Everest with no oxygen tanks. My romance novels are HIS story. His relationships, his past, his future, his issues. I have very firm ideas about what makes a hero, and I'm going to share some of them today.

Right now I'm in love with Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter books. Specifically I'm in love with a 6'8" Atlantean god named Acheron, leader of the Dark Hunters. He has everything I love in a hero: Height, a fierce sense of loyalty, a tragic backstory, will do anything to protect those he loves, tries his best to always act with compassion and kindness, and tries not to hold people's pasts against them. This dude is the KING of tragic pasts. It's a miracle he has any compassion and kindness left in him.

Acheron is my idea of a perfect hero. But it might surprise you what draws me most to him. It's not my undying fascination with Atlantis, or his height, or his tragic past, though all of those things are important to my love of him as a character. It's his compassion. No matter how much he gets stomped on and betrayed by people he should be able to trust, he refuses to give up. Even while his former best friend schemes to kill him he holds on to the hope that one day they can at least tolerate each other again.

My perfect hero is a man of compassion. A man who never gives up, no matter how much life beats him down. He's a warrior with a strong sense of justice and loyalty. He's a protector of those weaker than him, male or female, animal or alien. Most importantly he's not afraid to lay down his life for the one he loves. And he's not afraid for her to know it.

The hero can be a smart-ass, a rogue, have a bad attitude, or any number of other things. So long as he is compassionate and treats his lady (by the end of the story) with kindness and compassion, I will love him.

When heroes walk into my head, and they always come first, they tend to be warriors. Warrior does not mean alpha male as in paranormal romance alpha male. That gets old. A warrior is someone who fights his battles instead of shirking them. Someone who feels a strong sense of responsibility for those under his care. Someone who acknowledges his duty, whatever it may be, and performs it to the best of his ability. They're also noble and put others first.

Don't overlook the importance of having a noble hero. If I don't like your hero I'm not going to finish the book. And if I don't like MY hero, that I created, I'm definitely not going to finish the book.

Rachel Leigh Smith is a romance writer, a geek, and a Southern belle. She lives in Louisiana with a half-crazed calico named Zoe. When not adding words to an SFR novel she’s reading paranormal romance or crafting while watching some type of SF on TV. She’s still unpublished, but hopefully not for long. She also blogs sporadically at and hangs out on Facebook.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Meet the #Author Monday - Misa Buckley
Grace under Fire

Please tell us a bit about yourself
I'm a 40yo mum of five, married to a man obsessed by Land Rovers, living in the Manchester area of Britain. I started writing for publication in 2009, with my first story released in 2011. When I'm not writing, I'm usually knitting, reading or watching sci fi on TV.

Tell us about GRACE UNDER FIRE

What inspired you to write this particular story?
It started as a dream after a slightly drunken rewatch of Stargate SG1's Insiders. So... usual source, really. There's half a dozen references to other sci fi shows, not least of which was Doctor Who's The Poison Sky (though there's a different reason for my fire).

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?
It varies. For ARCHANGEL (my previous release, which is UF), Gabriel's personality came first, then how he looked and finally his name. On the other hand, I'd got Grace's name and several titles in mind before I developed her character.

Any tips for aspiring authors?
Just write. Ignore the trends or what anyone tells you is THE thing. Write what you want, what excites you. Even if it's been done a thousand times before. There's no new stories, just new ways of telling them. So just write.

Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?
It's tempting to say that I'd go back and start writing sooner, but how would that change things now? I'm mostly happy with my career to date, so no, I'd not change anything.

What super-power would you choose?
The ability to transport myself so I could get to all the conventions I have to miss because of flight costs (and no, I wouldn't choose the power of flight – I'm scared of heights!)

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
To have an agent, to have a publishing deal, and a decent lottery win.

Coffee, tea or wine?

What is your favourite book?
Gah, I have so many! I love Pride And Prejudice, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Colour of Magic, Tigana, and every book in the Pern series.

Favourite genre and why?
To write? Sci fi, because that's what I grew up watching and still love (I'm a HUGE Doctor Who fan). But I read diversely across speculative genres and even some contemporary romance.

Favourite colour?
Deep blue.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?
GRACE UNDER FIRE is the first in a series, so keep an eye out for the following stories. ;)

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

Guest Post - PK Hrezo - Editing

by PK Hrezo

When I first started out writing novels, I knew very little about story editing. It wasn’t til someone pointed out my sloppy style that I realized I had fewer skills than I thought. You mean there’s more to writing stories than just making stuff up??

Oy. Totally clueless.

I bought my first writing guides ever: Self Editing for Fiction Writers, and The First Five Pages. And boy did my writerly world shift. That was about five years ago. Since then, I’ve devoured multiple writing guides, written seven novel length stories, and exchanged critiques with some very talented authors. This has helped me develop the editing methods I use today.

Most of you probably have your own methods by now, but it’s always interesting to see how others work, and adapt new techniques here and there. I draft fast, without looking back (as tempting as it is) and wait a bit before reading what I’ve got. For my first read-through, I use Word so I can clean up sentences here and there while I focus on plot, characterization, and big story issues.

Afterwards, I leave it alone for a few days, then send it to my Kindle and read it as I would any story I just downloaded. This is the biggest help to me. I catch so many things I didn’t see the first time around. If you can’t send it to a tablet, change the font on your manuscript and re-read it that way.

I have checklists I use after this second round of edits, and I’ll leave you one of them at the bottom of this post. After using these checklists to dig deeper into my story and characters, I go back through the story again and deepen the point of view, weed out extra words and flowery prose, and add as much voice as I can to mundane sentences.

Then, it’s off to my trusty CPs, and later, to various beta readers. I try to find at least one new beta reader for each new story. Fresh eyes are extremely helpful. I should add, I do my own editing, but I did hire a proof-reader for my self-published book, Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. My CPs are very skilled and amazing at what they do, so I really get the benefit of a content editor when they read my work.

With sci-fi stories, as you know, there’s an extra element for consistencies and technology plausibility, so I also seek out scientific-minded beta readers to pick out any issues there.

In regards to setting, since that’s a big element in sci-fi, here’s some food for thought: How does the setting affect your character’s movements and experiences? Have you revealed the setting through character reaction, instead of simply describing it? Try having your characters manhandle the props to enhance the setting as well as character emotion.

Here’s a story checklist I acquired from somewhere on the Web, so I apologize for not being able to give credit to who it came from. These are valuable points of interest:

1. How can I make the protagonist likeable or at least relatable?

2. Are both the protagonist and the antagonist extraordinary in some way?

3. Do they both care passionately about something?

4. Is what they care about at the heart of their opposition?

5. Is the antagonist just as strong or even stronger than the protagonist and just as compelling or intriguing?

6. Do all the main characters have genuine flaws and eccentricities?

7. Is there opposition between what the protagonist wants, her external goal, and what she needs, her internal goal?

8. Is the protag going to experience a change of fortune: from good fortune to bad, from bad fortune to good, from good to bad to good, from bad to good to bad?

9. How can I use the setting and season to make the situation worse for the protag?

10. How can I make the setting more interesting and challenging?

11. Are the protag and antag struggling within a situation readers haven't seen before?

12. How can I elevate the concept?

13. What extra coolness factor can I add?

14. What twist can I add to make this unusual?

15. Are there logical connections between characters, plot, and theme(s)?

16. Is the theme universal?

17. Does the protag's struggle exploit a universal fear?

18. Are there high stakes--terrible consequences--if the protag fails?

19. Does she have to make an impossible choice or sacrifice that will make her pay personally before she can win against the antag?

20. How can I provide a test at the beginning of the manuscript to show off the trait the protag needs to change before she can win?

21. What makes her the way she is, and how can I show that to make her initial failure understandable and relatable?

22. How can I make the stakes even higher at every turning point while keeping them relatable?

23. Have I got enough of a coolness or fun factor in the mid section to sell the premise and carry the second act?

24. How do I keep the protag in conflict between two emotions so she has to fight to resolve her feelings?

25. How can I exploit the situation and main conflict to force the characters to make active choices?

26. How can I limit each of the character’s choices to force them to choose between something bad and something worse, force them into bad decisions, or push them into doing what they least want to do?

27. How can I make characters behave in the most unexpected way that fits within their motivation, personality type, and background?

28. How do I introduce a new conflict before resolving an existing one?

29. What danger can I keep threaten, what information can I promise, what expected emotional crisis, confrontation, loss, or decision can I foreshadow to keep the reader eager to read?

30. How can I push an expected outcome into an unexpected direction?

31. Before the climax, how do I make it clear why the antagonist is the way he is, and how do I make him sympathetic?

32. How can I apply lessons the protag has learned and show her character growth in the climax in a way that will echo the test she failed at the beginning?

33. How do I make it clear enough why she has changed enough to choose differently than she did in the initial test?

34. Can I make every conflict in a subplot real and hard to overcome?

35. How do I resolve all the subplots and weave them together more tightly?

36. How do I show the arcs for each of the main characters?

37. How do I most smoothly deliver all the missing information before the climax scene?

38. How can I the climax the toughest challenge in the manuscript?

39. How can I make the resolution truly satisfying?

40. How do I make sure I've kept my covenant with the reader?

If you need more checklists or worksheets, let me know and I’d be happy to forward them on. I’ve collected quite a few over the years.

I’ve also found that reading a very well written novel prior to going through final edits on my story, helps me really put on the polish and make it shine.

How about you? Any tried and true techniques you’d like to share on editing?

PK Hrezo is the author of Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc., a new adult sci-fi romance, and Fearless Fiction blogger at

She can be found on Twitter at @pkhrezo

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sci-Fi Traditions & Thoughts

Hi there, how's everyone today?

This week, the third book in my RECAST series was released from Samhain Publishing.
SHIVER is the story of a captured gladiator forced to fight for survival, and what happens when he gets the chance to escape imprisonment. Except, he ends up getting caught in a different kind of trap. Well, there are actually two: the bloodthirsty change coming over him, and being captured by a different kind of crazy.
During NaNoWriMo I actually wrote the fourth instalment of this series, and couldn't help wondering where my love of Science Fiction began...
I know it started with Star Wars. I was just a kid when I watched the first movie, but it always stuck. I fell in love with the innocent Luke, and the cheeky pirate, Han. Not to mention that I thought Leia was the best kind of princess. Plus all those different planets and ships and aliens... Wow. It's amazing how much of an impression the original Star Wars trilogy had on me. And so began an interest in a variety of Sci-Fi shows from the 70s and 80s: Space: 1999, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Land of the Giants, V, and so on.
And that's where tradition comes in. Every year on Christmas Day my husband, daughter and I sit down to watch Star Wars Episode 4-6 in a row. It's always a blast. No matter how many times I watch these movies, I still love them. You know what's super awesome about sharing them this way? That my daughter also loves them. I think it's important that young girls realise Science Fiction is a genre for all of us, not just the guys.
It's no wonder I love telling Sci-Fi stories. And like a lot of the anime that I've enjoyed seems to do, I add an edge of darkness and even sprinkle a little supernatural into the mix. ;)
Thanks for reading,
SHIVER is now available:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Meet the #Author - Eva Caye


Please tell us a bit about yourself:

I'm a Hoosier (from the U.S. state of Indiana) and have been writing since high school as a hobby, simply attending writers groups, workshops, and conferences when I could.  I've been an avid science fiction and fantasy reader since 1980, when my political science professor assigned us the first three books of Asimov's Foundation series to discuss such concepts as balance of powers.

I began seriously writing because of my clinical depression.  During a crisis in June 2010, I was lying in bed in a darkened room and figured I was already dead, utterly unable to tolerate 'real life'.  The thought occurred to me that, since the 'old me' was dead but I still had possession of a body, I could build my life anew.

For some reason, I wondered what I would do if I won the lottery, as if that stands for, 'anything is possible'.  Since I had always wanted to be a scientist, I began having conversations between the person I was (high school teacher of inner-city kids whose problems were so vast I gave and gave and gave until I crashed), and the person I wanted to be (engineer/physicist).  The dialogues grew so thick, I got out of bed and began writing them down!  Then I developed them into characters, they took over my imagination, and I wrote the rough drafts of the first four books of the To Be Sinclair series in 80 days.

It was perhaps my third book when I began to feel like I had some kind of 'wormhole' in my mind to a future parallel dimension.  Although I've never been a visual person, I was seeing my characters in actual scenes, and I consider myself their 'scribe', not their goddess.  How so?  When you decide you don't like what you've written and rewrite it, but go to bed and the characters act out the scene over and over again until you get up at god-awful o'clock to change it back, you realize you don't have a lot of control over the story!

Tell us about Nobility:

Nobility is about Prince Matthieu Sinclair, the Heir Second to his grandfather Emperor Victor and his father Prince Zhaiden.  This is very much a new adult novel, beginning with Matthieu at age 20, having finished his Service training cycles.  It moves through two years of his Imperial duties, tours of Service, secret missions, a diplomatic mission that breaks his heart, and above all, the search for a lady who could handle being his Empress someday. 

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The big question my series answers is, "What will the greatest ruling family in the history of the galaxy be like?"  Dignity and Majesty detail the romance and first years of marriage of the Emperor and Empress of the Sinclair Demesnes, a four-planet polity, and the other books are about individual children, which is why they have different psychological flavors to them. 

Matthieu will be the Emperor of his generation, and I've always felt that (historically) a strong hereditary ruler's influence will usually run to their grandchildren, but not much beyond.  I've also noticed that a lot of people in my life have been more influenced by their grandparents than by their parents.  Matthieu will be the strongest Emperor of them all, but I primarily wanted to show how the major influences of his life shape him when he is still quite young.

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
After inspecting the rabbits in their hutches and the pheasant hatchery, Matthieu led her further along the cliff to a small grotto, set rather high, while describing how the former Imperial Preserve had had a beautiful glen and grotto.
Miriel pointed. “What is that?”
Matthieu reached in to draw out a gilded crystal angel. “At the old grotto, family members had several items they placed there for symbolic reasons. It was kind of like the heart of the realm in a sense, representing our hopes and dreams. Aunt Sophia had a gilded angel there to declare the space sacred.” He let her examine it before putting it back in its spot.
When he turned back to her, she looked very thoughtful. “What is sacred?”
“In general?”
“No. To you,” Miriel specified.
Matthieu reached out to cup her face. “The joy I saw as you rode that horse.” Moving closer, he gazed at her stunned expression and stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers to murmur, “The power, the purity of your mind and spirit.”
He kissed her gently while wrapping his arms around her. “The gift of your presence,” he whispered, looking into her soulful eyes while he smoothed back her hair. He gave her a deeper kiss as she melted in his arms.
Leaning his forehead against hers, he said very softly, “Miriel.”
His gentle laugh came from some deep reservoir of joy he had long forgotten. “I just wanted to say your name. Miriel. It almost sounds like the word ‘miracle’ to me.” She erupted in giggles, then. Matthieu drank them in with a bliss that knew no bounds.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot think of a corresponding word for your name. ‘Matthieu’ doesn’t even come close to anything. Pathew? Wrathew? Hathew? Sorry,” she apologized again as he snorted in amusement.
Matthieu’s mindfulness, down to his very soul, was captured when she put her hand to his face. “How about just ‘you’?” As he blinked, she said, “You. You.” Then Miriel kissed him back.
He felt like he was the center of the universe, at this pinpoint of time and space and lips, as if the knowledge of the cosmos was his for the asking. This was the miracle, indeed, the ability to pull the subtle energies of an otherwise indifferent world into the realm of matter and light, to shower them upon another. This was love.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:

Personality, definitely. That's what the story is about, how a character moves from a limited perspective to a greater perspective, and how they react to that growth, the changes they must make. I rarely describe much of a character's looks. Names can be rather difficult to choose; sometimes I look up the meanings of names, but most often I just pick someone I admire.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:

If you are going to invest time in writing a story, make it worthy of your attention for the rest of your life. Don't follow the fads; follow your heart, because you will be promoting it, day in and day out, forever. Hacking out a story because you think it will be easy or because it's trendy might get you a number of sales, but if you can imagine yourself at 80 years of age, reviewing your literary output, you will want to say you are proud of each story, that the goals of the protagonist and intent or theme of the story reflect issues that matter.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?

I have also finished 2/3 and 1/2 of two prequels, set some 150 years in our future but some 500 years in the 'past' as compared to the series.  I consider those novels to be science fiction, not science fiction romance; there are relationships that develop, but they are not the focus of the stories.  

I do not plan any other novels after Nobility's companion novel, the finale to the series, Morality.  First, because I have to finish my prequels; second, because I have other projects I want to get to; and third, because this finale is breaking my heart to write!  Nine books covering three generations is surely sufficient, wouldn't you say?

Otherwise, the first four books of the series (Dignity, Majesty, Fealty, and Royalty) are now available as print-on-demand through Amazon, and I should have the other four set up by Christmas!  

Blurb for Nobility:

Prince Matthieu Sinclair, the Heir Second, has many duties; he must not only take space duty in the Service, he also establishes the Imperial Protocol Academy to educate the multitude of Imperial youngsters in the basics of their lifestyle, since he will be the Emperor of their generation. Yet to find a lady who could withstand the pressures of being his Empress is a formidable task! 

When he returns from an undercover assignment to find disaster, Matthieu subsumes his needs in order to minimize the stress on his family, for they are more important than anything else. Yet when a diplomatic mission goes wrong and his strongest role model dies, who will help him cope with the tragedy? 

Book length: approximately 200,000 words 

NOBILITY is the official book 7 of the To Be Sinclair series, yet like the others is a good stand-alone novel. An add-on book, Evan's Ladies, consists of four novellas that take place before NOBILITY. Check out the To Be Sinclair series at Amazon and Smashwords:

Series website: 
Blog (The Spiraling Mind):

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