Thursday, July 31, 2014

SFRB Recommends #20: Aopato by Margaret Afseth #scifi #romance

Aopato by Margaret Afseth

Book Description

Sonia appears to be a typical grandmother at seventy-five. She thinks her worst fears have been realized when she is forced to move into a city senior complex.

She has always felt she was different. When a tiny sphere appears out of empty space, informs her she belongs to a lost race, she is not surprised. As the device knocks her in the forehead, a whole new reality opens up, and Sonia finds herself responsible not only for the welfare of dysfunctional family, but also holding the lives of a rag-tag inter-racial band of survivors. She calls these the invisible ones: Aopato (Ah-or-atos in Greek).

Sonia's life goal will forever be the safety and happiness of those in her care. Why should it be any different now?

But there are those who oppose her, believing she has neither the skills or qualifications to carry out her function. Added to a contentious daughter and jealous brothers is the fact that the species has a natural vicious predator intent on eliminating all of their kind.

How could agape love be sufficient to conquer such hurdles? Will this struggling new remnant die at its birth?

Why we recommend Aopato

This book is very interesting. I found that while it did not really grab me at the beginning, it must be said (primarily due to the opening being set in the "present day" on Earth), the complexity of the alien civilisation that is developed is what is intriguing about this book. The worldbuilding is plausible and very well-structured. Although quite complex in terms of relationship structures, Afseth handles this aspect very well, gradually building up the picture of how the race survives. I especially appreciated the red herrings that surrounded the climax of the story.

The characters are realistic and sympathetic, in that the reader can easily identify with their pitfalls and aspirations. This enables one to buy into the story even as it is complex. Some sequences are repetitive in nature, but Afseth avoids it becoming boring.

And of course, there are surprises along the way.

This book is for readers of all ages.

This book is available from

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Music Notes: Writing to Music by Amy Riddle-DeClerck

Creative people need inspiration, too. I consider myself a rather creative individual, and I have ideas for stories that might make a list a mile long. What I don't have, most of the time, is the forward momentum to put those ideas on paper. This is where the music comes in. I pop my headphones on, crank up my YouTube play list, and put my fingers to the keyboard. The beat of the music, the melody, and the visual video effects can push me to think, and then I write. With the music on in the background the outside world fades away and I become entrenched in the world my characters live in. Later, when the songs have ended and my hands are tired, I look up at the clock and marvel at exactly how long I managed to concentrate.

When writing my science fiction romance novel, Forged in Fire, I listened to I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin over and over. This became the theme song for my hero, Gin Draven. Driven by honor and duty he faced his fears in an effort to save his galaxy from a terrible threat. Every time I hear this song, even today, Gin's face comes to my mind. It rounded him out and helped me build his persona into a three-dimensional character with emotions and motivations beyond what I had originally planned for him.

It is a proven fact that music can alter brain waves and make it easier for the left and right brains to communicate, increasing creativity.

I got the list below from the book The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit by Don Campbell.

Classical music (Hayden, Mozart) has clarity, elegance, and transparency. It can improve concentration, memory, and special perception.

Impressionist music (Debussy, Faure, Ravel) is based on free-flowing musical moods and impressions, and evokes dreamlike images. A quarter hour of musical daydreaming followed by a few minutes of stretching can unlock your creative impulses and put you in touch with your unconscious.

Rock music by such artists as U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rolling Stones, etc., can stir the passions, stimulate active movement, release tension, reduce effects of unpleasant sounds in the environment. It can also create tension, dissonance, stress, and pain in the body when we are not in the mood to be energetically entertained.

Slower Baroque music (Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli) imparts a sense of stability, order, predictability, and safety and creates a mentally stimulating environment for study or work.

Romantic music (Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt) emphasizes expression and feeling, often invoking themes of individualism, nationalism, or mysticism. It is best used to enhance sympathy, compassion, and love.

So, the next time you find yourself in the dreaded neighborhood of Writer's Block...just remember to turn on your I-pod, put on your headphones and close your eyes. Choose a sound that will personify the scene you're trying to write and wait. Chances are, you won't wait long for inspiration to strike!

About the Author:


Amy Riddle-DeClerck writes as AR DeClerck. She grew up in Western NC and currently resides in the Quad Cities, IL with her husband and two daughters. She loves romance and adventure, and prefers redeemable heroes and strong heroines. Her debut novel, Between: A Keyholder Novel, will be released 8-1-14 from Nevermore Press. Her sci-fi romance novel, Forged in Fire, will be released in December 2014. Look for her on facebook at or find her on Twitter

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet the #Author Monday - Deborah A. Bailey

Please tell us a bit about yourself:

I worked in corporate for several years as a copywriter then as an IT developer. So writing gives me a chance to merge my writing with my love of technology. These days I freelance as a tech writer, editor and trainer. 

Tell us about Hathor Legacy: Burn:

It's book two of my Hathor Legacy series based on the planet Hathor in the 23rd century. Nadira is one of the Guardians, a group who are descendents of settlers from Earth. The Guardians have PSI abilities and serve as a security force for the planet and are in service to Novacorp, the company that runs the planet.

Her relationship with Jonathan Keel started in book one, and is developing in this book. In this book, Nadira is called to investigate a series of fires that are burning down Service Houses. These houses are the equivalent of company-run brothels. During the investigation, secrets about the Guardians and the company are revealed, and those revelations put Nadira's and Jonathan's lives in danger.

What inspired you to write this particular story?:

I wanted to expand on the history of the Guardians and also fill readers in on how the planet was settled. Also, I wanted to show that though the Guardians see themselves as being above reproach, that's not really the case. In their own way, they're not much different than the people who run the corporation.

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:

Nadira tried to sit up, but her arms ached so much they couldn't support her. Instead they wobbled and she was forced to drop back down against the pillows.

"Relax. You're not going anywhere." Jonathan propped himself up on his elbow and pulled the covers back over her.

She looked up into his grey eyes. What she saw there wasn't what she was expecting. But it wasn't just concern for her that had etched the dark circles under them, there was something else.

"You look tired," she said, as she ran the tip of her finger along his face, following the line of his squared jaw. Stubble pricked and tickled her skin, encouraging her to continue her exploration. After reading Varyn and being attacked in the warehouse, she'd shut down her awareness, just so she could block out her emotions. If she allowed herself to feel something now, she'd have to feel it all, and she wasn't sure she was ready for that.

Jon captured her hand and pressed it to his lips. "I didn't know how to find you. A security officer told me about the warehouse fire. When I got there, they told me to check the medi-evac. I heard you calling me."

Had she? She couldn't remember now. In fact a lot of the attack was hazy, without clear definition, like waking up and trying to remember a dream. "I couldn't save them. I tried and I couldn't." Tears welled up in her eyes, blurring her vision and making her feel ashamed.

Emotions were to be controlled at all times. That's how Zina had trained her, and that's what she had always fallen back on. But now, it wasn't working.

"Let it go," Jonathan said. "It's all right."

"No." She shifted and turned her back to him. "Stop. Just go. Come back in the morning." She wasn't ready yet. If she let it out now, she'd never be able to stop.

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

Personality comes to me first. Usually hear conversations between characters before I start writing. Then the looks come in and I start to see them. It's great when I have a name first, but when I don't I have to try out a few of them before I get one that feels right.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:

Keep writing and don't talk yourself out of finishing your work. Procrastination is a trap that's so easy to fall into. If you believe in it, do it. Get it done and start on the next piece. Years ago when I went into corporate, I stopped writing for years so that I could focus on my IT career. I talked myself out of writing because I thought it was "just" a hobby. It took a while to realize that it was part of my life and I had to write, no matter what.

Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change?

Wow, that's a tough question. But I think the first thing I'd do would be to not let my cousin borrow my car.

Why/why not?:

It was my first car that I bought off a car mechanic for $300. It looked like a Mini Cooper and was fun to drive around. I lent it to her and she ran it into a pothole in NYC. That was the end of that. But since time travel has consequences, who knows? I might've ended up driving it into the pothole myself in an alternate timeline.

What super-power would you choose?:

Hmmm. I'd love to be able to fly. I think that would be fun.

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

1. For a nice quiet house by the seashore
2. The end of wars and disagreements across the globe
3. To always be surrounded by good friends and loving family

Coffee, tea or wine?:

I'd take coffee in the morning then wine after 5:00 pm.

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

I have a few favorites! One that comes to mind is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's such a powerful story that deals with the implications of cloning. It's also a very bittersweet love story, and I'm a big fan of those.

Favourite genre and why?:

SF of course! I love it because it's about possibilities. You can discuss world events, speculate on the future, tell a love story, detail the collapse of civilization. It's an exciting genre. But for me personally, I love that I can write worlds and characters beyond stereotypes. They can just be people or some other life form--without judgment and without having to attach some big message. It's refreshing to just be able to be who you are without baggage.
Favourite colour?:

Right now it's red. Dark red preferably. My favorite color changes with my mood.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:

Right now I'm promoting my new release, Hathor Legacy: Burn, so that's taking up the most space in my brain. But I'm working on a couple of novellas, and have plans to do a third Hathor Legacy book sometime next year. I'm just going to keep writing and having fun with it.

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

Twitter: @AuthorDeborahB

Announcement! Hathor Legacy: Burn will be free on Amazon from 7/27 - 7/31!


Book Two of the Hathor Legacy Series

On the planet, Hathor, an old threat re-emerges that may destroy the fragile alliance between the Guardians and Novacorp.  When Nadira is called to investigate a rash of fires throughout the city, she discovers the Deshtu, another group with PSI powers who have been purposely kept in the shadows.

Working to uncover the source of the fires, Nadira learns the brutal truth about the origin of the Guardians. The Guardian Elders have plans to make Nadira more powerful, and she may be forced to sever her psychic connection to Jonathan Keel.

When an unexpected ally gives Jonathan information about the Deshtu that connects them to the fires, he becomes a convenient scapegoat for the opposing factions. Nadira puts her life on the line to solve the crime, while the Elders make their move to remove Jonathan from her life forever.

As time runs out, the Guardians prepare for a clash with Novacorp that could plunge the planet into chaos, and a final betrayal forces Nadira to risk everything to save herself and Hathor.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SFRB Recommends #19: Starheart by Greta van der Rol #scifi #romance #spaceopera

Starheart by Greta van der Rol

Book Description

Freighter Captain Jess Sondijk thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson's Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband's death during an official boarding wasn't accidental?

Hudson has his own questions. Who in the Confederacy is trading with the Ptorix? And what price is high enough to pay for starhearts, the prized jewels the aliens call the windows of the soul?

Jess and Hudson's interests collide in more ways than one as they follow a shadowy trail of deceit and corruption in search of the truth. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what's hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed.


It took me a while to get around to reading this book after I bought it on Amazon. Let me tell you one thing: don't do it. You buy it, you read it. It's that good.

A real page-turner, I really struggled to put this book down. The world-building is excellent, with just a snippet here or there that reveals more of the setting as one gets deeper into the book. The characters are vivid and well-rounded, and there's plenty in here to keep you guessing about... well, a lot.

Overall, an excellent read, and highly recommended.

Find it on Goodreads HERE.
Find it on Amazon US HERE.

Author site: Greta van der Rol - writer, photographer, animal lover, space nut

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pinterest and Cover Art

Releasing September 12th!
I've been involved in various writer's groups for almost eight years now. When Pinterest debuted there was a lot of chatter about how authors can use it to reach readers. I'm still not sure reaching new readers via Pinterest is a valid strategy for an author, but I have found uses for it.

Originally I wrote historical romance, and I've always had a thing for 19th century clothing. I have nine boards of historical fashion, all but one of them for the 19th century.

When I started writing SFR in 2012 I knew I was creating a world I needed visuals for. Once I knew what Lok'ma looked like I spent a couple hours hunting through Google Images and various photo sites looking for landscape shots that matched my vision of the planet.

As Pinterest evolved and I watched more of my writing friends sign their first contracts, those who had jumped on Pinterest had an advantage in one important area. Cover art. They had boards to go with their manuscripts so the art department could see what the writer sees.

Last month it was my turn to do cover art. I found a graphic artist I like and started talking with her about what I wanted my cover to be. It's inspired by a pre-made she had on her site that I liked the composition of. I sent her the link to the My Name Is A'yen Pinterest board so she'd know how I envision the planet the story takes place on. And you know what?

SHE NAILED IT! Pinterest helped give me the cover of my dreams.

Each book in A'yen's Legacy has a Pinterest board, with how I see the characters, important items and places, and the marking patterns that are a crucial part of the experience. You can follow me if you like.

Will I ever find new readers using Pinterest? Don't know. Don't care. All I care about is I got the cover of my dreams out of it.

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. Her debut novel, My Name Is A'yen, will be out in September. She also blogs sporadically at and hangs out on Facebook.

My Name Is A'yen: Releasing September 12, 2014.
They've taken everything from him. Except his name.
The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A'yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master's murder, has sucked the life from him.
Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant. Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and she is determined to prove it. And win A'yen's trust. But she's a breeder's daughter and can't be trusted.
Hidden rooms, information caches and messages from a long-dead king change A'yen's mind about her importance. When she's threatened he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Association's radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his life. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The SFR Brigade Presents - 7/12-7/17

Looking for your next #scifi #romance adventure? Check out this week's round of snippets from the SFR Brigade Pressents!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Science Fiction Romance vs Paranormal Romance: A Comparison by Jody Wallace

First, let me state that I love paranormal romance and SF romance, for both reading and writing. Speculative romance in general (a broad term that incorporates all romances with woowoo content) is my favorite reading material, followed closely by Southern fiction about cranky old ladies, feline narrators, and Sandra Boynton, but we're not here to talk about that. This won't be a "versus" article, as in, which is better or worse, but a straight up comparison.

1) SFR and PNR both contain romances as a primary plot. When the romance plot isn't primary, you're shuffling into the SF/F genre, which is also dandy, but not what I'm comparing today.

2) SFR and PNR both contain non-realistic content (the woo) as a defining element. Sometimes that element is light, such as humans who accidentally summon genies or genetically modified super people. Sometimes the element is a lot more influential. Both methods have their charms.

3) SFR and PNR both increase the odds the book will be about saving the world / high octane adventure instead of slice of life / small-town, character-based plots. (Not that I'd object to SFR and PNR with that type of plot at all! I'd read that.)

4) SFR and PNR both increase the odds of extra-human/alien protagonists and characters. Which increases the odds of a character being the mostest importantest chosen one savior. I would say this is slightly less common (savior-itis) in SFR than in PNR, but still—the world’s gotta be saved, right?

5) SFR and PNR, in my experience, increase the odds the book will include secret organizations, governmental issues, and/or worldwide upheaval. This may go hand in hand with the saving the world element.

6) SFR and PNR also increase the odds that the potential alien-ness of the character(s) will affect the sexxoring. Will the characters mind meld during intercourse? Go into heat? Be virgins because Mars has no women/men? Have supernaturally large...libidos? Require XYZ during their PDQ to get off? Granted, it’s not really possible to include many of these elements in woo-free books, but a high percentage of SFR/PNR rumpy pumpy has...enhancements, shall we say!

What are the differences? When I lay it out like this, it doesn’t seem as though there are that many, does it? Yet PNR is a lot more popular than SFR. Why?

I figure it’s because technology intimidates people, readers and writers alike. Readers may assume SFRs are going to be physics-heavy science lessons, and writers may be daunted by the fact you can’t just maestro your woo element without first studying quantum mechanics. Or something mathy. Granted, there are SFs and SFRs that are tech heavy, but there are also SFs and SFRs that focus more on the characterization and plot.

There are also readers and writers who shy away from the paranormal and prefer a science approach to their woo, though they are smaller in number, based on what books have become popular with a broader slice of the public over the past ten or twenty years. Not movies so much—many blockbusters trend toward comic-book-style SF—but definitely books.

I like all the flavors of SFR and PNR with few exceptions, though I do wish more readers would jump on the SFR bandwagon. I really missed seeing the relationship development of Spock and Uhuru, dammit!

What do you guys see as the similarities and differences between PNR and SFR?

Jody Wallace
Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist of the Apocalypse


He’s no angel…

Gregori’s last mission is to save Earth from the demons threatening to take control. He doesn’t care if he survives as long as he does his best to save a world he believes is worth rescuing despite his superiors’ conventional wisdom to the contrary—until, that is, he meets Adelita, a human refugee, whose spirit and determination give him a renewed reason to fight. And live. He’s falling for her, despite the fact he’s told her nothing but lies and there can’t possibly be a future for them.

Adelita can hardly believe the archangel Gregori, sent to save mankind, has lost his faith and his edge. After he saves her from a demon attack, she vows to help him recover both, by any means necessary. But can she keep her own faith when she learns the truth about who and what Gregori really is?

Latest SFR: ANGELI (during-apocalypse, Earth-based, aliens pretending to be angels, FMI:

Website & Blog:   


Thursday, July 3, 2014

SFRB Recommends #18: The Catalyst by Chris Reher #scifi #romance #spaceopera

About The Book
Lieutenant Nova Whiteside, on an apparently routine assignment aboard an interstellar transport, finds herself the target of an assassination attempt. Her escape leaves her with no option but to rely on Seth, a former lover, for help.

Unfortunately, she realizes that they are now on opposite sides of an escalating war between the Commonwealth Union of Planets and an increasingly dangerous rebel organization.

In trying to find who is threatening her life, they discover a plot to destroy a distant planet - a world inhabited by creatures that are the key to Nova's survival - and a conspiracy that threatens the stability of the Union Commonwealth.

Why It's Recommended
Although this is the second book in the Targon Tales series, it can be read as a stand alone, and I think it is the best of a great series. It has a strong female lead character, space battles, mystery, conspiring with rebel forces, spies and a love story all rolled into one epic space opera book that isn't weighed down by bloat.

I thought the pacing in this book was excellent, starting off right away with space pirates capturing an imperial vessel where Nova has been assigned to protect an asset - a squid-like alien in a jar. This begins her journey to uncovering the truth of the aliens while she races to save her own life. She becomes the carrier of a catalyst agent that could be the key to changing the balance of power between the imperials and the rebels. At her side is Seth, a former lover who wants to scratch the former part off the title while still holding onto secrets he is reluctant to reveal. In the end, they will have to find trust in one another or all could be lost.

I think this book will appeal to both Science Fiction/Space Opera readers and Science Fiction Romance fans. It's a good 'bridge book' for those who are just starting to venture into one genre from the other (either pure sci-fi to sci-fi romance or vise versa).

Find it on Goodreads HERE.
Find it on Amazon US HERE

Recommended by C.E. Kilgore at

Author site: Chris Reher - Author

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stars and Garters: Stellar Cartography in SFR - guest post by @ChristieMeierz

My education in science is on the light side—I took a number of intro courses in high school and college, but nothing in-depth. Armed with the received wisdom that a little knowledge is more dangerous than a thorough grounding, when I set out to write SF romance, the science part intimidated me.
You can get away with a lot as long as you keep the reader entertained. After all, you don’t need to know how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive a car, and you don’t even need to know that much to be a passenger. When the heroine of my first novel took a trip in faster-than-light ships from Earth to Beta Hydri IV, with a layover at Tau Ceti Station, she didn’t know how a Kline-Thompson-Nishida engine works.
And neither do I.
But I did need to put the destinations in the right places, or anyone with a little knowledge of astronomy would be bumped right out of their willing suspension of disbelief. I could, of course, have set my novel in a galaxy far, far away and not had to worry about any of this, but… Marianne Woolsey insisted that she was born in Casey, Iowa, and who was I to argue? Near-Earth space it was.Wikipedia will tell you almost everything you want to know about all but the most obscure stars. Beta Hydri, then, is about 24.3 light-years away from Earth; Tau Ceti lies about 11.9 light-years away.
But how far is Beta Hydri from Tau Ceti? Enter the Internet Stellar Database. I can do the math, but the ISDB saves me the work: I put the name of a star in the search field (Tau Ceti, say), and at the top of that star’s database page, click the button that says Find all stars within 25 light years. Voila! Beta Hydri is 21.5538 light years from Tau Ceti (N.B.—it only lists the first 100 results).
Space being 3D, these numbers didn’t give me a good mental picture of where everything was. For that, the 3D Galaxy Map is invaluable; at a glance—well, a glance plus some mouse-clicking—I can tell which stars are nearby. It didn’t take very long for me to get a very good feel for what’s where out there in our stellar neighborhood. But which stars might have habitable planets? Again, Wikipedia is a handy place to look, or you can use NASA’s archive.What color is a class K star, anyway? The two best sources I found to understand the information on those pages were Coursera (free! and there’s an app for that!) and The Great Courses (inexpensive when on sale, or check your local library). Both have excellent astronomy courses. I highly recommend them.

Award-winning author Christie Meierz writes space opera and science fiction romance set in an empathic civilization. Her published works include her PRISM award-winning novel, The Marann, its sequel Daughters of Suralia, both now available from Sky Warrior Books, and two prequel short stories published in Into Tolari Space ~ The First Contact Stories.
Christie now lives in Pittsburgh with her mathematician husband and an assortment of stuffies. When she’s not writing, she writes about writing on her blog, Meierz Musings, and Facebook, where she welcomes comments and friend requests.

Purchase links (latest work—Daughters of Suralia):

Blurb (Daughters of Suralia):
Three women, two planets, and a whale...
For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses - complete with thorns. Especially thorns.
With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander is gone ... for now ... but Earth Central Command hasn't given up trying to get Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bond-partner who can't be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society that isn't quite human.
Laura Howard, the Admiral's widow, only desires to be left in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has plans for her, too.
Meanwhile, the Sural's apothecary is a serene and gifted healer who knows what - and who - she wants. Circumstances have conspired to deny her the man she's always loved, but in the pursuit of his heart, she finds an unexpected ally.

Social Media links:

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