Thursday, January 29, 2015

SFRB Recommends #32 - My Name is A'yen by Rachel Leigh Smith #sfrom #scifi #paranormal

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 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 Breeder's Association's radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.

Rachel Leigh Smith's début novel, this book stands head and shoulders above many I've read in the last year, in with a very select group of excellent tales. It tells the story of A'yen Mesu, a Loks Mé slave, as he discovers a considerable amount about who he is, who his people are, and how his future is intricately entwined with those of his people.

The vision of this book is immediately vast, with interspecies conflict, vast empires, and natural, human fear. Humanity doesn't get let off lightly in this story, and neither do the slaves, viciously enslaved by another race. The way in which the Loks Mé are controlled by their masters/mistresses/humans, by magnetic ink tattoos, is a very intriguing part of this universe. Rachel will likely have you in tears and wishing certain people were DEAD before the end of the book. 

By no means an easy book to read, the end is very satisfying and clearly there is more to come. Excellent stuff.

Author site: Rachel Leigh Smith | Romance for the Hero Lover

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Keir - #cover #reveal & re-release #scifi #romance

After over a year's absence Keir is back, and even better than before!


A demon waiting to die...
An outcast reviled for his discolored skin and rumors of black magic, Keirlan de Corizi sees no hope for redemption. Imprisoned beneath the palace that was once his home, the legendary 'Blue Demon of Adalucian' waits for death to finally free him of his curse. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise.

A woman determined to save him.
Able to cross space and time with a wave of her hand, Tarquin Secker has spent eternity on a hopeless quest. Drawn by a compulsion she can't explain, she risks her apparent immortality to save Keir, and offers him sanctuary on her home-world, Lyagnius. But Quin has secrets of her own.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes the dormant alien powers within him and earns exile from Lyagnius, Quin chooses to stand by him. Can he master his newfound abilities in time to save Quin from the darkness that seeks to possess her?

Expected release date - 7th May 2015. If you'd like a copy to review for the release day, please feel free to Contact Me! Add it to your Goodreads shelf here (or check out the previous reviews to see if it's something that would interest you). 

Keir is Book One of the Redemption series and part of the Travellers Universe. Expect the sequel and a side story from the series late 2015/early 2016!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Importance Of Story Theme

Theme is one of the cornerstones of good fiction. When done well, it's practically invisible. I'm a big fan of it, and identifying theme is now part of my writing process. It didn't used to be though. I'm going to share what I've learned about themes and how to identify them in your writing.

The overarching theme of my A'yen's Legacy series is a dual one: the importance of knowing and being who you are, and what does it mean to be free. The funny part? I didn't do it on purpose. It took me almost three books to see what I was doing and move to where I could do it intentionally.

Writing My Name Is A'yen was a healing process for me, after going through the worst two years of my life. Who I had been no longer existed, and this worked itself out in the novel as A'yen lost who he used to be and had to find a new identity. Again, I didn't do it on purpose. My Name Is A'yen was written because it was easy and pouring out of me, not to explore a particular theme.

As I started on the second book, I still wasn't thinking in terms of theme, either for The King's Mistress or A'yen's Legacy as a series. At that point the series title was The Lokmane Chronicles. Yeah, it's awful. A'yen's Legacy is a much better one. And you know what it does? It conveys the series theme. The King's Mistress, book two which came out on 1/20, is part of the book's theme conveyed in the title.

In TKM, A'yen is struggling to reconcile who he's found out he is with the person he's always been. A snarky smart-ass is the last person anyone expects to lead an enslaved people group into freedom. His wife and owner, Fae, is also struggling with moving from her position as the king's mistress to the king's wife and eventually to being queen. It's all about identity and how it can both change and stay the same.

In the third book, To Save A Life, the theme is a little more in your face. It's all about how every life has value and is worth fighting for. Doesn't matter what the person's done, they still deserve to be free. Everyone A'yen loves is under attack and he chooses to defend them all. Because they're all worth saving. While writing this one is when I started purposely looking at theme and how best to incorporate it.

In 2014, everywhere I turned in my writing circles I ran into theme. One of the writing blogs I read focused on theme in 2014 and I learned so much by doing the exercises and asking myself the questions presented in each post. Go over to Helping Writers Become Authors and have a look through the theme posts if you want hands-on help exploring theme and learning how to identify it in your writing.

I also stepped back a little and took a look at my writing as a whole, encompassing every single thing I've ever dabbled in and every random scene I've ever written, to see what themes were hiding there. Yes, I'm going to tell you what I found. Variations on identity and what does it mean to be free, along with family is the most important thing.

The identity one is the one I can't figure out where it came from. I'm one of those people who's always known who I am, always been comfortable in my own skin, and not afraid to march to my own beat and blaze my own path. My identity is not something I've ever struggled with in a huge way, even while navigating the hardest two years of my life. I didn't lose who I was, I lost my dreams. Yet it's something I keep writing about, over and over and over. And I never get tired of it. There is so much you can do to explore identity and all its facets and variations.

My secondary theme, what does it mean to be free, also shows up in just about everything I've ever written. This one I'm pretty sure I know where it came from. I live in the American Deep South, where the ramifications of slavery and Reconstruction are a part of daily life. History has always been my favorite subject, and one of my favorite time periods is the 1850's, 1860's, and 1870's. Over these three decades, America as a nation was struggling with what freedom meant and what it should look like. This is a time frame I know a lot about.

I've done extensive research on slavery, Reconstruction, the fallout of Reconstruction, what the federal government did wrong in freeing the slaves and how it continues to affect life in the Deep South, and I worked at a plantation turned museum for three years. Getting paid to research! It did not surprise me at all to start writing about slavery 3,000 years in the future.

The third theme, family is the most important thing, is one I've never wondered for a moment where it came from. I'm blessed to be in an intact, strong, close family where we help each other. I also consider my parents and siblings my best friends. Growing up, our cousins are who we spent the most time with. We're not as close now as adults, but whenever we're together we have so much fun.

As I continue to write, I continue to explore new variations on these three themes. It never gets old, and I never feel like I'm repeating myself. Each set of characters gives me a new lens to explore through.

Take a look at your writing and see what themes you like to write about. I'm also curious if anyone has already identified a favorite theme or something you find yourself writing about, so leave a comment and tell me what it is.

Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. Her debut novel, My Name Is A'yen, is available at AmazonB&NKoboGoogle Play, and iBooks. The sequel, The King's Mistress, released 1/20.
She blogs sporadically at, hangs out on Facebook, and can sometimes be found on Twitter, @rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SFR With a Twist: Why Write a SFR Told Solely From the Male POV?

A Science Fiction Romance told completely from the hero's point of view?

It's a highly unusual way to present a romance, even when the story falls into the more imaginative genre of Science Fiction Romance. I've only read one other SFR related from the hero's POV and that was Diane Dooley's Blue Galaxy. I know there are others out there, but they haven't yet joined my ARP--Already Read Pile.

After writing the first SFR novel in my series, I had many a critique partner, beta reader, respected author and editor (whilst in the process of pitching) tell me I couldn't sell a romance novel told in this way. That I simple had to include the heroine's POV in the mix. After all, what's a romance if the reader can't get inside the heroine's head to know what she's thinking and feeling?

Yeah. They had a point. A BIG point.

And at first, I believed them. Attempting to rectify my heinous error, I tore my manuscript apart to include the required female MC POV. And as soon as I started the process, my muse sent an urgent memo: "Cease and desist. This is not working! This is not the story in your heart."

Befuddlement ensued.

Time for some major soul-searching. Time to measure instinct against common sense. Time to weigh all the advice to write a story in the classic romance style against some great authorly words of wisdom that say, "Write the story that needs to be written."

The internal deliberation went something like this:

Point: A reader wants to know what the heroine is thinking and feeling.
Counterpoint: Sharing the heroine's direct thoughts with the reader will destroy the future revelations about who--and what--she really is, but her feelings can be conveyed even without her POV.

Point: A reader must get inside the female MCs head to relate to her.
Counterpoint: The mystery surrounding the female MC's words and actions will heighten the tension and conflict.

Point: If reader doesn't know who she really is, they may not like her.
Counterpoint: Let them not like her at first glance As the veils are lifted, reveal her finer qualities and true intentions through the hero's eyes.

Point: No reader is going to be interested in a romance that doesn't include a female POV.
Counterpoint: Take it as a challenge to write a story that will interest them in spite of the "missing" POV.

The counterpoints definitely held sway for what I wanted to accomplish, but something else finally tipped the scales, and that was a look at the current market trends. What was selling extremely well in romance?

Male/Male Romance. Ta-da! Hero POV times two.

That provided strong evidence that the female POV is not essential for a romance story to appeal to the readership. It implied romance readers (and maybe the "rebel" SFR readers, in particular) may be more flexible in what they are willing, and possibly even eager, to experience in a story. That they may be quite accepting of romances presented in new and different ways. Maybe it's never a good idea to prejudge what readers will and won't embrace. Let them decide for themselves.

I'd love to hear other thoughts on a sole hero POV. Do you think you'd enjoy a story presented in this way? Or would the absence of the heroine's POV be a problem for you? Have you read a romance with a single male POV that you enjoyed?

About the Author

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.

Her first published work is a SFR novelette titled Farewell Andromeda (written in the Heroine's POV). Her second novel, INHERIT THE STARS, is the subject of this blog.

You can connect with Laurie at the following links:





Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Thursday, January 15, 2015

SFRB Recommends #31 - The Anomaly Trilogy by @AnnaHackett #scifi #paranormal #romance

Book Description:

A woman honed in revenge and hunted for her ability to steal time finds her life depends on the man sent to kill her. On a mission deep in the wilds of Indonesia, a fiery mind raider joins forces with a dark, powerful man who is more lethal than anyone she has faced before. After being kidnapped and forced to kill, a soul stealer is left with a deadly addiction to killing and on an island sanctuary only one man calms the storm inside her. Enter the action-packed and deadly world of the anomalies: humans with extraordinary abilities that leave them hunted by criminals, governments and armies. 

Includes a bonus short story, Salvation: do bad guys deserve a second chance? Two survivors will stand side-by-side to escape a dangerous laboratory and discover a scorching passion…and terrible secrets that could drive them apart. 

The Anomaly Trilogy: Action romance (paranormal / science fiction romance) 
Length: 90,000 words 

Book 1: Time Thief 
Book 2: Mind Raider 
Book 3: Soul Stealer 
Bonus short story: Salvation

These were action packed, tense reads that can be quickly and easily consumed over a couple of afternoons. While for me the romance in these was a little too rushed, and there wasn't much complexity in the world-building or plot, if you like fast paced adventure, hot sex and tension a la X-Men style, these will provide you with an entertaining read full of angst. You can buy them separately, but the boxed set gives you the best value for money.

Amazon US

Author site: Anna Hackett | Action Romance | Science Fiction Romance

Monday, January 12, 2015

Diaspora Worlds Miniseries is Now Complete!

$1.99 This Week

Frankly, I wasn't sure it would happen. Why did I plan four sons of the Protectorate? I could have just done three!

Book One, Her Cyborg Awakes was written while a short story that would become Book Two, Alien Blood, languished with a dying publisher in an anthology.(Melisse' publishing history includes many dying publishers). 

After Book One came out I had much publisher trauma and the book sat on my computer while I tried to figure out what to do. Piers Anthony replied to an email I'd made concerning a publisher explosion and said to move with caution. It was a fan girl moment with an edge. This was 2010 or so.

So I finished book two, thinking I could get it to a publisher and then more easily slip poor little Cyborg into the series. I found a publisher who sounded reasonable and professional and submitted the series.

Many months later, while still waiting on an acceptance, an online artist had a cover I could afford and I decided to self-publish Cyborg. KDP was the new hot thing! Since it was still awaiting consideration I simply withdrew the submission. Alien Blood was basically finished, it was easy to get it out a few months later.

Publishing close together like that was a great idea; I will probably never manage it again! But it made for a nice income that year, a new and different publishing experience.

Life happened, not the fun kind, but I managed to get Starwoman's Sanctuary finished and out, with the intent of getting book four out within six months. 

But life kept happening, which required changes. I went back to work full time at a well-paid but demanding job. The lower paid, less demanding, part-time job meshed well with writing in the evenings, this new job required a lot more brain power, not to mention it was all computer and keyboard. Not writer friendly.

Publishing kept changing, too. Sometimes I thought I might be better off writing Harry Potter fanfic. And my hero was a boring jerk. Book Four, then titled Neon Orchid, was not coming together.

I didn't soldier through. My energy for heroic writing was all used up. Instead, I wrote a bunch of short stories, which I'll start publishing. I read books on screenwriting. I did a ton of world-building on a new series. I read maybe seven--maybe more-- children and YA book series. I crocheted many hats.

Then one day the story started to work. Once it started, the book moved quickly. Finally, it is done, not without hiccups, not without brain dead moments, not without doubts. Done!

Am thinking of sticking with trilogies in the future.

Melisse Aires

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Villain Redeemed by AR DeClerck

We all know him. The man in the dark mask. The shadow that lurks just out of view. The harsh laugh that foretells the doom of the hero. The VILLAIN. Every well-rounded story has one to some degree, and it’s a very basic part of literature.

What is it about the villain that captures our imagination? Whether the villain be male, female, AI, or something all -together alien, there seems to be certain qualities that all villains possess.

Number one: the motivation. This is the main point the villain hopes to achieve. Revenge? Riches? Power? Knowing your villain’s motivation can help you create the basis for the character. This is the thing that your character will do anything to achieve or obtain. The AI in Asimov’s I Robot hopes to bring about the safety and continued existence of man by creating a world in which man has no free will.

Number two: the nemesis. Every villain has a nemesis. A hero with a heart of gold. The light to his dark. Without the hero’s illustrious good character the reader could never realize the villain’s true darkness. Some would argue that we would never know the true depths of Moriarty’s depravity without the shining example of Holmes to compare him to.

Number Three: A deep, dark secret. This is your villain’s deepest secret. The one thing that no one knows, and may, in fact, redeem the villain in the eyes of the reader. (I’m a huge fan of the villain redeemed, and love it when the villain gets his own HEA). This is a story of the villain’s past that even the hero does not know. The wrong done to the villain, or the abuse suffered, that has warped the villain in some pressing way.

Number Four: Some tiny speck of humanity. Your villain has feelings. Your villain had a mother, a father, and perhaps a loved one. Your villain was once a child, and has suffered. (In most cases. Sometimes the villain is a robot, but then you might argue that he was at the mercy of his creator for his evil ways). There are outside forces that have acted on your villain to make him/her into the person they are today. This acts on your character’s motivation. Maybe your villain has a soft spot for girls with green eyes because they remind him of his sister, or maybe he kills them on sight for the same reason. Know your villain’s emotions and know that he feels things just as deeply as your hero.

Whatever your character’s motivation, your villain is an important part of the story. Whether the reader needs to know him as intimately as the hero depends on the story, but the author should know everything about him. Let your villain become as three dimensional as your hero, so that your hero’s victory is that much sweeter. Or, redeem your villain and bring him into the light as a main character at a later date.

Amy R. DeClerck

Author AR DeClerck

AR DeClerck is a mother, wife and dialysis technician who lives in the Quad Cities, IL. An avid reader, reviewer and writer she favors sci fi and scifi romance genres. She attributes her love of books and all things literature to her mother, who always has a book nearby.

Current SFR novel available:

Forged in Fire by AR DeClerck via Nevermore Press Dec 2014

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