Thursday, February 25, 2016

SFRB Recommends #52: 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron #craft

Expanding on her highly successful process for doubling daily word counts, this book, a combination of reworked blog posts and new material, offers practical writing advice for anyone who's ever longed to increase their daily writing output. In addition to updated information for Rachel's popular 2k to 10k writing efficiency process, 5 step plotting method, and easy editing tips, this new book includes chapters on creating characters that write their own stories, practical plot structure, and learning to love your daily writing. Full of easy to follow, practical advice from a commercial author who doesn't eat if she doesn't produce good books on a regular basis, 2k to 10k focuses not just on writing faster, but writing better, and having more fun while you do it.

Fantasy writer Rachel Aaron, who also writes science fiction as Rachel Bach, offers weekly craft and business posts on her blog, and this book grew out of some of them. It offers plenty of insights that seem obvious once she explains them, but in my limited experience are easy to lose sight of in the writing process. Writing many words is all well and good, but the most fascinating parts for me were her tips on how to keep everything organized and when to scrap a character, plotline, or the story itself.

Knowing what you’re going to write in the scene before you write it is far more useful to those who enjoy planning stories and scenes than to those who write by the seat of their pants. However, the editing (revision) tips and tools are more widely applicable, as they help the writer break down what could be a daunting project into more manageable pieces during the editing process. If you’re not sure if her writing advice jives with what you do, I recommend you check out her blog posts.

Author site: Rachel Aaron/Rachel Bach - Official Author Website

Recommendation by Lee Koven.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Read for some alien-busting-hot-loving-SFR-suspense goodness?  Trouble in Mind, Book Two of the Interstellar Rescue Series, launches today from INK’d Press. This science fiction/suspense romance has earned FOUR STARS from RT Book Reviews and rave reviews from Publishers’ Weekly, Smart Girls Love Sci Fi, Nerd Girl Official and Crystal’s Many Reviewers. Get your copy NOW from Amazon!

Here’s the blurb:

She couldn’t get him out of her mind—
and that’s when the trouble started.

FBI Special Agent Alana Matheson is good at her job, despite a past that would make even a seasoned agent cringe. She has no time for the outside help the victim’s family has brought in on a kidnapping case, no matter how good-looking he is.

But galactic tracker Gabriel Cruz is no ordinary private investigator, and the skills he brings to the job will save both their lives. Because Lana and Gabriel are not the only ones seeking an unusual little boy and his mother. Their rivals in the chase are not of this world, and only an alliance built on the bonds of love can ensure that Lana and Gabriel beat the alien hunters to their prey.

And, just for all you SF geeks, here’s a special peek at a secret heroine of Trouble in Mind, an alien female named Ardis.

     No matter what their “legal” status, humans were no longer free in the Minertsan Consortium.  They were slaves, whether anyone currently owned them or not.  It was already common practice to take them into custody on the slimmest of pretenses.  Curfews and segregation laws set them apart.  Ardis knew that it was only a matter of time before the sweeps began, arresting and deporting whoever was left to the labor camps or the mining planets.  It was all part of Sennik’s plan. 
     The only question was how long Sennik would wait before he implemented it.  The hunt for the one who was the key to his plan had dragged on too long.  He was growing impatient; Ardis could sense it in him.  She shuddered despite the swampy warmth of the Venue’s sensory backdrop. 
     The house lights went down.  The music went up.  The spectral vibrations began.  Ardis waited, and within seconds a human male slipped into the seat beside her.
     She turned to him, but before she could speak, hands like steel claws gripped her arms, lights blinded her and she was pulled from her seat.  The man next to her was snatched up, too, but with brutal efficiency.  The Thranes in the uniform of Consortium Military Security snarled and beat him, even though he offered little resistance.  Those that surrounded her merely maintained an unbreakable hold on her elbows as they escorted her out of the great hall.
     Ardis couldn’t help herself.  Her aura flashed the greens and yellows of her fear as they led her out, the sickly brown of her embarrassment as all turned to look at her.  She was terrified, but that she dared not show.  It was reasonable that she would be confused.  But her true emotion—her horror at the thought that they had been discovered—could not be betrayed.  She fought for control, knowing her reaction would mean life or death, not only for herself, but for dozens of others.
     Soon enough they reached the outer atrium of the Venue, and as the doors sighed shut behind her, Ardis’s courage drained from her like the tide from the shore.  For waiting in the lobby was the Director Prime of Consortium Military Security herself.  The First General’s aura was the bright gold of satisfaction.
     Ardis did what she could to show the proper respect with her aura and her body language. 
     The First General nodded to her.  Then she turned to the Thranes holding her.  Idiots!  Release her!  Her colors warmed.  I apologize for their . . . ardor . . . Director Second Ardis.  They were instructed to ensure your safety during our operation.
     Ardis threw a tight net of control over her burgeoning emotions.  She allowed her aura to drift back toward its neutral lavender, though she left it streaked with the colors of fear, curiosity, and a more than healthy respect for the First General.  Of course, Director Prime.  I admit I was rather . . . taken aback.  May I ask what operation I was unwittingly a part of?
     The woman who had practically built the security ministry from the mud up showed an aura full of sunny indulgence.  Ardis had heard she had a sense of humor. 
     Our intelligence has led us to believe human operatives have been meeting here at the Venue for some time to exchange information and so on.  We have been following this man for several solar cycles.  We believe he made contact with someone here tonight to receive sensitive information from inside the government.
     No!  Ardis made certain her aura reflected her shock.  Were you also able to catch his contact?
     The First General’s aura darkened with smug certainty.  That information will be forthcoming.  Never fear.
     Ardis inclined her head and deepened her aura with the magenta of respect.  She studied the crumpled figure of the human awaiting the final attention of the Thranes.  He lifted his head a fraction to glance at her.  She met his eyes for a tiny slice of time and looked away.  No one noticed.  But Ardis knew.  They would learn nothing from this man.  He would be dead before they returned to the CMS headquarters less than a kilometer from the Venue.  He had been trained to break open a blister inserted in his skin and release a deadly poison in the event he was taken.  From the look he had given her, he had already done his duty. 
     Her life—and the conspiracy—were safe.

Donna S. Frelick is a founding member of the SFR Brigade. She was an RWA® Golden Heart® Double Finalist in 2012 for the first two novels in her SFR Interstellar Rescue series. She lives on 43 beautiful mountain acres in North Carolina with her husband and two talkative cats. Find her at; blogging at; on Facebook at and on Twitter @DonnaSFrelick.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

SFRB Recommends #51: Debbie Diesel by Nathalie Gray #scifi #romance #sfrom

Her name is Debbie Diesel—the meanest, loudest, most obnoxious woman this side of the Valerian System. And nothing will stop her from adding another trophy to her demolition derby collection. But fate throws a rivet gun in her thrusters when a new racer, Kai, comes onboard. And he has trouble written all over his wiry, centerfold-quality body. Good thing he’s always loved a good fight, because Debbie Diesel is about to give him the ride of his life.

Originally published as Demo Derby in 2006, this story opened my eyes to what SFR could be. The protagonists are fascinating, flawed people: Kai's hypercompetitiveness causes him problems, and Debbie's got impulse control and anger management issues. She's not a conventional heroine in any way. The side characters also stick in your brain, for good or ill. All of them manage to develop further during the course of the story.

The action's pretty over-the-top and gritty: it had better be, since it features a demolition derby in space! If you like fast-paced erotic romance with a dose of punk, this one's for you (complete with a spectacle of an ending). Vehicles, encounters, oh my! Prepare for impact!

Author site: Nathalie Gray | Science Fiction and Paranormal Romance

Recommendation by Lee Koven.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

To edit or not to edit?

by Carysa Locke

This is a question I have seen bandied about writer’s forums, groups, and pretty much anywhere authors gather. Editing is a huge piece of publishing our work, and hiring an editor can often be the most expensive preparation for publishing. It is no mystery why many authors seek a less expensive option to fill this need. For me, though, a copy editor is worth their weight in gold.

I use three words a lot in my writing: finally, quietly and slowly. I kind of knew this but didn’t really know it until my copy editor included a note when she returned my latest manuscript: You use these three words a lot. You should think about other ways to say these things. This was one of those light bulb craft moments for me. 

I went through my manuscript and removed nearly every instance that used one of these words. Most of the time, it was completely unnecessary and in fact, disrupted the flow. It was a change that I felt elevated my writing to a higher level. Not only did it help me remove pesky adverbs that didn’t need to be there, but it changed how I was handling my dialogue tags. Many of them just weren’t needed.

Thankfully, this happened before the work in question went up for publication. I sent my copy editor a note, thanking her profusely for pointing out the issue. We all have –isms. Things in our writing that we tend to do particularly in a first draft, which we may not catch on our own when we revise. Some of these –isms speak to style, and some of them, like in this case, are just a thing that needs to be brought to our attention, so we can become more aware of it and fix it.

A lot of other writers may think I waste a lot of time sending out for edits and then going through and checking each one, deciding whether to keep it or leave things the way they are. For me, though, it will always be a part of my writing process. Hopefully, the next manuscript my copy editor goes through will come back a new note for me. Something I can learn from.  



Pirate Bound:

A desperate gamble… 

Sanah would do anything to protect her little sister, even if it means taking refuge with ruthless pirates. But the psychically Talented pirates terrorizing Commonwealth space are not quite the monsters she has been led to believe. When Sanah's empathic gift shows her the truth behind the stories, she is no longer certain who the villains are in her world. 

A race on the verge of extinction… 

Dem’s only goal is to protect his people, especially since a deadly bio-weapon decimated their population. Only a handful of women survived, and every day is a fight to rebuild. With Sanah’s empathy and her sister’s rare ability to heal, they could be the salvation Dem and his people have been looking for.  

A dangerous secret that could destroy everything… 

But how can Sanah trust Dem with her life? Especially when he’d kill her if he knew the truth.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Value of Planning a Book (Re)Launch #publishing #marketing

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. In May 2015 I relaunched my debut novel Keir after getting the rights back in 2014 when my publisher was bought out. At the start of 2015 I saw a workshop on book launches being run by the FFnP chapter of the RWA, and decided that maybe I should take it in the hope of getting some new ideas to give my book's rebirth a good push. I am not great at marketing, so I figured at the least I might pick up some useful tips. While some of the suggestions and projects were mostly outside my budget, let alone my abilities, I did learn a few things that helped me with my relaunch, and that I believe made it much more successful than my previous efforts, so I thought I'd share.

1. Scheduling. This was probably the most useful and important aspect of the whole workshop for me. I am not good at planning things out, but the workshop gave me a poke to do it. I used my often neglected Google calendar (mostly on my phone) and worked backwards from my release date scheduling in what things needed to be done when, such as requesting guest posts, submitting review requests, advertising, cover reveals etc. So reminders would popup on my phone to prod me to do things. I also found if I put set tasks on my calendar with a target date, I was much more motivated and likely to get it done (when my calendar is empty, I tend to procrastinate and wander off task). It also made the tasks ahead seem less stressful by breaking them up by days or weeks into individual tasks. I can't share the actual worksheet of tasks we were given in class, but simply make a list of all the things you think you need, give each a time scale, then plug them into your calendar.

2. One major task was to arrange reviews well in advance of release date (7th May, my third anniversary as a published author and what would have been Keir's third book birthday). I asked for willing reviewers among my friends and colleagues, collecting names and contacts into a list. I planned to ask for at least 25, and scheduled to send ARCs at least a month before release date in the hope that some would be ready to review on release day. (Unfortunately due to my own fault, I didn't have ARCs early enough. I didn't have them ready until 1week before). Fortunately for me this was a re-release and after contacting Amazon, the original 25 reviews I already had from the original release showed up. However, the handful of new reviews I did manage to get were a very welcome addition (I'd also copied the original reviews with the intention of asking the reviewers to repost, but thankfully didn't need to - a real time saver). Also, having joined Broad Universe (something on my list for over a year), I was able to put Keir into their NetGalley coop at the reduced cost of $25 for one month. This is planned for June, and I'm hoping any new reviews might boost sales as they tailed off at the end of May.

3. Budget. On the launch workshop, the organizer generously gave us a $1000 allowance. *Yoda laugh* Since I'm lucky if my budget for anything is even double digits, I used what I realistically had...which was considerably less than three figures. I don't believe in expensive advertising or massive giveaways - impractical for me, and in the case of giveaways I'm not convinced it gets people interested in my books (as an addition, little prizes themed to my books have worked better, but even those are a pressure on me financially). So I mostly look at free options. This often involves blogging, which takes time. Something you can do here is to write blog posts as you go while a topic is fresh in my mind, keep deleted scenes as bonus material for posts or newsletters, and keeping a list of inspirations such as music, film,books etc as you think of them. Saves you battling to recall them later. I often make up playlists for my stories on youtube, and have even included a link to these as part of my back matter. 

Some free options that I used:
Book Blast
SFR Quarterly release announcement and review request (they also offer reasonably priced ads and first chapter spots)
Cover Reveals spotlight (also offers cheaply priced extra services)

The Romance Reviews free banner headlines (you need to be a member of the site and display their banner to receive a free headline each month).
Goodreads Listopia (one of my readers found Keir the first time around via a list on Goodreads, and it costs nothing to add your book. Just be sure it's an appropriate list for your book. In my case, I went for lists focusing on beta heroes).

Lower priced options that I didn't use:
Check out Greta van der Rol's post on some email subscription services HERE. The prices vary, but several other authors pitched in with what did or didn't work for them in the comments as well. I've used some of those mentioned, but with no positive results.

3. Plan potential advertising. Adverts are something I don't consider a worthwhile ROI for me, so I stuck with the free options already mentioned in 2. I had planned to use the extras at Cover Reveals, but in the end I ran out of time - I didn't have sales links early enough to book it. My wonderful book cover designer and editor Danielle Fine did make some truly beautiful promo pieces for me to use, and I ran these as a daily countdown to release. I can and have done some of my own, but they're not as pretty. They're better than just text promos though.

4. Tour. I have had mixed feelings on the subject of tours. I didn't plan an official one as such, but approached a couple of big sites I'd been to before - mostly via my now ex-publisher - some familiar places, and a few new ones. These, in general, cost nothing but a little time and effort. For one, I had to provide a giveaway. Since I was self publishing, it cost me nothing to give away a digital format of my book. Here I fell down on one aspect of my relaunch by not sorting an overall giveaway - I'd had a poster of my book cover and bookmarks made, but I can always run these at a later date for another boost. I didn't do a huge number of guest spots, though,because of having mixed feelings about the value of blog tours. So I kept to posts I actually felt enthusiastic about and that I thought might be interesting. I also had the sequel listed on Goodreads and included a link to that. 

Did it work? Well, I had my best month's sales ever, all the more surprising to me with it being a re-release. Keir also had more pre-orders than any previous title I've released, AND it repeatedly hit the Amazon Top 100 books for Time Travel during its second week. I don't pretend to really understand marketing, and I'm still experimenting. Maybe I was just lucky. But I figure a well-planned launch has helped. It certainly made me feel less stressed to have targets on my schedule and to hit them, so it was worth it from that viewpoint alone. 

If you feel you have anything to add to the suggestions, or if there's something you've tried that has worked especially well or the opposite, please share!


After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 22 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Broad Universe, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the 2015 EPIC eBook awards, the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place), and the RWA LERA 2015 Rebecca contest (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

Blogs –
Spacefreighters Lounge -

A Science Fiction Romance Novel
Goodreads | Available from...
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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 Adalucien’ 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?

Book One of the Redemption series and part of the Travellers Universe. A science fiction romance novel previously released by Lyrical Press Inc. 7th May 2012, Keir is a Readers Favorite Contest Awards Finalist 2012​, HOD RWA Aspen Gold finalist (3rd place), The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Book Awards semi-finalist, and a 2012 SFR Galaxy Award Best May to December Romance winner.

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