Thursday, April 26, 2018

SFRB Recommends #80: The Spiral Path by Lisa Paitz Spindler

After defecting from the Star Union eleven years ago, Starship Captain Lara Soto is now the leader of the free Chimerans. Her only regret is the intense young officer she left behind. When Terra's S.U.S. Interlace goes missing with her brother Rafael on board, she has to push aside the pain of her betrayal and team up with her old love once again.
Commodore Mitch Yoshida has never stopped thinking about the woman who deserted him. He's also witnessed firsthand the Terran discrimination Lara foretold, from sequestering Chimerans on starships to enforcing indentured military service.
With Rafael and the Interlace crew held prisoner, Lara and Mitch must travel to a whole new dimension to secure their release. Will they be able to resist their long-denied attraction and complete their rescue mission?

This story has several fascinating concepts in it. Lara has to live between worlds and doesn't really belong in either. It's a fresh take on being a mix of peoples. The physics concepts aren't run-of-the mill for science fiction: dimensional attunement and space travel are explored in an original manner. 
Mitch and Lara are both likable, competent characters. It's easy to root for them (and for Lara's brother). There's a also super spooky villain who is still sympathetic.

Author/book site: Lisa Paitz Spindler
This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From @LibbyDoyle9: Want to get to know your favorite writer? You already do.

By Libby Doyle

In Stephen King’s great series The Dark Tower, he famously introduced himself into the story, showing up in book six as an author telling the Gunslinger’s story, whom the Crimson King had marked for death.
Most don’t go to that extreme, of course, but I’m guessing few readers would be surprised to learn that writers put a lot of themselves into their characters. This is often true even if the story is light years from autobiographical, as the story must be in science fiction romance. After all, we’re not cavorting with hot alien warriors, as much as we may wish we were.
Inserting oneself into a character may not be intentional. Good writing reaches deep into the imagination and pulls out things the writer didn’t know were there. If you asked your favorite authors, I bet many would describe flowing into a mental space while they’re writing in which they don’t make conscious choices. The words come unbidden, and when they’re finished they think, “Oh, that’s good. Did that come out of me?”
Maybe the subconscious takes over. If so, the characters have to be serving up the writer’s own psychology. Can it be any other way?
Right now I’m reading 1984 by George Orwell. Yes, believe it or not, I’ve never read it. Early in the book, the protagonist performs the subversive act of making his first entry in a diary. Were anyone to discover he was keeping a diary, he would be “vaporized,” because it’s a “thoughtcrime,” as the world of 1984 puts it. Who else but a writer would have the first bold move towards freedom be putting pen to paper? If a soldier or a law enforcement officer was asked to think up some small act of rebellion, it might involve protecting someone from the authorities. A nurse might help an injured person. A teacher might give a lecture on a forbidden subject. But when telling stories is what you do, you believe in the power of stories.
As we should! Stories can elevate us, heal us, and teach us. They entertain us. Entertainment is more important than I think a lot of people give it credit for. Life is hard, right? People need to reduce their stress. The thing is, I don’t think writers will entertain anyone unless they entertain themselves. Writers won’t affect anyone emotionally unless they affect themselves. That’s why they have to draw from their own experiences to give their characters an authentic voice, even if the stories are sheer fantasy.
The experiences might be sliced and diced through the creative process until they’re barely recognizable. For example, the female protagonist of the Covalent Series, my epic science fantasy, isn’t me. Zan O’Gara is more who I wish I was: a badass FBI agent, strong and beautiful, who can play the guitar, has a great sense of humor and a killer left jab. She’s my notion of the ideal woman. But she’s got a ton of flaws and insecurities, as well. I didn’t know what they were when I started. To discover them I wrote scenes in which she reacted to events. Lo and behold, she’s got a bad temper. She second guesses herself. She holds onto a grudge like a pit bull onto a rawhide toy. She’s my ideal, but when the story calls for her to react in difficult situations, she messes up like I would mess up. I draw on my own emotional memory.
Of course, when she’s heroic, that’s not me. I’m a privileged person who’s never been called on to be heroic in my comfy life. So where does that come from? I suppose I rely on stories others have told me with so much skill I felt the emotions of the characters as my own. And it comes from real life in the larger sense, of course. On any given day the news is filled with enough drama to power a thousand stories.
All these tales, facts, emotions and eventualities go into my brain blender and out pours a story. Writers I know have described similar processes. We’re an odd bunch, but we sure do like to entertain.

Libby Doyle is the author of The Covalent Series, a sexy science fantasy in five parts. To learn more, visit Be sure to check out her free short fiction.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Meet the Author: Greta van der Rol

This week, we have long-time SFR Brigade member and administrator, Greta van der Rol, here from Down Under to share a little about herself and her latest release, which just launched a few days ago on April 6, 2018. Congratulations on publishing another novel...and welcome to Meet the Author Monday, Greta.

How or why did you first start writing SFR? Any particular inspirations?

I'm a well-known Star Wars tragic. Yes, I know it's not 'good' science fiction – I read the hard stuff, too. The thing about Star Wars is that it's fun. That's my lasting memory of watching Star Wars (before it became A New Hope) at the pictures. I loved the hint of romance between Leia and Han that occurred in The Empire Strikes Back, but I confess I felt it needed more. So I decided to write a space opera with a bit of romance. That led to my first book, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy.

How many SFR books have you published and what are the titles? Can you give us a quick blurb on your most recent or upcoming title?

I've written ten novels and five shorter SFR titles. You can find them at my website. My latest book, Rescuing Romila, has just been released. It's a Morgan's Misfits adventure, which is a spin-off from my Morgan Selwood series. The Misfits are three women you don't quite fit into their stratified, paternalistic society. Helped by Morgan herself when needed, they carried out a daring rescue in Kuralon Rescue. This second book is stand-alone, but it always helps to know some of the backstory.

Here's the blurb:

Rescuing Romila

The Misfits are off on another planet-hopping adventure.

When Jirra and Toreni rescue Romila from a raid on her antiques business the Misfits start off on a mission to uncover a drug-smuggling operation. A new, very potent drug is on the market, hidden in statues of ice warriors carved on a remote world.

But all’s not well within the team. Toreni and Chet have fallen out, Toreni has received an offer that might be too good to refuse, and Jirra has doubts about her future. When the drug-smuggling operation morphs into something even more dangerous, the Misfits must resolve their differences. If they don’t act together, and quickly, many lives will be at risk. Including their own.

Action and adventure, with a little bit of romance.

You can find Rescuing Romila at these sites:

iBooks     |     Amazon     |     Kobo     |     B&N Nook

Give us a brief snippet of a favorite scene or passage from your work.

This is from Rescuing Romila. Toreni's out on a date with an ex-colleague.

*   *   *

The server came and cleared their plates and asked if they wanted dessert.

"Not straight away." Alric gestured at the dance floor where two couples swayed to music provided by a trio of performers. "Come and dance."

Dance? The nerves flared again. Not that she couldn't dance. Where she was raised dancing came with growing up. Music played, you danced. Oh, why not? She was here for a good time. Alric took her hand and led her the four steps to the dance floor. His hand was warm and strong, but gentle. He slipped his arm around her waist and drew her against him, not too close. She gazed into his eyes. They were yellow, like hers, but with flecks of amber.

"Do you know the steps?" she asked.

"No. Doesn't matter, does it? It's a slow pace. We can just walk around in time to the music."

She giggled. "We can do that."

It was nice. The music floated around her, an easy two-part rhythm that she could follow without thinking. The man holding her guided her and soon it was just her, and him, alone in a sensual mist of their own making.

She floated back to reality when the music stopped.

"A pity," Alric murmured. "I enjoyed that." He hadn't let her go.

"So did I."

He leaned in closer to whisper, his breath warm on her ear. "Fancy dessert at my place?"

She gazed up into eyes dark with heat. Dessert wasn't going to be cake and cream. The little voice insisting it was too early and she wasn't ready was shoved aside by another woman shouting that tomorrow might never happen, seize the moment while you can.

*   *   *

Have any of your books received any special recognition? What and where?

I was privileged to receive a SFR Galaxy Award last year for my novel, For the Greater Good. I was right chuffed.

How long have you been a member of the SFR Brigade and do you serve any special roles within the community?

I've been a member of the SFR Brigade for quite a few years and I'm a group admin. It's a great bunch of people, willing to help their peers in the choppy waters of publishing. If you're a writer of SFR, or aspiring to be one, come and join us.

About the Author

Greta van der Rol loves writing action-packed adventures with a side salad of romance. Most of her work is space opera, but she has written paranormal and historical fiction.

She lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn't bent over the computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavors. Find out more about Greta and her books at her website.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Meet the Author: Lance S A Nielsen

This week we're interviewing a newer member to the SFR Brigade ranks, Lance S A Nielsen, who comes to authordom with a background in filmmaking. His debut novel released in early March 2018.

How or why did you first start writing SFR? Any particular inspirations?

I started out as a writer for the stage then, screenplays before turning my hand to novels. All my previous work had been serious drama or drama documentary. I have always loved Science Fiction as a genre in both books, television series and films. I really liked the romance in the film PASSENGERS and the way that was handled. In terms of being inspired, I actually wanted to write an epic story like GOT or LOTR but I also wanted it to be as relatable as possible to the average reader regardless of what genre they might be interested in. So that ruled out fantasy, it had to be set on earth and not too far from now, so those were my initial goal posts. Any good story will normally have a romantic element, so rather than deliberately setting out to write a romance novel, the romantic storylines came into place very organically, so I always knew romance would form part of the storyline for my series and in the first book there are two romantic narratives.

How many SFR books have you published and what are the titles? Can you give us a quick blurb on your most recent or upcoming title?

I have published just one book, the first of a series, Diamonds in the Sky, Book One–Parousia. The blurb is as follows:

When 200 alien objects, each the size of a city, arrive all over the earth, the world's population goes into panic. Yet once the ships land, there is no invasion, no communication, and no aliens nor any obvious access inside the vast vessels. As the governments and the scientific community struggle to find answers, a small number of ordinary individuals manage to gain access inside the ships. As speculation about the crafts possible intentions begins to seep into the public consciousness, those in power fear their presence may substantially change the social dynamics of the world as we know it. But do the ships represent a chance for the salvation of The Human Race or its annihilation? Diamonds in the Sky, Book One—Parousia, is set over the first few days of the alien arrival and told from a multi-view perspective of seven different characters, from a variety of different cultural backgrounds, spanning three continents across the world. Each chapter of the book is divided into three different character perspectives.

Actor Jason Flemyng with Diamonds in the Sky.
Image used with consent from Jason Flemyng.
Have any of your books received any special recognition? What and where?

I decided the best way to get some endorsements was to send early versions of the manuscript to some high profile actors I knew in the film industry. Actor Jason Flemyng (IMDB) was the first to read an early completed manuscript and he gave me a great quote (pictured), then I had several other friends who were either writers or creative in another way give me several more. I had another extremely critical friend tell me the book was the best they had read since THE MARTIAN. They really gave me confidence in the story and the characters. I am not sure if this qualifies as special recognition but it’s certainly special for me.

Where's your favorite place to write? Do you have a dedicated writer's cave?

I have an office space in my apartment where I write screenplays and now my novels. It gets beautiful light in the morning which lasts until lunch time. I tend to do my story arc notes in my note book so they can literally be written anywhere. Often they come out of me on the London Underground, so I am furiously writing away my ideas on the tube (subway).

When writing, which usually comes first for you -- the romance or the other elements of the story?

Story is always king. The romance can be part of what’s at stake for the characters but it can’t be the only thing. I wanted to tackle quite a few social issues within my story and I knew what some of them were going to be before I started but they still had to work with the Science Fiction backdrop of 200 alien ships arriving on the earth. Hopefully it has all blended well together.

What are your favorite SF/R movies or television series and why? Any favorite SF/R books?

Recently television series have taken a huge jump forward in terms of plot, characterisation and the risks they’re prepared to take, it’s a golden age for TV drama which started with cop shows like THE SHIELD & THE WIRE that forced everyone to raise their game. I think THE SHIELD for example was one of the first long running shows to make every single leading character have something you both liked and hated about them in equal measure. Gone were the days where the cast were split between the good guys and the bad guys, which is great because real life isn’t like that either. Now the quality of television is so high and there is so much to choose from that I don’t have time to watch it all. Among my favourites are WESTWORD, GAME OF THRONES, BABYLON 5 & THE EXPANSE.

Books wise I read a huge number of very different Science Fiction novels in my preparation for writing my own. I wasn’t looking to copy a style but wanted to set myself a really high standard to follow so I was keen to see how characterisation was handled and study the balance between description and dialogue that different writers used. Among the books I read were THE MARS TRILOGY (Kim Stanley Robinson) ALTERNATE CARBON, READY PLAYER ONE and EUROPE AT MIDNIGHT (Trilogy by Dave Robinson).

How long have you been a member of the SFR Brigade and do you serve any special roles within the community?

I joined some time in 2017 while still writing my book and my contributions have been pretty minimal thus far. I will say I am a big believer in giving back what you get out of something so I have made sure I have followed loads of the regulars on twitter and even gave someone’s series a shout out on my Facebook timeline.

About the Author

Lance Nielsen on set of The Journey (Right) with actors Dickon Tolson (Middle)
and Jason Flemyng (Right). Image copyrighted by Eagle Dare Films
and used with permission of Lance S A Nielsen.
Lance Steen Anthony Nielsen resides in London, the United Kingdom. He was the resident playwright for the Jacksons Lane Theatre from 1997 until 2002 where his first play ‘Waiting for Hillsborough’ won him the Best Talent in New Writing, at the Liverpool Arts and Entertainment Awards. Following on from this much of his work began to focus on topics set within social and political arenas. His next play, ‘Sticks and Stones’, covered three families’ lives over four decades during the conflict in Northern Ireland and brought him much critical acclaim. ‘The Victoria Climbie Inquiry’ earned him Time Out magazine Critics Choice, while his play 'Making Time' won him a Peter Brook Empty Space Award. Additionally, he won a Peggy Ramsay award and has had plays produced at The Hackney Empire, Bridewell, Landor, Lion and Unicorn, The Mask. The Stratford Arts and Old Red Lion Theatres. He also wrote and directed the play about the inquiry into The Marchioness Disaster. His next play is about the making of the original The Magnificent Seven movie entitled ‘The Seven Young Guns of Hollywood’. He also directed two plays for Tom Hardy’s short-lived Shotgun Theatre Company, 'Two Storm Wood' and 'Blue on Blue'. In 2014 he wrote and directed the feature film 'The Journey' starring Jason Flemyng and Lindsey Coulson. It has won numerous awards at various Film Festivals Worldwide, including bagging one for Lance as Best Director at the International Film Makers Festival of Nice in 2015 and the Jury Award at the same festival in Milan. Currently in development is the film Pegasus Bridge, about the British operation to capture bridges by Glider Troops in Normandy 1944. Lance has spent a considerable portion of his time in Greece, a country which he credits for ‘Saving his life’ during an impromptu visit during a very dark period of his life in the summer of 2009.

Links to his book and social media:

Amazon   |   Amazon UK   |   Website   |   FB Book Page   |   FB Author Page

Film in development: Pegasus Bridge: The Movie

Trailer for last film directed by Lance S A Nielsen:  The Journey

Thanks to Lance for joining us today to tell us a little more about himself, his background and his debut novel, Diamonds in the Sky -- Book One: Parousia.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

World Building with High and Low Tech @CailinBriste

By Cailin Briste

The characters of both my Sons of Tallav and A Thief in Love Suspense Romance series inhabit a world that is a mishmash of current and futuristic technology. People drive cars. Sure, they have auto-drive capability and don’t run on gasoline, but I don’t explain the details of how they work. The reader gets the idea of a motor vehicle with four wheels that moves along roadways or throughways which is all they need to understand what’s happening in the book.

On my domed world, transport is provided by trams. An image probably popped into your head when you read the word trams. Good. That’s what I hope for in my novels. I want a reader to connect to the familiar with any story set far into the future, because I also use shuttles, space darts, air cars and other futuristic tech that isn’t as easy for non-sci-fi readers to picture. Sci-fi lovers have no trouble with my sci-fi light style, but I want my readership to expand beyond sci-fi romance lovers by allowing others to enjoy dipping their toe in the genre.

One reviewer of Shane: Marshal of Tallav said, “The world was an odd (but pleasing) combination of old world elements (horse & buggy), current (cars) and futuristic (space travel & advanced medical options) that I was surprised to find delightful!”

One of the best things about writing science fiction romance is the ability to experiment with each world and society you invent. Tallav is just as the reviewer described because it was founded by wealthy individuals who wanted to create an aristocratic pastoral society. The setting for the A Thief in Love Suspense Romance series is a standard Federation planet. It’s an average world for a galaxy-spanning civilization. Most citizens don’t take a space-capable shuttle from home to the spaceport. They’re consigned to the streets and throughways below. Much like most people today don’t use helicopters to get from point to point. On a Federation standard planet every home has a med-bed to provide routine medical treatment. And yet even on these advanced worlds, the poor or desperate fall through the cracks. A hovel is still a hovel.

I have yet to create a world in which all the technology is futuristic. Perhaps that would be the setting for a Silicon Valley type society. But even today’s Silicon Valley has people living in RVs along the streets because, although they work there, they can’t afford to live there. Yes, that could be an interesting planet.

A Thief in Love Suspense Romance
My next release is due out April 23, 2018 and available for pre-order now for $2.99. How to Steal the Pharaoh’s Jewels is book #2 in the A Thief in Love Suspense Romance series. This series of novellas is best read in order. The love story in each book is complete, but each book builds on the previous one. You need to read Sebastian and Darcelle’s story before you pick up Cade and Bassinae’s friends-to-lovers romance.

It Takes a Cat Burglar by Cailin Briste

Buy Now for $2.99

When Darcelle Lebeau throws off the invisible chains that keep her bound to her family, she discovers a new vocation. Tempted to enter the illegal playground of a man she nicknames Matou, she becomes a cat burglar in training. Deeply ensnared with each task he entices her to fulfill, she fails to discover his identity and true intentions.

Sebastian St. Croix, a wealthy businessman, has a dark side. He’s a thief, a cat burglar who steals art and historical objects. For one year, he trains Darcelle to become his assistant, remaining incognito, observing her from afar. His admiration grows along with his desire for her with every phase-one challenge she completes. Phase two will test the limits of his control. Hands-on personal training? Yes. Sex? No. With his sister’s happiness at stake, nothing, not even the tempting Darcelle Lebeau, can interfere with accomplishing the biggest break-in of his career.

How to Steal the Pharoah’s Jewels by Cailin Briste

Pre-order Now for $2.99

Cade’s fantasy is to seduce his best friend if he isn’t murdered first.

His comfortable routine as a member of Sebastian St. Croix’s cat burglar team is shattered the day he’s pinned in a crushed car. In a moment of clarity, before everything goes dark, he realizes he’s in love with his best friend, a woman who has sworn off intimate relationships for life.

It’s taken Bassinae years to overcome a past filled with physical abuse and embrace the truth that she is a powerful, capable woman in her own right. Tamping down a case of nerves, she’s ready to take on a larger role as a thief in Sebastian’s next caper. If only Cade would stop acting like a lovelorn idiot. She needs her best friend’s support to help steal the Pharaoh’s jewels.

Set in the distant future, this sci-fi suspense romance has action and adventure as well as a sizzling romance.

My Current Giveaway

I’m giving away a Kindle Fire 7 to one follower of my Facebook page when it reaches 1500 followers.

I’d love to have you subscribe to my monthly newsletter here:

My Facebook readers’ group, Cailin’s Romance Immersion Therapy, also has openings for anyone who needs group romance therapy sessions. We support one another’s need for romance, and as the group therapist I regularly add useful and entertaining posts to help you keep yourself fully dunked in romance.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Meet the Author: Vivien Jackson


This is our kick-off "Meet the Author Monday" interview, so we thought it would be fun to have newly minted SFR Brigade administrator and newly announced RWA RITA Award® finalist Vivien Jackson (that was a heck of a week for Vivien!) tell us more about herself and her books.

How or why did you first start writing SFR? Any inspirations?

I was trundling along writing (bad) sci-fi and went to an ArmadilloCon (annual Austin SFF literary convention) and lo! Catherine Asaro was there! And she was amazing. And I started reading her books. And light burst through the heavens, raining down the revelation that romance and science fiction do not have to be two different things. They can be together. In the same story! Like chocolate and peanut butter! So, um, yes. That was the beginning of SFR for me.

How many SFR books have you published and what are the titles? Can you give us a quick blurb on your most recent?

Only two: Wanted and Wired was my debut, and its follow-up was Perfect Gravity. Both came out in November, 2017.

Give us a brief snippet of a favorite scene or passage from your work.

Ack! I'm blanking. I've heard some folks really liked the car scene in Wanted and Wired, but it's probably too dirty to paste in here.

I really like the scene out on the beach in Perfect Gravity when Kellen gets nekkid and changes into his diving suit while Angela bald-eyeballs watches. But again, NSFW.

Oooh! And the scene that is a huge spoiler and I can't talk about. And the Perfect Gravity prologue, but that's kind of long.

Have any of your books received any special recognition? What and where?

Wanted and Wired was an Amazon Best Romance of 2017, an Amazon Best Romance of April 2017, the winner of the 2017 SFR Galaxy Award for "Best Hi-Tech Lovemaking," and a 2018 Romance Writers of America® RITA® Finalist.

Perfect Gravity was an Amazon Best Romance of November 2017 and winner of the 2017 SFR Galaxy Award for "Best Politician Protagonist."

Where's your favorite place to write? Do you have a dedicated writer's cave?

I keep meaning to put a spot together, but I move around a lot. My critique partner, Sloane Calder, has this amazing dark corner in her house with a super comfy chair and no one to bother me, and I'm always amazed by how I much work I get done over there. But generally? I'll work anywhere -- sofa, hub's desk, coffee shop, public library, car while kids are at music lessons. Oh! I have this app on my phone called BrainWave that makes almost any setting an instant-focus opportunity. It's like ear magic.

What are your favorite SF/R movies or television series and why?

I love so many of them! Seriously, I have been -- and continue to be -- a giant fanfic-writing, tee-shirt buying, convention-attending, spoiler-hunting fangirl of Farscape, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X-Files, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, Heroes (not the recent revisit, just the original series), Fringe, and Westworld.

How long have you been a member of the SFR Brigade and do you serve any special roles within the community?

I don't remember a time when I was on Facebook and wasn't a member of the Brigade. I think I found it through Pippa Jay, way back when, and just hung around soaking up the awesome. Last year I bothered the admin team until they let me join up, and now I have super powers. (Not really.)

About the Author

Vivien Jackson writes fantastical, futuristic, down-home salacious kissery. Her debut science fiction romance, Wanted and Wired, was selected as an Amazon Best Book of 2017 in the romance category and is a 2018 Romance Writers of America® RITA® Finalist. A devoted Whovian Browncoat Sindarin Jedi gamer, she has a degree in English, which just means she's read gobs of stuff in that language. With her similarly geeky partner, children, and hairy little pets, she lives in Austin, Texas, and watches a lot of football.

Member of Romance Writers of America, Austin RWA, and the online Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal chapter, Vivien is represented by Holly Root of Root Literary.

She'd love to hear from you on the web, Twitter (@Vivien_Jackson), Facebook or you can sign up for her newsletter.

Many thanks to Vivien Jackson for being our first Meet the Author Monday interviewee. Going forward, we hope to make this a regular series on the SFR Brigade blog.

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