Thursday, March 28, 2019

SFRB Recommends #88: A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper

For Olivia Shaw, the danger of her assignments as a deadly Whisper agent is matched only by that of her hidden status: Liv is one of the caricae, extremely rare women capable of bearing children and therefore controlled by the Syndicate’s government. When her handler sends her into the Quillian Empire, her mission is complicated by stumbling upon a kidnapping in progress.

Liv is drawn deep into political upheaval when her hostage is revealed to be the infamous Red Wolf, Galen De Corvus, brother of the Quillian Empress. Worse yet, he is an altus, more sensitive than most to the pheromones of caricae. If he realizes what she is, he could expose her secret to either government and doom her to a life as breeding stock.

Quillian nobleman turned operative Galen never planned to involve himself with a citizen of the cold, cruel Syn, but Olivia entices him more than she should. As they work together to protect his royal sister from a violent coup, the passionate bond between them proves to be more than mere biology. And Liv must decide if that bond is worth dropping her guard for both an enemy and an altus.

Olivia and Galen are a good couple: he's a patient sweetheart and helps ground her. She, on the other hand, challenges him to look at the world in a different way than he is used to. Olivia has plenty of agency despite her disadvantages, and her guardedness makes sense.
The secondary characters (Galen's sister, her spymaster, two other caricae, Olivia's caretakers, and a cat named Plan B) leap off the page. I never forgot who anyone was or what they wanted. Their motivations clash, and resolving those is not a simple matter.
Well-drawn factional politics dominate this book. Add in clear action scenes, biopolitics, and romantic elements, and we have a multifaceted story that I'd recommend to any science fiction fan. There's a lot to explore here.

This recommendation by Lee Koven
Book site: Ada Harper / Amanda Hackwith romance

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Revisit My Debut Year? No Thanks! By @vscotttheauthor

By Veronica Scott

(Parts of this post appeared originally on the SFF7 blog…)

A group blog for which I write regularly asked the question what would you change if you could go back to your debut year as an author. As we’re coming up on my 7th anniversary as a published author, I thought it might be fun to update that post. I also just released my 27th book this week, so I feel pretty good about my progress.

“If I could go back to my debut year…”  Um, why on Earth would I want to do that LOL?

My debut year was fun and sparkles and I DID get The Call, the actual CALL, from Angela James at Carina Press, to say they wanted to acquire Priestess of the Nile, which I had sent in response to a note on their website about wanting Ancient World romances. I was basically incoherent on the phone with Angela that day because I was so excited and thrilled.

That first year was so much fun because I had no expectations, knew  nothing really about the publishing industry or the ebook industry – Priestess came out as an ebook and an audiobook in 2012 but I did understand that status from the getgo (i.e. there’d be no print version) – and it was all fun and exciting. I think my view of the publishing world was still somewhere between Jo of Little Women up in her attic writing for a penny a word and Joan Wilder in “Romancing the Stone”, you know? I didn’t belong to RWA, I wasn’t in any author groups online, I only knew one other published author at the time.

I had a fulltime career at the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the business side of the house and this, having Priestess published, was a lifelong dream for me. In March, 2012 I also self-published Wreck of the Nebula Dream (“Titanic in space…”), so there I was with not one but two books out there and more to come in due time, I was sure. I had READERS. I had REVIEWS. Oh my gosh.

In that debut year I learned about blogging, the ins and outs of social media, fell in love with twitter,  worked with a fabulous editor (Allison Dasho), I joined RWA, I went to the national conference and met PEOPLE, I had a Carina Press balloon on my signing table, the Harlequin people came and talked to me, I was actually in the same room as Nalini Singh, signing books (the conference was in Anaheim so there were local people I l knew who came, who kindly had me sign for them). I was too shy to actually approach Nalini, which is amusing to me now and she is the sweetest person, easy to talk with. Her table was actually EMPTY of fans for a few minutes while she sat there and I was still too shy to walk up to talk to her! But then I was just in awe of breathing the same actual air as my favorite author.

So that debut year was all kinds of fun for me, in part because I didn’t have expectations about anything. I didn’t want an agent. I wasn’t angling for a contract with a traditional publisher. I had no thought of being able to quit the challenging and enjoyable day job. I was simply basking in the state of actually being a published author.

Now, if it was all so much fun, then you may ask why I don’t want to go back to 2012?

Well, I only got the two books out that year. I wrote another one for Carina, got a Revise & Resubmit letter, which was something of a surprise to me (welcome to the world of publishing LOL), and even after they did acquire it, the process to get it published was wayyyy longer than I impatiently expected…I decided self-publishing was my thing and scifi romance was my primary genre…I got bitten by the bug to hey, maybe work up to being a full time author (which took me three more years to accomplish)….

So the debut year was a very special time in my life and my memory, and I cherish all the experiences but I have no desire to relive it again. I like new adventures. I’m happy with having more detailed and concrete goals as an author, I like being deep in the scifi romance author community, I love self-publishing…lots more stories to tell and I’m always moving forward.

But thanks again to Carina Press for my start, and for the memories!

I think the one thing I’d tell myself in 2012 would be to write more books. Pronto. That self-publishing was in a gold rush mode thanks to the kindle and other ereaders and there were hungry readers out there needing content.  I was busy having fun, going to conferences, writing columns for USA Today/HEA and there’s nothing wrong with all of that but for the long term, long game as an author, the backlist needs to be hefty and healthy. I also should have buckled down and learned a lot more about advertising in various venues. I was good on social media and blogging (big at the time) but I could have done more, especially in the area of setting up a newsletter.

Of course all of that would have been drinking from a firehose for me as a brand newbie published author then and probably too much to absorb. Slow and steady did get me to the point where I was releasing 4-6 books a year and could go fulltime…

Would you do anything different in your debut year? What would you tell yourself as far as advice you wish you’d known then?

This week I published the seventh book in my Badari Warriors world, Kierce: A Badari Warriors SciFi Romance (Sectors New Allies Series). Here’s the blurb: Elianna McNamee, spaceship engineer, is far from her home in the human Sectors, kidnapped along with all her shipmates to be used for horrifying experiments conducted on a remote planet by alien scientists. 

Her captors decide to toss her in a cell with a ferocious predator, expecting him to kill her…but Kierce, the Badari warrior in question, has too much honor to mistreat a human woman. The trouble is, he’s trapped in a form drastically different from his own as a result of twisted genetic meddling and hiding dark secrets to save other Badari lives.

Able to become a man again briefly with Elianna‘s help, he and Elianna bond over their mutual hatred for the enemy but when rescuers finally arrive, the pair are separated by well-meaning Badari authorities.

Kierce struggles to overcome flashbacks from the torture and drugs the alien scientists inflicted on him. He and Elianna despair over whether he’ll ever be able to regain his rightful place as a man and a soldier in the pack, much less be ready to claim a mate.

Elianna accepts a risky but essential assignment far away from where Kierce is being held, working with another man who’s more than professionally interested in her. Her heart belongs to Kierce and she can’t forget their two nights of shared passion but will that be enough to lead them to a happy reunion?

Amazon     Apple Books       Nook     Google    Kobo

Author Bio and Links:

USA Today Best Selling Author

Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

An Alien Take on the Familiar by @CassChandler

by Cassandra Chandler

I’ve loved Science Fiction for as long as I can remember and devour it in any form I can find. Books, short stories, movies, TV shows. I have a special place in my heart for B-Scifi movies—where you can see the threads holding up the hubcaps and almost smell the corn syrup and red food coloring (or grape jam, with some of the black and white movies).

It never mattered to me if the effects sometimes just kinda…did their best. My imagination could fill in whatever I needed it do. Nothing could compare to the wonder of those shows, the feeling of infinite possibility. I actually enjoyed the cheesey dialogue, over-the-top performances, and weird outfits that I sometimes recreated with my mom’s old sewing machine. But there was one thing that I adored more than anything else.

The rubber monster suits.

I loved the aliens in those movies. There’s something about the characters created by a person wearing a big rubber suit that has always fascinated (and sometimes terrified) me. Practical effects have a different feel than CGI, and the artistry that went into sculpting and animating many of the costumes from the earliest Scifi movies adds to my enjoyment of the stories.

The variety and imagination at play with some of the weirder creations has always delighted me, but I’m most drawn to alien takes on the familiar. I’ve been playing with this quite a bit in my Scifi romcom series—The Department of Homeworld Security.

It started in Entry Visa, with a four-armed, white-furred, gorilla-like humanoid named Craig. I envisioned Craig and his mate, Barbara, as Space Sasquatches (but don’t tell them I said that). I had a blast writing them, especially the first scene where Craig meets the human hero, Henry, and learns about weird human body functions like “sneeze.”

 Of course, with my love of all things reptilian, I had to create a race of lizard people. I had so much fun with the Space Sasquatches, I decided to make these my take on “little green men” (and women). Thus, the Vegans were born.
The most recent addition to my non-human characters are the adorable Antareans—giant ant people. The Antareans have been building in my writer’s mind for a long time. When they first popped into my imagination, they were terrifying (because, you know… giant ant people.) But as I learned more about them and their culture, I realized that they are actually what I would consider the most “human” of all the aliens I’ve introduced in this series. They’re the most loving and compassionate and the most connected to one another (hey, I’m an optimist). I was so happy to have them show up in Export Duty.

I love it when new characters, new planets, and new cultures just grow from my writer’s mind. And the best thing about using them in books? I’m not limited by rubber monster suits or hubcaps on strings. The only limits are my imagination. That’s the very best part of writing Scifi.

The Department of Homeworld Security #9 — Export Duty

Her next delivery will be out of this world!

Lily’s main priority is to steer her family’s import/export company toward altruistic pursuits. That is, until her Nana starts talking about doing yoga with a little lizard person from outer space. Lily’s new goal is to help her Nana see through her delusions. But then, the alien in question actually shows up in the green-scaled flesh, dragging along a doctor that Lily would love to have examine her.

As field medic for the Coalition soldiers stationed at the Earth base in Florida, Rin is pretty non-essential. His job is to smile and distract people while med-tech takes care of whatever issue they're having. So why is a Vegan—the creators of that technology—coming to him for help?

Throw in some desperate Antareans wanting to start a trade agreement with Lily, and an attack by dozens of fanged, furred Earth-monsters called “cats”, and Rin’s going to need some of that med-tech for himself. Or maybe he’ll just let Lily tend to his wounds Earth-style…

Buy it on Apple Books:

Author bio:

Cassandra Chandler spent her preschool years daydreaming that she was an android from the planet Mars sent here to observe humans. She's not entirely sure this isn't true. She uses her vivid imagination to make the world more interesting, spawning the ideas she turns into her whimsical Science Fiction romcoms and darkly evocative Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Romances. Fast-paced and funny, lighthearted or dark, her stories will introduce you to characters you want to be friends with and worlds where you'd like to build a vacation home.

Let’s stay in touch!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

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