Monday, August 21, 2017

SFRB Recommends 75: Relaunch Mission by Robyn Bachar #sfr

Living mission to mission on the fringes of civilized space, Captain Lindana Nyota has managed to keep her crew paid and her ship in one piece. Barely. The privateer's life of stealing Soviet supplies for the Alliance is taking its toll on everyone. Down a crew member, she now has to take on a new intel officer and hope it's someone she can trust. 

Lieutenant Gabriel Steele knew Lindy wasn't expecting him to walk out of the air lock and back into her life, but he didn't think he'd get his nose broken. As an intelligence agent for the Alliance, Gabriel has spent his career in deep cover, his sense of self crushed under layers of deceit—starting with the lies he had to tell Lindy years ago when he left her. A fresh start is all he wants, but the Alliance and his secret orders have already jeopardized that. 

When an infamous pirate and friend of Lindy and her crew is reported alive and in possession of knowledge of a powerful Soviet weapon, finding her before the enemy does is paramount. But Gabriel can't do it without regaining Lindy's trust—and hopefully rekindling what he once sacrificed in the name of duty.

Gabriel and Lindy get a second chance at love, although he has some proving to do before she'll accept it. He's got some groveling to do, and his feelings for Lindy are complicated by his current mission and several revelations about the hidden agendas of both of their bosses.

Factional politics play a big role in the story. The alternate history and future presented are well articulated and though-provoking. In this universe, the Cold War didn't end, and the space race only ramped up. Some of the technology showcases Soviet aesthetics: I was reminded of the Soviet specimens in the Museum of Flight.

Bachar keeps raising the stakes for our heroes, and the tension is punctuated and amplified by action scenes that flow well: the fights are meaty and intense. The crew of the Mombasa is fully fleshed out, with vivid characters: the rivalry between engineering and the captain's brother always entertains!

Book page: Robyn Bachar - Books

This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#Workshop: Why #Worldbuilding is the Secret Ingredient

Thanks to SFR Brigade for letting me jump on their blog for a hot minute! Y’all are the absolute best!
One of my favorite aspects of writing is worldbuilding. I am that girl who will sit for hours researching some of the most random stuff because “Wouldn’t it be cool if—?” and “How does this work?” are my two most common settings when it comes to planning a story. I am the girl who spent three months building a religion for a book I haven’t written yet.
I am the girl who builds worlds.
And I love every second of it.
But I’ve realized that a lot of writers…don’t. They have the basis of their world (a planet somewhere, a generic fantasy realm, a bland magic system, a universe with some kind of shifter that is like every other shifter), but they focus much more on the story and characters. That might sound normal, but a fleshed out world is just as important as fleshed out characters and plot.
Some writers just don’t know how to worldbuild. And that’s where I come in.
When I was writing Gemini, my science fiction romance fairytail retelling (say THAT three times fast!), I had an idea of how I wanted my world to operate. I’m an avid gamer, and I also spend entirely too much time on Pinterest, which for me, is filled with writing ideas people have pinned from Tumblr. As a result, I have consumed a lot of interesting detail, and one of the things I wanted to play around with was that basically every alien thinks humans are Chuck Norris. If you’re not familiar with Chuck Norris facts, please do so. I’ll wait.
I also started daydreaming about the way humans use the internet and the running joke about how it’s basically just for cat videos, which led to that gag on Futurama with the Omicronians and their obsession with Single Female Lawyer, a rip-off of Aly McBeal. THAT led to the fact that media from decades ago is likely still pinging around somewhere in space and possibly being viewed by aliens right now
All of that resulted in the fahir, a race of highly intelligent cat-creatures, who are primarily used as bounty hunters and hired muscle; and also some plans for the sequels, including but not limited to a cult dedicated to Prince.
And some terrible cat puns (I’m sorry, guys).
All of the above formed the basis for Gemini’s world. One in which humans are feared because they come from a planet where everything wants to kill you, AKA space Australia, so they must be practically indestructible. One in which humans are one of the dominant species, so they have a place on the council (suck it, Mass Effect!), and they’re one of only five species it’s illegal to enslave. Of course, that restriction just makes them more sought out. This background shaped the main characters—Uri, a former slave, and Shadi, a current slave at the beginning of the book—and their relationships to each other and the ragtag bunch who becomes their crew. Without any of those elements, Gemini would be a completely different book.
 Every little world detail snowballs into a world that jumps off the page and can become just as memorable as the characters who inhabit it.
Why Worldbuilding (is the Secret Ingredient) is a 5-week online course, hosted through my website, that is essentially an intro to worldbuilding. We’ll cover what worldbuilding is, how it affects every aspect of your story, what to consider when designing your world, and how to weave those elements into your narrative. Using examples from some of science fiction and fantasy's best known worlds from books, tv, movies, and video games, you'll gain the tools and insight you need to create your own. Why Worldbuilding runs as follows:
Oct 16-20 – Intro to Worldbuilding: What is it? And why should I do it?
Oct 23-27 – The Basics: What you need to know and why you need to know it.
Oct 30-Nov 3 – Playing God, pt 1: The Building Blocks of Civilization
Nov 6-10 – Playing God, pt. 2: Constructing Your World
Nov 13-17 – Weaving the Tapestry: How does it all come together?

Registration starts August 15th. Each week is $30, or you can complete the set for $130 (save $20!)
Put on your apron, grab your chef’s hat, and join me in October!

Author Bio:
Catherine Peace has been telling stories for as long as she could remember. She often blames two things for her forays into speculative fiction—Syfy (when it was SciFi) channel Sundays with her dad and The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells. She graduated in 2008 from Northern Kentucky University with a degree in English and is still chasing the dream of being super rich and famous, mostly so she can sit around in her PJs all day and write stories. As it is, she's content to spend half the day in her PJs and write stories.
When not being a slave to the people in her head, she’s a slave to two adorable dogs.
​Find her at: 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

SFRB Recommends 74: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson #sfr #cyberpunk

Now that Texas has seceded and the world is spiraling into chaos, good guys come in unlikely packages and love sprouts in the most inconvenient places...
Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what's left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas-sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.
Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it's the perfect storm...

Wanted and Wired combines original concepts, witty prose, and enthralling characters for a place on my keeper shelf. Mari's always got something funny to say, Heron's convictions and behavior make him lovable, and the villains are convincing and complex. 
The argot gives the book a unique feel/setting that feels immersive. The plot explores excellent philosophical questions about identity and control.  Plus, the way Heron uses his technology in the love scenes is inventive and spicy. I haven't read any other books quite like it!

Author site: Vivien Jackson
This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Geektastic Books #Free SciFi Promotion @geektasticbooks

Welcome to the Geektastic Books July promotion! is a brand new website that showcases science fiction and fantasy books. Science fiction romance is heavily represented and we are very excited about that! For the July promotion, there are over 40 fantastic free scifi and fantasy books, with science fiction romance from SFR Brigade members Aurora Springer, S.M. Schmitz, Athena Grayson, Kyndra Hatch, Arcadia Shield, and C.S. Wilde.

All of the books are free and you can download them from here:

Also, check out the author interviews from Geektastic Books on their new website here: There is even a giveaway where you could win an all-new Fire HD 8 and a $100 Amazon gift card to fill it full of books!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

SFR, PNR, and Fantasy Romance Sale! @sharyn_schmitz ‏#Free #99cents #sfrb

Welcome to the SFR, PNR, and Fantasy Romance Sale! There are over 40 books by your favorite authors, including some that are members of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade. So many wonderful books and all are either FREE or 99cents. Grab some summer reading!

Follow this link to get to the sale, which runs from June 28-30th: .

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

SFRB Recommends 73: Atrophy by Jess Anastasi

Twelve years on the prison planet Erebus makes a man long for death. The worst part for Tannin Everette is that he was framed for murder. He's innocent. When the ship Imojenna lands for emergency repairs, Tannin risks everything to escape...only to find himself face to face with the captain's undeniably gorgeous sister.

Zahli Sherron isn't planning on turning Tannin in. In fact, she actually believes him. Sure, he's sexy as every kind of sin, but he's no criminal—so she hides him. But no one escapes from Erebus and lives to tell about it. With every day that passes, Zahli further risks the lives of the entire crew...even as she falls in love with a man she can never have for herself.

Atrophy focuses on one ship, the Imojenna, which has an amazing crew with memorable characters. Zahli's brother Rian has a tendency to steal the show, and he involves Tannin in his berserk quest to destroy an enemy most people don't believe exists. I've a soft spot for computer hacker heroes, and Tannin gets to use his skills in many interesting ways.

The universe is rich and believable, and the antagonists are original and creepy. The plot kept me guessing, and the scenes are well-balanced and flow together smoothly. 

Author site: Jess Anastasi

This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Last Day: Solstice #99cents #Scifi #Romance Sale

It's the last day for you to grab 9 out of this world titles for just 99 cents each. Click on the banner or HERE to be transported to the home base and select your preferred retailer. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Solstice #Scifi #Romance #99cents #Sale #sfrb 16th-19th June

Find romance and adventure in a galaxy far, far away with 9 out of this world titles for just 99 cents each. Click on the banner or HERE to be transported to the home base and select your preferred retailer. And hurry, before they catch the next wormhole out of here!

Friday, May 19, 2017

#Alien #Scifi #Romance #Instafreebie Promotion 18th-21st May

If you're still scouring the skies for more scifi romance goodness to fill up that e-reader, then you don't have to go to a galaxy far, far away to find it. Check out the latest giveaway via InstaFreebie for more scifi romance titles than you can shake a lightsaber at by clicking HERE or the banner above. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Keir: 5th Anniversary #Giveaway #scifi #romance

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay - author of scifi and supernatural stories with a romantic soul. This May I'm celebrating my fifth anniversary as a published author with my debut novel Keir - a scifi romance crossing time and space. And I'm doing a special giveaway to celebrate: a pair of custom-made crocheted dragonscale gloves in Keir blue, created by Hoot and Luna. This is open internationally but PLEASE BE AWARE - any import/shipping taxes will be the responsibility of the recipient as these cannot be paid in advance by the sender.

A Science Fiction Romance Novel
Goodreads | Webpage
Available from...
iBooks | Nook | Kobo
Amazon | Smashwords
Print available from...
CreateSpace | B&N | Amazon
The Book Depository
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. Book Two - Keir’s Fall - released in December 2015, with a companion side story - Reunion at Kasha-Asor - releasing 2017.

About the Author:

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 24 years and three not-so-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, 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 2015 RWA LERA Rebecca (2nd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (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 –
Adventures in Scifi -
Spacefreighters Lounge -

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Mass Effect Effect and #Scifi #Romance by @RwJoliemason

by Jolie Mason

Gaming is a huge influence on everything I write. Specifically, the Mass Effect franchise. For those who are not yet “Woke” to the gaming world, ME comes in two hero flavors. The first trilogy featured Commander Shepherd and the Reapers. The most recent release is Mass Effect Andromeda. They are essentially a scifi romance story wrapped in an interactive game environment, as well as my own personal demon to overcome.

Novels and video games have completely different needs in world building, but they have the same goals in storytelling. In ME, the story of mankind’s journey begins with their FTL, the mass effect drive, and the ever excellent story device they call the omni-tool.

Need a door opened? Well, that’s what the Omni-tool is there to do for the player. It’s tech driven by biotic implants, not unlike the worlds of many of our cyborg authors. It’s a computer interface, used to hack our way through barriers and move us around the world with ease.  It’s their cell phone, if we use a modern day comparison.

Mass effect relays were built by a long extinct race, and they have ushered in for humankind an accelerated age of growth and technology upon their discovery. Using element zero, a universe specific substance that powers the drive core of their ships, humans have peopled other worlds, only to find a whole host of life out there just waiting for them to catch up.

Video games need devices with which a player can interface and move the game forward. It’s just not that different from what we do, minus the coding and cool factor with our kids. Most SFR worlds have a technology pushing them forward. For mine, it’s mechs, massive machines of war that have pilots and explosives to spare.

The ability to turn humans into machines or Psi operatives or mutants lies at the heart of scifi stories. They are plot devices on the surface, but the themes that lie underneath have been there since the early days of scifi. Cyborgs question what it is that makes us human. Psychic and biotic powers make us look seriously at the question of absolute power. Technology that can potentially destroy the world forces us to think about the cost/benefit of our consumptive selves, and question our place in the universe.

Something’s changed...

This brings me to the bestest element of the ME franchise, THE ROMANCE.  You are a lover and a fighter in this game, and it is glorious.

For the same reasons we adore the addition of the romance element to our scifi themes, ME explores the relationships of each character and gives them the ability to progress almost anywhere. Isn’t that just what SFR authors do?

The added layer of the relationship a novel is working through takes the big themes someplace deeper, makes those questions more intimate in nature. So that, the cyborg is worried, not just about his humanity, but his ability to give and receive love. The alien race determined to destroy us isn’t just a representation of the evil we face in ourselves, it’s also a threat to all that is dear.

Most of us have been scifi fans practically from birth. The romance factor in our writing brings the themes we love home to us in a different way, and that’s why we love it. It’s why we’re fans before we’re authors. We are the audience.

There’s a real change in the way the next generation looks at science fiction that has given rise to our genre, both in books and in games. It’s no longer about the science and tech exclusively, but about the people and relationships. I, personally, find the demand for games like Mass Effect a good sign for those of us who have more SFR stories to tell.

This post is all the opinion of the author and in no way reflects the opinions of the SFRB.

Jolie Mason is an author of SFR novels and novellas in a universe teeming with corruption, mechs and splosions. You find out more about her work at her blog, Future Fairytales.


 For more about Riding Redemption, visit Amazon at:


Friday, May 12, 2017

SFRB Recommends 72: Race to Redemption by Shari Elder #sfr

Intergalactic storm racing champion Elaina Carteret had it all—fame, wealth, men—until a horrific accident took it away. To get it back, she agrees to pose as Lainie Carter, medical transport pilot and corporate spy. Her risk-taking attitude infuriates Dr. Erik Johansen, who runs the medical outpost with an iron hand, a permanent scowl and the tightest bod on the planet. 

Unable to forgive himself for a past tragedy, Erik works himself into an early grave. He has no patience for the insubordinate Lainie Carter, who can’t take an order, disrupts routine, and flames his body to ash. 

When the outpost is attacked, they're thrown together in a race across the desert to stop a deadly biogenetic weapon. As a fragile trust blossoms between two damaged hearts, their pasts resurface and threaten their growing bond.

There's a ton of plot (and action!) packed into this high heat read. It's a detail-rich universe that has shaped the leads into very interesting people. All the characters are complex and original, and I grew to care a lot about their fates.

This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Author site: Life's a Story - Write it Bold

Monday, May 8, 2017

#Instafreebie #Scifi #Romance Event May 8th-15th

If the warmer weather has you thinking about summer and shopping for your beach reads, here's a perfect opportunity to pick up some out of this world romances for free to fill up your ereader. Just click on the banner above or HERE to be transported to the home page and take your pick!
And if you're after more bargain books, you can also visit the new romance only e-retailer Inside Romance and get 20% off for the whole of May with code GRAND20. Click the banner below to visit.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What's in a title?

by Marie Andreas

I was hoping that the second book in my space opera trilogy—The Asarlaí Wars—would be ready by this blog post—alas, the wench is proving more trying and isn’t ready to come out just yet.

So, I thought I’d bring up something I’ve always found interesting- book titles.

I currently have my Asarlaí War trilogy space opera, a humorous fantasy series called The Lost Ancients, and soon will have a steampunk series.

The term Asarlaí is an Irish term that means sorcerer, wizard, or magician. I was looking for a term like that, and I liked the way the word looked. The accent over the ‘I’ is a pain as I have to adjust it everywhere I mention the series ;). (Note—might want to stay away from accented words ;))

The titles in the series are Warrior Wench, Victorious Dead (the trouble child still in edits) and Defiant Ruin. I wanted titles that were short and could hold double meaning. All three titles are names of  space ships in the books, and they also speak to what’s going on in the series.

My main character Vaslisha Tor Dain is not someone who would take being called a Wench lightly, but with a ship of that name it does happen. Victorious Dead concerns not only the name of her beloved ship, but people lost in the first book. Defiant Ruin sort of explains what happens when everything in the Galaxy goes to hell in a handbasket.

My humorous Fantasy series started out with a very long title for the first book: The Glass Gargoyle of The Last Elven King. Yeah, that got axed. There is a relic in that book—the glass gargoyle—so that became the title. The rest of the books all are named after other relics.

The steam punk is an open ended series, same couple, but not in a set number of books. I only have one title set so far—book one: A Curious Invasion. I wanted something again fairly short, but also that fit with the whimsy of a lighter steam punk (and there is an alien invasion as well ;)).

I see my titles as important as the covers in setting my brand. As a reader I enjoy books in a series that share a style of title. Adds to the cohesiveness for me.

What about you? What are your feelings about titles—both for series and for specific books?

Vaslisha Tor Dain is a mercenary starship captain with a few simple rules: A good ship is better than a great man, in case of confusion always err on the side of blowing someone's head off, and never fall for a telepath or a member of her crew.
All of those are about to bite her in the ass.

Vas’s life takes a turn for the worse when she comes back to her crew after what should have been a two week pleasure trip to find out she’s actually been gone a month and has no memory of missing time. Her beloved ship, The Victorious Dead, has been sold for scrap and its pieces scattered throughout the galaxy. In addition, there are unmarked ships blowing apart entire planets and the Commonwealth government can’t, or won’t, stop them.

And that’s just her first day back.

Vas has to fight her crew, the Commonwealth, and a mysterious cadre of warrior monks to get her ship back and save a universe that may not want to be saved.

The droid’s sharp rap on the door lead to muffled swearing in two different languages. Which told her two things: they’d found Deven, and he wasn’t gambling for money.
Her second-in-command had many appetites.
She stepped around the droid and added her own pounding to the door. “Deven, it’s me. Get your ass out here.” She paused, and added, “Clothed. Get your clothed ass out here.” Better to be safe. He preferred stark naked.
An increase in the swearing signaled his acknowledgment of her command. The door swung open and a curvaceous blonde stumbled out of the room, a dazed glow on her face. Obviously, Deven had been the one making the extra cash in this scenario.
 Her second-in-command was next through the doorway, looking as fresh as if he’d had time for an hour-long sonic shower before he dressed. Tall and exotic looking, Deven seemed to glow himself as he came out of the room. His standard issue flight suit looking like he’d had it been personally tailored to fit his body like a glove. He’d always been good looking, but he seemed different now. She shivered. Maybe absence did make the heart grow fonder. However, it certainly wasn’t going to make her break her rule about getting involved with a member of her crew. Or a telepath.
Deven’s sharp green eyes glinted with mild amusement at whatever he thought was going on in her head. Then he smiled and pulled his dark hair into a ponytail at his nape.
She hated him for always looking perfect. No matter the situation, Deven stayed calm, clean, and relaxed. Somehow she was sure he did it to piss her off. Maybe that anger could chase off whatever other unhealthy feelings were going on in her head.
“We’ve got a problem, a job, and a missing crew.” She didn’t wait for him to respond before she marched toward the casino floor.
She didn’t hear his steps, but the powerful presence at her side told her he’d caught up.
“You were supposed to be here two weeks ago.”
“Yes.” A two-foot-tall Jerlian in a permanently wrinkled suit, sloshed synth-cohol on her boots as he tried to hug her knees. Had Skrankle not already managed to ruin said boots, she would have seen how far she could kick a Jerlian on a low-grav planet. Instead, she took two steps around him and moved toward the exit.
“You didn’t call.”
“No, I didn’t. My being late has nothing to do with you or our next job. Can we move it, please?” She didn’t want to discuss her recent travels, and certainly not in the middle of a casino. Nothing had happened. She was just late. There just wasn’t a reason to talk about it. She squashed the tiny voice that said she needed to talk about it.
 “Vas saying please? Now I know something is wrong.” Deven pulled up short before the casino exit.
It would take a week to get off this rock if her entire crew decided to be this chatty about her private issues. “I don’t ask what you’re doing,” she said and held up a hand. “I don’t want to know. I’m not going to tell you what I was doing. We have a job and we have a ship. Do you want to earn some money on your feet for once or not?”
“Ouch, got me.” The smile he flashed caused two nearby women to swoon as Vas and Deven left the casino.
“Turn it down, damn it,” she hissed with a glance down at his bracelets. There were times he pulled a glamour that had to be esper powered, bracelets or no. He didn’t need it; he was freakishly good looking enough on his own. “I can’t have you jailed at this point.”


Marie is a fantasy and science fiction reader with a serious writing addiction. If she wasn’t writing about all of the people in her head, she’d be lurking about coffee shops annoying innocent passer-by with her stories. So really, writing is a way of saving the masses. She lives in Southern California and is currently owned by two insane cats.

When not saving the general populace from coffee shop shenanigans, Marie likes to visit the UK and keeps hoping someone will give her a nice summer home in the Forest of Dean.
Visit Marie at

Buy link for Warrior Wench

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Anthology Submission Call: Space Marine Midwives #spaceopera #scifi

There's currently a submission call for a new anthology of Space Marine Midwives. While the Brigade is not involved with or endorsing it, we thought members might be interested in either submitting or becoming involved with the project. At the moment the organizer is simply gauging numbers. To find out more and/or sign up to be notified of future developments, go to the sign up form by clicking HERE. As always, do your research!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

SFRB Recommends 71: Dubai Double-Cross by JC Hay

Heavily modified and highly skilled, “acquisitions expert” Elise Briggs worked behind the scenes of the corporate world’s espionage wars. Or she had, until her most recent target turns up murdered and she’s forced to go on the run with the only person who can exonerate her, the victim’s lover and personal assistant. 

Plucked off the street to be the plaything of one of the richest women in the world, Na’im thought his life was finally complete; his obedience and the suite of cybernetic modifications he carried were a small price to pay for life at the top of society. Until his boss is murdered and his only ally is the professional thief hired to rob them. 

On the run and running short on allies, Elise and Na’im are about to discover that the murderer is closer than either of them suspect. If they plan to survive on the futuristic streets of Dubai, they need to learn how to trust each other, because when everything can be upgraded and emotions can be programmed, sometimes all that can keep you human is your heart.

This is an action-packed read with lots of noir elements. The setting is super cool and imaginative, and the characters vivid while still being believable. Hay doesn't hesitate to tackle questions about selling more than your time for work, and leaves the reader thinking after they finish the story.

This recommendation by Lee Koven.

Author site: JC Hay - Science Fiction | Space Opera Romance

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Character Interview and Excerpt from DANGER IN THE STARS

Every once in a while I like to do a character interview, just for fun, so here’s one with the hero of my new book (which is hopefully going to be released by next week!).

Conor is an enforcer for the organized crime syndicate in the Sectors, known as the Amarotu Combine. He’s the second in command for Opherra, a high level crime boss on the planet (never named) where the book takes place. No spoilers, but Conor has a LOT of secrets, which he has to avoid spilling in this interview.

I took the classic ‘Proust Questionnaire’ and adapted it for this post. If I didn’t already know Conor pretty well as a character by now, then asking myself questions about him, and his likes and dislikes, can be a good way to more fully develop him (or any character in the book) as a person. Here’s a link to a 2009 post from Kathy Weiland, on 100 questions you can ask a character:
Another, more recent one from Writer’s Digest, on ten questions you can ask to help yourself get to understand you character more fully:
Tons of helpful blogs and articles out there on the topic! Just google something like “using character interviews” to find a wide range of possibilities! It's a fun way to amplify the depth of your worldbuilding and story telling.

What’s your greatest fear? People knowing too much about me.
What’s the trait you not deplore in yourself? Well right now it’s not working too well to have this insane desire to protect Miriell, the empath my boss brought in to help solve a problem.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty.
On what occasion do you lie? When do I not lie, in this job?
What do you dislike most about your appearance? Opherra prefers her closest associates to be dressed to the nines all the time and I get tired of wearing a suit. I’m more of a t shirt and utilities guy.  But she’s a lady with expensive tastes and wants us to reflect her own consequence and wealth.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life? Miriell, pretty much from the first moment I laid eyes on her, curled up in an illegal cryo sleep pod, smuggled onto the planet.
When and where were you happiest? I snuck Miriell into a garden, in the moonlight, and watching her there, so happy she sang, was worth all the risk.
What talent would you most like to have? I’d like to be as all powerful as the Mellureans, this ancient race allied with the Sectors – they have astonishing mental powers and the ability to turn any situation to their favor.
What is your current state of mind? Distracted by Miriell, worried about her, wondering what has my boss looking like the cat who ate the canary…take your pick. But it’s never a good thing when Opherra is too pleased with herself. That usually means innocent people suffer and die.
What’s your most marked characteristic? I’m efficient and I stay calm in a crisis. I get the job done.
What do you value most in your friends? I don’t have real friends in this job. No one really trusts anyone else in the Combine. If I was in some other line of work, I’d say give me friends who’ll watch my back and I’ll watch theirs. People I could trust.
Where would you like to live? Most people say the Inner Sectors but I like the frontier. Unfortunately the planet I’m stuck on is in the middle.
How would you like to die? In my bed, of old age. Not too likely! Maybe with a blaster in my hands, in the middle of a firefight, trying to save some innocent lives.

The story:
Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a number of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others.

Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.

The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?

VS Note: This is the story of the sister who is mentioned in passing in Star Cruise: Stowaway, my story in the award winning PETS IN SPACE anthology. The new novel is completely standalone.

The Excerpt, from the scene where Conor sneaks Miriell out of her room and into the garden:
Touching her forehead to the rough bark, she closed her eyes and hummed one of the simpler hymns. It wouldn’t do to take too much from this place, to siphon so much energy that the living things who also needed lifeforce perished. The planet’s bounty felt so smooth and strong, flowing into her from the depths via through the tree’s extensive root system.

As if he’d read her thoughts, Conor said, “We probably can’t do this field trip twice, so you’d better take what you need, however you’re doing it.”

Her protest was instantaneous, instinctive. “I can’t overtax the garden. It’s well tended but fragile, in the middle of the cold city of stone and metal.”

“Even if it’s the difference between your own life or death?”

Deciding not to answer him, she changed to a different song and added words, keeping her voice soft.
When she finished, he said, “I have no idea what the lyrics meant, but the song was beautiful. I’ll take the private concert as fair trade for bringing you here.”

“A Combine lackey who appreciates alien music?” She made her voice scornful. Sinking to the grass, she leaned her back against the tree and stared through the canopy of rustling leaves at the starry sky. None of the constellations were familiar, of course. Her world lay in some faraway portion of the galaxy.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, voice quiet in the still night air.

“Nothing happy.” She gave voice to her memories.  “As Jareck said so dismissively at the spaceport earlier today, we didn’t even know we lived on what you call a planet until the evil ones swooped down from the cold stars, killing and capturing.” She ran her hand across the grass, tiny green sparks flying as her energy renewed. “No prophecy ever uttered in the temples foresaw this fate for me, or those taken with me.”

“Who attacked you?”

“Does it matter?” Her answer was bitter, but then she thought about his kindness in bringing her here and found no reason to withhold what little she knew. “I’ve been told they’re called the Shemdylann.”
“Heard of them. Fierce enemies. Why didn’t you use your powers on them? Fight back?”

She made a sound of disgust. “Our powers are ineffective against the creatures. No effect at all. And the invaders had weapons such as we’d never imagined. Blasters against crossbows and swords.” She choked back a sob. She never spoke of these things or allowed herself to remember—why was she answering his questions? Because he was kind to me, because the sound of his voice is so calming, because his touch—

Angry at herself, she abandoned the thought. “How did you come to be Amarotu?”

There was silence, broken only by the whisper of a slight breeze through the foliage.

“I used to be an elite soldier,” he said, voice tight. “Things happened. I was dishonorably discharged after spending time in the brig. The only place I could find work after Command threw me out of the service was as a Combine enforcer. I have the right…skill set, shall we say? Then I climbed the ranks beside Opherra and became her second-in-command when she took over the operations in this area.”

Her attention was caught. Something in his words didn’t ring true to her. With her refreshed and enhanced power, she probed deep into his aura and detected the dull rusty red of a lie. The tiny blue flames flickered. What is he lying about, and why would he bother lying to me?

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