Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bad to the Bone?

Ah, the bad guy; bane of every story's hero(ine). He's the one with all the cards and a penchant for murder and mayhem. He sits in that big, black leather chair, stroking his white cat, devising ever more interesting ways for our hero to die.

Or is he? I'm going to switch to using "antagonist". Antagonist means "opponent, competitor, enemy, rival" and comes from two words - "anti", which means against, and "agonizesthai" which means to contend for a prize. The latter is a very good way to think of your story's bad guy - not so much bad, per say, but in opposition with your hero for a goal.

A well-written antagonist is in himself a rounded character, with aspirations and aims of his own. He should be relatable and, on occasion, sympathetic. That is the reader should understand why he is doing unpleasant things, even as they don't like what he's doing.

Take Rowlings' Snape - the ultimate in sympathetic antagonists. Even though he hates Potter and is in service to Voldemort, his actions are driven by the love he once had for Harry's mother. Snape is also a redemptive antagonist in that, even though he does some pretty nasty stuff, he eventually sacrifices himself in order to save the day.

Thing is, every villain is the hero of his own story. "Good vs evil" tales are very black and white, lacking the subtlety of more intricate ones. Sci fi tends to lean towards this stories. Star Wars is the epitome of "good vs bad", even having a "light" and "dark" side to make it more obvious. And there's nothing wrong with that. Readers/viewers know where they are with such a story.

But if you want a more complex one, then you need an antagonist that you care about. People are never just good or bad, but a mixture of the two. That means your villain needs redemptive qualities as much as your hero needs negative traits. Loki is popular for a reason (beyond the fact Tom Hiddleston is damn cute) and that's because we're made to care about him as a person.

Writers--do you have big plans for 2014?

My plans are in the works--two new Diaspora Worlds Books.

Neon Orchid will finish the miniseries about  the Four Brothers from New Prague. Karvar finds his new bride Brielle is a drug addict, blackmailed into spying. He whisks her off to a secluded location, an empty science station in the Big Poison, the alien rainforest continent of New Prague. They plan to stay there until she has recovered and the spies are caught. What could go wrong with that plan? This will be out the end of February.

In late spring the next book Cirque Du Cyborg will be released. This is the story of pilot Dooley and cyborg 2ln, from Her Cyborg Awakes. Dooley rescues a small group of cyborg soldiers while scavenging a battle site. One is 2ln, who he lost track of long ago. He is determined to get them back to New Prague. But first he has to keep them alive!

In late summer I hope to release the first of a new series, Mech Sisters. Four obsolete female cyborgs are rejuvenated and impregnated with the embryos of wealthy but barren settlers on a distant settlement. Left to their own devices-- considered to be cargo-- the four wake to the realization of their situation, and band together to escape. The first book is Renova( the books will be titled after the name of the female cyborg--Sys, Security, Uni). Renova's job is to work with the cyborg navigator, the Hanlon, to get them on another course.

I also plan a few short stories, either for anthos or possibly give aways!

We'll see if life cooperates!

What are your plans for 2014?

NEW! Bundled, Her Cyborg Awakes and Alien Blood. Save $2!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Meet the #Author - TK Toppin

Please tell us a bit about yourself:
I was born and raised in Barbados, and I still live here. That saying about there being no place like home, is very true. My day job finds me as a freelance graphic artist, but lately, the writing has taken over. My writing really kicked off very early in 2008, and admittedly, I find it much more fulfilling than my graphic arts.

Tell us about The Devil Inside – The To Catch A Marlin Series #5:
This is the continuing adventures of two characters that are becoming favourites of mine: Special Inspector Michael Pedroni and the super sexy vigilante, Jax Marlin. Set in the tail end of the 24th Century, this is a futuristic cat and mouse tale.

In this short, Jax finds herself in trouble…Here’s a short blurb:
When her inner demon screamed, Jax Marlin set it loose upon the world’s criminals. When the demon wanted blood, she gave it like an offering. Special Inspector Pedroni chases his foe—always a step behind. This time, with heavy heart, unable to believe his Jax has become a common murderer.
After the events with the Necromancer Killer, after having to set her prey free, Jax struggles to come to terms with her decision. Her inner monster, one she’s kept at bay for years, surfaces in outrage and goes on a rampage. Can she stop in time before her sanity is lost? And can Pedroni come to terms with what she’s become?

What inspired you to write this particular story?:
A sexy vigilante in the future, with a cop chasing her because he’s obsessed and very smitten? Why not!

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
There’s just so many that are my faves. But this would have to be from the first book (a full-length), To Catch A Marlin, cuz I mean, it’s got ship-porn! Come on! It’s where Pedroni is in pursuit of Jax and finds a ship. With him are two assistants he’d rather not be with:

The captain’s voice came over the PA. They were within range of the distressed ship. Markings indicated it was Sorensen’s sexy Q-Class cruiser. Even with his limited knowledge of spacecrafts, Pedroni knew regular private citizens were rarely given the okay to purchase war cruisers. Of course, with Sorensen’s criminal connections, he was hardly surprised. Still, as he looked out the window he was impressed by the super-sleek, dark silver cruiser, shaped like a hawk in flight—hooked beak and all. Q-Classes had the capacity to hold 200 fighting men and women for lengthy tours, a transport shuttle and a small drop ship skiff in its hold, full munitions in the armory, war-class speed, and shrouding capabilities.

As they approached Sorensen’s cruiser, which appeared dead in space, Pedroni found two more faces pressed up next to his as he looked out the side window. Gupta gawked at his right, while on his left, Hassan cooed with adoration at the sight of the cruiser.

Okay, it’s a sexy beast of a cruiser.

Pedroni smiled, marveling at the smooth lines and the way the approaching shuttle lights reflected off its gunmetal silver hull like dappled sunlight filtering through a canopy of leaves. Rows of reflective windows lined up in two levels, angled, like cat eyes.

Like Jax’s.


With a gentle flare, like a slender woman’s hips, the rear thrusters fanned out from the sides and tapered gently apart like long, graceful legs. The engines were killed and the exhaust ends appeared dark. The only lights flickering were emergency flashes from the outer points of the Q-Class.

Either the ship really was dead, or something more sinister was at work, laying in wait for them to board. Pedroni suppressed the urge to voice his concerns to the rest of his team. The last thing he needed were spooked agents watching his back with live weapons.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
I think the general outline comes first. The bones of the story, like a jigsaw puzzle with lots of missing pieces, that slowly, you find or uncover as your join them up. At some point in the searching for pieces, a suitable character, with name and appearance comes along. The only time I ever came up with the character first, was for To Catch A Marlin. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Jax Marlin whom I came up with, but Pedroni.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Develop thick skin, be open to advice and critiques, have realistic goals and keep your outrageously wild ideas strictly for the manuscripts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid, period. You’ll do stupid things, write stupid things, but it’s all a learning process that will enable you to boldly go where no one has gone before. And then read, read, read, and then write, write, write.

Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:
A time machine in my hands is a very dangerous device. Very. The list is long of things I’d change or mess with or just do. Let’s just say, I shouldn’t have one.

What super-power would you choose?:
Invisibility. That, to me, is the most powerful tool. Ever.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:
Hmm. I’d have to say: Understanding, Contentment, and Love. With those 3, who needs wealth and health and power?

Coffee, tea or wine?:

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):
So many, it’s hard to make a list and not feel bad about forgetting one. Let’s just say, I read a vast number of genres, from assorted writers across the field, from indy to superstar famous. And right now, there’s some seriously good stuff I’m reading from a huge number of indy writers.

Favourite genre and why?:
Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery. Why? Excitement, thrills, and out of this world places I get to go to.

Favourite colour?:

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
Writing some more stuff. Trying to finish and already finished MS called Bengaria’s War. It’s going into its 5th draft, and hopefully this will be the last one. Also in the works, more Jax Marlin shorts, and (groan, not another one) working on a dream I had that I know would make a super-duper book!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
Thanks again for having me!

TK Toppin - Science fiction writer, touched with a little romance (SFR), some humour, lots of action and adventure. Find her here -

Author of the Lancaster Trilogy (The Lancaster Rule released April 2010, The Master Key, and The Eternal Knot) published by Champagne Book Group.

To Catch A Marlin (series) published by Ring of Fire Publishing, released October 2012.

For other works in progress, please visit my web/blog.
If you want to see my book trailers, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEoEQh...
and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbGdq8...
or here: http://youtu.be/LALb-S2dcqI

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays from the SFR Brigade~~FREE SFR Kindle e-Books!

Happy Holidays to You!

Looking for some great holiday reading or just received a shiny new Kindle as a gift and can't wait to fill it with books? Here's our present to you--a list of FREE Science Fiction Romance e-books now available on Amazon. (Some may only be free for a limited time. Hurry!)

Tales from the SFR Brigade
An anthology of eight outstanding SFR stories, some by well known authors in SFR
Also available on Amazon Canada and Amazon UK.

Ghost in the Machine (Corwint Central Agent Files)
SFR/Space Opera Romance

Anja's Star (Outer Settlement Agency series)
Space Pirate Opera Romance

Birth of an Empire (Xarrok series)
Military Space Opera Romance

Collateral Damage
Space Station Romance
Also available on Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and others.

How to Date an Alien
A Young Adult/New Age SFR
[Recommended here]

The Demon of Synar
Space Opera Romance

Rebel Heart
Apocalyptic/Futuristic Romance

Suddenly A Bride (Across the Stars series)
Earth-based Alien Romance

Steampunk Romance

Space Junque [aka Samael's Fire)
Apocalyptic Romance

The Titan Drowns
Time-Travel-Titanic Romance

Close Liaisons (Krinar Chronicles series)
Near Future Alien Romance

In Her Name: Empire (In Her Name series)
Alien Romance

The Star Wanderers (Outworlder series)
Space Opera Romance

Thrill of the Hunt
Military Ops SFR Erotica/An Ellora's Cave Presents Naughty Nooner short: *Adult Only Content*

Hunting Evander
SFR Erotica/An Ellora's Cave Presents Naughty Nooner short: *Adult Only Content*

AND...you can find even more FREE and very inexpensive Science Fiction Romance e-books on The Galaxy Express blog.

Love Science Fiction Romance? You can 'LIKE' our SFR Brigade Fan Page on Facebook to get the latest news and posts in the SFR universe: SFR Brigade Facebook Fan Page

A brilliant mix of science and myth

I guess most authors have, at one time or another, been asked where they get their story ideas from. With science fiction, of course, it becomes just a tiny bit harder, because what we write about hasn't happened yet. One popular approach has been to use a fantasy story and make it 'real'. Examples include the crew of the Enterprise encountering Roman gods and goddesses, and the whole premise behind Stargate, where the aliens are Egyptian gods and goddesses. Hey ho. It's fertile grounds for plots, even if it is a bit far fetched. For me, these sorts of plots have huge difficulty in scaling the heights of my ability to suspend disbelief.

So that's it for the disclaimer. What I really want to talk about is the way best-selling SF author Jack McDevitt combined myth and science in his 2003 novel, Omega.

In an earlier novel, The Engines of God, he introduced the Omega clouds, vast cosmic storms that seemed to be attracted to technology and civilization, destroying any they found. The storms caused violent weather events on the worlds they attacked. In The Engines of God we are shown the results of this destruction and are given an unsettling hint at what caused the clouds.

In this later book, McDevitt uses the good old 'what if ' question. What if an Omega cloud was known to be bearing down on an alien world which supported a burgeoning civilization, which we could describe as pre-technology? What would we space-faring Earthlings do? Especially when, in accordance with a Protocol, we're not supposed to interfere, not supposed to impose our superior capabilities on them? We can't get the Goompahs off their planet. We don't have the ships or the time. What do we do? Leave them to it, knowing they will be destroyed? Certainly, we'll try to divert the cloud – but what if that doesn't work?

The humans land on the planet, but take care not to be seen. McDevitt gives a fascinating account of how his alien civilization works, as well as how the scientists collect their information. The scientists learn the language, find out about the Goompah culture and religion, and (of course) become interested in their fate. Meanwhile, Earth's Academy (a future NASA if you will) is doing all it can to divert the advancing cloud. But if it can't be diverted, the Goopahs will be destroyed. In that case, how to warn them, to at least give them a chance? The answer is in the Old Testament and a few myths and legends. The 'Gods' have often spoken to humanity through oracles or burning bushes or disembodied voices. And the Goompahs have gods.

I thought this was an absolutely brilliant mix of hard science and human myth, presented in a totally believable way. McDevitt describes how the language is translated, how the scientists get around without being seen (no magic wands in sight) and what's happening to divert the cloud.
Mind you, like all McDevitt's "Academy" novels, it's not an easy read. The plot jumps around and the going can be slow. And I must add the Goompahs were a bit too humanoid for my taste, even if they were green. I don't think they'd be in the running for ideal mates for Earth women, though.
However, if you're riffling through your myths and legends books for ideas for your next SFR, try taking an idea and twisting it a bit. You might have a whole new angle.

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 endeavours.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Meet the #Author - Victoria Pinder

Please tell us a bit about yourself:
Tell us about The Zoastra Affair:
A hundred years from now, Earth has trading partners with alien beings, mostly humanoid. However, going into space brought forth an unknown enemy who attacks Earth at will.

The Zoastra is part of the Earthseekers, an organization originally designed to go into space. Its new mission is to find Earth's enemies.
Ariel is stuck on a Victorian planet and steals Grace's body and life to get off the planet. Grace must get her body back before Ariel bonds with Grace's husband, Peter. Then there is Cross, the man on a mission to find those who killed his family. Ariel is attracted to Cross, but she's stolen someone's life.

What inspired you to write this particular story?:
I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek. I have gone to conventions. Heck I held the second biggest ‘save Enterprise’ rally in the United States up in Orlando when UPN was cancelling my favorite show. And I’m not a fan of JJ Abrams Star Trek or Singer’s X-Men. I read the comics most of my life, but I do love Hugh Jackman. He’s a hottie, and he can sing. Loved Les Mis. Ohh, off topic. I do that.
Why did I write the Zoastra Affair? Because I couldn’t find the books I wanted to read. I love fantasy. But I wanted space ships, military chain of command, a mission, and aliens. So I had to come up with my own tale.

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:
I love the opening lines as it took me a long time to understand.
I’m going to have to steal someone else’s body to get out of here.
“Ariel, are you listening?”
Ariel Transcender stared dumbfounded at the mother superior of her prison, a/k/a Aulnale School for Orphans. “Yes, mistress.”
She had no idea what happened, though she pasted a fake simpering smile of appreciation on her face. Ms. Rochelle walked away.
A few minutes later, Ariel looked out the window again, tuning out Rochelle’s mind numbing lecture on what was proper behavior when near a man. The boarding home on this planet gave the stupidest lectures of the galaxy. Her lips curled into a sneer. Women were not excited to be bound to men.
Could I do this to someone else? Do I have any other choice?
Lenchena, the teenage girl who’d stolen her adult body and taken off on Ariel’s ship, needed to be found. And Ariel refused to listen to the daily drivel about always listening to a man.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:
Ariel started out in early drafts as the bad guy but the book wouldn’t write that way. It took me a few name changes, where Ariel came from staring up in the sky, to understand that Ariel wasn’t an evil alien body snatcher. She’s the heroine, though she steals someone else’s life. (And Grace isn’t the girl to sit back and wait. She’s going to chase her.) Once I had who the heroine was. The hero, Cross, was easier, then I understood the basic subplot.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:
 I’ve had hundreds of rejections. Keep learning. Keep pushing. It will happen for you.

Questions for fun:

If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:
I mentioned in class the other day when teaching Government as I know AP Macroeconomics starts for them in a month that if we invent the machine to go back, open a bank account, and ensure that the account stays open. This way in 2013, I’ve a lot more money. I don’t think it answers your question, but I said it live last week. But the truth is, I’m not looking to go back. Sure I’d like to meet important people, but life is good here.
And I do write about the future.

What super-power would you choose?:
To influence people with the Force. Did I mention, Star Wars was my formative years? I’m sure I did.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:
Wealth, health and love for me and for everyone I meet. (This way I get to be like the fairy godmother.)

Coffee, tea or wine?:
Lately I’ve been drinking amazingly good Green Tea. But I like all three at different times.

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):
I’ve been in the mood for classics and just finished Pride and Prejudice, again.

Favourite genre and why?:
Romance. I like books where death and rape aren’t prevalent as someone is all dystopian, end of the world, dark.

Favourite colour?:
Pink. Ariel’s hair is pink for a reason.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:
I have contemporary romances coming up in 2014, and a fantasy novel. I’m writing the sequel to this now, as I miss this ship and crew.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

About the Author:

Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, after passing many tests proving how easy Math came to her. Then hating her life at the age of twenty four, she decided to go to law school. Four years later, after passing the bar and practicing very little, she realized that she hates the practice of law. She refused to one day turn 50 and realize she had nothing but her career and hours at a desk. After realizing she needed change, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is rewarding, but writing is a passion.

During all this time, she always wrote stories to entertain herself or calm down. Her parents are practical minded people demanding a job, and Victoria spent too many years living other people’s dreams, but when she sat down to see what skill she had that matched what she enjoyed doing, writing became so obvious. The middle school year book when someone wrote in it that one day she’d be a writer made sense when she turned thirty.

When she woke up to what she wanted, the dream of writing became so obvious. She dreams of writing professionally, where her barista can make her coffee and a walk on the beach, can motivate her tales. Contemporary romances are just fun to write. She’s always thinking whose getting hurt and whose story is next on the list to fall in love. Victoria’s love of writing has kept her centered and focused through her many phases, and she’s motivated to write many stories.

Member of Florida Romance Writers, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA, and in Savvy Authors.

Visit Victoria online at:

Authors Website:  http://www.victoriapinder.com
Tumblr:    victoriapinder.tumblr.com 

Friday, December 20, 2013

SFRB Recommends #6: How to Date an Alien #scifi #romance

How to Date an Alien by Magan Vernon

I've just finished reading this book, and let me tell you, it's brilliant. It's been a while since I've picked up a book I really cannot put down; a book whose characters stick in my head. Well, this is one of them. Yes, it's for a YA audience, but does that really matter? The characters are well-crafted, the issues they deal with are realistic (given that it's scifi) and the plot is very well structured.

The story is about a high school girl, Alex, who is in the process of applying for college. In order to help her application, she interns over the summer at Circe. It's only when she arrives there that she discovers that Circe is in fact an alien airbase, and she's no sooner in the door than an alien attempts to kill her. She is rescued from death by Ace, a Caltian (yup, alien) with a 'dangerous' tag.

Definitely aimed at the YA audience, if I'm anything to go by (being in my thirties) it is also for the young-at-heart.

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Author site: Magan Vernon

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How I Fell Into Self Publishing or Blame It On The Titanic

I didn't actually set out to self publish. I had sold my first novella to Carina Press - a paranormal romance set in ancient Egypt - and was all caught up in the work of editing, learning the ropes of promo and getting better at navigating social media in late 2011, when I realized that 2012 was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic. This become relevant because I had a completed science fiction adventure novel with romantic elements, which I'd set aside when Carina bought the Egyptian novella. And the book, WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, was loosely based on Titanic, but set in the far future, in outer space.

Uh oh, sounds like a book that an author would definitely want to have out there in the world for Readers to discover during the 100th anniversary hoopla, doesn't it? Because the 101st anniversary of anything just doesn't command as much attention. At this point it was December 2011. There was literally no time  to submit the manuscript to anyone, not even Carina, much less to go through a publisher's editing and release process. So, self publishing is where I went!

I commissioned a cover from the wonderful Fiona Jayde, I had the book edited during January, formatted in late February and released in March of 2012. I put together my own small blog tour, did promo where I could, wrote LOTS of blogs about all aspects of Titanic...had terrific encouragement from Heather Massey at The Galaxy Express in particular, and along the way I discovered I really loved self publishing. I'm kind of a control freak by nature, I write fast and my Muse likes to pick and choose what stories to tell.

Don't get me wrong, I love Carina and they've been excellent to work with...but it's very satisfying to choose your own cover art and to get new books out on your schedule, rather than on the publisher's schedule.

PROs of self publishing in my opinion:

  • Total control of the book, from cover to edits to distribution
  • Ability to publish as often as I have a high quality product ready to offer the Readers. I'd hoped to get four books out this year (counting my second Carina book), only got three plus an audiobook of WRECK. I do have a day job. I learned a lot this year, about self publishing in general and about managing my "schedule of releases". Going to try for four new books released in 2014.
  • Advice and guidance from a wonderful community of other self published and/or hybrid authors. If you're even thinking of dipping a toe into self publishing, I recommend joining the Yahoo group established and moderated by Marie Force  - here's the link http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/selfpublish/info . She and many other authors share advice and information generously. I've learned SO much from the group...
  • Ability to write whatever story you want to tell (although you might not draw a large number of readers if no one else wanted to read the particular tale you've penned) and see it published.
  • It's a business. That works for me because I have a degree in business, plus years of experience in contracts, and all the many details of being your own publisher don't daunt me. But it is very different than having a publisher handling all the tracking, the copyrights, the ISBN's, formatting, uploading, pricing, Netgalley, pirates, whathaveyou. Some people love doing it all themselves, others not so much. The business deducts from your writing time...
  • I think there's a benefit to being part of a publisher's group of authors, especially if they cross promote each other or if the publisher does visible promo, or is well known. But that being said, you can find your own community in self publishing, as with the wonderful SFR Brigade we have here...
I'm sure others can add pros and cons to this list but those are at the top of my mind. I self published ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE, which also became an Amazon Best Seller in SFR, and the most recent paranormal, DANCER OF THE NILE. For now I'm firmly entrenched in the self publishing world and loving it. Never say never, I wouldn't mind being more of a hybrid author, but right now I'm concentrating on my own little "publishing empire" (don't I wish it was an empire LOL, more of a tenacious colony at the moment).

You can find me: Blog  @vscotttheauthor   Facebook

I'm happy to try to answer any questions about my experiences in self publishing and I'll check back on the comments after the day job!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meet the #Author - SJ Pajonas

Please tell us a bit about yourself:

Tell us about REMOVED:

REMOVED is a New Adult Science Fiction Romance, and the first in a series of four novels. The story is about a young woman, Sanaa, who lives in a future post-apocalyptic domed city populated almost entirely by the Japanese. She is a successful and smart engineer, but she is taken suddenly from her job and tasked to help follow the main crime leaders of her city, the heads of the three major Japanese clans. During the course of her new job, she’s asked to also learn how to swordfight so that she may defend herself. Her new job is quite dangerous. She falls in love with her young teacher, Jiro, and, through him, becomes aware of secrets about her family and the city she’s lived in all her life. Discovering the truth about both her family and city will put more than Sanaa in peril. It will bring about a major change to the entire city.

What inspired you to write this particular story?:

I grew up in love with science fiction. I wanted to be an astronaut and travel the stars (didn’t we all?), and the stories that always resonated most with me were the ones far into the future with humanity well and gone from Earth (Herbert’s Dune and Asimov’s Foundation). I liked to see how an author could extrapolate a far future based on the here and now, but I always wondered what happened to Earth. What made them get up and leave? So it was my intention always to write a series about the generation that picked up and left Earth to colonize the stars. It wasn’t until the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that hit Japan that I got the idea to make my last survivors Japanese. Japan showed amazing resilience in the year after the earthquake. Within six months, the region hit by the tsunami was cleaned up and transformed back into buildable land again. I saw the before and after pictures and thought, “If anyone is going to survive the end of the world, it’ll be the Japanese.”

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:

“Sanaa, this is Koichi Itō, and his son, Jiro, whom you’ve met before. As you have probably guessed, you will be learning to sword fight with them.”
Fantastic. A guy who is totally my type and any prospect of romance is about to be submarined by a business relationship, a teacher-student relationship. How the hell am I going to pull this off when I’ve already flirted with him once before?
Jiro is studying me, gauging me like Sakai often does. This must be a family trait. Looking at the three of them together, they are definitely related. They could all practically be triplets in their Nishikyō grays and solemn expressions. I sigh and turn to Sakai for reassurance as he lays a hand on my shoulder. This is not what I expected to happen today.
“Sanaa, I know your mother never cared for sword fighting, but, since you’re already more than proficient in karate, I figured this was the next logical step.” Sakai turns to Jiro. “Don’t think she can be easily defeated, Jiro.”
Sakai is boasting about my skills? I want to tell him to shut up before he gets me in trouble, but he seems sincere. “She has her father’s determination.”
Sakai’s eyes are hard on Jiro, and the two stare at each other stonily before Jiro gives in.
“Hmmm, we’ll see,” Jiro says, walking to the wall of wooden swords. Uh oh. I think I’m about to be tested. Too much talk.
He takes two of the smaller swords and tosses one to me which I fumble and drop on the ground. I am so unprepared my face practically bursts into flames. I reach down and pick up the sword, copying Jiro’s stance, but he hasn’t made a move to lunge at me like I thought he would. Instead, he is watching me stare at the sword.
“It’s real wood!” I exclaim. The strong grain weaves up the side, and I follow the wavering line all the way to the tip with my fingers. The sword is nicked and dented more times than I can count.
“We’ve had them for centuries.” Jiro smiles at me, holding his sword tip-down in front of him. “Passed down through our family for generations. Newer ones are available, but they’re all composite.”
I heft the sword in my hand. Light but sturdy. Surely fighting with a sword can’t be that different from fighting with your hands. What have I gotten myself into?

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:

Personality comes first! I’m an amateur astrologer (which goes against all my scientific upbringing, I know), and I tend to be attracted to the personalities of different signs first before realizing they’re a character with a name. I knew I wanted to make Sanaa a Capricorn and Jiro fit everything a Scorpio is. I know the signs of all of my characters and have a cheat sheet with all their birthdays for further analysis. For the recent romance (not scifi) that I just wrote, I knew the female lead had to be a Sagittarius. A character’s sign speaks to me before they do.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:

Find what works for you and go with it. It took me a long time to feel comfortable to write because I was always taught to write an outline first. I hate outlines! Just the thought of writing one makes me want to cry. I let the idea for REMOVED sit for seven whole years while I tried to write outlines and synopses first. I wish I could remember who told me to just sit down and write, forget about the outlines, because I could kiss him/her right now. I write by the seat of my pants, and it works for me. Don’t try to go against your very nature. If writing outlines works for you, do that. If pencil and paper works, do that. Do what you need to do to write.

Questions for fun:

If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change? Why/why not?:

Honestly, I would go back and figure out how to fix the Middle East conflicts. The continual fighting there makes me extremely sad and weary. Before you ask, I have no particular viewpoint, just that I wish there could be peace there.

What super-power would you choose?:

Invisibility. Most days I want to be invisible and not be bothered. It would be nice to just disappear when the situation demands it.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:

To always be fit and healthy without having to work for it (I love to exercise but want to do it just for fun). To have the weather around my home be continually summer (I live in the right area, wrong climate). To travel the world easily (I need a transporter that gets me there and back home quickly).

Coffee, tea or wine?:

Tea and wine. I love coffee with a passion but it doesn’t agree with me right now. I hope to try again in six months. Wine every evening. It’s part of my wind-down routine, and I love it.

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It continues to blow me away even after several readings and years later.

Favourite genre and why?:

Science Fiction because it continues to thrive and evolve, and its subgenres are diverse. I can have science fiction and adventure and romance and mystery. There’s a wealth of topics and themes worth exploring.

Favourite colour?:

Purple. (This question always reminds me of Monty Python).

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:

The second book in the Nogiku Series, RELEASED, will be available December 17th, 2013! I post teasers and excerpts to my website weekly at http://www.spajonas.com. I’m releasing these two books in the series quickly and then will roll out the others over the course of 2014 and early 2015.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!


Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything.

Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin, a sweet and smart half-Japanese girl, is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love and excitement on New Year’s Eve 3103. Mark Sakai, who knows more about her than any stranger should, thinks Sanaa is the perfect person to spy on the heads of the three biggest Japanese clan leaders in Nishikyō. He wants her to gather enough evidence to keep them from going to war when they land on Earth’s colonization planet, Yūsei. Nishikyō, built by the Japanese 300 years ago to house the rest of mankind, is failing and everyone is preparing to leave.

Sakai has known Sanaa’s family all her life but she knows nothing of him! And despite all the time they spend together, he keeps his distance from her. Then one day, he brings her to Jiro, his nephew, to learn sword fighting, and it changes her life irrevocably. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering on the clans, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts her and all of Nishikyō in danger.

REMOVED, a New Adult Science Fiction Romance, is the first book in a captivating post-apocalyptic series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.

Buy Links and Goodreads:

Amazon (Paperback): http://amzn.com/1940599032

Other Links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SJPajonas

SFR Brigade Bases of Operation