Thursday, February 26, 2015

SFRB Recommends 34: Aurora Rising by G.S. Jennsen #scifi #romance #sfrom

This week's recommendation comes to you from Sabine Priestley.

BOOKS: Starshine and Vertigo, books one and two in the Aurora Rising series.

AURORA RISING is an epic tale of galaxy-spanning adventure, of the thrill of discovery and the unquenchable desire to reach ever farther into the unknown. It's a tale of humanity at its best and worst, of love and loss, of fear and heroism. It's the story of a woman who sought the stars and found more than anyone imagined possible. 

I fell hard and fast for these books and can’t wait for the third to come out. Jensen is brilliant in her use of technology. Alex and Caleb both had me early on. Jennsen uses deep description on nearly every page which can drag at times, but her story telling is riveting enough to more than make up for any lag. When the heat shows up between our MCs it comes hard, fast, and oh so delicious. These books have a little bit (or a lot) of everything. Warring factions, romance between enemies, aliens attacking the human race, f-ing portals (I love portals), love, lust, betrayal and redemption. There are even dragons, but I’m not saying when or where. The list goes on. I highly recommend the Aurora Rising series.

Author site: GS Jennsen

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Look familiar? Think again.

One of the most exciting things about writing science fiction romance is the broad, unbounded field on which we can play.  As SFR writers we can--and do—travel to other planets, visit neighboring galaxies, live among alien cultures, have friends and enemies in alternate universes, in the past, in the future.

So why would anyone stay home?  That is, why would anyone write a science fiction romance set on Earth, here and now?

My science fiction suspense romance Unchained Memory, just out from INK’d Press, is such a story, set (mostly) on the Earth of today, an environment familiar to any reader who picks up the book. The book has no steampunk past, no dystopian future, no tentacle love, no battlestars.

But very quickly, my human hero and heroine discover the world they live in is not as benign as it seems. They are forced to recognize that the stuff of science fiction nightmare—alien abduction, mind control, interstellar slavery—is a very real part of the world they thought they knew.  They have to adjust their world view to include this new perception.  And so do my readers.

Like any SFR story, Unchained Memory opens the door to a new universe and asks readers to leave their current beliefs about things as they are at the doorstep. The Earth of my novel is at the center of a hidden battle between an interstellar slave-trading empire and the organization of abolitionists dedicated to fighting that empire. This is the universe of my Interstellar Rescue series, about the brave (and sexy!) men and women, some of them human, some of them not, who defend the Earth from those who would exploit it.  

In creating my universe I had to determine all of the same things other SFR writers do—how do we travel among the stars, what kind of economic and cultural circumstances would allow for the slave-trading Minertsan Consortium, what other alien races might we encounter, what would the mining or agricultural planets look like, and so on. Once that worldbuilding was accomplished, I could set my stories anywhere within the universe. I chose to begin on Earth, closest to home, before I set my readers off into their new, expanded cosmos.

It doesn’t take long before the readers of Unchained Memory are asked to buy into the basic assumptions of the Interstellar Rescue universe. What happens to my heroine, Asia Burdette—and what she uncovers with her hero, Ethan Roberts—challenges all her old assumptions about the world and replaces them with features of the new one. This revelation is not only an explanation for Asia and Ethan, it’s also an introduction to the vast, unexplored universe of the series.

Of course, I can’t say too much about how I do this in the book. I will say in future books in the series (Book Two, Trouble in Mind, launches in Fall, 2015; Book Three, Fools Rush In, in early 2016) we’ll spend more time off-planet, taking a close-up look at the villainous, slave-trading Grays and even engaging in a few space battles!

All the while, defending “hearth and home”, fighting the threat to Earth and to innocent victims of the Grays everywhere, will be a recurring theme.

Donna S. Frelick was an RWA® Golden Heart® Double Finalist in 2012 in the Paranormal category for the first two novels in her SFR Interstellar Rescue series. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and two talkative cats.  Find her at; blogging at; and on Facebook at

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

There's something to be said for series

I love reading series. For me, it's all about the world building. As the books progress it's so easy to put yourself back there in that world with those people. An excellent example is Anne McCaffrey's wonderful Pern series. In our SFR patch I like Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five books. There's a gritty realism about that boondocks space station. As you learn more and more about the place you can imagine it growing from a service dock for space ships, to a freighter terminal to a way point for travellers to a sleazy hell-hole offering all the attractions and distractions three different humanoid alien species could possibly wish for.

When I read the author's descriptions of Dock Five I always think of Singapore back in the old days when it was the very epitome of a den of iniquity. Strategically positioned at the end of the Malayan Peninsula, this island city was a port city receiving trade from Europe going to China, and vice versa. It attracted honest traders, not so honest traders, and all the people offering services to sailors. Food, prostitutes, arms, drugs, smuggled goods, and maintenance and repair for ships. And it was a place where people didn't ask too many questions. 

Put old Singapore into space and you've got Dock Five. You've still got the dank alleyways, seeping sewage, creaking roofs, dark and dangerous bars. Just different, because the sewage flows through corroded pipes and there are escalators with treads missing if they work at all. The alleys are metal canyons between cobbled-together modules. And little dives catering for all kinds can be found everywhere.

So if anyone ends up at Dock Five, you know what they're in for.

The space station plays an important role in all the books. But having once established place, an author can then start to add characters. The main characters in the first two Dock Five books (Gabriel's Ghost and Shades of Dark) were Sullivan and Sass, but they get no more than a mention in the next two books. The author took a minor character from those two stories and wrote a whole book about him. Hope's Folly follows the fortunes of Sass's ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, who we met in GG and SoD. And then the next book (Rebels and Lovers) tells the story of Philip's younger brother, the seriously geeky Devin Guthrie. While Dock Five is just the starting point for HF, it's a vital component of RaL, where you hear every creak and rattle of the antiquated piping, smell the smells, and watch your footing on the stairs.

I've done a similar thing in my PtorixEmpire series, keeping the setting (a universe where the alien Ptorix are the main players) and adding characters. Senior Commander Brett Butcher played a minor role in the first two books, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and The Iron Admiral: Deception. Now he stars in his very own book, Crisis at Validor, where readers will get to learn a lot more about the alien Ptorix who play a major role in all four books.

Do you have a favourite series? Tell us about it and why it's a favourite.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

INHERIT THE STARS Debuts Today! (With Giveaway)

Author Laurie A. Green
Today marks the launch of INHERIT THE STARS, an award-winning Science Fiction Romance novel set 1,500 years in the future. This is the debut novel for author Laurie A. Green, though a novelette in the same series, FAREWELL ANDROMEDA, was released in January.

Under former title "P2PC" this novel:
  • Finaled in the 2011 RWA(C) Golden Heart Awards--Paranormal
  • Won the 2009 SouthWest Writers Competition--Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror division
  • Won the 2009 Utah RWA(C) Heart of the West Contest--Paranormal category
Because the novel weighs in at a whopping 113,000 words, it was divided into three parts, each with a distinct cover, to make it a more manageable read. Each section of the story is well over a hundred pages in length.

To escape the merciless Ithian Alliance, Sair, a fugitive slave, makes a desperate deal with Drea Mennelsohn, captain of the prototype ship, Specter. But putting his life in the hands of a woman as mysterious as she is beguiling could turn out to be the biggest mistake of his life, especially when the price on his head begins to escalate.  Click to view INHERIT THE STARS PART I: FLIGHT

The daring captain seems to want far more from Sair than just payment for his passage. Though neither can deny the sizzling chemistry and growing bond between them, Sair must soon make an agonizing decision: maintain his own longed-for freedom or become a helpless pawn in an intergalactic coup against a ruthless superpower.  Available March 1st. Click to view INHERIT THE STARS PART II: THE NETWORK

As the truth behind Sair’s place in the galaxy and Drea’s unique existence are revealed, it becomes clear that they are vital to the success of the coup. But their part in ending the Ithian Alliance may come at a terrible price for Sair: the loss of the remarkable woman he has fallen in love with-and their chance to inherit the stars.  Available March 1st. Click to view INHERIT THE STARS PART III: SACRIFICE

INHERIT THE STARS is told entirely through the hero's POV, as highlighted in the earlier blog SFR with a Twist. The heat level is "Steamy" or mid-point between "Sweet" and "Erotica."

The story has ties--some obvious and some much more subtle--to FAREWELL ANDROMEDA

The novelette takes place some 200 years (called “calendars” in this universe) later and carries hints about what happened in the two centuries separating the stories.

INHERIT THE STARS will be released later in 2015 as a complete print novel through Amazon.

To celebrate the debut of INHERIT THE STARS, we'll be giving away three prizes to random commenters on this post who tell us 1) which prize package they prefer and 2) which of the three INHERIT THE STARS covers is their personal favorite. We'll announce the winners next weekend.

all gifted via Amazon as they become available
Plus a $5 Amazon e-gift certificate

both gifted via Amazon

gifted via Amazon
Plus a $5 Amazon e-gift card

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pet Peeves and Faves in Sci-Fi Romance by Mattie Dunman

Recently, I started a discussion on a Goodreads forum asking readers and authors what they loved and hated about SFR, mainly to help me avoid some pitfalls while writing my new book. The responses I got were incredibly illuminating, so I thought I’d share some of what I learned.

When it came to pet peeves, weak and whiny heroines stood out as number one. It comes as no surprise that SFR readers want a leading lady who can hold her own without complaining, whether through her unique abilities or pure grit and determination. There was a caveat: the heroine’s abilities or powers shouldn’t be unlimited or abruptly change. For instance, if she starts out with the ability to read minds, at 75% in the book she can’t suddenly develop the ability to shoot electricity from her eyeballs. So, yeah, readers want an extraordinary heroine, but one with vulnerabilities and realistic growth throughout the story.

Another annoyance was the heroine’s debilitating attraction to the hero. According to the comments, sizzling chemistry is all well and good, but not when the heroine is incapable of running away from a horde of ravening, murderous aliens without also obsessing over the cuteness of her love interest’s butt.

Battered heroines suddenly wanting crazy monkey sex was another issue; if she’s just been beaten, or recovered from a coma, or, most particularly, has been sexually assaulted, readers seem to think she might want to take breather before getting her freak on.

Regarding world-building, readers asked for aliens that look like aliens and believable science without being bashed over the head with excruciating detail. The use of deus ex-machina was universally despised; readers asked for a logical build-up to the climax, and definitely no loose plot threads. Setting up a sequel is all well and good, but there seems to be a distinct antipathy toward cliffhangers and dropped plot points.

So what do readers love? Characters. Almost every comment referred to strong, likable heroines and heroes with a believable connection. 3rd person POV seemed to be popular as well; readers want to hear from both the hero and heroine in equal parts, which I found interesting, since I predominantly write in 1st person.

They loved complex, original worlds that leave room for new stories, kick-ass heroines who don’t wait to be saved, and heroes with alpha tendencies (but aren’t copy-catted Christian Grays).

Finally, the most frequently mentioned comment: good editing. Lots of readers will put the book down if the errors are too frequent; while most said they would give the author’s next book a chance if the typos were at a minimum.

So there you have it...a little market research on SFR. If you’d like to see it for yourself, the link is below. Thanks, and please check out my latest release, Woman of Silk and Stone, available on Amazon and Smashwords!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

SFRB Recommends 33: In the Black by Sheryl Nantus #sfrom #scifi #mystery #ebook

This recommendation is brought to you by Rachel Leigh Smith.

When Sam Keller left the military, she ran to the far end of the galaxy. Now she captains the Bonnie Belle, a spaceship full of courtesans who bring a little pleasure to hard-up men on mining colonies. When one of her girls turns up dead, it's Sam's job to find out who killed her, fast.

Marshal Daniel LeClair is as tough as steel and quick on the draw. But when his vacation gets replaced by an assignment to help find the killer, he can't help angling for a little action with the saucy, hard-charging Sam. She's got brains, attitude and a body he wouldn't mind investigating.

Sam, six months lonely, might just indulge him. But the Guild that owns the Belle wants the case closed yesterday. With pressure coming from all quadrants, Sam and her marshal clash over false leads and who's on top. But when the killer threatens the Belle again, romance will have to wait. It's a captain's job to save her crew, no matter the cost. 

The world Nantus has built in this series is at once relatable and different. Female fans of Firefly should love this.

The mystery aspect of the book was easy for me to figure out. It's a rare author who can keep me guessing as to who-dun-it for more than four chapters. It did allow for a lot of exploring of courtesan daily life and how they operate, though, without being all about sex. Major props for that!

The AI's on each ship were also done very well, Etts, Daniel's AI, in particular. Etts was a hoot! I also enjoyed the way Nantus wrapped it up with neither MC having to leave behind what they're doing.

Author site: Sheryl Nantus

Friday, February 6, 2015

February SFR Brigade Showcase


The SFR Brigade Showcase is the chance for our Science Fiction Romance authors to showcase excerpts from their latest releases, snippets from a work-in-progress, a new cover for their book or just have fun with something silly, like a character interview!

We'll have a new showcase the first weekend of each month, and we encourage all our members to participate by posting, commenting and sharing. Some months, we'll even be doing a giveaway!

CURRENT SHOWCASE: February 6,7,8

1. Anna Hackett  6. Veronica Scott  11. Ed Hoornaert  
2. K.M. Fawcett  7. Jenna Bennett  12. Rachel Leigh Smith  
3. S. A. Hoag  8. Michelle Howard  13. ML Skye  
4. Pippa Jay  9. Shona Husk  14. Greta van der Rol  
5. Aurora Springer  10. C.E. Kilgore  15. Kate Corcino  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Show vs Tell When It Comes to Emotions

For today’s guest post, I decided to tackle the subject of depicting emotions because I’ve been in the middle of writing highly charged scenes in the current WIP (which isn’t SFR). The characters’ emotions are always one of the key components of the story. When I first started writing seriously, I struggled with the whole concept of  “show not tell” when it came to what my characters were feeling inside. It was so enticingly easy to just tell the reader my heroine was sad, my hero was mad, my villain was bad…ummm, can we say, not very involving LOL??? Who cares, right?

Trying to satisfy the comments from my early editors, I grappled with how to show these key elements of the story. My daughters have both been actresses, among other pursuits, and they said to me, “Mom, what you need is stage business.” OK, great. Not being an actress, the concept didn’t come naturally to me but I was game to try.  

Here’s a snippet from my most recent SFR, Mission to Mahjundar( a recent SFR Galaxy Award winner): Having gotten Mike to meet with her, the princess seemed unaccountably at a loss for how to begin. She sipped at her fruit drink and toyed with the hem of her gown and then her jewelry, rubbing her fingers over the whorls of the pendant in a slow circle.

Facial expressions and body language are clues to emotion as well. I read a lot of helpful blog posts by authors who had trod this path of learning long before I came along. I read several books on body language. I even read an FBI profiler’s book on the “tells” and signs he used to determine if people were lying to him or telling the truth. The best resource I found was The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This is an excellent reference and quite helpful if you’re struggling as I was in the early days to do show not tell. I highly recommend it!

Eventually I internalized much of what I read and got better at writing the physical details into the manuscript early on. I do know some people who will do an editing pass of the completed WIP just to focus on enhancing the depiction of the characters’ emotions. Here’s a recent example of mine, again from Mission: His cousin’s furrowed brow and thinned lips suggested he felt the same concerns Mike had about what Vreely might be planning.

Of course the words the characters speak are major ways to indicate their emotions. More from Mission:  “So, this is our high-and-mighty princess, girls, come to be a bride of the chief,” Arananta said. “Not so grand now, is she?”
Extending one hand, catching the chief wife’s sleeve, Shalira said, “Please, tell me who’s here? Introduce us?”
The woman yanked the fabric out of her grasp with a sniff. “Your betters, that’s all you need to know.”

I don’t do too much with metaphors and similes but in Mission I do use a local Mahjundan fairy tale to illustrate Princess Shalira’s desperate situation. Here’s the excerpt when she explains it to Mike:
“Playing the Princess of Shadows won’t protect me after his death.”
“Princess of Shadows?” Nothing about that in our briefing. He remembered the empress had also used the term to refer to Shalira.
“It’s an old folktale about a girl of royal blood who hid from her enemies in the shadows of the palace walls, disguised as a beggar, until her true love rescued her.” Gesturing to her eyes, Shalira said, “It’s meant as an insult to me, since I can’t see, not even shadows, and I’ve lived the past fifteen years on the fringes of the court, out of the ‘sun.’ I’m tolerated, protected only because my mother was the emperor’s Favorite till she died. If I reach the safety of my bridegroom's people, then I’ll be safe, free of the empress’s plotting and hate. My mother’s clan is among his subjects.” Shalira blinked hard, and then her face crumpled as she wept.
Used to comforting younger sisters in distress, Mike didn't hesitate. Moving closer, he gathered her against his shoulder and let her sob without interruption for several minutes.

So that’s the short version of where I am currently, in terms of showing what my heroes and heroines are feeling as they undergo the trials and tribulations of my plots. What kinds of techniques have you found most helpful or compelling in your own writing? Or in books you’ve read from your favorite authors?

Veronica Scott is a three-time recipient of the SFR Galaxy Award

and has written a number of science-fiction and paranormal romances. Mission to Mahjundar is her latest. She’s also the USA Today/HEA SciFi Encounters columnist. Her SFR novel Escape to Zulaire won a 2014 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. You can find out more about her (cats, earrings, Mars rovers and bagpipes are among her favorite things) and her books at  Veronica can usually be found on twitter at @vscotttheauthor

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Publishing Platform: QuarterReads

An exciting new publishing platform, created by web designer and author Ian Rose, has come onto the publishing scene. Aptly named "QuarterReads," the reader pays only 25 cents for each story purchased, with a minimum subscription of $5 for 20 reads to start. With a word limit of 2,000, it is a site of short stories where authors can have their hard to market flash fiction published and readers can find sought after shorter fiction for when they simply want a quick, satisfying read. The site was created with the idea that it would be a middle ground between "tightly curated magazines and free-for-all self-publishing."

There are so many things I love about this site that it's hard to know where to begin. There is a quality control in place, where every story is read by a staff member. A story can be rejected for grammatical errors or fragmentary content. That's a great feature with all the unedited self-publishing one finds on other platforms. With a nice balance between known authors and new authors, I've enjoyed every story I've read so far.

Another great feature is that authors get 88% of every story sold. Additionally, if a reader wants to tip an author, then the author gets 100% of the tip. Authors don't have to worry about book covers either. They can simply write and submit their stories. Readers can preview the first 10% of each story and decide if they want to purchase and continue from there. That means it's very important to be able to hook a reader right at the beginning, just as it is with any story.

As a reader, you can favorite an author and receive email updates when he/she gets another story published. There is not a review system, but readers can rate a story on a rating system of 1 to 4, with 4 meaning you loved the story and 1 meaning the story just wasn't for you. The ratings are not public, but they help the algorithms in recommending the story to others. That's another really great feature with the site; each reader has a recommended reads section in their profile.

I'm excited to say that QuarterReads has a Science Fiction Romance section. For the first couple months (the site opened in Oct 2014), most of the stories in that section were written by me. A few more authors have joined in and I'm hoping more SFR authors will help this section grow.

Head on over and check it out!



Author bio:
Kyndra Hatch grew up with a fascination for science fiction and a deep interest in ancient civilizations, a combination which fuels her active imagination. After twelve exciting years as an archaeologist, Kyndra has decided to take a break from her career to have more time with her husband of thirteen years. She pursues a passion for writing and has discovered her works have a decidedly science fiction romantic flair. She is an active member of the SFR Brigade and her debut story, "The Stranger," won the 2014 SFR Galaxy Award for Outstanding Debut Story.

SFR stories available on QuarterReads by Kyndra Hatch:

QuarterReads homepage:

SFR stories on QuarterReads:

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