Sunday, November 29, 2009

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Coming Soon: The SFR Holiday Blitz!

All aboard, folks! We have a BIG announcement! Starting Sunday, December 6, the science fiction romance community is launching the SFR Holiday Blitz.

Here’s the scoop: 12 bloggers have teamed up with 17 authors for your chance to win over 30 science fiction romance books. Whether you’re new to the genre, or a fan looking to add to her collection, this event is for you. Help spread the word!

Visitors to participating blogs can enter for a free chance to win a variety of science fiction romance books. Mark your calendars: The contest will be open from December 6 until midnight on Friday, December 11, 2009. The participating blogs will have a post title including the phrase “SFR Holiday Blitz” and that’s where you can comment for a chance to win.

Check out this Listmania of the majority of the books. Thanks to author Rowena Cherry for compiling it as well as the super slide show below:



To further help celebrate the event, blogger Lisa Paitz Spindler, author Ella Drake, and blogger Doug “SciFi Guy” Knipe and I will join Rowena Cherry on December 1, 2009, for her Crazy Tuesday podcast show. Join us for the live chat!

Now I’d like to unveil the participating bloggers:

The Galaxy Express
Spacefreighters Lounge
Lisa Paitz Spindler
Enduring Romance
Alien Romances
Take It To The Stars
Dirty Sexy Books
Love Romance Passion
SciFiGuy
Ella Drake
Queen of the Frozen North
Flying Whale Productions

And here’s a list of authors who have donated books for the event:

Ann Aguirre
Katherine Allred
Margaret L. Carter
Rowena Cherry
Ella Drake
Jess Granger
Susan Grant
Nathalie Gray
Leanna Renee Hieber
Claire Delacroix
Barbara Elsborg
Susan Kearney
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Karin Shah
Linnea Sinclair
Susan Sizemore
Ann Somerville

Thanks in advance to everyone who contributed to this endeavor. Your generosity of time, support, and book donations are all deeply appreciated.

As for the rest of you, join us at all the aforementioned blogs. Remember, the event kicks off starting December 6...and happy hunting!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Saturday, November 28, 2009

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Winners of THE PROMISE OF KIERNA'RHOAN

The winners of Isabo Kelly's THE PROMISE OF KIERNA'RHOAN are:

Robert Appleton (digital)
Cybercliper (print)

Congratulations! Winners, please send me your contact information to sfrgalaxy "at" gmail.com. Subject line: Kierna'Rhoan winner

Thanks to everyone who entered.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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Interview with Isabo Kelly & A Giveaway

Marshall's GuardThis post is the second of a two part feature on author Isabo Kelly (part one is here). Her science fiction romance e-novella THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN is now in print. For the author, this event is the culmination of a decade long journey for the story. It has action adventure plus elements of science fantasy (and I categorize it as non-erotic SFR in case you’re wondering). If you enjoy stories by Linnea Sinclair, C.J. Barry, Susan Grant, and Susan Kearney, then Isabo Kelly is for you.

If you want a taste of the author’s work right now, she offers Last Call on Eldora Station, a free, very short science fiction romance on her Web site that’s really sweet. Also available on her site, The Venture is another free short story set in the universe of Kierna’Rhoan. And don’t forget to check out Christmas On Eldora Station, her original SFR holiday romance story in the December issue of RT Book Reviews.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Isabo Kelly about her work and creative process. She has also generously offered both a print and digital copy of THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN for a giveaway, so details follow the interview.

Read on to discover what Isabo Kelly reveals about who bites, who blows smoke, and who inspired her pseudonym.

The Galaxy Express: What sparked the writing bug for you, in terms of seeking publication? What SF/F or science fiction romance books/films/TV shows have inspired you as a writer?

Isabo Kelly: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a story teller (I consider any lying done just practice story telling). I was writing the stories down on a regular basis by the time I got to high school. But it wasn’t until I was in college in Hawaii when I figured out how to go about submitting for publication. I’d had people tell me I should try to publish before that. I just didn’t know where to start. Then I met another writer—the brother of a woman I was working with at the dolphin facility in Hawaii—and he was able to point me in the right direction and encourage me. I started as a lot of SF/F writers did at that time. I went to magazines with short stories. Came pretty close once too with a story submitted to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. Once I started sending my fiction out into the world, there was no turning back. I was focused on getting something published.

LabyrinthI was really influenced early on by movies, particularly Star Wars, Labyrinth, Aliens, and Willow. Anything with another world and a romance in the background got watched a lot! And of course I watched Star Trek growing up. Book-wise, I was influenced a lot by Anne McCaffery’s Dragon Riders of Pern books. Those were my first introduction to fantasy/science fiction. I was a lot farther along in my fantasy reading before I ever got to Lord of the Rings. Authors like Mercedes Lackey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton, Barbara Hambley, David Eddings, and Raymond E. Feist all had a huge early influence on me. Later on, Lois McMaster Bujold really inspired me. Also, two books I’m not sure many people remember, The Snow Queen and The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge, were a huge influence—great space opera, btw! I highly recommend them!

I didn’t realize this until I was searching Amazon to make sure I got the spelling of Vinge’s name right, but she also wrote the novel version of Ladyhawke, and I got my pseudonym from that movie—Isabeau was the heroine’s name!


TGE: What initially prompted you to write THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN?

IK: A dream believe it or not. Well at least the idea for the novel came from a dream. The opening scene of THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN is actually very like the dream, down to the hero being a smoker and the heroine blowing smoke in the face of her ex-husband (the bad guy).

I started writing the novel when a couple of online friends decided to open an electronic publisher. This was more than 11 years ago and Dreams Unlimited was one of the very first e-publishers. They published some great stuff too, including an early Sherrilyn Kenyon paranormal and a story by Diana Gabaldon. When I heard they were starting this venture, I got every excited. I knew they were onto something potentially big and I wanted to submit. But at the time, what I had was all quite long. Since e-books were still so new, I figured something shorter would be better suited to the new medium. I remembered this dream of mine and the idea for the novel that I’d been developing and decided to write it. I wrote the first draft during a 5 week break in between periods of fieldwork for my Ph.D. After three extensive rounds of edits, off it went. And three months later, the book was accepted. Two months after that, it was published. You just have to love that kind of turn around time.

TGE: Do you have any path-to-publication war stories to share, particularly regarding your science fiction romance stories?

IK: LOL. I think I just shared one. When I started adding a lot of romance to my science fiction and fantasy stories (romance was almost always there, btw, I just realized I could add much much more when I learned about the Romance genre), I couldn’t find anyone willing to publish it. My stuff was too science fiction or fantasy for the romance genre and too romance for the science fiction and fantasy genres. I’m still trying to get this balance right. I think I succeeded with THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN. But as I mentioned, I wrote that very specifically for a small press so I felt like I had the room to write the story as it needed to be told. I never imagined it could find a home with a big publisher. I’m still not sure it would.

I did try NY houses with some of my stuff early on, before SFR was an accepted subgenre, but I got a lot of form rejection letters. Even after I was published I still got a lot of these form rejection letters from NY—when they’d respond at all. Some just ignored me, probably because I didn’t have an agent to nag them. I still think it’s a hard genre to sell, but thanks to authors like Linnea Sinclair, Catherine Asaro, Susan Grant and now Ann Aguirre, I’m hoping those sales get easier.

Echo The Dolphin


TGE: You worked with dolphins for over two years. Are you fluent in like, dolphin-speak? What’s the most fascinating fact you learned about them?

IK: LOL on dolphin-speak. No, they’re too smart for me. They were able to learn our language, though—sentence structure and everything! They knew the difference between things like “bring the ball to the surfboard” and “bring the surfboard to the ball”. That showed a complex understanding of language that not all animals get. But we never could figure out what they were saying to each other. That in and of itself was a pretty fascinating discovery for me.

The other thing I learned and that people still find amazing when I tell them is that dolphins bite. Yes, they get grumpy and they lash out. They’re predators, they hunt and chew on fish. Most people forget that when thinking about them. All that air fairy “dolphins are the harbingers of peace and harmony” stuff is a lot of crap. (Sorry everyone who liked the fantasy.) They’re animals just like we are. There are nice ones and mean ones, they do good things and bad things. Their society in the wild is very complex and it’s different from location to location and species to species. And they most definitely bite! (Fortunately, I move pretty quickly when giant, sharp teeth are heading my way or I would have had a pretty set of teeth marks on my stomach—bugger ended up only getting a bit of my shirt.)

Echo the Dolphin screenshot


TGE: MARSHALL’S GUARD is your novel-length science fiction romance. What factors served as the inspiration for that story? Please highlight three elements in the book that would appeal most to fans of science fiction romance.

IK: I was snoozing on the couch one day with Futurama on in the background and thinking about what it would be like for someone from our time who was really cool and considered super handsome to land into a time when he was considered…well not so handsome. And then vise-versa, what about a guy who’s considered kind of ugly now but he lands into a future time when he represents the ideal of male beauty. From that idle musing came the initial idea for MARSHALL’S GUARD. I was supposed to be working on something else when I got this idea, but the characters really appealed to me, so I started writing and didn’t stop till I had a novel.

Personally, I think readers of SFR will like the perspective of the hero. He gets brought 3,000 years into the future, to a completely different galaxy, and as he’s taking in this new, strange place, he can’t help but reference science fiction movies. I think a lot of us would find ourselves thinking about Star Wars if one day we woke up in another galaxy far far away. The heroine is strong and kick-ass, which we all like, but she has a soft spot for the protective hero—she even likes that he tries to rescue her once when she’s the one who’s supposed to be protecting him. We tough women find that pretty cute in our men. And there are space pirates. Who doesn’t like space pirates?

TGE: Congratulations on winning a Prism earlier this year for your SF erotic romance SIREN SINGING (Ellora’s Cave)! Please tell us a bit about the story premise.

IK: Thanks very much. I was thrilled with that win. I can thank my friend Dr. Claire Cave for helping to inspire this story. We were talking about arranged marriages and what happened when one of the people involved fell in love while the other was still in love with someone else (this conversation came out of a book she was reading at the time). She thought I should take that idea and put it in space. So I did. Here’s the formal blurb (since I’m not very good at describing my own stories—I know, I know, I’m working on getting better at it):

She is a Siren, capable of driving men mad with her song.

Sonia has been preparing for her marriage to Vander since before her father announced their betrothal. Their marriage will unite their homeworlds against a common enemy, and Sonia has done everything in her power to be ready for that union. All her study has had an unexpected side effect, however: she’s fallen in love with him.

He is a genetically engineered soldier determined to save his homeworld.

Vander had no intention of being married in anything but name, but as soon as he meets Sonia, he knows he must have her in his bed. And as soon as he hears her song, he realizes her powerful voice will be an unmatched asset to the war effort…and will put Sonia in terrible danger.

With enemies on all sides and treachery at every pass, Sonia must find a way to use her extraordinary voice to hold back the Selmorahn Empire…and use her mind and body to win the heart of the man she loves.

TGE: Can you share any information about upcoming projects or releases?

IK: The next thing I’m working on is the re-writes for the sequel to THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN. I got a bit carried away with the biology in this book and have to tighten things up a bit  Then I have to write the third book in this planned trilogy (Raf Tygran from KIERNA’RHOAN is the hero so you know it’ll be fun). I also have four more books planned to follow SIREN SINGING. And I’ve got a new paranormal romance about to start the submission rounds. Also, if I get enough interest, I’m thinking of writing regular short stories for my blog, all set on Eldora Space Station—the setting for a free short story on my website and also for the short story I just had published in the December issue of Romance Times Magazine. That’s still in the planning stages, though. I’ll keep readers updated on my website (www.isabokelly.com).

Thanks for such excellent questions, Heather! I really enjoyed this interview.

Right back at you, Ms. Kelly, and thanks for your art.

Now for the giveaway: Two lucky passengers will receive a copy of Isabo Kelly’s THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN. To enter, leave a comment for this post. The print copy prize is limited to U.S. residents, so for my international passengers, please specify if you are interested in being entered for a digital copy. The deadline to enter is 6 p.m. EST on Saturday, November 28, 2009.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, November 22, 2009

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Reader Expectations & The Thrill of a New Story

THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOANLike any reader, I love the thrill of a new story. When scouting for science fiction romance ones, I skim or even avoid jacket copy and reviews in order to avoid spoilers. This is especially true for books I’ll want to read soon. I only want the very basic premise, like if it’s about an android in love. In fact, even while reading, if I’m worried my eyes will inadvertently pick out information prematurely in the paragraph following the one I’m reading, I’ll cover that part of the page with my hand.

In that regard, I’ve been thinking I don’t have any definite expectations for SFR, other than that an author can spin a tale in an entertaining fashion. Right now, if you tell me only that a story blends steampunk and romance, or features a heroine space pirate, I want to try it. But upon further reflection, I realized that I was conflating being open to most story types with a lack of expectations. While I’m game to try almost anything, I do have expectations specific to this sub-genre.

Apart from basic expectations like good (or at least competent) writing, strong characters, creative worldbuilding, and a solid plot, I have ones specific to science fiction romance and I wanted to explore them in more detail. The story I’m going to use to illustrate the process is Isabo Kelly’s THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN (Samhain Publishing, available both in print and as an e-novella) which I recently finished.

But first, here’s what I knew about the story beforehand, because I think that plays into the expectations I built up:

I’ve known about the author for some time. In fact, before I’d read any of her work, I’d read quite a few online comments wherein readers praised her work. Then I had the opportunity to read her fantasy romance short story The Last Guardian from SUM3: The 2006 Zircon Anthology of Speculative Romance (it’s out-of-print, but you can still find copies for sale online). So from all of the above, I knew she could write well.

Then I set my sights on THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN (gotta love the instant gratification of purchasing an e-book!) In this case, I had already skimmed the blurb on Samhain’s Web site for blog research. But I had already decided to read the book so the blurb’s marketing woo-woo wasn’t a factor, except perhaps to confirm the tone of the story, which is one that interested me.

Upon reflection, I realize tone is a significant expectation I have. I expect an author to take the sub-genre seriously. The story can take all sorts of paths into the weird, the fantastical, or the sensual, and I will follow as long as I feel the overall tone is one of seriousness. This doesn’t mean lack of action/adventure or humor by any means. It’s an expectation that the author clearly enjoys writing such tales and doesn’t distance herself from them by employing certain plots, stylistic devices, or even word choices.

While I may gravitate toward certain elements, in general I want to expand my reading horizons as much as possible. One major expectation that I have for SFR is to encounter the unexpected, not only regarding the science fictional elements but also the romance ones. For example, I expect that the heroine and hero will be truly shaped by their world, and only the science fictional elements in this world will make their relationship possible.

So as I was reading this novella, I was evaluating the “fit” of the hero and heroine in their world. I felt that they did, especially given that there were many details to which Kelly had obviously given a lot of thought. To me, the worldbuilding felt fresh. I didn’t feel as though I had read this story a thousand times anywhere else. There were elements that were familiar—the story features “Shifters” and that concept in and of itself isn’t new—but they didn’t feel recycled from other stories.

When I know very little in advance about a story, I discover that I sometimes have to make a decision when it comes to SFR stories that blur the lines between science fiction and science fantasy. I’m a fan of both, but I do notice a certain moment when I have to decide if I can suspend my disbelief more than I already have when a story veers unexpectedly into science fantasy.

I had one of these moments during THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN. The quality of the writing can make a real difference for me. And again, here is where tone matters. Even if I think a certain element isn’t plausible, or becomes more fantastical then I was anticipating, I’m willing to continue if I’m convinced there’s a sincere effort to entertain, as opposed to Insert Plot Point X Here. Ultimately, I’d rather read a story that defies or forces me to re-evaluate my expectations than one which plays it safe.

THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN reinforced my love of the sub-genre in that I had the opportunity to read a unique story that had elements of both SF and romance and yet became more than just the sum of its parts. It’s the type of story that I wish more publishers would take a chance on. Hmm, there’s another unexpected expectation: that every book I read will leave me hungry for more.

What are your expectations for science fiction romance? Are there any particular books that revealed them for you?

Just a quick note here to let you know I’ll be going on blog hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday, but this Tuesday I’ll be featuring an interview with Isabo Kelly. At that time, you can enter to win a copy of THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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Harlequin Horizons: Redefining The Published Author or Damaging The Brand?

money grabAs most of you have probably heard, Harlequin Enterprises launched Harlequin Horizons, a self-publishing vanity publishing venture short-term money grab. Customers of the services “pay to play” at being a published author only without the traditional quality control or distribution resources (although even these services can be bought—to an extent).

This event has been the shot heard round the romance world. Below are links to sites with plentiful information about the news:

Absolute Write
Smart Bitches
Dear Author
Writer Beware Blogs!
How Publishing Really Works
RWA responds (via Ann Aguirre’s blog)

Art is sacred, and it distresses me to think that a good author would have to pay for anyone to read her book. In my opinion, by creating the story, she’s already taken a risk and made her investment. Money flows toward the author, sayeth Yog’s Law.

There are also the factors of quality control and consumer rights. Regardless of what it means to be a published author, why would we ever want those to be compromised?

To me, Harlequin’s new venture seems to represent a major (and surreal) step forward in the redefinition of the publishing hierarchy. Vanity presses have existed for a long time, but in recent publishing history, a few well-known publishers have established various kinds of financial connections with them. Obviously, these partnerships are lucrative, or we wouldn't be hearing about them.

Enter Harlequin, which has decided to monetize its slush pile by marketing Harlequin Horizons to authors whose manuscripts it has rejected.

In effect, the company has inserted a sizeable brick into the foundation of an eventual publishing pyramid structure that includes vanity and self-published books at the base, digital books in the middle, and a much smaller number of prestigious/bestselling print books at the top.

I’m not concerned that bookstores and online communities will be flooded with poorly written/edited books in the next few years. I mean, if authors are savvy enough to create distribution channels that rival those of traditional publishers, then they don’t need to pay Harlequin Horizon’s outrageous costs. (Umm, $19,999.00 for a book trailer? Really?? PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, a full length feature film, was produced for around $11,000.) They’d simply locate more cost-effective options and self-publish (the key being they’d own the ISBN and keep all profits). To readers, these books will be practically invisible.

But establishing a reputable brand is much like erecting a towering house of cards—what takes a long time to build can be toppled in only seconds with one careless wrong move.

Harlequin’s new venture has unsettling implications, not the least of which is, what is a publisher’s incentive to invest in new authors when it makes more money by luring them into a pay-to-play business model? On the other hand, the rise of vanity publishing as co-opted by publishers, along with new territories that digital publishers are conquering, may lead to alternate definitions of what it means to be a published author.

To achieve a midlist status in the new publishing pyramid (and beat out the much larger number of vanity-published authors comprising the base), one must be not only a skilled writer, but also a shrewd marketing machine. In effect, publishers seem to be communicating more and more that authors need to deliver a built-in customer base. And as the digital publishing realm matures, fewer people will define a published author solely in terms of her physical book being placed on a bookstore shelf. Or even as belonging to a publishing house.

Ultimately, it’s the story that counts, and I’m willing to read a great one regardless of source or medium (most of the time). When it comes to a niche genre like science fiction romance, beggars can’t be choosers. In addition to whatever romantic SF I could find, I was reading fanfiction SFR before the digital market was even born, as were I’m guessing many of you. But I also have high hopes that sound—and reputable—publishing innovations will help SFR authors become more successful in the future.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

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Animated Sexual Shenanigans on Mongo and Other Fun Bits

New Adventures of Flash GordonI'm at Tor.com today with Animated Sexual Shenanigans on Mongo. Having acquired the DVD boxed set of the television series The New Adventures of Flash Gordon (1979-1980), I was excited to watch it as I only recalled glimpses of the show from my childhood.

While revisiting this fun Filmation festival of Flash, my jaw hit the floor when I encountered the show's surprisingly high levels of romance and sensuality. I invite you to check out my post on it, and if you're a fan of Flash Gordon, I recommend you check out the box set as well.

Also, be sure and catch up on some of the recent SFR-related happenings:

Jess Granger has posted an excerpt from BEYOND THE SHADOWS, the sequel to her debut science fiction romance BEYOND THE RAIN.

Claire Delacroix (GUARDIAN) dishes on The Appeal of a Dystopian Society at RomCon.

Angela James takes us through Week One...Learning the Ropes at Carina Press.

In Contest Challenges for the Skiffy Rommer Set, Laurie Green gives us an inside peek about her experiences entering her SFR manuscript P2PC in a few recent writing contests.

Joyfully yours,

Heather


Sunday, November 15, 2009

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MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER & The Nurturing Hero

MY WIFE IS A GANGSTERBig fan of Asian cinema here.

I’m sure all of you are intensely curious about MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER (조폭 마누라 / JOPOG MANURA), a 2001 action film from South Korea. Well, I shan’t keep you in suspense: it’s “…about a female gang boss [Eun-jin] who needs to get married to fulfill her dying sister's wishes.” Eun-jin ties the knot with Kang Soo-il, a sweet, pudgy, teddy-bear of a guy who’s in for a big surprise once he discovers his wife’s line of work. And isn’t the title just divine?

Oh, sorry—you want to know what MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER has to do with science fiction romance? Good question, but I’d like to suggest a reframe of the question, namely, what particular element in this film could inspire science fiction romance?

MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER


The main element I’d like to highlight about this film is that it explores a few dynamics that unfold when the “traditional” husband and wife roles are flipped. Eun-jin is the domineering gang boss, breadwinner and kick-ass heroine. Like any brooding, tortured anti-heroine, she is sooo not in touch with her feelings. Kang Soo-il is all dork and the poster child of non-confrontational behavior. He’s also the ultimate nurturer. The film has a comic bent which makes the role reversal more of a parody at times, but the actors’ performances generally kept it grounded.

Anyway, as I was watching the film, there came a scene before their marriage (this won’t spoil anything) where Kang Soo-il encounters Eun-jin in the middle of a fight against two other men—only at this point, he doesn’t know she’s a gang boss whose martial arts skills rival the most accomplished Shaolin monk (the viewer, however, knows all about her). From his perspective, he sees only a damsel in a fight with unfair odds. Without any consideration of his own safety, he leaps into the fray in an attempt to ward off Eun-jin’s alleged attackers.



To find out what happens as a result, you’ll have to watch the film. *twirls virtual mustache and cackles maniacally*

Immediately, I shot my finger toward the screen (I was watching the film with my husband). I announced that I wanted to see a version of this couple in a science fiction romance. I thought that Kang Soo-il embodied the purest form of heroism during his act of chivalry. He knew he didn’t have the combat skills, but he charged ahead anyway despite his vulnerability. And later, he demonstrates his worth to Eun-jin not by the size of his…income or wit or possessions or fashion (because he has none of it), but by the size of his heart.


Sammo HungI think it would be swell to read a story in a futuristic setting about a tortured anti-heroine who doesn’t need the hero’s physical protection nor does she compete with him in that regard. Instead, he would help her understand the values of trust, commitment, and respect using his virtuoso nurturing skills.

I also like the idea of the nurturing hero to be the physical antithesis of the typically chiseled romance hero. What can I say? Color me a longtime fan of martial arts film star Sammo Hung, for whom I’ve always harbored a secret crush.

Don’t know if this type of couple will ever make an appearance, but I mention it because it’s an example of how science fiction romance can forge new territory when it comes to heroes. Such characters will probably never achieve the popularity of rakes or Alpha heroes, but nevertheless, they will claim the hearts of readers who encounter them, one Kang Soo-il at a time.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Friday, November 13, 2009

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If No Publisher Wants Your Story, What’s An Author to Do?

So you’ve written a science fiction romance. You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into perfecting the manuscript. Your premise is strong; your query shines. Once you bestow a final spit and polish, you submit it to agents. Then, you start to notice a certain pattern:

Every agent rejects it (maybe you even garnered some personal rejections).

You send it to mainstream print publishers that accept unagented submissions.

Every one of them rejects it.

You make the rounds at small press/digital publishers.

Every one of them rejects it.

Now a heart-wrenching choice must be made: shelve the manuscript for another time, perhaps when the market is more favorable? Or are you doomed to locking it away in the dark recesses of a trunk, never to see the light of day again?

Typically, authors in this situation are stuck with having to shelve a story until a more fruitful time, one which may or may not come. These days, however, the digital landscape seems to be creating a niche for content avidly sought by readers with a voracious need to read in a digital medium. A highly motivated author can take advantage of such an opportunity with the right tools and a quality product.

Many stories truly don’t warrant a publishing contract. Many manuscripts are deemed “unpublishable” for a reason. But not all: check out this First Sale story at Dear Author. The moral of the story is that on occasion, the publishing gurus will be wrong.

Unfortunately, there are solid and even great stories out there that will never be sold in a bookstore near you or me if an author relies on traditional methods of publication. But self-publishing has a huge stigma. Many readers aren’t inclined to purchase a story that doesn’t seem to have been vetted in any way. It can be difficult to judge a self-published work, especially without stellar buzz (not to mention an excerpt to sample or facts to Google). And even with excerpts available, a perusal of the first page will tell a reader all she has to know.

However, I think the scenario might also depend on who is doing the self-publishing, and in what context. Many niche genres develop tight-knit communities among readers and authors. If an author with a quality product were to be an active part of such a community, might that alter our perception of the author’s work? Might we be more willing to take a chance on such an author?

In other words, if such an author demonstrated proof in other ways of her ability to write and entertain, such as a platform, blogging, tweeting, articles, etc., and became a known entity in said community, might that be a decent predictor of her storytelling ability?

Let’s entertain the idea for a moment that a number of authors are making books available to the community. If readers are the ones deciding on which books succeed and which fail to profit, this dynamic could even approach the equivalent of a publisher endorsement/validation of the authors work. Few readers will read poor quality books, even for free, hence, the readers would become the gatekeepers (albeit on a much smaller scale than traditional publishing). For established authors dropped by publishers, such a strategy could mean connecting future books directly with the consumers.

Again, let’s underscore the importance that an author must deliver the goods regardless of platform, and still, the platform must be an effective one with a wide reach. She also has to be realistic about the results. Do science fiction romance authors (especially aspiring ones) have the goods to bypass publishers? More importantly, without standard distribution channels, have they established the readership to support the necessary sales? There’d also be certain unavoidable costs such as for cover art and possibly freelance editing.

Authors have choices, but they aren’t easy.

But consider the profit margin of such a venture. Some are concerned that with Big Name Retailers slashing the prices of hardcover and bestselling books, publishers and authors will suffer financially. But in response to Options in the Price War Over Books, Mark McElroy notes that:

“Actually, this could *increase* royalties and income for one class of writers: those who take advantage of the latest advances in technology and publish their work for themselves. 55-60% of $9.99 is greater than 10-15% of $25.00. With digital tech making self-publication and self-promotion an increasingly viable option (especially for niche authors), I think publishers need to be re-evaluating their position in the information-supply chain.” [emphasis mine] (Link via Dear Author)

And this from Nathan Bransford:

“Meanwhile, Mike Shatzkin surveys the landscape and considers the implications of a gradual publishing transition to smaller print runs and greater electronic market shareThe winners according to Shatzkin? Agents and the top 500 authors, who will be able to sell e-books directly because of their personal brands.” [emphasis mine]

Hmm…there’s that word “brand” again.

Some are questioning if all authors will even need an agent if they are pursuing publication using an alternate/digital publishing model. Under this type of model, an author could upload stories to the Kindle (because, as you may recall, “Kindle readers purchase more books than most heavy book purchasers). Or she could give Smashwords a try. Some sites will even assist with e-book conversion and distribution.

An author could build a strong Web presence and sell ebooks through her site (giving some away for free is an optional loss leader strategy). Tools like videos and MP3 downloads can further help her connect with readers. A competitive pricing structure might also help, say, $2.99 or even $1.99 for novel length works. Potentially, a reader could end up with a story for $1.99 that’s worth $7.99 in the traditional market, and the author’s profit margin is potentially—please note I said potentially—higher than if she accepted an average boilerplate contract.

Now, I can’t stress enough that this avenue isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. It’s merely one of many different paths to publication. The endeavor would involve astronomical amounts of work, possibly over the course of many years, to reach a point where it would be financially viable. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. But for a few science fiction romance authors, it may open doors previously closed.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

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Tag Party

In response to a previous post on branding science fiction romance, Jess Granger (BEYOND THE SHADOWS) suggested that we hold an Amazon tag party in order to help move our favorite science fiction romance books up in the listings. I figured, hey, I always wanted to be a party girl, so here’s the post to get things started. Chef is rolling out carts loaded with finger foods and all manner of virtual libations, so dig in!

BevBB also commented in response to the aforementioned post, and recommended that if we’re serious about it, we should, “Hit all the major booksellers online, including the solely ebook ones.” She also suggested we should include the online library sites.

Before we peruse the preliminary tag list I brainstormed, here are three resources about tagging:

What is tagging?
Amazon’s tagging how-to page
Why tags? This is a good example of why.

Now for the work-in-progress tag list.

Basic SFR tags:

Author’s name
Science fiction romance
Sci-fi romance
SF romance
Space opera romance
Futuristic romance
Futuristic lovers
Romance
Science fiction

Question: What about tagging SFR books with “paranormal” or “speculative”? Should we go there?

Tags for common story elements:

Apocalyptic
Post-apocalyptic
Cyborg
Android
Action romance
Adventure romance
Military SF romance
Near-future romance
Romantic SF
SF erotic romance
Futuristic erotic romance
Sci-fi erotic romance
Steampunk
Steampunk romance
m/m futuristic romance

There are two main tasks to accomplish that I can see: 1) Make additions or deletions to the tag list to lend consistency to our efforts (I will update the list as passengers add their ideas) and 2) Compile a list of the major booksellers we should hit up (I will update the post with this list as well). Also, feel free to suggest any other issues we should address.

Party hearty!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Monday, November 9, 2009

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Harlequin to Launch Carina Press, A Digital-only Publishing House

Carina Press


Authors now have a great new choice when it comes to submitting their science fiction romance stories. In Spring, 2010, Harlequin will launch Carina Press, a publishing house devoted to digital romance and erotic romances.

Congratulations to Angela James who will serve as Executive Editor. Below is all the sparkly new information about Harlequin's foray into the digital publishing landscape:

Harlequin launches digital-only publishing house
Carina Press™ currently accepting submissions


Toronto, ON (November 9, 2009) – Harlequin Enterprises Limited, the global leader in series romance and one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction, announced today the launch of Carina Press™, a digital-only publishing house that will operate independently of their traditional publishing businesses.

Carina Press is a digital-only publishing house whose eBooks will be sold direct to consumers through the Carina Press Web site and numerous third-party Web sites. Carina Press will publish a wide range of women’s fiction—from romance to erotica, science fiction to mystery, family sagas to choose your own adventures, horror to thriller and more, including every conceivable subgenre of these categories.

“As a digital-only publisher Carina Press is a natural extension to our business; it builds on our digital strength and leadership position. We expect to discover new authors and unique voices that may not be able to find homes in traditional publishing houses,” said Donna Hayes, CEO and Publisher of Harlequin Enterprises. “It definitely gives us greater flexibility in the type of editorial we can accept from authors and offer to readers. As well, we hope to reach a new group of readers with niche editorial.”

Brent Lewis, Vice President Digital, is delighted to announce Angela James is joining Carina Press as Executive Editor. A veteran of the digital publishing industry, James is a well-known advocate for digital publishing. James has enjoyed a long and varied publishing career including senior editorial positions at digital-first publishers. “I have admired Harlequin's digital initiatives for years, and have always thought of them as leaders in the digital arena, so I'm unbelievably excited to join the Carina Press team,” said James. “I believe Harlequin can bring digital publishing to the next level for both authors and readers.”

Lewis added, “Angela has been a key player in growing the digital marketplace for romance. Her experience and insight is a tremendous benefit to the Carina Press team.”

Carina Press is currently accepting submissions in all genres of commercial fiction. Carina Press will consider shorter length stories, genre novels between 50,000 to 100,000 words and longer and complex narratives of over 100,000 words. Carina Press will also acquire books that have been previously released in print form, but for which the author has either retained digital rights or had digital rights revert to them. All submissions should be sent to submissions@carinapress.com.

Carina Press plans to launch in summer 2010 and will release new titles on a weekly basis. Between now and the launch, readers and writers can follow the progress of Carina Press via their blog.

For full submission guidelines and more information on Carina Press please go to www.carinapress.com.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, November 8, 2009

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How Will We Eliminate Body Hair in the Future--Or Will We Even Care?

shavingIn Patti O’Shea’s ETERNAL NIGHTS, there is a prolonged chase scene in which the hero and heroine—Wyatt Montgomery & Captain Kendall Thomas—don’t have access to hygiene resources, let alone time to luxuriate in a hot, scented bubble bath. One of the first details I wondered about was the heroine’s body hair: Did she have stubble on her legs/underarms after a day or so of scrambling around in the pyramid’s maze? I don’t recall the issue being described or resolved, and when she eventually did bathe, we aren’t told if she had to shave.

Blast that! Well, I had a solution. You see, whenever I encounter a lack of such realism in science fiction romance, my default conclusion is that the heroine/hero had undergone a procedure to remove unwanted body hair permanently prior to the story’s beginning. (Yeah, I’m considerate like that!)

The above example highlight’s two related issues: Realism in romance and an exploration of cultural practices as they relate to body hair. There have been frequent discussions in the romance community regarding realism in romance, particularly as it relates to hygiene. This is a discussion usually held in the context of historical romances, yet I’ve not encountered one devoted exclusively to science fiction romance.

Let’s remedy that a.s.a.p.!

Copper razors date back to circa 3000 B.C. Historically, “For women, the practice of shaving the legs derives from a current cultural standard in the West that deems leg hair on women unattractive. This standard emerged during the early twentieth century, as women's legs became more visible owing to shorter hemlines, and when the safety razor made the practice of leg shaving practical.”

Other than a means of making razor moguls filthy rich, leg shaving possibly creates the impression that a woman is young and fertile (less so than her older, hairy-legged counterpart). If men shave body hair, it’s frequently done in the context of sports, modeling, or combat situations. Holy double standard, Batman!

But how much longer will we rely on wet or electric shaving methods? Will we ever invent the ultimate depilatory cream or electrolysis procedure? Or might we eventually manipulate our genes to the point that we can control hair growth across various parts of our bodies? What if, in the future, a society adds cloning to its reproduction repertoire? Will the lack of leg hair really matter anymore?

I've read that we have less need of body hair now than in the past. Scientists have speculated that we shed our fur for health reasons. Made me wonder if we’re evolving toward a state of complete hairlessness. If our ability to zap harmful micro- and not-so-microorganisms becomes a readily available technology (e.g., sanitizing sprays instead of showers), would a hirsute appearance remain a cause for concern?

What's nifty about science fiction romance is that it has the potential to explore the issue of body hair and it's role in the attraction heroes and heroines have for one another. It doesn't have to be a factor in every story, but if an author wanted to inject such realism into the worldbuilding, I say bring it on.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, November 5, 2009

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It Takes A Village

Hokiest blog post title ever? Sure, but in light of my recent posts on branding science fiction romance, I experienced a few light bulb moments. It was partly because of personal reflection, but also because of insights shared by my astute passengers both here and elsewhere. These insights are related to the role that erotic romance has played during the growth of the paranormal romance genre, and by extension, science fiction romance.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that paranormal romance has roots in the erotic romance market. In a nutshell, paranormal romance began as a niche genre nurtured by small/digital presses. Then it branched out into the erotic romance market where it fed readers’ needs for such stories. Later, authors like Christine Feehan bridged the gap between niche and mainstream. You know the rest of the story.

We’re seeing a similar pattern with science fiction romance. The sub-genre has deep roots in Star Trek fanfiction (which, like most fanfiction, isn’t without its share of stories that include graphic sex scenes) and small presses/digital publishers (with heat levels ranging from sweet to explicit). Currently, small/digital publishers are a significant source of science fiction romance books. Most of them are erotic romances, but not all.

All of the above is why I feel it's important to point out that SF erotic romance is simply another slice of the SFR pie. It’s another way for readers so inclined to feed their need for this sub-genre.

I asked author Jennifer Leeland (MARKED FOR PLEASURE) to fill in some of the background regarding paranormal and SF erotic romance for us, and here’s what she had to say:


[Begin quote]

“…the popularity [paranormal romance] has now was certainly spurred by Ellora's cave. Though many authors had already written paranormal romances (Feehan's Carpathian series as an example) they certainly didn't have the same success that paranormal seems to have today.

Nora Roberts and other romance authors dipped their toes into the paranormal (Nora's three sister's trilogy is one of my favorites featuring three witches) but contemporaries were (and still are) their bread and butter. So, where did this popularity for urban fantasy, werewolves, other shifters and magic worlds come from?

Go to Amazon and put in "paranormal authors" and many familiar names pop up--Sara Reinke, Larissa Ione, etc. And Dawn Thompson who began at Highland Press. Sylivia Day began at Ellora's Cave. Anya Bast began at Ellora's Cave. Shiloh Walker began at Ellora's Cave. Names that are familiar to us in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance were once slogging it out in epublishing. The popularity of Joey W. HIll's ebooks have led to a good New York publishing career. Kate Douglas carried her successful werewolves to Kensington.

Heather Osbourne moved from editing for Ellora's Cave to the editor at Tor, the Holy Grail of publishers for paranormal, futuristic and fantasy authors. There's a connection between the success of paranormal on the shelves of Walmart and the continued success of paranormal erotic romance on Fictionwise. Believe it or not, it's working for SFR as well. Nalini Singh has created an audience for her Psy shifter series.

The audience is there.

I've written Romantic Suspense (under another name), contemporary erotic romance, BDSM contemporary erotic romance and science fiction erotic romance. Guess which ones are the most successful?

Yep. The BDSM contemps and the sci fi erotic. The audience is there. Hell, Kaitlyn O'Conner is kicking ASS on Fictionwise.

So, we have a subgenre in erotic romance that makes the top ten on Fictionwise regularly (Science Fiction Erotic Romance). We have paranormal authors that topped the erotic romance ebook best seller lists five and ten years ago that are now selling paranormal titles in the brick and mortar stores.

That's exciting for someone like me.

Like any genre, Erotic Romance has good writers who represent the genre, and not so great writers that don't.

For me, it's all win/win since I love Linnea Sinclair and I also love Robin Rotham who wrote "Alien Overnight" one of the HOTTEST, SMOKIN' futuristics I've ever read. So, I'm good. I can read "Grimspace" and be totally thrilled and I can read Mima's "In Service" and be thrilled in a totally different way.

As a writer, I like to write the erotic space adventures. I love the idea of sexual freedom leading to different moral, political and social issues for future man. That's my fun.

Right now? Nobody knows how to market it.

Is it possible to have dynamic world building, romance and erotic sex scenes? Yes.

Is it possible to have dynamic world building, romance and NO erotic sex scenes? Absolutely.

I love to write sci fi. It's the ultimate writer "What If". I also love writing the psychological aspects of D/s and other kink. I'm hoping the popularity that's beginning to come in ebooks will start to show in the NY publishers soon.”

[End quote]

In conclusion, I want to emphasize that SF erotic romance is another example of small/digital presses taking risks when others can’t or won’t. It’s about authors paying their dues and investing much time and effort for very little money in the hopes that the sub-genre as a whole will enjoy greater success down the line. Finally, it’s very possible that some or more of the mainstream SFR authors of the future are the SF erotic romance authors of today. These factors are important to acknowledge and embrace regardless of one’s individual taste.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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Exclusive: Covers & Story Blurbs from Samhain Publishing’s Forthcoming Space Opera Anthologies

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am thrilled to unveil the covers and story blurbs for IMPULSE POWER & MEN IN SPACE, Samhain Publishing’s forthcoming space opera anthologies! Thanks to anthology editor Sasha Knight, my esteemed passengers get the first exclusive peek (the information isn’t even listed on the publisher’s site yet).

The IMPULSE POWER anthology includes three m/f romances. MEN IN SPACE is the title for the collection of three m/m romances (hmm, remember when I expressed interest in more m/m SFR?). The covers for each trio of stories also combine to form two tapestries which I also have the pleasure of sharing with you. Cover artist Kanaxa designed them both.

Tapestry


I’d like to extend a special congratulations to anthology author Nathalie Gray who’s a regular here at The Galaxy Express.

Now, on with the show!

METAL REIGN by Nathalie Gray

Genre: SciFi-Futuristic Romance
Price: $3.50
Publication Date: 23 Feb 10

The invaders thought they had crushed humanity. They messed with the wrong species.

An Impulse Power story.

Francine Beaumont is tired. Tired of waiting for an armada of Imber ships to finish off what’s left of humanity. Tired of fear and privation. Tired of living like a rat, feeding off what scraps the cat lets her have.

When the chance comes to hit the Imbers where it really hurts—right at their fuel supply—she takes it. One stealth cruiser. One pilot. A cargo hold filled with explosives. A suicide mission for sure, but better that than doing nothing.
As the ship’s cook, John O’Shaughnessy knows everything that goes on aboard the warship. And something is definitely up with his Frankie. If she thinks he’s going to let her carry out this crazy plan of hers alone, that stubborn woman has another think coming.

Frankie thinks she’s gotten away clean…until her instincts tell her she’s not alone on her mission. Still, it’s a shock to find her peace-loving John standing there with eyes that spell murder. Now is a hell of a time to discover they’re more than friends. But there’s no turning back…

Warning: Space invaders were seriously harmed in the making of this story.

And here are the rest:

THE MYTHMAKERSTHE MYTHMAKERS by Robert Appleton

Genre: Sci-Fi/Futuristic Romance
Price: $3.50
Publication Date: February 23, 2010

The last will and testament of a forgotten Earth…

An Impulse Power story.

For Captain Steffi Savannah and her crew of deep space smugglers, life has become little more than a dogged exercise in mere survival. Their latest disastrous heist ended with another dead crew member—and no place left to hide. She’s even finding it hard to dredge up any excitement over the giant, crippled ship that appears on their radar, even though it’s the salvage opportunity of a lifetime.

They find that it’s no ordinary alien vessel. It’s a ship of dreams, populated with the last remnants of Earth’s mythical creatures. Including the blond, built, mysterious Arne, one of a race blessed with extraordinary beauty—and few inhibitions. Though he won’t tell her exactly what he is, in his arms Steffi rediscovers something she thought she’d never feel again. Wonder, love…and hope.

It isn’t long, though, before the Royal guard tracks them down, and Steffi and her crew are faced with a terrible decision. Cut and run. Or risk everything to tow the ship and her precious cargo to safety.

Warning: This book contains moderate sex, ménage (FFM), strong language, and strong violence. Also includes hot nudists, naïve men, and other creatures that don’t exist on Earth.

HEARTS AND MINDSHEARTS AND MINDS by J.C. Hay

Genre: Sci-Fi/Futuristic Romance
Price: 3.50
Publication Date: 23 Feb 10

Working together is unavoidable. Falling in love…inevitable.

An Impulse Power story.

Syna Davout thought it was supposed to be a simple smash-and-grab job—smash onto a luxury yacht, grab the cash, and split the proceeds with the client. Unfortunately, the client failed to mention that she’s the diversion for an assassination attempt that destroys the yacht and leaves her with a passenger she never expected. A fugitive telepath caught in the middle of a revolution.

Galen Fash thought his days were numbered. The fledgling revolution on his homeworld needs him to buy them time, with his life if necessary. The last thing he needs is to get involved with a pirate captain-for-hire whose larger-than-life emotions draw him like a moth to a flame.

Inexorably, Syna is dragged into a war that isn’t hers, and they both discover—between knock-down-drag-outs—that their whole is far stronger than the sum of their parts. Dodging the enemies that want them both dead will be hard enough. First, they have to survive each other…

Warning: this book contains Space Vikings, gossipy AIs, boxing-as-foreplay, rogue telepaths and a demanding pirate captain who likes to be in charge. The author will not be held responsible for a desire to punch your partner in the jaw, or a sudden awareness of latent psionic ability.

Men in Space Tapestry


MOONLUSTMOONLUST by Kallysten

Genre: Gay romance, Red Hot, Sci-Fi Futuristic
Price: $3.50
Publication Date: January 26th 2010

In space, no one will hear them moan.

A Men in Space story.

The job was supposed to be an easy one for Captain Kar and his two-man crew: land the Danaus on the deserted moon, appropriate a few boxes of precious chromore, and jump out of the system before the Guardians could get to them. Even Will and Jay’s inability to keep their hands off each other for any length of time should not have been too much of a problem.

They discover too late it’s the laineards’ mating season. The resulting sexual pheromones begin to affect them as soon as they step off the ship. With Will and Jay losing their minds to lust, and Kar himself blinded by visions of the two men he has wanted for months, things suddenly get much harder than expected.

Their only hope for not ending up in jail is to get out of there before the Guardians find them. Except an open loading dock contaminated the air inside the Danaus. And Kar will have to resort to drastic measures to keep Jay and Will apart long enough to escape…

Warning: The Lodge does not endorse or otherwise approve of this sexually charged M/M/M rendition of one of its elite members cavorting with the crew of a thieving spaceship while under the influence of pheromones-induced, overwhelming and all-consuming lust.

CRIMSONCRIMSON by Ethan X. Thomas

Genre: Gay Romance, Red Hot
Price: $3.50
Publication Date: January 26, 2010

Submission isn’t an option—it’s a full-time job.

A Men in Space story.

Humiliated by the betrayal of his former Master, Lieutenant Benjamin Kraft will do anything to bring the drug czar Tazu to justice—anything but kneel again. Forget passion too. He’d rather risk daily grow-op raids. Then, just when Tazu is finally within reach, an ambush wipes out Ben’s entire squad and threatens the life of his partner—a partner he never realized he cared about, much less loved.

As a member of a former slave race known as starlings, Adam’s speed and strength make him a valuable asset to the police force even as his blue skin inspires prejudice and derision from the other officers. Ben’s always been able to look past that, so what’s changed? Suddenly his partner is rude at every turn. Ben may try to get rid of him, but too bad; Adam won’t be scared off. He has his own reasons for wanting to bring Tazu in, and he’ll do it even if it means putting Ben in his place.

Even if it means acting as Ben’s Master on their next mission: an investigation on a planet where sex is everywhere, and where whips and chains are the norm...

Warning: This title may prove addictive. It contains explicit m/m sex, leather chaps, latex shorts, and slippery goodness.

BEYOND MERIDIANBEYOND MERIDIAN by C.C. Bridges

Genre: SciFi-Futuristic Romance, Gay Romance
Price: $3.50
Publication Date: January 26, 2010

Two men. One passion. No choice.

A Men in Space story.

Captain Rick Raine got more than he bargained for when he agreed to take on a brash young man as a crewmember along with contraband cargo. Karl’s spirit intrigues him, but he didn’t sign up for battling privateers, the United Planetary Alliance—or his traitorous body’s response. Especially to a naïve kid who cheats at holo poker and knows a whole lot more than he should.

Deep in the heart of enemy space, Karl’s goal, to rescue the woman who saved him from a life of sexual servitude, is finally close enough to touch. Unfortunately, so is Captain Raine, who becomes erotic poetry in motion when he pilots the ship. Raine’s an honest thief, but Karl can’t trust him with UPA secrets that could get them both killed.
But when Karl signed on for this mission, no one told him to hang on to his heart…

Warning: hot man-on-man sex, talking spaceships, eight-legged robots, space pirates, a potty-mouthed space cowboy, a beautiful woman in distress and a sad lack of laser sword battles.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Written on

SFR Linkfest for November, 2009

It's a new month and we have a lot to cover. Let's get to it!

New releases

Isabo Kelly’s THE PROMISE OF KIERNA'RHOAN (Samhain Publishing) has just made its debut in paperback! Here’s the story blurb:

Trust will either destroy them…or save them both.

Kira Farseaker led a sheltered, privileged life—until her discovery of a cruel secret plunged her into an underworld of danger. Now she vows to use her money and position to save an alien species, the Shifters, from government-sanctioned extermination.

A secret planet, a Farseaker legacy known as Kierna’Rhoan, could offer at least some of the evolving Shifters the sanctuary they need to survive. To get them there safely will be the most dangerous mission Kira has ever attempted—a task that isn’t made any easier by her attraction to the dark, hungry eyes of a suspected spy.

Officer David Cario’s assignment to a Shifter extermination squadron is just the break he needs to learn why his sister was executed. Earning the trust of his commander’s ex-wife, suspected terrorist Kira Farseaker, is easier said than done, especially when crossing into her world brings him face to face with truths he isn’t prepared to discover.

Swept up in a growing whirlpool of corruption and treachery, Kira and David find themselves locked in a struggle between duty and a growing passion that could destroy everything they’ve worked for. Or save both their lives.


You can read an excerpt of THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN here. The author has also written Christmas on Eldora Station, a holiday-themed science fiction romance short story in the December 2009 issue of RT Book Reviews.

Author Jennifer Leeland’s latest release is a sci-fi erotic romance novella, which will be out Tuesday, November 3, from Loose Id LLC. Here’s the lowdown:

She’s followed him through the remote corners of space.

One of the few survivors of a sickness that claimed her colony, Rhea Tucker blames one man for the death of her family. For two years, she has stalked Conner Mitchum, learning everything she can looking for an opportunity to kill him. To trap him, she becomes a sexual submissive, changes her identity and gets a luxurious suite on The Star of Pleasure.

He is searching for the most elusive murderers in the galaxy.

Undercover and searching for a group of killers, Conner is close to his end goal. But a female submissive catches him off guard and he’s forced to save her life as assassins attack him. They plunge into space with enemies at their heels. To protect Rhea, Conner completes his planet’s mating ritual which marks them both and creates a bond he never intended to survive long enough to enjoy.


Now for other news:

Science fiction romance in the pipeline

Ella Drake’s SF erotic romance Firestorm On E'Terra debuts from Liquid Silver Publishing in December 2009. It will be part of an anthology titled HEARTS AFIRE: December.

BEYOND THE SHADOWS*Bestselling* author (yes, you read that right!) Jess Granger reports that “Book Two for the Realms Beyond series is in the works. BEYOND THE SHADOWS will be in bookstores May 4, 2010.” Here’s more about the story:

A man of deception. A woman of justice. Can their fragile trust be strong enough to prevent a war?

Commander Yara knows perfect leadership requires perfect control and discipline. She has spent years living without the distraction of caring for anything—or anyone. It’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make. Yara has honed herself into the perfect heir to the Azralen throne, but a bloody coup could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. She must return home to prevent war. Unfortunately the only ship available belongs to an Earthlen trader with no regard for authority—especially hers.

Cyn is a rebel, driven to protect those suffering at the hands of the Elite leaders of Azra. Using his alias to manipulate the lovely but icy commander onto his ship, he has to keep her from Azra long enough to ignite the revolution. But when he awakens a vibrant and feeling woman beneath that icy exterior, he gets more than he bargained for—love. He must find a way to convince Yara to join him, before they get caught in a web of deception that could tear their world apart.


Nancy J. Cohen announced on her web site that she’s contracted with The Wild Rose Press for SILVER SERENADE, a science fiction romance.

Here’s an exclusive peek at the story courtesy of the author:

A beautiful assassin and a desperate fugitive join forces to stop an
interstellar war.

Ace pilot Jace Vernon is forced to flee his home world after being
framed for murder. He seeks a witness in his defense who's a known
terrorist, but S.I.N. agent Silver Malloy gets in his way. The
platinum-haired beauty counters his every move in the quest to clear his
name. As he makes it his mission to break her, he doesn't count on the
personal consequences of his success.

Silver refuses to abort her deadly mission even if it means killing the
one man Jace needs alive to prove his innocence. Her resolve wavers when
Jace's charms melt the barriers around her heart. Can she help him win
his case, even if it means betraying her family and ruining her career?


Thanks to author Karen Fox, I discovered the announcement of a recent sale for another forthcoming SFR:

Marcella Burnard's debut ENEMY WITHIN, a futuristic romance about a tough-as-nails female starship captain and the notorious space pirate who commandeers her ship, set amid an escalating intergalactic cold war, to Leis Pederson at Berkley, in a two-book deal, by Emmanuelle Alspaugh at Judith Ehrlich Literary Management (World). - Publisher's Lunch 9/11/2009

Here’s an excerpt of ENEMY WITHIN from the author’s Web site. She also has an interesting post on what she learned about writing and the industry that helped her sell ENEMY WITHIN, which is her fifth manuscript.

(Here’s a link to Judith Ehrlich Literary Management, Emmanuelle Alspaugh’s bio (scroll down), and the submission guidelines. Want to know more? Meet Agent Emmanuelle Alspaugh. I mention all of this because, you know, just in case you have a science fiction romance manuscript seeking a home.)

Katherine Allred recently unveiled the cover of the next book in her "Alien Affairs" series. Check it out.


Close Contact


Skiffy Rommer news

Spacefreighters’ Lounge reports that Sharon Lynn Fisher is a finalist “…in the RWA FF&P On the Far Side Contest (Paranormal category)” for her new novel ECHO 8. Congratulations, Sharon!


Laurie Green
’s SFR manuscript P2PC has finaled in the Oklahoma RWA Finally a Bride Contest. Fingers crossed, Laurie!

On steampunk

Will I be able to conduct a link roundup without mentioning steampunk romance? Absolutely…not!

Wicked cool site: STEAMPUNKOPEDIA2: Steampunk research center.

* New to steampunk? Cherie Priest has a Steampunk FAQ.

* At Tor.com, GD Falksen presents Steampunk 101.

* Katie MacAlister provides a brief overview of the genre as well as some background about her forthcoming steampunk romance STEAMED. To read a (non-first chapter) excerpt of STEAMED, click here and scroll down.

* Yummy for my tummy! Steampunk cakes (Thanks to Jody Wallace for the link.)

Secret promotional resource

If you’re ready to promote your science fiction romance, keep libraries in mind. It’s like a secret ingredient!

Author interviews

Interview with cover artist Kanaxa—The Artist Behind the Beautiful Covers.

Here’s a recent interview with Linnea Sinclair (REBELS AND LOVERS) at Star-Crossed Romance.

Hot stuff

We can never have too many sexy scientists, eh? Chart: Sci-fi's sexy scientists ranked by hotness/plausibility (thanks to SFSignal for the link).

And finally, thanks to Nicola O. of Alpha Heroes, who included The Galaxy Express in one of her recent Thursday Thirteen posts. She describes TGE as delivering “The scoop on the hot Science Fiction Romance subgenre.”

And it just keeps gettin’ hotter…!

Joyfully yours,

Heather