Sunday, January 30, 2011

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A Science Fiction Romance Solution For The Problem of Geographical Restrictions

ape thinking


In October 2010, Dear Author’s Jane wrote a post called “How Do We Solve a Problem Like Geographical Restrictions.” This post was in response to “…non US readers asking why a certain book isn’t available to them that they KNOW is out there because they have seen it on the torrent sites.” In other words, non U.S. readers can’t always purchase the books they want because certain rights haven’t been sold. As Jane put it:

Geographic restrictions, in a readers’ eye, is an unreasonable impediment to purchasing a book. A reader knows that the book is out there, in digital format, one click away, and the inability to purchase it because of some incomprehensible reason termed “geographic restrictions” fosters anger, frustration, and anxiety.

It’s a topic both complex and fascinating, and I encourage you to read the post as well as the lively discussion that follows.

As I scrolled through the comments and read about the frustration faced by non U.S. readers, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head:

* Non U.S. readers need books to read.

* Science fiction romance is a subgenre in need of a wider audience.

* Ebooks open up a whole new way of delivering stories, including directly from authors to readers.

* Ergo, science fiction romance authors could actually take advantage of geographical restrictions by selling some (or all!) of their books directly to international readers.

Basically, I’m proposing the idea of creating a collective wherein a group of authors band together to sell their science fiction romance stories, attractively priced, to readers limited by geographical restrictions. However, this proposition isn’t just about making the books available (because this way, of course, anyone could purchase them). The goal would involve specifically marketing the books to international readers.

The power of social networking media like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs would help such authors connect with readers looking for ebooks to buy. I envision a campaign centered around that one goal. Even a simple blog would be enough to link to the available ebooks.

While readers may not be able to obtain all the ebooks they want, at least they’ll have more choices. Based on my reading of Jane’s post, non U.S. readers are currently underserved. Science fiction romance could step in to help fill that need. And by creating a site/blog that features links to the available ebooks, readers wouldn’t have to search all over the Internet.

The endeavor would offer other advantages to authors:

* Authors decide pricing and retain all profits
* Authors would control things like covers and marketing copy
* Flexibility to write and sell stories of varying length
* The stories will be available for as long as authors care to sell them.
* Warm and fuzzy feelings from performing such a needed service

Seems to me that short stories and novellas would make the idea of selling directly to readers much less daunting. Variety is good, but authors could begin with shorter works to test the waters.

I’m assuming this project wouldn’t be viable or attractive for established authors in the print medium whose contracts might prohibit them from being involved. Rather, I see more appeal for e-published authors, aspiring authors, e-self-published authors, and authors with backlist SFR titles. And possibly, authors who have been dropped by their mainstream print publishers and are interested in writing for the digital medium.

This endeavor might also hold appeal for authors who have the rights to their out of print backlist science fiction romances. Kelly McClymer added a very interesting point along these lines in the comments of Jane’s post (#209):

The authors who are putting up their out of print back list don’t have to put geographical restrictions on the books. In fact, Amazon offers the 70% royalty rate only if you don’t put geographical restrictions on your distribution (Amazon gets it, and it is definitely trying to push the publishers and governments toward a more global-friendly e-marketplace).
[Emphasis mine]

That said, I’m fully aware a project like this has risks. It would consume a lot of time and energy, and there’s no guarantee authors would make a return on their investments.

Plus, the stories would have to be good. Really good. Good enough to prove to non U.S. readers who are limited by geographical restrictions that it’s worth spending their hard-earned money on science fiction romances. In order to increase the chances that a quality product is being delivered, it would behoove authors to employ the services of freelance editors and/or solid beta readers.

Additionally, there’s more to this process than just writing a story and throwing up a site. But how to learn about the nitty gritty of selling directly to readers? Luckily, I knew of one person who possessed the know-how, and who has had experience selling her books to international readers.

The ProvisoAuthor Moriah Jovan is her name. I’d previously seen her comments around the blogosphere relating to various ebook topics, and it was her comment in response to Jane’s post that piqued my interest. When I contacted her about this, she generously allowed me to pick her brain about what in her experience authors would need to know about selling ebooks directly to readers.

I asked Moriah for permission to quote her answers to my questions, and she agreed. Here are some of the key points she made about setting up an author “store”:


Assuming authors have their own rights, what you'd need is:

1. Website with a WordPress installation (but NOT Wordpress.com) OR ZenCart (or both, I guess).
2. Any one of a couple of really good WP shopping cart plugins that will hook into Paypal and has an auto-download feature OR ZenCart
3. A Paypal account.
4. Digital files.

Quite frankly, if you have a lot of titles, go with the ZenCart or another open-source shopping cart platform. Any shopping cart you get has to a) be able to hook into Paypal and b) auto-deliver individual digital files once payment is made.


Moriah went on to point out the limitations of a closed system in some cases. For example, customers can’t download directly to their Kindle from the author’s shopping cart platform. They’ll have to download the ebook(s) to their computers and sideload.

During her own research into selling her own ebooks as well as the various formats involved, Moriah “finally decided that the only important ones were PDF, EPUB, and MOBI (Kindle).”

She also shared that

I bundle up all my formats in a ZIP file (which isn't the best way in the world) in lieu of having an ever-available bookshelf. I would LOVE to provide a bookshelf where people can load formats individually, but I can't afford it yet. So they get ALL the formats, but they have to unzip and sideload.


The short of it is, non U.S. readers need only be able to Google to find the science fiction romance books they want and have a credit card to purchase them.

However, there’s still the challenge of converting the story to a digital file in one of the above formats. You can Google in order to find free ways to convert to PDF, but what about the others?

When I asked about this aspect, Moriah shared that she offers conversion services. To give you an idea of related costs, I asked if she wouldn’t mind me sharing her rates, and she agreed:

Base prices (relatively clean file; includes linked table of contents and embedded cover image that client provides)

Kindle $125
EPUB $125
Smashwords $60

Add-ons

Word document extracted from a PDF ("clean" extraction $25; price goes up from there, especially if I have to retype anything)
Table of Contents with more than 30 links (12.5c per link)
Footnotes converted to endnotes and reciprocally linked ($10 for conversion + 25c per reciprocal link)
Images (2.50 - 3.50 each)
Indices (25c per link)
Rush charge ($250+ surcharge for a 24-hour turnaround time)

As a point of reference, my normal turnaround time is 2 weeks; others are up to 90 days.


So unless you know someone capable and willing to do the conversion for free, this would involve some up-front costs. Doing the math for one ebook in one format, say, EPUB, and priced at $2.99, an author would have to sell roughly 42 copies before recouping initial costs. And that’s not including paying someone to do a cover (if the author so chooses—otherwise it’s DIY), paying a freelance editor, or other extras.

Geographical restrictions are going to exist for some time. Therefore, I envision this proposal as a long term project, one that might be months or even a year or two in the making. But I wanted to blog about it in case some entrepreneurial-minded authors might see value in such a venture.

Whether you are an author or a reader, what do you think about this idea? Are there any other pros or cons?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Saturday, January 29, 2011

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Steampunk Romance Interview at RT Book Reviews

Over at the RT Book Reviews blog, Morgan Doremus has a terrific interview up: Three Ladies Who Love A Good Steam. The interview is with the three authors behind Samhain Publishing's steampunk romance anthology, Silk, Steel, & Steam. They are: Mari Fee ("Bluebeard's Machine"), Sahara Kelly ("Flavia's Flying Corset"), and Tilda Booth ("Stealing Utopia").

The questions were so thoughtful, I found myself contemplating them after I finished reading the authors' responses:

Morgan Doremus: In "Stealing Utopia", some of the characters believe that by cracking a human’s neurochemical code, scientists could measure the true capacity of the human brain and therefore found a perfect world. However, Jane believes that “no good has ever come from tinkering with the human condition in such a way.” Which side do you fall on in this debate?

Anyway, I'm passing on the link for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, January 27, 2011

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Is Conflict A Dirty Word In Science Fiction Romance?

Since action-adventure components are found in many science fiction romances, and because the SF elements are often very serious in nature (e.g., war, new technologies run amok, the dangers of space travel, political unrest), I expect a lot of conflict in this subgenre. Not just external plot conflict, but specifically internal and relationship conflict. I want them as heated as some of the love scenes these stories also offer. Unfortunately, my wish doesn’t always come true.

I wonder, why is that? I suspect the romance part of the equation sometimes has a dampening effect on the conflict level. It’s also possible that I have a high tolerance for conflict, and I’m reading stories that, while entertaining, aren’t intended for someone with my particular tolerance level.

Mainly, my concern is when there’s a promise of really stupendous relationship conflict, but then it’s resolved way, way, way too early in the story. Then usually what follows are complications rather than true conflict. I start to disbelieve a character who claims she/he shouldn’t fall in love with this person when their behaviors/physical reactions make it a done deal by page 20.

There are times when I wonder if there are obstacles to maintaining conflict between heroes and heroines in an SFR, especially given that authors are expected to deliver the romance and love scenes in a timely manner—timely meaning according to genre expectations. In SFR, I get lots of great action sequences, explosions, galactic chases, and people being maimed and killed, but I don’t always experience that same level of tension between the hero and heroine. Or at least not for as long as I’d like.

Wahh.

For example, hero and heroine are at odds. Maybe they’re enemies, with one or both set up to detest or even hate the other. But the physical attraction they experience periodically undermines this initial promise of conflict. Essentially, it boils down to “I hate his guts for [insert atrocious act], but he’s so dreamy!”

That said, I don’t think it’s easy to strike the balance of attraction and repulsion between a hero and heroine who begin the story on opposite sides of the intergalactic fence. A big part of the appeal is learning at what point they’ll begin to see each other in a new light. However, there are story situations that demand sustaining the conflict longer than a few pages (e.g., when someone’s life, safety, or freedom is threatened). Or, if internally the attraction is strong, my hope is that the characters’ outward behaviors will keep the conflict going until they’re given a real reason to trust the potential lover.

Now, if the story dictates that the hero and heroine can’t keep their hands off one another, I still expect very real, very intense, and even hurtful kinds of conflict alternating with the growing attraction. I want my emotions manipulated so that I question the HEA just about every step of the way. As in, “Well, they’re making out now, but there’s no way this will last.”

So while I expect there to be some glimmer of attraction or insta-lust in some stories, I also expect for the hero or heroine in question to manage his or her feelings and behaviors convincingly until irrefutable proof exists that they can trust the other person.

When in doubt, hit me up with tons of conflict in science fiction romance. I won’t flinch away from it. In fact, I love it. I want conflict between the hero and heroine so intense that my heart threatens to jump out of my chest. While they don’t have to be constantly sniping or in physical combat with each other all the time (not that I would complain anyway), there can still be plenty of anguish-laden relationship trials and tribulations on the road to their HEA.

Done well, the characters won’t come across as mean or brutal. They’ll come across as justified in their behavior. Even if they make mistakes out of anger, fear, or hate, I know that because it’s a science fiction romance, they’ll make atonement and find redemption.

In conclusion, I don’t see a need to hold back on the conflict simply because SFR is a blend of romance and “what if?” concepts. If anything, that’s about a volatile mix as one could imagine.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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The Pure Awesomeness Of Futuristic Military Uniforms

Who doesn’t love a man or woman in uniform? Especially, I might add, those worn by characters in a space navy of some kind. There’s something deliciously appealing about a well-designed uniform, and even more so if it’s in a science fiction/science fiction romance story. In film, the costume designers are responsible for bringing something fresh and futuristic to military duds. In books, of course, it’s all up to the author regarding how to describe them.

Over the years, my fascination with characters in military uniforms has been bordering on a fetish. After all, I’ve been known to salivate over heroes dressed like this:

Kodai Susumu

Bring it home, Kodai!* So frankly, anything with even a bit more style than that retro 70’s futuristic flair is a win in my book.

I’d been looking forward to Lisa Paitz Spindler’s THE SPIRAL PATH for some time. So when Carina Press offered to send me an eARC, I was like, “Where do I sign?!”

Now, I should probably be blogging about the story’s unique, original setting. And Lara Soto, the space pirate heroine (you know how I feel about them). Hmm, and also the nice details like “exotic matter” that make the skiffy elements both intriguing and accessible. Oh, right, there’s also the Chimerans and their special abilities. And so on.

The Spiral PathWell, sure, I could blog about all of that…if a certain military uniform didn’t keep making my heart beat so rapidly with its seductive call. Read the following (non-spoiler) excerpts and you’ll see why I was powerless to resist:

“Mitch Yoshida, in his perfectly groomed black Union uniform—pulling just so over those broad shoulders…”

“…Lara looked him over. Black Union uniform complete with leather sleeves, belt cinching a trim waist, knee-high boots perfectly polished.”

“Rigged out in dress blacks that included several honor decorations, he moved through the room with ease.”

I mean, hot diggity dog! Did this author nail it, or what? I felt like she wrote the story with me in mind—me and all the readers who have been looking for more uniform action in their science fiction romances. It’s a shame Mitch couldn’t have been wearing his dashing outfit on the book’s cover. If I hadn’t known anything about the story, seeing him in dress blacks on the cover would have been like beckoning me to my favorite milkshake evah: rich chocolate ice cream mixed with smooth caramel and a double shot of espresso.

Pure indulgence.

However, my attraction isn’t just to the character in the uniform (and for the record, I've gone gaga over both male and female characters wearing one), but also to the uniform itself. The details are very sensuous, in a way that, for me, goes beyond their promise of sexiness and romance. The depiction of a military uniform in such a way offers a romanticized vision of the military in space. It’s a little bit glamor, a little bit larger-than-life. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, and I like the gritty stuff, too, but this approach captures the romanticized tone I enjoy experiencing in science fiction romance.

In other words, that’s a fancy way of saying I think Mitch’s uniform is cool!

Have you come across any cool uniforms lately?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

*Susumu Kodai of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO

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HarperCollins Special Ebook Offer On Two Joss Ware Titles


Starting today, HarperCollins is offering specially priced ebook editions of the first two books in Joss Ware’s Envy series, BEYOND THE NIGHT ($1.99) and EMBRACE THE NIGHT ETERNAL ($3.99). This limited time offer will be available for two weeks, through February 8.

Happy reading!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Monday, January 24, 2011

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Sara Creasy's SONG OF SCARABEAUS a 2010 Philip K. Dick Award Nominee!

Song of Scarabaeus

Maybe it's the cynic in me, but I haven't been bothering to check the nominee lists for any of the major SF awards. It's too much to hope for that judges would consider any science fiction romance titles. Well, now it seems I may have to check my cynicism at the door. Read on...

Via Ella Drake's post earlier today at CONTACT - Infinite Futures, we have wonderful news:

Have you seen the list of the 2010 Philip K Dick Award nominees?
Take a look! SONG OF SCARABAEUS by Sara Creasy (Eos) is SF with Romantic Elements! And it's nominated!

Recognition for Science Fiction with a touch of romance!

A hearty congratulations to Sara Creasy!

I read SONG OF SCARABAEUS and enjoyed it. The story is definitely romantic SF, but the author handled the romance so deftly I think this book holds appeal for romance readers looking to stretch their horizons. I have a blog post planned for SONG OF SCARABEAUS in the near future, so stay tuned.

Joyfully yours,

Heather


Sunday, January 23, 2011

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SFR News & Links

New releases

Night BetrayedEMBRACE THE NIGHT author Joss Ware has a new release. NIGHT BETRAYED, book four of her Envy series, comes out Tuesday, January 25. Here’s the story blurb:

The Change that devastated the earth didn't destroy Theo Waxnicki. It made him something more than human eternally young, eternally beautiful ... but not immortal.

When he dies on a mission against the Strangers, he is lost ot the darkness...until a miracle lady brings him back.

Born during the apocalyptic storms and earthquakes that left the world in ruins, Selena has dedicated her life to easing the pain of others. But Theo is the first in her care to actually survive. Responding to Selena's tender touch, Theo starts to live again, to feel and desire again.

But joined in a world of terrors, the secrets they can never share make them targets. And love could be the ultimate betrayal.

Read an excerpt here.

Other release news

Heart's SentinelPJ Schnyder’s HEART’S SENTINEL, Book 1 in the Terra's Guardians series (Decadent Publishing) is now available in trade paperback. The author described the story to me as “a paranormal romance set in a post apocalyptic setting with sci-fi elements.”

Here's the story blurb:

In a post-apocalyptic world, humans rebuild cities of technology and shape shifters restore the wilds of nature. Mackenzie runs to the jaguars of River Gap pride in order to learn to live as something she never wanted to be – a shape shifter – and for sanctuary from the stalker who brutally Changed her.

Adam, a River Gap Sentinel, is assigned as her guard and mentor. Even though she ignites flames of primal desire in him, he holds himself back, well aware of his strength and how new she is to the shape shifter world. To survive the stalker, though, they both need to first battle their pasts and learn what it means to truly be the sentinels of each other’s hearts.

Read an excerpt here.

2011 Authors After Dark Conference

Photobucket


Authors After Dark posted the panel list for its 2011 conference. The conference will be held August 11-14th in Philadelphia PA.

Featured authors of the science fiction romance kind include Nathalie Gray, Meljean Brook, Sahara Kelly, Bianca D’Arc, Leanna Renee Hieber, Michele Lang, Sylvia Day, and PJ Schnyder.

(Thanks to Bev of Bev’s Books for the link.)

See the light with science fiction romance

In her quest to unlock the secrets of what would make science fiction romance more popular, Jacqueline Lichtenberg of Alien Romances suggests crafting a kinder, gentler SFR in Failure of the Imagination Part 4: Teasing Off The Blinders:

So writers who want to remove the blinders from Romance readers' eyes, or from Science Fiction readers eyes, and let them into the world of Alien Sexuality have to find a gentler way of melting those blinders away, dissolving them, paring them away a layer at a time, teasing them off.


My thought in response to this passage is that removing such blinders might require a whole group of science fiction romance stories to accomplish such a feat, as opposed to one break out book.

Via SFR Brigade

Laurie A. Green posted a link to an article at the B&N SciFi and Fantasy Blog in which Paul Goat Allen shared his observations about science fiction romance’s evolution. In Shockingly Supernova: Who Knew Science Fiction Could Be So Sexy?, Mr. Allen says:

There was an undeniable stigma associated with reading romance back in the day – but a lot has changed in the last two decades…

Today, in 2011, genre fiction has a dramatically altered landscape. The boundaries between genres have been blurred into nonexistence and genre hybridized releases like Warrior’s Woman are commonplace. Any stigmas associated with a particular genre, I believe, have faded away. Not only are there considerably more science fiction romance novels being released today, the thematic diversity has expanded as well. There has been an undeniable evolution – particularly in terms of innovative storylines and overall quality of narrative.


Welcome to my world, Paul!

Also, courtesy of Lindsay Buroker (ENCRYPTED), check out how the Kindle can help you promote your science fiction romance:

Brigade member LindsayB has posted a notice that may be of interest to published members on the SFR Brigade web site forums: Is Your SciFi/Fantasy Romance Available on Kindle? Contact her about plugging your book on the Kindle Geeks blog. Click the link to read or reply to the post.

Rocketeer, away! Like, for real.

Amy L. recently fired up the new blog Eat My Zombie. She sent me a fun post about 15 Gadgest Inspired by Sci-fi Fiction. Me, I’m a powered exoskeleton fan. Seriously, one is hanging in my closet right now. ;)

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, January 20, 2011

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Wind Down After Work With a Science Fiction Romance!

women reading science fictionThis post is kinda sorta related to my previous one about Johanna Lindsey’s re-issued WARRIOR’S WOMAN. Not so much that book but the conversation I had with Galaxy Express passenger Penny that followed our discussion about the WARRIOR’S WOMAN cover. (I do have some awfully exciting exchanges with my passengers!)

At any rate, we were discussing a question I had put forth, namely, “What factors make a niche product more mainstream while retaining its originality *and* attracting readers who previously wouldn't have been interested?”

In addition to big-impact social media influences such as popular television shows and break out books, Penny gave me permission to share her observation that another related factor is that many readers who read a book after a hard day’s work “just want to relax into a story and let it do the work for them.”

Her comment prompted much contemplation on my part because I realize that science fiction stories and even some science fiction romance stories aren’t always books that do the work for the reader. Since SFR shares many elements with SF, I can understand why some readers would assume science fiction romances might fire up the ol’ synapses. Why? Because the SF elements are asking the reader to consent to actively think about the concepts involved.

Plus, taking on a niche subgenre often means new territory for some readers, one that has its own learning curve.

I have to stop and chuckle a bit because my idea of winding down with a book sometimes includes stories with macabre imagery, such as DIVING INTO THE WRECK* by Kristine Katheryn Rusch, which I’m currently reading (strictly SF, by the way). While I may gravitate toward such stories, reading them deepens my understanding of why others prefer to avoid them after a hectic day.

However, not all science fiction romances ask readers to work as hard as they might for a general science fiction story. A big reason is that many if not most science fiction romances aren’t hard SF. At most, they may contain a handful of hard SF elements. Which makes me wonder: Is there an assumption that the SF in SFR refers to hard science elements (that is, aside from any bio-engineered erections)? Is that why some readers avoid this subgenre, because they don’t associate it with relaxation?

Even controlling for my own skewed taste, I can still think of many SFR books that would help readers wind down after a hard day’s work. Therefore, I’d like to recommend some titles for readers seeking a science fiction romance comfort read. These stories explore plenty of sci-fi ideas in an accessible or flat out fun way. In no particular order, they are:

THE ANTAREN AFFAIR by Erica Anderson
MOONSTRUCK by Susan Grant
SOMATESTHESIA by Ann Somerville
DRIVEN by Eve Kenin
NEVER LOVE A STRANGER by Ellen Fisher
BEYOND THE RAIN by Jess Granger
THE PROMISE OF KIERNA’RHOAN by Isabo Kelly
FINDERS KEEPERS by Linnea Sinclair
UNMASKED by C.J. Barry
TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN by Gini Koch
ISLAND OF ICARUS by Christine Danse

The above list only scratches the surface (if it didn’t, I’d be here all week). Still, I’d love to hear what kind of SFR you’d recommend to readers seeking to “relax into a story.”

Joyfully yours,

Heather

*Thanks to Galaxy Express passenger A. who tipped me off about Ms. Rusch’s book.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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Johanna Lindsey’s WARRIOR’S WOMAN Re-Issue: A Step Backward For Science Fiction Romance Covers?

Toward the end of 2010, Galaxy Express passenger Penny tipped me off about a mass market paperback re-issue of Johanna Lindsey’s WARRIOR’S WOMAN. If you’ll recall from my previous post, this was a book I could barely start, let alone finish. Not that that actually has any bearing on this current topic, ahem. Penny informed me this edition is on the shelves at Wal-Mart, and shares the same cover as the Kindle edition. Take a looksee:

Warrior's Woman

Rather interesting. Who is the target reader, I wonder? Even the original cover had more genre elements going for it. Well, at least the starry backdrop did. What changed in the intervening years? Seeing this new cover and other SFR covers before it makes me wonder when genre elements became the kiss of death for science fiction romance. Why would mainstream print publishers embrace them earlier in the subgenre’s history, but not as much now?

In a general way, this cover bland-itization reminds me of all the downright wild & “out there” television shows that aired in the 1970s, shows that we are probably never going to see the likes of again. (Case in point: LEGENDS OF THE SUPERHEROES from 1978. The audio stinks, but you’ll be highly rewarded if you watch at least a minute’s worth!) Based on my experience, I’d say the television executives for the three main networks at the time took some mighty big risks back then. These days, the norm seems to be ultra cautious. There are exceptions, of course.

Is this outdated look for the WARRIOR’S WOMAN re-issue going to help sell the book? I’m curious as heck over the potential reaction of Wal-Mart customers who will purchase this book based on the cover and discover the SFR within! Does the venue make that much of a difference in terms of how a book is packaged? Realistically speaking, I suppose it does.

But wait—maybe HarperCollins has a unique, innovative strategy in mind. It’s possible their goal was to repackage the book and get Wal-Mart and Kindle customers so fired up about science fiction romance despite themselves and any previous adversity to such stories that they’d run en masse to their computers after finishing the book in order to Google this new-fangled thing called “science fiction romance”!!!! *Pumps fist*

No? Not even a little bit possible? Sigh. Well, while we wait for the hordes of new fans to show up on our doorstep, we can enjoy the SFR-rich covers commissioned by digital/small press publishers (and the occasional Big Five publisher). Thank goodness at least a few industry folks are listening to customers.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, January 16, 2011

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Interview With T.C. Archer, Author of SASHA’S CALLING

I came across a blog post by Mrs. Giggles from December 2010 in which she discussed being “bored with things at the moment”:

Now, I agree that blogs can do whatever they want, but sometimes, I do wonder because it's like the same 5 people or the same 5 titles get featured on every major blog out there in a certain period of time. Is it because of the freebies from Netgalley and such? But come on, I'm sure we all read something that we buy on our own, something outside the Big Book of the Month selections, surely? Maybe we need more of those.

Regarding that last sentence, why, a truer word was never “said” about science fiction romance, heh heh heh. I jest, but her comments point to how easy it is to succumb to blinders when selecting books. To be sure, it’s more difficult to remove them when some books (e.g., bestsellers) are more accessible to readers than others.

When I read the above passage, I started feeling pretty warm and fuzzy since here at The Galaxy Express I strive to uncover a variety of science fiction romances whether they are written by established authors, debut authors, well-known authors, or little-known ones. My selections for the blog are subgenre-based, not author based.

Plus, SFR has so much diversity to offer that it’d be a disservice to readers if I focused on the “same 5 titles.” I also like digging up or being tipped off about obscure titles because you never know what you might find. Or who might like them.

Sasha's CallingWhich brings me to author T.C. Archer, author of SASHA’S CALLING, an erotic sci-fi romance from Loose ID. T.C. Archer is the pseudonym for the writing team of Evan Trevane and Shawn M. Casey. They agreed to an interview so we could learn more about their new release, and as you’ll discover, we had a bit of fun with it.

But first, here’s the story blurb for SASHA’S CALLING:

Nothing can stop freelance thief Sasha Smirnov from saving her planet -- except, Dirk, the gorgeous ambassador with polychrome eyes. Is it lust or designer pheromones? He is hot, too hot to resist -- or forget. A single, sizzling kiss burns him into her memory, and her body, but she can't afford to stop for passion, let alone love.

Sasha needs to get as far away from Dirk as possible and take the classified data she stole with her. So she stows away on a ship outward bound, only to discover Dirk's the pilot. Now she can't get away from him, or the system, but he will let her into his bed...

Read on to find out the adventures to be had with Omegatrons, boob enlargement cream, and retro-viruses:

The Galaxy Express: Describe SASHA’S CALLING in three words.

T.C. Archer: Swashbuckling techno-adventure.

TGE: Your heroine, Sasha Smirnov, is a freelance thief. What kinds of things does she steal?

T.C.: Sasha specializes in corporate espionage. She steals everything from information, to prototypes, to limited production items. Her mission in the beginning of Sasha’s Calling is to steal the DNA sequence of a retro-virus developed by the Centorian Cartel. She contracted this job from Orson Gno, a bio-enhanced thug, who deals in anything that will make him money--which leads to getting him sex.

TGE: Based on the blurb and excerpt, the story sounds volcanic hot. Will readers need protective clothing of any kind while reading it?

T.C.: It’s definitely advisable to protect oneself from bodily fluids, though not necessary if one is alone or reading the book with a couple of very good friends. Men should have their doctor’s number ready if they believe the commercials about calling their doctor if they experience an erection that lasts more than four hours.

TGE: Where can I buy an Omegatron?

T.C.: The Omegratron is available for sale at some specialty gun shops in lawless communities. The weapon is outlawed in five of the seven galactic sectors because Omega radiation can’t be deflected by the legacy Empirical battle armor. However, they cost more than a used runabout. Sasha won hers in a poker game when she drew a flush that beat the other guy’s two-pair.

TGE: Dirk, the hero of SASHA’S CALLING, is both pilot and ambassador. Can he cook, too? What else should readers know about him?

T.C.: Dirk can certainly cook--well, he can take the heat in the kitchen, or anywhere else, for that matter! Besides the fact he has a Ph.D. in accounting, Sasha is convinced he uses designer pheromones that excite uncontrollable amorous feelings in her. From the first kiss, she can’t stop thinking about him, and he won’t let her get away. Aside from his determination to set Sasha on the right path, he’s a single father doing what he can to provide for his daughter and set a positive example.

TGE: Conflict in science fiction romance means excitement. How many arguments do the hero and heroine have during the course of the story?

T.C.: Sasha and Dirk are at odds throughout the entire book--even in bed. She must steal that retro-virus, and he refuses to be her accomplice. This core clash drives the main thrust of the conflict. He’s a member of organized politics, and she a freelancer working outside the law. He has a code of conduct, and she does what it takes to survive. These differences force her to her steal his ship, and motivate him to withhold information to protect her. He also likes to have fun, and she’s so very serious, so she doesn’t see what’s coming when he uses boob enlargement cream instead of the reduction cream she asked for.

TGE: Name a few of your favorite science fiction romance books, films, or television shows.

T.C.: Shawn: I'll date myself here, and surely get some laughs, but some of my favorite romantic sci-fi books are Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars. I cut my teeth on those, and nothing has ever beat them. Evan did turn me onto Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, and I fell in love with the book. Babylon Five is also one of my top favorite series with romantic elements--remember Sheridan and Delenn? That was a love story to span space and time. Star Wars is my long-time favorite movie. No good space opera is complete without love.

Evan: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis are my two favorites. Babylon 5 and Star Trek are two favorite television shows with romance elements. And who can forget Star Wars and the love between Han Solo and Princess Leia?

TGE: What else can readers look forward to from you?

T.C.: Our next story takes place on a vacation resort where guests can purchase a fantasy adventure as part of their vacation. Our heroine is there for some well-deserved rest and relaxation and is caught up in the hero’s spy missions. What she doesn’t know is that her boss paid for a little extra adventure for her that keeps her and her new lover very busy in and out of bed.

***

T.C. Archer, thanks for your time, and for your art.

To learn more, you can visit the author’s site or follow T.C. Archer on Twitter: tcarcher

One more thing: In her post, Mrs. Giggles put out a call for recommended reads: "Tell me about a good book you have read recently that wasn't already mentioned ten times in the last two months!"

If anyone wants to jump in here with a recommended science fiction romance title, leave a comment and I'll port the list over to Mrs. Giggles.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Written on

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal

*PERMISSION TO FORWARD*

Begin forwarded message:

As some of you may already know, a team from the RWA commitee has started a drive for book donations...

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal

We've all seen the devastation the recent Queensland floods have wrought and have wondered how we can help. We know that for many affected families, books will not be high on their priorities list for some time to come.

But...

We also know how valuable books can be in providing time out when reality gets tough.

So…

With the aid of some wonderful volunteers, we've put together a

Romance Writers of Australia Flooded Communities Book Appeal.

What we need?

FICTION BOOKS! Romance books, children's books, young adult books, genre books, whatever – either new or in sparkling condition.

Please send them to:

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal
PO Box 1717
Noosaville Post Office
Noosaville BC
Queensland 4566
Australia

When to send them?

Now! And any time over the next few months. The books will be boxed and delivered to the appropriate libraries/schools/neighbourhood centres/community centres in batches as soon as the communities are ready to receive them. We'll be liaising with councils, libraries and schools to ensure this is done appropriately. Feel free to pop a note inside, or if you're an author, sign it.

Questions:

If you have a question about donations, email Jess Anastasi: Jess@jessanastasi.com

If you work in a library / council / community centre / school in a flood affected area, email Rachel Bailey: rachel@rachelbailey.com.au

***

(Via Kylie Griffin)

Pass on this information if you can.

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Written on

What, No Space Battles?

There are days in which I wonder if I even know my own tastes.

If you were to ask me which kinds of science fiction romance toward which I gravitate the most, the answer is easy: the good kind. Ba-da-dum!

Seriously, I’m a fan of all the sub-subgenres. While I may read some more than others, there isn’t one I won’t try. I particularly like stories with elements of action-adventure, mystery, and even gore/horror. I crave meaty plots and high levels of conflict, whether external or relationship-based.

Remember Animal from THE MUPPET SHOW?



Yeah, I love me some high octane SFR like that. Which is why some stories utterly surprise me in how they defy what I think I’ll enjoy.

Island of IcarusChristine Danse’s ISLAND OF ICARUS was one of those. This m/m steampunk romance is one of the most low-key SFR stories I’ve ever read, and yet that’s precisely what I enjoyed about it. Compared to many of the space opera/space western stories I’ve partied hearty with, ISLAND OF ICARUS is downright “quiet.”

Not that I expected any, but there are no ticking bombs, no space battles, no explosions, no steampunk automaton running amok, and no kung fu fights of any kind in this story. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect since the story blurb is seductively vague. Jonathan, the hero from whose POV the story is told is—get this—a professor. Meek and unassuming (well, unassuming except for his clockwork prosthetic limb), he’s about as far from an Alpha hero as a Hummer is from a potato.

Mmmm…French fries…

Oh, sorry! Anyhoo, the other hero, Marcus is also an intellectual sort, and an inventor to boot. But he, too, is a mild-mannered gentleman. And a bit mysterious. What exactly is he working on, Jonathan wants to know.

The conflict is largely internal and reflects the coming-of-age (and coming out) aspects of the story. I found Jonathan likeable and, well, he’s simply very nice. Sometimes, “nice” can translate to boring, but I wasn’t bored by that part of his personality. It’s possible the m/m factor plus the steampunk made ISLAND OF ICARUS more exotic to me, and there was a bit of that, but I’m not so sure since neither element didn’t seem to overshadow the core romance story. The steampunk elements were a treat, but not enough to keep me reading had the rest of the story failed to keep my attention.

Ultimately, I didn’t miss the fact that this story lacked fireworks going off every five pages. Or rather, they were fireworks of a different kind—maybe an aromatic candle, perhaps.

What about you? Do you consider any of the science fiction romance stories you’ve read to be low-key or “quiet” in nature?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Related post: An Interview With ISLAND OF ICARUS Author Christine Danse

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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Taylor Keating’s GAME OVER: A Split Personality Hybrid Novel?

Taylor Keating Game OverRecently, Tor/Forge publicist Cassandra Ammerman was kind enough to send me a copy of Taylor Keating’s paranormal romance, GAME OVER. It was a nice surprise since I hadn’t yet heard of the book. Now that I’ve read it (and FYI it’s officially labeled as a “paranormal romance”), I can say that the story contains both paranormal and science fiction romance elements, though neither genre seemed particularly dominant. They just seem to...co-exist. Not sure I’ve quite come across this kind of split before, and I’m trying to process my reaction to it.

To that end, let me take you back to when I first opened the package:

I read the press release, which starts with the tag line: “With the programming almost complete, the game has just begun…” Not bad, eh?

I look at the book. The title tells me it involves video games of some kind. Color me a fan of TRON, so whee! I was also intrigued by the first sentence of the story blurb:

Video game designer River Weston is ready to sell her soul to smooth out the glitches in her latest project.


Having read a couple of cyberpunk romances last year and wanting more, I was thinking, "Hey, maybe GAME OVER might have a little cyberpunk action." Then the first part of the second line drew me in even more:
When she unwittingly taps into a parallel dimension via cutting-edge technology,


Color me a fan of cutting-edge technology, too, so boo-yah! And I can totally dig parallel/alternate dimensions. Okay, but did you catch the phrase above that should have clued me in big time to a certain aspect of the story? If not, maybe this will clear it up:

a Dark Lord is quick to take her up on her inadvertent offer. Trapped in the world she thought she’d created for her game, River finds herself in a very real alternate dimension that she must escape from before her soul can be used to unleash evil–upon this dimension and many others.


“Sell her soul” is a huge tip off to the paranormal nature of this story. The weird thing is, GAME OVER also contains significant science fiction romance elements. There’s the immersive virtual reality game that River has created, a post-apocalyptic setting, whispers of a government conspiracy a la THE X-FILES, and even biogenetically engineered life forms that are referred to by some characters as “monsters.” You could also think of them in terms of mutant superhumans.

The thing is, the life forms are humanoids with—you guessed it—wolf-like characteristics. That detail in particular got me to thinking about how this story seemed like a 50-50 paranormal and science fiction romance hybrid. And how reading it became something of an experience in disassociation.

I suppose with the humanoid wolf “monsters” there’s some THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU flavor, but the element still gave me pause: If scientists are able to genetically engineer superhumans in a futuristic setting, would wolf characteristics be the number one template of choice? Why not cyborgs, or humans with enhanced strength and/or senses? While reading the story, the SFR side of me wished for more skiffy elements along those lines—or at least ones that didn’t seem so blatantly drawn from paranormal romance.

Now consider the hero:

A prisoner of the Dark Lord, Hawk is a man adrift—literally. His body safe at home under the watchful care of the Guardians’ scientists, his astral-traveling spirit has been enslaved by his people’s worst enemy, the Dark Lord.


To avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say that the story also involves “Fae” characters and magic. Yet most of the story takes place in River’s game (a fact which might hold appeal for you gamers out there). But then there’s the “Dark Lord,” who to my mind was basically a thinly veiled Satan. But then there are the Guardians, an alien-ish race that uses various forms of advanced technology.

The approach taken to the setting made me wonder if there was a deliberate attempt by the author (actually the writing team of Catherine Verge and Paula M. Fox) to create a certain type of hybrid tale. Mix humanoid wolves and Fae and magic off of the freshly baked paranormal romance subgenre and merge it with cyberpunk post-apocalyptic action-adventure and voila! Instant cross-over story. But if so, a cross-over to where?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of hybrid genre stories, and this book clearly attempted to find new territory under the paranormal romance umbrella. I wish the paranormal elements hadn’t been quite so derivative of the paranormal romance subgenre, but that’s just me. I can see this story working for many readers.

Even if you haven’t read this book, what are your thoughts about the story blurb? Could a paranormal romance with SF elements draw in readers new to science fiction romance?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, January 9, 2011

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Agent Z. and Gini Koch (ALIEN TANGO) Get Smashed Again: The Interview


Year: 2011

Locale: Service tunnel on the abandoned SpiceNine space station.

Agent Z: Hello again, Gini! Thanks for meeting me to share a few gargleblasters.

Gini: Happy to be here! I never say no to a gargleblaster.

Agent Z: Sorry about the locale, but there’s a price on my head again.

Gini: What did you do this time? Or should I just leave it to my imagination?

Agent Z: I’m innocent, of course. Let’s get started, shall we? I’m not sure how much time we have before the bad guys get here.

Gini: By “bad guys” do you mean the “Galactic Police”? Just askin’…

Agent Z: No comment. So, how long did it take you to write ‘Alien Tango?’

Gini: I’m not at liberty to say. Literally. My agent has this thing implanted where I can’t actually tell anyone certain things. How long something takes to write being one of them. Major plot points are another.

Put it this way -- I tend to fall on the faster side of the writing house. Not always, but usually.

Alien TangoAgent Z: The German rights were recently sold. How do you think all the U.S. cultural references are gonna translate?

Gini: I’m so excited about that! But, I honestly have NO idea. They’ve changed the title from “Touched by an Alien” to “Aliens in Armani”, which is a pretty good title, all things considered. So I don’t really have a guess. I’m hoping that one of my German fans will be able to tell me how they think the two versions compare.

Agent Z: Why do you think readers enjoy Kitty and Martini so much?

Gini: Because they’re funny. And because Kitty’s a real girl who carries a totally loaded purse, thinks well outside the box, and can come up with the right thing to do, even if it sounds crazy. And because Martini is totally, drool-worthingly hot and can make being overly committed to commitment seem beyond sexy and cool.
Oh, and their sex scenes steam up the joint. But really, I think it’s ‘cause they’re funny. (Readers may have a different reasons, of course. ;-D)

Agent Z: Is Christopher available? I’m really a very nice person when I’m not drunk and being hunted by evil aliens. I clean up pretty good. What do you think of my chances?

Gini: If you’re asking for the “real” Christopher, I’m sorry to say that, knowing you as I do, no, he’s not available. He’s not dating anyone right now, but as his Creator, I have to say that, sorry, you don’t quite fit what I think his dream girl would be. Mostly because I can’t recall a time when you WEREN’T drunk OR being hunted by evil aliens. OR the Galactic Police.

BUT, take heart. Because I had so much demand -- and because Kitty is NOT open to the idea of sharing -- I created a cloning machine. So, you can have a clone of any character or characters you want. To do with as you will. I don’t want to know what you do with them, by the way. So, list your clone selections and I’ll send them right over. I’m a full service author, me.

Agent Z: Clone? I don’t want no stinkin’ clone! And Gini, I hate to say this, but you’re hogging the gargleblasters. How on earth did a dedicated guzzler like you come up with the idea of A.C.’s being allergic to alcohol? What the hell were you thinking?

Gini: Hey, we all have our crosses to bear. Not my fault the A-Cs are allergic to alcohol. Well, okay, it is, but since I merely reported what the characters told me, blame A-C internal systems.

Besides, it’s kind of funny, to me, that they can’t drink. And that only Martini even tested that out. I mean, they can do so many other things, and there are so many times when I know both Martini and Christopher would love to get three sheets to the wind, that’s it’s cruelly evil fun that they cannot.

Agent Z: I’m afraid I have a confession to make. That last gargleblaster was laced with truth serum. It was an accident, I swear!

Gini: I know you swear, I’ve heard you, but I also know you did that on purpose.

Agent Z: And I’m gonna keep asking questions anyway.

Gini: Shocker.

Agent Z: Yes, I’m mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Gini: And that’s for your friends. Of course, having seen what you do to your enemies, I truly prefer to say on the “friend” side of the house.

Agent Z: So, tell me. If YOU were a dazzler, who is the ugliest brainy guy you’d fall in love with?

Gini: I can’t believe you felt you had to resort to truth serum to get this answer from me, and that’s the fact, Jack.

Albert Einstein. But he’s dead, so, if I were a Dazzler, I’d be like the other Dazzlers, and Stephen Hawking would be the MAN. Dazzlers do not care about looks. Looks are nice, but nothing is better than brains and brain capacity.

If I had more control over it, and was able to go for brains AND looks, I’d be in love with Chuck Reynolds, aka Chuckie. ‘Cause he is da MAN too. *cough* (Yeah, I can get crushes on my characters, too, what’s your point?)

Oh, and reality, as well as honesty and the truth serum, compels me to mention that I’d also be all for my own hubs, who is quite the smarty-pants as well as being a total hottie. (Hey, I married well, what can I say?)

Agent Z: Imagine that you sold the film rights to the series. Who would be your top picks to play Kitty and Martini? What song plays over the opening credits?

Albert EinsteinGini: I hate this question. (Hey, truth serum!) Not that I don’t want to sell the film rights (I do, believe me), but the casting question. Because who I see as the characters and who the readers see as the characters is always different. No one actually looks like Kitty or Martini, or the others, to me. There are some who could play them, but not because they necessarily look like them, just close enough.

So my top picks would be whichever actress and actor could both play the roles well, be at least close enough physically that I didn’t want to throw things at the screen, and make the movie a huge, major success.

Not enough? Fine. Today, if a gun were at my head, which, in a sense, since I see yours out of the holster, it is, I’d go with Drew Barrymore for Kitty and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for Martini. Mostly because they’re both close enough and they both can handle comedy and action really well. (They’re both too old, in reality, but Drew still looks freaking 25 and my big man there can do anything he damn well pleases as long as we get that killer grin AND an eyebrow raise somewhere along the way.) I’d be open to Reese Witherspoon for Kitty, too, for much the same reasons as Drew. And Patrick Dempsey has Martini’s hair (as far as I’m concerned), but he’s both too old and physically a little too small. I’ve had Ryan Reynolds suggested, too, but he’d have to bulk up. Ergo, The Rock wins.

BTW, you didn’t ask, but the two actors I could really “see” as characters (again, they don’t look just like the characters do to me, but they could play them the best both physically and personally) are Matt Bomer from “White Collar” as James Reader, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt from “Inception” as Tim Crawford.

Song is much, MUCH easier. For “Touched by an Alien”, opening credits should be “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top. Along the way we should hear “Love in an Elevator” by Aerosmith, as well as every other song Kitty lists in the book. Closing credits should be “Whole Lotta Love” by Smash Mouth. (Told you the music part would be easier.) The soundtrack, btw, would be at least a double, maybe a triple, album.

For “Alien Tango”, opening credits should be “Roam” by The B-52‘s. Along the way we should hear every song Kitty lists in the book, again creating a double, potentially triple, album, and we need to hear some hot tango music for the score and Cheap Trick’s “Can’t Stop Falling Into Love”. Closing credits should be “Holding Out For a Hero”, whichever version they wanted (though I’d personally like Pink to do a cover of it for the movie…hey, we’re in the realm of fantasy at the moment, so ask for what you want!).

Agent Z: Bickering, loving, messy family relationships are a big part of the lives of your characters. Why?

Gini: Um, am I the only person with a family out there? Are not all families big, bickering, loving, hot messes? Why would aliens have it any easier than humans? And why should fictional characters somehow get out of having to explain to their dad what the guy they’ve known a day or so is doing in their room in the early morning hours? Or get to avoid having their family embarrass the hell out of them in front of someone they’re trying to impress?

Agent Z: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done while wearing an Aerosmith concert T-shirt? And let me remind you that you are still under the influence of truth serum and four gargleblasters.

Gini: Being on a panel about Christian Science Fiction. Swear to God. (Pun totally intended.) No, I don’t write Christian Science Fiction. No, I don’t know anybody who does. But it surely created a lifelong sisterhood and writer-hood bond between me and Marsheila “Legacy of Wolves” Rockwell, so it was all worth it.

BTW, I get put on the religion panels a LOT. You never want to miss a panel on religion, or what the far future will look like, if I’m on the panel. Trust me.

Agent Z: Who do think has been the biggest influence on you as a writer?

Gini: Wow, you’re batting a thousand with the questions I hate. LOL! Everyone I’ve ever read has influenced me, good, bad or indifferent. I don’t think it’s possible to not be influenced by what you read. So, everyone and no one.

I see the gun out of its holster again. Geez. Okay, fine. Robert Benchley. Humorist from the first half of the 20th century. If there’s any one writer who’s my main influence, it’s him. (Not what you were expecting, was it?)

Agent Z: I was expecting an unexpected answer. I’m smart that way. And a fine, fine answer it is too. Moving on - with two books and an anthology now released, what’s next for Gini Koch?

Gini: More books and another anthology. LOL. “Alien in the Family” releases April 5, 2011; “Alien Proliferation” releases Winter, 2011; “Alien Diplomacy” comes out in April, 2012; and “Alien vs. Alien” comes in Winter 2012. Under my Anita Ensal pen name, we already have “Wanted”, which is in the SFR anthology “Love and Rockets”, which is out now (from DAW Books). Following that, I have another Anita Ensal short, “Being Neighborly”, in the urban/rural fantasy anthology “Boondocks Fantasy”, which releases from DAW Books on January 4, 2011.

Oh, and writing, of course. That’s always what’s next in my little corner of the ‘verse. You can keep tabs on me at my website.

Agent Z: And now for the really tough question: I’m stuck on an abandoned space station with several empty bottles and a drunk, yet brutally honest writer, while a horde of tentacled aliens advance slimily towards us. The question is: WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GONNA DO???!!

Gini: Dude, this is an easy one. We smash the bottles and glasses, creating bar knives. First we toss the shards with expert accuracy, going for eyes, beaks, and main suckers. We grab bar knives in both hands, you go low, I go high, we stab and slash our way through, dumping alcohol on the beasties and tossing a few lit matches in for fun. Then we hoof it for the escape pods, ensuring that no beasties are there with us, and blast off for greener, or at least less tentacled, pastures.

Unless the tentacled aliens are good looking. (It’s possible. I could make a tentacled alien good looking, trust me.) In THAT case, we say, “Hey, Sailor Squid, looking for a date?” and then let nature, and the gargleblasters, take its course.

Agent Z: Well, I’m gonna sit back and let Gini handle the aliens. And while she handles that little chore I’d like to ask you all a question. Who is the ugliest brainy guy that you’ve ever had a fancy for?

Be seeing ya!

Agent Z.

Agent Z

Postus Scriptus: To read the previous Agent Z & Gini Koch gargleblaster-soaked encounter, click here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Written on

To Tag a THIEF

Thief

Having read Anitra Lynn McLeod’s THIEF (Samhain Publishing), I discovered that the story has many elements that would appeal to readers who are space western fans. Upon further reflection, I realized the elements were easy to identify and that I could present some of them without spoilers.

Therefore, you might enjoy THIEF if:

*You like kick-butt heroines who subvert romance tropes.

*You’re a Food Network junkie

*You’re a fan of “good guy” Beta heroes

*You’ve seen both FIREFLY and SERENITY a gazillion times

*You like stories with an ensemble cast of characters

*You’re a Friend of Old Earth

[more below the cut]

*You love face-offs almost as much as John Wayne

*You seek ethnic variety in science fiction romance couples

*You play the guitar and/or enjoy listening to acoustic guitar pieces

*You’re a sucker for outlaws who deserve redemption

*You’re intrigued by a character with a secret past

*In a futuristic setting, you’re convinced that daggers are In.

*You seek out extraordinary heroines with special/superhuman abilities

*You like the look of a low-slung holster on either gender.

So that’s basically how I’d tag THIEF. Is there an SFR you’d like to tag today?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Written on

Carina Press Presents: CONTACT – Infinite Futures

Digital-first publisher Carina Press has begun a new social marketing endeavor involving its authors, about which Executive Editor Angela James recently blogged:

...several groups of Carina Press authors have banded together to create some group blogs that focus on the different genres they write in. I’m including some information below about each blog. I hope you’ll go check them out and see what these amazing authors have to say (plus, I hear there might be prizes at times!)


CONTACT – Infinite Futures is the SF/SFR contingent (squee!):

CONTACT - Infinite Futures
We write all different types, from military sci-fi to science-fiction romance, and we’ll use this blog to share our thoughts on all of the above (and more) with you. The authors here (your friendly hosts on Contact — Infinite Futures) all have books published or forthcoming from Carina Press.

The contributors of CONTACT – Infinite Futures are

Shawn Kupfer
Ella Drake
KC Burn
Lilly Cain
Robert Appleton

The above authors will post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of Week 1 and Monday and Wednesday of the following week.

This multi-author blog is a splendid idea as it offers readers a one-stop portal to learn about Carina Press’ SF/SFR titles and authors. With the ebook market still rather fractured, it really helps to have resources such as online communities with a specific focus. The author consortium the SFR Brigade is another way readers can learn about authors and their SFR titles without having to travel all over the Web.

CONTACT – Infinite Futures is also sending the message that Carina Press and its authors want to interact with readers. Accessibility and the fostering of open communication between authors, publishers, and readers are key items that will give digital publishers an edge as the ebook market expands.

There are only a few posts up at CONTACT – Infinite Futures, so I thought this would be an ideal time for me to present an unsolicited wish list about what I’d like to see happen there. While the blog is and should be focused on the SF/SFR titles Carina has to offer, it’s also about me, the reader. Me, me, me!

So in addition to the giveaways promised by Ms. James, here are some things I’d love to encounter at CONTACT:

*Posts devoted solely to the announcement of new releases. Ideally, these would include “Just the facts, ma’am” details such as the cover, subgenre (e.g., space opera, superhuman, steampunk romance), story length, heat level, price, release date, blurb, and other basic information. You know, the kind of post that makes it easy for bloggers to cut, past, and share. ;)

*Teaser posts about forthcoming releases. Be creative. Drive me nuts with anticipation.

*Behind the scenes posts about the releases, such as what inspired the author to write the story or an interesting path to publication (if applicable). Be careful to avoid spoilers, though!

*An occasional post on craft would be interesting as it pertains to SF/SFR. For example, blog about what readers can expect from an SF-romance blend and the important elements that go into such stories.

*Thrill and mesmerize readers with cool discussions covering the range of sci-fi elements found in the authors’ books. Plausible, fantastical—it’s all good!

*Likewise, describe all the variety of romances and heat levels found in the stories. SF and SFR are all about diversity.

*Topical posts that tap into ongoing discussions at the SF/SFR communities, especially if the issue ties into one of your books.

*Pay it forward with “if you like my book, try [insert name of similar title].” Readers will appreciate having even more entertainment, and will remember you for it.

*Educate me about digital publishing (e.g., the production of SF/SFR titles). Start a conversation about ebooks and the advantages they offer for niche subgenres.

*Authors with strong opinions. Express your voice, take a stance, go crazy with humor, and riff off of posts by your fellow authors. Now, that’s what I call entertainment!

So that’s my wish list. What about you? What type of features or posts at CONTACT – Infinite Futures would interest you? What kind of information and entertainment are you seeking?

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Written on

2011 Science Fiction Romance New Release Roundup

Here we are at the start of a new year, with a fabulous new selection of science fiction romance titles! We have a front-loaded situation going on, with most of the currently forthcoming releases coming out during the first half of the year. The number of releases might keep me busy until the end of the year, but let’s not take that chance, mmkay?

Authors, please contact me when you have news of an SFR release for 2011. You can leave a comment here or email me at sfrgalaxy “at” gmail.com. A few of the titles on the 2011 list have yet to be assigned an exact release date, so feel free to update me about that information as well. Likewise, alert me to any other changes or corrections I need to make as the year goes on.

You'll also notice that I've tagged some of the titles (e.g., romantic SF, erotic romance) so you can find what kind of stories you want a bit more easily. Anything not tagged is non-erotic, non-romantic SFR to the best of my knowledge. If you find the tags useful and have suggestions for more, let me know.

I’ve also updated the 2010 SFR New Release Roundup, and it’s looking much more robust as a result.

Without further ado, here is the 2011 Science Fiction Romance New Release Roundup:

January

THE MYSTERIOUS LADY LAW (Romantic steampunk mystery) - Robert Appleton
THE ADVENTURES OF MISS UPTON AND THE SKY PIRATE (steampunk) - C.J. Archer
FUTURE IMPERFECT BOOK THREE: FINAL DECEIT – PI Barrington
ENVOY (Romantic SF; re-release) - Shanna Jay
MISS MINNIE AND THE BRASS PLUGGIT (erotic steampunk romance/mystery) - Sahara Kelly
MAHOGANY TRINROSE (Romantic SF; re-release) - Jacqueline Lichtenberg
RENSIME (re-release) - Jacqueline Lichtenberg
SINFUL HARVEST (erotic) - Anitra Lynn McLeod
NIGHT BETRAYED - Joss Ware

February

MIDNIGHT’S SHADOW (erotic)– Sara Brookes
JAQ’S HARP – Ella Drake

March

SPICE ‘N’ SOLACE (erotic) - K.C. Burn
LADY DOCTOR WYRE (erotic) – Joely Sue Burkhart
CHILDREN OF SCARABAEUS (Romantic SF)– Sara Creasy
DARK NEST: RECKONING (sequel to DARK NEST) - Leanna Renee Hieber
SEDUCE ME IN DREAMS - Jacquelyn Frank
THE FACILITATOR (erotic cyberpunk) - Sahara Kelly
FIRE SANCTUARY - Katharine Eliska Kimbrel
THE AGENT GAMBIT (omnibus; re-release) - Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
ONCE UPON A TIME N SPACE (erotic) - Heather Massey
WICKED EMPRESS - Anitra Lynn McLeod
FIREBUG – Kate Roman
THE SPIRAL PATH – Lisa Paitz Spindler
STEAM & SORCERY - Cindy Spencer Pape

April

COLLISION COURSE - Zoe Archer
THE TWISTED TALE OF STORMY GALE - Christine Bell
THE PRICE OF DISCOVERY (re-release) - Leslie Dicken

THE LAST WARRIOR - Susan Grant
THE SLIPSTREAM CON - S. Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore
STEAMROLLED – Pauline Baird Jones
ALIEN IN THE FAMILY – Gini Koch
PHOTOGRAPHS & PHANTOMS - Cindy Spencer Pape

May
 

THE FIRESTORM CONSPIRACY (romantic SF) - Cheryl Angst
MOONSTEED - Manda Benson
ENEMY GAMES – Marcella Burnard 
TABOO (re-release) - Leslie Dicken
BLUE GALAXY – Diane Dooley
DREAMSPELL STEAMPUNK, Vol. 2 (includes 2 steampunk romances) - L&L Dreamspell
IT HAD TO BE YUU (comedic SFR) - Ilene Kaye

ACCIDENTAL ABDUCTION - Eve Langlais
KORVAL'S GAME (omnibus; re-release) - Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
OVERLORD - Anitra Lynn McLeod

KISS OF SNOW - Nalini Singh
SEEING STARS - erotic SFR anthology from Total-E-Bound

June

NAKED TRUTH (erotic) – Lilly Cain
WILD PASSIONS (dieselpunk!) – Angelia Sparrow

TECHNO CRAZED - Sarah Mäkelä
DUTY AND DEVOTION - A.R. Norris

ALEX WALES: PROMISE - Yolanda Sfetsos

July


SOMETHING ELSE WICKED (post-apocalyptic; IR; The Felig Chronicles #2) - P.J. Dean
SALTATION (Waitley arc) - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
HUNTING KAT – PJ Schnyder
CELESTIAL SEDUCTION - Jessica E. Subject
THE MASTER KEY (romantic SF) - T.K. Toppin

PLYMOUTH COLONY II – Sharolyn Wells  

August

AFTERMATH - Ann Aguirre

WAR GAMES - KS Augustin
"The Blushing Bounder" (steampunk) - Meljean Brook, from the WILD & STEAMY anthology
IRONHAVEN - Misa Buckley 

GHOST SHIP (Theo Waitley storyline) - Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
RULEBREAKER - Cathy Pegau
THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK BOOK FOUR: BLUE LIONESS – Vijaya Schartz
CYBERSHOCK - Samhain Publishing's Cyberpunk Romance Anthology

September

SPARKS IN COSMIC DUST (Romantic SF) - Robert Appleton
THE CRYSTAL VARIATION (omnibus; re-release) Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
DARK EMPRESS (erotic) - Anitra Lynn McLeod

VIRIDIS (steampunk) - Calista Taylor
RAGNAR AND JULIET (comic) - Lucy Woodhull

October
 

STEAMLUST - A Cleis Press erotic steampunk romance anthology 
ENSLAVED BY A VIKING (planetary romance) – Delilah Devlin
THE MARTIAN ALLIANCE I: THE ROYAL SCAM - Gini Koch
TO KISS OR TO KILL (re-release) – Jean Lorrah
QUEENIE'S BRIGADE - Heather Massey
THE BREAKER'S CONCUBINE (erotic) - Ann Mayburn 
THE TELOMERE TRILOGY BOOK ONE: REVELATIONS OF TOMORROW - A. R. Norris

BOREALIS III: A Space Anthology Sharolyn Wells, Michelle Levigne, & Vijaya Schartz

November

STARLANDER'S MYTH - Melisse Aires

THE CYBERKINK SIDESHOW - Ophidia Cox 
BRAIDED SILK - Ella Drake
INTENTIONAL ABDUCTION - Eve Langlais
PHOENIX RISING - Corrina Lawson
SLIP POINT - Karalynn Lee 
BLUE FIRE – Michelle Levigne 
FAR TOO HUMAN (erotic steampunk romance) - Anitra Lynn McLeod
THE HUNTER - (paranormal/western steampunk) - Theresa Meyers

December

HEART OF STEEL - Meljean Brook

A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS  - Carina Press steampunk anthology
LESSERBLOOD LIES (refreshed title) - Ainsley Davidson 
UNACCEPTABLE RISK - Jeanette Grey 
BREAK AND ENTER (m/m; cyberpunk) - Rachel Haimowitz and Aleksandr Voinov
ALIEN PROLIFERATION – Gini Koch
NO LIMITS (erotic) - Jenna McCormick
CIMMERIAN CITY (re-release & expanded) - Rae Lori

Joyfully yours,

Heather