Thursday, February 28, 2013

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Guest Blogging At Pippa Jay's Site

Author Pippa Jay (TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY) launched a new feature called "Cover Love Thursday." Each week she'll feature different guests describing their favorite science fiction romance covers. Here's the 411:
Cover Love Thursday. This is a trial 'pay it back' type of promotion. You can choose up to five of your favourite sfr covers by other authors (although I will accept anything in speculative and/or romance if you prefer) with a short paragraph of why you like them, or why they caught your eye/tempted you to buy. 
Fun idea and as soon as she announced the new feature I came up with my list! I invite you to check it out. (Thanks in advance for ignoring my atrocious math skills. Pippa clearly asked for five covers and I gave her six. Back to school for me!)

Joyfully yours,

Heather

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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What's The Potential For Sci-Fi Romance Audio Books?



Veronica Scott’s science fiction romance novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM (think: the Titanic—in space!) is now available in audio format at Amazon. When I learned about the news I thought, how cool because since the author released the book herself she didn’t *have* to go to the trouble of releasing it in audio. Naturally, it’s a smart strategy to make a science fiction romance as available to as many readers as possible. But I still appreciate the extra effort.

The news also prompted me to reflect about audio SFR in general. I knew Diane Dooley’s BLUE GALAXY is in audio and the same is true for Pauline Baird Jones’ THE KEY (and other of her books). I began to wonder if I’ve been underreporting audio release news for sci-fi romance titles. Is that something you'd like to learn about more often? Plus, a few questions came to mind:

* How can readers search for audio science fiction romance titles?

* Where are they sold?

Monday, February 25, 2013

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Thoughts On Chris Gerwel’s “Science Fiction Romance – A Niche Before Its Time?”



Now that I’ve had a few days to chew on Chris Gerwel’s latest Crossroads column at Amazing Stories—Science Fiction Romance - A Niche Before It’s Time?, I’d like to zero in on a few items from his essay. I recommend you read the post in its entirety before digging in. I’ll wait. Okay—ready? Here we go.

Vampires in one form or another span almost all cultures, and stories featuring them (and their psychosexual symbolism) date back thousands of years. 

Couldn’t agree more. SF, and by extension, SFR, lacks the same type of mythology as vampires and other paranormal characters. Readers in general are more familiar with vampires than with aliens. I mean, look at Halloween. Kids are exposed to the idea of scary paranormal monsters first more often than not.

As a result, paranormal characters have an immediacy that aliens lack. Vampires et. al. are of this world, while aliens are about as “Other” as one can get. Maybe too other when it comes to the SFR learning curve. Kinda discouraging when one thinks about the issue in terms of SFR’s ability to reach a broader audience, but hey, I love that kind of challenge!

Most science fiction romance devices – in particular spaceships, the pilots/captains who fly them, and interstellar empires – trace a clear lineage to earlier action adventure fiction…

Friday, February 22, 2013

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“Crossroads” at Amazing Stories Explores The Relationship Between SF & Romance



Amazing Stories (the sparkly new online edition helmed by Steve Davidson) features Crossroads, a column by Chris Gerwel (known for his weekly speculative blog at The King of Elfland's 2nd Cousin). The Crossroads column explores all kinds of topics related to the intersection of various genres.

During the month of February, he’s examining romance. Three installments are already live:




Look for the final post on Thursday, February 28. 

While you catch up with his thoughtful and insightful posts, I’ll be working on a spin-off post of my own. Stay tuned!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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SFR News & Links Extra, February 2013



Free SFR Reads

Space pirates, ahoy! Cathryn Cade’s HEART OF STONE is an erotic science fiction romance featuring a space pirate hero. As of this posting it’s free at Smashwords.


He's a reformed space pirate ... or is he?

On the planet of Frontiera, Rose Thorne is out to save her brother. But when she holds his disreputable boss at gunpoint, Stone Masterson shows her just how ruthless he can be ... and how tender. 

Their passion will scorch the heat shields on his space cruiser. But with pirates on the loose, is she safe in his arms, or just a pawn in his quest to rule this wild, new planet?

Another red hot space opera from the author of The Orion Series.

***

Author Craig Hallam posted a free steampunk romance short on his blog: THE HEART IS A CLOCK. It’s so cute! Here are some tags that came to mind as I read it:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

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What’s The Secret Of A Successful Science Fiction & Romance Combination?


We’ve discussed ways to mix science fiction and romance many times here and at other SFR blogs, but with each new release in this subgenre comes the possibility of seeing the SF-romance combination in a new way. It’s an ever-evolving conversation, and a recent author guest post prompted me to reflect on the issue again.


Via the RT Book Reviews blog comes a post by author Karen Lord: On the Boundaries of Science Fiction and Romance. Here’s the introduction, which I’m sharing for a specific reason:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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Interview With ONE FOR KAMI Author Charlene Wilson, Plus Giveaway



Charlene Wilson is the author of ONE FOR KAMI, a science fiction romance short story you can read on your lunch hour—or anytime at all! ONE FOR KAMI released this month and so I invited the author aboard to tell us how the story came about. But first, here’s the blurb:


Can love be true if shared with more than one? Kami doesn’t think so when she finds Ian is an elite and required to take three wives to eliminate the poverty- stricken population. Why can’t he be poor the way she thought he was when she fell in love with him?

Determined to find a realm that doesn’t have such dictates, she travels to dimension Three-Two-Three to begin her search. But is love truer in a place that only allows one spouse than it is in Ian’s heart?

Click here to read an excerpt from the story.
Charlene Wilson also has a digital copy of ONE FOR KAMI to give away. Details follow the interview!

Monday, February 18, 2013

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PC Gamer Debate About Romance In Videogames Like MASS EFFECT



Via PC Gamer comes Do romance options hurt storytelling?  It's fascinating post about “Player-directed love stories” in videogames. Editors Tyler Wilde and T.J. Hafer debate how best to execute romances in games like MASS EFFECT:
Tyler: “Alright team, we designed an interesting, complex character, but something’s missing. What’s that you say, every libidinous teenager? Wouldn’t it be neat if players could manipulate the character’s variables with the goal of fulfilling their carnal fantasies? Yes! Instead of a character, we’ll make a doll that comes to bed and says ‘I love you’ when you squeeze it.”

T.J: OK, I’m going to refrain from derailing this whole thing with an anti-neo-Victorian rant on how our society is irrationally afraid of sex, and make my case this way: relationships are a core part of being human, and just about any story about humans. Adding player romance to a game makes it feel more real and complete as an experience. Thinking about it from a gamist “manipulating variables” perspective is missing the point. And it’s kinda gross.

The article raises several interesting questions:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

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Deep Freeze Blog Tour from Lyrical Press




Lyrical Press collaborated with a number of bloggers to bring you the Deep Freeze Blog Tour. Two authors of science fiction romance are participating: Sidney Bristol (A KISS FOR A CURE) and me.

In conjunction with the release of my new steampunk romance IRON GUNS, BLAZING HEARTS, I’m blogging about steampunk romance related topics. Ostensibly, this tour is to help spread the word about my book, but I also saw it as an opportunity to share things I enjoy about all kinds of steampunk romance titles!

Along the way, you can enter for a chance to win a digital copy of IRON GUNS, BLAZING HEARTS.

Here are the dates and participating blogs:

Friday, February 15, 2013

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Grand Prize Winner from The Great Steampunk Romance Airship Tour

 Without further ado, I'm announcing the winner of the Grand Prize from The Great Steampunk Romance Airship Tour.

The winner is...

HeatherC!

Congratulations!

I deeply appreciate the enthusiasm of everyone who entered the giveaways for this tour. I announced the ebook winners in the comment section of each stop, so be sure and check to see if you won. Here are quick links:

2/4 Ex Libris
2/5 Reading Reality
 
Thanks again--very much so--to the authors and bloggers who participated in the tour. It was a blast collaborating with all of you!
 
Joyfully yours,
 
Heather

Thursday, February 14, 2013

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Celebrating Valentine's Day SFR-Style With A Guest Post By Sidney Bristol



[Sidney Bristol has a new science fiction romance out from Lyrical Press called A KISS FOR A CURE. Given the oh-so-romantic title and cover of her book, I thought it'd be fun to have her come aboard on Valentine's Day to share her favorite SFR romances. Take it away, Sidney!]

Give Me a Star-Crossed Lover in Space--or Anywhere!
by Sidney Bristol
 
Hello and Happy Valentine’s Day! Okay, so if you’re one of the non-celebrating types, Happy Thors Day. Go googlefu some abs.

Since it’s the big V-Day and I’m here at The Galaxy Express, I think it’s only fair we talk about our favorite sci-fi romance plots. I’m saying plots because romance isn’t exactly the focal point of any of the sci-fi movies I really love. I’m all for suggestions, so if my favorites aren’t your favorites, let’s talk it over in the comments! But for now, I give you my top five picks for a romance plot that makes me sigh.

5) The new Star Trek


I fully admit that I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I’m a shameless fan of the original and Captains Kirk and Picard. I spent hours watching reruns as a kid! I don’t love it more or less than Star Wars, so don’t ask me to pick. That said, I really enjoyed the romantic elements in the new Star Trek movie. Sure, we’ve all watched Captain Kirk get the alien girl, the planetary ruler and the hot priestess in every episode of the TV show, so we expected an attractive, playboy Kirk in the reboot. 

What I loved was Uhura, this strong, sassy woman kicking him to the curb for the nerdiliscious Spock. It’s a departure from the normal idea of the main character rescuing everyone and getting the girl, which I adored, but I loved the idea of a smart woman choosing a man who is her equal for intellect. I’m looking forward to the new movie and crossing my fingers it’s better than the previews.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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Final Day of The Great Steampunk Romance Airship Tour


Today marks the final stop of The Great Steampunk Romance Airship Tour. At Paranormal Romantics, I'm blogging about Steampunk Romance: A Retrospective. Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win a digital copy of STEAMROLLED by Pauline Baird Jones!

You can enter to win the Grand Prize as well as other steampunk romance ebooks at any of the stops. Here are the direct links:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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Guest Blogging About Alien Heroes At Dear Author

At the beginning of the year, Jane Litte of Dear Author generously invited her readers to submit "letters of opinion" posts. So when I had a topic of interest I sent it over.

And, voilà! I'm guest blogging there today on the topic of Alien Heroes: Too Strange For Romance Readers?
Romance readers can pick and choose from a wide selection of heroes, but despite our need for variety, are there certain kinds we’ll avoid no matter the circumstances? That question came to mind recently upon reading a comment at my blog and I’d like to get your input on the issue.
See you there!

Joyfully yours,

Heather

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A Valentine’s Day Free Ebook Special From Eva Caye

Author Eva Caye (To Be Sinclair series) is running a free ebook special from February 12-14 in honor of Valentine's Day. Here are the details courtesy of the author:

[edited 2/12 for cover switch]

We all need more love in our lives!  Celebrate Valentine's Day with an anthology of four free 'Easter eggs' by Eva Caye!

"The Imperial Family in my To Be Sinclair series is co-led by a scientist whose mother gives her a 'sexology' textbook called The Pleasure Centers of the Body when she gets betrothed.  As a result, I do not resort to 'purple prose' because SHE would not, and since she educates her children the same way, they would not, either!  These short stories have their own themes, and the sex is never gratuitous, nor is it the focus of the story.  Since so many people have raved to me how much they love them and how they perfectly complement their novels, I bowed to their opinions and put together this anthology.

My Easter eggs have scenes that are more erotic than I usually put in my science fiction romance novels; by this I mean I mention a few body parts.  Nevertheless, they are character studies or points of view I did not have a chance to explore in the regular novel.  I originally added them as free, unpublicized stories to my novels simply to show my appreciation to readers who purchased the book.  I also included a 'warning' page for those who prefer not to look behind the closed doors!  I hope you enjoy them!

Get your FREE copy of EASTER EGGS! here.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

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Exclusive: Behind The Scenes of a Digitally Illustrated Book Cover

 

Today I’m going to take you behind the scenes of the digitally illustrated cover for Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts, my new steampunk romance from Lyrical Press. Get ready for an inside peek at the process of creating a digitally illustrated cover and never-before-scene images!

I contracted Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts, a Western steampunk romance, with Lyrical Press in March 2012. Once I learned there’d be lots of lead time prior to the release date, I began thinking about how to offer readers an entertaining and visually stimulating cover that places them right in the middle of the action.

My story has strong action-adventure elements and ideally the cover would reflect that (and serve double duty as a tag for readers). Plus, I was smitten with the cover of Angelia Sparrow’s SKY RAT. I knew the style would be a great fit for Iron Guns.


Therefore, I came up with a plan and pitched the idea to my publisher. Lyrical accepted the proposal and the cover development process began.

The awesomesauce artist who executed the cover is Christine Griffin. It was such a pleasure to work with her and I gained fascinating insights into the process of digitally illustrated covers. The experience of seeing the artist bring the subgenre, setting, and characters come to life was amazing.

The cover for Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts had to answer, and answer well, the following question: “What kind of image would create a visually appealing experience for customers visiting the Lyrical press Web site?"

Much work went into the cover. There were many details to consider, such as color scheme, composition, fonts, and genre choices (i.e., creating a successful blend of romance, steampunk, and Western elements).

Creating a digitally illustrated cover involves a number of stages. The most interesting part for me was seeing the progression of images, from thumbnails onward. Now I’m going to share them with you in an exclusive first look!

Step 1. Picking a composition

After I gave the artist a few ideas about the major elements to include (i.e., a couple, guns, clothing), she created a few thumbnail sketches for me to choose from:


I went with composition #2 because it places readers up close and personal with the characters. The hero and heroine are right in the middle of the action. I also liked how the guns framed the characters.

Step 2. The color rough

The artist had great ideas for the color scheme, which was part of the reason I wanted to work with her in the first place. So once the composition had been decided, she created what’s known as a “color rough.” And boy, rough is exactly the way to describe a digitally illustrated cover at the mid-way point!


Notice the absence of details in both the characters and background. Looks kind of cartoony, doesn’t it? That’s because if an artist included all of the final details and the customer wanted something changed, the artist would have to do all of the work over again. So a color rough is designed to provide just that—a rough idea of how the final cover might look. Saves time, money, and lots of headaches!

Step 3. Color Rough 2 (and a few others)

At this stage, the artist began filling in specific details, such as in the background.


As you can see, this version has more substance, shading, etc. and is beginning to look more like a painting than an animation cell. We decided to go with a different font and also include some gear details around the title to more clearly tag the steampunk aspect.

I was invited to note any needed changes, but they were pretty minor at this point. For example, I asked the artist to change the shading on the heroine’s hair at the temple because it looked silvery, like she was channeling Reed Richards!

Step 4. The final cover

Yay, the most exciting part! Here’s the final cover for Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts:


If you’ll take a close look at the heroine’s dress and gun, you’ll notice more detail than in the previous versions. The smoke coming from her gun has much more definition. There are trees and a mountain range in the background. The image as a whole opened up once the artist reduced the size of my name. Small changes like that can make a big difference.

Creating a digitally illustrated cover is a highly collaborative process. It’s important to be flexible, patient, and think in terms of doing what’s best for the cover. To give you an example, originally the hero had a lighter-colored hat. Since he’s against a blue background, it made better sense for his hat to be dark. So, I changed the hat detail in the story in order to match the cover.

All in all, seeing the cover unfold for Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts was a fascinating process. Thanks for coming behind the scenes with me!

For more information about the work of Christine Griffin, check out her site as well as her gallery of book covers.

Giveaway time!

Leave a comment for this post and you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of the following books:

A print ARC of Theresa Meyers' The Chosen (Legend Chronicles #3)



Winner’s choice: 1 digital book from Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles: Steam & Sorcery, Photographs & Phantoms, Kilts & Kraken, OR Moonlight & Mechanicals (PDF, ePub, or .mobi)


And there’s more! Everyone who leaves a comment at any of the stops on The Great Steampunk Romance Airship Tour will be entered for a chance to win the Grand Prize:

$100 e-gift card (winner’s choice Amazon or B&N)

75$ e-gift certificate to Clockwork Couture


1 digital copy of IRON GUNS, BLAZING HEARTS (winner’s choice PDF, ePub, or .mobi)

Please include your email address. The deadline to enter all of the giveaways will be midnight PST on February 14. On Friday, February 15, check back here to see if you’ve won the ebook prize.

The grand prize winner will be announced on February 15 at The Galaxy Express.

About the author

Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.

Iron Guns, Blazing Hearts
(February 2013; Lyrical Press)
 

The West just got a whole lot wilder.

A woman on a mission… Scientific achievement isn’t enough for Violet Whitcomb. Life working alongside her renowned scientist father is filled with intellectual challenges, but what she truly craves is love and adventure. She’s resigned to a fate of academic pursuits–until a fateful trip across the American frontier changes everything. A rogue inventor known as the Iron Scorpion kidnaps Violet’s father and she alone is left to plan his rescue.

A man with a secret… Logan McCoy knows firsthand going up against the Iron Scorpion is suicide, but he can’t let Violet waltz into the villain’s lair alone. She may be a stranger, but she’s also the most compelling woman he’s ever known.

A perilous quest… Their attraction is undeniable, but their alliance turns contentious when Violet insists on including a third partner on their mission: her father’s latest invention and the world’s most advanced automaton, Arthur. The reason for Logan’s resistance isn’t clear until Violet comes face-to-face with the Iron Scorpion’s diabolical devices, and by then, it’s far too late.