Monday, July 24, 2017

Pets-Centric Monday! #PetsInSpace #CoverReveal #InTheWorks

Happy Monday!

I have a lot of fun and exciting news to share with you today, but before we dive into this week's pet-centric Monday blog, I've got a *newsflash* for you about a popular writing contest.

LERA Reinvents the Rebecca Contest -- Bigtime!

Exciting news from the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (RWA New Mexico chapter)! The Rebecca has been a very popular contest with science fiction romance writers and authors (et al), but LERA may have just taken things up several notches with this year's makeover. Here's the deets...

You’ve Seen The Voice!

Do you want to be THE WRITER??

The Rebecca is making changes – and offering you “celebrity” judge support! The top three finalists in each category will go to an author well known in that genre. That author will pick a winner and give them a month of mentoring. At the end of the month, the chapter will vote on those five revised entries and pick The Writer. All five winners will be lovingly promoted by their author mentor, and The Writer will receive social media support from the entire LERA chapter!

Here's a link to the LERA Contest 2017 rules and information. If you're interested, you'll have to act fast. The deadline is JULY 31ST! (One week from today.)

The Rebecca is one of the rare contests that is open to both published and unpublished writers, but the entry itself must be unpublished and can't be contracted for publication in any form at the time of entry.

And the celebrity judges? Darynda Jones! Jeffe Kennedy (Paranormal/Speculative category which includes SFR)! Robin Perini! Katie Lane! Tamra Baumann!

For an opportunity like this, it might be worth turning on those afterburners to get 'er done!

Universal Preorder Link for all Stores
#MeetMyPet #PetsInSpace Recap

In case you missed the round of pet introductions from the authors of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 last week. I've put together a quick recap of the intros below, with links.

Each blog includes an adorable sketch of the pet and more about the story in the upcoming Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2.

Ready to meet some dynamic non-human heroes and heroines?

A time traveling parrot? Anything can happen (and usually does) in a story by Pauline Baird Jones. Meet Sir Rupert, the feathered Time Rebellion Operative from Time Trap, a story in the Project Enterprise series.

Guy Roark, a cyborg field agent, is gifted with an unexpected going away present by his little niece, Jessamine. Meet Mitzi from Cara Bristol's Rescued by a Cyborg, part of the Cy-Ops Sci-Fi Romance series.

“I’m little but I’m loud.” —Puppy
Meet Puppy, a little brown and black puff of fur featured in The Prince, the Pilot, and the Puppy, a story by Susan Grant. On a space station 43 light years away from Earth, two best friends who are fighter pilots just need a little help to see that they are in love. This novella is otherwise known as Star Puppy in the Star Series.

In the future, the pet-trade industry has a pleasant front, selling designer pets to the wealthy, but with much shadier underpinnings. Meet Shiza the foo dog from Carol Van Natta's Pet Trade, a story in the Central Galactic Concordance universe.

Jessica Subject created a pet called a tibbar--similar to a baby rabbit, but with hamster-like claws and ears and the intelligence of a cat, which can get her into all kinds of trouble. Meet Elynyn from Gib and the Tibbar, a Galactic Defenders story.

S.E. Smith begins her pet introduction with: "Once upon a time in the not so distant future… or past… well, one of those… there lived a mighty mob of emus…." Yes, you read that right. Emus! And one particular emu has a dragon. Want to read the rest? (I know you do!) Meet Pearl, the heroine of Pearl's Dragon, a Dragon Lords of Valdier story.

And in case you missed my blog last week, I had the pleasure of introducing my adorable trouble-inspiring pet along with a lovely rendering by sketch artist Nyssa Juneau. Meet Luna, the StarDog in my story, which is a sequel to both my original Pets in Space story, StarDog, and my full-length novel, Inherit the Stars. My story is titled Courting Disaster: StarDog2 and it's part of the Inherited Stars Universe.

Here's a special treat for you from the authors of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2. We're having a contest (except everyone's a winner!) for a coloring book featuring all the pets in the collection. Just go to the Pets in Space website to download your copy!




Want a Look at My Writing Space?

Bestselling Author Cara Bristol is hosting a series on her blog about authors and their writing areas, and I was first up on her list. Stop by to get a few glimpses into my creative surroundings and a peek at some of the characters I share it with, both friendly and not-so!

Laurie Green Invites you to her Star Wars Themed Office :)

Surprise #CoverReveal!

I'm thrilled today to be able to share with you the unveiling of a brand new cover in my Inherited Stars series. This story was part of the original Pets in Space collection, so although it was first published nine months ago, it's never had its own cover. Until now.

Friends -- [whips off the veil] -- feast your eyes on the amazing new art for StarDog.


This brilliant design was created by my fabulous cover artist, Danielle Fine, and I absolutely love it! Yup, she just hit another one out of the park. I'm so proud of all of my covers.

For StarDog, I gave Danielle some ideas, and told her she could take a shot at creating a StarDog for the cover--if she so chose to tackle a creature that doesn't even exist. I left it totally up to her. And wow! Did she ever nail Katrina!

Of course, she does have an advantage as my cover artist, because she's also my editor so she knows the heart and soul of each story so well.

She did a fantastic job "re-dressing" Taro and Adini to look the parts of starship navigator and charming Carduwan tent vendor. And if the good ship Calypso looks eerily familiar...yeah, there's a reason for that. (But no spoilers!)

I'm so proud to be adding this cover to my Inherited Stars Universe. My banner will be updated soon!



In The Works

So what are the plans for StarDog?

I'm working to have it ready for the Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 release as a *FREEBIE*. The link will be included at the conclusion of my story Courting Disaster: StarDog 2 as a special bonus for those who didn't get a chance to read the original story or who did and simply want to have a copy of the individual book.

Plus since Courting Disaster is a sequel to StarDog (as well as a sequel to the full-length novel, Inherit the Stars) I wanted to be ensure the story was available. (Pets in Space is no longer for sale and will never be offered as a collection again).

If you're curious about the status of other stories from the original Pets in Space, be sure to check the Pets in Space Website and look under the Pets in Space 1 tab for info and links to some of your other favorites.

And here's something new that might be in the works...

Will There be Another StarDog Story?

All this Pets in Space excitement has got me thinking about yet a third StarDog story to enhance my Inherited Stars series. This will be Maura's story. When I promised my own little Maura she'd get her own namesake someday, I thought "someday" would be more like "someyear." Surprise! My muse has other ideas.

Because StarDog takes place about six months before Operation Reset (a pivotal point in the series) and Courting Disaster: StarDog2 takes place about three years after, I thought it might be fun to have a StarDog story that happens simultaneously with the novel, Inherit the Stars. There may be cameos by some of the characters from the main book and it will most likely involve a mission that will run concurrently with the story arc in the novel. It'll be a bit Rogue One-esque in that aspect, except I promise a much happier ending. After all, this is SFR!

Since both the first two stories allude to rumors of StarDogs who served as spies on Alliance ships, I decided the series needs a story about a StarDog who is just that. Tentative title: SpyDog. How and when SpyDog will be released is undecided at this stage. I'll be posting updates in later blogs.

My Three Little Inspirations
Meet the canines behind the fictional StarDogs--Katrina, Luna and Maura.

Collectively called "The Triplets" these three miniature longhaired dachshunds all hail from the same respected breeder in Texas. All were acquired after their breeding careers concluded, when they joined us in their new forever home.

As mentioned above, the two StarDogs in my first two stories are named for my real-life writing buddies, Katrina and Luna. Both of whom, purely by serendipity, have names that clicked beautifully with my series story arc. How cool is that?

As mentioned above, my third little buddy will lend her name to my StarDog-heroine-in-waiting, Maura.

In the stories, Katrina and Luna are genetically related, but Maura will be a slightly different genetic code. I just realized that, once again, life is imitating art (or is it vice versa?), in that Katrina and Luna are, in human terms, aunt and niece--so are indeed genetically related, where Maura is not.

Here's a quick profile on each so you can get to know the real-dogs-behind-the-fictional-pet-heroines better.

Katrina, the old hat (with Luna behind her).

Katrina
Registered name: Katty Katrina (born about the same time as the hurricane)
Black and tan
12 years old, 11 pounds
Katrina's the old hand of the bunch. She's been with us since 2009 and has taught the other two the "Let's go write!" routine and showed them how to scamper to my office and curl up under my desk when they hear those special words. She's the shyest of the three, and prefers snuggling up in her crate by herself at night. She's not a fan of thunderstorms, but she's much less traumatized now that she has two sisses to hang with. She's the only one who has the ability to jump up on the bed or the furniture without assistance. She loves to snuggle up on the couch and watch TV, movies or news with us. Preferably with popcorn!

Luna -- "Hi!"

Luna
Registered name: Engel's Lolapalooza Lulu
Black and tan piebald
6 years old, 12 pounds
Luna's our big cuddly lug. She's the largest of the three, and she's absolutely terrified of thunderstorms. I always know when a storm's coming, because she'll whine and crawl into my lap long before we hear the first rumble. Luna is a real people-pleaser who always wants to be the center of attention and strives to be the "good dog!" but gets her feelings hurt very easily when she isn't Ms. Perfect.

Our introductory photo of Maura taken by her breeder.

Maura
Registered name: Engel's Miraculous Maura
English Cream
5 years old, 9.8 pounds
Maura's the little heart-warmer of the trio. She's the tiniest and cuddliest, especially when its time to go into her kennel (she's perfected the technique to delay that) but yet is the boldest of the three, personality-wise. Thunderstorms don't phase her--not much does--and she can get a little vocal when the big dogs are out cavorting across the property, because she believes herself to be a much larger dog who should be out running with the pack. She loves belly rubs and giving kisses.

So there are my own little StarDogs. Hope you enjoyed learning more about them.

Unveiling Our Sofie and Echo Mini-Me's

And speaking of pets. Well, okay, technically I suppose they aren't really pets, but they definitely fall into the four-legged family member category, so close enough for jazz.

We've now received the two recently completed model sculptures of our Thoroughbreds--Soulful and her 2014 foal, Echo Eight. We were delighted with how these turned out. The artist totally nailed them. With Sue Kern Thompson's (artist) permission, I'll share a few of the Sakori Customs shots of these two lovelies.


Soulful is one of our Thoroughbred broodmares.
In addition to Echo Eight, she produced Inherit the Stars,
a three-year-old filly now in race training.

Soulful was sired by Lion Heart (2nd in the Kentucky Derby to Smarty Jones)
and her dam is a stakes-producing daughter of Seattle Slew. 
Soulful's nickname is Sofie.

The real Sofie with (a slightly older than the model portrait) Echo Eight.
And here's Echo's portrait...
 
Echo Eight (yes, he's named for Sharon's novel).
 
Echo was sired by Diabolical, a leading sire in the Southwest
who earned over a million dollars in his racing career.
 
The artist perfectly captured Echo's "falling asteroid" star,
his tiny nose snip and white rear pastern.

Echo Eight in November 2016. :)

That's it for this week. Hope you all have a good one!


Friday, July 21, 2017

TOP FIVE RULES FOR FICTIONAL FIDOS



(Or Creating Memorable Furry Characters--Like Happy Here)

I’m stepping out of my kennel a bit on this topic, dear readers. After all, I’m not the Spacefreighters blogger with a second Pets In Space anthology on preorder right now (that would be Laurie). But I do feature a Belgian shepherd mix therapy dog in my latest novel, Not Fade Away, Book 4, Interstellar Rescue Series. (Available November 14 from INK’d Press.)

I had to pitch this novel to my agent/publisher, since our original contract was just for the first three books in the series. But before she agreed to write a new, expanded contract for future books, Michelle said, “So, you have a therapy dog in this one. The dog survives, right?”

I assured her the dog was alive and well at the end of the book.

“Good,” she said. “Because if not that would have been a deal-breaker.”

Which made me think there are distinct rules for writing about companion animals in novels, particularly if you ever hope to sell those novels to romance readers. Here are my Top Five Rules for Fictional Fidos (or Fluffies or whatever):

          1)The animal MUST survive. Kill everyone else in the book if you have to, but don’t kill the dog or the cat. Most of us have never forgiven Disney for OLD YELLER.

          2)The animal must have a purpose. Like anything else in a novel, Fido or Fluffy should be integral to the story, rather than be window-dressing. At the very least, the companion animal should illustrate something about your hero or heroine (beyond the fact that he or she is an animal lover). In a book I just read, a blind bulldog symbolized the spirit of its owner, who had recently recovered her sight. Maybe, like Happy in Not Fade Away, the dog has an actual job. Maybe like many novel felines, the cat helps solve the mystery. Or maybe the pet provides a silent partner for dialogue with the hero or heroine.

          3)The animal must have its own personality. Anyone with a pet knows every cat or dog is unique, with its own quirks, its likes and dislikes, its body language and means of communicating. The animal character should be just as vivid in its own way as any of your secondary characters. That means it has to be consistent, too—the same dog on Page One and on Page 300, unless you’ve given it a reason to change.

     4)The animal must be present and/or accounted for. If your heroine has a cat, your heroine always has a cat. I discovered this when writing the first novel in my Interstellar Rescue series, Unchained Memory. When the heroine, Asia, is attacked by unknown assailants on what is supposed to be a weekend trip and is forced to go on the run, her cat J.J. is left at home. I had to let the readers know she’d made arrangements for her friend to take care of him. Because Rule Number One. Similarly, Happy is in nearly every scene of Not Fade Away; he and his owner, Charlie, the heroine, are very close. I had to let the reader know where he is when important things happen.

          5) And, finally, the animal must cement the bond between hero and heroine by approving of the relationship (and vice versa). That is, the animal must like his owner’s lover and the lover must like the animal, if not at first, then certainly by the end of the book. Rafe, the hero of Not Fade Away, is distrustful of Happy at first. He’s never been around a dog of Happy’s size. But Rafe’s father, suffering from dementia, takes to Happy right away. And, of course, Charlie loves the dog. It doesn’t take long for Rafe to come around—and for the dog to include Rafe in his circle of protection.

So, there you have it, my list of the Top Five Rules for Fictional Fidos. Got any others you’d like to share?

Cheers,
Donna




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The End Is Nigh! #amAWOL



It's the final week before my monsters finish school for the next seven weeks. Well, technically eldest is already done as she's spending this week doing work experience with me, 12yo has gone on a four day adventure holiday with the school, and youngest actually finishes tomorrow. Eep! Where did this year go?!
So I'm going to finish with a few updates. I'll try to post the chicks' progress here at Spacefreighters, but I'll also have posts going live every Wednesday at my cosplay blog HERE and some reviews at Critique de Book. The easiest way to catch them all is to follow my Twitter feed @pippajaygreen
Talking of cosplay, I was reminded at the weekend of an event which gave me my major boost to do most costumes - Star Wars Celebration Europe. It's been a whole year since I went, having made my 12yo his Hux outfit and meeting up with fellow fangirl and Brigader Patty Hammond, without whom I probably wouldn't have gone.

I can't believe it's been a year. You can revisit some of my posts HERE, Rogue One focus HERE, and more random photos HERE. In the meantime, we'll be attending Nor-Con in October, although it's looking  like I won't have a new cosplay for it as time is running out and I've yet to complete 12yo's.

Status Update
I'll get the bad news out the way first - Keir's Shadow will definitely not be releasing this year. Instead I will focus on releasing Reunion and Unexpected, and possibly Revived, so at least something will come out this year.

Chook Update
On Thursday last week, just as Mot and Splash turned one week old, I discovered a lump on Lavender and had to take her/him to the vets (or as hubs put it, take it for a 'chick up'). >.< Fortunately it just turned out to be a cyst and no further treatment is necessary other than keeping an eye on it. Meanwhile the chicks continue to grow and their feathers are coming out more and more each day. As of last week, I can tell that Mot, Lemon and Cuckoo will definitely be frizzles - their feathers curve outwards to make them look adorably scruffy.

From front to back: Lemon, Mille, Splash, Cuckoo, Lavender and
Mot with Mama Effie.

What's over there?! Left to right: Lemon, Mille and Mot investigate.

Worshipping at the drinker. Left to right:
Cuckoo, Lavender, Mille, Lemon and Splash
video
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See ya!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Meet Luna the StarDog #MeetMyPet



Introductions are on the agenda today. I'd like you to meet Luna, the new pet-heroine from my upcoming release. This wonderful sketch was created by artist Nyssa Juneau and it beautifully captures the essence of this little, four-legged dynamo.

For those who've read StarDog, a story in the first Pets in Space collection and part of my Inherited Stars series, I have a surprise for you.

You've already met Luna!

In the original story--StarDog--where Katrina was the starring pet, this girl was known as StarPup. In fact, Luna is a genetic copy of Katrina. She'll soon have her own adventure that will be every bit as exciting and high stakes as the first.

So...is Luna a clone of Katrina? Not exactly. A genetic copy is different from a clone in that both animals were bio-engineered using the same genetic blueprint, rather than one animal being a genetic copy of the original "natural" animal. StarDogs don't exist in nature. To paraphrase one of the scientists from Jurassic World: StarDogs are designed, not bred.

Luna's owner, Ketsia, explains the purpose of StarDogs to her curious escort, Captain Jagger, in this way:
__________________________________________

From Courting Disaster: StarDog 2

“Where do StarDogs hail from?” he asked. “Never encountered one before.”

Despite his face being half-hidden by the visor, he seemed genuinely interested. “They hail from a talented bio-engineer.” Ketsia pressed her knuckles to the base of her helmet and eased it back to a more comfortable position. “They’re recombinant canine, weasel, mongoose, and feline DNA, created to serve as starship mascots and vermin exterminators.” Giving him a sly smile, the one expression visible to him below her faceshield, she added, “And as Network spies on Alliance ships, if the rumors are true.”

“Huh.” He shifted in his seat. “And how does an ambassador’s daughter come by such an animal?”

She affectionately stroked Luna’s soft fur. “She was a gift.”

“From a man friend?”

Ketsia sniffed. What, did he think men regularly showered her with exotic gifts?
__________________________________________

Like clones, even when genetically identical, StarDogs can have different markings because of environmental factors during incubation and development, so Luna doesn't look exactly like Katrina, who was mainly black and tan. She has loud splashes of white in her coat.

Katrina from StarDog

Like Katrina, this little girl is also highly intelligent and has a few special skills she'll demonstrate in my upcoming release Courting Disaster: StarDog 2 which will be part of the exciting new Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 collection to be released October 10, 2017.

What happened after Operation Reset and the fall of the Ithian Alliance? Two of the characters from Inherit the Stars are about to find out when they set a collision course with disaster.

Captain Navene Jagger, commander of a mysterious, derelict starship, must pretend to be married to Ketsia Tayah, the woman he is escorting through a dangerous sector of space. As he deals with threats that might get them both killed, he's unaware of the talents of the StarDog at her side.

More about Embracing the Romance: Pets in Space 2

The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading SFR authors brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard Award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King for stories that will take you out of this world!

Featuring novellas by New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glenn Latner.

Can't wait? Not to worry. You can pre-order now at any of these booksellers:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble Nook

Googleplay

iBooks

Kobo


Hero Dogs

The authors of the collection are also very proud to announce that 10% of the first month's profits will go to Hero Dogs. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence. You can meet the Hero Dogs in training and read more about this wonderful program on the Hero Dogs site.

Join us on Social Media!

Can't wait for October? You're invited to join the authors for chat and news here:

We have some fun upcoming activities, events and giveaways you won't want to miss!

Like this one...


WIN an Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 Coloring Book featuring the pets from the stories. We are running a ‘contest’ from July 15th - August 22nd where everyone is a winner of our Embrace the Romance Coloring Book! Just click the link to enter.

Here's a special preorder preview of all the Pets in Space stars!




Want to say "hello" to Luna? Have a special pet of your own you want to tell us about? Please comment below.

Have a pet-tastic week!






Friday, July 14, 2017

FEEL THE LOVE, EXPAND THE MISSION



In this age of the Internet, we authors are well used to flogging our books on blog tours, in Facebook groups and in every virtual space we can invade. The days of the actual book tour are almost gone, the opportunities for meeting readers at book signings and book fairs being increasingly limited.

That’s why I still welcome those chances wherever I can conjure them, like at last weekend’s Shore Leave Science Fiction convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland. This was my third year selling books in the Dealers’ Room at this con, the largest fan-run SF event in the country, now in its 39th year. Like always, the con was well-organized and well-attended, with some great guests from the SF entertainment and scientific worlds. But it seemed like the cosplay folks outdid themselves this year, with an ongoing parade of very innovative creations going by the table and competing in the Masquerade.
 
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I was able to meet up with some friends who took my advice and chose Shore Leave as their first SF con experience ever. They had a ball, and I was able to see things from their newbie perspective all over again. That’s always fun. Since I’ve been doing this particular con since I was a fan fiction writer in the Nineties, I tend not to blink when the Klingon conga line goes by.

The hours were a little long without my daughter to help out at the table. (She’s expecting her first child in September, so no con for her this summer!) But I had my friend Stephanie of Red Fish Rue Fish as a neighbor at the next table to chat and cut up with, and neighbors on the other side that seemed to wear a different costume every five minutes. I had lots of return customers who came seeking the latest book in my Interstellar Rescue series. (I sold out of Fools Rush In !) and made some new friends, too. (I sold all of the “new cover” copies of Unchained Memory!) All in all, sales were good and worth the investment on the table.

The only problem is the long drive to Maryland (nine hours on a good day). DragonCon in Atlanta is much closer, and I recently met another writer who encouraged me to try it next year. I may add it to the schedule and see if it works as well as Shore Leave.

MISSION SUCCESS: THE CONTINUING MISSION

I was so glad to read blog partner Laurie’s news that she had made the difficult, but optimistic, decision to rededicate herself to her writing career. Not only because I would hate to think I was alone in this very lonely endeavor, but also because I strongly believe Laurie’s is a writing voice that should continue to be heard in the SFR world. Lord knows this is not an easy path to choose, and encouragement is not always to be found. But, as her fans showed in their reviews, people are out there reading and appreciating, and that does make it all worthwhile. (Events like Shore Leave, where you get to meet readers directly, can help bring that home, too.)

I recently finished Book Four in my Interstellar Rescue series, a book which technically did not have a contract from my agent/publisher. I was a little nervous to think she might not want to continue with this arrangement, which allows me all kinds of creative (and financial) freedom. But we concluded a new agreement that extends the arrangement with some tweaks, and I’m very happy. My terrific editor just signed on to do this book, too, so we’re officially in production with a goal of publishing by November, 2017. 

It just goes to show that our original Mission Success was not a short-term objective, but a long-term plan—a Five-Year Mission and beyond. And for that we—and our readers—are  all systems GO!

Cheers, Donna