Friday, September 19, 2014

Top Gun SFR - What is this New Category All About?

Recently I stumbled across an ad from fellow SFR-ist Pauline Baird Jones, talking about two of her titles that she'd bundled and dubbed "Top Guns in Time and Space."

Wait? What? That sounds amazing! I think Pauline may have just coined the name of an entire new SFR category.

The stories in the bundle are Out of Time, a time-travel/action adventure/romance centering on a World War II flying ace, and The Key, about a female Air Force pilot sent on a dangerous mission beyond the Milky Way.

I had to learn more, so I asked Pauline if she'd like to stop by Spacefreighters Lounge to talk about Top Gun SFR, and she graciously agreed. So Pauline, first of all, what sort of stories do you consider to be "Top Gun SFR" and how did you come up with this dynamite category name?

Pauline Baird Jones:  I spread my Top Gun umbrella pretty far, by including an ace pilot from WWII in my bundle, so for me, anything that deals with military pilots seems like a good fit. Because who doesn’t love stories about military pilots? They are pretty amazing. I wish I could take credit for the concept, but I was talking to my friend and fellow author, Cornelia Amiri about how hard it is to market a standalone book.

Out of Time is one of those books I wrote because I loved the idea, because I had to write it. Originally I had planned to write a follow-up, but lots of Life Happened. Lots. And Sara from The Key sauntered into my imagination, and well, it didn’t get written.

I haven’t totally give up on a sequel to Out of Time, but it’s on a long list. So there it is, all by itself. I was, okay, I was whining about it. LOL When you have a series, then the books in the series funnel sales to other books, but readers don’t always follow an author to their other books if they aren’t sure they’ll like the genre. If they have to step outside their comfort zone to read it.

When I first made the move from romantic suspense to science fiction romance, I contacted several of my core fans and offered them the book for free. A couple of them were quite dubious, but ended up loving the book. So it is challenging to get readers to try a new-to-them genre.

Then Cornelia had her genius moment. Which lit the bulb over my head. But…I wondered how on earth my designer would be able to bring such different-though-kind-of-the-same-books together on a cover. I think she did a great job and I’m eyeing the other pilots in my back list and wondering…

Laurie: I hope you do find other candidates for this new SFR category, Pauline. :)

I'm going to put on my reader hat for a minute and look at this from another perspective. Although your stories are set in different eras and might otherwise be in two different categories--Time Travel SFR and Space Opera SFR--at their core they have the two things that light up my sensor boards. Pilots!...in a SFR story! That's a big trigger for me to click the buy button, and I doubt I'm alone. I think it was a really cool idea to bring these two stories together and package them. That hooked me.

I also think that Top Gun SFR has the potential to bring some new crossover readers in from the Military Romance front. I read in both genres because I love the military culture and especially pilots (and ship captains, as an extension of that). They are brave and resourceful, often brilliant, make split second decisions and fly by the gut, but at the same time they must be responsible and dependable enough to trust with other lives and multi-million (or billion!) dollar aircraft or ships.

But they do very much have a mind of their own and that makes them rebels. And flawed. And totally fascinating. The name Top Gun SFR summons a visual of Maverick pushing the envelope in his F-14 Tomcat, and that has parallels to Han Solo, Mal Reynolds, and Starbuck.

Why are Top Gun personalities such a draw? Maybe because pilots (and/or ship captains) tend to be fearless and cocky and extreme risk-takers. Remember this great line from the movie Top Gun? "Your ego is writing checks your body can't cash!" Another exciting thing is that female characters can qualify as Top Gun personalities just as naturally as males, as your pilot in The Key demonstrates.

Pauline: Well, I know that I LOVE pilots for just the reasons you outline. I had a lot of fun creating a cocky, writing checks your body can’t cash, female pilot. LOL I also think we need heroes more than ever these days. I recently did a blog post about the transport of the future (I was doing it for fun—there may be a riding lawn mower in my future lol—but it ended up being more poignant than I expected.) When I was young we dreamed SO big! Our heroes were the soldiers and pilots—especially those amazing test pilots and astronauts. What a risk they took being the first into space and they jockeyed for it.

We love our heroes, military, police, firemen—all of those who stand in the path of danger for us. It was such an amazing experience for me to interact with the Greatest Generation when I was working on Out of Time. Their generosity in sharing their stories and answering my questions—well, not a shock from the men who flew into danger and saved the world. But what an honor. Looking back, I can see that it was kind of a natural segue for me as an author to go from ace pilots of WWII to pilots heading into the vastness of space.

I was recently at a SF con and one of the topics that came up was who would go to Mars? What would the Mars mission look like? There were some interesting comments, but I left thinking they totally missed the reality mark.

The first mission to Mars will have to be manned by the same type of people who made it to the Moon. Only when the path has been blazed (and the blood spilled), will the rest of us follow. That is the reality of exploration of any kind. First there is blunt force (and brave), then the next level of risk-takers, then then the settlement builders.

Because our society doesn’t seem to dream as big, I think it is critical for authors and other creators to keep that dreaming alive. And its important for us to honor the real-life heroes who stand between us and the very real dangers of the world.

Laurie: Oh, so well said, Pauline! That gave me goosebumps. Books really can help keep this spirit alive by inspiring readers to dream big. Very big.

So now we've identified the essence of Top Gun SFR. It's about those who dare--pilots, astronauts, mission captains, pioneers on the edge of space or time. Top Gun SFR honors this rare and extraordinary vanishing breed through characters who push the envelope and live on the edge. Heroes and heroines who "boldly go where no one has gone before" in spite of the perils and risks to them personally. This makes for an exciting, heart-pounding read and a wonderful reading adventure.

Pauline, thanks so much for joining us today for the unveiling of Top Gun SFR. I do believe this new category will catch on in a big way.

Now we'd like to hear from our readers. Tell us what other stories you've loved that you think would fall into the Top Gun SFR category?
~~~ * ~~~

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pippa's Journal - Scream! For The Cure

A couple of weeks ago, two friends approached me about an event they wanted to run in October and asking for donations and for me to perhaps share a story.

Now, I'm always happy to donate, and as it happened I totally had something appropriate to the theme - a story set around Halloween releasing in October. But a personal story? Those I don't share so much, especially those involving tragedy.

And yet the time seems right. Since I adore the two asking, I will be sharing as part of Scream! For the Cure. So what is it?



"How it works:
Beginning October 5th readers will have an opportunity to bid for baskets. The categories are Erotic Romance, Urban Fantasy, YA & Adult paranormal romance, and Horror/Suspense. We’ll be showcasing the baskets the week they go up for auction, with the auctions taking place on that Friday. In-between, we’ll also have guest posts from different authors and bloggers talking about their personal struggles with cancer, some who’ve battled the disease themselves, and some who have witnessed the ongoing struggle through someone else. It’ll also be a forum for people to talk about their experiences, maybe share some uplifting stories as well."

You can check out more on their website HERE. In the meantime, Cate Peace and Landra Graf (two of the sweetest, most generous people you could meet) are still looking for more book donations, participants, and of course help in spreading the word. Even if you could just mention the event or maybe put the banner on your blog, it would really help. Thanks in advance for anything you can do.

Happenings

Gosh, it's all taking off at Spacefreighters Lounge! With Laurie's big announcement Monday (check it out HERE) on the launch of her SciFi romance series, and with Donna's debut coming, and yet more from Sharon and myself, our side bar is going to be full of pretties! Congrats to my co-bloggers, especially as this is the first for both Donna and Laurie.



Restless In Peaceville is still on tour for just over a week (schedule HERE), but the giveaway included will run until the first of October...when my next release will have its cover AND title reveal! I've waited a year to share this Halloween-themed paranormal romance short. I got the draft cover art Monday, and it's so pretty! If you'd like to get a sneak early peek at it, you can sign up to my newsletter HERE.



Rachel Leigh Smith launched her debut release this week - meet her and My Name Is A'yen over on the Brigade blog HERE

Need marketing help? Check out the first of a series of posts by Cary Caffrey HERE. The second goes up tomorrow.

If you've been hiding under a rock lately, you might have missed all the furore over Ellora's Cave. Might be worth checking out the latest HERE. Wowzers.

On Friday, I'm blogging at Romancing the Genre about Romantic Cliches and showing my ignorance. Hey, I'm still learning!

I still have three releases, a SFF convention and NaNoWriMo to go before the end of the year. Still editing No Angel and the Halloween shorts as of writing this post. Much as this year has been a blast, I'm kind of looking forward to a bit of a break come Christmas. And I'm going to be talking about my plans for NaNoWriMo next week. Pippa Jay, signing off!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Announcing Launch of a New SFR Series!


I've been bouncing on the edge of my seat for two weeks waiting to break the big news! Now that all the specifics have been discussed and the contract is signed, I can finally shout it out at the top of my lungs:

I have a Science Fiction Romance series 
set to launch in February 2015!

Yes! That means we're just a few months away from zero hour! I'll be co-publishing my six-book series, along with a number of related shorts and novelettes, through my agent, Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary. (If you've been following Donna Frelick's posts, you know she has a similar arrangement with her agent.)

Co-publishing is an exciting new trend in which authors and agents partner up to share the various tasks and functions in getting a book to market. Generally, the agent/agency is responsible for formatting, uploading and all the business details, while the author is responsible for the cover art and editing. The author also has the benefit of the agent's expertise in marketing and promotion.

I'm doubly fortunate that Amanda Luedeke is considered a marketing guru, and is the author of the self-help book on building platform titled The Extroverted Writer. She has some truly dynamic ideas!

Going the co-publishing route means the book/s can be published in a matter of months instead of a year or more, and the author has more control over how the book is packaged (which for many authors is a big concern since most have little to no input on cover art).

Want to know a little more about the series? Here's the introduction:
The year is 3500 AD—more or less. No one really keeps track anymore. 
Since the fall of peacekeeper planet, LaGuardia, two centuries before, much has been lost. Few remember that LaGuardia was once known as Draxis. Fewer still have knowledge that Draxis once guarded a spatial vortex—a crossrip in time and space—and passageway to a legendary world called Earth where the human species originated.  
Somewhere, hidden in a forgotten archive, is the written history of the known universe...and the chronicles of the men and women who helped forge a future in the stars.
This series is a bit unconventional, to say the least. It spans some 1,500 years (okay, 13,500 years if you count the backstory) and is made up of two "bookend" novels that open and close the series in the same future era, with a single novel and a trilogy embedded in the middle that happen in the present day to the near future. The shorts and novelettes are spin-offs that might take place in the past, present, near or far future within the framework of this universe.

Unorthodox, yes? Well that's part of the fun!

Science Fiction Romance is all about forging new pathways and presenting new ideas. Because it's an unusual series it provides a bonus: A puzzle the reader can solve about how all the various story elements and characters fit together. For the inquiring reader, there will be clues throughout these romantic adventures to help connect the dots on the overarching tale.

I'm also extremely proud to mention that the first three novels in this series have all been recent RWA® Golden Heart® finalists.

Books 1 and 2 were finalists in 2011 under the titles P2PC and The Outer Planets.

Book 3 was a finalist in 2012 under the title Draxis.


In addition, all three have won or placed in multiple writing competitions from 2009 to 2013 including the RWA FF&P On The Far Side contest and the Spacecoast Romance Authors Launching a Star contest.

You can read more about each of these novels on my author web site Laurie A. Green. Pssst! You can also sign up for my newsletter there, on the right side of the Home page. It comes with a promise to keep the newsletter infrequent so I won't fill up your inbox.

Okay, so are you ready for a peek into this new universe?

Here's the opening scene from Book 1:

______________________________


One chance. No mistakes.

       Sair took a deep breath and peered out the open airlock of the merchant ship. This was it. Make a wrong move now and end up the main course at an Ithian feast. He studied his escape route. No threat in sight; he had a clear path to the street outside the hang. He gripped the edge of the hatch, palms slick, legs twitching. Now. 

        No shouts of alarm mingled with the roar of the busy spaceport when he ducked off the ship. Once out of the hangar, he tried to disappear into the crowd on the busy street. He sucked in his breath when a sharp-featured man in a dusty sun cloak strode straight for him.

        Carduwan, not Ithian. Thank the Fire Lords. A neutral.

        Sair caught the man’s arm. “Where am I?”

The Carduwan registered his size and build and his expression melted from annoyance to fear. “Eliptis hangtown.” He edged away. “Sir.”

“What planet?”

The man’s eyes widened and he croaked, “Dartis.”

Just my luck. A sandy, hell-baked ball where the Ithians ran as thick as rats in grain.

Sair tugged the terrified Carduwan closer, staring into the man’s sunshield. “Give me those.”

       “Yours.” The man fumbled the dark frame off his beakish nose.

       Sair grabbed the sunshield and slid it home, glad to hide his eyes. Don’t thank him. You’re Rathskian. He released the Carduwan and glanced back at the hang entry when a chubby man shuffled onto the street.

      He froze but the pilot never glanced his way. He didn’t seem to have a clue Sair had stowed away in his freight compartment to escape. So far, so good. At least he hadn’t been served up on a platter yet.

__________________________________________

Just as an aside, it was a scene in Book 1 that inspired the name of our blog--Spacefreighters Lounge. There's a little story about that on the sidebar (scroll down to Welcome to Spacefreighters Lounge and click the highlighted words From Whence Came the Name). >>>

In the coming weeks and months, I'll be providing more details and spilling more secrets about this SFR series. Please watch for regular updates on Mondays! And thanks so much for stopping by today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another Milestone in the Path of Publication - Pippa's Journal


Here at Spacefreighters Lounge, we not only talk about our paths to publication, but also the highs and lows of being published. The good and bad reviews, getting that agent or contract or award, piracy, author meltdowns, submission calls and publishers going out of business etc. It's a twisty, turny, never-ending road, up to the point where you finally decide to leave it or pass on to the great Library in the Sky (or whatever your beliefs are). And while this particular milestone  isn't exactly one to celebrate, it's a significant one and it comes with a silver lining.


Keir is now out of print. I checked my Amazon page last Wednesday evening to find the final print edition produced by my publisher had sold. To the best of my knowledge, this was the last official copy other than those few second hand ones being offered by other sellers (and no doubt by various pirate sites that have it, grr). And yes, I'm sad. I didn't expect it to happen so soon with my debut novel - my first born. When my publisher announced their sale to another bigger publisher at the start of the year, it was only one of several lows both in my publishing and private life. Choosing NOT to sign the new contract was one of the hardest decisions I've made, and since then I've been fighting to get Keir back out. I've had to admit defeat, for various reasons - most of them good. New contracts and releases with new publishers mean I've been kept very busy, and have more than made up for being one title down (even though I wish it hadn't been Keir).


The upside? It means once Keir is re-released, the decks have been cleared. I don't know how long a book listing stays up on Amazon once the book is out of print. Maybe forever? Obviously the new book will have a new ISBN/ASIN as it won't be with the same publisher. I'll essentially have to start all over again with reviews. But it'll also have a new cover, a new blurb, and an updated and re-edited interior. What's even better is that now *I* have control of the book...and the series. Oh, yes. Keir was meant to be book one of five, but it was never marketed as that, and the sequel was never picked up. Now I can release them all, have the covers match and put on the series number. That kind of makes up for all the trauma of it coming down.


So yes, while I may feel a pang of regret at seeing that last copy go, there's a sense of freedom. It's a fresh start for Keir. And while I have to apologize for the delay, at least I can say you'll be getting all five books now. Keir will re-release next year, and I plan to release the sequel too, and hopefully a side story set between the two. Book three should be 2016. There's always a bright side to what might seem like bad news.

Happenings

Restless In Peaceville is on tour! My zombies are shuffling around the internet, and there's a suitably zombified giveaway to match. Check out the schedule HERE.

I'm in the process of editing the paranormal romance short I'm self publishing in October. I've just completed content edits on the futuristic UF short No Angel for release in December from Breathless Press. I'm also still waiting to do a cover reveal for When Dark Falls, my alternate 1920s superhero romance, due out in November. So still three releases to go before the end of the year. I'm not panicking, honest. >.<



Ping Pong

While I spare a moment of thought for the demise of one title amidst the chaos of edits and releases, two of my fellow bloggers on Spacefreighters Lounge are suffering pre-release nerves and hopefully much excitement at the upcoming launch of their publishing debuts. Congrats to Donna and Laurie on their soon-to-be-published status! (and a big sigh of relief that I'll no longer feel like I'm hogging the sidebar!). With Sharon also now multi-published (how many now, Sharon?), give us another year and we'll need a whole bookshelf of our own!

Monday, September 1, 2014

August: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen!

I survived August 2014!

I'm determined to put that on a t-shirt. From where I sit, I feel like I survived a disaster.

August 2014 was a horrible, heart-wrenching, grueling month. Not only is August my usual HELL MONTH when I work nights, weekends, and early mornings on a detail-oriented, time-sucking annual project (and totally go dark on this blog--didja notice?), but this year I had to say goodbye to two very dear friends: Silver, a horse we've owned for 29 years--29 years!--our very good friend who carried us through many a horse show, trail ride, elk hunt and "pleasure cruise"; and just 12 days later, Jazz, our happy-go-lucky Border Collie pound puppy who grew up on the ranch and matured into a very old but happy dog in the span of just 13 short years. Yeah, it's been rough.

The hardest part of saying goodbye to these two four-legged soulmates was that, because it was Hell Month, I had almost no time to grieve and come to terms with their loss. Both days, I had to pick myself up and haul myself off to work to deal with issues that I couldn't possibly put off or reschedule. Stifle the tears, stuff down the sorrow and just get my mind back to work.

But it's September now. The monster project is behind me, Silver and Jazz are resting in peace, and I need to raise my eyes and look forward. It's time to put the worst behind me and move on.

And moving on, I am.

I've made an announcement on my Facebook authors page. It's been a long time coming, but *ta da!* I'm aiming for November 1st to release my first! published! work! ever! Yessss.

It's a novelette that will be circa 15,000 words titled Farewell Andromeda. And yep, that's a pretty short deadline. I have a lot to do and learn and accomplish in the next two months. It's going to be a big, scary whirlwind, but the kind I think I'm going to thoroughly enjoy.

So that's my big news of the day...but I'm not done yet. Watch for more in my upcoming posts. :)

Have a great week!

~~~ * ~~~

Friday, August 29, 2014

PUTTING MY BOOK BABY ON THE BIG YELLOW BUS

Not my child, but I feel for Mom.


A few more days and the kids here in Virginia will be climbing aboard those big yellow buses to head back to school.  Parents will be breathing a sigh of relief that their little darlings are resuming a coherent routine—somewhere away from home!  Yet for those moms and dads whose little ones are heading to the bus stop for the first time this September, emotions are mixed.  The very first day of school ever is fraught with anxiety for both parent and child, no matter how exciting it may be.

As I approach the launch date of Unchained Memory in February, I can’t help but think how similar the experience is to putting my kids on the bus that first day of kindergarten.  I had such hopes (and worries!) for my girls.  I find I have the same kind of hopes and worries for my book “baby”, too.

--I hope people like her.  Of course. This is the big one, right?  We want our kids to have friends to color with, to play with at recess, to eat with at lunch.  We want our books to have readers.  Lots of them.  And just like we want our children’s teachers to like them, we want bloggers and major reviewers to treat our books kindly.

--I hope she shines.  My oldest daughter was, well, let’s just say reserved.  Her teachers said she was “quiet”.  My youngest was so anxious the first few weeks of school she went every day to get a hug from the school nurse (after which she’d be fine).  Debut novels can’t afford to be shy and retiring.  We authors have to help them make a great first impression.  We have to make some noise as we come on the scene so folks will remember our names.  (In a nice way, of course.  Nobody wants to have that kid whose name the teacher calls 50 times a day because of bad behavior:  “Johnny, sit down.  Johnny, stop that!”)

--I hope she makes good friends.  It’s not enough for our kids to simply get along with their classmates.  For their school experience to be truly happy, they need good friends, the kind they can invite for sleepovers or playdates.  For some kids, these first friendships last a lifetime.  As authors, we need good friends, too.  They are the readers who meet us with the first book and recognize a kindred spirit immediately.  They support us with great reviews and extensive word-of-mouth campaigns; they write to us about the book and the characters; they eagerly await the next book in the series. I really hope my book baby gets lots of these!

--I hope she avoids any bullies.  Let’s face it.  School is not always a nice place.  Bullies roam the halls and the playground, waiting to pounce on the weak, or sometimes just that person in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Bullies also roam the literary world, in the form of pirates, trolls and just plain mean reviewers, bloggers and commenters.  Just as parents can’t always be at their children’s sides, we authors can’t always leap to the defense of our book babies.  We can fight piracy with the legal tools at hand, ignore the worst trolls, call out troops of loyal friends to stifle unfair reviews, drown negative blogs in positive comments.  But in the end, we must let the book fight its own battles by letting the story speak for itself.

--I hope she learns something. My kids had wonderful kindergarten teachers.  Those women were patient and caring, enthusiastic and creative.  I have no doubt my girls learned a phenomenal amount that first year of school.  The launch of my first book will surely teach me any number of lessons, too.  If I’m smart enough to apply them, first grade should be a breeze!

TODAY IS THE DAY FOR BURNING BADJUJU

Check out Laurie's post below about our annual ritual of banishing blahs, wiping out woes, and eliminating ennui with the burning of badjuju!  Add your list to the pyre before we send it up in flames!  And it burns, burns, burns, that thing of fire, that thing of fire . . . 

Cheers, Donna

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fifth Annual Burning of Badjuju!

Wait...what's Badjuju, you say?

We're so glad you asked.

The Burning of Badjuju has become a writer's tradition here on Spacefreighters Lounge!

Every year, we celebrate the Burning of Badjuju in conjunction with the Burning of Zozobra--also known as Old Man Gloom--in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The big day (which snuck up on us this year) is Friday, August 29th.

So what's this all about?

Well, it all started like this...

The Annual Fiestas de Santa Fe is a celebration with roots that go back to the year 1692 when the Spanish peacefully reclaimed the city from the Pueblos. Later, in 1924, the Zozobra tradition was started as a part of the Fiesta by artist William Howard Shuster, Jr. and it has been carried on in more recent times by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe.

For weeks leading up to the event, people can drop off slips of paper with details of personal gloom—or even certain legal papers—at the offices of the Santa Fe Reporter. These items are stuffed inside the giant effigy along with liberal amounts of shredded newspaper. They can then join the crowd of 40,000 to celebrate on the selected evening and enjoy the banishment of doom and gloom as the giant Zozobra effigy is set ablaze. It's quite a ritual.



In 2009, we decided writers might like to have their own version of the burning of Zozobra. Imagine collecting a stockpile of unsalvageable manuscripts, rejection letters, errant contest score sheets, misguided bad reviews, and other gloom-laced paperwork and having a virtual bonfire of epic proportions to banish our cares? So we created our own version of Zozobra for writers coming up with the name "Badjuju" for our version.

You can check out our archive of past Badjuju Burnings here:

So fire away! Toss all those woes, troubles, self doubts, bad vibes and disappointments into Badjuju so we can light him up on Friday. Then start afresh with a bright and shiny new year ahead of you.

What will you toss into Badjuju this year?