Monday, July 6, 2015

Green Eyes: Surprising Fun Facts and Research

My online time has been seriously curtailed in the last several weeks, but one quick internet surfing episode led me to an (excuse the pun) eye-opening article about green eyes. Really fascinating stuff!

I was intrigued not only because I have green eyes myself, but because this particular genetic trait will factor very heavily into one of my upcoming Science Fiction Romance works.

So what's up with green eyes? In a nutshell...

Green Eyes Aren't Really Green

In actuality, all iris colors range from light brown to black. All other eye colors are actually just a trick of the light!

Green eyes are really light brown pigmentation of the stroma of the iris as a result of low to moderate levels of melanin, that diffuse the light on the irises to make them appear green, in much the same way that the sky looks blue because of light diffusion. This is known as Raleigh Scattering which has specific properties that effect eye color.

Green Eyes are Very Rare

What makes green eyes so unique is that only 2% of the total population tend to carry the genetics that result in the appearance of green irises, though in some populations the percentage runs higher because of the regional genet pool. Green eyes are most common in individuals with recent Celtic or Germanic ancestors. (I'm descended from Scottish, German, French and Irish ancestors, so my eye coloration probably came from one or more of these branches of my family.)

Green Eyes Tend to have Chameleon Properties

Because the green coloration is actually just an effect of diffused light, things such as light conditions, the colors of eye makeup or clothing worn or colors of the surrounding environment can compliment or contrast with the green shade, making it range anywhere from a near-blue to hazel to dark gray. But these aren't the only factors can change the hue of green eyes.

So can mood. Anger can dilate blood vessel and redden the whites of the eyes, which makes the eyes appear greener in contrast. Two emotions at the opposite end of the scale--happiness and grief--can dilate the pupils, also causing the green coloration to appear darker, or even more blue.

Surprisingly, weather and temperature can also change the color of green eyes by changing the ambient light, which also affects the light diffusion and the color of the eyes.

The Genetic Origins of Green Eyes

The two genes thought to have the most influence on eye color are OCA2 and HERC2, both located in Chromosome 15, however there is evidence that up to sixteen different genes could be responsible for eye color. The genetics that affect eye color are also believed to be related to freckling, hair and skin tones. In truth, this is a pretty basic explanation. The genetics involving eye color are much more complex. (For instance, blue eyes are actually thought to be the result of a mutation in the HERC2 gene.)

Where and when green eyes emerged in the human species is not known, but research has revealed they were prevalent in southern Siberia in the Bronze age. In modern times, they are most often seen in Northern and Central Europe, and can be found in Southern Europe and Western Asia, specifically among the Ashkenazi Jews of Israel.

Green-Eyed Planet

The third novel in my SFR series (working title "Draxis" but official published title yet to be determined), brilliant green eyes are a trademark of the ancestral group that colonizes the planet. The genetics involving green eye color became dominant over time, along with a bronze skin tone and light blonde hair. This unusual pairing of lighter eye and hair color with darker skin pigmentation was the result of fixed genetics stamping the entire population with these traits.

If you're intrigued by the variants affecting green eye coloration and want to learn more, you might want to start with this article: Learn About the Origins of People with Green Eyes

Are you part of the rare genetic group who has green eyes? If so, where do you think those genetics came from? Have you read (or written) any books where the green eye color is dominant or important to your species?


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Never a dull moment in Indie publishing

Dear oh dear, there's never a dull moment in this publishing caper. In the past week:
  • Scribd (a readers subscription service) has pulled most of its romance titles (except the free ones)
  • Amazon's Kindle Unlimited (another subscription service) has revised its algorithms to try to correct the ways in which dastardly authors were gaming the system to earn more than they should have
  • Yet another author has been told that posting a review on Amazon for a book written by someone you know online is not allowed. And no, we're not going to tell you what knowing someone online means.
 The Scribd debacle - and, I guess, the Amazon KU, one - reminds me of the saga we had with gym memberships back in the eghties. In an effort to gain members, gyms would offer lifetime memberships. They weren't all that cheap, but the idea was you paid your money and you could use the facilities for free. The gyms figured they'd make more money from members by selling extras. But guess what? It didn't work. Because people didn't buy enough extras and the cash flow dried up. One large gym chain went bust and the others went back to a more sustainable model, where patrons paid for a given period of access.

It seems to me that if Scribd is cutting back the books it holds in the genre which is most read (romance) its days must be numbered. I had hoped that my SF romances would remain because they have a foot in both camps, but I was wrong. Hey ho. I'll be withdrawing my books - not because I generated much income that way, more as a protest. They're happy to offer my free title, but not the other romance titles? I don't think so.

I've also pulled my one remaining title out of KU. It's an old title (Supertech) and I'd hoped that I could squeeze a few downloads out of it through the lending system. Nope. At this stage, I guess I'm rationalising where I sell. It seems at Omnilit/all Romance I can only give away my free title, so that's becoming pointless as well. I'm still in Smashwords, although I regularly ask myself why. It's more trouble that it's worth. I'll stay with D2D because I like their model, and I'll stay with Amazon because that's where I make most sales. I don't intend to use Amazon's exclusivity again - but I'm a tart and if they come up with something new, I'll consider my options.

Like most people I know, I find Amazon's rule on not writing a review for another writer pretty much incomprehensible. How does Amazon determine who is permitted/not permitted to review? Your mum, because she has the same surname as you? And does that work if you're a woman writing under her married name? Or if you use a pen name? If I've met a fellow writer in real life, does that make them ineligible? Am I supposed to be in competition with every writer I know online? Even if they write (say) erotic gay romance and I don't?

As other people have said, I'd be much happier if the Zon put some effort into curbing troll reviews. But then, I don't use reviews to select reading material - especially not Amazon and GoodReads reviews. As far as I'm concerned, their value has been compromised so much they're not worth my time.

And in other, lighter, news, I've re-released A Matter of Trust in the Dryden Universe, joining the story that was a spin-off from it, The Demon's Eye. Dreams2Media has designed a brand new cover, so the two have a matching theme. Here they are. What do you think?


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Thing About Kindle Unlimited #publishing #KU


On the 15th of July, my three short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply, Reboot and Hallow's Eve) will come out of Kindle Unlimited for good. Now, it's not because of the new payment system. No. I'd originally gone for KU in the hope of generating sales for my other non-KU stories. Because the KU payments were small, I wasn't tempted to put in longer works, but it was enough to tempt me to risk my three shorts. Since Amazon only pays 35% royalties on works under $2.99 (and no way am I charging that for something 10K in length or under), KU gave me a better payout and the hope that sales of my other works might follow.

They didn't. There was no boost to my other titles, and though I got paid more per borrow than per sale, I got fewer borrows than I had done sales, so it pretty much balanced out payment wise. Therefore it wasn't benefiting me in the way I'd hoped, and the exclusivity thing always makes me irritable. Unfortunately I forgot to untick the box to leave KU after 90 days, and so sentenced myself to a further 90.

The recent announcement of the uber-confusing changes to KU therefore didn't really bother me (confusing in that while I understand the theory of payment by page, the exact maths given to calculate that and the constantly fluctuating fund we get paid from means the amount per page remains unknown). I'd already decided to go, and the changes mean I have even less incentive to ever go back. I also don't plan to put in any future/longer titles since I'm selling on other platforms and I don't believe even the pay per page scheme with its incomprehensible maths and the uncertain value of the KU fund each month will be the better ROI (Return On Investment). I prefer to know for sure what I'm getting paid. It did, however, raise another aggravation I have with Amazon.

Returns. Now, although I've personally never returned a book, I know the 1-click thing makes it too easy to buy a book, and perhaps buy a book you didn't want. Or one you got charged more for than the advertised price. Or maybe someone read a bit past the sample they'd checked out on Amazon and decided the book wasn't for them after all. But there are certain people who buy a book on Amazon, read the whole thing and then return it, like Amazon is some kind of free library (and Amazon is fully aware of this). They get to read a book for free, without even paying a subscription. Sorry, but I think that's unfair.

So if Amazon can monitor how many pages of a Kindle book someone reads in KU, then why the heck can't they do the same for returns? If someone reads the entire book and Amazon can see that, then I feel it's simple enough for them to refuse to refund the book, or at least charge the reader something - perhaps the equivalent of the pay per page rate, as if the reader has used the KU system.

I totally get that sometimes someone will read part of a book and decide it's not for them after all. But if the book has been read in its entirety and then returned, I find it hard to believe there isn't something questionable about it. If I don't like a book, I certainly don't bother to keep reading to the end (life is too short to waste on a book I'm not enjoying, and there's plenty more books to choose from). I have no doubt that either way there will be unhappy authors or unhappy readers (no system is perfect) but I'd like to see more to discourage the trend of reading and returning rather than Amazon saying they do monitor for serial returners and penalize them.

In the meantime, you have just two more weeks to borrow my three short stories from KU before they come out forever (I believe there's no time limit on when you read them, just on how long they're available for you to click Borrow). My longer works are available at Scribd (where I know exactly what I'll get paid for each borrow), and my reclaimed short stories will be going up there once KU ends. Now that Draft2Digital has struck a deal with Oyster, I've put my titles into that too (I currently don't do this via Smashwords). With Oyster you can borrow or buy the book.

Will I ever use KU again? Unlikely. Even with the new pay scheme ensuring fairer pay on longer works, the uncertainty of the monthly fund and exactly what I might get per page read (and the system for assessing that isn't 100% accurate) and the fact it contributed nothing to my sales of other titles previously don't make it an attractive offer to me. The price of exclusivity does not give me a fair return on investment at this time.

Have you used KU as an author and/or a reader? What's your experience been?


Status Update

Keir's Fall, book two of Redemption, is still with my editor, with a possible November release date. I've been revising the side story (releasing early 2016) and a second Venus Ascendant story to follow Terms & Conditions Apply (as yet not scheduled for edits, but I hope to have that out in 2016 as well). I'm also working on three short stories for July Camp NaNoWriMo (starting tomorrow, eep!) for anthology calls all due for publication this year. O.O I still have two other SciFi romance shorts to complete as well, before I start revising book three of the Redemption series. I hope to have the Redemption series completed by the end of 2017, although books four and five aren't even whole drafts at this time. I do, however, know how they end...




Happenings

It's week five of the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe, and it's our Supernova serving - hotter than hot SciFi romance and erotica. Go HERE. Then there will be just one more week with another round of Space Opera before the Cafe closes for this year.



Since I only had two comments on my post for the Summer Cafe last week, I've decided to be generous and gift books to both visitors (see what you miss if you don't comment? Lol). Congrats to Riley and Carol, who receive the digital formats of their choice from my titles.

Today is the last day to enter the Goodreads giveaway for Keir. It's also the last day to pick it up from NetGalley to read and review (and to vote on the cover) HERE.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Keir by Pippa Jay

 Keir

 by Pippa Jay

 Giveaway ends June 30, 2015.
 See the giveaway details at  Goodreads.
Enter to Win


My review of Liza O'Connor's first book in a new SciFi series goes live HERE tomorrow. If you're a fan of Douglas Adams you should check it out! Liza will be guest blogging about The Gods of Probabilities at Spacefreighters Lounge in two weeks time.

And in just under three weeks my monsters will break up for the seven week summer holiday, and I plan to take the whole of August off to read and spend time with my not so little ones. For anyone who was interested in my conversion of a Monster High doll into my hero Keir, a weekly post will be going up at my Tumblr blog HERE during the holidays, starting Wednesday 22nd July, and there will be an exclusive reveal of my second doll conversion too. I'll also be posting more reviews at Critique de Book as and when I can. Funny to think that this time last year I had two releases upcoming for July and August - my first with the now sadly closed Breathless Press. How things can change in a year!

Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Is the Greatest Danger in Space Exploration Ourselves?

Venturing into space has many perils. A partial list includes loss of oxygen, loss of pressure, hull rupture by natural or artificial space debris, an injury or illness too severe for onboard resources to treat, malfunctioning engines, onboard fire, release of toxic gases, exposure to radiation or solar events and, of course, catastrophic vehicle failure.

But of all the dangers related to space travel, could our fellow crew mates pose one of the biggest risks? In our fledgling space program, there was one alleged incident that could have had severe consequences.

The story goes that a payload specialist in the shuttle program became severely depressed when his experiment was damaged beyond repair during lift-off, and [may or may not have] tried to open the airlock to commit suicide, which would have exposed the entire crew to a vacuum and killed them all. Some swear the incident never happened, or was greatly exaggerated based on a few offhand remarks made by the payload specialist. Others swear it did happen, and the crew had to secure the hatch with a padlock (other accounts say duct tape) to prevent the astronaut from carrying out his threat.

No matter the truth or fiction of the incident, NASA has identified behavioral health as a significant area of study for its astronauts. The agency also put procedures into place for crew members who might go ballistic in space and threaten to harm themselves or fellow astronauts. The protocol includes educating the crew to identify early warning signs of mental stress. In the event of an actual incident, they are trained to subdue the out-of-control person with duct tape around their wrists and ankles, secure them with bungee cord to restrain them from kicking or striking out, and then administering a sedative until such time that they can be safely released. During this time, their fellow crew mates are to calmly explain to them what they are doing and why.

Although astronauts undergo extensive psychological screening, the effects of living and working in a cramped, enclosed area surrounded by an endless vacuum could result in severe emotional episode even for those candidates who seem mentally stable. There's also a lot of concern about the degenerative effects on the brain due to exposure to radiation and weightlessness.

This video from NASA's Unexplained Files documents some of these inherent dangers to crew.

 

In my upcoming novel The Outer Planets, "Space Terrors" or Astroclaustrophobia (invented medical jargon which means "space claustrophobia") plays a role in one scene.

Here's a sneak peak. (This passage takes place in the corridor of a large planetary exploration vessel bound for Jupiter in the year 2040. The vessel has artificial gravity.)

______________________________________

The Outer Planets
Chapter Four Excerpt


    Verela slashed at Mitch, forcing him back. From behind the man, three crew members crept forward until Verela whirled, slashing the knife in their direction to warn them off. “Get back!”
    Lissa only heard two heavy footfalls before a blur of black hit Verela from the side and slammed him to the deck. The large, blond man who'd tackled him wore a Security armband on his sleeve.
    “Got your back, Chief.” Mitch rushed in to assist, and Lissa tensed when he put himself in striking distance.
            “Drop it, Jason!” the big man shouted, pounding Verela’s weapon hand against the deck, shocking his tendons. 
            Verela’s hand opened and the knife clattered to the floor. Mitch kicked it away. The weapon skittered across the corridor to Lissa’s feet and the captain secured it under his deck boot.
    Mitch and the security officer worked in tandem to subdue Varela, but his frenzied wrestling made Lissa wonder if the man was on drugs. With one arm secured, Verela twisted to one side to land a savage kick on Mitch’s thigh, knocking him off balance. Verela went at the security chief’s midsection with a series of vicious jabs of his elbow. The brawny man grunted and caught his free arm, bringing it up behind his back until he was immobilized.
  “Get off, you bastard! Get off me!” Verela ranted.
            Mitch pinned his legs. The other crew members advanced, forming a tight circle around the combatants. The captain signaled Lissa to stay put and broke through their ranks. She followed in his wake despite his warning.
            “Call Medical,” the captain barked.
            “On their way, sir.”
            Med Tech Elena Stevens arrived holding a transdermal gun as she shouldered through the crowd of shocked faces. Mitch and the security officer pinned the prisoner down and nodded to Elena to approach. She knelt at Verela’s side. “Jason, I’m going to administer a sedative on Dr. Elsborg’s orders. Hands clear, gentleman.”
  Verela screamed obscenities and spit on her scrubs. She frowned and pressed the gun to the back of his arm, injecting the tranquilizer. Verela wailed and fought to rise. Moments later, his cursing ceased.
  The security officer looked at Elena. “Great job, Stevens. Thanks.”
            “Take him to Med Bay,” the captain ordered. “I want him secured and sedated until I can consult with Dr. Shrader. And see to COB Browne.”
            “Yes, sir,” Elena said, pointing the COB out to other medical staffers.
            “Any clue what set him off?” Captain Storing asked the security chief.
            The man looked up. “Possible astroclaustrophobic episode, sir.”
            Lissa bit her lip. Astroclaustrophia. Space Terrors. Panic at being trapped in an enclosed environment in space. Even careful screening for claustrophobic tendencies couldn’t always determine who might be susceptible. Symptoms ranged from severe depression and paranoia to confusion and violent behavior—like attacking fellow crew members or trying to break out an airlock to escape. 
            Except Verela hadn’t seemed confused. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing.  
________________________________________

So what are your thoughts? Do you think the human factor might pose a great risk for extended space flight? If you were an astronaut, would it concern you?

Hope you enjoyed the first look at The Outer Planets.  Have a great week!



Friday, June 26, 2015

MASTERS OF FICTION: HOW DO THEY DO IT?



When was the last time you truly lost yourself in a book? I don’t mean you liked it okay or you thought it was well written or even you thought the lovers were meant for each other. I mean when was the last time you opened the cover (or turned on the Kindle), read the first line and stepped off a cliff—and just flew?

I just spent the better part of a week reading Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep. I had a house full of family while I finished this story of now-grown-up Danny Torrance vanquishing demons both internal and external. People would speak to me and I wouldn’t hear them. Three-way conversations flowed around me while I followed only the words on the page. Cats chased each other around the room, the toddler tried in vain to catch up with them, the toddler’s mom struggled to rein in the toddler. I was oblivious. There was only The Book.

Until the book was done and, fortunately for my family, its grip on me was released.

Most of you know I am a huge fan of Stephen King and his skill as a writer. But he’s not the only one who can hold me in thrall like that. Early in my marriage I used to love a writer of complicated thrillers named Robert Ludlum. I had to give up reading his novels or lose my neglected husband. I literally disappeared to the real world when I was reading them.

What these writers have is rare. You can say it’s why they get paid the big bucks, but other writers also have millions of readers and ride in First Class, but can’t hold my attention for a paragraph. If the idea of fiction is to create a world, fill it with believable people and tell a story about that world and those people that will sweep the reader along, then a handful of writers, like Stephen King, must be called masters of fiction, while the rest of us are mere scribblers.

For me, and I suspect for many of my fellow writers, the experience of being swept away by a master writer is increasingly hard to find. Largely this is because time is a factor and reading strictly for pleasure is like candy on a diet. I read to keep up in my genre, to judge for contests, to edit my endless drafts, to track my writer friends across all genres and subgenres of romance and SFR. Sometimes in all of this reading I’ll come across a gem. Most of the time, the writing is merely competent. Occasionally (mostly in the judging cases, but not always) it’s actually dreadful. Never, not once, have I encountered an unknown master of fiction. 

You did note that I include myself in that list of “not a master of fiction”, right? (Depending on the day, I can consider myself to be anything from first-draft dreadful to mostly competent to occasionally gemlike.) But the question is, how does a master do what he or she does? How do they manage to grab you and not let go? And even more importantly, how can we, as individuals and as a genre, up our game to the next level?

Of course, if I really knew the answers to those questions, I’d be a master, and not an apprentice (well, okay, maybe a journeyman). But maybe a few things to consider:

--Master the basics. This is a given. Characterization, pacing, setting, dialogue, mechanics must be shiny. No one is better at giving you a two-or-three-sentence character description than Stephen King. And pacing? Are you kidding?

--Understand the deep stuff. Themes. Internal vs. external conflict. Symbolism. Yeah, even in so-called genre fiction, if you use those literary devices, they resonate.

--Length. I’m sorry, digital-first publishers. You just can’t explore some ideas fully at 40,000 words. Most ideas. The problem with writing at shorter length is that some writers just cram a novel into a novella length by sketching out the plot and characters and eliminating any subplots. The original idea of the novella was that it was a longer short story (instead of a shorter novel). The short story requires a lot of attention to choosing exactly what you include to illustrate a very particular theme or idea. So a novella provides a little leeway. By contrast, King routinely writes 600, 700, 1000 pages. He has lots of ideas and themes. His readers don’t complain.

What else? I’m sure there are a dozen other ways to lift ourselves up. Tell me what you think. And while you’re at it, tell me the last book that had you ignoring the spouse and the pets!

BLANCA UPDATE!

Thanks to all who wished Blanca well. Our trusty vet gave her meds for a suspected urinary tract infection and she is on the mend. She’s not very happy with her mom, though, since the new food is yucky and having a pill stuck down her throat once a day is no fun! **MEOW!**

I will be out of town on vacation next week, so no post. See you in two weeks!

Cheers, Donna



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Demon's Eye

Here it is, everyone. The cover for my new science fiction romance novelette, The Demon's Eye, done by Dreams 2 Media. Thanks, Rebecca. Available soon at an e-store near you.

Krystina Merkos is reluctant to leave her home planet, but agrees it's best that her father doesn't have to concern himself with her safety while he fights a civil war. The journey on an Imperial warship becomes much more palatable when she discovers that Ben Paulsen, an old flame from her high school days, is a senior officer on the ship.

But it's not all plain sailing. The captain wants to seduce her, Ben's trying to keep his distance – and pirates want to sell her to the murderous sect waging war on her father.

When the frigate is attacked by a pirate fleet intent on capturing Krys, she faces impossible choices. If she hands herself over to the pirates, she will die a painful death. If she doesn't, everyone will die.

Unless she and Ben can contrive a way out for them all.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Androids or Aliens - Which Would You Pick? The SFRB Summer Cafe #scifirom #giveaway


Welcome to my post for the Androids and Aliens menu in the SFR Brigade's Summer Cafe! If you like dishy aliens or delectable 'droids, this IS the post you're looking for. ;)

I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. And I'd like to introduce you to some of my heroes and heroines from my scifi romance universe, a wonderful place full of diversity. First, I'd like you to meet Soren, a sub-avatar on the luxury resort of Venus Ascendant space station. In other words, a very specialized android...
"Marie stared at him…at it. She’d heard about the VA avatars but never been so close to one. She’d learned from the space station’s blurb that the main AI took the form of a young Indian woman called Ganesa, spoken of with as much reverence as the bronze-cast deity behind her. This particular avatar had been crafted into a ruggedly handsome, if stereotypically human, male. Thick blond hair left a shade too long framed his face perfectly; darker brows arched over eyes the most glorious shade of deep blue she’d ever seen. He was broad shouldered and athletic, and the thin, snug-fitting one-piece in gray outlined the welldefined musculature of his torso in a way no doubt intended to draw attention and tease the imagination of potential clients. A shapely hint of what lay beneath without full disclosure, like the metallic foil used to cover chocolate treats. Also a complete contrast to the man she’d hoped to see, and all too perfect to be real." 
~from Terms & Conditions Apply

Too artificial? How about a cloned assassin, capable of walking through walls and killing with a kiss?



"Mirsee.
Flawed Su. Terran co-delegate and bondmate to Zander D'joren. All through her debriefing, the hologram had stared at Tyree as it hovered above the data pad, the face a perfect mirror of her own. As she expected it to be. Her long, straight black hair was worn differently, of course, and her expression far more placid than Tyree had felt at that moment, but essentially her double in all respects. Blue-eyed, black-skinned, a narrow face with a pointed chin, high arching eyebrows and a broad, curving forehead. The only fascination now was the knowledge that both she and her deceased twin came from bonded Inc-Su parents rather than a single entity. 
Could she see either of those unknown parents in their shared face if she stared hard enough? Unlikely. The majority of Inc-Su were similar in form—tall and lanky, with slight variations in coloring—as all those in Refuge were cloned from the thirteen council members. The only thing she could be reasonably sure of was she wasn't one of M'roc's grouping. She'd seen those around before and they were unmistakable with their heavier build, brown eyes, and caramel skin." 

~from Tethered

I guess cloning still means technically man-made. How about someone alien? While my hero Keir isn't technically an alien (on his world, even another human arriving on the planet is viewed as otherwordly) his unusual appearance is due to a trace of alien DNA in his bloodline that had an unfortunate affect on his skin, resulting in him being named a demon and cursed by his backward society.
"Muted sunlight flashed from a blade in motion. Quin wriggled in panic, expecting a fatal strike on her companion’s undefended back. Instead, the sound of ripping cloth filled the air as Caiman slashed the robes and rags into useless tatters, stripping Keir’s head and back to reveal the so-called demon underneath.
For a moment, Quin stared. No. No, it can’t be...
Her chest locked tight, and her blood went cold. Now, too late, she understood the nickname given to him and how the legend had misled her into believing the Blue Demon might be the sentiac she’d sought. His bare torso was the rich blue of an evening sky, his long, unkempt hair a knot of black curls tangled at the nape of his neck. Deep black tattoos, resembling some form of runic lettering, were carved into every inch of his skin. No monster, but no normal man either." 
~from Keir, Book One of Redemption

And that's barely skimming the surface! If you'd like to meet another of my alien heroes, you can pick up Tales from the SFR Brigade anthology for FREE by going HERE, and meet Tevik in Imprint (psst, it's the first story in the book), as well as more androids, aliens, and intrepid humans in the other seven stellar stories included. Book Two of Keir will be releasing later this year, and if you don't want to sign up to my newsletter you can just click Follow on my Amazon page (just under my author photo) to be notified when it's available.

In the meantime, another treat for you. Since a reviewer once compared part of Keir to the film Blue Lagoon, I felt the drink of the same name would be the perfect accompaniment while you read. 

What you'll need:

2oz Vodka
1oz Blue Curacao
Lemonade
Ice
Cherry for garnish

Add ice to the bottom of the glass. Pour in the vodka and Blue Curacao. Top up with lemonade and mix all the ingredients together. Garnish as desired and serve chilled.


© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos
And now for the bonus prize. You can win a choice of either two of my short stories (Terms & Conditions Apply, a scifi romance featuring one of my awesome androids, and No Angel, a futuristic urban fantasy) or my scifi romance novella Tethered (a cloned succubus-like assassin and a grieving human diplomat take on a race of feline aliens set on wiping them out). Tell me whether you'd rather have an android made to your personal specifications or a handsome alien to whisk you away to the stars! Leave a comment with your email addy for a chance to enter. And don't forget to fill in the rafflecopter too - my scifi romance novel Keir is part of the ebook bundle being given away for this week's Summer Cafe, as well as hopping along to the other blogs listed below to see more!

a Rafflecopter giveaway