Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surchur: Beta Search Engine

I stumbled across this new beta search engine the other day--Surchur--and thought I'd give it a whirl. Click the link to see what it netted for Science Fiction Romance which included snippets from various blogs (including this one) and web sites that contained the subject.

Although the ads are a little annoying, it was a bit of fun searching for my favorite books, authors and miscellaneous topics of interest.

Give it a try and see what you think.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Creating Your Space Military Workshop

Don't miss this special workshop being conducted by Michael L. Helfstein of the USNR(Ret) and award-winning SFR author, Linnea Sinclair: Creating Your Space Military Workshop.

The event information on the web site summarizes the focus of the workshop as follows: "to mix real military facts with paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy inventions to create the space fleet, alien paramilitary, or alternate universe armed forces you need for your science fiction or urban fantasy novel."

The workshop is being sponsored by the RWA FF&P (Fantasty, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter) and you do not need to be a member to enroll.  The class will be conducted via Yahoo email loop from January 4 through January 31.  Cost is $25 for non-members and $10 for members. 

Just want to add, if you write SFR, are a RWA member and not yet a member of FF&P, I highly recommend joining.  Most of this special chapter's events are conducted online, including regular workshops, chats, interviews and blog articles, and they also host a special dinner and awards event at the annual RWA national conference.  It's a great way to mix with your peers and hear all the latest SFR news.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

John Scalzi: Master of the Long Hook


This is a brief commentary on my latest reading project: THE GHOST BRIGADES.

In my previous progressive review of THE OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi, I made a statement that it took about 20 pages to really get hooked and I was very happy some brilliant editor somewhere gave his debut novel a chance, because it doesn’t have one of those edge-of-your-seat/must-turn-the-page-NOW hooks we’ve come to expect in published fiction, of late.

THE GHOST BRIGADES, which is the sequel to THE OLD MAN’S WAR follows suit, but the long hook is even more masterfully done. This time the reader is introduced to a character and his assistant who are in their working environment—a laboratory--with glimpses of their glib humor and their close personal relationship, and then the utter terror they feel as they realize their planet is being invaded. Scalzi takes you along on a tense journey as the principle character is escorted off in an attempt to escape—or at least hide from—the brutal invading forces. The military officer who’s sent to help him warns the scientist he would make a prime catch for the alien invaders battering at the door and he must do everything—everything—in his power to avoid letting him be captured. And then, when the scientist faces certain doom, Scalzi throws a curve that makes the reader (this one, anyone) say “Whoaaa!” I’ve seen this sort of twist before in Science Fiction, but never with the absolute finesse of the Long Hook Master of the Universe. Welcome to Scalzi’s world.

THE GHOST BRIGADES, like OLD MAN'S WAR, proved to be a smart, fast, gripping read with heavy doses of wry humor and a way of making the reader look at life and human nature in whole new ways. Even lacking any sort of romance (though it does carry a hint of a developing romance if you know how the story unfolded in the first novel) this is a brilliant, irony-laced look into a future that may someday be—with or without the alien threat.

I highly recommend both OLD MAN'S WAR and THE GHOST BRIGADES as required reading for SFR writers.  John Scalzi has a way of making impossible scientific, human, mlitary and moral dilemmas utterly fascinating and the intelligent, relatable characters of this entertaining saga will keep you flipping pages late into the night.  (Oh wait, that was me.)

I became especially focused on Jane Sagan, a character from OLD MAN'S WAR who, although she isn't the MC, plays a major role in THE GHOST BRIGADES.  I was privy to some of her thoughts and motivations from the first book, and my silent lament "Please don't let Jane Sagan die!" added even more layers of suspense to the read.  (I won't reveal her fate, but she takes the term "totally believable kick-ass, selfless female soldier" to a level I've never seen before.)

Now....on to book three, THE LAST COLONY.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar: My Take on a $200M SFR Epic



Yes, you read that right.  Avatar is SFR.

There's been a lot of buzz about the recently released (James Cameron) motion picture that most refer to as a Science Fiction Adventure.  While that may be the case, Avatar is also a spectacular Science Fiction Romance, having all the required elements of speculative science, compelling love story and happy ending for the two MCs.  Here's a brief review of Avatar from a SFR fanatic.

Science:  ***** Five stars for imaginative and visually stunning science, from hypersleep transport to futuristic military logistics to indiginous emersion.  Breathtaking imagery.

Fiction:  **** Four stars.  Set on an alien "planet" (actually a moon orbiting a decidedly Jupiter-like blue gas giant), the inhabitants thrived in an environment that is non-conducive to human life.  While the fiction setting was stunning and the cinematography and/or graphics was gorgeous, some of the elements were borrowed or a melting pot of SF ideas.

Romance: **** Four stars.  A compelling romance with strong conflict and a hero that overcomes a seemingly impossible situation.


Setting: *****  Five stars.  A living world, Pandora, with its lush green jungle by day and phosphorescent paradise by night, is inhabited by strange beasts, both dangerous and docile, that seem to remind us of creatures in our own experience (horse, panther, rhino)--but not quite.  What's not to love?

Plot: ***  Three stars.  I summed it up on another blog as Dances With Wolves meets Star Wars.  The story was a little weak and predictable, but with the sensory stimuli, visual wisardry and moral message bombardment, a complex plot would probably have put me into overload.


Characters: ****  Four stars.  The villain was a bit too cast in the Snidely Whiplash mode, but I did enjoy Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriquez) who played a gutsy pilot who respected the environment of Pandora and was ultimately placed in a situation of choosing between duty and personal belief.  The early antagonism between Sigourney Weaver's intellectual scientist and wheelchair bound ex-marine Jake Sully was worth more than a few chuckles.

Resolution: ***  Three stars.  I always enjoy a satisfying ending, but this one left a little to be desired in the wrap-up.  The open-ended question?  What would eventually become of this world, the MCs and the inhabitants, since the conflict of indiginous culture vs. priceless resource remained for a whole new set of characters to grapple with.  Or maybe that was the whole point--a sequel.

Overall rating:  **** A MUST SEE solid four stars.  As long as you aren't expecting pure perfection, this film will entertain, delight, make you angry and make you cheer.  Several members of the audience offered enthusiastic applause after the film ended.  I haven't experienced that since long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away when Star Wars VI wrapped the first trilogy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Champion is BORN!

Skiffy Rommers everywhere may finally have what we've been hoping for for a long time now--and something major to celebrate!

A Science Fiction Romance Champion! 

Sherrilyn Kenyon's SFR/Futuristic "League" series is on a roll, started when the first in the series, BORN OF NIGHT reached #4 on the New York Times Bestseller list (#11 on the USA Today Bestsellers list) in October, soon followed by the sequel BORN OF FIRE hitting the #1 spot on the NYT list (not to mention the Publisher's Weekly, Walmart, Borders and Barnes and Noble!) in November, and BORN OF ICE, the third in the series, going #1 in December.  This has focused a lot of attention on our amazing subgenre.

In fact, when BORN OF FIRE first hit the top spot in November, it was the first time since 1993 that a SFR/Futuristic went to #1 on a major list!


I'm now reading BORN OF NIGHT and hope to have a review up in the near future.


Here's a glimpse into Sherrilyn Kenyon's SFR/Futuristic series:

In the Ichidian Universe, The League and their ruthless assassins rule all. Expertly trained and highly valued, the League Assassins are the backbone of the government. But not even the League is immune to corruption . . .


Command Assassin Nykyrian Quikiades once turned his back on the League—and has been hunted by them ever since. Though many have tried, none can kill him or stop him from completing his current mission: to protect Kiara Zamir, a woman whose father’s political alliance has made her a target.

As her world becomes even deadlier, Kiara must entrust her life to the same kind of beast who once killed her mother and left her for dead. Old enemies and new threaten them both and the only way they can survive is to overcome their suspicions and learn to trust in the very ones who threaten them the most: each other.

Hip-Hip-Hooray for Sherrilyn Kenyon's LEAGUE series!  May this be the herald to the publishing industry that SFR truly is the next big thing.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

To sequel or not to sequel

In prepping my SFR Ghost Planet for submission, I ended up teasing a sequel at the end without actually intending to do it. So that got me thinking, do I want to write a sequel? How do I feel about sequels in general?

I have mixed feelings about them, to be honest. As a reader, I love the opportunity to revisit favorite characters. But when I read a big, fat, satisfying ending, and I know a sequel is coming, I can’t help thinking about how those poor characters are going to get dragged through hell AGAIN. And are the sequels ever as good as the original?

I think it *can* work. If the story is big enough, you can set up a series of happy endings that culminate in the characters coming together forever, so you don’t feel you’re covering the same ground over and over. But that can be tricky – in a romance, you expect to see those characters come together solidly (so to speak) by the end of Book 1.

You can follow different characters in the same world. If readers connected with your original MCs (which is probably why they're reading the sequel), how do they feel when they discover this book is not about them?

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts about this! Do you like sequels? Why or why not? Which SFR sequels have really worked for you?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ditto, Ditto and Ditto


The Science Fiction Romance That Harlequin Doesn't Want You to Know About

Book Covers that are Afraid to be Science Fiction

Susan Grant's New Cover Art

Yes, ditto, ditto and ditto.

I can't say it more clearly or more eloquently than the other SFR and SF blogs, but I can add my rant to the long and growing list.

Susan Grant is one of the foremost Science Fiction Romance authors in the industry today.  Is it really necessary to disguise her covers so they don't look like Science Fiction Romance?  What sort of genius marketing strategy is this?

Maybe someone needs to inform them that it's almost 2010 and yes, Virginia, women do read SFR, and in fact, more women are reading it all the time.  Its a subgenre on the rise and set to explode. 

What about this cover says SciFiRom?  I'm in agreement with Heather at the Galaxy Express that this looks more like an ad for soap or deoderant than a Science Fiction Romance.  Would any reader look at this image and think, "Wow, that looks like a great swashbuckling space pirate novel."   Or are they more likely to simply pass right by--or maybe look at the cover in puzzlement, then read the blurb and go, "Huh?" 

It's a known fact that authors generally have very little input into their cover art because they aren't the experts on what sells a novel.  Maybe it's time for that to change, if this is what the "experts" are coming up with. 

Let's take a look at a few SFR covers that actually look like the story might be SFR.  One glance and--surprise, surprise--the reader will even have a clue what the story is about.



THE HIDDEN WORLDS -- Note the gorgeous cover depicting an alien desert world and a man and woman in space-type garb, with the woman holding a futuristic weapon.  It suggests a male/female partnership and adventure in the future, wouldn't you say?












THE OUTBACK STARS -- Notice the dreamy feel of the art and the swirling stars and galaxies in the background.  Note the character in a spacesuit.  Note the suggestion of a spaceship.  Wow, I bet the story is set in the future aboard a ship and centers on the main character pictured, wouldn't you?












GRIMSPACE -- Angsty-looking female holding a weapon of the future with the suggestion of a wormhole-type phenomena behind her.  I'd guess this book is about a person who is going to travel through that wormhole look-alike to find adventure.  If I read the blurb, it would confrim that.


Maybe in the not-so-distant future it will become apparent that readers in general (and Science Fiction Romance readers in particular) are not stupid and don't appreciate the marketing mindset that depicting SFR as SFR is a bad thing.

They are also not happy when they pass right by great SFR novels with generic non-specific covers they would have noticed and bought if only the book looked like it might be Science Fiction Romance.

Let's stop the masquerade.  Let SFR covers be SFR.

Sharon Lynn Fisher Wins the 2009 On The Far Side Contest

Congratulations to Sharon!  She won the RWA Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal chapter's 2009 On The Far Side contest, paranormal category with her second novel, ECHO 8!

Fantastic news, Sharon.   I believe this is the second win for ECHO 8.  Sharon's first novel, GHOST PLANET, was a finalist in the 2009 RWA Golden Heart contest and won or placed in other contests, as well.  Her winning streak continues.

A few of the other categories wins and places are listed below.  Spacefreighters Lounge would like to applaud the On The Far Side contest for holding separate categories for Futuristic, Paranormal and Time Travel!

Futuristic:


1 – Unspeakable Acts by Cheryl Alldredge

2 – Passages by Laurel Wanrow

3 – Apocalypse Daughter: Dystopia by Tracy St. Hilaire



Paranormal:

1 - Echo 8 by Sharon Lynn Fisher

2 - Night Walker by Lisa Keesler

3 - Stealing Time by Elise Chand



Time Travel:

1 - Once in a Coyote Moon by Crista McHugh

2 - Machine Slave by Jennette Heikes

3 - The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone Seguin


Way to go, Sharon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

SFR Holiday Blitz Winners


We have winners!!!!

Tayluca has won our bonus book, THE OUTBACK STARS by Sandra McDonald. Congratulations! I know you're going to love this remarkable SFR.

s7anna has won LUCY IN THE SKY by Barbara Elsborg.  Congratulations, Anna.  This is a wonderful story with characters you won't soon forget.

Rhapsodyinbooks has won BEYOND THE RAIN by Jess Granger.  Congratulations to our final winner on winning this amazing tale of love and adventure.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the SFR Holiday Blitz. The Skiffy Rommers (science fiction romance community) appreciates your interest and support! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009


THE BLITZ IS HISTORY!!!

It's 12:00 AM EST and the SFR Holiday Blitz is official closed.

Thanks to everyone for the fantastic turn out. Winners of our three books will be announced tomorrow, so be sure to stop back to see if you're a winner.

CLASSIC SFR: CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER

Science fiction romance has deep roots in the world of Classic STAR TREK fan fiction. (And not just because Spock’s female fans wanted to see him get some action. A lot of us writing TREK fanfic were/are Kirk fans, thank you very much!) A big reason for this was that the classic series itself had a romantic streak a parsec wide that was a major part of its appeal.

So when people ask me to define SFR, I often refer back to a seminal episode of STAR TREK written by a giant of science fiction, Harlan Ellison, City on the Edge of Forever. For non-TREK fans, younglings and fans with Swiss-cheese memories, this is the episode in which Doctor McCoy, accidentally injected with a powerful hallucinogen, leaps through a time portal known as the Guardian of Forever into 1930's America and somehow changes history. Kirk and Spock must go after him and undo whatever it is that he does or the Enterprise and its crew are lost.

The essential conflict of the story emerges as Kirk meets and falls in love with a young woman who runs a soup kitchen ministering to the downtrodden of the city where all three Enterprise officers are drawn. As Spock soon discovers, Edith Keeler is the pivot point on which history turns. In the original timeline, Edith dies in a traffic accident. In the altered timeline, McCoy prevents her death, and she goes on to form a grassroots peace movement that prevents the U.S. entry into World War II long enough for Germany to develop rocket-launched nuclear weapons. In the new timeline, the Nazis win WWII.

Thus Kirk is faced with the ultimate hard choice: love or duty. And in this case, Ellison didn’t make it easy on the poor guy. We’re talking one life vs. millions of lives, your personal pain vs. a new Dark Age for your planet. Of course, Kirk being Kirk, there is no real choice. He prevents McCoy from saving Edith. She dies as she was meant to. And, as the Guardian says, “All is as it was.”

It’s interesting to note that Ellison himself had a different ending in mind for the episode. He had Kirk freeze at the crucial moment; Spock had to do the deed. Who knew the guy known throughout the SF world as an A1 smartass was such a romantic? One story goes that William Shatner insisted that Kirk would never have failed his duty, that to have him choke would have been a major break in character, and I tend to agree. Of course, I have all these years (and episodes and movies) to look back on as evidence of that. Shatner, presumably, only had his gut instinct of what Kirk would do.

This story is science fiction romance at its best in a lot of ways. You truly cannot separate the science fiction from the romance, even though ninety percent of the story is set on 1930’s Earth. Take away either half, and the story falls apart. The characters, the plot, the essential conflict, all depend on both the SF and the R.

Where we run into trouble, however, is in the ending. Ellison, after all, is a science fiction writer, not a romance writer. (Hell, he’d probably have my head for even presuming to write this blog at all!) Add to that the requirements of STAR TREK itself—no real change in the characters from week to week (though Roddenberry and his actors violated that one practically every week), no commitments/attachments for your characters and so on. So, no matter what, EDITH KEELER MUST DIE!

I actually wrote a fanfic story in which Kirk sat Edith down and explained the situation to her (to hell with the Prime Directive—seemed like this was a case where it could be waived). She was reasonable and gave up the whole peace movement thing. Problem solved and no one dies. Unfortunately, Kirk still had to leave, cuz, you know, he’s got a ship to run.

Problem is, these solutions violate the Number One Rule of Romance—must have a happy ending (known in the biz as happily ever after, or HEA). You know what, there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with HEA. It’s just that some stories don’t lend themselves to it. If that’s the case, then it’s not, technically, a romance, even though it may qualify on all other points.

Sadly, this is the case with City on the Edge of Forever. You couldn’t sell this excellent story to a romance agent or publisher without somehow changing the ending. (Kirk retires to 1930 after a long career? It’s a better ending than GENERATIONS gave him, that’s for sure!) I doubt you would find a science fiction publisher who would take it, either (too much “girly” romance!).

Harlan Ellison wrote City on the Edge of Forever more than 40 years ago, at a time when television writing, science fiction and indeed, just about everything in the creative world was undergoing incredible ferment and change. The only rule in those days was that there were no rules, and Ellison was at the forefront of those changes in science fiction. But since then it seems that literature, like radio and cable TV, has fractured into tiny fiefdoms of limited taste and little crossover interest.

Science fiction romance, a hybrid subgenre that beautifully melds the best of all worlds, is too expansive to be confined to one narrowly defined category. It can’t be precariously balanced on the iron-tipped fence separating two armed camps.

Storm the castles, I say! Break down the defenses! Crash the party! Read the other gals’ (and guys’) stuff! Then color outside the lines! Eventually somebody will take notice. And, if not, at least we will have had some fun.

Cheers, Donna

Four Visions, Four Voices: Sharon Lynn Fisher

Last, but certainly not least, we have Sharon Lynn Fisher to wrap up our Four Visions, Four Voices series. Sharon's novel, Ghost Planet, received one of the highest of all honors in 2009 when it was named as a finalist in the RWA Golden Heart competition. (Sharon is probably one of only a very small handful of SFR writers to ever achieve this pinnacle).

How would you classify your SFR? (Space opera, romantic SF, apocalyptic, military SFR, or other.)

I think GHOST PLANET is an “other.” It’s psychological, and character-driven. Rooted in big questions, like what it means to be human, and the boundaries between love and dependence. But don’t get the wrong idea - it does have aliens, action, twists and turns, and sex!

GP also explores the idea of symbiosis in relationships – human relationships, but also the relationship between humans and their environment.

What makes your story "different' or what unique elements would entertain readers?

It’s hard for me to be objective about this, but others have commented GP is sci-fi romance even those who don’t like sci-fi would enjoy. It *is* set on another world. With aliens. But the main characters are psychologists, and people you might meet anywhere.

I think the element that interests readers is watching the main character respond to the discovery she’s not the person (or species) she thought she was. The only person she knows on this new world believes she’s his enemy – and she can’t walk more than thirty or so yards away from him.

Do you have a favorite line from your novel that you can share?

In searching for this I discovered it’s tricky pulling lines out of context and having them sound as nice! Here are a few that I like on their own ...

“I glanced around, irrational and frantic, looking for what, I don’t know - some way out of my situation, a tunnel back to a more comfortable reality.”

“You people really are a malignancy.”

“I was running on pure adrenaline - me, two guns, and two sprigs of some deadly poisonous herb, against...how many guards had Peter said? Thirty?”

Anything else you'd like to share about your work?

I’m wrapping up a rewrite of GHOST PLANET in preparation for submission, and after that I have another project I’m eager to continue. ECHO 8, a near-future romance with both sci-fi and paranormal elements, is a 2009 finalist in RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter contest, On the Far Side.

Could you give us a sneak peek at Ghost Planet?

At this point in the story, Elizabeth is just beginning to come out of denial about her new identity...

I followed Murphy in a daze. To anyone in the street I must have looked just like all the other ghosts, striding along behind him, eyes fixed on his back.

I was so tired. All I wanted to do was sleep. Sleep and forget. Sleep and wake up from this nightmare, my limbs tingling and my neck aching from curling up against the hard, narrow transport seat.

The transport would land at the terminal. I would get off. Meet my new supervisor. And I would refuse to leave the terminal until the next transport to Earth.

Or maybe I would shake off the effects of the nightmare quickly. Maybe I’d wake up energized and ready to start my new life.

So many possibilities, once I was no longer dead.

Thanks so much, Sharon, for sharing your thoughts about Ghost Planet, and giving us a taste of your vision and voice in creating this fascinating world.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Four Visions, Four Voices: Laurie Green

Laurie Green is an award-winning SFR writer, currently unpublished.

How would you classify your SFR? (Space opera, romantic SF, apocalyptic, military SFR, or other.)

It's space opera with decidedly military overtones. It has space battles, cool technology and state-of-the-art ships. One of the MCs and three of the major characters hold military rank. It's certainly not romantic SF, because the romance and the SF elements drive the story with equal thrusters, and it’s not apocalyptic though it is a bit dystopian. I've had several beta readers say that the premise initially reminded them a bit of Joss Whedon’s Firefly series, but the similarities are superficial.  By the way, the working title--P2PC--is futuristic slang for planet-to-planet courier.  The female MC is a special cargo transporter.  I get a lot of questions about the title.  :)

What makes your story "different" or what unique elements would entertain readers?

Many things. I use basic SF ideas like holodecks and transporters and give them a whole new twist and purpose in this tale. Although it takes place 1,500 years in the future, I drew on elements from 2,000 year old civilizations, especially Rome, to define the cultures. The Romans considered themselves champions of culture and enlightenment with an emphasis on philosophy, the arts, literature, poetry, and personal freedoms--and then enjoyed gory spectacles of torture and carnage for entertainment. I have a dominant society in P2PC that also considers itself enlightened, but sustains a horrendous industry of which the MC is a victim. I keep most of the gruesomeness off-stage though its impact on the MC's life is profound.

The story is told entirely from the male MCs (Sair's) POV which I've been reminded (frequently) is a no-no for a romance. But I had a reason for writing the story from this perspective. There are surprises about the female MC (Drea) that would affect the dynamics if the reader was privvy to her thoughts. She's also runs very hot-and-cold until the reader finally peeks "behind her veil." Drea later trusts Sair enough to give back everything she's withheld from him emotionally.

Do you have a favorite line from your novel that you can share?

I have two, and both are connected to major plot points in the story.

"My father didn't build the Specter to be a cargo ship, Sair."

"History is seldom made in the quiet or the dark."

Anything else you'd like to share about your work?

Being the author of a unique subgenre of romance is not always an easy flight path, but I write the sort of stories I want to read. They're adventurous, thought-provoking, and they push the envelope a bit in terms of possibility. I hope at some point in the not-too-distant future, a lot of readers out there will discover my novel and say, "This is exactly the type of story I've been looking for!"

Could you give us a sneak peek of the story?

Love to!  This passage takes place after Sair has been attacked by the aggressive female first mate, Zjel.

“There was no call for Zjel’s actions in the galley. I apologize on her behalf,” Drea said.

“She doesn’t even know me and she wants me dead.”

“Zjel’s no cold-blooded killer.”

“Not yet!” Sair snapped. “I was lucky this time. Every moment I’m on your ship, I have to worry about that knife-wielding she-marka getting to me. I’m better off risking the slavers. Lesser of two evils. I'll get off when we reach Helim.”

The captain took a couple of steps away from him, then turned back. “Zjel suffered something terrible at the hands of the Rathskians, Sair. She can’t separate you from your race. That’s why the animosity. I’ve spoken to her about her conduct.”

“What will that change? She hates Rathskians. I lived for seventeen calendars under the threat of a butcher’s knife. I don’t want to risk getting carved up now.”

“You won’t be.”

"I want my weapons back."

"You don't know how to use them, Sair. You'll only provoke her."

"At least I'd have a chance."

"All you'd have is false security. I don't want your blood and body parts splattered down the corridors of my ship."

Hades forbid I litter your spotless vessel with bits of my male anatomy. Sair clenched his teeth, glaring.

Drea spoke again, her voice soft. "I meant that with a great deal of affection, Sair. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you." She stepped forward and brushed his cheek with her hand.

“Drea…”

“Sair.” His name came as a whisper as she slid her hand into his. “Don’t get off on Helim. It’s not safe.”

Now truly disarmed, he looked into Drea’s eyes and swayed closer to her lips.

The captain stiffened, her hands locked on his arms and thrust him back. “Zjel, proximity alert! Man the defense console.”

The first mate’s voice sounded from the com-speak. “Aye, Captain. What do we have?”

“Ithian Hammerhead destroyer off our port stern. I’m taking us red.”

Thanks for sharing your vision and your voice, and best wishes for future succes with your novel.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Four Visions, Four Voices: Donna S. Frelick

Donna S. Frelick is known for her Star Trek fanfic and long time interest in anything sci-fi.  Although currently unpublished in science fiction romance, she is the author of the exciting Interstellar Rescue series.

How would you classify your SFR? (Space opera, romantic SF, apocalyptic, military SFR, or other.)

Classic, humanist New Age SF paired with steamy adult romance and a dash of suspense. In my dreams, I’m Harlan Ellison’s DANGEROUS VISIONS anthology meets Christine Feehan’s Drake sisters. Or J.J. Abrams meets Linda Howard. My manuscript UNCHAINED MEMORY is largely set on Earth, with interference from beyond our solar system. The second and third books in the INTERSTELLAR RESCUE series will gradually take the reader further out into the galaxy.

What makes your story "different" or what unique elements would entertain readers?

What? The answer to the first question wasn’t “different” enough? Well, all right, let me twist the question slightly to explain instead what makes my story SPECIAL, and I’d have to say my characters. The characters in UNCHAINED MEMORY don’t have superpowers (or green skin or pointy ears). Like Stephen King’s small-town sheriffs and struggling writers, they are just ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. They are wounded people who find healing in each other. But if you don’t end up loving Ethan and Asia as much as I do, then I haven’t done my job as a writer.

Do you have a favorite line from your novel that you can share?

“Ethan stopped and shook his head. ‘I can’t justify doping you up with powerful drugs to rid you of your delusions. And yet I can’t explain what you’ve told me.’ He paused again, at a loss for words. At last he gave me the faintest of smiles. ‘I guess that means we’re both crazy.’
I’m not sure, but I think that’s the moment I began to fall in love with Ethan Roberts.”

Anything else you'd like to tell us about your work?

UNCHAINED MEMORY is the first book in my planned INTERSTELLAR RESCUE series about the men and women, lovers and friends, human and otherwise, engaged in a galaxy-wide battle against the slave-trading aliens known here on Earth as the Grays. As the series progresses, the stories take place further and further from “home” and take on more of a “space opera” feel. It’s my hope that I’ll snare a shipload of newbie SFR fans with the more familiar feel of UM who’ll be willing to ride along with me as we hit impulse power with TROUBLE IN MIND (half Earth-based kidnapping thriller/half galactic power grab) and warp drive with RUNAWAY(pure pirate-romance-in-space fun).

Could you give us a sneak peak of the story?

A hand touched her face, brushed the hair from her forehead. Rough fingers, trembling, warm. A voice. A man. Very close.

“Hey. You’ve had a tough time, little girl, but you’re almost home. We’ll have you back to your family soon, and you won’t even know you’ve been gone.”

“Two minutes to jump, Captain.”

“Thanks, Lieutenant, I’ll be right there.”

“You know she can’t hear you, Sam. And I’ve never seen you take this kind of interest in the cargo before. What’s the story?”

“First of all, they aren’t cargo. You of all people should know that, Doc. Besides, this one is special. Rayna gave up a lot to get this one out. I’m gonna make sure she gets back home if I have to set her down in her living room myself.”

Another touch. “Just a few minutes more, Sphinx. I’ll get you there, I promise.”

“Captain Murphy?”

“Coming. Time?”

“Jay minus thirty.”

The voices grew fainter and finally disappeared altogether. There was nothing but the hum for an unknown time. She drifted again, until she was suddenly aware of movement, lots of it, jostling and shaking and turning her body against the pull of gravity until she wasn’t certain just where that pull was coming from. She floated, weightless. Then she slammed heavily against the restraints that held her. There was no pain—there should be pain, she thought disjointedly—just that odd sensation of being jerked around by an unseen force.

She heard the shriek of alarms. A call, brassy and loud, booming from every direction: “Battlestations! This is not a drill! All hands to battlestations!”

Then voices, shouting, shrill. “What the hell is going on?”

“Gray corsair was waiting for us when we came out of the jump.” More jostling, throwing her abruptly against the restraints. “Shit! We’re taking a beating.”

“Get this sickbay ready for casualties, stat! What are you standing around for—you act like this is your first time in a fight, Korda!”

Closer, almost in her ear. “Sorry, hon. You’ll have to wait a little longer to get home.”

Thanks, Donna, for your insights and a glimpse into your Interstellar Rescue universe.  We'll be waiting for word of its sale!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Four Visions, Four Voices

Science Fiction Romance may be a niche subgenre, but there's a universe of possibility with plots, characters and situations.  During the week long SFR Holiday Blitz celebration, Spacefreighters Lounge will feature Four Visions, Four Voices--brief chats with writers and authors about what makes their SFR projects ( and two soon-to-debut novels) unique.

(In aphabetical order)

Sharon Lynn Fisher (will be posted on Friday)
On: Ghost Planet
2009 Golden Heart finalist SFR (paranormal category)

Donna S. Frelick (Wednesday)
On: Unchained Memory
Published author of Star Trek fanfic; Unpublished in SFR

Laurie Green (Thursday)
On: P2PC
Unpublished; Award winning SFR writer

D. L. Jackson (Tuesday)
On: Last Flight of the Ark
Soon to debut SLIPPING THE PAST and LAST FLIGHT OF THE ARK with Liquid Silver Books; Published author of erotica short stories

We hope you enjoy the series.

Four Visions, Four Voices: D. L. Jackson

We're kicking off our series of brief interviews this morning exploring Four Visions, Four Voices with D. L. Jackson, a soon-to-debut new author of SFR.  Science Fiction Romance presents a universe of ideas, possibilities, characters, settings and situations.  Here's a glimpse into the realms created by four SFR writers.

D. L. Jackson is the author of the soon-to-debut Futuristic Romance SLIPPING THE PAST and soon after that LAST FLIGHT OF THE ARK, a SFR, will be released, both to be published by Liquid Silver Books.  She is also a published author of erotica short stories.

How would you classify your SFR? (Space opera, romantic SF, apocalyptic, military SFR, or other.)

That's a hard one. Last Flight of the Ark. SFR--SFE--but only because I wouldn't call it Space Opera--too dark. It could fall into apocalyptic, because of the situation the main characters finds themselves in, but it doesn't go that far in the novel. Could be military--as I draw on my experience in the military and it has some elements of that. I'd call it a mutt.

What makes your story "different' or what unique elements would entertain readers?

Believe it or not, this started as a werewolf novella for a call with another publisher. I never go the traditional route with my stories and the Ark wasn't any different. It deals with a mutation more than the traditional shape-shifter stories and I think you might be surprised at how it plays into the novel. I think the choice Kaleb Titan must make is what makes this different. He has to use biological warfare against his own people to save them. It changes them and condemns them to exile on another world. The enemy is another element that make the story unique and telling you what it is, would be a spoiler. (So I won't share there. LOL :) Also this is erotic science fiction. It's a menage story, the first I've written.

Do you have a favorite line(s) from your novel that you can share?

“What if it isn’t reversible?”

“Then we evolve. We won’t be the first or last species to do it.”

“How can you take that chance, based on a pocket full of assumptions?” She slapped her palms down on the table and leaned in until their noses almost touched. “That’s what you’ve got. Nothing more.”

Anything else you'd like to share about your work?

I have a futuristic romance coming out soon, SLIPPING THE PAST. It mixes science fiction, fantasy, historical elements and has been described as having a "Blade Runner-Matrix-Minority Report" feel by the editor that worked on it. My goal when I wrote both my novels was to give the readers a story unlike anything they've read before and I think SLIPPING THE PAST and LAST FLIGHT OF THE ARK will do that. There are some surprises in both--that's a promise.

Could you give us a sneak peak of the story?

Excerpt from LAST FLIGHT OF THE ARK:

“Will she let me in the cage?”

Jessica shrugged. “She’s not growling. I’d take that catch-pole over there with the loop in the end, in case she changes her mind.”

Kaleb nodded and snagged the pole. One way or another someone had to go in there. If Sheba liked him, it might as well be him. “Open the door when I say and get the trank-gun in case she gets ugly. First sign of aggression put her out.”

Jessica loaded a cartridge into the gun. “Ready?”

Kaleb nodded and Jessica opened the door. He stepped inside and it clanged shut behind him. “Hey, girl.”

With a growl that sounded more like a roar, Sheba launched from the corner. Her paws landed in his chest, knocking him to the floor. Kaleb only had seconds to register her open jaws and large teeth. He threw his forearm over his throat. Sheba latched on, sinking into flesh. A crunch and then sharp pain shot up his arm. Oh, God. Her teeth pierced bone.

“Shoot her!”

The trank popped and was followed by a yelp from Sheba, who released his arm and staggered back. Blood dripped from her muzzle and stained her white fur. She swayed from side to side and dropped to the floor with a snort. Her front paw dug at air as she fought the drug.

“Omigod.” Jessica threw the door open and rushed to his side. “You okay?”

Kaleb glanced at his blood-soaked sleeve. “She likes me, huh?” He cringed as pain radiated from his fingers to his shoulder. Last time he’d trust a smiling female. They were all trouble.

Jessica helped him to sit up and ripped his sleeve open, staring at the bite. Blood pumped from the wound and formed a puddle on the floor. “Can you walk to the med-bay?”

“Does it look like she bit my leg?” Kaleb snarled.

Thanks, D. L., for agreeing to do this interview and for providing a glimpse into your upcoming release.  I'll be looking forward to the release announcement from Liquid Silver Books.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to be a More Active SFR Fan

Love Science Fiction Romance?  Want to do more as a fan, reader or writer to promote the subgenre and get the word out?  History in the publishing industry has shown that fan-based communities can make a difference in genre (and subgenre) popularity and marketability. 

Here are seven easy ways to help give the SFR community a larger voice.

1.  Join the discussions on a Science Fiction Romance Community.
Amazon Science Fiction Romance Community
The more active the SFR Community, the more people will hear about our favorite reads.  There are a lot of readers (and even industry professionals) out there who still aren't aware that, yes, Virginia, Science Fiction Romance does exist!

2. Tag your favorite SFR novels as SFR.
Find your favorite novels on Amazon, etc.  Scroll down to the "tags" section and click the box for science fiction romance and any other appropriate descriptions.  In fact, you can use all three of most used tags:  SFR, Science Fiction Romance, and Sci-Fi Romance.  Be sure to also check "paranormal romance" which is the umbrella category for SFR and a very active community on Amazon. You can even create your own tags.  How does this help?  It moves the novel up to a more prominent position in site searches.  Read more here.

3.  Write reviews on your favorite SFRs and rate them accordingly.  If you find a fantastic story among the stars, be sure to tell the world about it!

4.  Found a SFR you really love?  Tell ten people about why you thought it was such a stellar story.  Word of mouth is still one of the most effective book promotion methods out there.

5.  Join the Skiffy Rommer set at "SFR Central" (The Galaxy Express blog) for SFR-related news, links, discussion and all the latest buzz from peers and fellow enthusiasts.

6.  Post the SFR link list established during the current SFR Holiday Blitz on your blog to promote other web sites in the Skiffy Rommer universe so your readers can make the jump to lightspeed to catch the latest buzz.

7.  Comment on SFR-oriented blogs and posts.  Show the world (not to mention agents, editors and publishing houses) that the Skiffy Rommers are a dedicated and enthusiastic market.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Details on our Featured Books

These are the fabulous books Spacefreighters Lounge is offering as part of the SFR Holiday Blitz!

Our Featured E-Book:
LUCY IN THE SKY by Barbara Elsborg
Ellora's Cave
Released in October 2009
"When you find a spaceship in your backyard, what do you do? Choose from three:
Phone the police.
Scream.
Go yell at the alien for wrecking your garden."
This novel has it all--a steamy hero, a funny heroine and an amazing, sexy romp among the stars. LUCY IN THE SKY is a Science Fiction Romance Erotica e-book and is available to adults over 18 only. Want more details?

Our Featured Print Book:
BEYOND THE RAIN by Jess Granger
Berkley Trade
Released in August 2009
"In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their lives and a love that may destroy them both."  Jess Granger's amazing characters and cultures--not too mention the oh so adorable Vicca--make this SFR a standout.   Learn more. (Print books are only available to US citizens due to prohibitive shipping costs.)

Our Special Bonus:
THE OUTBACK STARS by Sandra McDonald
Tor Science Fiction
Released February 2008
THE OUTBACK STARS is one of Spacefreighters Lounge's top picks for Science Fiction Romance. We'll award this wonderful SFR adventure/suspense if our SFR Holiday Blitz announcement receives more than 50 comments OR if this blog reaches 15,000 hits during the SFR Holiday Blitz.
"Love. Duty. Really big spaceships."  Set in a future where Australian has taken the lead in space exploration, this military SFR features characters and a love story you will never forget and a lot of twists and surprises along the way.  Check it out here.
(Print books are only available to US citizens due to prohibitive shipping costs.)

About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.