Friday, January 30, 2015


Are the Grays real? Survey says "yes!"

Between the pages of every book is an entire world created by its author.  Each world comes complete with a physical topography, a social and political landscape, a diverse population of characters (heroes, heroines, villains, supporting players, innocent bystanders), even, sometimes, a philosophical or emotional foundation.  Building this world and making it believable is one of the most important jobs the author has.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that the world of Unchained Memory, my science fiction suspense romance set to debut February 24, is the familiar one of Earth, here and now. As the novel opens, we are on the solid and well-trodden ground of rural Tennessee (and later, Nashville), a place as salt-of-the-Earth as you can get.  This is the heart of country music odes to hearth and home, a land of continuity and tradition, even in the midst of the huge growth of the last thirty years.

Other settings in the novel keep us tethered to that sense of place and connection: the mountains of West Virginia, the lakes of the Adirondacks.  A secure lifeline is necessary because what happens to our heroine shakes the foundation of everything she knows and changes the way she perceives her world.  That shift in perception alters what the hero sees, too, and, inevitably, what the reader sees.  All of a sudden, the world is not what it was.

Asia Burdette experiences a life-altering tragedy. In her quest to understand what has happened, she seeks the help of psychiatrist Ethan Roberts.  In their search for answers they draw back a curtain on a much-expanded, much darker vision of Earth and its place in the galaxy.  Not only are we not alone, but apparently we are the last ones to know it.

Earth is the clandestine battlefield in an ongoing struggle between an intergalactic slave-trading empire and the abolitionist crusaders that oppose it. The sexy/gutsy men and women of Rescue (the Interstellar Council for Abolition and Rescue), some of them human and some of them not, fight slavery in all the organized systems of the galaxy.  Earth, with its proximity to one of the major jump nodes (permanent wormholes) used for space travel, and ready supply of adaptable sentient beings, is a frequent target of the “Grays”
And here a note about interstellar slavery:  Imagine a galaxy in which technology is very much available and advanced, but is still expensive and prone to breakdown, especially on, say, mining or agricultural planets. Imagine, too, that space travel is easy and cheap, and labor is there for the taking. Add in a few details:  the Grays are puny little things, not very strong, and have a violent psychological reaction to certain vital mineral crystals being mined. Humans breathe roughly the same oxygen/nitrogen mix as the Grays, eat virtually anything and don’t react at all to those crystals. Finally, the Gray society itself is in conflict about the benefits and disadvantages of using slaves, but for now, they can, so they do. 

And before you say we’d know if aliens were taking us, well, some people say they are. Do you believe them?

A 2012 National Geographic poll cited by both ABC and Fox News showed that 36 percent of Americans believed UFOs were real.  Ten percent had seen one.  Seventy-nine percent believed the government was withholding evidence of aliens from the public.  And 55 percent believed there were black ops teams, similar to the Men in Black, whose job it was to track down people with knowledge of aliens and UFOs and “silence” them.

Hmm.  Sounds like the basis of a good story.  (As it happens, Asia and Ethan end up on the run from some of those very same “Men in Black”.)  It also sounds like we may already be living in the world I created for Unchained Memory.  If we just open our eyes.


Stay with us for all the excitement in the next few weeks as Sharon Lynn Fisher’s SFR novel Echo 8 debuts Monday, February 2; meet the heroes, heroines and villains of Unchained Memory and Laurie A. Green’s Inherit the Stars; and both books debut at the end of the month (Inherit the Stars February 22; Unchained Memory February 24).  It’s a Triple Launch Extravaganza all month on Spacefreighters!


It’s time to honor the best of science fiction romance in word and onscreen as the 2014 SFR Galaxy Awards are announced tomorrow.  Awards program organizer Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express SFR blog has corralled her judges and the selections are in!  The website opens for business at 9:00 a.m. EST Saturday, January 31,and the judges’ selections start rolling out at 10:00 a.m. EST.  Check in with us all day at the following links:

10 am Charlee Allden

11 am Donna S. Frelick

12 pm Laurie A. Green

1 pm. Marlene Harris


2 pm. Jo Jones

3 pm. Heather Massey

4 pm Anna McLain

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mission Success - Three Years Service & #Cover #Reveal #scifi #romance

Today marks a special anniversary for me. I've been an official member of the Spacefreighters Lounge crew for three years today. Woot! Three years! Wow, that went fast!

Of course, it wasn't my first appearance here. After meeting Laurie A Green through Six Sentence Sunday, I was invited to talk about a short story I'd self published as an experiment. That took place on the 14th June 2011, before I'd even got my contract for my debut novel Keir. Then a guest post on surviving first edits just three days before I was signed in as permanent crew. So much has changed in those three years!

For example, back then I was still four months away from my debut publication Keir. How odd that it's now one year since Keir became unavailable at retailers and is still awaiting re-release. Sigh. Co-blogger Sharon Lynn Fisher had her debut release - award winner Ghost Planet - just five months after mine, and is now a multi-published author like me. This year will finally see Laurie and Donna join us as published rather than aspiring authors with Laurie's debut Farewell Andromeda just released and a trick shot of releases in February for my co-bloggers.

And me? Well, February will see the print release of my YA paranormal Restless In Peaceville, followed by print for Tethered in March and my YA dystopian romance Zombie Girl in April.

Right now I've schedule Keir's re-release for what would have been its third book anniversary on the 7th May, although I can't confirm that just yet. During 2015 I'm hoping to release a side story in the same series, book two (Keir's Fall), and a novella set in the Venus Ascendant shared universe to go with my SFR short Terms & Conditions Apply. I also owe Lycaon Press two more Zombie Girl stories (my first series other than Keir), and I want to submit more to Breathless Press who released four of my six stories last year.

Ambitious? Yeah. Now my issue is finding time to write new stuff with so many WIPs currently on my computer in need of finishing. The list is...daunting. I'd really like to do a sequel to my superhero romance When Dark Falls, but that's still in the early fermenting stage.

Right now, I have one more treat for you. To celebrate my three year anniversary in style, I'm revealing the shiny new cover for my re-release, created by the talented and oh so patient Danielle Fine. I present Keir, Book One of Redemption and part of the Travellers Universe. Ta dah!

New cover, new tag, and a new blurb too. And this time, you will be getting the sequel, and another four books on top of that!


A demon waiting to die...

An outcast reviled for his discolored skin and rumors of black magic, Keirlan de Corizi sees no hope for redemption. Imprisoned beneath the palace that was once his home, the legendary 'Blue Demon of Adalucian' waits for death to finally free him of his curse. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise.

A woman determined to save him.

Able to cross space and time with a wave of her hand, Tarquin Secker has spent eternity on a hopeless quest. Drawn by a compulsion she can't explain, she risks her apparent immortality to save Keir, and offers him sanctuary on her home-world, Lyagnius. But Quin has secrets of her own.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes the dormant alien powers within him and earns exile from Lyagnius, Quin chooses to stand by him. Can he master his newfound abilities in time to save Quin from the darkness that seeks to possess her?


I hope that during my three years at Spacefreighters I've managed to entertain you and provide you with interesting and useful info about being a published author. I'm still amazed by how far I've come in that time from aspiring newbie with her debut to come to established author with an actual backlist. Thank you for sharing my journey.

Monday, January 26, 2015

February Triple Launch and Fifteen Fun Facts!

February is going to be one busy month here on Spacefreighters Lounge as we celebrate the launch of THREE brand new Science Fiction Romance novels from three of our co-bloggers, one from Sharon Lynn Fisher, a rising star in the SFR universe, and two debut novels from Donna S. Frelick and Laurie A. Green, both of which are the lead book in an upcoming series.

As a special preview for each of these upcoming releases and an introduction to our Fabulous February Triple Launch, we put together a list of Five Fun Facts about each of these novels, and a little more about what went into them.

Ready? Here we go...

First up is Sharon Lynn Fisher's Echo 8, which will release on February 3rd. (It's almost here!)


Part of ECHO 8 is set on the old Seattle ferry Kalakala (most recognizable symbol of Seattle until the Space Needle), which has a very colorful history. Coincidentally, after a decade sitting in the Port of Tacoma rusting while waiting for someone to decide what to do with her, she was this past week towed to dry dock for scrapping (which will take place next week, just prior to the release of ECHO 8 on Feb. 3). 

This book is about parallel Earths. The same year I started writing it, a Seattle musician named Serena Tideman released a recording of original cello compositions that she performed and recorded aboard the Kalakala while it was moored in Seattle. The name of the recording is "Kalakala: Songs from a Parallel Universe."

The hero of ECHO 8 is FBI Special Agent Ross McGinnis. Shortly after I started working on the book, I heard about a real hero, Army Specialist Ross McGinnis, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for dying to save fellow soldiers from a grenade explosion in Iraq.

The heroine of ECHO 8 is Dr. Tess Caufield, a parapsychologist who studied quantum physics. As part of my research, I read a fascinating book about the intersection of psi abilities and quantum physics (ENTANGLE MINDS: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality). The author, Dr. Dean Radin (senior researcher at the Institute of Noetic sciences in California), reviewed parts of ECHO 8 to help ensure my portrayal of the heroine and her work was realistic. 

ECHO 8 is hands-down my beta readers' favorite of my books. 


Next up is Donna S. Frelick's Unchained Memory which releases on February 24th. It's the first book in the Interstellar Rescue series. Here are the Fun Facts.


The book begins in Nashville, TN.

The book's climactic scene is set in Towson MD, home of Shore Leave, the nation's largest fan-run STAR TREK convention.

Asia Burdette, the heroine of the story, likes to run for exercise in Nashville's Centennial Park, which boasts a full-size replica of Athens' ancient Parthenon.  On one of her customary runs, she is stalked by an agent of the black ops bad guys who later try to kidnap her.

Ethan Roberts, the hero of the story, gets his exercise at an old-school boxing gym.  It's much safer.

Not all of the story takes place on Earth.  This is SFR, after all!


The third novel in the February line-up is Laurie A. Green's Inherit the Stars, which has a tentative release date of February 22nd. It's the first book in the Inherited Stars series.


The hero, Sair, is an fugitive slave who's wanted by a galactic superpower. The story is told entirely from the hero's point of view. (There's a blog about Laurie's decision to craft the story in this way on The SFR Brigade blog.)

Captain Drea Mennelsohn, the heroine, is a professional P2PC--Planet-to-Planet Courier--in other words, she's a futuristic FedEx driver to the stars. (That's her story and she's sticking to it!)

The novel has several aliases. The manuscript had alternate titles of Once Upon a Starship and Specter (the name of Drea's ship), and it was a finalist in the 2011 RWA Golden Heart Awards under the title P2PC. The published title--Inherit the Stars--comes directly from a line of dialogue between Sair and Drea.

The setting is a distant corner of the Milky Way Galaxy that's rich in Goldilocks planets, and it happens in an era when Earth is just a dimly remembered legend. 

The story puts a whole new spin on the term "sexual freedom."

So there's our list of Fun Facts along with a little taste of each of these stories. Watch for more about our Fabulous February Triple Launch in the days and weeks ahead.


Friday, January 23, 2015


The classic male torso

Ever wonder why so many romance covers feature naked male torsos? No heads, no faces.  Just the bare, muscular chest and shoulders, maybe the hips.  I no longer ask myself that question.

Aside from the pure aesthetic value of the male body, there’s a very good reason for all those headless guys.  It’s darn difficult to find a face that matches your vision of your hero among the millions of stock photos available online.  And if you’re looking for photos of a couple to represent your hero AND your heroine, well, you’ve just doubled your trouble.

I speak from personal experience.  My wonderful agent and co-publisher did a fantastic job of finding just the right “Ethan” and “Asia” for the cover of my debut SFR novel Unchained Memory, launching February 24. But for the cover of my second novel, Trouble in Mind, she passed the job of model search on to me.  Probably with a sense of great relief.  Because, as all of you self-pubbers who have had to design your own covers surely know, searching through hundreds of photos for a guy who looks half-Cuban and half-alien and a woman who has blond, curly hair ain’t easy.  Oh, and they have to look like they can hunt down bad guys.  And be hot for each other.

The parameters I set are difficult enough.  I want the models I pick to reflect not only the physical attributes of the characters, but something about them as people, too.  That gives the reader a hint of what they'll find inside the book--elements of sex, suspense, danger.

You cannot resist . . . MANGO!
But I also seem to be way out of sync with society’s current ideas of “sexy”.  (As in “sexy couples”, the basic keywords of my search.)  All of the guys seem to look like some version of Chris Kattan’s Mango from Saturday Night Live.  And I hesitate to describe the women, some of whom may have just crossed that adult threshold last week.

Lest you think these are the ravings of some lunatic old crone, note that many of the legacy romance publishers have resorted to seeking out real men to use as models for their covers—firemen, policemen, athletes, military men—because the professional male models preferred by fashion are too skinny and wan.  (We call these “stick boys” in martial arts, and they are hardly the subject of romantic fiction. As a mother I feel the constant urge to tell them to eat something.)

I have to say all my co-bloggers have done a marvelous job with their covers.  All of them.  Perhaps they will share with me their secret keywords for an effective model search.  Or the best stock photo websites for half-alien-looking guys.  I’m sure with their help I’ll be able to find the perfect “Gabriel” and “Lana” for Trouble in Mind. 

My third novel, Fools Rush In, is a space opera.  If I run out of options there, I can always fall back on the old SF standby and just feature the starship.  Or a naked torso in a field of stars.


--Congrats to Pippa’s When Dark Falls fourth-place win for Best Steampunk Novel in the Preditors and Editors 2014 Readers Poll.  That’s one mighty writing engine that just keeps rolling!

--Thanks to Greta van der Rol for giving us a peek at her newest release Crisis at Validor.  Sounds like a great read!

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pippa's Journal - How The New Things Are

So, last week I told you about all the things I'm trying out this month as part of the all new marketing me. Here's a little update on what I'm doing and how it's going.

1. Putting my short stories into KU. The first problem with this is removing my books from other retailers. While Smashwords and All Romance eBooks are simply a matter of going in and clicking Unpublish or Inactivate, there's a slight issue. Remember how B&N can take such a long time to put UP a book? Yeah, it isn't much quicker taking them down either. Smashwords said 1-3 weeks before my books could come down from all the third party retailers it distributes to. So that meant it could be almost February before I could go for KU. I could be missing out on sales from some of the retailers while I wait for the others to remove it (since my sales anywhere other than Amazon have been zero, this isn't a BIG issue but you never know. I might have got a sudden sales rush on one of the other venues). If I'd thought to check this previously, I'd have removed them at the start of December. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Anyhow, turns out I needn't have worried. It took less than a week for my books to come down from the third party retailers, and I've already enrolled them in KU. Progress report to come!

2. The book launch workshop. I have to say my first couple of days on this were disheartening. We had to take a creativity and personality test, then do a list of our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to promoting. Not only did I get below average on the creativity test, but as regards the personality test I already know I'm an ISTJ. The important bit there is the I for introvert. Putting myself in front of people is probably my biggest challenge, and one that I often shy away from. The internet has been wonderful for allowing me to network and communicate without setting off my need to withdraw, but it still holds me back and I can't bring myself to push past it. So it's a huge weakness that tends to outweigh everything else for me.

However, I'm hoping to benefit from other details on the course. Certainly the suggestions for organizing the tour and looking at various options for promotion are helping. An awful lot of it seems to depend on having money for swag, giveaways and paid advertising, though, which are where I just don't have the budget. One suggestion was to do smaller giveaways, working up to an ereader. Say what?! I'm lucky if I can pay out for the sale price Vistaprint business cards for a title. Plus I'm not sold on the idea of complicated giveaway contests. I have a hard enough time giving books away in return for comments, so I can't really see anyone following me across a dozen blogs playing wordsearch for one. However, I got slapped by a friend/fan who said it was down to one of my giveaways last year that she found me, so I guess they *do* work. You just can't expect a return on the cost.

Our teacher generously donated us a virtual $1000 budget to use for our outgoings and incomes for our prospective book launch, but I based it instead on my real life budget (determined by upcoming royalty payments). I'm lucky that for Keir I essentially have very few production costs, but that's an exception. Overall I'm finding the course beneficial, even if it's just the act of being made to get my act together better!

3. I've managed to pare my reading list down. After sorting my books into collection, instead of 340+ I found myself with 191 unread actual books (others were reference books, dictionaries, cookery books and how to books that I don't count as 'reading' books, plus several I thought I hadn't read but actually had). Since Christmas I've read five novellas, one novel, and two short stories. A good start for the New Year!

4. I'm currently experimenting on changed keywords with Tales from the SFR Brigade on Amazon. There has been an uptick in downloads, but I'm not putting that down to the changes yet. I'll see how it goes until the end of March, then compare it to last year's figures.

5. I said that part of my aim for the relaunch of Keir was to ask for reviews, something I was hesitant about. I've been surprisingly flattered at the number of people who volunteered to read and review, or to repost their previous review. I'm currently waiting for news from my original publisher about removing the out-of-date print edition of Keir still listed on Amazon. This will, of course, mean I lose the reviews currently there, but I'm confident of replacing them. I had to email Amazon about removing it and their response was that the original publisher must take it down - there's no option to merge it with my own publication because I don't 'own' that version despite having my rights back. As usual, Amazon have been less than helpful, while my old publisher is doing their best to fix the situation.

6. Reading up on marketing. Right now I'm not doing so well on this. New articles keep turning up in my inbox, so I need to make a more determined effort to read these, or at least start reading some of them even when I go back to a more normal routine. However, since I've been getting advice from others and I'm working on the relaunch for Keir, I don't yet consider myself a total fail on this. :P I did read this article of improving your email subscription list here.

7. Writing. Following a tweet about setting yourself realistic goals, I decided to go for a very modest challenge of 250 words a day. Doesn't sound much, does it? Especially as someone who would regularly crank out over 1K during a bi-weekly word war on Twitter. But I need to set myself something easy around the greater challenges I'm taking on. And even at that rate, it should give me 91K in a year. I only managed 65K in 2014, so it's still an upgrade wordwise. And who knows, maybe I'll manage a NaNoWriMo this year.

This is not part of my goals for the year, but some things have happened this week that will effect what I'm doing. Last week my publisher announced some changes, including moving from giving ebooks priority to making the print releases the primary focus. This is pretty exciting. While I love ebooks and make good use of my ereader, I'm still a print girl. There's nothing quite like holding a paperback of your own book. So, not only will I have print of Restless in February and Tethered in March, but I now have a tentative date of 30th June for the print release of When Dark Falls. Woo hoo! This means at least three print editions to take to BristolCon in September instead of just ebook download cards.

They've also made their minimum word count for submissions 50K. Wow! That's quite high, especially since I've been struggling to get over the 40K mark in the last year. I have Zombie Girl coming out in April - a YA dystopia short that I wrote specifically because they'd asked for YA shorts. So the announcement made me think that the planned trilogy I had in mind wouldn't be happening. Turns out that, because book one is contracted, they're committed to the trilogy. It just won't be coming out as seperate ebooks. It'll be ONE PRINT BOOK! ^_^

So my schedule is currently:
February - print release of Restless In Peaceville
March - print release of Tethered
April - digital release of Zombie Girl 1
May - re-release of Keir
June - print release of When Dark Falls
Add to that I'm currently working on two short stories for two separate anthologies, due in the end of March and April, plus I have the two Zombie Girl shorts to finish AND I want to put out two more Keir stories, plus another VA series novella, PLUS write a sequel for When Dark Falls that now needs to be over 50K... *spontaneously combusts* Nothing like setting yourself a challenge, right?

How are your New Year goals/resolutions going?

Last Friday I was surprised and delighted to learn that When Dark Falls came joint 4th in Best Steampunk Novels in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. Woot! Thanks to those who voted. My wonderful editor Danielle Fine also came in the top ten finishers for Best Editor, and very well deserved that is too.


Next week is the cover reveal for Keir! I'm so excited to show this to you, and to be closer to relaunching my series. Keir was my first book baby, and I'm so pleased to be bringing him back. Even more so to finally be able to give you the entire series!

Ping Pong

Congrats to Laurie on the early release of her debut! Woot! Now I don't get to hog all the novel page to myself. :P And today she has her cover and title reveal for her SFR novel and series over on the Brigade blog HERE.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Today, Spacefreighters Lounge is honored to host special guest Greta van der Rol as she announces the release of the newest Science Fiction Romance novel in her series.


I am delighted to announce the release of the fourth book in my Ptorix Empire series, Crisis at Validor.

The books are set in a universe where much of the galaxy is controlled by the Ptorix, a decidedly non-humanoid species which prefers the same sort of worlds we humans do. Although most planets are either Ptorix or human, some have mixed populations, formed as the political balance ebbed and flowed. Validor has a mixed population. The planet has two continents and its inhabitants have agreed that humans will live on one and Ptorix on the other.

The book is set after the events chronicled in the two Iron Admiral books, where the Ptorix suffered a defeat at the hands of the human Confederacy. But the aftermath of war is often resentment on one side and over-confidence on the other. Again, local politics is a different animal to interplanetary politics, with both species having its internal struggles for power.

Brett Butcher, who was Grand Admiral Saahren's adjutant in the Iron Admiral books, gets his own story in this book. Readers will also get to meet the Ptorix as individuals, and not just the enemy. And we meet the dragon-like berzhani, who become involved in a Ptorix-human conflict whether they like it or not.

I can promise you rip-roaring, fast-paced adventure intertwined with a love story.

Here's a short excerpt.

Brett just stood there. Maybe he didn't really want to come. Maybe he was just… Tarlyn didn't know. Back then, he would have come on an adventure just to please her. Now, she wasn't so sure.

"Are you coming?" she called.

He turned, hesitated long enough to say, "Yes," then eased himself off the jetty into the boat, which swayed slightly under his weight. "It's been a long time since I went boating, and it wasn't on the ocean."

"Can you swim?"

He grinned. "You know I can swim."

Yes, she did. They'd gone to the beach together. She'd told her parents she'd gone to the library. She chuckled. "Well, I can pilot the boat. I've done it more than once. So I'll play captain."

Newly-promoted Captain Brett Butcher is about to achieve his life-long ambition to command a battle cruiser. But before he takes up his new posting, he goes home on leave, hoping to perhaps catch a glimpse of his first love, the unattainable Lady Tarlyn.

When the queen is assassinated in a terrorist attack, Tarlyn’s life is thrown into turmoil when she, too, becomes a target. The last person she expects to rescue her is her childhood sweetheart, Brett Butcher.

As Validor’s Ptorix and human populations face off over a group of islands neither owns, the calls for war grow louder. Torn between love, duty and ambition, Butcher and Tarlyn struggle to prevent an inter-species conflict, while the ember of love that has smouldered for so long bursts into flame. But with planetary peace at stake, both will be forced to choose; love or duty.

Crisis at Validor is available in ebook at Smashwords | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple and in print.

About the Author
Greta van der Rol loves writing action-packed adventures with a side salad of romance. Most of her work is space opera, but she has written paranormal and historical fiction. She lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn't bent over the computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavours.

You can connect with Greta van der Rol on these sites: