Friday, September 30, 2016


Meet Rayna Carver. She’s not usually as demure as she seems in her portrait here. In fact, she’s much more likely to be found with a big grin on her face or a deep scowl, depending on what the situation calls for. You never have to guess what the heroine of Fools Rush In, Book 3, Interstellar Rescue Series, is feeling. She lets you know in no uncertain terms what’s on her mind.

This third book in my SFR series debuts October 18, so I thought it was about time to introduce its main characters to the world. But if you’ve been a reader of the series up to now, you already know Rayna (and her hero, Sam Murphy, captain of the pirate ship Shadowhawk). She first appeared as the Rescue agent Dozen in Unchained Memory, and played a part in the second book, Trouble in Mind, also.

Rayna was an intriguing character even as a secondary player in the first two books. There was no doubt she’d have to have her own book. She’s a little ball of can-do energy who just won’t take no for an answer, as Sam finds out very quickly in Fools Rush In. She’s confident to the point of arrogance, yet she extends that confidence to everyone around her, making them believe they can do the impossible, too. She’s a survivor, having grown up in the polyglot former-slave colony of Terrene, where resources of all kinds are limited and quick wits, quick fists and a quick tongue are all valuable assets in the struggle that is daily life.

Rayna has a very personal reason for taking on the most dangerous job in the Interstellar Council for Abolition and Rescue—the undercover agent inside the slave labor camps known as a “conductor.” But it turns out it’s not very different from the reason Sam Murphy hates the alien slavers called “Grays” as much as she does. Though the two seem at odds from the moment they meet, at heart they are much alike, and the sparks they throw off are the beginning of a roaring flame. 

Here’s more about Fools Rush In, Book 3, Interstellar Rescue Series:

She thought she had the toughest job in Rescue—
until the day she had to convert a pirate into a hero.

Interstellar Rescue “conductor” Rayna Carver is deep undercover on a slave ship bound for an isolated region of space when the ship is attacked by pirates. Her liberator is Captain Sam Murphy, a man known in the spacer bars to love only profit, adventure and women.

But Murphy hates a few things, too, chief among them slavers. Will it be enough to gain his help for Rayna’s mission—ferreting out two spies bent on sabotaging an arms factory to turn the tide in an alien civil war?

The books is on pre-order NOW on Amazon!

Cheers, Donna

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Close Encounters On My Doorstep: The #Rendlesham Forest #UFO Trail

I often talk about how much I love the place where I live and how close I am to settings that have inspired so much of my writing. But over my seven week break, I finally visited a site of huge importance in the history of UFO sightings--in the UK at least--and on my very own doorstep. It's even known as Britain's Roswell.

Taken from the Rendlesham Forest UFO Trail leaflet published by the Forestry Commission:

Rendlesham Forest is located in the county of Suffolk, about 8 miles east of Ipswich and about a half hour drive from my home town of Colchester. The forest is mostly coniferous with some broadleaved belts, heathland and wetland, covering approximately 5.8 square miles or 15 square km, and owned by the Forestry Commission. The UFO trail is 3 miles long around the eastern end of of the forest, and navigates the key areas reportedly involved in the UFO Incident of 1980. Both civilian and military personnel witnessed and reported the strange sightings, which The Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated 'posed no threat to national security', and so were never was investigated. The sightings have been blamed on a fireball, the Orford Ness lighthouse and even bright stars.
I'm going to straight up admit I'm not a believer in alien visitors, or a fan of such stories (whether truth or fiction), nor am I convinced by conspiracy theories. Maybe that's a bit odd for a SF author. My husband is the fan of such things though, of the unexplained and the odd. So he was the one who suggested visiting the forest. Me, I love woodland, even more than the beach. The annual holiday in Wales with my parents and sister was the highlight of my year up until my teens. I'd wander along the river under the trees at the campsite all day, or we'd be taken to one of the many walking trails through mostly pine forests that dot the area. The scent of pine needles and damp earth, the dappled sunlight, the distant sounds of flowing water and the wind in the treetops...bliss. So regardless of the UFO sighting, I was up for it.

I have to admit that walking through the quiet of the forest occasionally broken by the eerie sound of the wind through the trees - an almost mechanical/aircraft like whine that blots out the birdsong - I can imagine that, combined with strange lights in the sky, it would be easy to convince myself of something unearthly occurring. There is a theory that perhaps the alien visitors were drawn by the deadly stockpile of US nuclear weapons and they came to neutralize them and so prevent us destroying ourselves, or simply to check them out. It sounds plausible (though I would ask "why would they care?").

But it was a pleasant walk, well marked with sign posts and information to make it more interesting, and the UFO sculpture at the halfway point was fun (though sadly graffitied).

And together me, hubs, and the monsters came up with our own story. Of alien visitors who came to cut their own Christmas tree from a pine forest on a remote blue-green planet because the best ones only grown on Earth. The next day with all the new toys played with, Little Alien asked its parents to take it back to build dens, since their planet no longer has trees. They used highly trained space beavers to cut the logs (because lasers are sooooo last millennium), and were spotted because Little Alien begged for five more minutes like any child in the universe, then demanded to be allowed to fly the spacecraft until they reached the outer atmosphere. Of course, one of the highly trained space beavers got left behind and Little Alien wouldn't sleep without it so they had to come back again to rescue the beaver...

The truth is out there. Maybe. :P

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trip, Sale and Pets in Space Anthology Update: #Fun and #Freebie

In My News

I'm just back from a wonderful trip to Louisville (Looeyville * Luhvul * Looaville), Kentucky and a visit to "The Church" of Thoroughbred horse racing, the incomparable Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.

While there we attended live racing--and the surprising return of an iconic jockey!--experienced the Kentucky Derby Museum, Barbaro's monument and burial site, Fourth Street entertainment district, and saw some amazing historical architecture.

Did you also know Louisville is home to the Louisville Slugger bat (the factory gives tours and will even create a bat for you) and fine Kentucky Bourbon? Did you know bourbon--which is a variety of American whiskey--must be at least 51% corn and 100% natural ingredients and can only be aged in new white oak barrels? Bourbon must be made in the U.S., but about 95% of all bourbon is produced in Kentucky. As one bartender put it, "If it's great Bourbon, it comes from Kentucky. If it's great whiskey, it comes from Tennessee." (Bartenders in Looavul know a lot about Bourbon!)

But bats, Bourbon and Thoroughbreds aren't Kentucky's only famous products. Here's a bit of trivia for the Dancing With the Stars fans. 90% of disco balls made in the US are made in Kentucky, with most coming from Louisville!

We'll be posting many more photos from the Churchill Downs race track and the adjacent Kentucky Derby Museum beginning later today on the Facebook page for our Thoroughbred business here: Rising Star Thoroughbreds (Yes, even our horse business has a "spacey" name. :D )

The iconic twin spires of Churchill Downs

Sale Update

99 cent sale!

Inherit the Stars was featured in a big Sci-Fi Romance sale last week where it was offered for the first time ever for 99 cents!

Though the sale ended on Friday, I've decided to extend the sale price for a limited time, so if you missed the first go-round you still have a chance to grab this full-length novel -- winner of the 2016 Carolyn Readers Choice Award and a current finalist for the 2016 Aspen Gold Award -- at this very low price. But hurry! The price will be going back up to $3.99 soon!

Inherit the Stars on sale

Pets in Space Anthology Update

News, fun and freebie!

We're on final approach for the October 11th release of the Pets in Space Anthology of nine new Sci-Fi Romance (+ pets) stories by nine bestselling or award-winning authors.

Pre-orders will be announced soon, but....would you like a sneak peek at the first chapters of these stories? You can get one right now on InstaFreebie in PDF, mobi, or epub versions!

Click here >>> Pets in Space Anthology First Chapters Sampler InstaFreebie!

This fan is reading her Pets in Space First Chapter Sampler InstaFreebie.
So can you! See link above.

And check out the newest Pets in Space Anthology trailer!

Two weeks ago, I announced the "adoption" of Hero Dog Mitch (click to read post and scroll down). Some of the profits of the anthology will go to support this wonderful cause, but I adopted "Mitch" as my own special project.

Going forward, I'll be making donations to his training as part of the Pets in Space support of, so if you comment below and mention him, I'll increase my next donation for every comment received.

Over on Facebook today, I'm holding an impromptu #pet #mugs fun contest. I'm looking for photos of your pet or #pets, or the funniest, coolest, or most unique #petmugs you've seen. To join in, just go to my profile page, find the post and add your images in the comments.

A few fun facts about my Pets in Space Anthology story StarDog
  • It's a companion story to Inherit the Stars
  • The title subject of the story is neither a star nor a dog (...exactly).
  • It has one shared character in common with Inherit the Stars
  • It begins on beautiful Planet Carduwa (there will be a future post on the setting's inspiration)
  • Other settings include planet Banna
  • For fans of the novel, there will be surprises that expand the Inherited Stars Universe
Want to keep updated on news about Pets in Space Anthology and other upcoming works? Please subscribe to my newsletter, which now has its own title: Escape to the Stars

Have a great week!


Friday, September 23, 2016


I’m on the road again today, back to my old home town of Fredericksburg, Virginia to try and sell a few books.

This is Fredericksburg’s first such book fair, and I’m grateful to my friends at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library for letting me know about it so I could participate. Steve Watkins, a good friend of mine from the old days, will be a featured speaker, holding forth on his successful career as a writer of award-winning young adult fiction. And my kids (and grandkids) will be there to help me set up, take down, and attract folks to my table in between. So this will be a homecoming in more ways than one.

The helpful folks at FIBF sent the authors this great article on “Selling at Conventions” by Travis Heermann, author of Spirit of the Ronin. Travis has some terrific advice for anyone who has never done something like this before (which also serves as a reminder for those of us who are returning to the trenches).

This is what I can add, based on two years at the Shore Leave STAR TREK con and various library and coffeehouse signings:

--Don’t sit down. The table is barrier enough between you and your potential reader/buyers. Don’t increase the distance by sitting and getting engrossed in your own favorite book or what’s happening on Facebook. Keep to your feet where you can greet everyone who comes by. (I know—seven hours of this? You are allowed to take an occasional break.)

--Don’t become a circus barker. That doesn’t mean you hassle everyone who passes with, “Hey, you really need to read this book!” Just say hello. Maybe comment on a neat cosplay outfit or tee-shirt. If they slow down, ask how their con or book fair is going.

--Take time with your table display. Make it attractive and eye-catching with lots of color and something unique to draw attention. I’ve invested in a professional bookrack and signage. But I’m lamenting the fact that my cut-out of Captain James T. Kirk can’t be with me this time, since it’s an outdoor show. He’s an instant draw with an Interstellar Rescue tee-shirt on.

--Make it easy for folks to buy. I have Square now, which allows people to pay with credit cards directly into my bank account, using my iPad. (I pay a very small fee.) Post prices so people don’t have to ask you. Offer discounts for multiple buys.

--Capture readers even if they don’t buy. I offer giveaways (tee-shirts, signed copies, Amazon gift cards) as an incentive for folks to sign up for my Interstellar Rescue Squad Facebook group (my version of a mailing list). Some of them turn into my biggest fans.

--Tag team it. My daughter Jessie is my convention selling partner. She’s young, she’s attractive and she’s very outgoing. She’s not afraid to engage folks on just about any level. Let me tell you, it’s fantastic having her around! But there are other advantages to working with a partner. You can relieve each other for breaks, or to go get food. More books to sell always means more interest from the crowd. And if you know each other well, the very fact that you play off each other is a draw.

--Keep smiling! No matter what happens. This is the equivalent of Travis Heermann’s “don’t be a dick” admonition. Misunderstandings occur; space is at a premium; oddballs attach themselves to you for no clear reason; undisciplined children grab handfuls of freebies meant for adults; it’s hot (or cold); you get hungry and thirsty and tired. But people will remember how you treated them that one time FOREVER. God knows I may never be famous, but if I ever do breathe that rarefied air, I hope folks remember they met me one time in Fredericksburg (or at Shore Leave) and I was not some kind of ogre.

So wish me and the folks at the Fredericksburg Independent Book Fair well. And if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and visit!

Cheers, Donna