Friday, August 30, 2019

SOME SHORT SHOTS BEFORE THE WEEKEND


Since we’re coming up on Labor Day weekend, there are not one, but TWO hurricanes on the horizon, and everyone has other things on their minds, I’ll make it brief this week with just a couple of newsy items.


First of all, if you aren’t a member of Romance Writers of America® (or you have a life), you probably missed the kerfuffle over on the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter online forum about the possibility of requesting a change in RITA® contest categories. You may remember I had suggested this very thing when the RWA® leadership was looking for input on what to do about diversity a few months ago. Science fiction romance needs its own contest category to encourage more SFR authors to submit entries and to allow paranormal authors and SFR authors to judge each others’ work.

Well, it was a very lively discussion for a while on the forum, until it degenerated into the old debates about “what is SFR, really” and “do enough people actually write it” (both questions which have been answered over and over in our own Science Fiction Romance Brigade). Then somebody began to hurl insults about how romance is nothing but “trash,” (on a romance forum?) until the moderator was forced to call a halt and the RWA® president felt compelled to remind people to play nice.

I only bring this up to say that anyone here who is a member of both RWA® and the Brigade might consider contacting the RWA® leadership directly to let their voices be heard on the issue of a separate contest category for SFR. The more RWA® hears from us, the more likely they will be to consider splitting SFR off from paranormal and fantasy. Brigade members Lizzie Newell and Jean Walker/Veronica Scott (and others) were quite vocal in our support in the forum. I’ve already let my opinions be known. I think the time is right to make the point.

ON TO MORE SHAMELESS PROMOTION

I recently had a chance to give a video tour of my workspace and do an author interview for the LoveRomanceReads blog. I won’t be taking the v-blog universe by storm, but it was fun anyway!

Check it out here.


And, until next week, have a great holiday weekend and stay safe!

Cheers, Donna

Monday, August 26, 2019

Meet Maura - She's a Spy(Dog)! #PetsInSpace #snippet

AKC just informed me that today is National Dog Day. Okay. Sounds like a great time to make introductions! (Although National Cat, Weasel and Mongoose Day would work too! heh heh)

My "pet" in Pets in Space® 4 which releases October 8th, will mark the third "StarDog" series story I've written for three of the four successive anthologies. In reality, the volume is more of a novella "collection" than a mere anthology, because these are some pretty hefty stories...not just shorts! The entire volume will be nearly 1,500 pages long or about the size of five full novels! All for about the cost of a cup of coffee!

Ahoy! Days and days (if not weeks) of reading enjoyment ahead for ya'll!

So let me introduce my latest "cutest little sidekick in the galaxy."

Meet Maura the SpyDog



Did you see my quiz on my Facebook Author Page? If so, did you guess right? (Someone guessed that my pet probably had feline qualities--and they were partially right!)

Maura may be the craftiest and most resourceful pet yet, because she's a SpyDog, which is a special StarDog upgrade created to work as partner with a deep cover spy. Maura is enhanced in a number of ways from other StarDogs which were bio-engineered to be ship's mascots and companion animals. She's still made up of the same canine-feline-weasel-mongoose genetics, but she has keen intelligence and the ability to communicate with her handler (though not via telepathy).

Their ability to dialogue over short distances is essential to mission performance, but this upgrade and the technology it involves actually makes for an unexpected twist in the story.

But no spoilers!

Like all highly-intelligent creatures, Maura can also have her idiosyncrasies. Here's a snippet from the story that showcases a bit of the interaction between the spirited little SpyDog and her deep-cover agent/handler, Rigel Blackline. These two partners have a galaxy-altering mission to perform, and crossing paths with a possible enemy asset along the way--a legendary warrior-class female Rathskian--is about to add a whole new level of dynamics to their important quest!

_______________________

Excerpt from "SpyDog"
(a novella of over 30,000 words)
To be released October 8, 2019 as part of Pets in Space® 4

Scene Set-Up
While performing his Network mission, Rigel Blackline has encountered an enigmatic warrior-class female Rathskian--a member of the enemy Ithian Alliance. But she claims to be on the side of the Network, and though Rigel is skeptical he agrees to team up with her to find a way off the planet where they're both stranded, while secretly planning to turn her over to his superiors as an enemy asset.

Click here for pre-order links
The Rathskian gave him a questioning look. “Why have we stopped?”

“I need to wait for instructions.”

She looked around the empty hangar doubtfully. “How will they contact you here?”

“They’ll find a way.”

The little StarDog poked her head out and Rigel waved her out of the bag. She slithered free and bounced around—“Happy! Happy!”—before fixing her attention on the woman. “Friend?”

“Not friend.”

“Your StarDog’s name is Maura?” the Rathskian asked, kneeling and reaching out to gently run her fingers through his partner’s thick fur.

Had he called her by name? “Yes.”

“Hello, Maura,” she whispered to the StarDog. “I am Sona.”

He made a mental note of it—the Rathskians didn’t use surnames—to run through the Network’s database later. Hopefully, he’d be getting an update soon.

Maura gave one of her contented feline purrs, nestling her head against Sona’s chin to cuddle when the Rathski sat down. Then she made two quick turns in Sona’s lap and flopped onto her back. “Belly rub?”

“She can’t hear you.”

She didn’t need to. Sona smiled and stroked the StarDog’s silky belly. His partner’s eyes closed in bliss. Rigel threw the tiny beast a covert frown. “Don’t overdo it, pard. Make her work for your trust.”

The StarDog wrinkled her nose at him and sneezed, her scoffing reply coming through loud and clear. “Maura knows.”
_______________________

The artist who created my SpyDog image must have been somewhat telepathic themselves, because they created Maura in one of her favorite poses--begging for a belly rub. It suits her so perfectly!

Naturally, Maura is also very proud to be a part of supporting Hero-Dogs, a non-profit that provides service animals for disabled veterans and first responders. Ten percent of all pre-order and first month sales of Pets in Space® 4 will go to benefit Hero-Dogs. Did you know the three prior Pets in Space volumes have resulted in $7,100 in donations? We're hoping to make this a banner year for our contribution!

Maura hopes this is the best year ever! After all, StarDogs, SpyDogs and Hero-Dogs all share a common mission--assisting their human counterparts in wonderful ways.


and you can also
Check out the Pets in Space® Site

and also be sure to tour Hero-Dogs online site
to see all the great work they're doing!


Have a great week!


Friday, August 23, 2019

WHEN AN MC'S BAGGAGE IS JUST TOO HEAVY


Back to hold the line against moral ambiguity again.
I recently read a mystery novel, the title and author of which shall remain nameless, which kept me on the edge of my seat. Not because of the convoluted plot, which was engaging enough, but because from almost the very first page, I was torn between wanting to find out whodunit and wanting to strangle the protagonist—a former detective pursuing the case—for being so self-involved she screwed up over and over. A flawed heroine I understand, but this character went way beyond the concept of an antihero. She was so unlikable as to seriously interfere with the basic contract of communication that should exist between author and reader.

This is nothing new in modern literature. Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train both used this technique to great effect, presenting an untrustworthy narrator to build the mystery at the heart of each novel. Both of those books were unforgettably creepy because of their skewed points of view. I didn’t read it, but I understand American Psycho was memorable for the same reason. Fair enough.


This is something different, something more insidious and more related to the complaints I’ve voiced before about the absence of the concept of redemption in modern screenwriting. And it is something more than what my writing mentor A.C. Crispin used to describe as chasing your hero up a tree, putting a tiger at the base of that tree AND THEN throwing rocks at him (that is, giving him every problem you can think of and daring him—or her—to work his way out of it). 

The protagonist in the mystery I just read is saddled with more than the usual set of baggage. She was abandoned by her narcissistic mother as a child; is emotionally abused and manipulated by her younger sister, who she protected throughout their youth; she allows her boyfriend and cop partner to do the same, until he actually crosses the legal line to frame an innocent man in a child abduction case; and, on top of it all, she’s a gambling addict. When she outs her partner to the department, she loses her job. Then she loses everything else in a soul-destroying casino bender. Believe it or not, things deteriorate from there until she finally gets a clue (literally) and finds a way to solve the case that started her on her downward slide.

Very little about this heroine is, well, heroic. Or even a little bit likable. For, oh, 75 percent of the book, I was ready to give up on her (and her creator) on nearly every page. I’m still not sure why I didn’t. Maybe I’m as stubborn as she is. Because, in the end, she did prevail. She found the evil perp who did the deed, though she never got her job—or her life—back. 

But to paraphrase a popular saying, with heroines like this, who needs villains? She wasn’t a child abductor or a murderer, but she did lie, cheat and damn near steal to support her habit. (We know this because we’re in her head and we see it all.) And she’s only a little bit sorry about it. Not nearly sorry enough to be ready for the redemption that would make it okay; only enough to make her loathe what she has become.

That, I think, is the problem here. This heroine, this book, is reflective of what is all too common in our society these days. Self-loathing is all around us. People lack self-respect and act out of it all too frequently. But that “I hate me” feeling is not enough to make them reach for something higher; the pain is not enough to effect a change in themselves. Instead, the inadequacy is all to often an excuse to hurt others. Either in small ways—by lying or trolling or turning away from responsibilities—or large ones—by mass shootings or racist political action.

In any case, I won’t be reading another book by this author. I’ll stick to my romance novels where the heroes and heroines must be (at least somewhat) likable, redemption is a given, and a happy ending is guaranteed. That goes for the science fiction romance I write, too. Call me old school, if you will. I don’t mind standing atop the last bastions against moral ambiguity. I suspect one or two of you out there will be fighting there alongside me.

PARTY TIME!

Don't forget tomorrow, Saturday, August 24, is the day for the Sci-Fi Romance Soiree Facebook Party , happening from 12-6 p.m. PDT! My slot is from 4-4:30 p.m. PDT, but don't miss Lea Kirk, Lexi Post and others, too. Tune in to the event site for freebies, contests, author chat and FUN!

Cheers, Donna




Monday, August 19, 2019

Big Reveal! #PetsInSpace

We've been keeping a BIG secret the last few days, and now it's time to tell the whole world universe!

Pets in Space® 4 went on pre-order last week, and even with the "soft open" the anthology shot to #49 of Amazon Hot New Releases in science fiction romance within hours! We have lift-off! And are we ever excited!

I've got some really cool things to share with you on my blog today, and the first up is this...

Pets in Space® 4
Cover Reveal!


We all love it! How about you?

So let me give you a little sneak peek at what's coming...

Pets in Space® 4 features thirteen stories by award-winning and bestselling authors. Here's just a taste of what you'll get in this amazing collection!



Yes, we're once again supporting our favorite cause--Hero-Dogs! Ten percent of the first month's profits will once again go to this amazing organization who raises, trains and places service dogs with those who have served their country and community-- disabled US veterans and first responders.

What has that added up to? A total of $7,100 in donations to this wonderful organization to date!

We hope to push our total donations WAY up this year!

You can help by purchasing a copy of Pets in Space® 4 on pre-order now or when it is newly released on October 8, 2019. Here's the link to all preorder sites:


Want more scoop on all the stories in written form? Here you go...

MADAS' FALLING STAR 
Lords of Kassis Series 
by S.E. Smith 
Even an incredibly skillful warrior Princess needs help sometimes. Can Madas trust the strange warrior who fell from the sky with her life… and with her heart?

DARK GUARD
Galactic Gladiators: House of Rone Series
By Anna Hackett
A cyborg who's vowed to keep his emotions and lethal powers leashed, discovers the one woman who can bring him to his knees.

ENTWINED FATES
The Infinite City Series
By Tiffany Roberts
Being separated by time and distance does not lessen the love Volcair has for the woman who captured his heart.

STAR CRUISE: IDOL’S CURSE
The Sectors SF Romance Series
By Veronica Scott
Two crew members of an interstellar luxury liner must join forces with a retired military canine to find a missing relic before the curse brings disaster for everyone.

CYBORG'S REVENGE
Project Enterprise Series
By Pauline Baird Jones
Can two almost human geeks find love while they fight against their old Master?

SPYDOG 
The Inherited Stars Series
By Laurie A. Green
An agent must decide if he can trust the savvy female Rathskian warrior that crosses his path or if he should deliver her to his superiors.

NOTHING REMOTELY FAMILIAR
My Crazy Alien Romance Series
By Donna McDonald
Nothing is normal when Topper finds herself expecting again.

DOOM
Xian Warriors Series
By Regine Abel
A genetically engineered war machine finds love with the human doctor who may be his only chance of survival.

WINTER'S PRINCE
Starways Series
By Alexis Glynn
A scientist looking for a genetically engineered unicorn and a historian seeking the right question find each other in an interstellar amusement park full of dangerous games.

HEART OF THE SPIDER'S WEB
TriSystems: Smugglers Series
By JC Hay
The last thing Sheri needs is a brooding, brawny smuggler watching her every move, but his help is all that stands between her and a crime lord's wrath.

THE PRINCESS AND HER BODYGUARD
Alien Animal Rescues Series
By E.D. Walker
A kidnapped princess and her bird companion must rely on the exiled guard who loves her to help them.

INTERRUPTING STARLIGHT
After The Fall Series
By Kyndra Hatch
The human composed a song in his heart, a pull he couldn’t ignore, a draw that demanded further exploration.

IMPORT QUARANTINE
The Department of Homeworld Security Series
By Cassandra Chandler
A simple house call to care for a sick animal turns a young woman’s life upside down when she discovers the ‘house’ is really a spaceship!

You're in for many, many hours of great reading!

In fact, Pets in Space® 4 is almost 1,500 pages of science fiction romance entertainment! Fifteen hundred pages! That's like FIVE full-length novels! And you get it all for $5.99...the price of a coffee!..plus helping the amazing Hero-Dogs to boot! What's not to like, right?

This anthology wouldn't be what it is without those adorable, wascawy, intelligent and unique pets, so now it's time to meet the "all-star pet cast" of  Pets in Space® 4! 


Psssst! That's my Maura in the lower left. Her story is my third StarDog tale, and Maura may be the most resourceful little sidekick to date because she's a SpyDog--a genetically engineered StarDog upgrade created especially to serve as a partner for a deep-cover agent. She and her handler are about to embark on an adventure of galaxy-altering...not to mention heart-melting...proportions.

So are you as excited as we are? Can't wait to read more? 



Then be sure to grab your #FREE Pets in Space® 4 Sampler in the meantime. It features stories, excerpts, teasers and original artwork from the authors. But hurry! It's only available for a limited time!

(Only available until October 7th)

And to follow all the news about Pets in Space® 4 you can follow the Pets in Space® Readers Group on Facebook or sign up for the newletter.

Edited 11:50 AM 8/2019 to add: 

THANK YOU, READERS 
for helping to give Pets in Space® 4 
such an amazingly successful pre-order launch. 
We're over the moon! 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805 Paid in Kindle Store

HOT NEW RELEASES IN SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE




Enjoy your week!




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.