Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Building Universes by J.A. Kenney

World building is one of the keystones of fiction.

However, in most genres world building starts with research into a real world setting, time, or myth that has inspired the fictional location and characters.

In these genres, the key is to stick close to that common store of knowledge and to define any variations in a way that the reader will accept.

In Science Fiction, there are additional complications.

First: Alien Worlds

Whether it is a far distant future earth or a true alien planet, an alien world is a pure product of the imagination. The geography, plant life, animal life, even the very atmosphere must reflect the fact that it is NOT present day Earth.

The heat of a vast sun beat down from above; the rocks, plants, even the sky had taken on a reddish tone as the expanding star scorched the planet’s surface. The super-giant monster covered a third of the sky, its surface heaving and spitting radiation and plasma into space. (Excerpt from Slivers of Silver )

Second: Alien Creatures

For more detail here see my earlier post for SFR Brigade "Writing Alien Species ".

Third: Alien Technology

Whether, based in an alien or future human society the technology that fills the fictional science fiction universe is all but a character in and of its self.

Current science theorizes a universe where faster than light travel cannot exist, and long distance travel in space is all but impossible.

So, science fiction writers have long chosen to overlook or even break the rules of modern physics in order to create a universe where these things would be possible.

The key to doing so is to create a satisfying technological construct that while it might break the laws of physics does it consistently and in a believable way. 

              "Number three reactor status critical. Catastrophic failure imminent."

...A reactor explosion would destroy engineering and several decks worth of equipment and personnel, while shutting the reactor and connected engine down for maintenance would weaken the already strained energy shielding and flood the ship with deadly radiation. (Excerpt from Dark Silver , Coming December 2014)

Fourth: The Known Universe

While some scientific facts are regularly ignored or altered by science fiction authors, there is one area where I and many other authors try to stay as close to reality as possible. This is the action structure, nature, and appearance of the universe.

Some stretches of current theory are necessary to craft interesting worlds, but such things should be used in moderation and only when necessary.

            The vista visible from the ballroom extended across the horizon, streaks of burning matter flashed past where I stood to join a golden whirlpool decorated by random flashes of light. Trailing streams of superheated gases spiraled in from the nearby star and into a far distant pinhead of black nothingness. (Excerpt from Dark Silver , Coming December 2014)

Building a science fiction universe has unique challenges, but a well-crafted story is its own reward!

Keep Writing! 

J.A. Kenney

An expanded discussion on this subject is available at: http://jakenney.com/2014/07/universe-buildingexpanded-sfr-brigade-post/

Silver Strife is Available Now!


Life . . . Death . . . Rebirth

Quicksilver is an ancient immortal warrior. One of a group of alien beings that were once pure energy, living in the void between galaxies, and who have taken mortal form to influence history.

The Purists, compelled by a zealot prophet, are immortal extremists who will use any means at their disposal to wipe out all mortal life. Qui and her Conservationist brethren have spent millions of years fighting for their survival.

In Silver Strife, Quicksilver has been reincarnated on an Earth devastated by centuries of planet-wide civil war. She awakens in the body of a human Elite named Lini: one of a race of superhumans, bred and trained by a Purist-led government to massacre the remnants of humanity. Quicksilver joins the rebel forces, despite their reluctance to trust a hated Elite, determined to take down the brutal dictatorship that has decimated the human race.

From their first meeting, she is drawn to Captain David Mitchell, the rebel officer who aided her escape from the Elite's gilded cage. Even after swearing to never love again when her last mortal lover was killed saving her life, she finds herself falling for the honorable and driven soldier.

When Quicksilver crosses the path of an immortal ally on a top-secret mission behind enemy lines, a decision is forced upon her. She must choose between the fate of the human rebels, her mortal lover, and fulfilling her Conservationist oath to protect all mortal life.


J.A. Kenney lives in Aurora, Colorado, with a breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains. In the winter, when the sky is clear, and if she stands on her tiptoes in exactly the right spot.

Three cats, a Chihuahua mix who thinks she is a Mastiff, and her beloved husband share her humble abode.

She has been writing since she found out that playing alien witches was more fun than tag. Her stories are a blend of science fiction, fantasy, and romance with strong female protagonists.

When she is not writing she reads voraciously, sings, skis, rides her Harley, and grudgingly assists with home improvement projects.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The SFR Brigade Presents - 7/19-7/24

Looking for a new #scifi #romance read? Why not check out this week's round of snippets for The SFR Brigade Presents.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SFRB Recommends #18: Starheart by Greta van der Rol #scifi #romance #spaceopera

Starheart by Greta van der Rol

Book Description

Freighter Captain Jess Sondijk thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson's Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband's death during an official boarding wasn't accidental?

Hudson has his own questions. Who in the Confederacy is trading with the Ptorix? And what price is high enough to pay for starhearts, the prized jewels the aliens call the windows of the soul?

Jess and Hudson's interests collide in more ways than one as they follow a shadowy trail of deceit and corruption in search of the truth. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what's hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed.


It took me a while to get around to reading this book after I bought it on Amazon. Let me tell you one thing: don't do it. You buy it, you read it. It's that good.

A real page-turner, I really struggled to put this book down. The world-building is excellent, with just a snippet here or there that reveals more of the setting as one gets deeper into the book. The characters are vivid and well-rounded, and there's plenty in here to keep you guessing about... well, a lot.

Overall, an excellent read, and highly recommended.

Find it on Goodreads HERE.
Find it on Amazon US HERE.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pinterest and Cover Art

Releasing September 12th!
I've been involved in various writer's groups for almost eight years now. When Pinterest debuted there was a lot of chatter about how authors can use it to reach readers. I'm still not sure reaching new readers via Pinterest is a valid strategy for an author, but I have found uses for it.

Originally I wrote historical romance, and I've always had a thing for 19th century clothing. I have nine boards of historical fashion, all but one of them for the 19th century.

When I started writing SFR in 2012 I knew I was creating a world I needed visuals for. Once I knew what Lok'ma looked like I spent a couple hours hunting through Google Images and various photo sites looking for landscape shots that matched my vision of the planet.

As Pinterest evolved and I watched more of my writing friends sign their first contracts, those who had jumped on Pinterest had an advantage in one important area. Cover art. They had boards to go with their manuscripts so the art department could see what the writer sees.

Last month it was my turn to do cover art. I found a graphic artist I like and started talking with her about what I wanted my cover to be. It's inspired by a pre-made she had on her site that I liked the composition of. I sent her the link to the My Name Is A'yen Pinterest board so she'd know how I envision the planet the story takes place on. And you know what?

SHE NAILED IT! Pinterest helped give me the cover of my dreams.

Each book in A'yen's Legacy has a Pinterest board, with how I see the characters, important items and places, and the marking patterns that are a crucial part of the experience. You can follow me if you like.

Will I ever find new readers using Pinterest? Don't know. Don't care. All I care about is I got the cover of my dreams out of it.

Rachel Leigh Smith is a romance writer, a geek, and a Southern belle. She lives in Louisiana with a half-crazed calico named Zoe. When not adding words to an SFR novel she’s reading paranormal romance or crafting while watching some type of SF on TV. Her debut novel, My Name Is A'yen, will be out in September. She also blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com and hangs out on Facebook.

My Name Is A'yen: Releasing September 12, 2014.
They've taken everything from him. Except his name.
The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A'yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master's murder, has sucked the life from him.
Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant. Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and she is determined to prove it. And win A'yen's trust. But she's a breeder's daughter and can't be trusted.
Hidden rooms, information caches and messages from a long-dead king change A'yen's mind about her importance. When she's threatened he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Association's radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his life. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The SFR Brigade Presents - 7/12-7/17

Looking for your next #scifi #romance adventure? Check out this week's round of snippets from the SFR Brigade Pressents!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Science Fiction Romance vs Paranormal Romance: A Comparison by Jody Wallace

First, let me state that I love paranormal romance and SF romance, for both reading and writing. Speculative romance in general (a broad term that incorporates all romances with woowoo content) is my favorite reading material, followed closely by Southern fiction about cranky old ladies, feline narrators, and Sandra Boynton, but we're not here to talk about that. This won't be a "versus" article, as in, which is better or worse, but a straight up comparison.

1) SFR and PNR both contain romances as a primary plot. When the romance plot isn't primary, you're shuffling into the SF/F genre, which is also dandy, but not what I'm comparing today.

2) SFR and PNR both contain non-realistic content (the woo) as a defining element. Sometimes that element is light, such as humans who accidentally summon genies or genetically modified super people. Sometimes the element is a lot more influential. Both methods have their charms.

3) SFR and PNR both increase the odds the book will be about saving the world / high octane adventure instead of slice of life / small-town, character-based plots. (Not that I'd object to SFR and PNR with that type of plot at all! I'd read that.)

4) SFR and PNR both increase the odds of extra-human/alien protagonists and characters. Which increases the odds of a character being the mostest importantest chosen one savior. I would say this is slightly less common (savior-itis) in SFR than in PNR, but still—the world’s gotta be saved, right?

5) SFR and PNR, in my experience, increase the odds the book will include secret organizations, governmental issues, and/or worldwide upheaval. This may go hand in hand with the saving the world element.

6) SFR and PNR also increase the odds that the potential alien-ness of the character(s) will affect the sexxoring. Will the characters mind meld during intercourse? Go into heat? Be virgins because Mars has no women/men? Have supernaturally large...libidos? Require XYZ during their PDQ to get off? Granted, it’s not really possible to include many of these elements in woo-free books, but a high percentage of SFR/PNR rumpy pumpy has...enhancements, shall we say!

What are the differences? When I lay it out like this, it doesn’t seem as though there are that many, does it? Yet PNR is a lot more popular than SFR. Why?

I figure it’s because technology intimidates people, readers and writers alike. Readers may assume SFRs are going to be physics-heavy science lessons, and writers may be daunted by the fact you can’t just maestro your woo element without first studying quantum mechanics. Or something mathy. Granted, there are SFs and SFRs that are tech heavy, but there are also SFs and SFRs that focus more on the characterization and plot.

There are also readers and writers who shy away from the paranormal and prefer a science approach to their woo, though they are smaller in number, based on what books have become popular with a broader slice of the public over the past ten or twenty years. Not movies so much—many blockbusters trend toward comic-book-style SF—but definitely books.

I like all the flavors of SFR and PNR with few exceptions, though I do wish more readers would jump on the SFR bandwagon. I really missed seeing the relationship development of Spock and Uhuru, dammit!

What do you guys see as the similarities and differences between PNR and SFR?

Jody Wallace
Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist of the Apocalypse


He’s no angel…

Gregori’s last mission is to save Earth from the demons threatening to take control. He doesn’t care if he survives as long as he does his best to save a world he believes is worth rescuing despite his superiors’ conventional wisdom to the contrary—until, that is, he meets Adelita, a human refugee, whose spirit and determination give him a renewed reason to fight. And live. He’s falling for her, despite the fact he’s told her nothing but lies and there can’t possibly be a future for them.

Adelita can hardly believe the archangel Gregori, sent to save mankind, has lost his faith and his edge. After he saves her from a demon attack, she vows to help him recover both, by any means necessary. But can she keep her own faith when she learns the truth about who and what Gregori really is?

Latest SFR: ANGELI (during-apocalypse, Earth-based, aliens pretending to be angels, FMI: http://jodywallace.com/books/angeli/)

Website & Blog: http://www.jodywallace.com   

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodywallace       

SFR Brigade Bases of Operation