Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Future Morals & Rules of Decorum by Pippa Jay

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay - author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. When you choose a female demon notorious for seducing men in order to steal their health - even their life - as a template for your heroine, the idea of her having any kind of morality doesn't seem logical. Especially when you then make her a genetically-enhanced assassin whose method of dispatch is to kill those she seduces.



From Wikipedia - “Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good or right and those that are bad, evil or wrong.”

One of the things I wanted to explore with my scifi romance Tethered was the question of morality. Specifically, sex and physical relationships between two fundamentally opposing future societies, despite them sharing a common ancestry. With rape culture, the questioning of the exact definition of consent, and the persistence in victim blaming and shaming an everyday occurrence in our modern society, you have to wonder about current day morality, and if it will ever get any better.

When I first began the story, all I had was the idea of using a supernatural being, a succubus. Since a succubus is a man-seducing demon, it followed that she wouldn't have the same morality as we'd recognize it, perhaps. What's more, I made my succubus heroine an assassin, one who kills through sex, so at least her targets are unresisting and 'die in ecstasy'. (there might also be a little Xenia Onatopp from GoldenEye, James Bond - in Tyree's inspirational make-up)

In Tethered, the central characters express two very differing views on sexual morality and physical relationships/boundaries between partners. For Tyree, it's almost impossible for her to have any hang ups or morals when it comes to sex. By her very nature, she considers it such an essential part of her being that she doesn't believe she can behave in any other way, and sees nothing wrong in it. Tyree actually revels in her ability to seduce her victims and make them die in ecstasy. It's not just what she does, it's all about what she is. And since all her race are clones, there’s no need for sex for procreation, though sometimes it’s done for sheer release among their own kind. To the Inc-Su (Tyree’s people), love is a weird, weak thing that only humans suffer from.

Zander, by contrast, is human. In this futuristic society, most humans follow a set of guidelines known as the Rules of Decorum. It governs how they dress, how they present themselves, and even how they enter relationships: particularly the sexual side. For one thing, there's no rape. Consent must formally be given by both sides before even kisses or touches are exchanged. Anything else is not permitted, and certainly not tolerated. Even though formerly married to a flawed Inc-Su, Zander still adheres to the human formalities and expresses his concerns over Inc-Su morality.

The Rules of Decorum confuse Tyree, and are something she’s aware of as a human foible, but she’s oblivious to the finer details. When she seduces Zander – not to kill, for once, but with the pure intention of giving both of them what they need – release from all the stress and frustrations they've been under, she doesn’t understand his guilt at not following the Rules and doesn’t even realize that she’s broken them. I had one reviewer comment that it skirted too close to dubious consent (not a trope I like myself, but part of the point of the story is about how consent between individuals in two very different societies might be approached in relationships like this), but just as there is no rape in human society because consent must be given, rape is an alien idea to Tyree as well. It simply doesn't happen among her own kind, and no human would dare try, let alone be physically able, to force an Inc-Su into sex. After all, who's going to tackle a being legendary for killing in such a way? Then again, what person is going to be able to say no? Tyree does have an advantage in being able to control her pheromones to attract humans, so I guess that could be seen as drugging her victims.

The conflict and contrast between this aspect of their two societies (and more, but that's the main one that causes them difficulty) is central to their relationship. We see the entire story through Tyree's eyes – her confusion, her attempts to understand her human charge, and the frequent misunderstandings as both try to find a meeting point between their two cultures, or at least some common ground to which to start from.

By the end of the story, Tyree is still an Inc-Su assassin at heart. The mutual respect she and Zander develop enables them to find a compromise and establish a relationship beyond human versus Inc-Su, assassin vs diplomat. Having been crippled by grief, Zander learns to love again. By coming close to losing him and from him challenging her to see things from differing viewpoints, Tyree learns that even a succubi-style assassin can fall in love, and that it’s not a weakness after all.
***

About the book:

She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?


EXCERPT |  GOODREADS
Available at... Breathless Press |
Smashwords | AReBookstrand

AmazonB&N

Tethered will be releasing in print on the 24th March!

About the author:

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the EPIC eBook awards, and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

Blogs –
Adventures in Scifi - http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk
Spacefreighters Lounge - http://www.spacefreighters.blogspot.com




Thursday, February 26, 2015

SFRB Recommends 34: Aurora Rising by G.S. Jennsen #scifi #romance #sfrom

This week's recommendation comes to you from Sabine Priestley.

BOOKS: Starshine and Vertigo, books one and two in the Aurora Rising series.  

AURORA RISING is an epic tale of galaxy-spanning adventure, of the thrill of discovery and the unquenchable desire to reach ever farther into the unknown. It's a tale of humanity at its best and worst, of love and loss, of fear and heroism. It's the story of a woman who sought the stars and found more than anyone imagined possible. 

I fell hard and fast for these books and can’t wait for the third to come out. Jensen is brilliant in her use of technology. Alex and Caleb both had me early on. Jennsen uses deep description on nearly every page which can drag at times, but her story telling is riveting enough to more than make up for any lag. When the heat shows up between our MCs it comes hard, fast, and oh so delicious. These books have a little bit (or a lot) of everything. Warring factions, romance between enemies, aliens attacking the human race, f-ing portals (I love portals), love, lust, betrayal and redemption. There are even dragons, but I’m not saying when or where. The list goes on. I highly recommend the Aurora Rising series.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"HEARTH AND HOME" SFR: EARTH AS ANCHOR FOR A WIDER UNIVERSE


Look familiar? Think again.

One of the most exciting things about writing science fiction romance is the broad, unbounded field on which we can play.  As SFR writers we can--and do—travel to other planets, visit neighboring galaxies, live among alien cultures, have friends and enemies in alternate universes, in the past, in the future.

So why would anyone stay home?  That is, why would anyone write a science fiction romance set on Earth, here and now?

My science fiction suspense romance Unchained Memory, just out from INK’d Press, is such a story, set (mostly) on the Earth of today, an environment familiar to any reader who picks up the book. The book has no steampunk past, no dystopian future, no tentacle love, no battlestars.

But very quickly, my human hero and heroine discover the world they live in is not as benign as it seems. They are forced to recognize that the stuff of science fiction nightmare—alien abduction, mind control, interstellar slavery—is a very real part of the world they thought they knew.  They have to adjust their world view to include this new perception.  And so do my readers.

Like any SFR story, Unchained Memory opens the door to a new universe and asks readers to leave their current beliefs about things as they are at the doorstep. The Earth of my novel is at the center of a hidden battle between an interstellar slave-trading empire and the organization of abolitionists dedicated to fighting that empire. This is the universe of my Interstellar Rescue series, about the brave (and sexy!) men and women, some of them human, some of them not, who defend the Earth from those who would exploit it.  

In creating my universe I had to determine all of the same things other SFR writers do—how do we travel among the stars, what kind of economic and cultural circumstances would allow for the slave-trading Minertsan Consortium, what other alien races might we encounter, what would the mining or agricultural planets look like, and so on. Once that worldbuilding was accomplished, I could set my stories anywhere within the universe. I chose to begin on Earth, closest to home, before I set my readers off into their new, expanded cosmos.

It doesn’t take long before the readers of Unchained Memory are asked to buy into the basic assumptions of the Interstellar Rescue universe. What happens to my heroine, Asia Burdette—and what she uncovers with her hero, Ethan Roberts—challenges all her old assumptions about the world and replaces them with features of the new one. This revelation is not only an explanation for Asia and Ethan, it’s also an introduction to the vast, unexplored universe of the series.

Of course, I can’t say too much about how I do this in the book. I will say in future books in the series (Book Two, Trouble in Mind, launches in Fall, 2015; Book Three, Fools Rush In, in early 2016) we’ll spend more time off-planet, taking a close-up look at the villainous, slave-trading Grays and even engaging in a few space battles!

All the while, defending “hearth and home”, fighting the threat to Earth and to innocent victims of the Grays everywhere, will be a recurring theme.


Donna S. Frelick was an RWA® Golden Heart® Double Finalist in 2012 in the Paranormal category for the first two novels in her SFR Interstellar Rescue series. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and two talkative cats.  Find her at http://donnasfrelick.com; blogging at http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com; and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DonnaSFrelickAuthor.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

There's something to be said for series


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I love reading series. For me, it's all about the world building. As the books progress it's so easy to put yourself back there in that world with those people. An excellent example is Anne McCaffrey's wonderful Pern series. In our SFR patch I like Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five books. There's a gritty realism about that boondocks space station. As you learn more and more about the place you can imagine it growing from a service dock for space ships, to a freighter terminal to a way point for travellers to a sleazy hell-hole offering all the attractions and distractions three different humanoid alien species could possibly wish for.

When I read the author's descriptions of Dock Five I always think of Singapore back in the old days when it was the very epitome of a den of iniquity. Strategically positioned at the end of the Malayan Peninsula, this island city was a port city receiving trade from Europe going to China, and vice versa. It attracted honest traders, not so honest traders, and all the people offering services to sailors. Food, prostitutes, arms, drugs, smuggled goods, and maintenance and repair for ships. And it was a place where people didn't ask too many questions. 

Put old Singapore into space and you've got Dock Five. You've still got the dank alleyways, seeping sewage, creaking roofs, dark and dangerous bars. Just different, because the sewage flows through corroded pipes and there are escalators with treads missing if they work at all. The alleys are metal canyons between cobbled-together modules. And little dives catering for all kinds can be found everywhere.

So if anyone ends up at Dock Five, you know what they're in for.

The space station plays an important role in all the books. But having once established place, an author can then start to add characters. The main characters in the first two Dock Five books (Gabriel's Ghost and Shades of Dark) were Sullivan and Sass, but they get no more than a mention in the next two books. The author took a minor character from those two stories and wrote a whole book about him. Hope's Folly follows the fortunes of Sass's ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, who we met in GG and SoD. And then the next book (Rebels and Lovers) tells the story of Philip's younger brother, the seriously geeky Devin Guthrie. While Dock Five is just the starting point for HF, it's a vital component of RaL, where you hear every creak and rattle of the antiquated piping, smell the smells, and watch your footing on the stairs.

I've done a similar thing in my PtorixEmpire series, keeping the setting (a universe where the alien Ptorix are the main players) and adding characters. Senior Commander Brett Butcher played a minor role in the first two books, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and The Iron Admiral: Deception. Now he stars in his very own book, Crisis at Validor, where readers will get to learn a lot more about the alien Ptorix who play a major role in all four books.

Do you have a favourite series? Tell us about it and why it's a favourite.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

INHERIT THE STARS Debuts Today! (With Giveaway)

Author Laurie A. Green
Today marks the launch of INHERIT THE STARS, an award-winning Science Fiction Romance novel set 1,500 years in the future. This is the debut novel for author Laurie A. Green, though a novelette in the same series, FAREWELL ANDROMEDA, was released in January.

Under former title "P2PC" this novel:
  • Finaled in the 2011 RWA(C) Golden Heart Awards--Paranormal
  • Won the 2009 SouthWest Writers Competition--Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror division
  • Won the 2009 Utah RWA(C) Heart of the West Contest--Paranormal category
Because the novel weighs in at a whopping 113,000 words, it was divided into three parts, each with a distinct cover, to make it a more manageable read. Each section of the story is well over a hundred pages in length.




PART I: FLIGHT
To escape the merciless Ithian Alliance, Sair, a fugitive slave, makes a desperate deal with Drea Mennelsohn, captain of the prototype ship, Specter. But putting his life in the hands of a woman as mysterious as she is beguiling could turn out to be the biggest mistake of his life, especially when the price on his head begins to escalate.  Click to view INHERIT THE STARS PART I: FLIGHT
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PART II: THE NETWORK
The daring captain seems to want far more from Sair than just payment for his passage. Though neither can deny the sizzling chemistry and growing bond between them, Sair must soon make an agonizing decision: maintain his own longed-for freedom or become a helpless pawn in an intergalactic coup against a ruthless superpower.  Available March 1st. Click to view INHERIT THE STARS PART II: THE NETWORK
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PART III: SACRIFICE
As the truth behind Sair’s place in the galaxy and Drea’s unique existence are revealed, it becomes clear that they are vital to the success of the coup. But their part in ending the Ithian Alliance may come at a terrible price for Sair: the loss of the remarkable woman he has fallen in love with-and their chance to inherit the stars.  Available March 1st. Click to view INHERIT THE STARS PART III: SACRIFICE
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INHERIT THE STARS is told entirely through the hero's POV, as highlighted in the earlier blog SFR with a Twist. The heat level is "Steamy" or mid-point between "Sweet" and "Erotica."

The story has ties--some obvious and some much more subtle--to FAREWELL ANDROMEDA

The novelette takes place some 200 years (called “calendars” in this universe) later and carries hints about what happened in the two centuries separating the stories.

INHERIT THE STARS will be released later in 2015 as a complete print novel through Amazon.

To celebrate the debut of INHERIT THE STARS, we'll be giving away three prizes to random commenters on this post who tell us 1) which prize package they prefer and 2) which of the three INHERIT THE STARS covers is their personal favorite. We'll announce the winners next weekend.

PRIZE PACKAGE #1 
INHERIT THE STARS PART I: FLIGHT
INHERIT THE STARS PART II: THE NETWORK 
INHERIT THE STARS PART III: SACRIFICE 
all gifted via Amazon as they become available
Plus a $5 Amazon e-gift certificate

PRIZE PACKAGE #2
INHERIT THE STARS PART I: FLIGHT 
FAREWELL ANDROMEDA
both gifted via Amazon

PRIZE PACKAGE #3
INHERIT THE STARS PART I: FLIGHT
gifted via Amazon
Plus a $5 Amazon e-gift card

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pet Peeves and Faves in Sci-Fi Romance by Mattie Dunman


Recently, I started a discussion on a Goodreads forum asking readers and authors what they loved and hated about SFR, mainly to help me avoid some pitfalls while writing my new book. The responses I got were incredibly illuminating, so I thought I’d share some of what I learned.

When it came to pet peeves, weak and whiny heroines stood out as number one. It comes as no surprise that SFR readers want a leading lady who can hold her own without complaining, whether through her unique abilities or pure grit and determination. There was a caveat: the heroine’s abilities or powers shouldn’t be unlimited or abruptly change. For instance, if she starts out with the ability to read minds, at 75% in the book she can’t suddenly develop the ability to shoot electricity from her eyeballs. So, yeah, readers want an extraordinary heroine, but one with vulnerabilities and realistic growth throughout the story.

Another annoyance was the heroine’s debilitating attraction to the hero. According to the comments, sizzling chemistry is all well and good, but not when the heroine is incapable of running away from a horde of ravening, murderous aliens without also obsessing over the cuteness of her love interest’s butt.

Battered heroines suddenly wanting crazy monkey sex was another issue; if she’s just been beaten, or recovered from a coma, or, most particularly, has been sexually assaulted, readers seem to think she might want to take breather before getting her freak on.

Regarding world-building, readers asked for aliens that look like aliens and believable science without being bashed over the head with excruciating detail. The use of deus ex-machina was universally despised; readers asked for a logical build-up to the climax, and definitely no loose plot threads. Setting up a sequel is all well and good, but there seems to be a distinct antipathy toward cliffhangers and dropped plot points.

So what do readers love? Characters. Almost every comment referred to strong, likable heroines and heroes with a believable connection. 3rd person POV seemed to be popular as well; readers want to hear from both the hero and heroine in equal parts, which I found interesting, since I predominantly write in 1st person.

They loved complex, original worlds that leave room for new stories, kick-ass heroines who don’t wait to be saved, and heroes with alpha tendencies (but aren’t copy-catted Christian Grays).

Finally, the most frequently mentioned comment: good editing. Lots of readers will put the book down if the errors are too frequent; while most said they would give the author’s next book a chance if the typos were at a minimum.

So there you have it...a little market research on SFR. If you’d like to see it for yourself, the link is below. Thanks, and please check out my latest release, Woman of Silk and Stone, available on Amazon and Smashwords!

 
 


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