Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Writing With A Soundtrack

by S.A. Hoag

I generally write while listening to music. It relaxes me, gets a rhythm going, and the words flow. If I'm writing an action scene, I've got Metallica, The Scorpions, AC/DC, Iron Maiden . . . You get the idea. For general writing, there's always the stand-bys of Rush and Journey.

I'm fairly eclectic when it comes to music. My MP3 player has Hugo Montenegro and David Garrett, AC/DC to ZZ Top and lots of 80's music in between. Music has always been my muse. There are a couple Easter Eggs in 'The Vista' that are song references. I snicker and don't really expect anyone else will notice them. That's all right too.

Why music? Why not! Every culture has a love of music; it transcends language barriers. For me, it pulls out emotions and words and lets me put them into thoughts that turn into stories. Sometime I keep them, sometimes I don't. When I'm doing a later edit, I pick out a soundtrack for the particular book. Love songs when the scene is there. Instrumentals for other parts, loud guitars for fights and conflicts. 'I'll Follow You' by Shinedown was on repeat for quite a time when I edited the ending of book 1.

Pick something that fits and go with it. I'm not trying to advertise any particular music, just music. Many of you are way ahead of me on the publishing side and probably already knew this. Another thing that helps? Find new music. I'd never heard Shinedown but that song stuck, that was the one I needed for the scene.

Close your eyes and just listen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

  Blurb - The Vista by S. A. Hoag

Team Three has a secret, one they think they've kept from all but a select few colleagues. They couldn't be more wrong.

Allen, MacKenzie and Wade are Vista Security's top officers, part of the first generation post-World War 3. They've trained all their lives to survive and thrive in a cold, hostile world. Their secret - they believe they are genetically enhanced and are unquestionably connected psychically. Hidden away in an enclave in the Rocky Mountains, they're also at the forefront of the movement to see what's left of the outside world. Not everyone in The Vista is as eager to venture forth.

As they attempt to learn the truth, their mere presence makes them targets of a vicious renegade with the means to destroy everything they know. Facing exile or worse, Team Three has short time to figure out who is enemy, who is friend and how to save their home and themselves.

The Vista: Book 1 of The Wildblood series takes place in the near-future where the Earth has been nearly emptied of human beings by a short and devastating world war. Venturing beyond the safety of their valley may be the best move Security has ever made; it's absolutely the most dangerous.



S. A. Hoag is an author, lapidary artist, very amateur astronomer ("I just look at the stars, I can't name 'em."), and accidental desert-dweller. Born in the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, more specifically Salida, she has lived in a number of cities in a number of states before crash-landing in the New Mexico desert. Not Roswell, however. Science Fiction has always been her first interest in reading and writing; many other genres sneak into the novels and that's alright with her.

Where to find her -

S. A. Hoag, Author Website:


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are solely that of the author and not that of the SFR Brigade.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Defying the Odds and the Tradition of Odysseus by @LianaBrooks #scifi

Written in the Tradition of Odysseus – and – Women Who Are More Than Pretty

Several years ago I sat down to explore an idea. At the time I had no intention of publishing the book. I wasn't sure I could even finish a novel. It was the idea that compelled me; the question of what it would be like to investigate a murder of someone who looks just like you. What would it be like if an investigator was the subject of a serial killer's obsession?
I explored the idea, and because I wasn't thinking about marketing or genre expectations I made the heroine mixed race. I gave her dark skin, an optimistic outlook, a trusting nature, and an aversion to guns.
When I finished the book I realized I'd written a marketing failure. Sci-fi, sci-fi romance, and urban fantasy all have a strong tradition of physically strong female characters. It's rare for any book in these genres to have a character in the tradition of Odysseus, let alone a female character. Women carry guns and swords. They go toe to toe with the big bad, rescue their own d*** selves, and don't need a man's help to save the day.
My heroine, Sam Rose, was after the tradition of Odysseus, a thinker and a strategist.
When the book opens she's a trusting young woman working to build a career at the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation after a serious family incident almost derailed everything. She's fighting to keep her dream alive, but she's doing it politely, efficiently, and poorly because she's fumbling along the best she can. She's a young, naïve, sweet girl.
And that's what made THE DAY BEFORE a nerve-wracking book to share.
The romance subplot was much more subtle than in my other books, and the heroine much quieter than the other women I've written. I worried that no one would see the strength her silence enveloped. That no one would understand that while a sword-wielding woman was fascinating, one who could sit in silence and gain control was equally worthy of attention. Sam doesn't have flash. She isn't a character with bells and whistles attached. No magic swords, fast ships, swanky genetic engineering, or prophecies attached.
In fact, Sam is frighteningly average. She's your neighbor, your co-worker, your girlfriend... she's the kind of person dismissed every single day because she does her job without complaint.
I sent the first query for Sam's story out the same day I started writing another series. This time the heroine had magic and a sword. This time I was going to write a "proper" SFR/UF heroine. Someone who I could build a career on because I was certain THE DAY BEFORE would never get published.
But Sam's story sold.
Against all odds, a mixed race POC woman is the lead character in a sci-fi thriller. Because there is more than one kind of strong.
I love women with guns who kick butt and take names. Undoubtedly I will write many more books with women like that. But for women to gain equality in the genres we have to let women be more than physically strong. We need nurturers, leaders, thinkers, cowards, bakers, and dog walkers. We need women in fiction who represent every woman who may ever read a book.
We need women who are more than pretty.
I am so excited that this week you finally get to meet Sam Rose. The girl next door who is so much more than she thinks she is.


A body is found in the Alabama wilderness. The question is:
Is it a human corpse … or is it just a piece of discarded property?

Agent Samantha Rose has been exiled to a backwater assignment for the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, a death knell for her career. But then Sam catches a break—a murder—that could give her the boost she needs to get her life back on track. There's a snag, though: the body is a clone, and technically that means it's not a homicide. And yet, something about the body raises questions, not only for her, but for coroner Linsey Mackenzie.

The more they dig, the more they realize nothing about this case is what it seems … and for Sam, nothing about Mac is what it seems, either.

This case might be the way out for her, but that way could be in a bodybag.

A thrilling new mystery from Liana Brooks, The Day Before will have you looking over your shoulder and questioning what it means to be human.



Liana Brooks once read the book GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett and noted that both their biographies invited readers to send money (or banana daiquiris). That seems to have worked well for them. Liana prefers strawberry daiquiris (virgin!) and will never say no to large amounts of cash in unmarked bills. 
Her books are sweet and humorous with just enough edge to keep you reading past your bedtime. 
Liana was born in San Diego after bouncing around the country she's settled (temporarily) in the great wilderness of Alaska. She can be found on Twitter (@LianaBrooks), on FaceBook, and on the web at

Liana Brooks

Coming April 28th, 2015

Available for Pre-Order

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SFRB Recommends 38: Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake #sfrom #scifi #romance #ebook

This recommendation comes from Rachel Leigh Smith.

Skulking around in the ruins on a planet swarming with treasure hunters, slavers, and bounty hunters isn’t good for one’s health. But Ankari Markovich needs a few archaeological samples for her latest business venture, a venture that might prove lucrative enough to move her family off the impoverished planet where she grew up. Unfortunately, she has no sooner collected her samples than she’s captured by a band of brawny mercenaries. The captain might be handsome, but he’s intent on turning her over to some finance lord who has, for reasons unknown, put a bounty on her head, a ridiculously large one at that. If she can’t figure out a way to escape before she’s delivered to the lord’s home world, she could be forced into a life of indentured servitude—or worse.

Captain Viktor Mandrake doesn’t usually take on piddling bounty hunting gigs, but when his intelligence officer informs him of a criminal on a nearby planet, he decides it wouldn’t hurt to take a shuttle down to collect the woman. But Ankari Markovich is trouble from the start, nearly eluding his elite forces, then fighting and tricking his people left and right. He finds himself admiring her spirit, but according to her warrant, she’s a criminal. The safest thing is to keep her in the brig and ignore her until she can be handed off to the man who wants her.

But the situation grows more complicated when other bounty hunters show up, wanting to claim Ankari for themselves. Thanks to this woman, Viktor’s ship is in danger, his crew members are going missing, and he’s fighting enemies he never asked for in a jungle in the middle of a hurricane. He’s either going to strangle Ankari… or fall in love. Either scenario could get him killed.

Mercenary Instinct is a full-length, stand-alone novel of 90,000 words. It is part of the “Mandrake Company” series of science fiction romance stories and is recommended for readers who enjoy space-based adventure (such as Firefly) and steamy love stories (in the style of Linnea Sinclair).

The characters are well balanced. The hero was alpha without being a dick about it, and the heroine was capable and competent and participated in her own saving, without being a bitch about anything.

It's an engaging universe, and one I look forward to exploring in the rest of the series.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Take That Anti-Hero for a Fall

by Cathryn Cade

Some heroes are loveable right from the start, aren’t they? Stand-up guys who give their money to the local church instead of the bars, bring flowers to their sweetheart every Saturday night, love her cat and chew each bite twenty times before swallowing.

Yeah, I really don’t write those kind of heroes. Mine are more the kind that need to be tamed—by a heroine with a spine of iridium. Doesn’t hurt if she knows some fighting moves, too.

My SFR space opera heroes are as wild as the galaxy, barely tamable … even if they’re one of the wealthiest guys in that galaxy.

Logan Stark has been described as an ‘alpha-hole’, unsympathetic, aggravating and … well, you get the picture. He’s my SFR hero that readers love to hate.

And that’s okay! Because I wrote him that way. Yep, you read that correctly.

Stark is an Anti-Hero—one who can only be redeemed by suffering. And the more arrogant the man, the harder the fall.

In Book 1 of The LodeStar Series, ‘Stark Pleasure’, Logan Stark is a self-made man, a magnate not only of his world, but with businesses spread on civilized planets across the galaxy. When he meets Kiri te Nawa, he quickly decides she’ll be the next lovely woman to grace his bed. And he gets her there, because that’s how it works in his world. Did I mention he’s suave and sex on a stick?

But she doesn’t stay in her satin-lined boudoir. Because like any self-respecting heroine with a spine, she won’t put up with a man who thinks he always knows what’s best not only for himself, but for everyone in his sphere. She sets off to make her own way in the galaxy—and nearly loses her life in the process!

In Books 2 & 3, Creed of Pleasure and Captive of Pleasure, the space magnate manipulates both his younger brothers in turn into romantic relationships, setting off some mighty fun adventures in space. They get their ladies, but are not very happy with Big Bro.

And Kiri, who was teetering on the verge of coming back to him, decides she can’t watch him treat other people like pieces on a holodice board. He nearly loses his relationship with his brothers, and he does lose the woman he wants.

But notice I didn’t say ‘the woman he loves’. Oh, no. Because that would entail Stark admitting he needs this vulnerability-inducing emotion just as everyone else does. And he’s above all that.

Muwahahaha … evil author laugh. Love is the most powerful force in the Cade-iverse.

But we’ve got some work to do. Before he can have his HEA, this guy Stark must be made appreciative and deserving of love. And frankly, readers, you and I both want him to earn it the hard way. This arrogant alpha needs to lose everything to learn his lesson.

He’ll be burned to purity in the crucible of one of the most dangerous places in the galaxy—the slums of the city of his birth. Served with adversity that balances his arrogance.

Now watch as I flick my fingers and cause this titan of space travel to fall from his mighty perch. And readers, it’s a loooooong way to the bottom.

Stark Surrender; the Space Magnate’s Bride, Bk 4 in The LodeStar Series debuts April 28th

He climbed from the slums of New Seattle to a life of power and wealth ... but now he must survive those cruel streets again, without even his memories to guide him.

Logan Stark has fallen from his throne at the pinnacle of a financial empire spanning the galaxy. He's lost in the filthy, crime-ridden streets of New Seattle, Earth II. Even worse, he has no memory of who he is, or how he got here. But the worst villain in the history of this city knows exactly who he is ... and Mordacity is after Stark.

Kiri te Nawa swore she'd never return to the place where she lost everything. But to help find the man she can't forget, she must put aside her new life on Frontiera and accompany his brothers back to New Seattle. Will they find Stark before he is claimed by the surging darkness in his mind, or by death? 

If you like to watch a good man fall, and then get up again, join me in the world of The LodeStar Series!


Cathryn Cade

Best-selling author of sci fi romance

RT 4.5 Stars and Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK

And sign up for My Newsletter for a chance to win goodies!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are solely that of the author and not of the SFR Brigade.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Character Descriptions – Lessons from Jane Austen

by Aurora Springer

I recommend the novels of Jane Austen for examples of memorable characters and romance stories with long lasting impact. Jane Austen wrote her stories more than 200 years ago, yet they are still read and loved today. Why are her books so readable? One reason is that Jane described ordinary people in ordinary settings. You will not find details of historical dress or mannerisms. In many ways, she was a very modern writer, her works lack the florid, emotional, and lengthy descriptions employed by the Victorian authors.

Her stories were romances, filled with her unique light hearted and caustic wit. Her characters resonate today. Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice” fits the romantic ideal, even among modern young women. He is tall, handsome and wealthy. Many of Jane’s male romantic characters, however, were not wealthy landowners, tall or handsome. Several were clergymen of modest means. In “Sense and Sensibility,” Edward Ferrars rejected his wealthy inheritance when he refused to marry the woman his mother chose. He followed his principles, even though he could not wed Elinor, the woman he loved, because he was engaged to an inferior woman due to a youthful infatuation. A love triangle! The male leads in Jane’s stories demonstrate heroism by doing what is right, despite the personal disadvantages.

How did Jane Austen create her memorable characters? Her stories rely on dialogue with little action. She gives minimal physical description. Instead, she describes distinct personalities that we recognize from our everyday lives. Her descriptions are pithy; she can define a character in a single, eloquent sentence.

Here is her first description of Mr. Darcy at a ball: “Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance of his having ten thousand a year.” A billionaire romance! But, Jane has set him up for a rapid fall: “…he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity…” Even his ten thousand does not save him.

In contrast, look at Edward Ferrars in “Sense and Sensibility”: “He was not handsome, and his manner required intimacy to make them pleasing.” In fact, he is shy and awkward, and possibly the least likeable love interest in Jane Austen’s stories.

If we follow the example of Jane Austen, we should emphasize the personality of our characters and minimize the physical details. Cattell’s 16 factors may inspire ideas -( Of course, in science fiction, we often need detailed descriptions for aliens or other worlds. The great advantage of emulating Jane Austen is that much of the narrative falls into place once the personality of the character crystallizes in your mind. You can imagine how they will react to other characters and the conflicts in the story. I love that moment of insight when I can begin to compose the scenes of the book.

Aurora Springer’s latest release is GRAND MASTER’S PAWN.


A thousand years in the future, wars and portal failures disturb the fringes of the galaxy. On Terra, twenty-two year old Violet Hunter seems an ordinary student of the Space Academy, who dreams of exploring unknown planets. She applies to serve as the pawn of one of the twelve Grand Masters, although her hidden talent of empathy makes her ineligible. Violet has defied the prohibition against psychics for half her life. Why should she stop now?

Isolation is the penalty for a Grand Master’s great power because their touch is deadly to a normal person. The Grand Master with the griffin avatar selected the girl with the star-shaped birthmark in spite of her father’s dire prophesy. He is suspicious about his disobedient pawn, yet he cannot deny the success of her missions to strange planets where she finds more than he expected.

Violet seeks the truth about the mysterious Grand Masters. Who or what are they? Do they threaten or benefit civilization? While searching for answers, Violet does the unthinkable. She makes a bargain with her obnoxious Grand Master and challenges him to meet her face to face, risking her secret to discover his purpose. She plunges into an impossible love and a world of intrigues. She needs all her new powers and allies to survive the vicious conflicts and save her newfound love.


Aurora Springer spent her career in science describing new discoveries in research articles. In 2014, morphing from scientific research into fiction, she achieved her life-long ambition to publish her stories. Her works are character-driven romances set in weird worlds of science fiction and fantasy with a sprinkle of humor. She was born in the UK and lives in Atlanta with her husband, a dog and two cats to sit on the laptop. Her hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.

Media links:


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this guest post are solely that of the author and not of the SFR Brigade.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Call To SFR Brigade Members - Upcoming Summer Event

***UPCOMING PROMO OPP!***Brigade Members ONLY!***
Hello Brigaders!

The long term members here will be familiar with our annual Midsummer blog hop, which has run for the past three years with moderate success. However, it has been decided not to run it this year. I know that may come as a shock and a disappointment to many, but we felt that for many reasons, the Midsummer blog hop had become somewhat redundant. With Corinne's hop running this April, the SFR Brigade House Party in March, the issues with rafflecopter last year and Facebook's new policy on forbidding Page Likes as a rafflecopter entry, and some unhappiness last year with the restrictiveness of a single overall theme that some felt left them out of participation, we decided it was time for a change. And time for something bigger and hopefully better!
We'd like to introduce you to the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - a six week event starting in June and featuring a sizzling smorgasbord of science fiction romance!
How's it going to work? Well, each of the six weeks will have its own theme (see, we want ALL of you to have a chance to get involved). The themes will be:
  • Space Opera
  • Dystopia
  • All the Punk (any kind of punk including steam, deco, bio, cyber, diesel...if you can punk it, it's in!) 
  • Weird Science (this can include any kind of weird science - zombies, superheroes, advance/enhanced humans, biological experiments, Frankenstein's Monster type stories - if it's science and it's freaky, it's in!)
  • Androids and Aliens (any and all kinds of artificial beings from biomechanical to cyborgs to full machine, plus any kind of alien you have)
  • Supernova Hot (our erotica selection - the hotter it is the better!)

Each week will have a 'Menu' posted on the Brigade blog and the SFR Station with each participant for that week listed as a Starter, Main Course or Dessert (we'd like to feature shorts/novellas for the starter, novellas/novels as mains, and sweeter romances for dessert, but that's just a suggestion).
You'll be required to have a post up in good time for the start of that week (every Monday). We'd love for you to include a recipe to tie in with your book/story/post etc (a food, a drink, or even on the theme of a recipe for love or for disaster etc) but it isn't required. You don't have to have a giveaway on your own post either but we do ask you to contribute to the weekly prize basket which will be on the same theme as that week's menu (ebooks and Kindle only gift cards (or B&N and ARe GCs) are prefered for international entries, but if you want to give away physical swag we will ask you to be responsible for sending it to the winner). Winners for each week will be chosen and posted over the weekend.
You will also need to include links to the other blogs (or back to the Brigade blog post), the rafflecopter for the weekly prize, the Cafe button or banner (to come), and your post. You can ask visitors to do whatever you like to qualify for a prize on your own blog, but please be reasonable. You may ask visitors to sign up to your newsletter or follow your blog or an option of your choice in return for a donation to the main prize basket (it will be made part of the rafflecopter).
There will be separate inlinkz for each theme, but the initial sign up will be via Google doc so that the details for your book, giveaway etc can be included. Any theme receiving less than three entries will be removed from the options. We've tried to make the themes as open as possible, and so that if you don't get into your top category (we have a limit on entry numbers) then hopefully you can fit into one of the others.
PLEASE NOTE: This event is for members of the SFR Brigade ONLY! Please don't share the sign up outside of the Brigade. Also, you may only sign up for ONE post during the event unless we are short of numbers for a specific category, at which point we will open it up to further entries.
Any questions, please ask in the comments, PM me via Facebook as Pippa Jay (I do check my Other message folder regularly) or use the email sfrbrigadebloghop at gmail dot com
The sign up doc is here>>

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