Saturday, April 19, 2014

The SFR Brigade Presents - 4/19 - 4/24

Looking for your next #scifi #romance read? Check out this week's round of snippets from The SFR Brigade Presents.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Heather Massey Blogs About Steampunk, Gamebooks, and Women in SF&F

I'm cross-posting my latest blogging news from The Galaxy Express:

When it rains, it pours. That's true not only of the weather outside my window, but also three guest posts of mine that all went live today!

Sci-Fi Romance: A New Kind of Hero

At Fantasy Book Cafe, I'm a participant in this year's Women in SF&F month! I'd enjoyed the posts of that event in years past and was delighted when hostess Kristen invited me to contribute an article.

The topic is my love of science fiction romance and how the "...genre has rewritten the hero narrative in order to give female characters leading roles as well as explore love and sex in a science fictional setting."

I presented a number of titles I've enjoyed, and the selection also serves to highlight the sheer variety available in this genre.

Interactive Stories: Past, Present, and Future

Author Ella Drake (DESERT BLADE) kindly provided me with some time at the CONTACT - Infinite Futures podium to blog about gamebooks, a.k.a. "choose your own adventure" type stories.

Given the release of my own interactive science fiction romance DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS (SilkWords), it was a fun chance to delve into the history of interactive stories as well as contemplate how they might evolve in the future.

The Important Contribution of Finnegan H.H. O'Riordan's Sky Pirate: Safe Harbor

My Coffee Time Romance steampunk romance column this month focuses on a charming story called SKY PIRATES: SAFE HARBOR by Finnegan H.H. O'Riordan. The tale includes airships, automaton action, and steampunk inventions, but also a rare level of diversity in steampunk romance. For that contribution, it deserves a commendation.


Monday, April 14, 2014

A Wreck of Titanic Proportions in Outer Space

The sinking of the unsinkable luxury liner Titanic has inspired many a book and movie over the 102 years since ship-met-iceberg, including my own "Wreck of the Nebula Dream."  

Aside from the nonfiction accounts and straightforward romance novels set on Titanic, there have been stories featuring everything from time travel to werewolves.  Even Douglas Adams, he of “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame wrote a comedic treatment with Terry Jones of Monty Python in the last 1990’s, based on a cd-rom game, odd as that may sound. Reading a synopsis of the book on Amazon, however, the work doesn’t seem to have taken much from Titanic but the name.

Certainly there was nothing humorous about the sinking.

Right from the beginning though, what I wanted to write was a serious novel, set in the far future, on a space-going luxury liner. Originally I thought I’d be able to pretty much follow the pattern of what happened to Titanic for my own plot, somewhat changed to reflect the future and the “ocean of space”, versus the Atlantic.

My characters felt otherwise. I’m a very seat-of-the-pants style novelist and almost as soon as I began figuring out who would be aboard and what catastrophes might occur, I could see I was going to be loosely suggesting Titanic. Actually, that was a freeing realization, because in the 1912 sinking so many people lost their lives and there are relatives and descendants worldwide who are still affected by the ripples from the tragedy. I didn’t want to write anything that might reflect back on the real people who sailed on Titanic.

I kept the situation though – a middle of the night disaster, not enough lifeboats, no lifeboat drill, too much speed, new engines, inability to get help in a timely manner, communications issues…and men, women and children in jeopardy. I gave some nods to well known facets of the Titanic, starting my novel with a scene on board the shuttle, where a female passenger creates a fuss, having had a terrifying premonition of the disaster. In 1912 many people had documented premonitions of disaster and foreboding dreams about Titanic, and about 50 actually cancelled their passage.
There’s an entire deck of the Nebula Dream that’s the swimming area, complete with a beach – Titanic had an actual swimming pool, which was considered quite a novelty at the time. I have one rich passenger on my ship searching for her jewels in the damaged hold area, picking up on the theme of the women who tried to retrieve theirs from the Titanic’s purser after the ship struck the iceberg.

Of course, this being science fiction, I threw in some twists and turns abut who or what comes looking for the ship in distress (but no spoilers from me!)….

I’ve always thought it was especially poignant that so many children perished when Titanic sank, so I included Paolo age 8 and Gianna age 3 as two of my characters, representing in my mind all the little ones who didn’t survive in 1912. I made sure my hero Nick,  and every other person in the group, was  devoted to getting the children safely off the Nebula Dream.

Speaking of Nick, when I was thinking about who the hero should be, I asked myself who I’d want there with me if I was in such a perilous situation. A Special Forces soldier sounded about right! Once I figured out why he’d be traveling on such a luxurious vessel, the plot fell into place.  Mara Lyrae,the heroine, is a high powered business executive, who worked her way up from entry level to the heights of intergalactic corporate power, but hasn’t forgotten anything she learned along the way.  She also does not buy into “women and children first” when it comes to herself. She’s in the thick of trying to rescue others. There was at least one business woman on the Titanic, Lady Duff-Gordon for example, who was a well-known fashion designer of her time.

Even I couldn’t ensure that all the passengers survived in the book, any more than everyone survived the Titanic sinking…but there’s a Happily Ever After ending for some people. Because this is a romance after all.

Much as I like writing in seat-of-the-pants style, it soon became apparent I’d better sit down and design my starship, so I’d know which deck had what and could explain to the Readers where Nick and the others were going at any given time. I still have that hand drawn schematic, not that it’s exactly a thing of beauty!  But this was one time I really did have to do the details before the writing.

2013 SFR Galaxy Award and Laurel Wreath Winner

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

Audiobook, narrated by Actor Michael Riffle – Available Now at Amazon and iTunes

Where Readers can find me:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The SFR Brigade Presents - 4/12 - 4/17

Looking for your next #scifi #romance read? Check out this week's round of snippets in The SFR Brigade Presents.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SFRB Recommends #12 #scifi #sfromance #sfr

This week's SFRB Recommends comes to you from Sabine Priestley.

Cosmic Tentacles: A Love Story - by Heather Massey

The distant future. Lydia, a pastry chef working on an elite space station, is looking forward to a scorching sexual encounter with Ricardo, the hot shuttle pilot she'd been lusting after for months. But the appearance of a mysterious asteroid changes everything.When the research group sent to study it loses contact with the station, Ricardo flies a rescue team to the asteroid. Hours later, he returns--as the lone survivor.With the tragedy seemingly behind them, Lydia and Ricardo meet for a date despite regulations forbidding all contact. In a dark room, she discovers Ricardo is more than the man he used to be. Dare she surrender to his raw, otherworldly passion?

This was a fun, fast read. I enjoyed the characters, although we don’t really get to know Ricardo well. It’s wonderfully twisted. You’re going to want to push that Suspension of Disbelief button down hard on this, and just enjoy the ride.

This is for adults only. Adults who like to be filled in every way, and everywhere possible.

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Archetype Is Not A Dirty Word

Courtesy Master isolated images
In September 2012, while at a writer's conference, I had a major light bulb moment. My heroine at the time was giving me fits, and I couldn't nail her down to save my life. Because of that issue, and knowing I always struggle with creating heroines, I decided to do a class all about heroines.

I'd been exposed to the idea of archetypes before and had read some of the Joseph Campbell stuff. But none of his archetypes really stuck with me in a way I felt I could use. While in this class I learned about some I'd never heard before, and everything clicked.

The teacher used archetypes put together by author Tami Cowden. For heroines she has Boss, Seductress, Spunky Kid, Free Spirit, Waif, Librarian, Crusader, and Nurturer, along with examples for each from movies. The class handout included Tami's description for each type. My heroine I was fighting at the time is a Librarian. Once I read it she made complete sense and stopped fighting me.

First thing I did when I got home (after sleeping for 13 hours) was go to Tami's website to see what else she had hidden there. Lo and behold there was a page with Hero archetypes! Now we're talking. I'm all about the hero when it comes to a romance. I don't fight with them like I do my heroines, but I had begun to notice a pattern in how I constructed my heroes. (She has a page for villains too, and ebooks that go into more detail.)

Her hero archetypes are Chief, Bad Boy, Best Friend, Charmer, Lost Soul, Professor, Swashbuckler, and Warrior. These make more sense to me than the Hero's Journey archetypes.

Once I read this page and clipped it to my Evernote so I'd always have it, I could put a name to the pattern I was looking at in my heroes. I love Warriors. Here's her description:
A noble champion, he acts with honor. This man is the reluctant rescuer or the knight in shining armor. He's noble, tenacious, relentless, and he always sticks up for the underdog. If you need a protector, he’s your guy. He doesn’t buckle under to rules, and he doesn’t go along just to get along. Think Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, Russell Crowe in Gladiator, Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
Every hero I love in books and movies is a Warrior. If he's a wounded Warrior, all the better. Give me a hero with a noble heart, who is a gentleman to his core, protective of the ones he loves, and able to put others' needs before his own and I'm hooked.

My second favorite hero archetype is the Lost Soul. He usually shows up in my writing as one of the hero's closest friends and I can contrast them. It's a lot of fun. Archetypes aren't restrictive, either. There's infinite variety to play with within each form. Then there's the mixing you can do with having a dominant archetype and a secondary archetype. You're limited only by your imagination.

What's your favorite archetype for a hero?

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. She’s still unpublished, but hopefully not for long. She also blogs sporadically at and hangs out on Facebook.

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