Tag Archives: Starlight Presents

Starlight Presents: Veronica Scott


I’m pleased to host three time 
SFR Galaxy Award & National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award winning author, Veronica Scott. Veronica has two projects she’s going to talk about today: Her just released novel, TRAPPED ON TALONQUE, and an anthology, PETS IN SPACE. Her PETS story, STAR CRUISE: STOWAWAY is about one of my favorite subjects – cats! 

Thanks for having me as your guest!

  1. Trapped on Talonque has a little bit of everything in it: aliens, princesses, Special Forces soldiers, and a deadly ball game. Can you tell us more about sapiche and why it’s so dangerous to play?

trapped-on-talonque-final-fjm_kindle_1800x2700I needed a reason for the local rulers to keep Nate and his men alive in the beginning, and a challenge for them to overcome, so I developed the game of sapiche. It’s based in part on ritualistic ball games played centuries ago in Central and South America, in part on gladiatorial type contests in ancient Rome and owes a nod to the ritual combat the Aztecs would sometimes put captured warriors through, where they had no real chance of winning and saving their own lives but were forced to fight anyway. Sapiche is like all ball games – there’s passing, blocking, strategy, scoring… The game itself is rough and tumble but the stakes are life and death.  In the book, the winners of each match get to live to play another day and the losing team becomes human sacrifices at sunset.

  1. Bithia sounds little bit like Sleeping Beauty. What can you tell us about her psychic power and why she reaches out to Nate Reilly, the Special Forces soldier?

Since Bithia’s an alien, she has more strongly developed telepathic abilities than humans of terrestrial descent. She’s been imprisoned in the chamber for millennia. When she’s awakened and sees the locals holding men as prisoners who are obviously not from the planet Tlanque either, she realizes they must be from the stars, like her. She hopes they have a ship somewhere and can escape. At this point in the novel she really only wants to save their lives – she feels her own situation is hopeless.

  1. You also part of the anthology Pets in Space. What can you tell us about the anthology in general?

pets_in_space_cover_artPauline Baird Jones and I got the idea about a year ago and thought it would be terrific fun and a good writing challenge to combine pets and science fiction romance. We invited some other SFR authors to ‘play’ with the idea and the anthology became a reality.

Here’s the blurb for the collection:

Even an alien needs a pet…

Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers nine amazing adventures that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

  1. Can you also tell us about the story you’ve contributed to Pets in Space?

Mine is entitled Star Cruise: Stowaway and is set on my interstellar cruise liner Nebula Zephyr, with some continuing characters from the series appearing. Here’s the synopsis: Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.

Owen and the two pets appeared in Star Cruise: Outbreak as secondary characters. When it came time to develop a story for this anthology, I thought it would be exciting to have a stowaway on board the ship and then of course the cargo master and the pets would logically be the ones to find her first.

Here’s a quick excerpt, as Owen has just ended his shift for the day:

Stepping onto the echoing deck, he called for Moby. She spent most of her evenings hunting vermin lurking among the monstrous crates and containers, but she usually passed the first part of the evening in his cabin, eating the incredibly expensive cat food he had the ship’s AI keep in stock. Not much else to spend his salary on. “Come on, cat, I want my dinner even if you don’t,” he said to the elegant vision in white fur who trotted from the murky recesses of the deck. How she stayed clean when she spent her days prowling the cargo deck, he’d never know.

Purring, she came to his steel-tipped work shoes but evaded his effort to pick her up, moving just out of range the way felines did, as if cats could teleport. Moby scampered toward the towering stacks of cargo then turned. Seeing he’d failed to chase her, she sat, tail twitching, head tilted, eyeing him.

“What‘s the matter with you? I’m not in the mood to throw cat toys and retrieve them right now.” Embersson headed toward the gravlift. Moby regarded the entire ship as her territory and could find his cabin for her dinner when she was hungry.

In the next minute, he nearly tripped as she rubbed his ankles, nipping at one in passing. Swearing, he caught himself with a hand to the bulkhead. “What in the seven hells is wrong with you tonight? Giving me a concussion won’t get you fed.”

Moby yowled at him and ran toward the stacked cargo again.

Figuring she wanted to show him a recent kill, which he’d then have to dispose of, he followed.

Moby moved faster now that she’d gotten him with the program.

He followed her around the corner of the pallet the ship had taken on earlier in the day and found Midorri, the Zephyr’s other pet, crouched beside a free trader container. “What mischief have the two of you gotten into now?” he asked Moby. Midorri came aboard the Zephyr originally as the pampered pet of a princess, but after the whole outbreak incident, Sector authorities refused to let the lady disembark on Sector Hub with the undocumented animal, so the ship had kept the odd green fluffball. Dr. Shane was her official owner of record, but the entire crew liked the slightly clumsy but always amusing creature.

Midorri sneezed, as she was often wont to do, allergic to humans perhaps, and flicked her plush prehensile tail before lowering her head and extending her long green tongue to lap at something on the deck.

“Freaking flares, do not tell me we’ve got leaking cargo…..”

  1. Are there any other projects you would like to tell us about?

I’m currently working on the long awaited sequel to Wreck of the Nebula Dream, telling the story of what happened next to Khevan, the D’nvannae Brother (a combination bodyguard and assassin) and Twilka, the Socialite heiress. It’s the sequel my readers have asked for the most often so I’m excited. I hope to be able to release it in November but right now the Pets In Space launch has all my attention!

Pets In Space Buy Links:

Buy Links:

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Author Bio:

veronica-scott-square-photo250Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “City On the Edge of Forever.”

Connect with Veronica Scott on her Blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Amazon Author Page.

Starlight Presents: Michaela Kendrick

DragonsHonorFinal2Hello, everyone! I’m so glad to be here and to have the opportunity to tell you a little bit about Dragon’s Honor!

I’ve been reading scifi, fantasy, and romance since I was in grade school. Our house was filled with books like The Dragon Riders of Pern, A Wrinkle in Time, The Lord of the Rings, and more Regency-era romance than you could shake a stick at. I read the Modesty Blaise books and wanted to be just like her: smart, tough, and gorgeous. I wanted a dragon and a spaceship and a knight in shining armor. With my penchant for storytelling, and the little bits of worlds and characters scribbled in workbooks, school notes, and (later) day planners and memos, I thought have expected one day I would start writing science fiction romance!

The story was fun and beautiful and action-packed, and I was a little ways into it before I realize why I was telling this particular story. As someone whose husband has served in the military, I wanted to tell a story about soldiers that did not glamorize the trauma they had faced, but instead offered a window into their world, a world that is often much more complex than is comfortable. Combat trauma is far-reaching and often devastating – and those are the stories we hear in the news. What we don’t hear, what we don’t see, are the stories that are remarkably similar to everyone else’s: filled not only with fear and memory, but also with love and humor. Without me even realizing it at the time, the Dragon Corps series was born as a way to explore a theme that many books touch on, “What are we willing to fight for?”

Approaching this story as a romance—a new genre for me—allowed me to approach both of the main characters not as isolated people, but as the center of a web of loyalties and loves. There are two main reasons for this, I think.

First, our love gives us strength. Love is humbling, maddening, ridiculous, painful—really, a lot of things that people with any sense should avoid. But love does something else, too. It forces us out of ourselves. It makes another person’s needs as dear to us as our own, and so it makes us—if we let it—stronger, kinder, and braver.

When I began writing romance, it felt uniquely as if everything made sense. Why would a character walk right into danger? For love. Because they were desperate not to have the ones they loved be in that same danger. Romance readers know that romantic love is not the only love that guides us. In every romance I pick up, there are family ties and friendships as well as true love, and though these relationships sometimes tear our hero in different directions, they’re never discounted.

Second, others’ love gives us strength. The romance writers and readers of today know that having someone love you despite your scars and weaknesses and foibles is…kind of terrifying. They also know that sometimes the people we love are the ones that help us accept ourselves as we are, and are also the ones who, on occasion, tell us to get over ourselves. There’s a lot of strength that comes from knowing that someone has your back. Romance novels, more than any other kind, allow this strength to be a major factor in the resolution of the story.

Romance is amazing. It is a genre that is full of hope. Now that I’ve started writing it, I can’t imagine writing anything else – and I hope you’ll fall as deeply in love with Cade and Aryn as I did!

Dragon’s Honor is available on Amazon (free through Kindle Unlimited).  For a free review copy, email the author at mkendrickauthor at gmail dot com

Connect with Michaela on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list.

Starlight Presents: Megan E. O’Keefe

I’m pleased to host award-winning author Megan E. O’Keefe on Starlight Presents. Meet her characters and discover how her day job — soap making — has influenced her writing.

Your upcoming release, Steal the Sky, has con men, sidekicks, airship, and empires. You even describe it on your website as a “pulpy adventure.” How did you build your story? Did you create the world first or the characters?

For me, a story usually begins when a moment of a character’s life sticks in my head. That scene functions as a seed for the rest of the story, from which I tease out characters and the world building. With Steal the Sky, I had an image of a dusty con man sitting in a chair with a bag over his head, waiting for the police force of the area to come along and question him. I knew he wasn’t worried, he was even a bit bored. I took that image, wrote a draft of the first chapter, and extrapolated from there. To do that, I usually ask myself a series of interconnected questions. For example: What kind of world forged this man? What secrets might he, and those around him, be hiding?

Your main protagonist, Detan Honding, has a sidekick named Tibs. I’m rather fond of sidekicks. Do you have a favorite scene with these two?

Tibs spends a fair amount of time reigning in Detan’s antics, so it’s only fair that when they finally make it to the infamous Salt Baths, Tibs wants to take a break and enjoy the relaxation the spa has to offer. Detan, of course, has other plans, and scampers off to see them through. When they inevitably go sideways, Tibs jumps in without hesitation – backing up Detan and his plan, even though he hasn’t a clue what the end goal is. No matter what they get up to, Detan and Tibs always have one another’s back, and that’s what I love about them.

You’ve also had two short stories published, one of them a Writers of the Future winner. Do you find it easier or harder to write short stories as opposed to novels?

From a time investment standpoint, short stories are certainly easier than novels, but my natural length tends to run long. My Writers of the Future story, for instance, was almost 9k words, when most short story markets consider 7k pushing it in the length department. My ideas tend to be novel length ideas – big character arcs, with a lot of deep world building – so I like having the extra length of a novel to muck around in.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I am primarily a plotter, but not a strict one. My outlines are usually quite sparse, hitting a few key moments that I know I want to include, but allowing for a lot of wiggle room. I like to be able to run off the rails if a more interesting path occurs to me mid-story, and I never hesitate to chuck my outline out the window when that happens.

You describe yourself on your Twitter page as a “Soap Super Hero”. How did soap making inspire you to write Of Blood and Brine where the characters of your world are named after scents?

I’ve been asked before if I did a lot of research before writing Of Blood and Brine, and the answer to that is both “no” and “seven years’ worth.” Perfume blending and soap making have been such an integral part of my life that their influence is ever-present. Over the years, I have noticed that quite a few of my dedicated customers very much associate their identity with the scents they prefer to wear – it becomes just as much a part of them as their names. It was this observation that I drew upon when I began drafting Of Blood and Brine.

Since Steal the Sky is book 1 of The Scorched Continent series, it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing book 2 shortly. Do you have any other future projects we can look forward to?

Absolutely! Book 2 is written, and book 3 is just about ready to be drafted. I also have a few shiny new projects in the works, but nothing I can talk about just yet.

About Megan E. O’Keefe

meganokeefe-mug-300Megan E. O’Keefe lives in the Bay Area of California and makes soap for a living. Her debut novel, Steal the Sky, which centers around an airship heist, is due out from Angry Robot Books in January 2016. She is a first place winner in Writers of the Future, and her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer and Podcastle. Steal the Sky is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $2.99.

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Starlight Presents: Elle E. Ire

Vicious Circle promo three

What inspired me to write Vicious Circle? More importantly, what inspired me to write a character like Vicious Circle‘s protagonist? You don’t run across bisexual female outerspace assassins every day. Should be an easy question to answer, right? Except it’s not.

There are a lot of answers I could give. I could say that Xena:Warrior Princess inspired the main two characters. When we first shopped the book, we shopped it as “Xena in space with the subtext as the main text.” That would be a fairly accurate answer. Certainly, my main character is dark like Xena, flawed like Xena, and has a soft spot for the helpless—not to mention an attraction to an overly cheerful blonde. But that answer wouldn’t be quite right.

I could say that the assassin-with-a-heart-of-gold character has always fascinated me. Vicious Circle isn’t the first book I’ve written with an assassin main character. A few years prior to writing this novel, I wrote a different assassin piece. I love the psychology of a character who has a conscience, who has a moral code that she lives by, but who believes that some people are so evil (mass murderers, serial rapists, child molesters, etc.) that the only solution to stopping their rampages is to kill them. And yet, she sees that if she takes one step too many down that slippery slope, she is likely to become as evil as those she kills. I like addressing that delicate balance between guilt and pride over her actions, between staying sane and sinking into depression when faced with her own morality and mortality.
But what makes Vicious Circle different? What inspired me to write this book?

Well, the most accurate response would be . . . a dream. Story ideas and characters coming to me in dreams isn’t all that unusual for me. But this one was different. It went something like this:

Dreamself Me: (peacefully sleeping, drifting into dreamland, feeling a tap on my shoulder, turning around to face a kick-ass woman, tough yet attractive, brandishing a number of deadly-looking weapons.) Yes?
Cor: I’m Cor. I’m an assassin.
Dreamself Me: (rolling my eyes) Yeah, I kinda figured that out. Been here. Done this. What else is new?
Cor: I’m bisexual.
Dreamself Me: (blinks) That’s . . . different . . . Um, why?
Cor: (smacks me in the side of the head) Because it’s who I am. And you’re damn well going to write me that way.
Dreamself Me: Um . . .
Cor: And I’m not leaving you alone until you do.

Okay, well, maybe it didn’t go exactly like that, but it wasn’t far off.  Usually I get point-of-view and present or past tense from the dreams, so why not the main character’s sexual orientation? Only, I’d never written a bisexual or lesbian character prior to writing Vicious Circle (Cor’s love interest is lesbian). And yet, while I’d written four novels before this one, Vicious Circle was the first to sell. Interesting, that.

I could have fought it, I suppose. I could have made her straight or made her male. I could have given into the suggestions from friends that changing Cor would make for an easier, faster sale. But the few times I even attempted to re-envision Cor, it never worked. Her sexuality, like her psychology, like her dangerous and deadly nature, like her desire to love and be loved, was an integral part of what made her her.

Anyway, true to her word, Cor never stopped jabbering away at me in my sleep until she had her story written. She even stuck around long enough to give me plot outlines for two sequels, so I’m expecting her to show up and poke me in the shoulder some more at any time. That is, if the new characters competing for attention in my head will shut up long enough to let her get a word in.

Then again, Cor’s an assassin. Assassins usually get their way.

About the Book

12132592_1648651842079211_1419735220838600134_oKicked out of the Assassins Guild for breach of contract, hunted by its members for killing the Guild Leader, and half-hooked on illegal narcotics, COR SANDROS could use a break. She accepts a freelance job to eliminate KILA T’RAL’s brother, JAREN. Kila claims her politically powerful brother has sexually abused her, and Cor has always been a sucker for helping the helpless.

The plan doesn’t include Cor falling in love with Kila, but as the pair struggles to reach Kila’s homeworld, pursued by assassins from the Guild, Cor finds her inexplicable attraction to Kila growing stronger. There’s a job to do, and personal involvement with her employer is an unwelcome distraction. Then again, so is sexual frustration.

Amazon | BN

About the Author

Elle E. Ire resides in the Disney-created town of Celebration, Florida, with her spouse, twin daughters, and two dogs. A graduate of the University of Miami, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in creative writing but left the MFA program when they refused to allow her to write genre fiction, instead receiving a Master’s in Literature mostly made up of writing courses. Currently, she teaches writing to seventh and eighth graders. She and her spouse run several writing groups, as well as present at many local and statewide conferences.

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Starlight Presents: Gina Danna

TheWickedBargain cover 2015After reading several Regency stories about a courtesan and how she met the man of her dreams, who saved her from selling her body to survive, I wondered did they have the male contingent to a courtesan then? A Regency gigolo? The possibility is there. It is a period often noted for the noblemen to have a mistress or courtesan, but what of the wife at home? What if she’s filled her role of having an ‘heir and a spare’ and now alone because her husband has found a new mistress? The probability of ladies seeking a male courtesan are not has high as a man seeking a mistress but the possibility is there. And what rake wouldn’t mind making money off his tumbles? This idea prompted Ethan’s story, The Wicked Bargain.

What of his past as a sex slave in the Middle East? Slavery there reaches staggering amounts of over one million souls enslaved – the ‘infidels’ (the exact numbers are not known as there wasn’t any records kept like the Western Europeans and Americans did via ship manifests, estate listings, sales, etc. To Muslim world, these were the infidels, whether they were from Europe or Africa or even America, and not worthy of keeping recorded. If they died, they’d buy the next shipment).

Barbary pirates have practiced exactly what Ethan went through – the raiding of the ship, the presentation at sale and the following aftermath into slaver that was physical labor, harsh treatment and cruelty. They took people off ships they raided and sometimes they landed on the shores of Greece, Italy and even up to the British Isles, to steal people to sell. Noble men and women were often ransomed and the negotiations over amounts did take immense time. The Catholic countries did better at raising funds for release than the Protestant countries, probably because of the individual denominations of the Protestants didn’t have the uniformed base like Catholic Church did. It could take years before freedom was obtained, years where the slave continued his labors, though usually not the harsh construction work for they needed the person living to get the money.

As to sex slaves, women had a higher chance of being thrown into a harem, either as a servant to help the other women or as a slave sexually used by the owner. These women rarely saw a chance at freedom, regardless of wealth at home and as a member of the harem, the house would raise any children born and if she was freed, the child wasn’t therefore these women remained.

While there was no harem for men, those who were considered ‘pretty’ boys, were often plucked from the cruelty of physical labor to be the sex toy by the Arab men. A white ‘infidel’ male slave to be used for pleasure by an Arab woman was minuscule though a few have been noted. If caught, the sentence was immediate death for him and she was condemned, often with death. Any child brought by such a union was killed instantly as impure.

For Arabella, the opportunity to be a doctor during this time was next to impossible. Medicine itself was emerging out of alchemy to its own science. It was a man’s profession, not ladies. But midwifery was a woman’s role during this time. Men for the most part were not part of the birthing process. The midwife, trained by her mentor, worked to bring the newborn into the world, not a male physician. So Arabella’s plight of watching and helping her father, thus learning medicine, and the inability to exercise that knowledge was a fact most women faced up to the end of the 19th century. Even being a midwife in a city like London meant she had to part of ‘guild’ of midwives. They didn’t just accept outsiders who claimed they knew what to do.

When medical schools for ladies opened in the US in the mid-1800s, in Ohio and New York, their graduates could only practice on women and children. It would take into the 20th century for the views to broaden and men to trust a female doctor, even through she was as highly educated as many of the male doctors.

Read The Wicked Bargain

London 1816

Haunted by a past as a sex slave, nobleman Ethan Warth returns to England as a male courtesan for rich matrons and runs a brothel for wealthy lords. Arabella Covington appears on his door, trained in the medical arts but unable to practice because of her gender. He hires her to care for his ladies but her inquisitive nature and beauty make him desire to teach her the world of seduction.

Ethan, however, never counted on falling in love…

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

About the Author

A USA Today Bestselling author, Gina Danna was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and has spent the better part of her life reading. History has always been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, always dreaming of writing one of her own. After years of writing historical academic papers to achieve her undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, and then for museum programs and exhibits, she has found the time to write her own historical romantic fiction novels.

Now, under the supervision of her three dogs, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream —her Arabian horse—With him, her muse can play.

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Starlight Presents: Cynthia Sax

Releasing Rage_300dpiWhy I’m Writing About Cyborgs (Now) With Cynthia Sax

I have always been intrigued with cyborgs. They’re half man, half machine, are deliciously conflicted between emotion and logic, about who they are. But I never really saw them as hero material until I read Laurann Dohner’s Burning Up Flint. As soon as I read that book, I knew I would, some day, write a romance with a cyborg hero.

There wasn’t a rush to write this story. I was busy with androids and aliens and clones. Laurann Dohner, Eve Langlais and Mina Carter were writing cyborgs, giving me plenty of stories to read.

I also knew I wanted to do two things with the cyborg stories I wrote.

1) I wanted to share how they could be mass manufactured. Yes, I wanted to talk about cyborg babies! (grins) But I didn’t know how cyborgs could be ‘born’ and then ‘grow.’ They have both mechanical and organic parts. How could these ‘grow’ at the same rate?

It wasn’t until I was talking to product innovators and scientists at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas in January that this how clicked with me. I went to a 3D printer presentation, with the innovator talking about medical uses for the device, sharing how the printers were getting smaller and smaller. Directly after that presentation, I sat in a presentation with a scientist talking about how regular Joe scientists were cloning beings in their basements.

This was a light bulb moment. I now had a (wild) theory roughly based on today’s science (as with all SciFi, it is about what COULD be possible).

2) I also wanted to explore why cyborgs, beings designed to be the perfect soldiers, would rebel against their manufacturers. Soldiers are loyal. They would only rebel for dark, possibly disturbing reasons.

These dark, possibly disturbing reasons would make the series challenging to sell to existing publishers (and this ended up being true. Publishers weren’t interested in a cyborg series.). It wasn’t until this year that I felt ready career-wise for self-publishing.

I had answers for both of the things I wanted to accomplish with the cyborg story.

Then ALL of my favorite cyborg SciFi Romance writers went on breaks with their series. I had no delicious cyborg stories to read!

What does a writer do when that happens?

She writes her own stories.

Releasing Rage is the result. It is a book of my heart, one of those special stories writers are gifted with from time to time. I had been seriously thinking about cyborgs for five years, completing research out of personal interest, crafting stories in my head. All of this, combined with some perturbing recent events (like #GamerGate and a female-disrespecting Nobel Prize winner), was poured into Releasing Rage.

Is there a story you really want to see written? Have you considered writing it yourself?

About Releasing Rage

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.

Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.

Until he meets Joan.

Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.

When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?
Buy Now:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | BN

About Cynthia Sax

USA Today bestselling author Cynthia Sax writes contemporary, SciFi and paranormal erotic romances. Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of erotic romance top ten lists. Sign up for her dirty-joke-filled release day newsletter and visit her on the web at www.CynthiaSax.com

Facebook: facebook.com/cynthia.sax
Twitter: @CynthiaSax
Blog: http://tasteofcyn.com/

 

Starlight Presents: Cara Bristol

Stranded1800x2700Congratulations to Cara Bristol on her new release, Stranded with the Cyborg, a science fiction romance. Learn a little more about this author and her stories.

Your books switch between contemporary, science fiction, and fantasy settings. When you start a new series, do you already know what the setting will be? Or do you decide on the plot and begin your world-building from there?

I always know what the setting will be. I start with a story idea, a “what-if,” but concept and setting are almost inseparable. They go hand-in-hand. For instance, when I decided to write a cyborg story, it had to be science fiction. In the Breeder sci-fi romance series, women are slaves. That had to be science fiction.

You started out publishing with a well-known epublisher, then switched to indie publishing. What made you change? Would you ever consider returning to an epublisher?

Yes, I started out with Loose Id, and I was also published by Decadent Publishing, as well as a couple of  smaller houses. Going Indie was a business decision on my part. Would I go with an epublisher again? I would consider any offer, but I would need to be fairly certain the benefits offered by the publisher were greater than what I could achieve on my own.

Your Rod and Cane series has six books and your Breeder series I believe came to end at three. How do you know when it’s time to bring a series to a close?

Believe it or not, all my series start out as stand-alone books! Somewhere in the middle of writing the first book, I come to the realization that the story has series potential. The story itself dictates how many books. With the Breeder science fiction romance series, there was a natural story arc. I knew that there would be a “grand battle” between good and evil. Breeder (book 1) sets the stage. Terran (book 2) makes the battle inevitable, and in Warrior (book 3), the battle occurs. The Rod and Cane Society series was intended to be open-ended and is still ongoing. I also have the Split Creek Hollow romantic comedy series, which currently has only one book (Stolen Moments), but I intend to write more. It’s light and fun.

You also have two short stories published in two anthologies and seven short stories available for free on your web site. Do you find it easier or harder to write short stories as opposed to novels?

I used to be a newspaper reporter so the short style comes easy to me. But I actually find the novella length (30-50K) to be easier than short stories or novels. That’s my sweet spot.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I’m a pantser who sometimes plots. But my plots are never detailed—often just three or four words per chapter. I get an idea, jot down some notes, maybe snippets of dialogue—just enough information to get me through three or four chapters and then I start writing. As I get to know the characters, I get more ideas, and the story progresses. Most of time (although not always), I know the ending when I start. So I know where I need to go, I just have to figure out how to get there.

You currently have a new series underway – Heartmates. What can you tell us about this series and are there any other projects you are working on?   

I had intended Goddess’s Curse to be book one of the Heartmates series, but alas, the book kind of tanked. I guess readers didn’t want to read about love and betrayal inspired by the myth of the Amazon women warriors. So, the series has been tabled indefinitely. As I mentioned, I do intend to write more Split Creek Hollow romantic comedies—and I’m currently feverishly writing book two of the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series. Bring on the cyborgs! Love those guys!

Stranded with the Cyborg – Now available!

Penelope Aaron, the former Terran president’s daughter, regrets how she got Agent Brock Mann booted from the security force. But now that she’s an interplanetary ambassador about to embark on her first diplomatic mission, she still doesn’t want him tagging along. Especially since he seems to be stronger, faster, more muscled, and sexier than she remembers. And pretending to be her husband? This mission couldn’t get more impossible!

Ten years ago Penelope Isabella Aaron had been a pain in Brock Mann’s you-know-what. Much has changed in a decade: “PIA” as he code-named her, has grown up and is about to attend her first Alliance of Planets summit conference, and Brock has been transformed into a cyborg after a near-fatal attack. Now a secret agent with Cyber Operations, a covert paramilitary organization, Brock gets called in, not when the going gets tough, but when the going gets impossible. So when he’s unexpectedly assigned to escort Penelope to the summit meeting, he balks at babysitting a prissy ambassador. But after a terrorist bombing, a crash landing on a hostile planet, and a growing attraction to his protectee, Operation: PIA may become his most impossible assignment yet.

Excerpt

“Ten years have passed. Penelope is different now,” Carter said.

Brock doubted that. “Does she know about me?”

“That you’re a cyborg? Of course not. She hasn’t been told anything about the program or even that you’re the one who’s been assigned to her.”

“Yeah, spring it on her. That will go over well.” He could envision the tantrum, and, after she calmed down, the scheme she would devise to circumvent the decision. The last time he’d seen her, she’d been emerging from his quarters half-dressed, a triumphant smile tilting her lips. Shortly thereafter, two fellow agents had come to arrest him.

President Aaron had exonerated him, the transcripts from the investigation had been sealed, and he’d been offered reassignment. Instead, he’d taken a position with an anti-terrorist investigative organization. His unit got attacked; his fellow operatives had died. Carter, who’d been working with Cy-Ops all along, had swooped in and saved his ass.

“I’m not saying I’ll do it, but, hypothetically, if I had a computer meltdown and agreed, what would be my cover story? I couldn’t tag along as her bodyguard because that would unsettle the Xenians.”

Carter poured another shot of Cerinian brandy and downed it. He met Brock’s gaze dead-on. “You’d accompany Ambassador Aaron as her husband.”

“Oh, hell no!”

Amazon | BN | ARe | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

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Starlight Presents: Arlene Hittle

beautyMy friend and cheerleader, Arlene Hittle​ has returned for her second Starlight Presents post. This time ​Arlene has a personal story to tell and how it relates to her second novel, BEAUTY IN THE BALLPARK, which is being rereleased this week as part of the Unforgettable Heroes II collection.

BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER isn’t my first novel, but it will always be one of my favorites.

Why?

In 2011, I found out that BEAUTY finaled in the Unpublished Beacon contest on the same day I mailed it in for the RWA Golden Heart. (Yeah, we were still required to mail in hard copies in 2010. The all-electronic entries are a vast improvement.) When Golden Heart calls went on out March 25, I learned it was a finalist … and found out it won the Beacon that same day.

Some crazy kind of synergy at work there, right?

But the biggest reason BEAUTY will always be special to me is something I don’t think I’ve ever disclosed—until now.

First, a little background: All my heroines contain pieces of me. Meg, the heroine of BEAUTY, lives in Flagstaff, as I did at the time, and works as a graphic designer for an ad agency … not too far off from being a page designer at a newspaper, as I was.

I’m not giving away any secrets by sharing the opening line:

“Meg Malone’s day began a slow, downward slide at 7:42 a.m., the precise moment she squinted down at the pregnancy test stick in her hand and hoped like hell she’d misread it.”

Meg, poor dear, finds herself pregnant and—thanks to a jerk of an ex-boyfriend who has abandoned her to run off to Vegas and join the professional poker circuit—alone. She’s none too happy about it, either…mainly because she considers being pregnant and alone at her “advanced” age a major character failure.

“His expression indicated genuine concern, and for one crazy moment, she was tempted to spill her guts about everything: The flighty ex…the epic failure of finding herself pregnant and alone at an old-enough-to-know-better thirty-two. At her age, she should be over the moon about having a baby and sharing the experience with a devoted husband, not scared shitless and wondering how she was going to cope by herself.”

Here’s the big revelation: The idea for BEAUTY’s opening line came to me while I waited impatiently for the results of a home pregnancy test I hoped like hell would be negative. I was even older than Meg at the time, and even with a boyfriend, I would have called myself all kinds of idiot had I ended up pregnant and unmarried at 30-plus.

That whole “epic failure of finding herself pregnant and alone at an old-enough-to-know-better thirty-two” is real, heartfelt emotion, folks.

I wasn’t (thank goodness), but the experience was enough to get me thinking.

So I played the old what-if game—a staple of writers everywhere. What if I were pregnant with a no-good ex-boyfriend who wanted nothing to do with the baby? And because that does not a romance make, what if Meg meets a guy who does want her, baby and all? What if he’s a baseball player in Flagstaff for spring training? (Yeah, that requires a bit of suspended disbelief, since it’s still pretty cold and snowy in Flagstaff most Februarys.) What if she has no idea he plays ball? What happens when she finds out?

The result of all those what-ifs became BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER , which Turquoise Morning Press released in March 2014 as the second book of my All Is Fair in Love and Baseball series. It’s coming out again today as part of TMP’s Unforgettable Heroes boxed set.

For the bargain price of 99 cents, 13 national bestselling and award-winning authors deliver romance fiction featuring incredible, unforgettable romance heroes. This set runs the gamut from contemporary to historical romance, sweet romance to erotic, suspense to paranormal, and includes baseball players, cowboys, Celtic warriors, and more….

Find it: AMAZON | IBOOKS | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | SMASHWORDS

UF

Starlight Presents: Alicia Dean

Like it or not, Amazon has shaken the publishing industry to its core. There are so many new options for authors now. One of Amazon’s newest programs is Kindle Worlds, where fans can publish fan fiction based on their favorite books, TV shows, movies, and comic books. Alicia Dean has taken advantage of this new platform by writing in the Gossip Girls and The Vampire Diaries “worlds” as well as writing ten novels of original fiction.

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1. When did you decide to write for Kindle Worlds? Had you already published your novels?

I decided to write for Kindle Worlds when I was approached by Amazon and invited to be a launch author. Yes, I had several books already out.

2. Many fans write fan fiction and post it either on their own web sites or to archives such as Archive Of Our Own or Fanfiction.net. Why did you choose Kindle Worlds?

Truthfully, I was not, and still am not, a writer of fan fiction. I was a published author who had a book through Amazon’s Montlake line, and I was (am) a huge Vampire Diaries fan, so I chose Kindle Worlds because of the opportunity.

3. Which do you prefer, writing you own original characters? Or writing a character based on someone else’s world-building?

I prefer writing my own original characters, because it gives me more freedom for creativity. However, I found that it was loads of fun, and actually pretty easy, to write a character based on someone else’s world building, or to write about a character someone else created. All your back story and personality is built in.

4. What advice would you give an author who’s interested in writing for Kindle Worlds?

I would say to be thoroughly familiar with the world in which you’re writing, and be as creative as you’d like, and have fun. For me, I wanted to stay true to the characters and events already in place, but the opportunities are endless.

5. You write in three different genres of original fiction: contemporary romance, suspense, and paranormal. Can you tell us a little bit about the stories your write for each?

Yes, I’d be happy to. Actually, I’ve recently ventured into Vintage Historical romance as well. So…as for contemporary romance, I’ve only written one story that was contemporary romance alone, and even that had a touch of suspense. The story A Knight Before Christmas was party of a trilogy I did with three other authors. I lean more toward adding suspense or paranormal to my stories.

My Vintage Historical romances are Ruined, Martini Club 4 – The 1920s, and it’s part of a project with three of my writer friends, based on a Martini Lounge where the three of us meet weekly for drinks. I also published End of Lonely Street, a 1957 romance about a girl who loves Elvis (as I do).

I have two paranormal series, my Reapers of Boon series, of which only one book, Soul Seducer, has been published. I also have a Vampire series titled Isle of Fangs. I’ve released two books in the series thus far, and am working on my third. I have a stand alone paranormal, Heart of the Witch, which is the book that is currently with Montlake. I mostly write dark and creepy stuff, but I actually have one story, Cupid’s Beau, that is quite a departure for me. It’s a ‘sweet’ paranormal romance with a touch of humor. I don’t know how that story came from me, but it did, and it was so much fun.

Suspense is my first love, and most of my stories are suspense. I have a series, The Northland Crime Chronicles, of which two books are out, and I’m working on my third. I also have a gothic mystery novella under the pen name Winter Frost, and a few suspense novellas through The Wild Rose Press. My latest suspense is a thriller/suspense with romantic elements, Without Mercy. I’m especially pleased with that one. It is fast paced and, hopefully, a page turner, but it is also a story about a mother’s love and how far we’ll go to protect our children.

6. What are you currently writing? Tell us about any future projects you have.

I am currently writing book 3 of my Isle of Fangs series, but I have a TON of future projects coming up…

Book 3 of Northland Crime Chronicles
Martini Club 4 – The 1940s
Books 4 of Isle of Fangs and Northland Crime Chronicles
Book 2 of Reapers of Boone
A novella romance based on Peter Pan
A serialized soap opera novella series titled Cinn Valley
A novel based on my best friend of 40 years, a cancer survivor whose mother suffers from Alzheimer’s

And these are just the projects I’d like to complete, at least in draft form, this year. Some, I need to complete in the next few months. Ha, right…

For more information, visit Alicia Dean’s website at www.aliciadean.com or on social media at Facebook and Twitter.

Starlight Presents: Josh Vogt

Writing in a preexisting fictional world presents a whole different set of challenges for authors used to building their own worlds. Lucky for Josh Vogt, he has the talent to write in both a shared world and in a realm of his own creation. He has two books debuting this month: one set in the Pathfinder RPG and one set in a world of his built on his own. I’ve asked him about what it’s like to work in someone else’s sandbox versus writing in his own universe.

PZO85261. You have two books debuting this month. The first one is Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes which is a tie-in novel for the Pathfinder RPG. How did you get involved in writing a tie-in novel. Were you a fan of the RPG first?

I’ve been a gamer—both tabletop and video games—most of my life, so I was decently familiar with the Pathfinder world of Golarion from the get-go. One of the things I’ve always had as a focus in my writing career is diversifying the sort of work I do. So once I’d begun to get a few professional sales under my belt (short stories and the like), I started researching various RPG developers and publishers to see about writing for them. I emailed around, offering writing samples, and James Sutter, Paizo’s executive editor, was one of those who actually replied! He liked my writing, wanted me to pitch some short stories, and eventually ended up buying a couple for Paizo’s weekly free fiction posts. Those became The Weeping Blade and Hunter’s Folly. At that point, he asked if I wanted to pitch a novel and…well, how could I refuse?

2. Your main character, Akina, a female dwarven barbarian, sounds so fierce. How much say did you have over her story? Did the guidelines set out by the RPG restrict your creativity in any way?

After James and I settled on the central novel concept, I worked up a rather in-depth character and plot outline which he and the rest of his team had to approve. So a lot of it originated from my end and then had to be tweaked here and there to ensure it all fit within the lore and gameplay mechanics. All the characters in the story are of my own conjuration, as is the main plot.

Sure, I had to be aware of certain limitations the world imposed, but in all honesty, Pathfinder has such a huge variety of settings, spells, weapons, races, monsters, and more that sometimes the creative challenge was narrowing down my options! In revisions, there were a few points where I had to substitute a particular spell or beast because it didn’t work as I originally wrote it, but there was never anything book-breaking, fortunately.

3. Do you have a favorite scene with Akina? Anything you can share without spoiling the story?

Some of my favorite parts with Akina—aside from the fight scenes, of course!—are the ones with her brother, Brakisten. I enjoyed getting to bring in familial dynamic into the story, showing that, while Akina may not have a “softer” side, per se, she definitely cares about certain people in her life and is willing to go to great lengths to protect them. Her relationship with Brakisten is strained because of her long absence from home and other troubling circumstances, but you can sense the underlying bond between them.

Enter the Janitor - Cover4. The title of your second book, Enter the Janitor, gave me a good chuckle. Ben, a grizzled old janitor, sounds like several janitors I’ve known. Tell us more about him and his apprentice. How did these two come together?

Ben is one of those guys who you’d easily overlook or write-off because of his appearance and initial impression—though his rough and gruff exterior is a bit of a shield he puts up thanks to some nasty troubles in his past. Then there’s Dani, who starts out highly germaphobic and has her own “shield” in the form of gloves and massive amounts of sanitizer gel. They meet in a college library when Dani accidentally intrudes on Ben’s efforts to neutralize a particularly mucky monster causing trouble on campus. Things go a bit downhill from there…

5. Did you find world-building for your own story easier or harder than working within a world already established by the RPG?

Each requires a unique approach. When I build my own world, I often outline it rather heavily, defining what’s possible, mapping out the boundaries, and establishing the rules of engagement, as it were. With an RPG tie-in, all those are previously established and the effort comes from learning those pre-existing boundaries and rules so the story meshes with them properly. I might say dealing with my own setting is a tad bit easier because if I have to rewrite a few rules along the way for the story’s sake, no problem!

6. Do you have a favorite scene with these two characters? Again, without giving away spoilers.

There’s a scene just a bit beyond halfway through the book where Ben and Dani get separated when dealing with an extremist cult and have to fight their way back together. It’s a confrontation where they realize just how much their dynamic has changed since they first bumped into one another back in the library, and how much they’ve come to rely on one another, even in such a short time. It also provides a bigger turning point for how they interact, with a bit more mutual respect.

About the Author

Josh-8194-2 - smallestAuthor, freelance and editor, Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016).  He’s a member of SFWA, as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. You can find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt.