Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Wearing My Scarlet R in SFF Circles

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
Winter is an excellent time to discover the joys of curling up by the fire with a delicious book - either one we're reading or one we're writing.

Jackson, of course, is above both activities, as he needs to devote time to thinking Deep Thoughts.

I was having a conversation with a writer friend a bit ago about how I see my career, particularly as a cross-genre writer. For those who don't know, I have a Fantasy Romance series (Covenant of Thorns), one that's more solidly Fantasy, with romantic elements (The Twelve Kingdoms) and right now I'm working up a proposal for an Epic Fantasy with my agent. At the same time, I also write contemporary erotic romances (the Facets of Passion and Falling Under series). I also have a few books that even more gleefully blur these lines, being both erotic and fantastic (Master of the Opera, Petals and Thorns and the Blood Currency series).

Because of all this, I belong to both RWA (Romance Writers of America) and SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). I've been in RWA much longer, largely because I could join as a newbie, where SFWA requires stiffer publication credentials. So, I'm still learning my way around the SFWA community. While most everyone has been wonderful and welcoming, I am sometimes aware of the scarlet R on my chest. Nobody has openly scoffed or insulted my Fantasy books, but people have kindly said that they don't read books like that or that they don't read romance. With one male fantasy writer I've long admired and read, I screwed up my courage to show him a copy of The Mark of the Tala, telling him it's up for Book of the Year with RT Magazine. He didn't even read the back cover copy - admittedly, this was at an RWA event, so my scarlet R was blazing bright - and he handed it to his wife, saying that it might be the kind of book she'd like.

Yeah, okay - that made me want to kick him.

Still, I know that I can't go around kicking everyone who so blithely dismisses my books because of my scarlet R. I'm pretty sure that doesn't build relationships. I'm really okay with people reading my books and not liking them (I might sulk a little and weep into my whiskey, but I'm reasonably Zen about it), but it irks me to have my books dismissed out of hand. So, while I nursed the hope that The Mark of the Tala might be nominated for a Nebula Award, I wasn't all that surprised that it didn't make the final cut. After all, I'm pretty sure not many SFWA voting members read it.

(The Nebula Awards are different in that we can't enter our books for consideration. They have to be nominated by other members, and then receive enough nominations to make the top six. Unlike RWA's RITA awards, where we pay to enter our books and judges receive a stack to read and score.)

So, as my friend and I sat and drank wine, talking about our writing careers, she suggested to me that I'd have an easier time of it if I downplayed the romance in my fantasies. Or took it out altogether. Believe me, I know plenty of women SFF writers who've done this, in order to be taken more seriously. Oddly enough, I don't know any male writers who've felt they had to do this.

And I think she's right. I could do that. But I'm not going to. People who know me well will tell you I'm stubborn. They'll say it with both love and exasperation. More than once it's been suggested to me that I should be less stubborn. I'm stubborn about that, too. Being stubborn means sticking to what I believe is right, to how I want my books and my stories to be. I see absolutely no reason why I can't have romance in my fantasies. I think men could read my fantasies and not have their masculinity or SFF integrity reduced. I think a man can do better than glance at my book and hand it to his wife before the girl cooties rub off on him.

Thus, I wear my scarlet R openly on the SFWA forums. I refuse to apologize for it, or even downplay that aspect of my work. Yes, it's a more difficult path, but I feel anything less is admitting to some kind of shame or embarrassment - or that romance is somehow a lesser genre. I know some people think that. I don't.

When I explained all of this to my friend, she said, "You should write a blog post about this."

So I have, here at Here be Magic - where romance and SFF meet, blend and have a helluva party. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases


A Monster Haven Story, book six

When Zoey Donovan found out monsters are real, her life changed—mostly for the better. Since then, she’s fought bad guys, saved the world a time or two and earned the love of a growing family of humans and Hidden creatures alike. But the danger that’s chased her from the beginning is finally here.

Shadow Man, aka The Last Hidden, has stepped out of the story humans wrote for him and into the real world, hell-bent on stealing children. Fiction has become reality and Shadow Man intends to break the Covenant, reclaim the Hidden, and kill all Aegises along the way…triple bad news for Zoey and her mother, the only two Aegises still alive.

Zoey will have to rescue the stolen kids and hunt down the most terrifying villain humanity has ever imagined. But how can she fight a creature only invented a few years ago? If Shadow Man triumphs, the world as she knows it will end. If Zoey succeeds in driving him out, the people she loves the most may be lost to her forever.

Get it today!

***

Book one of Chaos Station

"You're not real. Felix Ingesson is dead."

The war with the alien stin is over, but Felix Ingesson has given up on seeing his lover, Zander Anatolius, ever again. Zander's military file is sealed tighter than an airlock. A former prisoner of war, Felix is attempting a much quieter life keeping his ship, the Chaos, aloft. He almost succeeds, until Zander walks on board and insists that Felix isn't real.

A retired, broken super soldier, Zander is reeling from the aftereffects of his experimental training and wants nothing more than to disappear and wait for insanity to claim him. Then he sees footage of a friend and ally—a super soldier like him—murdering an entire security squad with her bare hands and a cold, dead look in her eyes. He never expected to find Felix, the man he'd thought dead for years, on the ship he hired to track her down.

Working with Felix to rescue his teammate is a dream come true…and a nightmare. Zander has no exit strategy that will leave Felix unscathed or his own heart unbroken.

Get it today!

***

Looking Glass Gods, Book 1

One stranger seeks to claim her heart…another is destined to destroy her.


Ra. Just two letters. Barely a breath. When she stumbles into the frozen Haethfalt highlands, her name is all she has—the last remnant of a past she’s managed to keep hidden, even from herself. Her magic, however, isn’t so easy to conceal—magic that’s the province of the Meer, an illicit race to which she can’t possibly belong.

The eccentric carpenter who takes her in provides a welcome distraction from the puzzle of herself. Though Jak refuses to identify as either male or female, the unmistakable spark of desire between them leaves Ra determined to find out what lies beneath the enigmatic exterior.

But more dangerous secrets are brewing underneath the wintry moors. Jak’s closest friend, Ahr, is haunted by his own unspeakable past. Bounty hunters seeking fugitive Meer refuse to leave him in peace.

Harboring feelings for both Ra and Ahr, Jak nonetheless struggles to keep them apart. Because like the sun and the moon coming together, their inevitable reunion has the potential to destroy Jak’s whole world.

Available now from Samhain Publishing and the following retailers:
Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Newly Released Fantasy Romance

Posted by: Eleri Stone


Amazon   Barnes&Noble   Kobo   iBooks


The Shape of Temptation is a class-crossed love story between a talented mage and a lowborn soldier. Here’s a short excerpt from a scene that occurs just after Benim has captured Kailey in order to bring her back to the capital for training:

            He took her extended hand and closed the manacle around her wrist. The thick iron band looked ridiculous wrapped around her slender wrist. Like taking up a sword against a bumblebee. But Leesan had insisted upon it and it would be Benim’s head if he allowed her to escape again.
            She simply stared at the black metal and then lifted her gaze to meet his. Beautiful eyes—the pure pale blue of mountain water, now rimmed in red. Her sneer was less beautiful but more heartening.
            Closing the other manacle around his own wrist, he said, “There. Now I don’t have to worry about you running and you don’t have to worry that anyone will try to hurt you.”
            “Except for you.”
            “I will guard you with my life.” A solemn pledge and the plain truth. It was his sworn duty to protect the gifted.
            “And who’s going to protect you from me?”
            That startled a smile from him. “If you killed me now, my dead body would only anchor you here until morning.”
            “I could cut off your hand.”
            He lay down, tucked his free hand behind his head. “It takes a good deal of determination and a sharp blade to cut off a limb. You wouldn’t manage it before someone stopped you.”
            She fell silent as she considered that. He held his breath waiting to see what she’d come up with next but rather than continue the argument, she lay down beside him…as far away as she could get. The chain tugged at his wrist and he shifted his arm to allow her as much comfort as he was able.
            When she rolled onto her side, facing him, he glanced her way. Already her eyes were closed. Her lashes were dark against her pale skin, darker than the gold-brown shade of her hair. A small straight nose. Her lower lip was shorter than her upper one but temptingly plump. She was possibly the oldest mageling they’d ever gathered. Truly, a woman grown. He’d felt her breasts against his arm when he’d captured her. The feel of her warm strong body beneath him when he’d tackled her to the ground. He’d been trying to forget the shock of that sensation ever since. Two months was a long time to be on the road but no matter her age, he couldn’t look at her as a woman, not when she was one of their charges. Not when she was wounded and frightened and alone.
            “Are you cold?”
            Her eyes snapped open. “I don’t need your warmth if that’s what you’re offering.”
            “I’m offering a blanket.” He stared back at the stars, hoping she missed his smile. “The nights here are cold.”
            “For a Sarian.”
            “You are a Sarian, Kailey.” The sooner she accepted that, the better off she’d be.


I’m super excited for this one to be out! If you’d like a chance to win a copy, please enter below. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 28, 2015

LOVE IN A TIME OF PERIL

Posted by: Regan Summers

Fair warning, I'm going to be getting a little sappy on the blog today. My favorite love story comes from a James Cameron movie.

Hey, where are you going? Come back! I’m not talking about Titanic.

I’m talking about The Abyss. The 1989 science fiction movie is best known for the water effects and for how parts of it were filmed in a 7,000,000 (that’s right, seven meeeeellion) gallon tank at an unfinished nuclear power plant. And that is remarkable.

But the heart of the story is Virgil “Bud” Brigman, played by he-of-the-piercing-blue-eyes, Ed Harris. He’s a gruff foreman running an experimental deep sea oil rig. And Virgil’s heart, in turn, is in the hands of the abrasive Dr. Lindsay Brigman, played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Do you see where I’m going with this?

They come from disparate backgrounds. He’s a roughneck and she has a PhD. He gets all greasy fixing the machines on the rig. She designed the rig. They married for convenience, truly fell in love, but then combusted and separated. Fate, aliens and the U.S. military throw them together thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean in a veritable pressure cooker, and they fall in love again. They’re both competent, intelligent, passionate people who will do anything for the other person. And I do mean anything.

Twenty-three years is long enough, right? I’m not going to spoil this for anyone? Okay, if you haven’t seen this movie, skip the remainder of this, and the next two paragraphs. Otherwise…the big sacrifice, the one that influences the aliens to spare humankind, is delivered softly. It’s Bud, relaying a poorly-typed message saying that, when he went out to try to defuse a bomb, he knew it was a one-way trip. He reassured Lindsay and the crew when he left, but he understood he wasn’t coming back. It’s a great moment, really, but the two scenes that made my heart grow three sizes were these:

One: When Bud hears that Lindsay’s coming down to his ship after months (or years) apart, he pulls off his wedding band and throws it into the toilet. Then he realizes that, no matter how much she frustrates and angers him, he loves her. He retrieves the ring and, since the toilets are specialized, they’re full of neon blue water. His hand is stained blue, a larger, more noticeable exhibit of his love than the ring. Awwww.

Two: Bud and Lindsay are trapped in a failing mini-sub, which is rapidly filling with frigid water, far from the rig. They’ve only got one survival suit. Lindsay calculates the oxygen, water temperature and their relative strength, and determines that one of two things will happen. Either they’ll both die, or she has to die so that Bud – the stronger swimmer – can drag her back to the rig. It’s the only chance for at least one of them to survive, and it’s an intense scene. The sub’s tiny, so Bud’s right there, holding her as she drowns, not knowing if he can bring her back.

*blows whistle* Okay, all you people who’ve been meaning to watch a movie for TWENTY-THREE years but haven’t gotten around to it, come on back. This is the love story that made me believe in love stories. It’s probably why I’m addicted to paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Situations are highest possible stakes intense. Differences between love interests can be vast. We’re talking different species or millenium-old enemies. It’s fantastic.

Love has to find a way through massive odds, threats of violence and magically-induced divisions. When it’s tested, it’s put way past the red line. In the Night Runner series, Sydney Kildare and Malcolm Kelly are, for everything going on around them, taking things slowly. As a vampire, Mal has all the time in the world. As a human in a vampire world, Sydney's every breath could be her last. And, in Falling from the Light, a single moment will change everything.


About the Author

Regan Summers lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband and alien-monkey hybrid of a child. She is a huge fan of the low profile. She likes books, ottomans with concealed storage, small plate dining, libraries, Corporal Hicks, some aspects of pre-revolutionary France, most aspects of current Italy, and books.

Her Night Runner series, including Don’t Bite the Messenger, Running in the Dark, and Falling from the Light is available wherever e-books are sold.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Living the Dream

Posted by: Veronica Scott
The Party Poster! Like the hair?
So today was my last at the "day job"! Been planning this for two years now, ever since I got more than two books out there, discovered I had a growing audience of readers - for whom I'm incredibly grateful!!! - and began to think "What if I took early EARLY retirement and wrote full time?"

Don't get me wrong - I loved working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab all these years. I was on the business side of the house (no head for science or math), doing subcontracts for flight projects and also cross functional process improvement projects and Lean Six Sigma and a host of other, related things...yes, I loved having career milestones like being the first woman group supervisor in the Acquisition Division and the first woman to do contracts for construction (this was wayyy back in the day of course - many many highly qualified women doing complex subcontracts and in management now - YAY!)....but....but...writing was and always will be my first love. I live, I breathe, I write. The idea of doing that FULL TIME.....yup, the Dream.

Yesterday my co-workers and colleagues and managers threw me the best, most purple, blingiest (I had a tiara, people, and I wore it!), chocolatiest going away party a person could possibly have in the workplace. It was perfect....

Today I did all the final bureaucratic things one does - turned in the badge and the parking pass, gave up my keys.....handed in the cell phone and the iPad.....

Hugs, more hugs, signed books (loved that part), signed my author photo that a lovely lady named
Gloria had made into a movie star-like 8X10, with my book covers as the border.....

Walked to my car...

And I drove slowly around the buildings toward the gate, trying to take in and really feel the fact that I was leaving this place where I'd been so long...long enough that my daughter who attended the retirement party yesterday was in some of the earliest photos, if you count the baby shower thrown for me before she was born...and now she works at JPL. My late husband was still very much alive when I started there...the JPL family helped me get through his sudden and tragic death in a bicycle accident much too young...so leaving all that behind now was end of an era stuff for me, you know? (Although we all pledged most solemnly to Stay In Touch and I believe we will. Thank you, social media LOL.)

As I waited in line to exit the gate, I had a moment of panic. "I'm unemployed after all these years!" Then the line moved, the car edged over the boundary between JPL and La Canada-Flintridge and I couldn't go back even if I wanted to...and I said in a more confident, happier voice, "No, now I'm self employed."

As I drove up the little hill to the main road, I cried a tiny bit but I also felt physically lighter somehow, as if I'd shed - not a burden, because I truly love JPL and the work they do with Mars rovers and Europa and SMAP and all the rest of the Missions - but maybe a cocoon? Maybe now the writer in me feels truly free?

I don't know, but I'm so excited about having all day every day to write the best stories I can....who knows what will happen, but I can't WAIT.

The Dream became the Reality today.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Study in Pigheadedness...er, Perseverance

Posted by: Jane Kindred
Seventeen years ago, I wrote a doorstop of a fantasy novel, titled Anamnesis. After several rounds of edits and a few beta reads, I thought it was ready to be published.

Back in the Dark Ages, there was no QueryTracker, so I bought a copy of Writer's Market and did my research the hard way. There wasn't a lot of information there besides addresses (often without the agents' names), and if you were lucky, maybe something about the genres they represented. The other way to find an agent was to look in the fronts of books you loved, and books that were like yours, and see if the authors credited their agents. I compiled my tiny list, and though almost no agents accepted queries by email at the time, I found a few who did, and started with those, moving on to the snail-mail queries after that first handful of rejections. (My query, by the way, was atrocious. There was also no Twitter full of helpful writers to turn to for a quick query critique. And none of the few writers I knew had any knowledge of querying.)

I sent those early queries out one at a time because their listings in Writer's Market insisted "no simultaneous submissions." It took a few years to exhaust my small supply of agents, because after sending off a snail query, you had to wait several months for rejection.

After five years of slow rejections, I started attending novel writing workshops and trying to form critique groups with the writers there. (Those always lasted about one novel—usually theirs. Either they didn't care for my critique or they just didn't feel like reciprocating. But I did manage to find a few good ones.) Around that time, Writer's Digest had also begun offering online courses. For the first time, I had someone to tell me my query was crap, and just why it was crap.

Six years in, I managed to get two requests for partials out of my growing list of agents. (There were now online newsletters and websites that compiled lists of agents, including Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly—though you had to pay to get them—so my rejections came faster and many allowed simultaneous submissions. But still almost no email queries.)

When I'd exhausted that list, I decided to write a novella based in the same world, thinking it might get published in a speculative fiction magazine and earn me some publishing chops to put in my next round of queries. What resulted was The Devil's Garden. What I found out next was that there were almost no SFF magazines left in print, and those few that remained had great disdain for any romantic elements.

At last, I gave up on Anamnesis, and in 2006 I began research for a new book, which would become The House of Arkhangel'sk trilogy. By the time I stopped procrastinating with research and wrote the trilogy in 2009, I looked up and found there was a whole new world of publishing. There were these things called "ebooks," and this place called "Twitter," which was overflowing with writers and agents and publishers, and people wanted to help each other in this process. It was mind-blowing. And through Twitter, I discovered that ebook publishers were actually acquiring novellas.

In 2010, I sold my first work of fiction longer than a short story, and The Devil's Garden was published by Carina in 2011.

When edits were finished on Garden, I did a major overhaul of Anamnesis, breaking it into a trilogy and adding additional material. Ultimately, Carina passed on the novel, but a mere 17 years after this adventure began, I'm thrilled to announce that the first installment of what began as Anamnesis has finally been released into the wild: Idol of Bone, Book 1 in the Looking Glass Gods series, was released in ebook and trade paperback on Tuesday.

The moral of this story? Don't give up on your baby if you believe in it—even if it takes 17 years for that baby to grow up.

One stranger seeks to claim her heart…another is destined to destroy her.

Ra. Just two letters. Barely a breath. When she stumbles into the frozen Haethfalt highlands, her name is all she has—the last remnant of a past she’s managed to keep hidden, even from herself. Her magic, however, isn’t so easy to conceal—magic that’s the province of the Meer, an illicit race to which she can’t possibly belong.

The eccentric carpenter who takes her in provides a welcome distraction from the puzzle of herself. Though Jak refuses to identify as either male or female, the unmistakable spark of desire between them leaves Ra determined to find out what lies beneath the enigmatic exterior.

But more dangerous secrets are brewing underneath the wintry moors. Jak’s closest friend, Ahr, is haunted by his own unspeakable past. Bounty hunters seeking fugitive Meer refuse to leave him in peace.

Harboring feelings for both Ra and Ahr, Jak nonetheless struggles to keep them apart. Because like the sun and the moon coming together, their inevitable reunion has the potential to destroy Jak’s whole world.

Available now from Samhain Publishing and the following retailers:
Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Asleep on the Job

Posted by: PG Forte
Authors get asked fairly often where they get their ideas. It's a question that doesn't always have an easy answer. Story ideas come from a variety of sources and most of the time you're just given a clue, something that piques your interest. It could be almost anything--a picture you see online, a single sentence that you hear in your head, an offhand remark you overhear in a restaurant, or any random scene you might happen to witness as you move about in the world--like a motorcycle cop, carrying a big red-and-white stuffed dog, striding through an airport lobby. Then comes the hard work of hunting down the rest of the story, or building an entire world in which to place it, piece by piece.

Every once in awhile, however, the fates smile upon you and you find yourself gifted with an entire story, and pretty much all you have to do is write it all down.

Apparently, I get some of my best ideas while I'm asleep. I think it's probably pretty common to wake from a vivid dream with the germ of a story idea rattling around in your head, but I've actually had the experience of dreaming up entire stories, from start to finish, often with character names included.

And although it's true that, a lot of the time, dream stories don't work out the way you want them to, it's always an amazing feeling to wake up with a new idea in your head, to lie in bed and go over the story--both to cement the idea in your mind, and to search for flaws in its logic that will prevent you from bringing it to fruition without a lot of adjustments.

One dream story that worked out pretty well for me was my book Finders Keepers. It was science fiction, set in a future where age-altering technology not only existed, but proved to be an important plot point. It also served to explain away the seeming age-discrepancy that would have made no sense at all in a contemporary romance.

The other day I woke up with a fabulous idea in my head. It was set in the early 1980s and followed the adventures of a  trio of street musicians who emigrate from Ireland to NYC in hopes of making it big, only to meet with tragedy in the form of a ferry boat accident in the East River that claims the life of at least one of the main characters.

That part is all fine. Where I ran into trouble was when my dead girl came back as an angel (well, sort of an angel, anyway) in order to save the life of the last remaining member of the trio, who was having a hard time dealing with survivor guilt.

Do you see the problem yet?

The beginning is set thirty years ago, which makes perfect sense from an economic/political standpoint. And if I have my heroine die in the '80s and come back "now" I get to play around with all the ways the world has changed in the past thirty years--which is a lot of fun. But if my hero has managed to make it through those same thirty years, why would he suddenly need an angel now--never mind one who appears so much younger than he is?  

I keep thinking that all I really need to resolve this is a time machine...but I suspect only Douglas Adams could get away with combining ghosts and time machines in the same story.

Ah, well. It might not be ready to write, but it was still an entertaining dream, and I still believe it has potential. I have the image of my ghost girl burned in my mind. She's wearing a flowery dress and doc martens as she emerges from the subway and looks around Times Square for the first time in three decades. I can't wait to figure out the rest of her story.


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