Thursday, November 20, 2014

Magic Thursday with Anna Hackett: Writing Rip-Roaring Space Opera


On a Rogue Planet, the third installment of my science fiction romance series, The Phoenix Adventures, is out this week (cue happy dance!) This series is set far into the future where Earth as we know it no longer exists and treasure hunters and astro-archeologists vie for valuable old Earth artifacts. There's action, adventure, treasure hunts and the dashing, treasure-hunting Phoenix brothers: Dathan, Zayn and Niklas.


The Phoenix Adventures are also space opera. Space opera is a play on the term ‘soap opera’ – these stories are larger than life, emphasize the romantic, are filled with adventure, all in a space setting. They tend to be a little bit lighter on the technology and science aspects of science fiction, and more focused on the characters and the adventure.


I thought I’d share a few of my tips for writing action-packed space opera but still keep it accessible to your readers:


1)      Make your characters larger than life (but give them some weaknesses!)

2)      Introduce some fun, sci-fi gadgets (but don’t overdo it, have some ‘normal’ stuff as well)

3)      Use some fun, sci-fi names (but don’t give everyone unpronounceable names!)

4)      Keep the pace moving fast (but give your characters a few tiny breathers)

5)      Have fun! Starship battles…go for it. Evil aliens…sure thing. Space monsters…why not? 

 ~~~~
 
Unlucky-in-love salvage mechanic, Malin Phoenix, didn’t intend to get caught up in a coup and kidnapped by a sexy cyborg. But she finds herself swept into an adventure to help the deadly, emotionless CenSec, Xander Saros, retrieve an ancient Terran artifact and save his planet. 


Soon she’s racing across uncharted space and is magnetically drawn to the cyborg whose strong arms and muscled body ignite a desire that burns brighter than a supernova. But Mal can never let herself forget that she can’t fall in love with a cyborg who can never love her back.


The crowning glory of the Centax Security program, Xander is heavily enhanced, his emotions dampened to nothing to allow him to be the most efficient, lethal killer in the galaxy. As he and Malin hunt for the remnant of the galaxy’s first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism, their quest leads them into the lair of a dangerous technomancer. But Xander can’t identify his greatest threat—the enemy or the fascinating woman who’s making him feel.

For more info on the book >> Read More

~~~~

I’m Anna Hackett and I’m passionate about action romance. I love stories that combine the thrill of falling in love with the excitement of action, danger and adventure. You can find me at all the usual places: Website | Blog | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Bite Of... Magical Redemption

For this week's A Bite Of... we have Magical Redemption, by Nicola E. Sheridan... (that's me)


 Describe Magical Redemption in five words or less?
Fun, exciting, magical, mythical, romance

Who was the most enjoyable character to write?
I loved writing Jinx, my large nosed Lebanese heroine, who also happens to be a Genie. She was lovely to write and I had a lot of fun with her. I also loved writing Lucian so much from the an earlier book, that I had to give him his own story.

Who would play your characters in a movie?
I actually gave a copy of this book to Jason Momoa when I met him at Comicon last year, because his is a massive source of manspiration for me!
If I wanted anyone to play Jinx, I'd say it would have to be an unknown actress with a regal-sized nose.

And here's the excerpt!

"What is your price?" Lucian's tone was getting colder. He curled his lip as if the words tasted bad.

There was another sinister silence before the woman spoke.

"I want your word you will give me the genie when you have recieved all your wishes."

Jinx heard her own sharp inhalation of breath roar like a vaccum in her head before her stomach launched into her throat and threatened to choke her. She forgot the commodity she was, and for a moment, she almost forgot it all.

This is what being around demon spawn does, she thought. The gorgeous smell that he wears like a cloak must be his evil pheromone. She stared up at him, waiting for his angry rebuttal. Surely, the man who commanded her to hold his hand, who bought her clothes and curry-puffs, wouldn't just hand her over to a faceless magical being in an orange shroud?

She was mistaken.

"Yes," he said, gazing steadily down the manhole.

With that one word, Jinx through she'd crumble. Of course she was expendable. How dare she think otherwise. Once she gave him the three wishes, she'd be of no further use to him, and he'd soon forget her. There was no point in pretending otherwise. Lucian wasn't the kind of man to pretend or play games, anyway.

Her heart wanted to break.

"Shall we shake on it?" the shrouded woman asked.

"Of course," Lucian agreed and pulled his hand free from Jinx.

Jinx looked away. She didn't want to see them shake on it. There was nothing she could say to change it, nothing she could do at all. She was a slave and always would be. 

If you'd like to find out more about me or what I'm up to, check out the links below.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Good News Day


Welcome to this week's good news....

coming to you this week by Nicole Murphy


BOOK RELEASE


Congratulations to Fiona Greene on the release of her contemporary romance Home for Christmas, from Escape Publishing.


What began as an impersonal, but cheerful holiday gift for a soldier far from home becomes so much more…

Sergeant Tate McAuliffe, stationed in Afghanistan, opens his Christmas care package from Australia and is stunned by both its contents and the sender. Fun-loving Christmas tree designer Layla Preston is a breath of fresh air for loner Tate. Although they’ve never met, their email friendship quickly develops and their feelings for each other deepen.

But Layla knows the heartache that loving a soldier can bring and when Tate is injured, her deep-seated fear drives them apart. With their relationship in tatters, can Layla and Tate work through their differences, so Layla can welcome Tate home for Christmas?

Buy links available at the Escape Publishing website.

Read more about Fiona at her website.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Darklight On.... With Jess Anastasi



A Sci-fi Evolution

Someone asked me a while back how I came to love science-fiction so much, and why I decided to write sci-fi romance. It might seem silly, but my answer in the moment was actually "I don't know" because I'd never really sat down and thought about it, probably due to the fact that the evolution of my tastes had developed over such a long period of time. It kind of bugged me that I really didn't know why I liked sci-fi, or how I'd come to a place where I felt I could write it.
I thought back, and realized that my love of speculative fiction had been developing from a very young age, and the reality of this had never occurred to me before.
The first sci-fi show I can ever remember watching was SeaQuest. I was only about twelve, and my parents were starting to let me watch a few more "grown-up" shows.
After only one or two episodes of SeaQuest, I was hooked, and waited every week for (I think it was) Friday night to roll around so I could see another episode. To this day, I have no idea why, but I was just blown away by this futuristic concept and loved every second of it.
And I'll admit, my first TV-crush was on Lucas, played by Jonathan Brandis--a young teen on the ship's crew. My memory fails me now, but I think he might have been super-intelligent or something. But I do remember he spent a lot of time hanging out with a dolphin. What twelve year old wouldn't want a dolphin for a pet?
It was around this time I was also becoming interested in keeping a journal and scraps of writing. Though I've never admitted it to anyone before, I actually wrote a few little stories, scripting myself into the show, doing all sorts of dramatic things like rescuing that dolphin and (gasp!) holding hands with Lucas. Fanfiction in its earliest form, though it didn't occur to me until recently that fanfiction was exactly what I was doing.
After SeaQuest finished, I got into the X-Files in a big way, and that lasted well into my late teens, when I also fell in love with Buffy and Angel. Buffy's character was the same age as me while I was in high school, so it was like we were growing up together. And while I couldn't relate to killing demons and vampires, hanging out in cemeteries, or having a broody, mysterious, older (much older) boyfriend like Angel, I still felt like I could relate to other teenager angsty issues.

After Buffy, there was a bit of a lull. But then my now sister-in-law introduced me to Stargate SG1, and I could no longer deny my geeky side. I loved it. Like absolutely thought it was the most brilliant TV I had ever seen. Everything about it sucked me in; the aliens, visiting other planets, the team dynamics, the forbidden romance between Sam and Jack, the bromance between Jack and Daniel, the awesome way Teal'c delivered those deadpan one liners, not to mention the sexy geek that was Daniel Jackson. Yep, SG1 made nerds look cool, at least I thought so.
My love of SG1 created a ripple effect. The more I loved it, the more I wanted. Yeah, they brought out Stargate Atlantis, and it was great in its own way, but I wanted something else. I branched out in all directions, reading what little sci-fi romance I could get my hands on, like Linnea Sinclair and Ann Aguirre. I discovered Farscape, and the epic romantic story of John and Aeryn, who I still say had the best TV love-interest arc out of any couple on any show ever, not just a sci-fi series. And then I went darker, getting into the mind-twisting shadows of Battlestar Galactica.
Finally, I sat down and watched Joss Whendon's Firefly and Serenity. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say my life was changed forever. Something about Whedon's Firefly universe was beyond my ability to articulate its brilliance. I am one of those people who forever complain that it was axed before it had a chance to shine, and we missed out on something that could have been generationally epic if it had been given three or four seasons to play out. But it wasn't to be, and maybe part of Firefly's cult status is because it became so popular after the fact. Don't quote me, but I think DVD sales far outsold the expectations based on the show's ratings.
So after I had watched and read everything that had caught my sci-fi interest, I found myself at a bit of a loss, and couldn't find anything else to consume that satisfied me in the way some of the books and TV shows previously had.
For a long while, I'd had this sci-fi idea floating around in the back of my mind, and although I read and watched plenty of sci-fi, I had this belief that sci-fi was something smart people wrote. I didn't mean that in the sense that I'm not smart, I think I have a decent level of intelligence and had applied myself to become a writer by this stage. But I thought a sci-fi author need to have like an IQ of one-hundred-and-twenty, or something ridiculous, to pull off writing all that technical stuff that I didn't understand.
I actually don't remember what made me decide I was finally going to sit down and write this book. I think it was possibly just that the idea wouldn't leave me alone, until I finally thought "what the heck, I'll just give it a try."
I do clearly remember sitting down and opening the file to begin, wondering how much of a spectacular failure this was going to be. But the words came, and then kept coming, flowing in a way they never had before in any other book I'd ever written. I had that book finished in a matter of seven or eight weeks, all ninety-five thousand words of rough first draft. I'd really done it, and I'd felt connected to this universe and characters with amazing depth. That book was Atrophy (coming out with Entangled Publishing at some point in the near future) and its path to publication was a long and arduous one, but that's an entire other blog post.
A while after I'd written Atrophy, I decided I wanted to try my hand at a military sci-fi romance, and Escape Velocity was born. It started out life as a simple novella, but through a series of recent events, blossomed into a full length novel.
Sometimes it still surprises me just how sci-fi my writing career has gone. If someone had of told me ten years ago that this is what I'd be writing today, I would never have believed them!
These days I watch shows like Intelligence and Almost Human (unfortunately both cancelled after only one season) The 100 (just returned for season 2) and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, because I think Joss Whedon is pretty much the master of the writing universe. And fortunately, there's now more sci-fi romance books on the market than ever before—more than I can keep up with considering I don't have as much reading time as I used to.
I've found myself in my element, and no longer deny my total sc-fi geekiness.


To get through the pain and torture inflicted on him as a POW, Commander Kai Yang relied on memories of Sacha, his shipmate and the girl he grew up with, to survive. He escapes and returns to his battleship, the Valiant Knox, to discover he'd been declared dead, and a widowed Sacha had been married to his best friend. Desperate to be the man she needs, Kai must overcome both his struggle with PTSD and guilt over loving his best friend's widow.

Sacha Dalton can't believe Kai is alive. She'd mourned him as deeply as the loss of her husband, but Kai's death revealed feelings she'd never known she'd had. However, Kai might think he's falling for her, but she's convinced he's using her as a crutch to avoid confronting his survivor's guilt. Until he's healed, she'll have to keep her distance.

And, as a doctor, Sacha knows all too well many soldiers never recover.

(I don't have a cover yet, but you guys will see it as soon as I do!) 

Find me!

Twitter @JessAnastasi 


Jess has been making up stories ever since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn't deterred and now she gets to make up stories for a living. She loves loud music, a good book on a rainy day, and probably spends too much time watching too many TV shows. Jess lives in regional Victoria, Australia with her very supportive husband, three daughters, one ball-obsessed border collie, and one cat who thinks he's one of the kids.




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Magic Thursday with J.M. Bray ~ How to Wrap Up a Series

It's my great pleasure to have JM Bray back on the Dark Sider blog today, with a post on how it feels to finish writing a series. Over to you, JM :-)



Currently I’m editing my third novel, Shrouded, with the intension of submitting it to my publisher in December (glances at calendar). The story is there, I love it. Every critique partner that’s read it cried at least twice…so I feel like it’s gong the right direction. But here’s the hitch:

Part of me doesn’t want to finish it.

It’s the last book in the Shroud Trilogy and when it goes, I feel like I’ll lose something. Some writers love wrapping things up, they enjoy tying the bow. I thought I was one of them, until now. I have other stories, one of which I’m 35k into writing, but its not this story, it’s not my first, it’s not the one I’ve lived with for all these years. As a result, I find myself over analyzing, finding faults, fixating on minutia. I’m also unable to write anything else. Even doing this article was like pulling teeth.

At first, I suspected that writer’s block had finally hit. Now, I’m not so sure. It’s feeling more like cowardice. A fear that the next story wont work, or happen, that the magic which made words fall from my fingertips in a deluge, will be carried away on the winds of change. I suppose there’s really nothing I can do, except move forward and see.


What happens with you at the end of a story, or series? Are you good with it or do you get twisted up as well?

***********************



JM Bray is the author of the Tearing the Shroud and Mending the Shroud, through Escape Publishing. Look for a special on the first novel via Kobo in December!



Twitter: @jmbraybooks


Website: www.jmbray.com





Friday, November 7, 2014

Real Life Paranormal with Carolyn Wren



The Bosun's Whistle 


My Dad served in the British Navy for many years and had a fascination for all things nautical, especially historical nautical items.  When I saw an antique Bosun’s Whistle in a junk shop, I bought it for him as a birthday gift.  Dad always said he wondered about its history.

The cancer that took Mum in 2001 took her very quickly, leaving the entire family in shock.  Of course, it affected Dad more than anyone.  They’d been married for 53 years. In a moment of deep sorrow and depression the day after she passed, he decided to join her, laying out a pile of her painkillers and a glass of water on the dressing table next to where the whistle always sat.

What happened next is open to interpretation, but I can only tell the story as Dad told it to me.  One minute he was staring at the pills with the glass in his hand…the next moment he was on an 18th century war ship in a storm.  Everything was utterly real, from the sea spray hitting his face and burning his throat, to the rough rope grazing his hands as he battled with the riggings and the pounding elements. And through it all, a calm voice from behind him kept telling him to fight on, to weather the storm, to keep going.

Dad said he battled for hours, until he was exhausted and half drowned, every muscle screaming in pain.  Through it all, the Bosun’s voice kept urging him to keep going, to fight. 

Then, without warning, he was back in his bedroom, with the glass in his hand and the pills on the dresser.  Dad flushed them down the toilet.  

Dad lived for another eight years, before passing peacefully in an aged care home, and he always said it was because of the Bosun, the original owner of the whistle, who brought him back from the edge that sad day.

All I can tell you is, Dad took that whistle everywhere during those eight years, but the day after he passed I searched everything, all of his belongings, and asked everyone in the aged care home.  It was nowhere to be found. The Bosun’s whistle had completely disappeared.

Did a ghost visit Dad in his hour of need? We’ll never know.  I hope the whistle found another home, and the Bosum is watching over another sailor, waiting until he’s needed again.


~ ~ ~


 


Eloisa Waters is creating a new life for herself. After travelling for twelve months, she comes home at Christmas, purchasing a small country cottage in a sleepy English village, despite the fact its previous owner was a recluse, the original owner was supposedly a witch, and it’s now rumored to be haunted!

On the first night in her new home, sensual erotic dreams surprise and delight her. Only these aren’t dreams. The rumors are true. Two handsome Regency ghosts inhabit the cottage, becoming corporeal at night, trapped by a curse, compelled to satisfy every desire of the new owner.

Elly begins to fall in love with Anton and Phillipe, her charming ghostly lovers. But is there more? Can the curse be broken? Or does Elly risk her own soul. As Christmas approaches, and memories surface, how will Elly choose? How can she possibly leave behind the Ghosts of Grace Cottage?





Web links and Buy links

Buy links




I was born in England. My parents loved to travel as my dad spent many years in the navy. By the time I reached the age of 12 we had traveled pretty much around the world on cruise ships.
This sounds fun and exciting unless like me you can get sea sick sitting in a bathtub. Lets just say boats do not feature highly in my books.
I still love to travel, but I use planes. All of my life I have written stories in my head. I would rewrite and add characters to TV shows, edit and change novels I was reading, invent scenarios and scenes to amuse myself on long journeys. But strangely I never wrote any of them down. About three years ago I woke up with a scene so clear in my head I knew I had to put it down on paper. Now, what should I do with this one page of prose? I know, I will email it to some friends. The friends approved, in fact they asked what book it was from. I shyly admitted it was my own work and the reaction was immediate...please write the next bit! I did and I have not stopped writing since.