How To Get Off the Planet? Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revisedSwitching to excerpts from STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER, my novel in the upcoming Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology! The story has a definite ‘Anastasia’ vibe…

Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…a fun way to sample new books and find new authors! (Also welcome to the Sunday Snippet visitors!)

Punctuation may be wonky to comply with our guidelines here. May be edited a bit from published version.

The excerpt (Tassia’s elderly companion has been murdered, she escaped but  her problems still abound so she asks her companion F’rrh for help. F’rrh is a little like an alien genie.): 

What am I going to do? How am I going to get off this damn planet?

She had Sectors citizenship papers, as phony as could be, but perfect forgeries right down to the holo seal. Xandrina had spent the bulk of their funds on obtaining the precious documents for both of them. But their carefully hoarded credits had run out after the flight to this world cost more than expected due to enemy disruption of shipping lanes and Tassia’s ultimate destination lay many lightyears away in the next Sector, out of reach.

When she thought she was far enough from the hotel, she hailed a robo cab and headed for the spaceport. Sitting in the back of the tiny vehicle, she opened the pack a fraction, slid her hand inside and rubbed the top of the shiny, lacquered box, opening the lid a fraction. I need a way to get offworld for free.

For a moment nothing happened as she touched the box, and Tassia’s heart sank.

Embrace_the_passion_Pets_in_space3_pauline_Baird_jonesSTAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER blurbTassia Megg is a woman on the run after the death of her elderly guardian. Her search to get off the planet in a hurry comes when chance directs her to an open dance audition for the luxury cruise liner Nebula Zephyr’s resident troupe. If there is one thing Tassia can do, it is dance!

Security Officer Liam Austin is suspicious of the newest performer to join the Comettes. She shows all the signs of being a woman on the run and seems to fit the Sectors-wide broadcast description of a missing thief, accused of stealing priceless artifacts. As he gets to know Tassia during the cruise, he starts to wonder if she’s something more – a long vanished princess in hiding from deadly political enemies of her family perhaps? And what’s the story with the three-eyed feline companion other crew members swear Tassia brought aboard the ship? Does the animal even exist?

As the ship approaches its next port of call, all the issues come to a boil and Liam must decide if he’ll step in to help Tassia or betray her. Life is about to get very interesting aboard the Nebula Zephyr as Liam tries to uncover the truth. Could F’rrh, the peculiar alien cat he has been hearing about, be the key to the mystery and Tassia’s fate?

Anthology Blurb:

Pets in Space™ is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!

Amazon     iBooks     B&N    Kobo     Google

canva ad mystery dancer

Carol Van Natta Talks CATS OF WAR Pets In Space 3

Embrace_the_passion_Pets_in_space3_pauline_Baird_jonesVeronica: Always fun to talk scifi with USA Today Best Selling Author Carol Van Natta!

Carol: We writers of the stories for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 are a wildly inventive lot. All the stories have romances, of course, because it is a science fiction romance anthology, but they also have some very unusual pets. They play a pivotal role in causing trouble, bringing the lovers together, and/or saving the day.

In my story, CATS OF WAR, the pets are two top-secret, genetically-engineered creatures named Novo and Boz. (For more about the ethics-challenged pet-trade industry that created them, see Pet Trade, my novella from last year’s anthology.) They are mostly feline, but with enhancements, such as wings, opposable thumbs (they can operate the can opener!), and camouflage coloring. Oh, and they’re telepathic. My own home cats insist that all space opera is better with cats, and for this story, I have to agree. See the excerpt below for the human heroine’s first introduction to the cats of war.

I asked the other authors in Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 to tell you about their story’s pets (don’t worry—no spoilers).

  • S.E. Smith: HEART OF THE CAT – Cinnamon and Spice are white Bengal tigers that were recovered from an illegal exotic animal trader. They are extremely protective of their mistress, which complicates things for my amorous hero.
  • Anna Hackett: DESERT HUNTER – Fiend is an alien canine of unknown origin. He’s big, scruffy and protective with a barbed tail to watch out for. He’s also hiding some dark secrets…
  • Ruby Lionsdrake: QUASHI — That’s the name of the species and the real start of the story. There are dozens of them in the adventure, but only Roberta gets named and does more than trill in a cage. These are like old Star Trek tribbles except they have legs, antennae, and blue fur. Favorite food? Apple slices. (BTW, Roberta is concerned that everybody else’s critter is a predator.)
  • Veronica Scott: STAR CRUISE MYSTERY DANCER: The pet is F’rrh, resembling a Siamese cat but with three eyes. F’rrh is a jenfellini, an alien spirit similar to a genie who doesn’t grant wishes but will occasionally utter a prophecy.
  • Pauline Baird Jones: OPERATION ARK: Tiger is a caticorn – he has a small horse body, but his head is a cat’s with a small, single horn in the center of his forehead. He has secrets and plays a key role in resolving a crisis in my story.
  • Alexis Glynn Latner: STARWAY – Strelka, nicknamed Star, is delicately built little dog with thick white fur. She’s a Wendisan Chivvier, the only dog breed native to the interstellar city called Wendis. Chivviers are bred to be very good at finding missing people and misplaced things.
  • E.D. Walker: THE BAJO CATS OF ANTEROS XII – I have two bajo kittens in my story. They’re brightly coloring (like a Lisa Frank illustration come to life), and they also secrete a psychotropic substance from their fur that causes some…uh, complications in my story.
  • Tiffany Roberts: HUNTER OF THE TIDE – Ikaros is a prixxir, a land and sea creature. They’re scale covered predators with sharp claws and teeth, very territorial, and are usually in packs. He’s fiercely protective of those he has bonded with and loves, who he has claimed as ‘his pack’, and will place himself in danger to defend them…despite being a pup. Prixxir are intelligent and can read body language and emotions, allowing Ikaros to be the perfect companion.
  • JC Hay: SHADOW OF THE PAST – JJ is an Umbra Wolf pup. Umbra Wolves are rendered mostly invisible when not in polarized light, and develop an empathic bond with the SpecOps soldiers they’re paired with. The wolfbond benefits both Ranger and Wolf, but carries a risk as the death of one can destroy the other as well.
  • Kyndra Hatch:  AFTER THE FALL – H’tch and K’mi are moghas, which form a one-time bond with a Korthan biped. H’tch already has his alpha master companion, but K’mi is still waiting for one when the story starts. If it were possible to get a cross between a wolf and a fox of Earth, that’s what they generally look like, except that they have long antennae sticking up from the tips of their ears with feather-like tufts on the ends. They also have retractable fingers in their front paws that help them grab and climb.

Here’s the excerpt I promised you from CATS OF WAR. Ferra, the human main character, is in a prison of sorts, working off a restitution debt. When she discovers two creatures in the pouring rain, she feels compelled to smuggle them into her cell, despite the risks. Now that they and she are temporarily safe, she discovers what she has rescued.

cvn pet

Carol’s pets, Artist Nyssa Juneau

THE EXCERPT: She closed up the lab, returned the gravcart, and walked back to her cell. She closed and locked the door behind her, just like any other evening.

The bed looked inviting, but first, she had to look after the cats. She could feel their presence in her mind, even if she couldn’t see them. She used the wallcomp to turn up the lights and darken her only window.

The female oozed out from under the bed, followed by the male.

Now that she saw them in better light, she didn’t know what she was looking at. Wide, cat-like heads and ears, with narrower muzzles, and nose flaps. Mottled dark fur with a faint rosette pattern, and folded, bat-style wings with fine downy fur. No orange stripe on the female’s wing, so that must have been a trick of the light. Their front paws had sharp-looking claws and opposable toes. Their tails were long and ovoid.

We are cats. That was the female.

We were made for war, thought the male.

Food? asked the female.

Ferra didn’t know what to do with cats designed for war, since the Central Galactic Concordance government had kept the peace across the galaxy for the last two centuries, but she could do something about food.

She reached up to the top shelf of her closet to retrieve the mealpack she’d stashed there two days ago. She triggered the heater and put it on a narrow counter that served as the cell’s desk and table to warm.

She sat on the bed and pulled off her clammy shoes and tossed them onto the drying mat by the door. “Do you have names?”

The female’s tale twitched. Yes.

Ferra laughed. The cat was just like some AIs Ferra had known, unhelpfully literal and disdainful of imprecise questions. Ferra tried again, this time forming the words in her mind and projecting them to the female cat. What is your name?

My call sign is Novo Seventeen Alpha.

I am Bozlurian Four Delta, volunteered the male.

“I’ll just call you Novo and Boz, if you don’t mind.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Read more in CATS OF WAR, one of eleven new, original stories in
Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

10% of the first month’s profits goes to

Story blurb for CATS OF WAR:

A repair technician must convince a disgraced military sub-captain to help her save two special cats before trouble engulfs them all.

Military Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring in his previous assignment. He’s more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he’s told her, because technically, he’s her warden.

Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She’s lucked into a tech repair job, and If she keeps her head down, she’ll be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local boss behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she’s running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.

Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn’t know what she’ll do if she can’t convince Tauceti to take them with him and keep them until she’s free to come for them.

When trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them. Find out what happens in this exciting stand-alone novella from Carol Van Natta’s award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.


Anthology Blurb for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Pets in Space is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity.

Proud supporters of, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders.

Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 today!


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cvnAbout the Author:

USA TODAY bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Carol Van Natta shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, all of whom would love to travel to the stars.

Alexis Glynn Latner Talks FLYING THE STARLINE Pets in Space 3

Embrace_the_passion_Pets_in_space3_pauline_Baird_jonesVeronica: This is USA Today Best Selling Author Alexis’s third year to be in the Pets in Space anthology and I’m always excited to read her stories because I love her universe and she comes up with the coolest ‘pets’!

Alexis: Stories aren’t completely made up. This includes far-future science fiction romance stories. Something in the real worlds that informs the story. In my story for Pets in Space: Embrace the Romance, “Starway,” the heroine’s profession—starliner pilot—reflects what it’s like to fly airliners on Earth today. Some of the similarity is positive. Some of it, alas, is not so positive. Either way, it adds the kind of realism that makes science fiction work.

Airline pilots are very, very smart men and women with high energy levels. This describes Nikka, the heroine of “Starway,” though her work takes her across stars, not lands and seas.

The modern work of the airline pilot—they call it flying the line—depends on Crew Resource Management. The old way of running a cockpit, in which the Captain was godlike and never questioned, resulted in too much smoking wreckage. Airlines, starting with United, worked out how crews should cooperate and synthesize everyone’s knowledge and experience into the best outcome for the flight. Interestingly, something like CRM was first devised by the railroads. I can well imagine such a good idea going to the stars.

alexis pet

Alexis’s scifi pet Artist Nyssa Juneau

Unfortunately, airline cockpit crews have schedules that are brutally hard on sleep. It’s profitable to the company to do it that way. Profit conflicts with humane work conditions. This is why transportation unions—probably starting with the steamboat pilots’ guild in Mark Twain’s day—are important. The Airline Pilots’ Association has a long and embattled history of protecting pilots and passengers. Nikka doesn’t have a union on her side. What she does have is something very characteristic of pilots faced with indifferent or bad management: passive aggression honed to a sharp edge. Don’t go out of your way to make an enemy of an airline pilot. Really, you won’t like the outcome.

Given her working conditions, Nikka has a quirk borrowed from an airline captain friend of mine. He loves eating at buffets after a long exhausting flight. Nikka likes a future equivalent—a food court with selections to choose from behind glass windows. She explains, “A starliner pilot has to make a cascade of decisions in real time. After a star run, when it’s been hours of decisions like that, it’s easier to for me to pick food out of the wall than decide with a restaurant menu.”

Not included in “Starway”—meaning there are whole new stories to be explored—is what it’s like for starport personnel—the future equivalent of the airline rampers. These guys and gals are critical to the airline business, not always appreciated by the public or even their own management, and have their own way of looking at their world. For example, Boeing 777’s, known as Triple-Sevens to pilots, are Bigfoots to the rampers. The big landing gear are what the rampers have to work around.

I wonder what rampers will someday call different kinds of starships?

alexisAuthor Bio: Alexis Glynn Latner, based in Houston, writes science fiction about space exploration and star travel, adventure, hope and love. Her Website is

Book blurb:

Pets in Space™ is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!

Amazon     iBooks     B&N    Kobo     Google


Tiffany Roberts Talks HUNTER OF THE TIDE Pets in Space 3

Embrace_the_passion_Pets_in_space3_pauline_Baird_jonesVeronica: So excited today to have Tiffany Roberts here to share an excerpt from Hunter of the Tide, their story in Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3. I’ve been fascinated by the character of Randall since we first ‘met’ him in the Kraken Series and now we get to know so much more via this story. Plus a really cool scifi pet!

Tiffany: Though all our books have either strong sci-fi or fantasy elements, our approach to storytelling has always focused on romance first. The core of each of our books is the love that develops between the main characters. Their relationships have to feel natural, have to feel genuine, and have to grow. Our story for the Pets in Space 3 Anthology, Hunter of the Tide, has that romantic core, but this anthology has allowed us to explore a relationship that we’ve never touched on before: the bond between people and their pets.

Randall Laster, the main character of Hunter of the Tide, is a broken man at the onset of the story. Ikaros, a semiaquatic sea creature that was found wounded, provides him an unexpected means of support and healing. Those of us with animals in our lives reap the benefit of such relationships every day, often without noticing—our pets provide us with so much more than something to pat on the head or scratch behind the ears every now and then.

The relationships we develop with animals are unique and powerful things, somehow enhanced by our inability (in most cases) to speak the same language. We connect with our pets on a deeper level, and the most precious and special of those connections don’t require words; they are intuitive, empathetic, and beneficial to all involved. Pets provide comfort, companionship, affection, and so much more. They can heal the wounds we carry in our hearts, they can ease the pain and worry we so often carry throughout our lives, they can help us see, if only in brief glimpses, that everything will be okay.

We’re honored to have taken part in this year’s Pets in Space Anthology. Not only will it contribute to a worthy cause—Hero Dogs, which places service dogs with disabled veterans and first responders—but it is a celebration of the joy and love people have for their pets, no matter how mundane or otherworldly those pets may be.

tiffany roberts pet

Artist Nyssa Juneau

Hunter of the Tide Teaser

“He is eating so well,” Melaina said, twisting to grin at Rhea and Randall. Her attention immediately swung back to the prixxir. She offered another bite of fish, and the creature devoured the morsel, long tail waving eagerly.

“That’s good. It’ll help him heal faster,” Randall said.

Rhea watched her daughter pet the creature. Melaina’s face was aglow with delight, and her eyes sparkled with adoration. Rhea’s chest tightened; the youngling’s wanderlust had caused trouble over the last year, but seeing Melaina so happy filled Rhea’s hearts near to bursting.

And it was because of Randall. He’d made it possible by agreeing to care for the prixxir.

Ikaros chirruped, cocking its head and tilting it back when Melaina dangled a bit of fish higher up. The prixxir followed the moving food with large eyes, and the instant the meat came within its reach, it darted up to snatch the food out of Melaina’s fingers. She giggled.

“Once he’s fully grown, you won’t be able to hold food out of his reach anymore,” Randall said. “Not until you grow up, yourself.”

“When I’m as tall as you?” Melaina asked.

Randall glanced at Rhea, sweeping his gaze over her from tentacles to head, before looking back at Melaina. “You’ll probably be taller than me when you’re done.”

“Are you done growing? You don’t seem so tall for a male.”

Rhea smirked.

“Yeah, I’m all done growing. Maybe I’m not as big as Dracchus—”

No one is as big as Dracchus,” Melaina interrupted.

Randall smiled. “But I make up for it by being the hairiest one in this whole place.”

Melaina laughed, pointing at Randall’s chest. “You are!”

“Everyone has to have something they’re good at.”

“Being the hairiest cannot be all you are good at,” Rhea said.

“I might have a few other talents,” he replied, eyes roving over Rhea’s body again. Her brows rose, and her lips curved into a smile. “But I usually let other people judge that for themselves.”

tiffany robertsBio: Tiffany Roberts, a husband and wife writing duo, are now actively living their dream creating happily-ever-afters one monster or alien at a time.

Veronica: I’ve chatted with them at length on the phone and they are so much FUN! They bring a strong video gaming background to their worldbuilding and the Kraken universe is really well done, in my opinion!


The book blurb:

Eleven original Science Fiction Romances. Eleven action-filled tales that mix pets in space with their two-legged companions. Supporting a great cause – Don’t miss out on Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3! 

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Embrace the Passion: Pets In Space 3 Announcement

pisa 3 author announcement graphicIt’s Pet Passport Day … and what better day to announce the Pets in Space anthology will be back in 2018! Pauline B. Jones and I are baaaaaack with the third volume of our fun scifi romance project. Of course we’re writing our own stories for the collection too.

Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology will release on October 9th, 2018 and once again, 10% of pre-orders and the 1st month’s profits go to who raise, train & place support dogs with U.S. veterans.

I am thrilled to be teaming up with S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch. I can’t wait to read all the stories! S.E. Smith is writing Heart of the Cat, Book 3 in her Sarafin Warriors series, Anna Hackett is writing a Galactic Gladiators story, Pauline Baird Jones has a Project Enterprise story, I’m writing another The Sectors SF Series story set aboard the Nebula Zephyr interstellar cruise ship, Carol Van Natta shows us more of her Central Galactic Concordance, and Tiffany Roberts has more in The Kraken series.

While you wait….

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and you will receive an exclusive Pets in Space 3 Coloring Book (not available anywhere else).

Also get into the pet spaceship jetsetting mood and join our Facebook Pets in Space Reader Group. All the authors pop in say hello and we all share our favorite pet stories and have fun contests and special offers.

I’m working with cover artist Fiona Jayde now on the art for our third venture – more on that later this year!