A Poisoned Blade? Weekend Writing Warriors

Warriors logo revised(If you’re here for the SFR Brigade Presents excerpt, please go HERE.)

Some fun awards news below the excerpt….

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!)

I’m continuing on with my latest release, Star Survivor for another week or two. I’ll have a new release soon! (Blurb for Star Survivor below the excerpt.) Twilka and Khevan are on the run, trying to evade other assassins, since the Red Lady has a kill order out on Twilka. The couple are in a bad area of town, waiting for their friend Nick to arrive. Khevan has been talking to another D’nvannae Brother  while Twilka watches suspiciously from close by. The two men get into a knife fight, which Twilka breaks up, but Khevan is wounded. He says it’s a mere scratch. (Edited a bit from published version and some repunctuating):

He assessed the surrounding area, “We must go deeper into the slum, then obtain an automated rent-by-the-hour room and stay there for the night. I have fake ID we can use to secure the room.”

Arm in arm as if they were lovers, she and Khevan strolled through the trash-filled streets, rejecting the first few rent-a-room places before Twilka decided enough was enough and booked a chamber with his fake ID. The robo clerk delivered a card key and she led Khevan to the designated unit, breathing a deep sigh of relief as the door closed behind them and they were out of the public eye.

“Let me see your injury,” she said, as he sank onto the none too generous bed.

The slash looked dangerous to her, the edges red and puffy, “Do D’nvannae ever coat their blades with poison?” She asked the question over her shoulder as she went into the tiny bathroom to search for something to wash the wound with.

“A treachery against our code of honor – such an act would only be done at the Lady’s express command, and the Brother I met in the street wasn’t part of a compliance squad sent by her. I taught his class at the local temple in the afternoon before the kill order arrived, so he recognized me,” Khevan removed his shirt as she approached with cloths, “I think he overestimated his own abilities and hoped to earn renown by being the one to turn me in – a smarter move would have been to stay out of sight, call for assistance, and attempt to follow us.”

Star Survivor by Veronica ScottThe story:

The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.

They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.

Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?

D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady.  Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.

But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?

iBooks      Amazon    Kobo       Barnes & Noble

And in other news, the SFR Galaxy Awards were announced this week (I’m squeeing because Star Cruise Outbreak got two awards and Hostage to the Stars got one, plus the Pets In Space anthology got two.)! Be sure to take a moment or two to check out all the listed books! Lots of great reads by excellent authors…

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SFR Brigade Presents STAR CRUISE OUTBREAK

SFRB ShowcaseOnce a month the Science Fiction Romance Brigade authors showcase snippets from new work, WIPs, cover reveals or other fun things. The link is here for all  the participants.

StarCruiseOutbreak-FJM_Mid_Res_1000x1500Since Star Cruise: Outbreak received two SFR Galaxy Awards this past week (which was very exciting), I thought it would be the best book to feature  with an excerpt!

The story:

She saved countless soldiers in the wars … but does she have the weapons to fight an outbreak?

Dr. Emily Shane, veteran of the Sector Wars, is known as “The Angel of Fantalar” for her bravery under fire as a medic. However, the doctor has her own war wounds–severe PTSD and guilt over those she failed to save.

Persuaded to fill a seemingly frivolous berth as ship’s doctor on the huge and luxurious interstellar cruise liner Nebula Zephyr, she finds the job brings unexpected perks–a luxe beach deck with water imported from Tahumaroa II, and Security Officer Jake Dilon, a fellow veteran who heats her up like a tropical sun.

However, Emily soon learns she and Jake didn’t leave all peril behind in the war. A mysterious ailment aboard the Zephyr begins to claim victim after victim … and they must race against time and space to find the cause and a cure! Trapped on a ship no spaceport will allow to dock, their efforts are complicated by a temperamental princess and a terrorist–one who won’t hesitate to take down any being in the way of his target.  If anyone’s left when the disease is through with them…

The excerpt:

The portal to the corridor burst open, and Mr. Enzell struggled into the sickbay lobby, half carrying his wife and surrounded by their white-faced children. Syl was sobbing in great gasps, and the boys’ faces were set in expressions of terror. The oldest had a blood-soaked wad of cloth pressed to his nose. Mrs. Enzell’s head lolled, and she looked as if she was crying tears of blood. Clint immediately moved to support the woman on the other side, calling for Emily as he did so.

“Seven hells, here we go.” Emily was right behind them as the men helped Mrs. Enzell to an exam room and onto the bed.

“Trynna started bleeding a few minutes ago, Doctor,” Mr. Enzell said as medical personnel hurried to get their new patient hooked up to monitors. “She said she was dizzy and then—then her eyes—she was—the tears were blood. And next thing I knew, my son’s nose was bleeding. What’s going on?”

Emily caught Relba’s attention. “Call Bevar in, stat. I’ve got this, Vicente. Take the boy into room two and get him in bed, please.” As her staff moved to carry out the orders, Emily busied herself setting up the intravenous flow of fluids for Mrs. Enzell and added a basic clotting factor. “This is apparently a complication of the intestinal virus, Mr. Enzell. Do you have any symptoms?”

He blinked. “I’m fine. Marc, my oldest, he’s not doing too well.”

“My nurse is taking care of him right now. And Syl? And the middle child?” Emily spared a glance for them.

He clutched the kids closer to him. “Fine so far. Scared for their mom and Marc. How can bleeding from the eyes be related to an upset stomach?” Mr. Enzell’s voice was rough.

“Sometimes an infection affects different areas of the body at different times.” She tried to keep her own tone soothing.

“So you’ve seen this before? You know what to do?” He stepped closer to the bed and took his wife’s hand. “How long before she’s better?”

“Being in sickbay should do the trick, dear.” Sick as she was, Mrs. Enzell made an effort to reassure him. “Don’t give the doctor a hard time. I’m sure I’ll be all better by tonight.” Her voice was a thready whisper.

“The fluids and coagulant should help,” Emily said. “You were wise to come in right away.”

Clint knocked on the portal. “Excuse me, Doctor, but I think you should come out here for a moment.”

“I’ll be right back.” Although she could tell the Enzells weren’t happy to see her leaving the room, she inferred from the security officer’s voice that a situation was brewing.

Three more patients sat sprawled in the waiting-room chairs, each projecting an impression of terror. A man and a woman clutching each other were obviously in the throes of major nosebleeds. The third person was more alert to his surroundings. Spotting Emily, he jumped from his chair and moved to intercept her. Yanking his shirt open in the center of the lobby, he said, “I woke up with these bruises on my chest, Doctor. What the seven hells is wrong with me?”

Buy Links:  Apple iBooks   Amazon     Kobo      Barnes & Noble   

If you go to the SFR Galaxy Awards site you can see the complete list of “standout books in science fiction romance” the judges selected for this year’s list. Lots of good reading and many wonderful authors included.

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No One To Help You SFRB Showcase

SFRB ShowcaseOnce a month the Science Fiction Romance Brigade authors showcase snippets from new work, WIPs, cover reveals or other fun things. The link is here for all  the participants.

I’m sharing an excerpt from my SFR Galaxy Award Winning novel Mission to Mahjundar.

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700 (2)Princess Shalira is blind as the result of a botched assassination attempt on her when she was a child. Mike is the Sectors Special Forces operator she loves and this is an ambush by an unknown enemy on the two of them and their companions. (Book blurb below the excerpt.)

Shalira felt the reins suddenly go slack in Mike’s hands and her horse slowed, ambling to the left to nibble at something. “Michael?” Reaching one hand to where he ought to be, she found nothing.

In the next moment, a sharp pain arced through her arm and she recoiled, nearly slipping from the saddle, feeling as if she’d been bitten by an insect. A second sting as something lodged in her thigh. She yanked the projectile from her clinging skirts, which had blunted most of the impact. It felt like a heavy oblong wooden bead, feathered, with a sharp metal tip.

Throwing the dart to the ground, fear growing, she rose in her stirrups, listening intently, craning in all directions as she softly called his name. “Michael, what’s happening? Saium?”

As the mare continued to move lazily from one browsing spot to the next, she heard strange men shouting in some unfamiliar dialect, voices rough with anger or excitement, but no sound from her own companions.

Panic swept over her like a cascade of ice water. Clenching her fists, she pressed them to her mouth in horror as memories of the terrible incident in childhood flooded through her mind. Unable for a moment to distinguish between the awful memories and the present, she slipped from the saddle, intent on hiding herself. Keeping hold on the stirrup as she landed, to prevent the horse from wandering off as much as to steady herself, she shook her head, trying to dispel the flashback. I’m not a child any more, my brother’s been dead for fifteen years, Vreely’s dead, this isn’t happening.

 A warm, burning sensation spread through her body from the two places where she’d been “stung”. Dizzy, she clung to the reassuring bulk of her mare, fingers clenched on the edges of the saddle blanket. The horse swung its head for a moment to sniff at her before making a huffing sound and resuming its grazing.

I need to see, I need my eyes. She prayed desperately, but vision refused to come. I should get back on the horse, attempt to flee. But without someone to guide her, she wouldn’t get far.

The sounds of assault were dying down, and a moment later Shalira sensed four or five people surrounding her. She heard their soft footsteps on the grassy woodland floor as they approached, smelled their sweat and some kind of paint. The newcomers stopped a few feet away from her.

Shaking with terror, fighting the memories of her childhood, Shalira called for Michael again, to no avail.

“Your men can’t help you, pretty one,” said a guttural voice directly in front of her.

Shalira recognized the dialect, a common trade talk used in the marketplaces all over Mahjundar. “Who are you?”

“You’ll know us soon enough,” said the man, an unpleasant glee underlying his words. At the same moment, two others grabbed her arms. Weakened from whatever drug had been on the tip of the darts, she struggled against their hold, trying to twist and kick her way free. “I demand you release me!”

Someone grabbed at the Windhunter collar, jerking the chain in an attempt to yank the jewelry from her neck.

“Don’t touch her, you greedy fools!” yelled another warrior, much older from the timbre of the voice. “Can’t you see she’s blind? And wears the symbol of the Lady as well as the necklace you’re trying to steal? You’d better heed her demands, and release her.”

Apparently the newcomer had authority to back up his commands. The two men imprisoning her released their grip, and she staggered against her horse, then slowly fell, knees giving way from terror and the drugs.

The story:

An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.

Mike, for his part, resists his growing attraction to the princess; he has a mission on this planet and rescuing the vulnerable but brave princess isn’t it. No matter how much he wishes it could be.

But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?

Amazon     Barnes & Noble   iTunes     All Romance eBooks     KOBO     Google Play

Only A Pawn SFR Brigade Showcase

SFRB ShowcaseOnce a month the Science Fiction Romance Brigade authors showcase snippets from new work, WIPs, cover reveals or other fun things. The link is here for all  the participants.

Escape-from-Zulaire2x1000I’m sharing an excerpt from my SFR Galaxy Award and National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award winning novel Escape from Zulaire, which is on sale through December for $.99. (Buy links below the excerpt)

Captain Tom Deverane is trying to persuade the very stubborn Andi Markriss to come with him and his troops:

Deverane walked closer, leaned on the table. “Have you received any communications from the office, or anyone since you came out here?”

            “No, but it’s the summer slow period. Even the Loxton office is all but closed.” She gave him a challenging glare. “Look, on the basis of what you’ve said so far, I don’t appear to need rescuing. You still haven’t told me anything to justify leaving tonight, missing the reception, insulting my hosts, and driving back to the capital like a prisoner.” Wishing the deep upholstery didn’t make rising such an ungraceful process, Andi left the chair.

            “You aren’t getting the picture.” Jaw clenched, he took a few steps to stand next to her. The glare from his green eyes was scorching, and Andi recoiled from the intensity. Apparently taking note of her unease, the captain gentled his voice. “Though why that should surprise me, I don’t know, considering the warnings Lord Tonkiln and the other members of the Coun­cil have ignored.”

            “Warnings?” Andi took a step back, crossing her arms over her chest.

            “To get their families the hell out of this isolated, inde­fensible spot and into safety at the capital.” Deverane took a deep breath. He walked over to stare at the carvings on the mantel. Andi got the impression from the rigid set of his broad shoulders he was trying to control his temper. After a minute, he came to sit near her again. “I was told your boss made numerous attempts to get in touch with you, right until the moment he and the rest of the Loxton staff took a ship offworld.”

            “Dave left Zulaire? They’ve all gone?” Now Andi fell back into the chair, raising a small puff of dust from the plush cushion beneath her. A wave of nausea rippling through her gut, she ran a hand through her hair, looping the tendrils behind her ear. “I don’t understand any of this. Why would my boss and my co-workers leave without me? Why wouldn’t the Tonkilns tell me? You’re still not making sense.”

            Deverane came to hunker down in front of her chair, caging her with his arms, invading her personal space. Inhaling sharply, she caught a whiff of musk and forest and man, threaded with some delicious spicy note. She glanced down at his hands, strong, capable, locked on the chair close to her body. As if to calm an upset child, his voice was soothing and low. “Relax. We can get you offplanet in a military transport once you’re safely in the capital.”

            She lifted her head, gazing straight into his eyes. Half-formed thoughts chased each other in her mind. The longer he talked, the more nervous she got, but it was still all too much to take in. Loxton only pulled staff offworld in the most serious situations. I haven’t heard a whiff of trouble. Dave wouldn’t have left me behind. Would he?

         Deverane touched her arm lightly. “There have been incidents all summer. People disappearing, vehicles abandoned on the transportway with no sign of the occupants. There have even been some small-scale massacres in isolated villages, both Obati and Shenti. The violence keeps escalating.  Command thinks a full-blown war is only a breath away, waiting for some convenient incident to touch it off. Lord Tonkiln and the others have chosen to keep things quiet, leaving their families at risk out here in order to demonstrate their belief in their own supremacy. Putting on a pretense of things going along as usual. Or else they refuse to see what’s coming. Civilians.”

          He might as well have said idiots.

           Deverane frowned at her, three deep wrinkles marring the strong sweep of his forehead. “Are you prepared to take the same risk?”

            He’s invading my personal space, damn it. I don’t intimidate that easily, pal. She pushed at his rock-hard shoulders. Standing, he moved away a pace or two, still keeping his eyes locked on her. Licking her lips, Andi smoothed down her silky skirt. “You’re insinuating my hosts have deceived me and deliberately put me in harm’s way? I find that insulting.”

            Eyes closed, he pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re a pawn to them.” Now he reopened his eyes and flung his arms out, hands wide open. “You mean nothing to them. If you’re going to refuse my offer of evacuation, then you’d better be ready to take care of yourself, because I guarantee you the Obati won’t.”

Blurb:
Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

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Audiobook: Amazon  itunes

 

Where Are The Crew? SFR Brigade Showcase

SFRB Showcase
On the first weekend of every month, the SFR Brigade Showcase is a chance for the authors to showcase excerpts from their latest releases, snippets from a work-in-progress, a new cover for their book or just have fun. Here’s the link for the Showcase hub, so you can find all the offerings!

Wreck of the Nebula Dream, my “Titanic in space” scifi novel, recently got an overall favorable review from the Dear Author site, which was wonderful, so I’ll excerpt a bit of the book for this month’s showcase. (Wreck of he Nebula Dream was a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award Winner 🙂

The hero, Nick Jameson, is awakened in the middle of the night by something gone seriously wrong with the ship. He emerges into the corridor to find utter chaos:

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedBack pressed against the half-open door, he stood for a moment, assessing the current situation in the corridor. It now added up to pandemonium in any language. The alarms were continuing to blare, inciting some passengers to panic and immobilizing others. A prerecorded voice urged calm, in flat, female tones, speaking in a rapid rotation of Basic and the five other primary Sector languages.

No one was paying the slightest attention. People ran in both directions, shoving past each other. Some were half dressed, others were burdened with luggage. There were no crew members at all.

Frowning, he waded into the crowd, going to the left and staying as close to the wall as he could. Since a Special Forces team’s survival depended on familiarity with all aspects of their environment, Nick had noted the location of the nearest lifeboat portal relative to his cabin upon arrival the first day. Now he worked his way aft to get there.

With supreme – if sadly misplaced – confidence, the captain of the Nebula Dream had not seen fit to order a lifeboat drill in the first few days of the cruise, not even after the middle of the night engine anomaly. Lack of a drill, which was mandatory per the Interstellar Commerce Commission regulations, was adding to the panic, Nick had no doubt. Most had probably not even paid attention to the short holo on safety the Ship played on first entry in each cabin. Now the civilians were clueless, desperate, and those charged with responsibility for their safety were nowhere to be seen.

As he came up to the lifeboat portal, Nick was astounded to see the light flashing red, indicating the LB had been launched.  What the fuck? There couldn’t possibly have been time since the sirens came on to fully load and deploy a boat, even assuming a full complement of SMT crew had been standing by, waiting to usher passengers on board.

Continuing down the corridor, Nick wondered who took the LB, and how many people had managed to escape with it. He suspected he wouldn’t like the answers much, but he intended to find out, after this was all over. For an event of this magnitude, an ICC investigatory hearing was a foregone con­clusion.

The crowd increased in size, and the screams and yells became more specific, the closer he got to the next LB davit. Since Nick was a tall man, he could see over the heads of most of the crowd. Despite the fact the alarms had been raging for a good five minutes standard now, he could see the indicator light was green; this LB had not even been unlocked.

“No one’s boarded yet?” he said, half to himself.

“Two idiots up there, fighting over who gets on first, and neither one has a clue how to open the damn thing.” A stout woman in a garish pink and orange robe spun to face him, her voice disgusted but shaking, tears glistening in her eyes. “They wouldn’t listen, not to me or anyone. I watched the safety holo my first day on board, so I know how to open the portal, but would they let me try? No, they would not. I got out of the way when they started throwing punches.”

Nick wished for a squad of Space Marines or even one other Special Forces operator.  I could sort this out and get people loading. There was no time to waste. Disasters in space tended to be abrupt, over with in a violent moment. Whatever had happened to the Nebula Dream, it was nothing short of amazing they weren’t all dead already. Can’t push luck too far.

The Story:

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

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

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

Amazon Barnes & Noble  All Romance eBooks iTunes  Google Play   Kobo

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

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Dear Author’s Take on WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedGot up yesterday, had a leisurely breakfast, was drinking my tea and perusing the social media and favorite websites and…..OMG, Jayne of Dear Author reviewed Wreck of the Nebula Dream (my “Titanic in space” scifi adventure novel)!!!! I was thrilled and SO excited that she enjoyed the book overall.  Made my whole day 🙂

Here are a few extracts from the review and please go over to the Dear Author website to read the entire review, which received a B rating, about which I’m also ecstatic.

“I was 4 chapters into this story when it dawned on me that I was lost in it and totally concentrating on this created world….The details of the doomed Titanic’s fate are cleverly re imagined in a space voyage…the tension builds, then recedes just a little, then increases, then is countered just a bit, then smacks the reader around some more before smacking the characters even worse. And then when I think this must be it, they’re safe, right? they aren’t. Safe that is….”

Wreck of the Nebula Dream was a 2013 SFR Galaxy Award Winner and a Laurel Wreath Finalist…

The story:

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

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

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

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  All Romance eBooks iTunes  Google Play   Kobo

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

SciFi Romance #AuthorTag Continues

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Having been tagged earlier this week by the wonderful Pauline Baird Jones, who also writes science fiction romance, I thought I’d continue the SFR theme and tag three more authors, whose books I’ve enjoyed.

First would have to be Rachel Bach – I totally love Devi Morris, the heroine in the PARADOX Series and regularly tell people this kickass mercenary is the toughest science fiction heroine I’ve seen since Ripley. (Or maybe Aeryn Sun in Farscape.)  Here’s her webpage: http://www.rachelaaron.net/ . She also writes as Rachel Aaron.Heaven's queen Here’s what Rachel said in a recent USA Today/HEA column I wrote, regarding the appeal that science fiction has for her:

I love science-fiction because of its humanity. No matter how farfetched, every SF story is ultimately a tale of our shared future. SF authors get to explore the farthest edge of what humans are capable of, both good and bad, on a universe-sized stage. That’s always a good show, and it’s why SF and romance work so well together. They’re both genres about people exploring new ground, and I think that’s beautiful.

in the blackNext let’s tag Sheryl Nantus, whose TALES FROM THE EDGE series combines the feel of Firefly with some great mystery. I want her to write a lot more volumes in the series! Here’s her website: https://sherylnantus.wordpress.com/ Her quote about science fiction romance from the same column goes as follows:

I believe that humanity will go exploring out far into space and no matter how far we go from our native planet our emotional needs are going to follow — we all want to find that one person who hopefully we’ll end up living happily ever after with. Writing science-fiction romance lets me show that humanity will survive because of, and in spite of, our overwhelming need to want and be wanted, the need to love and be loved. No matter how far we roam from Earth we’ll need those emotions to survive.

And third, for today I’ll tag PJ Dean, whose FELIG CHRONICLES are fun and feisty and I’m so enamored of one FELIGcharacter that I got myself unofficially adopted by the lady (Mattie, the heroine’s mother) LOL.  Here’s her website: http://www.pjdeanwriter.weebly.com PJ is taking time out from SFR to write historical romance at the moment but hopefully there’ll be more FELIG goodness to come! Whaat she had to say in the USAT article:

The thing I find most appealing about writing science-fiction romance is that it is limitless. A writer is only limited by his or her imagination. Unlike other romance genres, that follow a set of established, stale rules, this one is free from those stuffy conventions that could stifle innovation.

Of course there are many other wonderful authors of science fiction romance – thank goodness! – and you can find 18 more of them interviewed in the USAT column, which was written upon the occasion of the SFR Galaxy Awards.

Ok, ladies, TAG, you’re it!

 

Only One Among Many SFR Brigade Showcase

SFRB ShowcaseOn the first weekend of every month, the SFR Brigade Showcase is a chance for the authors to showcase excerpts from their latest releases, snippets from a work-in-progress, a new cover for their book or just have fun. Here’s the link for the Showcase hub, so you can find all the offerings!

SFR Galaxy AwardI’m happy to say that my most recent science fiction romance Mission to Mahjundar just received an SFR Galaxy Award, so I’m going to give you a short excerpt from the novel. Princess Shalira, who is blind, is summoned in the middle of the night to the bedside of her estranged father, the planetary emperor, Kajastahn. The emperor speaks first:

“Heard you were caught in a terrorist explosion this morning.”

“I was on the edge of the blast, yes. I took no harm, other than a superficial wound in the arm. The military officer from the Sectors rescued me.” Touching the fresh bandage on her upper arm, Shalira felt her cheeks grow warm as she remembered how commanding and strong Major Varone had been, how gallant. I wish I knew what he looked like. She pushed the stray desire to the back of her mind. Important to concentrate in this rare audience with her father.

“Not the first sign of unrest and rebellion. Maralika thinks she and her son will rule after I die, but she may have miscalculated how much the people will swallow. New taxes, new gods, she’s imposing too much change, moving too fast. Make no mistake, though, she’ll hold power for some span of time after I’m gone, which is why I wanted you well away from here.”

Shalira was startled again. “I thought my marriage was arranged to ensure peace along the western border? To seal a treaty.”

“Come closer.” Kajastahn patted the edge of his bed and Shalira obediently moved toward the sound, sitting once she had bumped into the mattress. A heavy, beringed hand closed around hers. Stroking her hand with his thumb, the emperor said, “I’ve not been much of a father, not since your mother died and your brother was killed. Too painful to behold you.” Unspoken was, Why them? Why not you?

Pain clenched around her heart to hear him admit what she’d always suspected. Shalira fought not to cry. Time for self-indulgence later. “What’s changed now?”

“I don’t have much time left. Trying to settle old debts, fix some problems I allowed to fester. Now look, Bandarlok is reputed to be a strong man, holds what’s his. I think he’ll keep you safe, even if you aren’t to be his chief wife. Give him an heir with royal blood and your position will be secure, even after I’m dead. Maralika can’t touch you there.”

Icy shock poured through her, and Shalira’s heart skipped a beat. “I don’t understand. Are you telling me he’s already married?”

“Customary among the hill people, just as it is here in the city. By the Ten Gods, girl, surely you didn’t think a powerful man like him was going to take a blind woman past her prime as his chief wife? Not even with the dowry I sent.” Kajastahn’s laugh was like acid on top of his harsh words.

Shalira fought not to faint, drawing in deep breaths and digging the fingernails of her free hand into her palm. Never once had it entered her mind she’d be one among many wives. He makes it sound as if Bandarlok had to be paid to take me off his hands. She wanted desperately to be anywhere but in this room, listening to Kajastahn’s revelations. She’d been so proud to have the marriage arranged for her, to be serving a critical diplomatic purpose for her father. How little she’d understood. Forcing herself to remain seated, Shalira waited for the next blow to fall.

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700The story:

An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.

But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?

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The Princess Must Guess Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday TeaserThe members of the SciFi Romance Group offer up short excerpts from our various novels…click on the group link for more teasers!

SFR Galaxy AwardI’m switching gears this week to give you the first glimpse of the heroine Princess Shalira from MISSION TO MAHJUNDAR, which was just awarded an SFR Galaxy Award this past week! I was certainly honored and excited…

Although she’d never lived in the temperate mountain forests, Princess Shalira imagined she’d prefer them to the hot lowlands. Whenever she visited the tiny temple of her patron goddess Pavmiraia on the outskirts of the city, as she was doing today, she pretended the heat and intrigues of the capital and the court had been left behind. This chapel and her vivid daydreams provided special refuges for most of her life.

            The floor was cool beneath her bare feet as she strolled twenty paces from the door to the altar, passing the snoring priestess, sprawled on a bench no doubt, mouth probably wide open. Not many come here anymore, not many at all. Will anyone worship the goddess when I’ve gone? Tears pricked Shalira’s eyes as she felt for the padded knee rest, bowed her head, and knelt in front of the altar.

            “Do you know this is to be my last visit?” she whispered to the goddess she could no longer see. “Do you care? Will my pleas still reach your ears when I’ve completed my appointed journey?” Shalira fingered the amulet around her neck, the familiar whorls of the much-worn pattern under her fingers soothing her anxieties.  For the thousandth time she reminded herself this impending trip wasn’t her choice so much as the least of evils. She took a deep breath. “Maybe my life will improve, away from the empress and her schemes.”

            Settling more comfortably on the knee rest, she tried to visualize the chapel – graceful murals of forest and mountains on the walls, a small fountain in the courtyard outside, the larger than-life-size statue of the goddess herself, perpetually gazing to the east, a half smile on her face. Though Shalira’d not beheld these sights in well over fifteen years, she felt sure she was remembering them accurately.

            A cool breeze smelling of moss and tiny flowers blew her long hair away from her face, and instinctively she lifted her chin to enjoy the stray breath of air.

            Footsteps came down the aisle behind her, an unfamiliar, light tread. The newcomer halted a few feet behind the princess, who was already pivoting, unwilling to have her back to a stranger. For all the good it’ll do me if the intruder harbors evil intentions. She curled her hands into fists.

“No need to fear me, Your Highness. I offer a parting prophecy for your journey.” The woman’s voice was sweet and low, disarming. “You’ll travel farther than you dream, experience many things both good and bad, and even unexpected, but the blessings of Pavmiraia will wrap around you. Never doubt, but follow your heart in all your choices.”

“Thank you, priestess.” Unclenching her fingers, Shalira tried to calm herself with a deep breath. “Are you recently assigned to this chapel? I didn’t know there were any new celebrants.”

Gentle laughter like the chiming of bells. The woman touched Shalira’s cheek with the tips of her fingers. Annoyed, the princess straightened her spine, disliking anyone touching her, much less someone she didn’t know. “Indeed not,” said the bold newcomer. “I’ve been here since before your time. I came to bid you farewell, for I also take my leave of this place.”

“Who are you? I don’t recognize your voice.” She tried to keep impatience out of her tone. People who made her guess their identity were another frustrating aspect of her existence on the fringes of the court.

MissionToM2-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700The story:

An attempted assassination left Princess Shalira blind as a child and, now that she’s of marriageable age, her prospects are not good because of her disability. She’s resigned herself to an arranged marriage rather than face life under the thumb of her cold stepmother. But then she meets Mike Varone, a Sectors Special Forces officer sent to Mahjundar by the intergalactic government to retrieve a ship lost in her planet’s mountains. After Mike saves Shalira from another assassination attempt, she arranges for him to escort her across the planet to her future husband. She’s already falling hard for the deadly offworlder and knows she should deny herself the temptation he represents, but taking Mike along to protect her is the only way she’ll live long enough to escape her ruthless stepmother.

But what should have been an easy trek through Mahjundar’s peaceful lands swiftly turns into an ambush with danger around every turn. Shalira’s marriage begins to seem less like an arranged union and more like yet another planned assassination. The more they work together to survive, the harder it becomes to stop themselves from falling in love. Caught in a race against time, can they escape the hostile forces hunting them and make it off the planet?

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For more about the SFR Galaxy Awards, visit http://sfrgalaxyawards.blogspot.com/

 

 

We Have to Help ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE for SFR Brigade Presents

THE SFRB Presents(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set on another planet in the far future….

In the last few weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from theSFR Galaxy Award wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge, Tom Deverane, claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued.  And as it turned out, they couldn’t leave right away.  So of course the conflict breaks out at the worst possible moment…

I’m skipping quite a bit of the action because SPOILERS.  This incident takes place as the party continues to make their way through enemy territory.

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighRes“Trouble ahead, sir,” Wilson reported crisply. “Party of hostiles has four civilians stopped on the transportway. Looks like things are going to get ugly fast.”

“We should go help them.” The urgent thought impelled Andi to her feet, and she took a step or two in the direction the scouts had just come from.

Tom moved fast, grabbing her elbow hard and glaring down at her. “I thought I told you—more than once—my primary orders don’t allow me the discretion to go around the countryside rescuing everyone in distress.”  He spaced out each word for emphasis. “I have to get back to the capital. We’ve got vital information that could stop the entire planet from descending into war. I can’t conduct firefights and rescue individuals. You were an exception because someone somewhere pulled a lot of rank and got special orders issued. Okay?”

Biting her lip, Andi flushed and jerked her elbow away from him. I wish he wouldn’t keep rubbing it in my face that I got special treatment. I didn’t ask for him to come rescue me.

Apparently satisfied she wasn’t going to argue, Tom’s next remark was addressed to the waiting sergeant. “How many hostiles?”

“Fifteen. Armed with standard planetary-issue weapons, from what we could see.” Rogers nodded his agreement with Wilson’s rapid assessment. “No heavy stuff. No Sectors contraband. We could take them, sir.”

Brow furrowing, Tom glared at Wilson. “We have to stay on mission here. You’re starting to sound like her.” He jerked his thumb at Andi. “I need a reason to break our rules of engagement.”

Wilson looked at Rogers, getting no help from him beyond a sheepish shrug. Turning back to the captain, the sergeant continued to plead his case. “They’re roughing up a bunch of priests, sir. Defenseless noncombatants. Don’t seem right to walk away, orders or no orders. I…can’t explain it any better.”

Tom pulled out his blaster and checked the charge. “All right, I’ll commit to going and assessing the potential for intervention.” He fixed Andi with a stern gaze. “I am not promising to intervene. So don’t push it, Miss Markriss.”

Afraid to say anything and risk changing his mind, she simply nodded. From what she’d seen of Tom so far, he’d intervene all right. Soft heart inside a very tough exterior.

The story:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

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