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Thanks for having me as your guest today, Cathy! I’m happy to say my new Science Fiction Romance novel, ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE is available now. The story takes place in the same universe as WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, but the two novels aren’t connected in any way. My heroine in the new book, Andi Markriss, does work for the same galactic shipping company that Mara was employed by in WRECK, but that’s the only tiny connection. Good old Loxton Galactic Trading – they like to hire strong willed, independent women who stay cool in a crisis.
Here’s the book’s blurb:
no images were foundAndi 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.
So the idea for ESCAPE’s plot is based in a real life incident that happened in India in 1857. The events in India during this period go by many names, depending who’s telling the story, but one common term is the Sepoy Rebellion. I was always fascinated how so many British women and children in India at the time were caught totally unaware, suddenly in the middle of a really awful war, and the people they trusted and looked to for help were the very ones determined to kill them. I always wondered how it would feel to be in the middle of such a situation and what I’d do.
My novel is not a retelling of the Sepoy events in any way. Unlike WRECK, which was loosely based on the sinking of the Titanic, ESCAPE only takes the very basic idea and then runs with it. When the book starts, the heroine knows things aren’t quite right, she’s a guest at an isolated compound hundreds of miles from safety…and then one afternoon Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane shows up and says it’s time to leave now.
Here’s an excerpt from that conversation:
“I forget you’ve been out of the loop.” Sitting down, Deverane leaned forward, putting his hands on his knees and taking a deep breath. “Two days ago I got urgent orders, relayed from Sector Command, diverting me from my primary mission. The new priority was to come five hundred miles out of our way to extract you for a safe return to the capital city.” From the dry tone in his voice, Andi guessed how little he’d appreciated the change. “Now, if you could get your things together, I’d like to be on our way before dark.”
She blinked. Today? He wants me to leave now? Andi shifted back into the chair’s embrace, crossing her legs. “Get my things—what are you talking about? I’m the guest of Lord Tonkiln’s family, and I’m expected to present a significant gift from Loxton at the reception tonight with due ceremony. I can’t ride off with you on literally a moment’s notice without some compelling reason. Why is your Command issuing orders concerning me anyway?”
The captain got up in one smooth motion, like a great cat uncurling, paced to the fireplace and back, then half sat on the edge of a sturdy table. I bet he’s a person in constant motion—discussing anything in patient detail doesn’t appear to be his style. Well, I’m not one of his soldiers and I don’t take orders from him, so he’d better explain himself.
“Call me Andi.” And let’s get this discussion on a less military, more personal level so you stop trying to give me orders.
The quick, meaningless smile crossed his handsome face again, never reaching his eyes. “Andi. In case you haven’t heard, this entire planet is about to be embroiled in a devastating Clan war.”
Andi didn’t hesitate. “Ridiculous. The Obati and the Shenti have been at peace for four hundred years. Everyone has been satisfied with the status quo for four centuries. How long did you say you’ve been on Zulaire, Captain?” She raised her eyebrows, drumming her fingers on the arm of the chair. “You’ve been here—what? Two weeks?”
He drew himself up to his full height, probably a foot taller than she, hands clasped tight behind his back, and glared at her. “I’ve been here long enough to see that this place is approaching critical mass, which apparently escapes your scanners. You’re the only offworlder on Zulaire right now who isn’t military, diplomatic, or mining personnel. And all of them are either safe in the capital or behind the defenses of the West Vialtin mine. Except you.” His index finger stabbed the air in her direction. “Along with my men and me. I intend to correct that situation in short order. Now, if you will please get your things—”
This is ridiculous. Not intimidated but curious, Andi shook her head. “We would have heard something out here. My office would have gotten in touch with me.”
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, inde¬fensible 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.”
GIVEAWAY!!!! Veronica has kindly offered a $25 Amazon gift card to a random commenter. What do you think of this exciting new SFR! Comments will be open for the giveaway through Wednesday (9/4) evening and a winner will be announced Thursday (9/5). So comment now, people!
ETA: Thanks for dropping by and commenting! We have a winner…Jody W.! Congrats, Jody! Buy lots of cool books! : )
If I asked you to name a famous ship wreck or ship sinking, you’d probably come up with the Titanic at some point in your short list, right? I mean, who wouldn’t, with all the books, movies and other discussion still surrounding the event, even 101 years later?
So true enough my SFR novel WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM is loosely based on Titanic, although set in the far future, on a space liner, but I also took inspiration from some other sinkings and wrecks in history. When I was deciding what to write for this guest blog at Cathy’s (and thank you for having me today), I researched famous shipwrecks in Alaska and found the “unsinkable” SS Islander, with water tight compartments, built for the luxury trade, which hit an iceberg (or a rock) on August 14, 1901 and sank in twenty minutes. Forty people died, possibly more since there were at least eleven stowaways. (VS sez that’s a lot of stowaways!). The ship is rumored to have gone down with great riches in the hold, just as Titanic took treasures of all kinds to the bottom of the Pacific, including a jeweled copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. My own doomed Nebula Dream has unspecified wonders in its cargo hold.
Lifeboats and who gets into them are another constant theme when researching wrecks and sinkings. The biggest lifeboat, meant to hold 50, was reported to have left the Islander with only eight people aboard. Titanic’s lifeboats are legendary for being lowered underfilled. I always wondered about that, why the crew was so concerned about not putting too many people into the boats, until I just this year read several accounts of earlier tragedies at sea where the lifeboats did split as they were lowered, which the crew of Titanic must have known. My Nebula Dream has lifeboat problems of her own…
Even getting to a lifeboat didn’t always mean a person survived. In the accounts of the White Star Line RMS Atlantic, which sank in 1873 with terrible loss of life, all the women and children died, even though many were put into lifeboats but the life boats capsized or were smashed against the rocks. Interestingly, one of the crew members of the Atlantic was discovered to have been a woman in disguise as “Bill,” a sailor who liked his grog and tobacco, and who had done three voyages on the ship. Now there has to be a novel there, right?!
We writers LOVE doing research and it often takes us down rabbitholes, like I just did just then with the sailor who was a woman, sorry! Then we have to force ourselves back to the original topic we were pursuing. How about the White Star Line’s Republic, known as “The Millionaires’ Ship” because so many rich Americans liked to travel back and forth to Europe aboard her? When she had her mid ocean catastrophe in 1909, the Marconi crew broadcast the “CQD” emergency call and another ship did arrive in time to take off nearly everyone aboard. This explains a lot about why the passengers on Titanic just three years later were so sure they had plenty of time, weren’t in all that much danger and had no need to go into the tiny lifeboats. Even the Board of Trade expected there would always be another ship conveniently nearby to take the passengers from a disabled or sinking cruise liner. Well, the Californian was near the Titanic all right (within ten miles) but never got word of the sinking. One of those very sad “what ifs”.
I made sure the circumstances of my spaceliner’s wreck placed her far away from where she was supposed to be and amped up the difficulty of anyone coming to their rescue in time…
And one final thing, in a very old, low budget movie about a fictional shipwreck (not Titanic) which my parents allowed me to see on TV (and be traumatized by but hey, that’s par for the course as a kid!), a poor woman is trapped under wreckage as the ship sinks. Her husband struggles to get her free in time. (It’s “The Last Voyage” with Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone, if you’re interested.) I made sure to put a scene into WRECK where something similar occurs and my hero Nick has to come to the rescue of trapped children, thus exorcising my personal lifelong demons from viewing that movie!
Here’s the book’s 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?
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Thanks for having me as a guest today, Cathy!
In-person appearances for writers come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. Public readings are probably the most common. Most writers associate them with bookstores, but they can be set just about anywhere that’s willing to host: bookstores, coffee shops, conferences, street corners, you name it. Writers can also do readings on radio shows, television, podcasts, panels, workshops and probably things I haven’t even thought of yet.
And I’ve thought of quite a few. My average year includes two or three bookstore readings, twenty or so panels at different conventions and two or three podcasts. I’ve also done workshops, radio interviews and a bit of television. This, incidentally, is enough to make me well practiced, but not an expert in any and all reading venues. I am continuously learning about new opportunities, new venues and new approaches from other writers.
Why do a live event? Because you want to build an audience and promote your work. You also do it because it’s fun to share your writing and watch other people’s reactions to it, especially when those reactions are positive. Plus, public readings and panels are a rite of passage for a lot of authors, and participating in them can make you feel like a “real writer.”
Creating opportunities to do readings, panels and other appearances can be as easy as asking at the right time. Bookstores need to sell books, conventions need entertainment to draw a crowd and podcasts often need guests. Consider what you have to offer and how best to present it. Then go out and see how other writers do it: attend readings, listen to podcasts, and take classes and workshops. Learn about what works and what doesn’t and keep track of opportunities that you can pursue.
Does your fiction fit into any of the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal or science fiction romance? If so, contact your local science fiction convention and volunteer to be on programming. If you have a few stories or a book published, the con committee may be overjoyed to give you a reading slot. You can also volunteer to be on panels, which are a great way to meet other professionals, as well as readers who may be interested in your work. It’s also good practice for solo appearances.
Don’t know of any podcasts or radio shows in your area? Join a writer’s organization or an email list where writers promote their work to readers. You can use the lists to recruit other writers for group readings, find out when podcasts are looking for new guests and learn about other opportunities that can help you get a foot in the door. See an open call for writers to do readings, get interviewed or be on a panel? Volunteer or ask, politely and professionally, if you can be considered for any upcoming slots.
Have a book coming out? Start planning as early as possible. Contact multiple reading venues since some things may fall through. Plan to have a few review copies on hand to send out to stores or radio hosts. You want to schedule most events around the time that your book comes out, just before and then for several months afterward. You can still promote after that, of course, but that tends to be the window of time that’s most effective for promoting a new book.
What do bookstores, podcasts, televisions shows and so forth want to see from you? You need to make your work relevant to their audience. Do they cater to a specific genre? Are they all about local writers? Do they focus on writers from a specific background? Are you first time novelist? Have you won an award for your writing? Any of these things can make you more appealing as a guest. Check their guidelines and see what other writers they’ve been hosting to figure out how to present yourself.
Apart from volunteering or asking, what else do you need? A short biography with the highlights of your writing career is essential. You will also need an author photo; it’s worthwhile to invest in one that you like and can reuse, but make sure it comes in multiple formats that you can resize, and that you have the rights to use it for your own publicity. You may need a book or story excerpt as well. The bigger the venue, the more professional your presentation needs to be. Ask what they need from you, including any specific formats or file types.
Ensure that your audience has something worth seeing by practicing and reading your piece aloud. Practice until it is familiar and you are comfortable with the points in the story where you can pause and look up at your audience. Time yourself, knowing that you’ll read faster if you’re nervous. The average audience is paying a lot of attention for the first ten to fifteen minutes if you’re reasonably dynamic, then less attention for every few minutes after that. I generally read for fifteen to twenty minutes, then break for questions, or read a different excerpt from my book or a different story. It helps my audience get reengaged and recharged. I almost never read for more than forty minutes total, and I always try to leave them wanting more, so I time it to end on a high note.
What if you’re a new writer without publishing credits? There are still options available to you: open mikes at bookstores and coffeeshops are one example. Talk to other new writers you know and offer to do a group reading at a venue that hosts readings or performances. Use the Internet to organize a group, such as a Meetup, and use that as a way to promote your group reading. In a writing group? You may have a group you want to read with already available to you.
Once a venue agrees to host you, be sure to promote your event. Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, your blog, Tumbler, etc.), add it to the Goodreads calendar and post on any email lists that you belong to (as long as the email list rules permit it). Tell your friends and acquaintances. Make up a flyer and put it up at the library or coffeeshops. Get the reading into local event calendars. The better attended your event is, the more likely the venue is invite you back and to host more events like the one you’re doing.
Speaking of which, it pays to be polite. Thank the venue owner and staff and thank the event organizers. Even if the event doesn’t go well, find something nice to say about it. You’re a fiction writer, it shouldn’t be impossible. If you need to vent, do it offline and out of earshot of anyone who might be offended. It may have been a bad night and the next time might be amazing; you never know.
Let me finish by saying that doing live events is not obligatory and if you really hate the idea of reading or talking to an audience, there are certainly other ways to get the word out about your work. Don’t make yourself do something that makes you unhappy, since you will share that emotion with your audience, thereby making everyone unhappy. Do what you’re comfortable doing and pace yourself. Good luck and happy readings!
Catherine Lundoff is an award-winning author and editor from Minneapolis, MN. She is a board member for Broad Universe, an organization that promotes women writers of sf/f/h and the veteran of numerous live appearances.
THE SCI-FI HERO, IN ALL HIS GLORY!
First, thanks to Cathy Pegau for hosting us, the authors of A GALACTIC HOLIDAY, Carina’s Press’s sci-fi holiday anthology. Happy Holidays, Cathy!
There’s just something crack-o-licious about certain sci-fi heroes. Think about it—what is it that’s so appealing about Mal Reynolds? He was rough around the edges, educated by life rather than a stuffy academy, and a former member of a rebellion that wound up losing in an epic way? And then there’s the seemingly opposite side of the coin represented by James Tiberius Kirk. Sophisticated, Academy-raised, a respected member of Star Fleet—a winner in every sense of the word. These two heroes shouldn’t have anything in common.
But they do.
In their heart of hearts, both Mal and Kirk were mavericks. They both understand the parameters of their worlds/galaxies/’verse, and their place in it. They know the rules. A lot of the time, they even follow them…until they don’t.
What makes these two so universally loved is that they always tried to do what was right. Not what’s legally acceptable. Not what they’re ordered to do. Not what was expected of them. What these two much-adored characters shared is an moral compass that always pointed true, and they didn’t care about what rules they had to break in order to make things right. How can you not love someone like that?
In A GALACTIC HOLIDAY, the three heroes also come from very different backgrounds, but each one falls into the category of hero. To find out more, read on!
Anna: Born and raised on Rendar (a high-tech planet with no families), Savan Bardan has always fought for what he wanted. First as a space marine, he led his men into terrible battles and now as the top trade negotiator in the galaxy. He’s the tough, silent type who keeps his past nightmares buried and likes to always win. But deep down he questions everything: his planet’s hunger for more energy, the tactics his colleagues are willing to use to close a deal and his own goals. I think he knows something is missing from his life.
Enter Brinn Fjord. The negotiator for the ice world of Perma. A woman who blames him for the death of her father. Brinn is dedicated to her family, her people’s prosperity and protecting her world’s environment. She is just the woman to show Savan what he’s missing! And I tossed them together during the winter holiday of Yule…let’s just say it is a real education for Savan.
Sasha: Leo is a man’s man. He’s a man of action, but he’s smart enough to think things through first. His colony lost protection from Patrols and the Raiders ‘recruited’ him before Black Lung wiped out the rest of the colony. After raiding for a while, the Patrols caught up with his ship. He spent the next few years working for the Patrols, feeding the info. Once he’d earned their trust, he got his own ship and crew. He still helps out the Patrols from time to time, but he’s an entrepreneur – taking whatever jobs pay most so he can help people/colonies/ships in trouble… partly because he knows what it’s like to be deserted and partly because he likes to do the right thing. He’s a loyal captain and protective of his crew and his ship. But he’s a loner, maintaining enough distance to keep control of his wily crew. Meeting Riley, the heroine, makes him question the whole ‘loner’ thing – but Riley isn’t necessarily sold on the idea of a long-term ‘thing’ either so he has his work cut out for him.
Stacy: Right from the beginning, Detective Edison Wicke popped out of my head as a full-fledged smartass! He’s a sexy charmer, though, so I can forgive that quick-trigger mouth of his. Just think of Edison as that guy we ladies secretly want to meet—the guy who has a sizzling quip for just about everything that comes his way, and the sleek charisma to keep you laughing.
But come to find out, Edison’s wicked sense of humor hides a turbulent childhood where December 25th was just another day to struggle through. Because of the harshness of his background, he has a strong sense of justice (in fact, his name was almost Edison Just instead of Edison Wicke, due to his unwavering sense of what is right). He’s hardcore when it comes to protecting those who can’t protect themselves, and his loyalty to Reina is so great he changed his entire life in order to be near her. And in the face of adversity, he stands by her side when no one else will.
If that isn’t a true hero, I don’t know what is.
You tell us—what traits do you like to see in your heroes?
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no images were foundLooking for an adrenaline rush along with your romance? Jill Sorenson has a new romantic suspense release coming from Harlequin HQN, Aftershock. Take a look…
THERE’S A FINE LINE
As an emergency paramedic, Lauren Boyer is dedicated and highly capable. Until an earthquake strikes, trapping her beneath the freeway with a group of strangers-including Iraq war veteran Garrett Wright…
BETWEEN PERIL AND PASSION
Handsome and take-charge Garrett aids Lauren in her rescue efforts, even as the steely look in his eyes seems to hide dark secrets. When a gang of escaped convicts goes on the attack, Garrett’s bravery makes him more than a courageous bystander to Lauren. If they can save the others before time runs out, maybe, just maybe, they can explore the fire igniting between them-if the truth about who he really is doesn’t pull them apart forever…
Sounds like an intense, action-packed read, doesn’t it? Aftershock will be available soon, but if it’s not soon enough, drop a comment here and you may win a copy! A winner will be chosen Sunday, December 16th.
Find Aftershock at
*****Comments are closed, folks! I’ll pick a winner and announce Monday! Thank you!!!*****