About that Clean Reader app…

canstockphoto6077467Of course I’ve got an opinion about the censorship app. But today is my turn on Spacefreighters’ Lounge, so you’ll be able to see me up on the soapbox over there. http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/if-that.html

Come on over and say g’day.

 

 

Pictures from the magic pool fence

I’m fortunate enough to live on a property where there’s room for a swimming pool. One of the downsides of having a pool in Australia is it has to be fenced. At least one and a half metres high, unclimbable, with self-closing gates. It’s a legal requirement to reduce the incidence of toddlers drowning in swimming pools, and non-compliance leads to fines. Yeah, yeah. We’re not forced to fence dams, or the ocean, or even garden ponds. We don’t get visits from people with small children and our property is fenced, but that’s irrelevant.

Hey ho. Rant over.

The upside of having the pool fence is that it’s not far from the back of the house and the local birds like to use it to perch. So we built a little feeding platform on it, where we put out bowls of apple juice for the lorikeets, and sometimes some seed for the seed-eating birds. It works like magic, folks. Here’s a few pictures to prove it.

5V3A1961

This is what happens when the alarm call goes up

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Long-billed corella looking handsome

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A young blue-faced honeyeater (that green patch becomes blue as the bird ages)

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A sulphur-crested cockatoo laying claim to the bird seed. That’s a full grown lorikeet he’s bullying

Wet crested pigeon

A crested pigeon in the rain

Jockeying for position

Jockeying for position

New Release – Grand Master’s Pawn #sfrom #sfrb

Today, I’m pleased to host fellow author Aurora Springer who will introduce her new book, Grand Master’s Pawn. For this post, she’s provided an exclusive – an interview with THE GRAND MASTER HIMSELF!

GrandMastersPawnFinalGRAND MASTER’S PAWN.

Blurb

A thousand years in the future, wars and portal failures disturb the fringes of the galaxy. On Terra, twenty-two year old Violet Hunter seems an ordinary student of the Space Academy, who dreams of exploring unknown planets. She applies to serve as the pawn of one of the twelve Grand Masters, although her hidden talent of empathy makes her ineligible. Violet has defied the prohibition against psychics for half her life. Why should she stop now?

The Grand Master with the griffin avatar selected the girl with the star-shaped birthmark in spite of her father’s dire prophesy. He is suspicious about his disobedient pawn, yet he cannot deny the success of her missions to strange planets where she finds more than he expected.

Violet seeks the truth about the mysterious Grand Masters. Who or what are they? Do they threaten or benefit civilization? And, what is the connection to her father’s death twenty years ago? While searching for answers, Violet does the unthinkable. She makes a bargain with her obnoxious Grand Master and challenges him to meet her face to face, risking her secret to discover his purpose. She plunges into an impossible love and a world of intrigues. The vicious conflicts of the Grand Masters propel her into flight from a terrible enemy and a desperate search for allies to save her new found love.

Interview with the Grand Master

A stellar good day to our viewers! I’m Dan Murray of the Galactic Network bringing you an exclusive interview with one of the twelve Grand Masters. The black-uniformed guards have opened the iron gates to let me into the black marble Council Hall. A furry alien with six legs beckons from the inner door and leads me along a corridor to a door marked with the symbol of a griffin. The alien’s long ears twitch and it squeaks, “Wait inside for Grand Master.”

The room is dark. Peering round, I see a stone statue of a griffin at one side. Suddenly, the eyes glow blue. The Grand Master is present. Tapping my mike, I check my list of questions and begin.

Dan: “Grand Master, it is a great privilege to interview you. Please tell us a bit about yourself.”

Grand Master: “I am a Grand Master!” A rush of air accompanies his deep voice and my hair stands on end.

Dan: “Er, do you have a name?”

Grand Master: “You may call me the Griffin.”

Dan: “Why don’t you appear in person?”

Grand Master: “Fool, it’s too dangerous! Did no one tell you? Exposure to my power is deadly.”

Dan: “Violet Hunter is your new pawn. Why did you select her?”

Grand Master: “She has excellent qualifications and an interesting pedigree.”

Dan: “Do you mean her father? Frank Hunter died twenty years ago.”

Grand Master: “He was murdered. No culprit was identified.”

Dan: “Were you sorry for his daughter?”

Grand Master: “Why should I feel sorrow? Her father was clairvoyant, although my little pawn has no record of psychic talent. She looks like a pixie with those big green eyes. At the selection, she seemed to look straight at me. Impossible! We have impenetrable shields.”

Dan: “Is she a valuable pawn?”

Grand Master: “She’s impudent and disobedient! Remarkably, in spite of her foolish risks, her missions are successful.”

Dan: “What is the goal of your missions?”

Grand Master: “No more questions!” His thunderous voice echoes through the room, the blue glow vanishes from the stone griffin’s eyes, and a blast of wind smashes me against the wall. My interview is over. I grope through the darkness to the door. His pawn is a brave woman to stand up to him. He sounded almost human when he spoke of her. Who knows the Grand Masters’ true nature? He might be an alien or an artificial intelligence.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TP1N5PM

Bio:

My career in science involves plenty of writing for research articles. But, I’ve imagined adventures in weird worlds for as long as I can remember. Now, I have achieved my life-long ambition to publish novels. My published works include science fiction and fantasy with romance and a sprinkle of humor. I was born in the UK and live in Atlanta with my husband, a dog and two cats to sit on my laptop. My hobbies, besides reading and writing, include outdoor activities like watching wildlife, hiking and canoeing.

Media links:

Blog: http://AuroraSpringerNovels.blogspot.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Aurora-Springer/e/B00K2C4NL8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aurora-Springer/885945434752937

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AuroraSpringer

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101087717415198221200/posts

GNU Pratchett – a tribute to the late Sir Terry

The reverberations from Terry Pratchett’s demise are still circling the globe. I came across an article via Facebook. “Going Postal, Pratchett’s 2004 Discworld novel, introduces “the clacks” (a form of telegraph, and thought by many fans to be the Discworld’s early predecessor to the internet in the books). A murdered “clacksman” called John Dearheart is honoured by other characters with GNU John Dearheart, a piece of code that keeps his name running up and down the clacks.” Here’s the link to the whole article

Since the ‘clacks’ is sort of a Steampunk internet, and Terry was a well-known geek, a few clever people came up with the idea of creating just such a function to honour Terry’s memory so his name will live on in the interwebs for as long as they exist. I (of course) have added the plugin to my website.

And while I was doing that, it occurred to me that there was an eerie echo of a story I wrote a while ago. It’s up on Wattpad, but here it is for you to read.

Into the Dark

Cover of Into the Dark

Cover of Into the Dark

Richard Newby put the razor back down on the wash stand. There didn’t seem much point in shaving, really. It wouldn’t matter anymore. Not where he was going.

He sidled out of the ensuite, taking care not to disturb Mary. He paused and looked down at her as he passed the bed. They’d been married for fifty-four years; she’d been his companion, his soul mate. Perhaps he should tell her what he was about to do? He shook his head. He’d been through this, agonised over the decision. Best he kept it to himself.

Richard moved on, closed the bedroom door softly behind him and went into his study. He spent most of his time here, sitting in front of his computer, surfing the net or fiddling. Mary told him he should walk or play golf, and she was probably right. But he’d been in IT all his life, and the doctors told you to keep your brain active, didn’t they? Find something you love and do it. That’s what he’d done

He eased himself into his chair and turned the machine on, a slight smile playing around his mouth as the operating system loaded. He licked his lips, not sure himself if he was nervous or eager. One way or another his life would never be the same again.

He loaded the song and listened one more time. It had been his inspiration, gentle and lilting. He smiled. Heaven and Hell displaying a ‘no vacancy’ sign.

The helmet was on a stand next to him, already plugged in. Richard slipped it over his head and pulled the visor down over his eyes. It fitted exactly, which was understandable. That was how he’d built it.

“Into the Dark,” he said.

***

Mary came in an hour later with his cup of tea and two biscuits.

“Here’s your tea, dear,” she said, putting the cup on the desk. “Are you going to take that thing off your head?” She shook his shoulder.

His body slumped sideways in the chair, the left arm dangling almost to the floor, the right on his lap.

Mary’s hands flew to her face. “Richard?”

She lifted his right hand, her fingers slipping around his wrist to feel for a pulse.

“Mary? Mary, over here.”

Mary frowned and peered at the helmet. “Where?”

“The computer, hunbun. Behind you.”

Mary peered at the screen, her expression wary. “Is this a joke?” she whispered. “Because it isn’t funny.”

“No, it’s me,” said Richard, pointing at his chest. “That thing there,” he, pointed at the body in the chair, “that’s just a hulk. I’m not there anymore.”

Mary gasped, her fingers flying to her mouth. “You’re dead?”

“It depends what you mean, hunbun. The body out there doesn’t work anymore because the operating system has turned off. But I’m fine here, in the cyber world.”

Her eyes widened. “You’re in the computer?”

“You might say that. Sort of. See that helmet on my—it’s—head? I worked out a way to transfer myself—my thoughts, my memories, my mind—into data sets. I’ve loaded all of that into this.” His hands swept down his sides to indicate himself, the being she could see on the screen. “What do you think?”

He was young again, of course. But better looking, fitter, more athletic, like one of those lifesavers at the beach. No need for the glasses he’d worn all his life. And he’d given himself a nose job and wavy, dark brown hair. And of course the tumour, that malignant thing in his chest, sapping his strength, turning his lungs to mash, that was gone, too.

“You look wonderful,” murmured Mary. “But… what about us? Why didn’t you say? When are you coming back?”

“I’m not coming back, darling,” he said gently. “This was a one way trip. And I didn’t want to say anything in case it didn’t work. But it has and I want you to come, too.”

Another avatar appeared next to him. Mary at twenty five. Only with bigger breasts and thinner thighs. He’d given her thicker, longer hair and full, luscious lips.

“Remember her, hunbun? Wouldn’t you like to be her again?”

Hope and longing shone in her eyes. Of course she’d want to be twenty-five again.

“How? What do I have to do?”

“Put on the helmet and pull the visor down over your eyes.”

Mary frowned. “Will I die?”

“Only your body. You will be here, with me.”

“But what if somebody turns off the computer? They will, you know.”

“Won’t matter,” said Richard with a wave of his hand. “We’ll be out there in cyberspace, riding the net. There’s always a server switched on somewhere.”

“What about food and… and going to the bathroom and such?”

Richard dismissed it with a snort. “All bodily things. They won’t concern you anymore. Neither will arthritis and bad knees. We’ll live forever and never grow old.”

She chewed her lip. “What about the children? They’ll be upset.”

“They’re hardly children anymore. They’ve got their own lives. And really, we’ll be saving them a lot of pain. The doctor said the lump was getting bigger. He gave me six, eight months.”

“Oh.” Her gaze lingered on the corpse in the chair and then lifted back to the screen. “The lump’s gone?”

“Of course. And here, it can’t come back. Go on, Mary, take the helmet off the body. There’s a clip under my—its—chin.”

She hesitated, staring at the computer screen as if trying to see inside, beyond the glass. “I’m frightened, Richard.”

“Mary… hun… we’ve talked about this. You don’t believe in heaven or in hell.”

She almost smiled. “No. Of course not.”

“So the option is… darkness. One day, the operating system fails and it’s over. For all eternity.”

She rubbed her hand across her mouth. She always did that when she was nervous. “And then I’d be…” She sighed. “Alone.”

“And so would I, Mary. Come on. Darkness isn’t the only option.”

She stood a little straighter, head cocked to one side, considering. “What will we do?”

“Anything you like. You’d be amazed at the sorts of things you can find in cyberspace. Visit anywhere in the world, sample all sorts of places, do…” He sniggered. “Do some things we haven’t done for a long time.”

She blushed and smiled. A series of expressions flitted across her face. He knew what she was thinking; the things she’d be giving up. The children, the bowls club and her friends. He crossed his fingers. Please, Mary, please.

Mary sucked in a deep breath. “All right.”

Richard watched her take the helmet off the… his body. There was a smile on its face and its eyes were open. Mary closed them with her fingers. She stood for a moment with the helmet in her hands, pressing her lips together.

“Come on, hun,” he whispered. “Push the… me… out of the chair and sit down.”

Mary reached out with a tentative left hand. A push, little more than a tap on the shoulder. Richard’s bodily remains slumped a little more, but remained in the chair. Mary sucked in a deep breath, swallowed, and pushed harder. The body slid sideways out of the chair and collapsed into an untidy heap on the floor. She sat down, gripped the helmet in her hands and placed it firmly over her head. It was a little bit loose, but that was all right. She fastened the clip and stared at him, a sparkle in her dark eyes.

“Now put down the visor and say ‘Into the Dark.’”

A nervous flick of her tongue across her lips and then she slid the visor down over her face. “Into the Dark.”

Richard saw her body stiffen and then relax and sag, almost as if it was deflating.

Beside him, Mary’s avatar looked down at her new body and laughed. “How about a kiss, big boy?”

 

(c) Copyright Greta van der Rol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog tour – Alliances – book 2 of the Razia series

It’s my pleasure to host S. Usher Evans, who is introducing the second book of her Razia series – Alliances. Take it away, Usher.

About the Book

Lyssa Peate has found a tenuous balance between her double lives – the planet-discovering scientist and space pirate bounty hunter named Razia. No longer on probation, Razia still struggles to be thought of as more than a chocolate-fetching joke, and Lyssa can’t be truthful to those closest to her. But both lives are turned upside-down when feisty government investigator Lizbeth Carter shows up to capture the same pirate Razia is after.

Lizbeth’s not interested in taking Razia’s thunder; rather, she convinces the caustic bounty hunter to help solve a mystery. Somebody’s hiring pirates to target government ships, and there’s a money trail that doesn’t make any sense. From the desert planet of D-882 to the capital city on S-864, the investigation leads them deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the Universal Government – and to one of the most painful chapters in Lyssa’s past.

Purchase on Amazon

Preview from Chapter One:

The room was dark, with a single, dingy lamp hanging over a table where three men sat, each holding a hand of cards. They said little, except for the occasional grunt or movement to tap their grungy mini-computers to up their ante. The first sighed and rubbed the scruff around his chin. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigarette and a lighter.

“You hear that Llendo is running for re-election?” he said, cigarette dangling from his mouth.

“What else is new?” The short, squatty man and whose toes barely brushed the floor, threw a few chips into the virtual pile using his mini-computer. “The guy’s a puppet. There ain’t nothin’ that comes out of his mouth that ain’t been sent through the ringer about a million times.”

The other two men chuckled and shuffled around their cards. The third man, with a long face and sallow complexion, pulled two more cards for his own hand and shuffled them together and apart again.

“But who else is there to vote for?” he asked, counting his cards and stacking them together again.

“That general? You know that buffoon Peate works for him. He ain’t getting my vote until I know he’s gonna play along.”

The second shrugged and said, “Nobody’d vote for him in a million years.”

“You and your millions.” The third rolled his eyes. “Everything you say has been done a million times.”

“Bah, can it,” the first barked. “And hurry up and make your move.”

“I’m taking my time. Don’t want to get fleeced again,” the third said. “You’re all a bunch of crooks.”

“Takes one to know one.” The second man peered at his cards through a pair of thick glasses, hunched over.

“I am retired,” the first man said, sitting back and taking a long drag of his cigarette. “None of that piracy crap for me anymore. Getting too dangerous for me.”

“Gonna break a nail?” the second snorted. “Bad enough you got that girl. Whatsherface.”

“I hear she’s doing all right,” the third said. “Kidnapped Jukin Peate’s brother and held him for ransom last year.”

“And what’s she done since then?” the second said.

“More than you’ve done.”

“I’m just saying, it’s unnatural to have a woman out with the men,” the first said. He paused for a moment and began to smile. “Although I can’t say I hate seeing her scamper around ‘882.”

“Shame she doesn’t wear tighter pants,” the second said. “I seen pictures. She wears these baggy things. I bet if she wore something that made her look like a girl, she wouldn’t even have to fight nobody.”

“She could come capture me any day of the week. I don’t care what she looks like,” the third said. “I’d lay down and let her do whatever she wanted to me.”

“Care to test that theory?”

The three glanced up sharply at the sound of a distinctly female voice in the doorway.

“Hey, hey,” the first man said, standing up. “We don’t want no trouble. We’re retired here, lady.”

“You are,” Razia said, stepping into the light with a smirk on her face. She turned her eyes on the third man in the room. “He isn’t.”

About the Author

S. Usher Evans is an author, blogger, and witty banter aficionado. Born in a small, suburban town in northwest Florida, she was seventeen before she realized that not all beach sand is white. From a young age, she has always been a long-winded individual, first verbally (to the chagrin of her ever-loving parents) and then eventually channeled into the many novels that dotted her Windows 98 computer in the early 2000’s. After high school, she got the hell outta dodge and went to school near the nation’s capital, where she somehow landed jobs at National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the British Broadcasting Corporation, capping off her educational career with delivering the commencement address to 20,000 of her closest friends. She determined she’d goofed off long enough with that television nonsense and got a “real job” as an IT consultant. Yet she continued to write, developing 20 page standard operating procedures and then coming home to write novels about bounty hunters, teenage magic users, and other nonsense. After a severe quarter life crisis at age 27, she decided to finally get a move on and share those novels with the world in hopes that she will never have to write another SOP again.

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Sir Terry has left the planet #pratchett

Mort-coverI wrote most of this post a few years ago, when we first learned Sir Terry had Alzheimer’s. Today he and Death walked through that final door, no doubt with cats curling around their legs. I have a bookcase full of hard backs with his name on the cover. Goodnight, Terry Pratchett. Your name will live on.

I’ll always remember the first Discworld book I read. I was kicking my heels in the domestic terminal at Perth airport, browsing for a book to read on the long flight to Sydney. I’d seen the book with the cartoon cover in the SF section a few times before, but had skipped over it for spaceships and things. This time, I picked it up and read the blurb. Then I read the prologue, in which TP introduced everybody to the great space-going turtles that carried worlds on their backs. It was an Indian legend that I’d come across in my studies.

Some scientists believed in the ‘steady gait’ theory, in which the turtles journeyed unendingly through the multi-verse, never changing pace. Others contended that the turtles were travelling to a meeting place, where they would mate and create more star turtles. This was known as the ‘big bang’ theory.

After I’d wiped tears of laughter from my eyes, I made my way to the counter and bought the book. Since then, I’ve bought hard copies of every book Sir T has written and enjoyed them all, some more than others. Why? Because I like them.

That, dear reader, is the only reason I read books. However, I shall go a little further. Sir T breaks every rule in the Little Red Book of Writing. He uses ‘there was’ all the time. He indulges in great swathes of apparently superfluous narrative, such as regaling us with the amount of food etc consumed in the city of Ankh-Morpork. He writes in accents. Sometimes he has prologues which serve no other purpose than to bring the reader up to speed. And so on.

What I love about his work is the way he can brew an eclectic mix of myth, folklore, history, archetypes and pure, hard science, all laced with a shrewd understanding of human nature and politics, and make it funny. Mind you, much of what he writes has a darker, more serious side. He examines racism frequently, using the on-going tensions between dwarves and trolls, people and paranormal people like vampires, werewolves and zombies to mirror our own behaviour in our round world. Sir Terry has sent up just about every icon we hold dear – he seated the four horsemen of the apocalypse around a table and had them learning how to play bridge; he examined what happened to heroes like Conan the Barbarian when they get old; he has mocked sexism (in ‘Men at Arms’ and ‘Monstrous Regiment’ to mention two).  The church, academia, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli’s Prince – you’ll recognise them all in the Discworld.

In the midst of all this he creates believable characters such as the reformed alcoholic, reluctant member of the peerage Sir Samuel Vimes; Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax the tyrannical witches; the wizards at Unseen University and their Simian librarian. (The librarian was turned into an Orang Utan by a random discharge of magic in an early book and has since steadfastly avoided any attempt to persuade him to return to human shape.)

Sir Terry examines truths and mores as if they were rocks in a field. He picks them up, turns them over, looks underneath. Take Christmas, that iconic Christian festival. Sir Terry’s version is Hogswatch, when the Hogfather comes down from the north in a sleigh drawn by wild hogs. Except Death has to take the gig because the Hogfather is missing and we wouldn’t want to disappoint the kiddies, would we? So the archetypal Death wraps himself in a red coat and does the department store ‘meet the kiddies’ thing, which is absolutely hilarious. However, Terry digs deeper. Underneath that rock labelled ‘Christmas’ we find the meaning of that red coat, blood sacrifice to bring in the turning of the year.

There are so many examples. I could analyse every book and find serious messages hidden amongst the hilarity. It saddens me more than I can say to know Sir Terry has Alzheimer’s Disease. Long may he hold back its ravages.

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

It wasn’t for very long at all. He was just 66. His ghost will loom large in that cavalcade I wrote about in a previous post.

Introducing Teresa Noelle Roberts – Thrill-kinky

Book Cover for Thrill-Kinky: embracing heterosexual cover with an overlay of starsIn the 26th century, humans and numerous alien races share the galaxy. Technology has advanced massively. Old Earth is a vast preserve and museum, and humans have spread to the stars. But some things remain the same. Love, lust, and money motivate both humans and other sentient species. Politics can get ugly. And crime can pay very well indeed.

The Malcolm, an independent interplanetary freighter, prefers to steer clear of both politics and crime, at least the kind of crime that doesn’t involve rescuing the occasional slave or exploited child on planets where such abominations are legal. Captain Mik and his loyal, if eccentric crew—Mik’s overprotective alien husband Gan, adventurous human mechanic Rita, bouncy cat-girl (and trained assassin) Xia, and PTSD-haunted ex-soldier Buck—usually succeed in keeping things only a little bit illegal. (One planet’s cash crop, after all, might be another’s favorite illicit recreational substance, and as long as no one’s getting hurt, why not get a cut of the profits?) But when a seemingly legitimate job goes supernova, the crew finds themselves up to their armpits in interplanetary espionage, art theft, and spies, and on the run from an infamous assassin. What a time to fall in love! (Thrill-Kinky, coming 5/12/2015).

Luckily, Drax Jalricki—reformed (mostly) art thief, former (mostly) Banjali covert operative, and all-around winged hunk—has a plan to protect them.

But it involves hiding out on Cibari, the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.

Who knew Cibari was run by a felinoid warlord who might be the perfect match for Xia—if the straight-arrow detective sent from her homeworld to “rescue” her doesn’t win her heart, ears and adorable, perky tail first? And that’s not even talking about how the warlord and the detective are crazy about each other. Of course, it would help if any of them could tell the whole truth about who they are. (Book Two, Bad Kitty, coming 9/2015)

Who would guess that a hot cyborg who’s already survived more than a human lifetime could offer Buck both healing and love? But the cyborg shares a common, deadly enemy with the Malcolm’s crew, and surviving that confrontation will trigger all their inner demons. (Book Three, tentatively called Buck, Naked)

Dark secrets Mik hides even from Gan will come to a head and threaten them more than the enemies they’d hoped to escape. A mysterious stranger holds the key to Mik’s salvation… and unexpectedly, a key to both men’s hearts as well, if they’re willing to open that door. (Book Four, title TBD)

 

Thrill-Kinky (Chronicles of the Malcolm, Book 1)

Teresa Noelle Roberts

Publication Date: May 12, 2015

Sexual freefall is like a game of chicken, except the first one to let go wins.

Chronicles of the Malcolm, Book 1

Humans may have expanded to the stars, but they still have the annoying need to work for a living. Which is why Rita, crew member of the space freighter Malcolm, is stuck collecting recyclable slag rather than attending her favorite festival celebrating love and sexuality.

Things go from boring to interesting when she discovers a badly injured man who’s been thrown into a recycling bin to die. The catch, he’s gorgeous, winged, and naked.

Drax Jalricki, reformed (mostly) art thief and reluctant covert operative, is on an undercover mission to protect three planets when someone in his own government brands him a traitor. By virtue of association, Rita and her crew are going down with him.

From their first, hide-in-plain-sight quickie, the erotic spark between Rita and Drax is fueled by danger and adrenaline. But their growing suspicion that there’s more to their connection than lust may not matter if they don’t live through the night.

Warning: Hero and heroine who straddle the line of criminal behavior—and definitely violate public indecency statutes. Exhibitionist, dangerous sex. Dark, sordid pasts. Wild risk-taking. Giggly cat-girl sidekick who’s not just another pretty…tail. And the greatest risk of all: true love.

Buy Links: Samhain / Amazon / B&N / Kobo /All Romance eBooks / iBooks (iTunes)

 

Excerpt
At first, what Rita was seeing in the recycling bin didn’t make sense: rust, amber and saffron-colored feathers, tipped with black, and a swath of something green and purple that might have been festival draperies.

A gigantic bird?

But there weren’t any birds on San’bal, according to what she’d been able to learn on the Galaxinet, and she hadn’t seen anyone on her previous visit. If there had been birds, Xia would have chased and probably caught them, even if they’d been as big as this appeared to be.

A discarded costume with an animal underneath it? Part of last night’s festivities had involved the locals all running around in fabulous costumes, drinking copious quantities of the green bubbly booze.

Some costumed person who’d enjoyed way too much of green bubbly and had climbed into a recycling bin to sleep it off? It didn’t seem like a desirable location for that, but maybe his equally drunk friends tossed him in as a joke.

While she was still trying to sort it out, the lump of feathers moved.

Rolled over.

Opened his eyes.

Stars and moons! Not a bird, not a costumed drunk—a Banjali.

Maybe she should have thought of that sooner, but you hardly ever saw Banjalis off Banjal. Their glorious wings were only fully functional on low-gravity planets, and anything approaching Old Earth norm, like San’bal, was uncomfortable.

“Hey, are you all right?” Rita asked, hoping he could understand her. “Need a hand getting out?” The gravity was probably too high for him to fly easily, especially if he was hung over.

The Banjali stirred, giving her a better view.

Definitely male. Definitely gorgeous. And definitely naked. Xia’s tail would have started twitching at first sight.

The pleasure of that view, however, was spoiled by the strips of purple and green synthsilk—they could have been torn from the buntings that draped anything in the city that didn’t move fast enough—gagging him and binding his ankles and wrists.

And by his injuries.

The poor man looked like he’d had a run-in with an Arcturian bearcat. His golden skin was a mass of bruises, scrapes and shallow cuts, one eye swollen shut. But Arcturian bearcats didn’t use laserpistols, and she was pretty damn sure the wound in his shoulder was a pistol shot.

***

Teresa Noelle Roberts started writing stories in kindergarten and she hasn’t stopped yet. A prolific author of short erotica, she’s also a published poet and fantasy writer—but hot paranormals and BDSM-spiced contemporaries are her favorites. Or they were, until she realized science-fiction romances offered new possibilities for outrageous adventure, wild sex and love that overcomes serious obstacles, including being from different species! She’s also a prolific author of short erotica, and a published poet and fantasy writer. Find her at www.teresanoelleroberts.com, on Facebook or on Twitter, where she hangs out as @TeresNoeRoberts.

 

A cavalcade of ghosts

IMG_3552_HDRYesterday I was told that an acquaintance who very recently contracted lung cancer had died in the night. I’d met him twice, knew of his condition through a neighbour who was his friend. It was quick and relatively painless for him, and since his quality of life was very low, I think it was for the best. I’m not too sure why his passing has affected me as much as it has.

Maybe it’s because he was about the same age as me. Maybe it’s because so many of the people I’ve known – either in real life, or vicariously – people like Spock, Gough Whitlam and today, Stuart Wagstaff – are gone. If I close my eyes I can see a cavalcade of ghosts. Names bring up memories, some good, some bad. Days of my life, high points and low.

And maybe it’s a reminder that there all things must pass. Someday it will be my turn.

/navel-gazing

Oh, by the way, I’ve joined the group on Space Freighter’s Lounge, where we talk about science fiction romance, movies, TV shows, books and stuff. Come and say hi. My stint is on a (US) Thursday.

 

Is it worth revamping an old book?

TDADD-ebook-webHave you ever gazed forlornly at your first ever publication and wondered whether you could have done a better job? I know some of you have. I guess that’s one of the wonderful things about the ease of electronic publishing – fixing errors and typos is so easy. So when the rights to my one and only historical fiction book, To Die a Dry Death, were returned to me, I decided to give it my best.

TDaDD has had a chequered history, moving from one publisher to another three times, each without much sales success, despite a number of excellent reviews. During the years since I first wrote the book, I’ve been able to visit the Abrolhos Islands, and I described that visit in a post. At that time I wondered whether my descriptions of the landscape matched the reality, so when my rights were returned I wanted to check. Accuracy in details are so important when describing something that really happened.

Bear in mind that each time the book changed house it was edited and copy edited before it was re-released. Even so, I’ve written quite a few other books since TDaDD was first launched, and practice in writing might not make perfect, but it sure does help. I started reading from page one (as you do) and soon found myself thinking I could have expressed a few parts a little better. I soon built up a head of steam and ended up adding over a thousand words to the MS.

I thought it was worth pointing out the main faults I found – especially bearing in mind this book has been edited at least six times. It’s a useful lesson in self-editing.

‘Said’ isn’t as invisible as you might think

Sometimes it’s just plain unnecessary

Here’s an example:

“I believe it,” said Pelsaert. “It’s just the sort of thing Adriaen was capable of. Fancy offering a woman like Lucretia gold to submit to his will.” He jerked his head at Cornelisz. “Go on.”

This could just as easily be:

“I believe it. It’s just the sort of thing Adriaen was capable of. Fancy offering a woman like Lucretia gold to submit to his will.” Pelsaert jerked his head at Cornelisz. “Go on.”

Telling instead of showing

It takes more words to paint a picture, but it’s usually worthwhile.

This:

A soldier approached with a canvas collar, brought from the Sardam. It sat tight around Cornelisz’s neck, a funnel all the way around his head to above the level of his nose. That done, they strapped him to a frame built for the purpose so he could not move or tilt his head

Became this:

The men approached with a canvas collar, brought from the Sardam. They fastened it tightly around Cornelisz’s neck, forming a funnel all the way around his head to above the level of his nose. That done, they strapped his arms and legs to a wooden frame built for the purpose so he could not move, then fastened the funnel to the frame so he couldn’t tilt his head.

Poor scene transition

By that I mean from one sentence to the next we’re suddenly somewhere else, forcing the reader to work it out. No-one ever mentioned that as an issue, but I noticed it, so I’ve fixed it.

Not enough in the character’s head

This was interesting, because at the time I thought I was doing that, revealing the character’s thoughts to the reader. Sometimes I did, but sometimes I didn’t. This isn’t a fault per se; not everyone writes like that. But I do, and I felt it would add to the reading experience.

In the end, I’ve added about one thousand words. Which means I added rather more than that, since I took out a lot of ‘said’s. But I have not changed the plot, or the characters in any way. The cake was baked. I just added a bit of icing.

Was it worth doing? I think so. I believe I’ve made an already good book a little bit better. I hope readers will agree. And I really, really LOVE the new cover. Thanks to Rebecca Poole of Dreams2Media for her patience and skill in realising my vision. I also rewrote the blurb, which I believe reflects this incredible true story much better than the previous versions.

So here it is, for better or for worse. Any bets on whether it’ll now be a best seller? Let’s just say I ain’t holding my breath.

To Die a Dry Death

TDADD-ebook-webSurviving the shipwreck was the easy part

1629. Shipwrecked on an uncharted reef thirty miles off the coast of Australia, two hundred men, women and children scramble ashore on tiny, hostile islands. There is no fresh water and the only food is what they can salvage from the wreck, or harvest from the sea.

The ship’s officers set out in an open boat on a two-thousand-mile journey across uncharted ocean to seek help. But there’s not enough food and water for everyone on the islands to last until a rescue ship arrives. One man will stop at nothing to ensure that he is among the survivors.

But adversity throws up heroes. Soon there’s war between two groups, both determined to be there to greet that rescue ship when it arrives. If it arrives.

The terrifying true story of the Batavia shipwreck. Contains graphic violence.

Buy the  book Amazon Book Depository B&N Kobo iTunes

 

 

Are you wondering why you don’t get every book you ask for on NetGalley?

Picture of glasses on a bookI’m a member of the Broad Universe group, a collective of women authors who support each other in this writing business. BU offers a range of ways of helping authors and one of these is a cost-effective way to get onto NetGalley.

NetGalley is the digital era’s improvement on publishers sending out galley proofs of new books to people in the know, in the hope of encouraging people to buy the book, garner some feedback, and rake in some reviews. In other words, marketing. Back in the day it happened when the publisher had just about finished the production process. It’s important to note that NetGalley doesn’t just accept new publications. You can list a book first published years ago if you feel it could use a boost.

Mind you, NetGalley isn’t cheap. And that’s where collectives like Broad Universe come in. Members can get a book on NetGalley for US$25 per month. We’ve now expanded the service so non-members can list a book on NetGalley for $45 per month. You can find more information here.

If you’re a reader you can sign up with NetGalley for free. Every month a new list of books comes out and you can ask to download as many as you like. Your request might be approved automatically, or you may have to wait for your request to be approved. Or declined.

As it happens, I’m one of the people in Broad Universe who vets review requests. We do this because as far as we’re concerned, the aim is not to give a free book to the world and his wife. It’s about advertising, networking, spreading the word. For example, I think I’d refuse a request for a book from me.

Why?

Because I’m not on Goodreads. I don’t have a review blog. I’m not a member of a book club. I rarely review on Amazon. I’m not a librarian. I’m not a bookseller. Based on all that, I’d just be giving me a free book. (Mind you, not everyone on NetGalley works like that. Even I may well be given a bunch of free books just for showing up.)

So let’s assume you’d like me to approve a request for a book. What should you do?

Give me something to go on

Profile

A profile that reads something like, “I love reading” is a well duh. If you add that you like talking to your cat, that’s sweet but who cares? I also don’t care if your ambition is to find the cure for cancer, or that you’ve written three books yourself. If you’re a librarian tell me where the library is. If you’re a book seller, tell me where. If you run a review blog, say so.

Links

If you have a review blog, give me a link. Same with Goodreads and Amazon. Please bear in mind, I do check. If you claimed two years ago to be setting up to read and review $0.99 titles, and send me to a link where that’s all it says – no reviews – then I remain unconvinced. If you send me to a review site where the last entry was dated a year ago, I’m doubtful. If you send me to Amazon where I find exactly one review, I raise an eyebrow (yes, that happened). If I click a link and I get a 404…

Getting the idea?

Feedback

When you do receive a book from NetGalley the hope is that you will provide feedback. If you do that the links and the profile will be less important. NetGalley gives a feedback quotient on your profile. It provides the number of titles you’ve downloaded against the number of times you’ve provided feedback. If you’ve downloaded one thousand books and given feedback on six, it doesn’t look too good. I’d suggest you choose your downloads with care. Do you really, really want to clutter up your ereader with every book on offer, many of which you’ll never read? If you download six books and provide feedback on all six, your feedback quotient will be 100%. Mind you, you’re not on a timetable, you can provide feedback at any time, months after you’ve downloaded the book. But bear in mind that’s why NetGalley is there. It’s a two-way process. You play the game and you’ll get approvals – even invitations.

The feedback element is less important for booksellers and librarians who provide a different kind of feedback in the form of book recommendations to clients. Nothing beats word-of-mouth recommendations.

So if you’re not getting every book you ask for on NetGalley, maybe it’s time to check your profile, make sure your links work, and that you really are providing the feedback you promised. Do those things and I might even put you on auto-approval.

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