Tag Archives: romance

Signals from the Edge: SFR/PNR Author Dena Garson

SFRSS: Welcome to Signals from the Edge, Dena! We can’t wait to learn about your contribution to the new SFRSS anthology, Cosmic Cabaret. Thanks for stopping by to chat. So what’s the title of your story in the collection?

Dena Garson: Vordol’s Vow

SFRSS: What was the inspiration for Vordal’s Vow?

Dena Garson: Vordol’s Vow is a follow up novella to my first sci-fi romance, Rege’s Rescue. Vordol is one of Rege’s “brothers.” As soon as I saw the descriptions for Quantum and the burlesque show, I thought of my old writing mentor, Peggy Fielding. She was a spunky old broad who would have had a field day aboard Quantum. So, naturally, I put her in my story. She’s the basis for Ruby – Vordol’s client and family friend that he must guard. The rest of the story spun out from there.

SFRSS: A story inspired by a strong real world woman? We love strong women here at SFRSS, so we’re immediately interested.

Here’s the teaser blurb for Vordal’s Vow:


A long time ago Vordol Silveira learned that if he wanted to become the best bodyguard in the galaxy he needed to keep everyone except his brothers at arm’s length. That vow serves him well until he runs into the now grown-up daughter of his former mentor while working a security job aboard the LS Quantum.

Pitannah Lorento is a Quantum waitress who dreams of winning this year’s intergalactic burlesque competition in order to pay for her mother’s expensive medical treatment. Seeing Vordol again brings back years of unfulfilled desires – a distraction she doesn’t need. Yet, she’s no longer an awkward teenager and he is sexier than ever.

Vordol’s client’s safety has always come first but when Pitannah is threatened, his heart demands he make her his priority. If he somehow manages to keep them both safe through the competition, his vow may become obsolete.


SFRSS: You mention that this story comes from a world you built for Rege’s Rescue. Can you tell us a bit more about that world?

Dena Garson: Rege, from my first sci-fi, and Vordol, from this book, are brothers by choice not blood. They grew up together with six other boys in the roughest star port in four galaxies. Rege’s mother fostered them all. Each of them has become successful in various capacities and are active in the ongoing freedom fight but they always watch each other’s backs. Now they have reached an age and a place where they are finding special women to complete their lives.

SFRSS: It’s nice to see the concept of brotherhood and alpha security figures exist in futuristic settings too! Speculative fiction has grown in popularity. What do you think makes it so appealing.

Dena Garson: I think it’s that degree of possibility. People might not believe in vampires or mythical creatures but it’s easy to believe that one day we’ll have advanced technology and explore the outer reaches of space. More than once we’ve seen inventions and tools in speculative fiction that have made it to our real lives (wireless communication devices).

SFRSS: Is that why you are attracted to writing SFR?

Dena Garson: Yes. For me it’s the wide open possibilities. We don’t KNOW what the future holds and we don’t KNOW what’s out there beyond the borders of space. As authors, we can just about make it whatever we want. As a reader, I love to see what others have come up with too.

SFRSS: What’s your favorite speculative* book or series by another publishing author? Why?

Dena Garson: OMG – narrowing down a favorite is impossible. I read multiple genres because my mood varies greatly. If I recall correctly, Angela Knight’s Warlord/Warfem Series was my first dip into sci-fi romance. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series is an auto-buy for me. It’s the romance – the emotion – between the hero and heroine that draws me, but secondly I love the extraordinary within the settings that both authors bring to their books.

    

SFRSS: Wow. Angela Knight’s Jane’s Warlord was a gateway SFR book for another author in the anthology too, Selene. Must be a classic. Since you read across several genres, who are your authorial influences?

Dena Garson: I read a lot of Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

    

SFRSS: It looks like you’re a fan of historical romance too. What do you think the two sub-categories share in their appeal? Just thinking about how one is set in the past, and the other far in the future.

Dena Garson: I love reading historical. I love reading SFR. I think it’s the idea of being in a different time period, of escaping the present.

SFRSS: I’m thinking a lot of people, especially women, share in your urge to escape these days too. Do you remember what first work of science fiction turned you onto speculative fiction?

Dena Garson: I grew up on Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. My father watched them, so we did too. Hard to say which of the shows contributed the most.

 

 

 

SFRSS: Those stories have a lot of memorable male characters, both physical alphas and more cerebral betas. What’s your favorite kind of hero, alpha or beta, and why?

Dena Garson: Mostly Alpha. I respect a great deal of the alpha personality (perhaps because I’m a Libra and go back/forth before I make up my mind) but there are a few things about alphas that drive me nuts too.

SFRSS: Which literary hero (your own or another author’s) would you love to meet and why?

Dena Garson: Oooo – one literary hero I’d love to meet is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Acheron. You know, if someone could convenience him to do it.

SFRSS: Most fiction has a moral underpinning. What do your stories say about the nature of humanity and science? About the nature of society? About relationships?

Dena Garson: Everyone wants and needs love. It’s universal. Even the most hardened warriors need connections – that may be through family (blood or otherwise) or romantic partners or both.

SFRSS: What’s your favorite SF/speculative fiction film or television series?

Dena Garson: Hands down, Doctor Who.

SFRSS: It sounds like you read a lot as a writer. What’s on your speculative fiction TBR list in the coming months?

Dena Garson: My TBR list is out of control and it is full of paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance. I have a couple of Cynthia Sax’s books queued up as well as Laurann Dohner’s VLG series. But a little birdie told me Lauren Smith and Rhenna Morgan will have new paranormal romances coming before long and *hopefully* I’ll be able to beta read for them.

    

SFRSS: We have some of those authors on our lists too! So what’s next for your writing? Other upcoming publications?

Dena Garson: I’m working on a steampunk romance novella that I hope will come out as part of an anthology early next year.

SFRSS: Crossing back into multimedia, what’s the last show or movie you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?

Dena Garson: The last movie I watched was Wonder Woman. I wanted to watch it because 1) the trailer looked awesome, 2) I grew up watching the original TV show with Lynda Carter, 3) I love action/adventure movies, especially with strong female characters, and 4) I’d heard it was really good. Just so you know, it was beyond AWESOME. That was probably the best movie I have seen in years. I am a loyal Marvel Universe fan, but I admit that WW beat all of them.

SFRSS: Writers tend to love music too. Who are your favorite musicians? Do you have a play list that you listen to when you write?

Dena Garson: I am a rocker chick all the way. I still love my hair bands and classical rock but have moved on to heavier rock now. The most listed to bands on my mp3 are Five Finger Death Punch and Halestrom. I don’t have a playlist for writing but music does inspire my writing. It tends to be more of a mood-setting reaction to music though. Although – if you read the acknowledgement in Rege’s Rescue, you’ll see that FFDP’s remake of House of the Rising Sun was the inspiration for that book.

SFRSS: What’s your writing process like? 

Dena Garson: I’m mostly a plotter. But I don’t plot until after I’ve started writing. Usually get a chapter or two down then outline most or all of the book. It’s kind of like I need to get to know my characters first. I also tend to hop around when I’m writing too. May write the ending then have to fill in the middle.

SFRSS: Thanks for stopping in to talk about SFR and your new story. We’ll let you get back to writing your new speculative steam punk story. One last question. If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us to eat, if anything?

Dena Garson: LOL – Take out. I do not cook well. Just ask my kids. My 13-year-old will make me leave the kitchen and he just takes over whenever I do try. He’s a bit of a connoisseur.

SFRSS: So, I guess we’re not coming over for dinner, then, lol. At least leave us with a tantalizing taste of Vordal’s Vow!

Dena Garson: That, I can do.


Excerpt:

“Vordol! H-How are you?” Pitannah pushed a tuft of hair behind her ear. Her heart hammered against her chest so hard she thought it would burst out at any second. Seeing the object of your fantasies come to life after almost six years tended to do that to a girl. Especially when that fantasy had grown bigger, darker, and if possible, sexier.

“Well. You look good. A lot more grown up than the last time I saw you.” He glanced at her name tag. “You work for Quantam now?”

“Yes.” She clung to her serving tray like a lifeline. “I’ve been with them for almost a year. What brings you aboard?” she asked in a rush.

“Work.” He glanced at Ms. Ruby who was watching their exchange with interest now that the Maître de had seated her.

“You’re here for the talent search then?” Pitannah guessed.

“She is, so I am too.” He gestured to the table. “Are you assigned to Ruby’s table?”

“Oh, no. I was just helping one of the other girls finish setting up for lunch. I usually rotate through a couple of the other sections.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Vordol, bring your little friend over and introduce her,” Ms. Ruby suggested.

Vordol’s lips twitched even as he waved her ahead of him. “Ruby, this is Pitannah Lorento. She’s Harec’s oldest daughter.” To Pitannah he added, “Pitannah, this is the incomparable, Ms. Ruby Rose.”

Ruby extended her hand to Pitannah. “It’s lovely to meet you my dear.”

Pitannah shook Ruby’s hand and tried to not gawk. “It’s wonderful to meet you too.”

Ruby shot a questioning look at Vordol. “Harec is the Security Engineer who trained you, isn’t he?”

Vordol nodded then faced Pitannah. “How is Harec? I haven’t heard from him in quite a while.”

She grimaced. “Papa died about six months ago.”

Vordol’s expression fell. “Damn. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“Oh, my dear. I’m so sorry we brought up a sad topic for you.” Ms. Ruby patted Pitannah’s hand. “Your father was a huge influence on Vordol and I for one am very grateful for it.”

“Thank you.” Pitannah bit her lip. “I don’t mean to be forward, but are you two related somehow? You seem quite close.”

Ms. Ruby smiled. “I like to think so. I’ve know this handsome young man since he and those other hoodlums he calls brothers were chasing each other with sticks and mud.”

Vordol crossed his arms over his chest. “Who are you kidding? We still chase each other with sticks and mud.”

“Yes, dear, but now you call it training,” Ruby teased.


If you’re interested in reading more of Dena’s work, click on the links below:

Amazon          Barnes & Noble          iBooks                                     Kobo                   GooglePlay


ABOUT DENA GARSON

Dena Garson is an award winning author of contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance. She holds a BBA and a MBA in Business and works in the wacky world of quality and process improvement. Making up her own reality on paper is what keeps her sane.

She is the mother of two rowdy boys, two rambunctious cats (AKA the fuzzy jerks), and a loving Labrador. When she isn’t writing you can find her at her at the sewing machine or stringing beads. She is also a devoted Whovian and Dallas Cowboys fan.

Her books have won or finaled in the Passionate Plume, Reader’s Choice Award, and International Digital Award


Follow Dena Garson on Social Media:

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Signals from the Edge: SFR Author Cailin Briste

In our upcoming series of posts, SFRSS introduces readers to the authors and their stories appearing in its new anthology Cosmic Cabaret. We start our interview series with author Cailin Briste. Her Masters of Tallav series, published by Loose Id, is available at all major online book retailers, as is her indie-published It Takes a Cat Burglar.



SFRSS: Today, we’re chatting with author Cailin Briste. Her story Educated by the Master is part of the Cosmic Cabaret anthology and promises to be one of the more sexually sizzling stories in the set.  Welcome to Signals from the Edge!

Cailin Briste: Happy to be here, and to be part of the anthology.

SFRSS:  We hunted and gathered great writers with great stories for this anthology, which is how we found you. So tell us, are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? 

Cailin Briste: If you were to visit my home, it would be abundantly clear that I’m a gatherer. In the past, we’ve had up to twenty bookcases stuffed with books lining every available wall. I think we’re down to sixteen now. I’m definitely a gatherer.

SFRSS: As romance readers, we definitely understand the impulse to gather books, lol. Reading can be like having conversations with other people from across time and space.  If you could meet someone in person from history or literature, who would it be and why?

Cailin Briste: I played a mental game when I was a kid where I imagined that Ben Franklin had time traveled forward and I was the one showing him the modern world. As an adult, the choice would be hard. Do I pick a giant of history like Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Or what about Elizabeth I? I’m pretty sure I’d want to meet some who really lived. Although certain characters from literature would be fun. Since I can’t, I’m going to do a Scarlet O’Hara and think about that tomorrow.

SFRSS: Fiddle-dee-dee! Lol.  Okay, on to your work. What’s the blurb on this steamy novella?


Trey Johannsen’s preference is to stick to managing a private BDSM club on Beta Tau. It’s dark. It’s sexy. The cries of pleasure, the thud of a flogger, and the mingled scents of arousal and fear are evidence he’s damn good at it. So, when his boss insists Trey’s perfect for assisting a new hire to develop a BDSM cabaret, Trey is nonplussed. How the hell do you make burlesque accurate? Then he meets her, and instant attraction has him imagining peeling her clothes off, tying her to a bed, and sexually dominating her until she can take no more.

When Patsy O’Shaughnessy first lays eyes on BDSM master Trey Johannsen, everything about him impresses her. Providing him a personal tour of the on stage and behind-the-scenes workings of the Cosmic Love Cabaret isn’t a problem. Withstanding the sheer sexiness of the ultra-masculine hunk while he educates her about BDSM? That’s going to take some doing. Not that she plans to suggest hands-on training. No, the move from stage manager at the Cosmic Love Cabaret to creative director for a new venue is something she can’t blow. But if Trey Johannsen thinks experience is the best teacher, who is she to disagree?


SFRSS: We’re fanning ourselves already, and it’s not due to summer heat. You’ve already published stories with Loose Id set in the same world. In Educated by the Master, the L.S. Quantum is passing through that special world. Tell us what makes Tallav unique?

Cailin Briste: The planet Tallav is set in a cul-de-sac of the Federation, too far off the beaten trail for the L.S.Quantum to travel to. Master Trey takes a two-week hyper space flight to get to the Quantum. Tallav was purchased and settled by a group of wealthy women who wanted to create a matriarchal society. Men are restricted in many ways. The series explores how alpha males deal with growing up Tallavan. The male characters are all also involved in BDSM.

SFRSS: So SFR readers get a matriarchal society and romance and BDSM in your Tallav stories? Excellent. What was the inspiration for this current story in the SFR anthology?

Cailin Briste: When I considered the various characters inhabiting my Sons of Tallav series, Master Trey leaped out at me as the perfect candidate for a trip to the L.S. Quantum. In the process of writing the third novel for that series, Rand: Son of Tallav, I laid the foundation for Master Trey’s novel. Educated by the Master in the SFR anthology is a prequel to what will eventually be Master Trey’s full novel, the fourth in the Sons of Tallav series.

SFRSS: What attracts you to read and write in the genres you do?

Cailin Briste: My favorite reading genres are science fiction and historical, either with or without romance. Both are an escape into the “not now” where daily life is significantly different from the ordinary experiences of today. I write sci-fi romance for the same reason. It allows me to play with the culture and societies of the worlds I create. Writing historical romance would be daunting, a struggle for accuracy I’m not prepared to undertake. So I’ll stick to making up future.

SFRSS: We admire historical fiction authors for that reason too. Not only do they have to know general history, they need to know accurate social customs and language use from the period. So much easier, in a way, to invent all that. And who are your authorial influences from romance?

    

Cailin Briste: There are several authors that I read when I’m struggling to put words on the page, Nora Roberts when she’s writing as J.D. Robb, Courtney Milan, and Jennifer Ashley. Reading their work is like slipping into a stream where the individual elements of good writing take concentrated effort to tease out because you’d much rather flow with the story. Sometimes I’ll analyze what I’m reading, but often just getting in that smooth current of words will carry over into my own writing.

SFRSS: And where do you get your inspiration in SF? What’s your favorite speculative book or series by another publishing author? 

Cailin Briste: The Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh is my all-time favorite speculative fiction series. The main character, Bren Cameron, is the only human allowed to interact with the Atevi. Humans landed on the Atevi planet after a disaster separated them from human space. He’s supposed to be writing a dictionary that will allow the two species to talk effectively to one another. A difficult task because the Atevi are wired completely differently from humans. In the first book someone tries to kill him, and the entire series (20 books) is set in motion. I love his struggle to communicate, to find the words that have meaning to both humans and Atevi, to keep the delicately balanced peace between the two species.

SFRSS: What first work, either book, film, television series or comic, turned you onto speculative fiction*?

Cailin Briste: My adventure with speculative fiction began with the original Star Trek series which I watched in re-runs. In high school, my future husband introduced me to fantasy. By the time I went to college, I was devouring Anne McCaffrey, Katherine Kurtz, and Roger Zelazny.

 

    

SFRSS: Most fiction has a moral underpinning. What does this story say about the nature of humanity and science? About the nature of society? About relationships?

In Educated by the Master, Master Trey faces the problem of teaching a novice to the world of kink the nuances of the BDSM lifestyle in a short period of time so that she can present that lifestyle accurately in a new BDSM cabaret. It’s the problem of the other, the not us, that we often think of in negative terms because we lack an understanding of or knowledge about their behavior. That can be skin color, religion, or, as in this case, sexuality.

In science fiction, the other is often represented by aliens. Stereotypes often mislead, but as we get to know individuals and why they do what they do, it’s easier to discern the underlying humanity with our common problems and desires. The other becomes ET who just wants to go home.

SFRSS: Why do you think speculative fiction is popular, especially now? What does it offer readers that other fiction genres do not?

Cailin Briste: It offers hope that there is a future awaiting mankind. Even post-apocalyptic stories have mankind struggling on. There may be terrible things happening in a story, but they’re not real and most likely will never be real.

Speculative fiction also offers the good guy vs. bad guy scenario that is missing from most contemporary movies and literary fiction. There’s an emotional release to watching the good guy win when real life seems precarious.

SFRSS: What’s your favorite speculative fiction film or television series?

Cailin Briste: I’m a real fan of Stargate: SG-1, enough so that we bought the DVDs. I love the idea of walking through the stargate to another planet. I want to do that someday.

SFRSS: It is a cool concept. Plus, Richard Dean Anderson as Lieutenant General Jack O’Neill. Happy sigh. What’s your favorite kind of hero, alpha or beta?

Cailin Briste: I love both alpha and beta heroes, but I write alpha or mostly alpha male characters. I do have one character, Maon, who is sexually submissive but alpha in every other way. Maon knows how to have fun, is a true sweetheart, and can save the day when under fire. I’d love to sit and chat with him. He is the character most like my own husband.

SFRSS: Oh–that’s so sweet! And if Hollywood came calling to turn Educated by the Master into a film, which current actors would you like to see play which characters?

Cailin Briste: I had someone in mind while writing Educated by the Master. I’ll describe him and see if you can guess who it is.

“Trey Johansson was every bit as good-looking and well-built as Patsy expected. But she hadn’t been prepared for the sheer size of the man. He towered over her. And muscles! Her fingers wouldn’t reach around his biceps.”

He’s bald with dark amber skin and piercing deep brown eyes. When he scowls, he ups his intimidation factor by ten, but he has a beautiful smile when he chooses to share it. The answer can be found on my Pinterest Educated by the Master board.

SFRSS: We peaked, and yeah, we’ll definitely be picturing him as we read. So, what’s on your speculative fiction TBR list in the coming months?

Cailin Briste: I’ve been buying and reading the sci-fi romance of authors I’ve met on Facebook. Recent purchases include a couple of Veronica Scott’s books and Xavier: An Omnes Videntes Novel by Wendie Nordgren.

    

SFRSS: Both authors are listed on our SFR Series post, of course. What’s next for your writing? Any other upcoming publications?

Cailin Briste: I’m writing Rand: Son of Tallav. His story has taken more time. I’ve had to figure out what makes him tick since he’s the owner of a BDSM club and a well-known sadist. Fit that into Tallavan society. Lots of juicy stuff to play with, but it doesn’t work if Randolph doesn’t come off as a flesh and blood man. Which he is. Oh yes! Trey: Son of Tallav is next in the series.

Ideas for the second book in the A Thief in Love suspense romance series are bubbling in the back of my mind as are possibilities for a contemporary romance that plays off a real-life love story.

SFRSS: Wonderful. We’d love to read a little excerpt, if you have it.

Cailin Briste: Hope you enjoy it.


Excerpt:

It hadn’t occurred to Trey that L.S. Quantum and Beta Tau were two sides of the same coin. Sure, L.S. Quantum was a spaceship, and Beta Tau was a planet. But he’d read the L.S. Quantum’s brochures, and in every other respect they were the same large, climate-controlled settings designed to provide trendsetting pleasure venues to paying customers and entertainment for all ages and palates, including his own kinky tastes.

The insight came when a middle-aged woman eased alongside him, brushing her shoulder against his and asking if he was headed to the L.S. Quantum and if so, where his cabin was located on the ship. Her skimpy halter, skintight slacks, and the bright pink hair she was sporting did nothing to enhance her appeal. This was Beta Tau all over. The glare he aimed at her didn’t force her to step back. Good gods! I’d be at Quantum’s shuttle service gate if Patsy O’Shaughnessy hadn’t insisted on meeting me here. He scanned the customers of the bland space station lounge. No. Still on my own.

An expert at fending off tourists on Beta Tau, he’d offer to take them to the club, tie them up, and use a bullwhip on them. Most scurried away. He handed anyone who accepted his proposition over to staff at the club. Bondage was part of his personal kink, but he preferred to use a flogger. The whip was the specialty of the Whip Hand’s owner, Randolph Meryon, Trey’s boss.

The neon-haired tourist ran a finger down his upper arm. “Maybe we could get together on board? I’ve heard bald men are really good in bed.”

When he dropped his gaze to where she’d touched him, the woman tittered. Eyes narrowed, he leveled his full focus on her. “Sure. If you’re into knife play, I might be able accommodate you. I’d have to ask my girlfriend. She’s the one who does the cutting.” He followed his words with a feral grin.

The tourist turned pale. “No thanks.” She scuttled back to her friends who’d been watching the exchange. Wide-eyed, they left the lounge, several looking back over their shoulders to get another glance at him.


ABOUT CAILIN BRISTE

Cailin Briste is an emerging author of science fiction romances. She likes to flip convention on its head, creating a universe in which each planet is a study in different what ifs. What would happen to alpha men on a matriarchal planet where the women are not Dommes in the strictest sense but certainly have the attitude down pat? How would society handle it if girls born on their new planet developed empathic senses? Cailin throws her characters into these settings, heroes and heroines whose kink is a major defining attribute of their personality.

Author Website

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SFR News: 2017 RITA and Prism Award Winners

SFRSS congratulates all the winners of the 2017 RITAs, including the special Prism Awards handed out by the  Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of the RWA.  The award winners were announced during the national RWA conference in late July.

Special recognition goes to amazing author Jeffe Kennedy who won the RITA for Best Paranormal Romance with her novel The Pages of the Mind.  Woohoo! The novel also placed 2nd in Prism’s Fantasy category, while her novel The Edge of the Blade placed 2nd in Prism’s Dark Paranormal category. If you haven’t read her writing yet, you’re missing out.


We’re also really pleased for past SFRSS author (one of the authors in our 2016 anthology, Baby, It’s Cold in Space), Margo Bond Collins for her placement in the Urban Fantasy Category for Under her Skin. Congratulations, Margo! Well done.


…and the FF&P Chapter Prism Awards went to:


BEST FIRST BOOK

The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

BEST OF THE BEST

Must Love Kilts by Angela Quarles


SCI FI & FUTURISTIC

Prism Award Winner: Warrior Wench by Marie Andreas

2nd Place: Don’t Let Me Forget You by Cara Crescent

3rd Place: Sky Raiders by Michelle Diener

 


STEAMPUNK

Prism Award Winner: The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick

2nd Place (tie): Blood and Sorcery by Ann Gimpel

2nd Place (tie): Mission: Improper by Bec McMaster

3rd Place: The Seer’s Secret by Mikea Howard


URBAN FANTASY

Prism Award Winner: Skin Deep by Marissa Doyle

2nd Place: Blue Moon by Lisa Kessler

3rd Place: Under Her Skin by Margo Bond Collins

 


DARK PARANORMAL

Prism Award Winner: Mated in Mist by Carrie Ann Ryan

2nd Place (tie): The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy

2nd Place (tie): To Win a Demon’s Love by Nadine Mutas

3rd Place: Awakening Kiss by Sharon Kay


EROTIC

Prism Award Winner: The Spirit by Harper Jameson

2nd Place (tie): Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti

2nd Place (tie): Heart’s Master by Elizabeth Schechter

3rd Place: A Dark and Dirty Tale by Kristin Miller


FANTASY

Prism Award Winner: Must Love Kilts by Angela Quarles

2nd Place: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

3rd Place: Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones by Sorchia DuBois

 


HISTORICAL

Prism Award Winner: Hexbound by Bec McMaster

2nd Place: Shadowbound by Bec McMaster

3rd Place: Stealing Ula by Rebecca Rivard

 


LIGHT PARANORMAL

Prism Award Winner: Warrior Untamed by Shannon Curtis

2nd Place: Dryad’s Vine by Cynthia Diamond

3rd Place (tie): For the Bear’s Eyes Only by Kathy Lyons

3rd Place (tie): The Haunted Heist by Angie Fox


YOUNG ADULT & NEW ADULT

Prism Award Winner: Traveller by Abigail Drake

2nd Place: Elfhame by Anthea Sharp

3rd Place (tie): Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

3rd Place (tie): Scarlet Rain by Kristin Cast


NOVELLA

Prism Award Winner: Rock Hard by Kathy Lyons

2nd Place: Her Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen

3rd Place: A Secret Rose by Debra Jess


For more information on the FF&P Chapter of the RWA and its members please go to: Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers of America.

Why SFR Blasts Other Romance Sub-Genre’s Tropes Out of the Sky: Part II

Following is the second part of Selene Grace Silver’s completely unscientific and statistically dubious survey of her own thoughts about the top ten dominating SFR tropes and why they function like other romance tropes, only on steroids. Click the First Part if you missed it.

Reasons #6-10 SFR Kicks Trope Butt: Sensual Setups

So we’ve covered the popular variations on archetypal heroes, let’s look at the more common variations on the archetypal romance arc.

Heroes’ and heroines’ meet-cutes tend towards the more extreme in SFR. Sure, the characters might meet in a bar and end up in a one-night stand like they do in Cara Bristol’s Trapped with a Cyborg, but it’s far more likely their meeting is more…unusual. The heroine isn’t just trapped with the hero on a road trip or during a snow storm, she’s likely been abducted in her nightie by evil aliens, who have crash-landed on an ice planet, leaving her to freeze to death until he finds her, or she’s been sentenced to a prison planet where either the extreme weather or the other residents are trying to kill them both.

Mail order brides might be big in historical westerns, but those gals only traveled half way around the world to marry their men, in SFR, the travel is more likely a thousand plus light years away across the universe with no return ticket. Our heroines will not discover ruby slippers to click together to get back home. We’re not on Earth anymore, Toto.

Whatever favorite situational tropes romance readers cherish in their contemporary, historical or paranormal books, SFR takes on the challenge of raising the stakes to their penultimate (ultimate resulting in death, as it sometimes does in hardcore SF, but never in the HEA-ending romance) potential, often serving up experiences that simply can’t be done in any other genre.

6. Calgon, Take Me Away! Alien Abductions

It might surprise those who don’t read romance just how popular the alien abduction trope is in SFR. Normally, something titled Alien Abduction would be classified under horror, not romance. In horror, the abducted usually become the victims of nightmare-inducing medical probes, or slaves on mining planets, or medium-rare steaks on some behemoth spidery creature’s dinner plate. In romance, though, alien probing and, ahem, eating ends in highly satisfying heroine orgasms. The only shock the heroine suffers from is just how quickly and powerfully her abductor brings her to climax.

When we consider that the alien abduction fear is a modern update on the whole sexual Nightmare of the Medieval period in which succubi would seduce and sex us up during our sleep, it’s not difficult to appreciate the power of this fantasy. It’s deeply rooted in our western psyches. While, paranormal romance can give us the sensual demon; SFR delivers the evolved, hunky alien version of little green men.

Why does abduction top the list of situational archetypes? Consider the drudgery of modern life: long work hours, long commutes, long lines at the grocery store. Seriously, so much of modern life is tedious and boring. Everyone fantasizes about getting away from everyday reality, but trading lines during regular life for lines in a Vegas buffet or for the rides at a theme park isn’t all that relaxing. For women, in particular, the exhaustion that results from a combination of trying to be everything to everyone, at work, at home, and even on vacation, is a condition not easily fixed with a twenty-minute bubble bath, (despite the soap advertiser’s promises). The thought of being eaten and/or probed turns readers’ minds to something other than cooking and gynecological appointments. It turns our minds to sex. (Please note, SFR readers are very sex positive.)

The idea of being taken and kept at the mercy of a large, competent and skilled lover far, far away across the galaxy where there are no reports to write nor emails to answer nor dishes to wash? The appeal is self-evident. Whether the hero ends up being the arrogant abductor, as in Eve Langlais’ Alien Abduction series, or the eager rescuer after the fact, like in Ruby Dixon’s Ice Planet Barbarian series, this trope always ends up in a happy-ever-after for the heroine.

7. Cue Mendelssohn’s Wedding March: Alien Brides/Mates

Just like the popular mail-order bride stories in the historical western romance genre, this scenario depends on the ‘thrill’ of every bride everywhere dreaming of the moment she partners with a soulmate for life. Women are raised to chart their personal lives forward to this special moment in time. But that’s not what this SFR trope usually focuses its fantasy spinning efforts on.

The alien bride archetype is often less Cinderella and more Bluebeard. The SFR trope is more about the heroine surviving the honeymoon and building equality into the dynamic of the relationship. In real life, marriage can actually be scary for women. Not to get too dark here, but most women who get murdered are actually killed by their partners. And more men cheat on their wives than women cheat on their husbands. It’s dangerous to become intimate with a man, after all. It’s risky, both physically and emotionally. Alien bride stories raise the stakes of the archetypal marriage by increasing the danger of the spouse (see the First Part of this post) and further complicating the difficulty of marital communication between not only two genders, but also between two alien races. In Laurann Dohner’s Zorn Warriors series (technically more alien abduction than mail-order bride), the heroines find themselves in sexual competition with other females for their partner’s heart even after the mating.

The reason for this trope’s popularity? If the heroine in an SFR alien bride story can form a happy marriage with a giant, furry blue male who speaks a different language, then surely human females on Earth can do the same with their similar-sized fellow human partners.

8. The More the Merrier: Alien Ménages, the Highly Logical Path

Polygamy exists on Earth, even in the modern era, but it’s too often about the guys having multiple females at their disposal. In SFR, the females get their karmic justice. Sex stops being about making babies and starts being first and foremost about having great sex . Since women have the potential to orgasm more in a night than men, it makes complete sense to invite more males per female into the sexual equation so we reach our joined-gender-maximum-orgasm-potential. And we’re not talking about equally splitting attention between everyone involved either, one of the downsides of ménages (or so I’ve heard), although that’s okay too. This SFR trope is, primarily, a female fantasy-driven experience.

The alien guys understand (unlike their human counterparts so often misunderstand) that the woman deserves to be the “precious” center of the activity. Women need lots of sensual stimulation, so it’s highly logical to increase the males-to-female ratio to even up the odds of achieving orgasm equality. It doesn’t mean the heroine can’t have the one true love experience, either. In Kate Pearce’s Planet Mail, the extra guys are there to “help” the alpha hero keep his heroine prepped and aroused. Kind of the way romance novels keep women prepped for their real husbands, right? Unlike the actual world, unfortunately, where masculine jealousies might flare up–women being transferable property and all–these SFR stories create completely new cultures, ones that don’t see women as mere property, or as disposable, so sharing one female among several hot alien guys becomes a practical and acceptable relationship structure. In SFR, it’s all about practicality.

9. Set Phasers to Stun: Alien Invasions/Post-Apocalyptic Earth

Not all SFRs happen out in the frontiers of space. They can just as easily take place here on Earth. In these post-apocalyptic stories, the heroes are generally human males, but not always. They can be violent invading aliens, like in Stephanie Snow’s Demon’s Captive, or they can be retro raiding and pillaging Vikings as in Megan Crane’s Edge books, or they can be the surviving, honorable soldiers in Anna Hackett’s Hell Squad series. The attraction of the trope is that civilized society as we know it has been stripped away and we therefore are also stripped down to our most primal selves.

Sex under life-threatening conditions boosts the battery’s charge. Invasions by another country would be scary to consider, but being taken over by an off-planet alien race guarantees life-and-death conflicts on a daily basis. Only the strongest survive, so the options for mating with the manliest of the males becomes inevitable since those are the only males that survive to mate. And when it comes to interacting with invading aliens, it seems better to be desired sexually than gutted and run over like road kill.

10. Caught the Net of Love: Trapped Together

A quick survey of titles,  series titles and book blurbs in SFR will make obvious readers’ love for this trope. Trapped. Escape from. Marooned. Imprisoned.  A favorite trope, no matter the romance sub-genre, trapped scenarios promise few pesky interruptions or distractions between the hero and his heroine, other than each other, that is, so the storytelling focus can be primarily on the developing relationship between our two lead characters. As with all these tropes, the SFR game requires the players to double down and go for broke. The hero and heroine are more likely trapped in a life-threatening situation than, say, “snowed in” at the millionaire hero’s sprawling winter retreat for the weekend, cupboards full of food and the kindling and logs stacked neatly on the wrap-around porch, ready for cozy nights before the fire.

For example, in Claire Kent’s novella Hold, the heroine, an academic, is unfairly dumped in an underground prison full of violent men. Mating isn’t a choice for her–it’s her sole survival strategy. She hooks up very willingly with the strongest contender in sight.  Fortunately, his incarceration was the results of an unfair sentence too, and he turns out to be a good guy (after lots of rough quid pro quo sex, of course). SFR effectively blends the bad boy and the good guy hero tropes under these extreme conditions, something it’s nearly impossible to do without a lot of back-bending in contemporary romances.

Cara Bristol’s Stranded with a Cyborg is another example of the harsh, deadly landscapes our characters often find themselves in–the water is deadly acid on the planet where the hero and heroine crash-land. And lots of SFRs depend on the trapped-for-long-days setting of the spaceship as well. It doesn’t take long to figure out the consequences of attractive males and females living in close quarters in the middle of nowhere, a scenario perfectly exploited by Lopita Lopez in her Grabbed series.

As with the hero archetypes, the story arc patterns in SFR spin traditional tropes into something edgy and exciting. So, go get trapped with an SFR and leave everyday Earth behind. Need some suggestions? Check out our ever-expanding list of SFR series HERE.

What popular tropes did Selene leave out? Which are your favorites? Book recommendations? Let us know.

Missed the first part of the post? Click HERE.

Why SFR Blasts Other Romance Sub-Genre Tropes Out of the Sky: Part I

Following a completely unscientific and statistically dubious survey of her own thoughts, SFR Shooting Stars author Selene Grace Silver contemplates the top ten dominating SFR tropes and why they function like other tropes, only on steroids.

Typical to all popular fiction genres, general romance exploits its beloved tropes, from naughty bad boys to angst-filled love triangles. In speculative romance, these tropes tend to morph up in scale. Traditional bad boys become massive 7-foot tall super-endowed alien warriors who pair up with super smart heroines. Love triangles resolve themselves into happy ménages with male partners sporting enhanced appendages. If regular romances offer fantasies of how romantic love (and satisfying sex) might progress and resolve itself into happily-ever-after on Earth, then speculative romance re-imagines those archetypes and patterns into truly crazy but wonderful probabilities that expand beyond the mapped universe.

What if the hero actually could read a woman’s mind? What if a culture existed out in space in which women were valued simply for being female? What if the male body were designed solely to give women’s bodies sexual pleasure? The love affairs in historicals, contemporaries and even paranormals are generally confined by the limited expectations of a Western patriarchal society that too frequently treats women as disposable (hence the popularity of romance in all its forms—it’s the primary genre of fiction where a woman can repeatedly read to work through the psychological challenges of being labeled the “weaker” sex while still becoming the agent of her own story’s happiness). The underlying feminist instincts of the romance genre is another topic for another day, though.

Let’s look at the way SFR takes our favorite tropes and expands them into a new consciousness. In this first of two posts, we’ll look at the ways in which SFR enhances our male hero.

Reasons #1-5 SFR Kicks Trope Butt: The Heroes

In SFR, the guys are elite ALPHAS. To be the hero, they have to fight against incredibly horrible odds of survival on the frontiers of the universe. They frequently find themselves in life-threatening spaceship shootouts or navigating uninhabitable planets or a post-apocalyptic Earth. Perhaps they’ve crash-landed on a harsh plant (or been betrayed and dumped there). Enemies don’t run to the basic greedy human opponent or to Category 5 hurricanes either. We’re talking powerful Darth Vader-level enemies bent on galactic annihilation, or about malfunctioning escape pods with limited oxygen in the middle of nowhere, or about barren landscapes of meager subsistence and monstrous alien animals who want to kill and eat them.

These guys have to be tougher than the average ‘alpha’ cop or army sergeant to survive these challenges, generally, or very desperate. Not only are SFR heroes tasked with the seemingly insurmountable job of staying alive against ridiculous odds, they often take on the responsibilities of helping others survive as well. Fortunately for them, equally determined, tough and/or clever heroines team up to save the day, or the planet, or the universe. Scale is everything. In no particular order they are:

  1. Land, Sea and Space: SFR’s Superior Masculine Warriors and Soldiers

SFR stories love to showcase military men and women at their best. They have to be strong, smart and have moral scruples. It’s difficult to find a story in which lives aren’t on the line at some point during an SFR story. Couple that harrowing plot device with galactic-wide wars complicated by alien factions operating with opposing moral value systems, and chaos is often just around the narrative corner. SFR stories alternate between intense moments of stress and danger, interrupted by romantic retreats into private space cabins or cozy caves because these guys need their female partners in order to stay strong and steady, to persist. Naturally, to battle these kinds of odds, the soldiers and warriors are taller, broader, quicker (or more desperate) than the heroes of other romances. Think of them as testosterone amped with cocaine. Cyndi Friberg’s Battle Born warriors or Mina Carter’s Warriors of Lathar demonstrate just how over-the-top these guys can be.

2. If He Only Had a Heart, or Cyborg Boys Aren’t Easy

In the end, all SFR heroines, even the ones without military training or enhanced cybernetic features, like to do a little rescuing themselves, often in the emotional sense. After all, it’s the female superpower to feel our feelings and help others feel theirs. Frankly, it’s not that much of a challenge to get an emotionally-available modern guy to fall in love with a gal in a contemporary romance. There’s certainly less risk involved in a story when the characters are college-educated and their biggest life challenge is climbing the corporate ladder.

SFR readers like a more emotionally-challenged hero, and that means the strong and silent type.  Men with these characteristics have dominated female sexual fantasies for centuries.  At least as far back as Heathcliff. But before SFR, arguably only the archetypal cowboy came close to personifying the sincerely emotionless male character. In SFR, the emotionally-repressed cyborg represents the most extreme strong and silent guy. If regular male characters struggle to express their emotions, imagine the challenge for heroes who are part man, part machine. No challenge supersedes a heroine’s need to crack open a guy’s closed-off heart, especially if we’re not even sure he has human emotions underneath all those digital enhancements.  Best of all, these guys are sure to remain faithful afterwards, exactly because they’re unlikely to fall for just any girl.  It was taxing enough to fall for one. Laurann Dohner’s heroes in the Cyborg Seduction series or Cara Bristol’s Cy-Ops guys show that commitment means commitment.

3.  Ahoy! Prepare to be Boarded: Dare Devil Pirates & Adventurers

We have the protectors who will kill to save the heroine’s life. We have the cyborgs who only open their hearts to one worthy gal. But women all need to laugh as well. Especially in these life-threatening situations. So bring on the scoundrels and daredevil SFR pirates and adventurers.  Swashbuckling pirates of the 1700s might prove their muster in historical romances charting their way into unknown waters, but imagine them steering their spaceships into unknown worlds.

These cocky SFR heroes have honed their sarcasm and wit against vast stretches of mysterious landscapes, dodging galactic armies, outmaneuvering green aliens with octopus arms, and surviving ship breakdowns skirting the edges of black holes. They can crack jokes and live to tell about it. They can relieve the tension of a death-defying event with just the right line. Imagine the entertaining stories that eventually get told, cuddled up around the overheating warp drive, following the happy-ever-after. SFR pirates can be fun-loving or serious and driven by important social issues. Go light with Eve Langlais’ Alien Abduction incorrigibles or go serious with Linnea Sinclair’s classic SFR Gabriel’s Ghost.  Probably no greater fictional hero lives than space pirate/poet Gabriel “Sully” Sullivan.

4. The Better to Eat You With, or Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My! Shifters in Space

Vampires, Werewolves, Demons. These mysterious, powerful and dangerous creatures might rule the paranormal romance genre, but in SFR they tend to just be other humanoid races. So, in SFR, there are rarely issues of incompatible life spans, or bloody nocturnal rampages, or hotter-than-hell living quarters.

These shifting (or non-shifting, as those horns and hairy backs are sometimes permanent features) alien creatures sport all the delicious and dangerous animal instincts that society has tempered in the real world. It’s built into their DNA and the (generally) human heroine gets all the benefits without any of the negatives. If men and women are really two species, then alien shifters and human woman are as wild a pairing as it gets. Michelle Pillow’s Lords of Var series or S.E. Smith’s Dragon Lords of Valdier are good entries into this classic shifting alien trope.

5. Is that a massive laser weapon I see in your pants, or are you just happy to see me? Enhanced Male Genitalia

This trope mostly describes all the male heroes in all the romances ever, but only SFR gives readers big and hard with vibrating nubs and double wangs. Seriously. While there are also sweet romances in SFR, one of the things this sub-genre exploits to its full potential are sexual fantasies involving enhanced-specifically-for-female-pleasure alien penises and tongues.

In one of the more exotic SFRs, Kaitlyn O’Connor’s When Night Falls, the devil-inspired hero Lucien has two appendages, one that extends and “sucks” the heroine’s clit during sex, and one that is massive and vibrates. Lucien also exudes a chemical that causes her body to resist climaxing so when she finally releases, it’s cataclysmic. Tantric sex gone supernova. Cheesy? Maybe. Satisfying? Definitely. It’s like they say, in SFR, go big or go home. SFR readers say yes, yes, yes…

Read the Second Part of this post in which Selene considers the intersection of setting and opportunity, SFR-style, to identify five more romance tropes in which SFR pushes the boundaries of the romantic imagination.

Baby, It’s Cold in Space

Looking for great romances set in imaginative settings? SFR Shooting Stars is passionate about speculative romance. We’ve written and compiled an anthology of SFR stories. Watch our new book trailer to learn more about it:

The first SFR Shooting Stars anthology, Baby, It’s Cold in Space, a collection by member authors, will be available until March 31st and then is coming down! Don’t miss out on your chance to own a personal, eternal copy. Download the anthology today on AMAZON.

sfrmabs-baby-its-cold-cover

 

Included in Baby, it’s Cold in Space:

I’LL BE ON NEW LONDON FOR CHRISTMAS MARGO BOND COLLINS
When Gabi Esser joined the Galactic Coalition Fleet Marines, she dreamed of seeing the universe. Instead, she’s sent to New London–the most backward planet in the Coalition–to protect one of its silly nobles during the holiday season. Now the duke she’s guarding wants her to pretend to be his date at several Christmas parties, and she’s more intrigued by him than she wants to admit. They can carry this off without falling in love … but only in their dreams.

THE CLIMATE OF LOVE BLAIRE EDENS
Sent on a research mission to Utuquq, a planet that’s avoided the pitfalls of climate change, Lauren Hascamp has a year to learn everything she can to help scientists save Earth. Pukak, the Keeper of History for The Siku, the tribe inhabiting Utuquq, is drawn to Lauren and her stories of a world with no winter. Interest turns to passion, but when the priest who expressly forbade it discovers their affair, the couple is forced into the Unknown, a land of brutal cold and limited resources. Trapped in a dwelling made of ice, Pukak and Lauren must overcome the brutal cold, the lack of resources and the murderous intent of the Siku Priests if they have any chance at surviving.

SATURDAY NIGHT IN DEVILS HOLLER DONNA S. FRELICK
Agents of the Interstellar Council of Abolition and Rescue tracked a slave-trading criminal across the galaxy to his latest location–Earth, where the pickings are easy and profits are guaranteed. Mingo County Deputy Sheriff Jace McCoy has a stack of cold cases on his desk–dozens of lost souls who have gone missing from his rural West Virginia jurisdiction. There’s a kidnapper stalking the wintry mountain hollers, a killer with someone close to Jace’s heart next on his list.To save her, Jace will need Rescue’s help, and a whole new way of thinking about the stars.

STILL LIFE JAYNE FURY
His future is her next target. Astrobiologist Ewan Stewarts won the chance of a lifetime: terraforming paradise from a cold lifeless planet. Sexy ninja freedom fighter Commander Jodeen Benson’s mission is on a collision course with his dream. If she succeeds, she’ll save millions of lives but destroy one: his.

THE SOLAR EXPRESS ERIN HAYES
Kear’yl is a proud Vzekian space ranger who has fought great battles, defeated many warriors and traveled the universe, but there’s one man she’s always avoided: her human stepbrother Houston. But she can’t deny that Houston’s good looks and strong body set her three hearts on fire. When her stepmother plans a family Christmas on Wixilia VIII, and Kear’yl is tasked with picking up Houston from Earth to join their family, her spaceship breaks down in deep space, trapping them together. Kear’yl finds that her growing attraction to Houston may be the best Christmas present ever.

ANGELO 13 ROSALIE REDD
Forbidden to express emotions, clone Angelo Thirteen longs to experience one feeling above all others–love. When a tenacious, young, female Altonian retrieves him from his drifting space pod, he may just get his chance.

STAR GAZERS DIANA RIVIS
She’s traveled the multiverse on dangerous missions before, but this time her heart is on the line. Special Agent Kendra Voray of the Inter-Galactic Alliance is forced to work with Valon, historian and second born son of one of the ruling families of the planet, to determine how a Calivan artifact ended up on Earth hundreds of years before inter-dimensional space travel. Kendra doesn’t have room in her life for relationships, but Valon makes her feel things she never expected.

LIGHT UP THE DARK SELENE GRACE SILVER
Twenty-something girls just want to have fun. How can Nadiah explore her sensual side when her overprotective father is a powerful telepath who reads and controls the mind of any potential mate? An impulsive joy ride to Jagron’s sex palaces is her first opportunity to take a lover, but instead, she wakes up to find herself trapped in a space cell with a huge, mute alien. By the time they escape their kidnappers, she’ll have more than a solo trip dirtside to explain to Daddy.