Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Veronica Scott's Hostage to the Stars is looking for some Love


Thanks for being such a gracious hostess and having me back again!

Liza: You are always welcome here!

I was hoping to talk about my next new release but it’s at the editor still, so we’ll save that for July.  I’m going to talk about Hostage to the Stars instead, which I always feel is one of my books that might be a bit in need of extra love, overlooked perhaps. Although I was extremely honored to receive an SFR Galaxy Award for the book this year! So I have it on sale for $.99 right now, until July.

Liza's happy response:
99 cents!!!
You've got to buy it!
I have never read a Veronica Scott book I didn't love!!! 
Okay, back to Veronica...

I did talk about the book a tiny bit here a year ago but not my reasons for writing it, and I’m giving a new excerpt for your blog readers.

Liza: Can't wait to read it!

As an author, I find I have certain secondary or supporting characters I have quite the affection for, and really want to find just the right story for them to step into the limelight on center stage. Johnny Danver from Mission to Mahjundar was a guy like that for me – one of my  ever capable, ever calm yet deadly Special Forces sergeants, right there to watch Mike the hero’s back (or his ‘six’ in the military parlance) and do his best to assist his friend and heroine to reach their Happy Ever After. But then what about Johnny himself??? I kept wondering what he would do after he was released from the service and made it back on his home planet, trying to fit into the daily life he left so many years before. I figured like so many highly trained veterans in our own time, he’d be restless, unable to settle down and plagued by flashbacks. But a guy can only do so much hunting and fishing before he either becomes a confirmed mountain man or finds something else to provide him with a new purpose and focus.
It felt to me as if Johnny wasn’t really quite done with the military, all his protests to the contrary. I thought what if Johnny was put in a situation where he had to return to active duty for reasons (no spoilers here), specifically to accompany a hostage rescue team, and then there were complications? So the team goes to a hostile planet, locates the woman they were sent to extract, and only then learns there’s another woman prisoner from the Sectors being held captive as well. The team leader refuses to go outside his orders to make an unsanctioned rescue attempt. Johnny – of course – sets off to find and rescue her by himself.
In my teaser ads for this book, I always ask the reader how up to date their interstellar kidnap and rescue insurance is. People either chuckle or else they nod, because K&R is a BIG business in certain parts of the Earth nowadays. So I saw no reason why such coverage would go out of demand in the far future. Space pirates will exist, right?!
True life stories of people who’ve been abducted in hostile places and either ransomed or rescued (or killed but we won’t go there) fascinate me. I think the popular perception is that Special Forces SEAL Team Six will be sent to pluck the victim out of danger, which does happen sometimes but not always.  I was amazed to learn foreign hostage situations can drag on for years before a rescue attempt is made, if ever. As an author, I was drawn to creating such a situation, but reaching its conclusion rapidly.
Here’s the story:
He rescued her from space pirates … but can he keep them both safe from the far greater evil stalking a deserted planet?
Space travel without Kidnap & Ransom insurance? Not a good idea. University instructor and researcher Sara Bridges can’t afford it, so when pirates board her cruise liner, she’s taken captive along with the mistress of a wealthy man and brought to a deserted planet. 


When a military extraction team sent to rescue the mistress refuses to take Sara too, she’s left to the mercies of a retired Special Forces soldier, along as a consultant.

Reluctantly reactivated and coerced into signing up for the rescue operation to the planet Farduccir where he once was deployed, Sgt. Johnny Danver just wants to get the job done. But when the team leader leaves one captured woman behind, he breaks away to rescue her himself.

As Johnny and Sara traverse the barren landscape, heading for an abandoned base where they hope to call Sectors Command for help, they find villages destroyed by battle and stripped of all inhabitants. A lone survivor tells a horrific tale of the Sectors’ alien enemy, the Mawreg, returning after being pushed out …
Searching for evidence to give the military, Johnny is captured. He regains consciousness in a Mawreg cage–with Sara next to him. Death is preferable to what the aliens will do to them… And even if they do escape their captors, can they alert the military in time to prevent another invasion of the Sectors?
The excerpt:
“What about Sara Bridges?” Ms. Immer whispered. “Aren’t you going to get her too?”
Captain Scortun leaned closer. “Who?”
“The other woman taken off the Star Swan with me.”      
 “We're here for you, ma’am. No intel on anyone else.” Scortun’s answer was crisp and disinterested.
“Do you know where she’s being held?” Johnny asked.
Tresha shook her head. “We were separated the first day, when we got here. Nice little thing, no insurance. I tried to tell the warlord a lie about her being my friend but he didn’t care.”
“Forget it, Danver, we’ve got our high value package and we’re out of here.” Scortun’s voice was low and stern. “Check the corridor. We need to move.”
Johnny gave him a considering look but took point and led the team from the palace and safely into the foothills. The two squad members who’d been on overwatch joined them. There was no sign of pursuit. Once they were about a mile from the warlord’s compound, Johnny signaled for one of the others to take point and he dropped back to where Ms. Immer trudged along in the column, wearing a pair of borrowed boots and a jacket. “Tell me more about this Sara.”
“I didn’t know her, just a passenger on the Star Swan, had no idea about K&R insurance or pirates. Naïve. I heard she put up a fight when the pirates grabbed her – she was bruised pretty bad the last time I saw her, before we were separated. I wouldn’t have thought she had it in her. The stewardess on the ship said she was a teacher or librarian.” Tresha paused, bending to rub her legs for a moment. “Umarri ordered me not to mention her to the negotiation team if I wanted to stay healthy so I kept my mouth shut.”
“And you have no idea what’s happened to her since the pirates took her away?”
“I told you, no. I was kept pretty busy fending off the warlord without pissing him off, if you know what I mean.” Head tilted, she gave him a flirtatious wink.
“Drop it, Danver,” said the other soldier. “We ain’t here for incidental victims. Captain told you more than once already.”
“Cut the chatter and pick up the pace.” Scortun made his way through the column. “We’re going to miss the extraction window if we don’t hustle and I’m not staying on this hellhole planet any longer than I have to. Danver, take the rearguard and quit distracting Ms. Immer.”
Johnny faded to the end of the column and kept watch on their back trail. Once the group ascended to the plateau seeking the designated landing zone, and he heard the muted sound of the incoming shuttle, he sought out the captain, crouched in the lee of a large boulder, close to Ms. Immer.
“Just fyi, I’m goin’ for the other woman,” Johnny said. “You have a nice flight home to base. Don’t forget to tell them I’m here. Good luck to you, Ms. Immer.”
“Who the hell do you think you are, sergeant?” The captain’s voice was tense and angry. “You don’t get to change mission parameters to suit yourself. I don’t care if you’re in the goddamn Special Forces or not, I gave you a direct order. We’re not going after any other civilians this trip.”
“No, you’re not, I see that.” Johnny couldn’t keep the contempt out of his voice. “In my branch of the service, we don’t leave people behind. In case it’s escaped your notice, I’m not under your command. Special Forces operates independently.”
Holding his pulse rifle where it could conveniently be considered a threat by Captain Scortun if he was feeling paranoid, Johnny backed away. None of the other soldiers wanted to challenge him.
“We’re not waiting for you,” Scortun yelled. “When our shuttle lands, we’re gone.”
“Good riddance,” he said under his breath, as he faded into the underbrush and slipped away down the steep hillside.

Buy Links:   
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Author Bio:
Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “City On the Edge of Forever.”



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nicola M. Cameron shares Degree of Resistance


Big Money’s Going Into Space — But Fiction Is Already There

If you’re on Twitter regularly, chances are you’ve seen the promoted tweet from Goldman Sachs about how corporate money is looking to space for the next big influx of wealth. From petroleum products on Saturn’s moon Titan to the ability to harvest water, metal, and valuable minerals from asteroids, the potential wealth that’s out there is something that the forward-thinking investor should be looking into, according to the investment company.

Of course, science fiction has been mining the Moon, raising food on Mars and harnessing asteroids for decades. From the early days of the Golden Age of SF to Alien: Covenant, SF writers have always been fascinated with the idea of staking a claim on some lonely planet somewhere. One of the best recent examples is book and TV series The Expanse, which looks at the concept of a settled Solar system and the struggles of a small group to unravel a conspiracy that threatens peace in the system and the survival of humanity.

So the idea that Big Money wants to go into space, now that SpaceX is a reality and humankind is poised on the brink of a realistic and practical commercial exploration of our solar system, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. What it should be making us wonder, however, is what the long-term plans are of such organizations that are looking spaceward with an eye to commercialization and colonization. I will admit to some bias on this line of thought; I’m working on a dystopian SF romance series that involves a society trying to save its wealthiest and most powerful citizens from a meteor that will sterilize the Earth by constructing a space station/ark that will orbit the Earth until it can be reinhabited. This is fiction, admittedly, but lately Real Life™ keeps gazumping me and turning what’s supposed to be an entertaining SF romance into somewhat alarming fact (travel bans, ICE deporting citizens, an administration spinning out of control). When I see tweets like this and think about the current US administration’s bizarrely dismissive attitude towards climate change, the writer part of my brain ponders, “Okay, do they really think there’s a Planet B? And if so, how the hell are they going to get there?”

At the moment, I don’t think the 1% have space arks. I don’t think. But I have to admit, Goldman Sachs does make me wonder.







BLURB:

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. An innocent man condemned to cyborg slavery. A brilliant woman determined to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras belongs to the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose from the ruins of the West Coast. But Evie knows about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that Pacifica has turned her fiancé Ben into a cyborg soldier/slave, she will risk everything to rescue him.

Saving Ben is the first step in a deadly game between Pacifica and a shadowy resistance group known as Rubicon. In return for Rubicon’s help, Evie must retrieve a hidden artificial intelligence that may hold the key to protecting Earth from a deadly new disaster.

Assuming the protectorate doesn’t find Evie first…


Sci Fi Romance, Cyborg Romance, MF
Word Count: 80,000
Series: Pacifica Rising (Book One)
Heat Level 4
Published by Belaurient Press
ISBN: 978-1-54314-670-7


BUY LINKS:

·      Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2A25GG
·      Print: https://www.createspace.com/6938559


PG-13 EXCERPT

Evie opened the control box wired to the pressure tank that took water from the Burgess well. A set of dusty but functional solar cells sat on a pole fastened to the tank, and insulated wiring led from the cells to the control box. “Okay, the well is definitely not dry and the battery is pulling juice from the cells, so it’s got to be a failure in the pump,” she said, rooting around in the bag of borrowed tools next to her.

Ben crouched down next to her, making sure he was in between her and any potential restart of the McBride/Burgess water war. “Think you can fix it?”

She gave him an “are you kidding” glance, then returned her attention to the dusty innards of the control box. She leaned closer, nose wrinkling. “Ew.”

“What?”

Grimacing, she reached into the box and pulled out a small, stiff body. “I think it’s a deep-fried lizard. Can they chew on wires?”

He gingerly accepted the small corpse. The arid air had done a fine job of natural mummification on it. “Not as much. It might’ve peed on something, though.”

“Yay.” She peered deeper into the box. “Yeah, I think you’re right—looks like a contact got corroded. I can fix that.”

As she got to work, Ben kept an ear cocked to the radio clipped to his jacket pocket. After giving them a royal chewing out for taking an unauthorized beer break, J.C. was overseeing the repair of the War Wagon while a chastised Vince and company drove the bartered food and the wounded security officer back to the base in the Bandit. Rob had volunteered to stay behind as backup, and Evie’s presence had been requested at J.C.’s side once she was finished with the well pump.

He watched her frown in concentration at the control box. “There, that should work. I already primed the pump so—” She flipped a switch and the pressure tank rumbled before settling down to a satisfied gurgling. “Damn, I’m good.”

“Yes, you are.”

She squinted at him, patches of color blooming in her cheeks. He didn’t think it was because of the blustery wind. “Thanks. We better get back to the War Wagon.”

He got up and gave her a hand, hanging onto it once she was on her feet. She didn’t try to pull away, which was reassuring. “I’m sorry about punching the wall in your office,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

The corner of her mouth quirked. “I think you were justified.”

“I don’t, but thanks for that.” He stared at the hollows between the hills of her knuckles, the elegant strength of the hand. He never wanted to let it go. “I just hate the thought of you going back to Pacifica without me.”

The wind drove strands of dark hair across her face, curtaining it. “I know, but I don’t have a choice. Ballardie and I are the only ones who know how to shut down Lilith’s server. He can’t go so it has to be me. But I’m going to have Mark, Rob, and Lisa backing me up, and they’re all armed and extremely psycho. I’ll be fine.”

Ben wanted to smile at her description of the security officers. “Baby, you could head in there with a cyborg army at your back and I’d still worry.”

She snorted. “Is there anything I could say that would make you feel better?”

“Not really.” He brushed the hair away from her face. “I guess … I’m feeling useless right now because I can’t protect you, and I’m scared I’m going to lose you again, and if that happens…” He didn’t want to think about the yawning abyss that would become the brief remainder of his life in that case.

Those lovely russet eyes softened. “I understand about being scared,” she said, cupping his cheek. “That’s how I felt every time you went on deployment. I never knew if you were going to be in danger or not. All I could do was wait and pray that you came home.”

“Shit.” He pressed into the warmth of her hand, memorizing how she felt against his skin. “If this is how you felt, I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. It’s part of loving a soldier. I knew that going in.” Her thumb stroked his cheekbone. “But I also knew if there was any way for you to come back, you’d take it. And you proved me right. You survived twelve years under Camden, and you came back to me. So I’m telling you right now that I’m coming back to you, and I’m bringing Ally with me.”

He leaned down, pressing his forehead against hers. “You better. I don’t think I can live without you.”

“Same here. Twelve years was long enough.” Her lips quirked. “And as for you being useless, may I remind you that you just walked into a strange town alone, convinced an armed man to let you into his bar, singlehandedly negotiated a ceasefire between two crazy people, rescued a bunch of our guys in the process, and you didn’t fire a single shot or spill a drop of blood doing it. You’re about as far from useless as it’s physically possible to be.”

He considered what she’d said. Viewed in that light, it was kind of impressive. “I was just doing my job,” he said, self-conscious.

“That’s what heroes always say.”

“You think I’m a hero?”

Her smile was blinding. “Well, you’ve always been my hero.”

Christ, he loved her. He pulled her into his arms, resting his cheek on top of her head. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you,” he murmured, “but damn, I’m glad I did it.”

“So am I.” She leaned back and kissed him, her lips cool and soft. “And I know this is kind of pointless to say to a hero, but try not to worry about me. The thing is—”

She shifted, her hands moving. He suddenly found himself on the cold ground, right arm straight up behind him with his hand flexed in a wrist lock and her foot braced under his shoulder blade. “—I’m not exactly what you’d call helpless.”

He huffed out a rueful laugh. He could break the lock with his augmented strength, but not without hurting her. And if he was honest with himself he was damned impressed that she’d put him on the ground so neatly. “Someone’s been practicing.”

“Yup. Rob’s pretty damn good at hand-to-hand, and I still remember everything you and Tio Christo taught me.” Her voice dropped. “I’m coming back, Ben. And I’m bringing our daughter with me. You’re not going to lose either of us ever again.”

The grip around his wrist disappeared. He rolled onto his back, staring up at the most beautiful mouth in the world. Upside down, he wasn’t sure if she was smiling or frowning.

She planted her hands on her hips. “You believe me, right?”

He grinned. “My momma didn’t raise stupid children, ma’am. I believe you.”

“Good.” She toed at the dust. “Now get up. I’m freezing my ass off out here and I want to go home.”

Home. That sounded like a fine idea.


Bio:
Nicola Cameron is a married woman of a certain age who really likes writing about science fiction, fantasy, and sex. When not writing about those things, she likes to make Stuff™. And she may be rather fond of absinthe.
While possessing a healthy interest in sex since puberty, it wasn’t until 2012 that she decided to write about it. The skills picked up during her SF writing career transferred quite nicely to speculative romance. Her To Be Written work queue currently stands at around nineteen books, and her mojito-sodden Muse swans in from Bali every so often to add to the list, cackling to herself all the while.
Nicola plans to continue writing until she drops dead over her keyboard or makes enough money to buy a private island and hire Rory McCann as her personal trainer/masseur, whichever comes first.
Social Media links:
       •    Website: http://www.nicolacameronwrites.com
       •    Blog: http://www.nicolacameronwrites.com/blog
       •    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicola.cameron.1460
       •    Facebook Reader Group: http://www.facebook.com/nicolacameronwrites
       •    Twitter: https://twitter.com/YesItsNicolaC