Saturday Snippet: Everybody Comes To Crank’s

Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. On the surface, it’s a web ring of authors who post snippets of their work for comment. In reality, it’s a close-knit group of friends and colleagues working together to support and encourage one another and promote the science fiction and fantasy genres.

This week’s snippet comes to you from one of the lost novels of THE MERCENARY ADVENTURES OF BLADE DEVON. This snippet is from ARCANA DOUBLE CROSS.

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Dreyvis 3 was a Third Sector cesspool, but he didn’t know another planet that could provide both a haven and information on Trager’s moves. Turning, he mounted the stairs to the street. A blast of cold, humid air sailed down the tunnel as he neared the surface.

Blade fastened the front of his jacket as he stepped onto level footing, and he looked around. If his memory served him, the place he sought was only a few blocks to the east.

Everything had a price in Crank’s. The commercial epicenter of the Sub-socia, Crank’s drew scavengers from all sectors of the galaxy. If there was any information to be had, it would be there.

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Well, that’s the Saturday Snippet for this week! Please don’t forget to comment by clicking on either the blog title or the little quotation balloon in the upper right hand corner. Tell your friends. Stop back here next week for another!

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Book Review: To Catch A Marlin

What a fun ride!

From the start, the cat-and-mouse game between copper Pedroni and vigilante Jax had me hooked! I was in the boat from the get-go!

Pedroni is a burned-out police detective who would rather keep his feet on good old terra firma than go chasing a slippery vigilante to a space-based wonderland of debauchery. But because it’s Jacinda Fish, a.k.a Jax Marlin, he goes.

In the tradition of Leslie Charteris classic series “The Saint,” Jax is a cross of Catwoman, Xena, and Simon Templar, with ninja skills and catlike reflexes. Pedroni reminds me of both Columbo, with his sometimes deceptive and intentional bumbling, and Nick Charles with his delightful biting wit and self-effacing view of the world. In TK Toppin’s deft hands, the mix is pure GOLD!!

As the story progresses we get a sense of both characters’ internal conflict as they fight their attraction to each other. Pedroni, jaded enough to wonder if Jax way isn’t better, and Jax idealistic enough to want to do the right thing, come together in a perfect blend of moral ambiguity that leaves the reader questioning where the line should be drawn.

I laughed out loud at some scenes and held my breath in heart-pounding excitement at others. Toppin creates a full and rich world with amazing wonders and believable details and paints a brilliant picture of them in crystal clear detail. She does it with a light hand and a master’s touch. Her action scenes only lack the heart-thumping bass rhythms of a musical score.

Just when you think the story couldn’t get any better, there are space pirates! Not just any space pirates, either. Captain Taris is a memorable rapscallion who deserves a book or two of his own!

I didn’t want this book to end. My one consolation is that this is one of many stories starring Jax and Pedroni.

Please Ms. Toppin… keep them coming!

NEW RELEASE: “To Catch A Marlin” By TK Toppin

Don’t you just love the cover?

I don’t make it a practice to hawk new releases without a review, but I can’t wait to finish writing the review before I tell you the exciting news about TK Toppin’s latest release TO CATCH A MARLIN that hit the stands today.

I was fortunate enough to beta read this book for the author, and even in its rough drafts it captured my imagination in a way that…well, let’s just say I have been counting the minutes until I could order this completed, polished novel for my very own! I really believe this is the author’s best work yet!

It’s a lighthearted adventure with parts that will make you laugh out loud and other parts will keep you turning the pages well into the wee hours of the night. I just bought my copy for my Kindle. I’ll be purchasing the paperback as well. This is one book I want for my permanent library. Keep an eye on this page for the review, hopefully next week. I can guarantee 5 Stars.

Congratulations to TK Toppin on her newest release and best of luck.

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In the tail end of the 24th Century, Special Inspector Michael Pedroni pursues a beautiful and elusive vigilante, Jax Marlin, in a wild cat and mouse chase that will take him from Earth to the Bacchus Dome and beyond.

Jax Marlin is not your average criminal; she seeks out evil-doers and law-breakers, doling out justice in whatever way she sees fit. But lately, she finds she’s been gift-wrapping criminals specially for her favorite copper.

Four of the world’s leading criminals are determined to form an alliance. Jax is determined to stop them. Hot on her heels, Inspector Pedroni finds himself questioning the difference, if any, between her justice and his. More than that, he wonders why, when he’d had her in his grasp, he was unable to slap on the restraints and bring her in.

Both want the same thing–to stop criminals. But the growing attraction each has toward the other becomes a dangerous hindrance.

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Pick up your copy of TO CATCH A MARLIN here

Girls Don’t Like Sci-Fi! Do They?

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how far we’ve come until you look back at where we’ve been.

When I was a kid, growing up on STAR TREK, WONDER WOMAN, SPACE 1999, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, THE BIONIC WOMAN and BUCK ROGERS women were still pretty much objects to be kidnapped, tied up, held for ransom and eventually rescued by the big strong man. While women and girls were fans of science fiction, it wasn’t really written for us, with us in mind. The general consensus was that science fiction fans were primarily male, intelligent, between the ages of 12 and 40 and virgins living in their parents’ basement.

I was frustrated that there was precious little out there that depicted kick-ass women as heroic figures. So I started writing my own. That’s how Bo Barron was born. Even then, I realized that it would be impossible to find a market in the male-dominated science fiction market. I was ready to give up the idea and bow to pressure to go to college to be an English teacher. Fortunately, I found the Rissa Kerguelen series of books by F.M. Busby and held fast to my original plan.

Until I sat down to write this post, I’d pretty much forgotten those books, which is a shame, considering how many times I read and re-read them in high school. It was 1984, Bo was already cutting a wide swath through my friends who clamored for more of her adventures. It was a stinky boy who told me no one would ever buy a science fiction book about a girl warrior. College loomed. I had to declare a major. While browsing in a bookstore I found Rissa. She was so different from Bo and while I tried to really like her, something about her fell flat. I later came to realize that was because she was written by a man, from a man’s perspective. But what kept me going was knowing that here was a character who had a lot in common with my own. If she could see the light of day, so could Bo.

Over the years, I heard over and over that “women just don’t read science fiction” and “women aren’t into science fiction.” I did and I was. What was I? Chopped liver? I would argue with whoever held still long enough that the reason more women weren’t into science fiction was because men were writing science fiction for men. If more women wrote science fiction, more women would read it. But it was the 1980’s and gender lines were still clearly drawn.

The movie ALIEN started things changing. Ripley was a kick-ass heroine that men loved and women related to. It was a slow process, but by the 1990’s, the sub-genre of Science Fiction Romance was on the rise and traditional romance publishers were taking a chance on it. However, the mainstream SF publishers still didn’t want anything to do with it. Hard SF, cyberpunk and technothriller were all they wanted to see. Space Opera? Forget it.

The stereotype of the awkward, but brilliant male adolescent SF fan living in his parents’ basement was still the target market of SF publishers. Funny, but during that time Romance sales soared and SF sales did not. Film and television tapped into the female market with shows showing women in heroic roles like SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND and BABYLON 5 and STARSHIP TROOPERS. In fantasy and other genres there was XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, NIKITA, and even the X-FILES, which switched the gender roles with the skeptical scientist played by Gillian Anderson and the wild-eyed paranormal expert played by David Duchovny.

Fast forward to the 21st Century. SF Romance still struggles to find a market as Romance publishers are reluctant to deviate from their formula and require Happily Ever After endings or at least Happy For Now, and Science Fiction publishers are more reluctant than ever to sully their reputations with that tripe. Of course, the beautiful thing is, SF authors are no longer dependent on the hallowed halls of traditional publishers to get their work in the hands of eager readers. There is an awful lot of self- small- and indie-published SF out there, a lot of it Space Opera and SF Romance.

You see, the nasty little secret that mainstream SF publishers never realized is that no matter the situation, be it war, politics, or business, no matter how complicated it is at the outset, all you have to do to really screw it up is to throw a woman and romantic element into the mix. It doesn’t necessarily make it a romance, but it does complicate your story nicely. That’s the kind of thing women love to read. Even Homer understood how women can complicate and cloud the issue. After all, he told the story of the Trojan War, which, according to Homer, was all for the love of a beautiful woman.

As for women being fans of Science Fiction, just take a look at current trends in cosplay.

Yeah. Women love SF. Women love a good story. Women don’t necessarily need a Happily Ever After. If we did, GONE WITH THE WIND wouldn’t have sold so many copies and CASABLANCA wouldn’t be considered one of the most romantic films EV-AR!!

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What do you think? Are girls into SF? Has traditional Science Fiction publishing met the needs of female fans? Or are they hopelessly still operating on an outdated business model?

SOVRAN’S PAWN Cover Art – Hot or Not?

Nothing is what it seems…

FINALLY!! An election EVERYONE can agree on! SOVRAN’S PAWN is  entry #15 in You Gotta Read Website’s Cover Art contest for August! Voting begins August 21 and runs through August 26. Get your voting fingers ready to click!! You’ve all told me now stunning the cover is, help me (and the delightful artist who created this cover) by voting and taking a friend or two to the polls along with you!
http://yougottaread.com/august-entry-15-sovrans-pawn/

THE LOST DOMINA #SFFSat Snippet for 07/28/2012

Welcome to Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday. On the surface, it’s a web ring of authors who post snippets of their work for comment. In reality, it’s a close-knit group of friends and colleagues working together to support and encourage one another and promote the science fiction and fantasy genres.

This week’s snippet is a complete departure from THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES. I present for your amusement a lost story from a completely different universe. This story dates back to 1987 and was never completed beyond the first few thousand words. It’s currently in development.

A Science Fiction writer discovers that the characters and premise of her book are real. She makes this discovery the night her enemies find her.

***

At first, Analise thought her mind was playing tricks on her. On the roadway, not twenty meters away, a group of five men faced Andy. He backed slowly away from them. Analise called out to him. He shouted for her to run. The leader of the group took advantage of Andy’s divided attention and fired. A red light flashed and Andy doubled over. He collapsed onto the pavement and never moved again.

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Well, that’s the Saturday Snippet for this week! Please don’t forget to comment by clicking on either the blog title or the little quotation balloon in the upper right hand corner. Tell your friends. Stop back here next week for another!

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If you’re interested in more about:

SOVRAN’S PAWN

United by extortion, divided by duty, someone wants them both dead. They want each other. The catch is, nothing is what it seems…

Convicted of treason and sentenced to be executed, Bo Barron is the last person who should be infiltrating a Sub-socia weapons auction. But when her father is kidnapped and the ransom demand is the schematics to an experimental weapon, she has no choice but to go under cover with her uncle to get it.

Nobody counted on former-government-agent-turned-holofeature-hero Blade Devon’s infatuation with her. A botched assassination under the guise of a bar brawl leaves Bo blind and Blade wondering if there isn’t more to this job than he was led to believe.

Never able to resist playing the hero, Blade tends her injuries and delves deeper into the intrigue only to find this mission isn’t about a weapon at all. It’s about two Sovrans’ maneuvering for control, with Bo and Blade as their pawns.

All Bo and Blade have to do is figure out how to survive the game they didn’t know they were playing.

World Building From a Pantser’s Perspective – Krystal Brookes

While I’m off roughing it on top of a mountain in the Sumter National Forest listening for the sound of Dueling Banjos, author Krystal Brookes kindly offered to guest post for me until I can work my way down the river where Deliverance was filmed and find my way safely back to civilization again.  So here is Krystal with an interesting perspective on her writing.

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Hi, I’m Krystal Brookes and I’d like to thank JC for inviting me to her blog today.  At first I was unsure what I was going to write about and I asked my friend on Facebook what she thought.  She suggested I write about how I go about world building in my stories. I was slightly stricken.  You see, the friend is also my editor and she edited my short story, Bounty, which I will tell you about later.  Was now the time to confess that as a pantser I don’t do any world-building.  I pretty much make it up as I go along.

Bounty was my first attempt to be published and was accepted.  My acceptance email sits proudly on a frame next to my desk.  It states that the editor “loved the world building in this short story.”  So I confessed that I didn’t know a thing about it, and my editor told me that I am able to world-build even if I don’t think of it as a technical process.

I realized that I usually start with a utopian government.  I probably choose that because I first got into science fiction watching Star Trek.  And the Federation of Planets is pretty utopian, even if they do have to fight Klingons, Cardassians and the Dominion.  The different inhabited planets are usually linked through alliances or confederacies: a peaceful galaxy with a few baddies to spoil it.

For Bounty, I had to create some kind of criminal and legal system.  In space a police force would probably not be practical.  I had to think of something else. Paid bounty hunters seem to be a better way to capture criminals.   Because it is a utopian society, the criminal justice must be fair—but that’s not to say they never make mistakes.

Then I had to decide what kind of planet to make the prison planet Alcatraz.  Coming from freezing cold and wet Scotland, the idea of a desert area is a bit disturbing to me.  I’m sure people who come from Arizona don’t see it that way.  To me, that would be the height of discomfort and no one wants to see the baddies living in the lap of luxury.  So Alcatraz became a hot, sandy, desert planet.

So it seems that I did build a little world of my own, even if I didn’t realize that it was what I was doing.  It was great to think up new technology and consider what living in such conditions would do to criminals. Bounty is a short novella so I didn’t have time to explore it in great detail.  But I’m currently working on a new project and an entirely different type of planet.  I hope you like the excerpt of Bounty.

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Bounty – Excerpt

 

“I see you’re awake,” a gruff male voice stated.

Gemma looked in the direction of the voice. Wherever she was, it was dark and damp smelling. Her mind was struggling to make sense of what had happened. She could tell there had been an accident but the immediate events before the accident were extremely fuzzy.

“Where…?”

“It doesn’t matter. You’re safe–for now. How are you feeling?”

“Sore and groggy,” she replied quietly.

She couldn’t quite make out the man in the dim light. She didn’t recognise his voice or where she was. Her memory was still fuzzy but something in the back of her mind scared her. She seemed to be alone with this man and she certainly was not in a hospital.

“Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you crashland your shuttle into a planet Ms. Scott.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Your ID was in your pocket. And your phase gun was in your holster.”

“Where is my gun now?” Gemma asked, trying to stop the fear in her voice.

“It’s safe.” The man moved forward into the thin shaft of light coming from the dim overhead light on the ceiling of the hut they seemed to be in. The man was tall, muscular and tanned, with a shock of medium length brown hair. She recognized him, but couldn’t quite recall from where.

“I’d prefer it if you returned my gun. I need it.”

“I said it’s safe,” he returned.

She sat for a few moments trying to remember what had happened. She knew she had to get her gun back from this man but her head was too befuddled to form a coherent argument for now.

As the details of the accident came back to her, she squinted again at her rescuer, trying to recall how she knew him. She felt her blood drain as she remembered.

“I need to fix my shuttle,” said Gemma, hoping that he hadn’t realized who she was.

“It’s dark outside, you won’t be able to do anything just now.”

She tried to sit up but a shard of intense pain ripped through her shoulder and made her fall back on the pillow.

“You dislocated your shoulder, so I had to put it back in the socket. It’s going to be sore for a while.”

She rubbed her shoulder and grimaced.

“Thanks, I think.”

“If I’d left you in that shuttle, believe me, you would have been murdered or worse.”

“What’s worse than being murdered?”

“On this planet? Not being murdered and being kept alive long enough to be aware of what they’re doing to you.”

She shuddered.

 ***

 

 

Bounty—Description

When Gemma Scott’s shuttle crash lands on Alcatraz prison planet, she’s sure of one thing. If the impact doesn’t kill her, the inmates will. She wakes up in the hut of a convicted terrorist and wonders how long it will be until the handsome but dangerous man finds she was the one who arrested him two years earlier. As their attraction grows, they work together to help Gemma escape the dangerous planet. But they can’t deny the sparks that fly between them.

Contact Links:

Web/blog:        http://krystalbrookes.com

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/KrystalBrookes

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Krystal-Brookes-Author/305059372898922

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