#8Sunday: He fought the good fight…from Claimed by the Cyborg

In this scene, former lovers March and Julietta are together. She has shown him a secret grotto in the palace, and she entices him to go skinny dipping. She is still supposed to be bonded to Naimo. The first line of dialogue is Julietta’s.

The pool was also slightly pink. Like many things on Xenia, it had a rosy cast—or perhaps his love-stricken state tinted everything.

“It’s what you Terrans call a hot spring. I’m glad you decided to join me.”

Emotions muddled together. Need, desire, guilt. Ethics? Until this trip, he’d believed they were rock solid. Get out of the pool–now.

Her toes brushed his legs; her breath kissed his wet face.

That’s all folks. That’s really all. Next week I’ll introduce a new book.

 Claimed by the Cyborg Description

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

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Backlist to the Future: Space Cowboys & Indians by Lisa Medley #ScifiRom #SFR #TBT #B2F

Backlist to the Future is a weekly Thursday feature highlighting science fiction romances from authors’ backlists.

To be notified of future Backlist to the Future posts, you can subscribe to this blog (top of the sidebar). If you’d like to submit your book for this feature, click here to get the particulars.

 

By Lisa Medley

Every story has a genesis. Something that sparks the imagination and begins the what-if process. For Space Cowboys & Indians that spark was an NPR (National Public Radio) story I listened to in my car one morning as I was driving for my day job.

You can read the story here: When Science Beats Fiction courtesy of NPR

The gist of it is that after 10 years and 4 billion miles, a probe called Rosetta was about to harpoon a comet, and then place Philae (an exploratory lander) onto that comet. What? What? What?

Space?! Comets?! HARPOONS?!

What is this? The Wild West?

I was hooked. Of course, the writerly wheels began to spin, and I sped down the Google rabbit hole. I followed the Rosetta lander and the exploration of comet 67P. You can too. There are several stories here at NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/search/index.php?searchinput=rosetta

You can Google Rosetta or Philae or Comet 67P and find more than you could dream of. The Rosetta Probe even has a Twitter account. https://twitter.com/ESA_Rosetta 

I incorporated a few of the real-life details into Space Cowboys & Indians, then tweaked them to my liking. Instead of a comet, my astronaut explorers are commissioned by a space profiteer intent on mining an asteroid called Amun, reportedly rich in precious metals and other resources. The first to reach the asteroid and mine its resources is sure to enjoy a financial boon that’s never been seen before opening the last frontier up the prospecting of near-Earth asteroids far surpassing to the California gold rush.

Space Cowboys & Indians blurb:

How can the chance of a lifetime go so horribly wrong?

Mining Engineer Cole Hudson signed up for NASA astronaut training, but after washing out short of getting his gold wings, he retreats to Alaska where he stakes out a gold claim. When billionaire entrepreneur Duncan Janson offers him an opportunity to join a mining team on an asteroid, Cole jumps at the chance.

But nothing is as it seems. Former NASA reject and rival classmate, Tessa Hernandez, is also a member of the team, and from the beginning of the mission test flight, things go wrong. They soon discover they’re not the only ones on the asteroid. As they try to escape, they are pulled through a wormhole and back to the early 1800s New Mexico desert where aliens and Apaches may be the least of their problems.

Book Excerpt

Roswell, New Mexico – the near future

Tessa Hernandez swirled her straw around the gin and tonic sitting on the bar top in front of her at O’Malley’s. Another Friday night in the Roswell bar—was this six or seven weeks since Janson had dragged her out of her self-imposed exile of humiliation with an offer she couldn’t refuse?

Ever since she’d been dismissed from the NASA training program, she’d been in a downward spiral. Anger issues, they’d said. Hadn’t passed the final psych eval. Even after completing the twenty-month program—she’d totally financed—they’d passed her over for promotion to astronaut. Let them try growing up with six older Hispanic brothers in a Catholic home in South Texas.

They hadn’t even seen anger issues yet.

She wasn’t sure what burned her ass the most, that she had been days away from fulfilling her dream when they’d booted her, or that they’d let her spend out before it happened.

Total toss-up.

But, now? Janson offered her a second chance. Her own personal patron saint of lost causes, it seemed.

She tipped back the tumbler and let the clear, tart drink slide down her throat.

“Want another?” Noah Wright slid up to the barstool beside her carrying a head-sized plate of greasy home-cut fries covered in cheese. His dirty blond hair feathered out beneath the ball cap, and his blue eyes sparkled with mischief.

“Sure. You buying?”

“Absolutely. Barkeep, send the lady another.” Noah gave her a crooked smile and shoved the plate of fries closer to her. “I’ll share.”

“No, thanks. You’re going to regret those tomorrow.”

“Probably. They’ll evacuate us, anyway, before we go. Might as well make ’em work for their money.”

“You’re disgusting.” Tessa smiled at him.

“I try. Besides, no way is my potentially last meal on Earth going to be space MREs.” He shoved a fistful of fries into his mouth. “Aaahve oooo sheen tha nooo ghay?”

“I had brothers—who were animals—and still, I have no idea what you just said. Swallow a few fries first, then talk.” Tessa slid her new drink closer to her and began again with the stir-and-ignore vibe she’d mastered.

Noah swallowed audibly. “I said. Have you seen the new guy?”

“No. You?”

“Heard Janson flew to Alaska and dragged him off a gold mine claim.”

“Alaska?”

“Yep. Also, heard he was in ‘The Program.’ A reject. Just like us.”

“You had better be freaking kidding me.” She laid her head down on top of her tumbler, disgusted by what she knew was coming next.

“What’s that reaction all about?” he asked, wiping cheese off his cheek.

“You got a name for this reject?” she asked, hoping against hope.

“Hudson, I think. Like the river. Can’t remember his first name.”

“Cole,” Tessa mumbled. Just as she’d feared.

“Was he in your class?”

“Briefly.”

“Reeeeally? You gonna make me drag it out of you? Spill it. If we’re going to space with this guy, I’d like to know whose hands I’m putting my life into.”

“Oh, you’re safe enough. Not dangerous. Pendejo.” Tessa sighed. “Besides, you’re on the wrong team for him to cause you any trouble.”

“Cole is gay? You’re mad because he’s gay?”

“Good God, no. He’s…”

“I’m confused. Granted, it’s a state I’m familiar with. Still. What’s your grind with this guy? Do you know why he got booted?”

Bar noise picked up behind them as the band came onto the stage. “Money problems from what I heard. But if not for that, he’d still be sleeping his way through the female recruits.”

“Ah, I see then.”

Tessa whipped around on her bar stool. “What’s that mean?”

“You had a thing for him. Am I right?”

“Not. Even. Close.”

“Okay, I give up. Clearly I have no idea what your damage is with this guy.” Noah used his last three fries to sweep the remaining cheese from his plate and then pointed them at Tessa. “Whatever it is? Let it go. This is our big shot. Those losers still in ‘The Program’…” Noah made air quotes with his fries and fingers. “They have to follow the rules. Us? We’re making the rules.”

Tessa watched as Noah licked cheese from each finger. “I think rules are the least of our worries.”

Buy on  Amazon

Lisa Medley bio

Lisa has always enjoyed reading about monsters in love and now she writes about them, because monsters need love too. She adores beasties of all sorts, fictional as well as real, and has a farm full of them in her Southwest Missouri home, including: one child, one husband, two dogs, two cats, a dozen hens, thousands of Italian bees, and a guinea pig. She may or may not keep a complete zombie apocalypse bug-out bag in her trunk at all times, including a machete. Just. In. Case.

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Cover reveal: ALIEN MATE, my next science fiction romance #SFR #SciFiRom

Falsely convicted.

Exiled to a desolate planet.

Forced to take an alien mate.

The unofficial blurb (subject to change, and it probably will)

Not only did my Earth government fail to protect me from the syndicate that wants me dead, they convicted me of a crime and packed me onto a ship with other female felons and sent me to a frozen primitive wasteland of a planet to become an alien’s mate. Earth needs Dakon’s minerals; Dakon is desperate for females after a catastrophe killed them off. As soon as my appeal comes, I’m outta here. I have no desire to be some barbarian’s “mail order bride,” even if he is super tall, muscular, and the chief of his tribe. Besides, he doesn’t want me either. His disappointment is written all over his chiseled alien face. His people are desperate for women, and he doesn’t like me? Well, fine! Mr. Law-and-Order would be more than disappointed if he learned what my crime was. He’d banish me into the wilderness, because that’s what they do to lawbreakers on Dakon. To stay safe, I’ll keep quiet and make the best of things until I can get back to Earth. There’s no chance I’ll fall in love with Mr. Hard-Bodied Alien and want to stay on Dakon. No way.

Cover by Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs

Want to read Chapter One? Click here.

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Preorder: March | Release: April (exact dates TBD)

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FYI for authors: updating a published book–it’s not as easy as you think…

Recently I updated Naughty Words for Nice Writers, a sex scene thesaurus I originally published  two years ago. Revising the book itself was easy; re-publishing the updated version hit some snags. I thought I’d share my experience so you’ll know what to expect if you ever update a book.

Changing the blurb, the price, the genre or keywords is a cinch; that’s not what I’m referring to. By updating I mean the content of the book itself. I wrote a lot of new material for Naughty Words, adding information to existing sections and writing brand new chapters. Also, I changed the subtitle, which necessitated redoing covers for the ebook and paperback.

I probably could have gotten a new ISBN and re-released the “2nd edition”  as a brand new book but I wanted to keep my reviews (they’re rave reviews!). I know if you release an old book with a new ISBN, Amazon Author Central can transfer the reviews, but I wasn’t sure if  they would carry over reviews from a 1st edition to a 2nd edition and didn’t want to risk it.

So: revised book, new subtitle and cover, same ISBN…

First little glitch: I went to CreateSpace to upload the new files and discovered the subtitle was locked. The title and subtitle are tied to the ISBN, and the system doesn’t allow to you change them. Eek! Fortunately, the fix was quick: I phoned CreateSpace customer service; and they changed the subtitle for me lickety split over the phone. Lesson learned: you can change your subtitle, but you’re going to have to contact customer service to do it.

Second little glitch: I uploaded my new book file and new cover to Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. When I got the email from KDP that the book had been published, I checked the listing. The old cover was still on the site. My author dashboard showed the new cover, but everyone else would see the old one! AND, the LOOK INSIDE feature wasn’t updated either. It showed the old content.  My new blurb talked about the new content, but if buyers”looked inside” at the table of contents, they would think they were looking at the old version! I phoned Amazon Author Central and they transferred my call to Kindle Direct Publishing where I spoke to a real live person in India who told me it takes 72 hours for the cover updates to show up. I didn’t fully trust him, but I had no recourse but to wait. In the end, the update took about 48 hours. Lesson learned: some updates don’t take effect immediately.

Tip: If you’re wondering how to call Author Central, you can find out in this blog post. There is no way to phone KDP directly, but Author Central will transfer the call. 🙂

Third little glitch: From having accidentally clicked on a book I’d already purchased, I knew Amazon won’t let customers buy the same ebook twice. So how could my readers of the first ebook get the updated one? I checked the Help section of KPD and found that if there are significant errors that have been corrected in an updated version, Amazon will notify customers that an updated version is available. But Naughty Words didn’t have errors–it had new content.

I emailed KDP Customer Service, explained the situation and requested they notify customers about the update.  They sent me a form response, restating their policy (that I’d already read and that didn’t address my issue) and saying that if the errors weren’t corrected in my manuscript, they would remove it from publication. What??? Freak out time. The book was live, and I’d planned to announce the launch in two days!

I replied to their email and told them they didn’t address my issue, it appeared they didn’t even read my question, and emphasized there were no errors. There was only new content. I got an email back, this one more personal (with an apology for freaking me out), and they said they’d look into sending out an update notice.

I think it was two days later that I learned that customers who had purchased the first edition of Naughty Words got their books automatically updated.

Lesson learned: I tried to do a good thing for my readers, but I almost shot myself in the foot. But I also learned that if you get the standard unhelpful form response from KDP, if you persist, you can get a personalized response.

Special note: If you want to receive whatever updates are available for any book, you have to turn on automatic updates on Amazon in “Manage Your Content and Devices.” Instructions here.

Naughty Word for Nice Writers blurb

If finding the right words for your romantic sex scene is challenging, Naughty Words for Nice Writers can help. USA Today Bestselling Author Cara Bristol has written a thesaurus for romance authors to help you find the appropriate words to make your sex scene sizzle.

Naughty Words for Nice Writers is packed with more than 2,000 usable, functional synonyms geared for romance, erotic romance, and erotica. Included are more than 50 word lists for male and female anatomy, foreplay, orgasm, kissing, sex scene locations, specific sexual acts, sexual noises, spanking terminology, and much more. The guide offers suggestions on how to write a sex scene and how to tighten your writing so it sings.

With an emphasis on verbs, this guide will help you “show” the intimacy between your characters rather than tell it. Whether you’re writing a “fade to black” scene or a graphic and explicit one, Naughty Words for Nice Writers will provide the tools.

Naughty Words on Amazon – Click Look Inside to see the updated Table of Contents 

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#8Sunday: From Claimed by the Cyborg…if only she could regain what she gave away

Welcome to another installment of Claimed by the Cyborg and Weekend Writing Warriors. When we last left our star-crossed lovers, Julietta and March had said their final goodbyes. However…a lot happened after that, which I won’t tell you about because it would spoil the story. All you need to know is Julietta goes into seclusion at the Night Side Palace, and March ends up there. She has decided she wants one last night with him and plans to seduce him. The first line is hers.

“I thought we could have a bite to eat.”

Glassware, fresh flowers as close to the ones on Terra as she could find, and tapered glowsticks created an intimate tableau, reminiscent of their romantic dinners on Earth. They’d gone to small cafes where they’d scrunched in at tables so tiny they’d bumped knees. Sometimes the food had been good, occasionally it hadn’t been, but always the setting—a world of their making—and the company, had been perfect. Planetary race hadn’t mattered. They had been two people in love. One of them still was.

“All right,” he agreed with a wariness that stabbed her heart anew.

Claimed by the Cyborg Description

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

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Backlist to the Future: Faring Soul by Tracy Cooper-Posey #ScifiRom #SFR #B2F #TBT

Backlist to the Future is a weekly Thursday feature highlighting science fiction romances from authors’ backlists.

To be notified of future Backlist to the Future posts, you can subscribe to this blog (top of the sidebar). If you’d like to submit your book for this feature, click here to get the particulars.

 

By Tracy Cooper-Posey

Faring Soul was the first science fiction romance I published, despite reading and loving science fiction since I was a teenager.  It only took me fifteen years of publishing to work up the guts to write it!  I must have done something right—Faring Soul won a SFR Galaxy Award that year.

Faring Soul blurb

Rumors emerge that Catherine Shahrazad has returned from the fringes and been seen in Federation space.  Wherever she goes, her name and her history cause civil unrest, riots and worse.  The Federation Board doesn’t want her there.  Neither do the leaders of Cadfael College, the educators and moralists of the galaxy.  No one pays any attention to the reticent navigator called Bedivere X, who pilots her ship better than she does.

The truth about Bedivere threatens the entire Federation.

His feelings for Cat might just save everyone.

This book is part of the Interspace Origins science fiction romance series:
Book 1:  Faring Soul
Book 2:  Varkan Rise
Book 3:  Cat and Company

Winner of the SFR Galaxy Award 2015

You won’t see the twist coming till it smacks you in the face. This is definitely a love story from the future. – Amazon Reader.

 Book Excerpt

Two minutes later, Catherine dropped into the navigator chair that Bedivere usually used and let out a long heavy breath. She put the hard case on the console and patted it.

Bedivere, who was sitting in the pilot’s chair, looked up from the instrumentation and grinned. The laugh lines around his warm brown eyes crinkled. “So…it went about exactly the way we expected. We’ll be in clear space in three minutes, by the way.” His brown-gold hair glowed in the light emitted from the overhead console. The warm color was nothing like the muddy color of native Shantans.

Catherine leaned back so her head was resting on the headrest and blew out another breath. “Nothing ever comes easy,” she muttered.

“You wouldn’t like it if it did.”

She rolled her head to the side and looked at him. She was too tired to smile. “Despite the rhetoric that surrounds my much-maligned past, I happen to like the quiet life.”

Bedivere sat back as she was. “Liar. If you liked it that much, you would live quietly. I don’t remember the last time you stopped to smell the roses.”

“Too much to do,” she muttered, glancing at the case.

The silence stretched and she looked at him. Bedivere was studying the case, too. He caught her gaze and looked back at the case again. “Next stop is Federation space,” he pointed out. “If you really do want a quiet life, Cat, this is the time to shut down the engines and go mute. There won’t be any going back after this.”

“Of course we’re going,” she said sharply. “I haven’t spent seventeen years scraping together every last centavo the fringes could cough up just to go live on some ball somewhere and get even older.”

“We don’t have to do this. All we’ve lost right now is time and that’s an infinite resource. If we head into Federation space, then much more than time is at stake.”

Catherine sat up. “Getting cold feet, Bedivere?”

He shook his head. “I’m worried.” His voice was very quiet. “Everything you’re doing, everything you’ve done. It’s too much.”

“Just shut up right there,” she said sharply and spun the chair to face him properly. “Look,” she added, reaching for a reasonable voice and tone. Reason would always win out with Bedivere. Logic was the supreme argument. “I have to go back to the Federation, anyway.” She touched her hair, which was liberally streaked with grey. The red that had been a rich, deep color was now faded. “You understand the therapy even better than I do. You’ve read even more widely and you never forget anything. You know that rejuvenation revives more than the cellular structure. I’ll feel young again. I won’t be this cranky old woman who has seen too much, has wrinkles on her neck and aches in the morning when she gets out of bed. After, I’ll be sweet and reasonable and even more determined to see this through.”

He looked doubtful.

Catherine grimaced. “Besides, it’s already too late.”

“It is?”

“If we stay in the fringes, the Shantans will come after us with everything they’ve got. But they won’t pursue us into Federation space and risk their membership on the Board. So we have to go there. It’s the Federation or bust.”

Bedivere considered that, then nodded. “As long as you’re not doing this for me.”

“Don’t be stupid,” she said and turned the chair back to face the console, to prep for the gate jump. “Of course I’m doing this for you. What else are partners for?”

He didn’t argue anymore, because the ship was technically a four-man crew ship, so jump prep took all their combined attention and effort. But the little smile at the corner of his mouth didn’t go away.

Buy the book:  All Bookstores.

Author bio
Tracy Cooper-Posey is an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author.  She writes romantic suspense, paranormal, urban fantasy, futuristic and science fiction romances.  She has published over 75 novels since 1999, been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award.

She turned to indie publishing in 2011. Her indie titles have been nominated four times for Book Of The Year and Byzantine Heartbreak was a 2012 winner.  Faring Soul won a SFR Galaxy Award in 2015 for “Most Intriguing Philosophical/Social Science Questions in Galaxybuilding”  She has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University.

She is addicted to Irish Breakfast tea and chocolate, sometimes taken together. In her spare time she enjoys history, Sherlock Holmes, science fiction and ignoring her treadmill. An Australian Canadian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line.
 

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Guest Spotlight: The Velvet Chair by C.P. Mandara

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The Velvet Chair is Book One in a Dark Erotica Series called ‘Velvet Lies.’

Blurb

My name is Mark Matthews. I own half of London, and the part I don’t own, I’m working on.

Life was all going swimmingly well until Michael Redcliff entered my life, demanding that I marry his daughter. Actually, swap demand for blackmail. He’s got goods on me that I want no one else to see, so for the time being I need to be his little lapdog.

I’ll marry his daughter. I’ll give him all the status, money and power he can handle… for as long as it takes me to get a divorce. You see, I can’t renege on our little arrangement – but she can. I give her a week. One week and she’ll be screaming the place down for her legal counsel.

Excerpt – Jennifer

sexy blond in beige silk dress sitting on the black armchairMy hands were visibly shaking. Flexing my fingers repeatedly, I tried to still the tremors, but they were not to be subdued. It was hardly surprising. Today was the day I walked up the aisle and married… a monster. I was under no illusions that Mark Matthews would forgive me for what had happened, and I could hardly blame him. He’d been manipulated and sexually tortured until he could take no more, and then he’d been neatly cornered. He might have agreed to my father’s demands, but he’d come snapping and biting, feral as a wolf.

I sighed. Today was supposed to be a magical day – every little girl’s fantasy. A gigantic cathedral, a sea of flowers, a big fancy dress, and the man of my dreams. I’d imagined it would be filled with tears of happiness and protestations of love. How stupid was I?

Inhaling a shaky breath, I wondered what Mark would do with me. Having always been the sacrificial lamb in this family, today I was being sent off to the slaughterhouse. When I’d mentioned this to Michael, I’d refused to call him ‘Dad’ a long time ago, he’d laughed and told me to stop being so melodramatic. As if that made me feel any better. Dear old Dad couldn’t care less whether I lived or died, so I didn’t waste my breath trying to plead with him. All I had to do was play my part in this charade and he would be happy. I needed to keep Michael happy at all costs. The trouble was, in order to play my part, Matthews had to trust me, and I had a feeling that trying to coax that emotion out of him was going to be almost as impossible as trying to convince the Queen of England to relinquish her throne. Matthews wasn’t the sort to trust easily, and now that I had lost what little ground I had gained with him, I would be back to square one. Wrong, I thought grimly. I was going to be at least twenty stories below square one, trying to claw my way out with nothing more than my bare fingernails. Facing up to facts, I stifled a sob. The man was going to annihilate me.

Excerpt – Mark

As we pulled out of the Savoy’s car park, Jennifer was a mess. I had little sympathy for her. Each heartbeat that tore through my chest was full of fire, which spat sparks and burned like acid. I was sitting next to a traitor. My body throbbed with emotion, and not the good kind.

I had to admit the dress she’d changed into, just a tiny part of the massive trousseau that was now being shipped to my estate, was rather distracting. It was designed in a glistening oyster silk that caught the light every time she moved. It was seductive enough without the two splits that ran up the side of her thighs, and when she’d seated herself in my car, revealing a vast expanse of soft creamy flesh, my blood pressure had taken a direct hit.

My temper was already simmering in a large saucepan full of resentment, but that turned up the heat considerably. I did not want to be attracted to Redcliff’s daughter. I wanted to abhor her with all that was holy. Desire would weaken my anger, and that must not be allowed to happen. I needed to have a stern talk with my overactive libido and let it know who was boss around these parts.

Little did Miss Redcliff know, but she wouldn’t be requiring clothes for the duration of her stay. I would thoughtfully be providing her with all sorts of novel uniforms, and when she began to bore me, she could just go around naked. I’d decided to train her up to be a sex slave extraordinaire, and it was going to be an exacting and rigorous process. She’d be allowed six hours of sleep a day, and the rest of her hours would be accounted for. Cooking, cleaning, ironing, servicing me, pleasing me, attending to her own personal fitness regime, and some more ‘standard’ training sessions.

Failure to comply with her new routine would produce punishments the likes of which she had never experienced. After her first misdemeanour had been dealt with, I didn’t think there would be many more. I was in bastard-mode, and the girl was going to know about it. She had just become my property and I would deal with her however I saw fit. The mark of my ownership would be indelibly printed on her soul by the time I’d finished with her. The damn woman was going to fear the sound of my footsteps, her body would shrink away from me every time I approached her and she would learn to obey my every whisper or suffer the consequences.

My lawyer had already drawn up two sets of papers, one for an annulment and the others pertained to our divorce. It would probably take all the fun out of the arrangement if Jennifer opted for an annulment, so I didn’t intend to scare her witless in the first few days, but I fully expected the divorce papers to be completed inside of a week. I just needed to push the woman to her absolute limit, and then smash her body into the next dimension. If there was one thing I was good at, it was psychological and physical torture. Okay, so that might be two things. In any case, I’d get those papers signed, sealed, and delivered back to Michael Redcliff before the week was out. Piece of cake.

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A little bit about C.P. Mandara:

aa112.jpgChristina Mandara is a USA TODAY bestselling author and tends to write dark romance with lashings of kinky naughtiness. Her favourite pastime is travelling, and if it involves sun, sea and… sand then it’s all good.

In her spare time she’s usually cuddled up with a good book, exploring the countryside or baking in the kitchen. In fact, she loves her kitchen so much she’s one of few woman who wouldn’t mind being tied to it! Her first and foremost love is writing, however, and more often than not you’ll find her on a laptop spinning tales of romance, erotica or dark, paranormal fantasies.

She’s a big fan of BDSM in all of its glorious forms, and her favourite item in the toy closet (a box simply isn’t big enough) is her riding crop.

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A funny story about the redo of Naughty Words for Nice Writers, romance thesaurus

In revising and updating Naughty Words for Nice Writers, A Romance Novel Thesaurus I added a dozen new chapters and 800 more synonyms, so of course the  book had to be reformatted for publication. Each “chapter” is labeled by subject.

In formatting the 2nd edition, cover designer Sweet ‘n Spicy Designs changed the chapter heading font type and size so they would stand out.

Boy howdy.

I was reviewing the new print edition and one of the first chapter headings I came across was Penis.

My first thought was, “my  God, that’s a big penis!”

Which leads to my next thought. Authors LOVED the first edition of Naughty Words for Nice Writers, but it did get one 1 star review in which the person said, “some of [the words] are too trashy and disgusting to use. Erotica is one thing, but let’s have some class!”

To which I can now respond, “Oh yeah? Well, now Naughty Words has BIG disgusting words!

(And wait until she reads the new chapter on things you find in a BDSM dungeon).

Seriously…I suspect that that reviewer does not read erotic romance, or she would not have been so shocked. There is wide breadth of synonyms in the book, from euphemisms relying on context to convey meaning to the slang terms commonly used in erotic romance. The word lists are alphabetized; I leave it up to the writer to decide which ones are nice and which ones are naughty, because it really depends on your story anyway!

Naughty Words on Amazon

Naughty Words is available in print and ebook. I highly recommend the paperback for its greater functionality. Get the paperback, and through the Matchbook program, you can get the ebook too for an additional 99 cents. It makes a great travel companion, in case you want to write while on the road.

The official blurb:

If finding the right words for your romantic sex scene is challenging, Naughty Words for Nice Writers can help. USA Today Bestselling Author Cara Bristol has written a thesaurus for romance authors to help you find the appropriate words to make your sex scene sizzle.

Naughty Words for Nice Writers is packed with more than 2,000 usable, functional synonyms geared for romance, erotic romance, and erotica. Included are more than 50 word lists for male and female anatomy, foreplay, orgasm, kissing, sex scene locations, specific sexual acts, sexual noises, spanking terminology, and much more. The guide offers suggestions on how to write a sex scene and how to tighten your writing so it sings.

With an emphasis on verbs, this guide will help you “show” the intimacy between your characters rather than tell it. Whether you’re writing a “fade to black” scene or a graphic and explicit one, Naughty Words for Nice Writers will provide the tools.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

One final thought: The previous subtitle was “A sexual and spanking thesaurus.” You’ll notice that spanking has been removed from the subtitle in the 2nd edition. Spanking is still in the book! I changed subtitle to make the book more marketable to wider romance-writing audience.

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Third person or first person in #romance…pros and cons

I remember the first book I read that was written in the first person point of view: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I was nine years old, just starting to read for pleasure. The first person POV made the story seem so real, so personal, that I wasn’t sure the book was fiction!

This is  the benefit of first person: it allows for deep, deep point of view. It eliminates distance between reader and story and between author and story. As an author, you can get so deep into your character’s head that you almost become your character. There is no barrier between you and your creation. “Showing” rather than telling comes much easier in first person than third. For me personally, when I’m in first person POV, I’m not telling a story, it’s flows naturally from my head into my fingertips and onto the computer keyboard.

(In fact, the third person POV often slips into first when thoughts are italicized and written in first person, a common, almost universal technique these days).

The downside to first person is that you can’t get into anyone else’s head. If the POV character doesn’t know it, neither can the reader. Period. The reader can guess, but he can’t be told what anyone else is thinking, what their motivations are, or what they’re doing when they’re not with the POV character. So first person can limit storytelling options. As the author, you know the other characters’ secrets, but you’re not allowed to tell the reader.

Before I started writing erotic romance, I wrote mainstream women’s fiction. The decision to write in first or third person came from the story itself, and how it spoke to me. When I could hear the character’s voice in my head, well, that was a first person story.

But romance is written in third person. It works well because you can present both the heroine and hero’s POV. The reader knows the heroine thinks the hero doesn’t love her, and knows that he really does but thinks he’s not good enough for her.

In the past few years, I’ve started seeing some romances written in first person. And, I’ve also read reviews and blogs where reviewers/readers said they didn’t like it.

I had a story knocking about in my head. I could hear the heroine’s voice. I knew if I wrote it in third person, I would strangle the story and it would take herculean effort to breathe life back into it. So I decided to go out on limb and write the story as I heard it. Alien Mate is written in the first person, but I switch between the hero and heroine, alternating first person POVs. So in Alien Mate you do get both sides of the story!

I present to you, the first chapter of Alien Mate, my next sci-fi romance (release date: April). This is unedited.

Alien Mate

By Cara Bristol

Chapter One

Starr

Truth would prevail. It had to. It had to. It had to.

The jurors filed in. I kept my face expressionless as advised by counsel and clenched my hands in my lap. The jurors avoided my eyes as they took their seats, and hope drained out, leaving me sick inside. My attorney, Maridelle, covered my hand and squeezed optimistically.

“Have you reached a verdict?” the judge asked.

“We have, your honor,” the foreman replied.

“What say you?”

“We, the members of the jury, find the defendant, Starr Elizabeth Connor, guilty of second degree murder.”

My heart seized in my chest. I wasn’t aware of leaping to my feet, but Maridelle caught my arm. “I didn’t do it! I’m innocent,” I cried. My gaze shot to the prosecution table where people’s attorney Gil Aaronson, a crony of the Carmichael family—although I couldn’t prove it— stowed his CompuBrief in its case. He didn’t look at me either, but a smug, satisfied smile rested on his face.

Electrocuffs in hand, the bailiff headed toward me.

“We’ll appeal, don’t worry. We’ll get the verdict overturned,” Maridelle whispered in my ear as the bailiff fastened the restraints. She’d believed me; but no one else had—how could that bode well for the future? If she hadn’t been able to convince the jury of my innocence the first time around, what chance would she have on appeal? The Carmichaels controlled too much. They didn’t hold political office themselves. They owned the people who did.

“Sentencing is set for one week.” The judge cracked his gavel, and the bailiff ushered me back to my cell.

* * * *

A statuesque woman plopped down next to me in the lounge. Her skin reminded me of rich, creamy milk chocolate, the kind only the wealthy could afford. Everyone else bought the synth stuff and pretended it was good. “I’m Andrea Simmons,” she said.  “Cyber hacking.” We introduced ourselves on the SS Australia by name and crime.

“Starr Connor.” I hesitated before stating my crime. “Second-degree murder.”  Miradelle had cautioned me not to discuss my case pending the appeal. Big ships have big ears and all that. So, I’d avoided my fellow passengers, keeping to my cabin, venturing to the mess hall or the gym only when I thought they would be deserted. Eventually loneliness—or maybe acceptance—nudged me out of isolation.  My conviction had less chance of reversal than I’d had for acquittal the first time around. My presence on the ship demonstrated how well the trial had gone.

Just in case the appeal was successful, I shifted the conversation back to Andrea. “You were convicted of hacking?”

“Yes. Cyber robbery actually. I was the best in the New Americas!”  Her boast confirmed her guilt. She sighed. “I hear Dakon is quite primitive. No computer technology to speak of.”

“How did you get caught?”

“Greed. I returned to a site I’d previously hacked, and they’d installed a viral tracker. Busted!” Her eyes narrowed. “Who’d you kill?”

“Nobody.  I’m innocent.” I’d continue to state that until the end of my days.

She barked out a husky laugh. “We all are. Haven’t you heard? There are no guilty people on the SS Australia.”

“She killed Jaxon Carmichael.” A brunette with a head of bouncy curls piped up with the identity of the “victim” I’d been convicted of bludgeoning to death.

Andrea whistled and eyed me with new respect. “Honey, you roll with the big boys, don’t you?”

The brunette shook her head. “How could you not recognize her from the pay-for-view gov-vids of her trial on the ‘net? She’s a celebrity.”

“As a general rule, I avoid the government sites,” Andrea said.

“Too risky?” I asked.

“No money there. Terra One World is damn near bankrupt. Why do you think we’re on a ship to Dakon? A. They save money by not having to house us in prison, and B. They make money from the illuvian minerals the Dakonians are paying for us. It’s a double dip.”

“They sold us into slavery,” I said bitterly.  Carmichael “justice” had been swift. While others languished in prison for years awaiting a court date, I’d been tried, convicted and sentenced in a mere two months. Rocket fast—a contrast to the appeals process which would be evolutionary slow. I didn’t want to sit in prison waiting for an uncertain outcome, but was this better?

“More like made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Andrea said.

“What do you mean?”

She lifted shoulder. “Well, you know. We could have finished our sentences on Terra. Instead we opted for immediate freedom via a one way shuttle to Dakon.”

“You had a choice?” I glanced between Andrea and the other woman.

They nodded. “The application form spelled it out,” the brunette said. “The selection process was very competitive. Ninety percent of the women who applied didn’t get accepted.”

“Application forms? I didn’t fill out any application forms.”

Andrea’s gaze narrowed. “You didn’t complete a profile? Health history, activity levels, physical description…”

“No.”  I pressed my lips together. Carmichael justice again, which was to say, no justice.  They’d wanted me as far from Terra as they could get me.

“That’s odd,” Andrea said.

Maybe becoming an alien’s mate wasn’t such a terrible fate. Millions of miles between me and the Carmichaels couldn’t hurt, and it beat spending my life in prison. If the Carmichaels could have me wrongfully convicted, they could easily block my appeal.

But how would I keep track of the status? Since Dakon wasn’t connected to the ‘net, how would Miradelle update me?

“Well, we’re all here now. It’s kind of like being a ‘net order bride,” the brunette said cheerfully. “By the way, I’m Tessa Chartreuse. I ran an escort service for an elite clientele.”

“So why are you here? Prostitution isn’t illegal,” I said.

“No, but money laundering is.” She shrugged.

Andrea laughed. “She’s an entrepreneur.”

I took a deep breath. “Any idea what the Dakonians look like?” I’d kept to myself, but I’d heard whispers that our intended “mates” were scaly blue with long tails. Only recently had Terra One World made contact with Dakon. The Dakonians had not permitted any vids. I’d been told the Dakonians “looked like us,” but I had little confidence in my government to tell the truth.

“I was able to do a little ‘net research before they transported me to the shuttle,” Andrea explained. “They’re humanoid, genetically compatible with us, but they’re taller, much more muscular and bigger.” She held her hands about a meter apart.

“Are you talking about their penises or their bodies in general?” Tessa asked.

Shit, I hoped Andrea was talking about their bodies. I eyed the span between her palms.

Andrea rolled her eyes. “Their bodies in general. I did not research their junk.”

“It would be proportionate, though, wouldn’t you think?” Tessa persisted. You could take the girl out of the escort business, but you couldn’t take the escort business out of the girl.

Andrea placed her index fingers to her forehead so they stuck up. “And they have—”

“Antenna?”  My jaw dropped.

“More like horns.”

“That’s worse!”

“Vestigial horns. Mostly hidden by their hair,” she said.

“So we’re the court-ordered brides of horned aliens who may or may not have big dicks,” I said.

“That’s the size of it.” Andrea snickered.

I got up and moved to the observation window. Without the filtering effects of a planetary atmosphere, stars in space didn’t twinkle. They appeared as solid points of light. We’d traveled far enough that none of the constellations looked familiar anymore.

“Dakon must be very far away from Terra.” We’d been on the ship for two months, and had another thirty days left to go.

“It’s hyper speed compared to the three-year round trip the first contact had taken. Thanks to the illuvian ore, we’ll do it in three months,” Andrea said. “The Dakonians have been waiting a long time for their mates. After the returning to earth, it took another year for Terra One World to set up the program and recruit the first group of women.”

Tessa giggled. “They’re going to be really horny by now. In more ways than one.”

“What happens if the Dakonians don’t like the bride they receive?” I looked Andrea. She seemed to be in the know.

“Then we’ll be sent back to Terra to serve out the remainder of our sentence,” she replied. “With credit for time served on Dakon.”

In my case, that still meant life without possibility of parole, not the usual sentence for second-degree murder, but my attacker hadn’t been the usual victim. Fortunately, despite the Carmichael’s influence, they hadn’t been able to charge me with first degree murder because security vids clearly showed Jaxon pulling out a laser pistol. But the jury hadn’t bought Maridelle’s self-defense argument. Excessive force the prosecution had argued and won. I’d expected to spend my life in prison until I’d been shuttled to the SS Australia whereupon a government agent  deactivated the electrocuffs, shoved a duffle of my possessions into my arms, and announced I’d been inducted into the Dakon-Terra Goodwill Exchange pilot program.

Or, as I thought of it, Rocks-for-Brides.

“I don’t see them rejecting any of us,” Andrea said. “Dakon has a critical shortage of women. They’re desperate.”

Tessa nodded. “The shortage was caused by an asteroid.”

“An asteroid?” I moved away from the window. “Like the one that hit Terra and killed off the dinosaurs by causing a massive winter that destroyed their food supply?”

“Just like that. The planet is still suffering the winter it triggered.”

“But how would an asteroid strike kill only females and not males?”

“They think the asteroid carried a virus to which only women were susceptible and it caused a genetic mutation,” Andrea said. “Each subsequent generation has produced fewer and fewer females. The planet is 90 percent men now. No worries, though. Everyone who got the virus died a couple hundred years ago.”

I gawked in awe. “You had time to research all that?”

She shook her head. “It was in the orientation packet.”

I frowned. “Orientation packet?”

“On the little disk,” Tessa supplied. “Everyone got one in their cabins.”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. Vaguely I remembered seeing something like that.  I’d found it when I’d boarded the ship, but tossed it into a drawer, uncaring what it was. A depressive fog had engulfed me since the verdict. What difference did anything make? My future was out of my control.

However, Andrea and Tessa had sparked my curiosity. I would pop that disk into the vid player and watch. What would the men look like? Horned? I still couldn’t get over that. Would the planet resemble Terra? An asteroid-induced winter sounded freezing. It couldn’t be that cold, could it? People lived there. Male people anyway.

Terra had the opposite problem, although not as severe. Women outnumbered men with more than 10 percent more females surviving to adulthood than males. Another reason why female convicts were expendable. “Ninety percent men, huh? That’s a lot of testosterone.”

“I know, right?” Tessa said.

“Assuming they even produce testosterone. They might have alien hormones,” Andrea said. “In fact, that’s pretty much a guarantee seeing how they are aliens.”

“But we’re still genetically compatible?”

“Theoretically, according to preliminary lab tests.  We won’t know for sure until we start producing children.”

Even though I’d been in an I-was-wrongly-convicted funk, I did recall a couple of blood draws. How could my life have come to this? Sent to planet lightyears away to become an alien’s bride. I hugged my midsection. I gave birth to an alien baby. It sounded like a story from one of those cheesy ‘net vid-zines that focused on celebrity gossip—and sensational news items like my trial.

“I can’t believe that the first time we discover intelligent life on another planet, the first thing our government does is trade its female citizens for illuvian ore.”  Space exploration had discovered alien life a couple of centuries ago in the 2400s but it was single celled jelly-like organisms and bacteria. Another planet had had heat-resistant insects, but that was about as advanced as it got.

“Technically, we’re no longer citizens. We lost citizenship rights upon conviction,” Andrea pointed out.  “And actually, Terra One World has been quite civilized compared to what happened the last time earthers wanted a particular metal ore they deemed as valuable.”

Gold. A millennium ago, monarch and church-backed explorers had decimated native populations in a rush to acquire the earth metal. I was aware of our planet’s ignominious history, even though I was nowhere near as knowledgeable as Andrea. The woman knew her business, and I suspected everyone else’s. She was sharp—which probably wouldn’t serve her well on Dakon. I predicted that having no ‘net access would be her biggest adjustment.

“You know so much,” I said. “You never ran across a single still or vid that showed what the Dakonians look like?”

“Not a good one,” she said.

“But there was one?”

“There was a still in the orientation vid.”

“You couldn’t see much because of all the fur,” Tessa piped up.

“Fur? Good mythological gods, they’re furry?” Horns and fur?

Tessa and Andrea laughed. “No, they were wearing fur garments with hoods, so you couldn’t see their faces clearly,” Tessa said. “Just a chin and a nose.”

“How did those look?”

Tessa shrugged. “Like a chin and a nose.”

“Like a Terran chin and nose?”

“Uh huh.”

Be thankful for small favors anyway. If my mate looked too alien, I could always focus on the lower half of his face.

♥ ♥ ♥

That’s all folks! I’m close to being done on the 60-K first draft of Alien Mate. Any comments or feedback are welcomed. Did the first person work for you?

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#8Sunday: From Claimed by the Cyborg…the final goodbye (kiss)–or is it?

If you’ve been following each Weekend Writing Warriors excerpt, you know that March went to Xenia to search for his former lover. When he finds her, he learns that she is engaged to be bonded to another man and she is the future empress her planet. He confronts her in her private quarters, they hash out some old hurts, and March realizes that he has to let it go,has to let her go because they have no future together. In this scene, we’re in Julietta’s POV. March has just said goodbye. She turns her back, unable to watch the love of her life walk out the door. At the last moment, she turns around to watch him leave and….

He grabbed her and yanked her against his chest. His mouth slammed down on hers, would have forced her lips to part, but she was already opening for his kiss, drowning in it.

His tongue lashed hers, but she accepted his anger as penance, craved more, incited more as she lashed back. Teeth gnashed, deliberate and accidental, drawing blood that mixed with the decadent taste of him. Taut muscle, as hard as rock, offered no give, like his kiss. He didn’t coax, he took, anger and pain evident in the crush of his mouth, the steel grip of his hands.

Scalding tears of love and despair poured from her eyes and into their mouths.

When he dropped her on her feet and thrust her away, it was like tumbling into the abyss again, like returning to Xenia all those years ago.

He wiped his lips as if to erase her touch. “Have a good life, Jules.” He left and never looked back.

How longer can I keep these two “apart?” Muwhaha…

Next week, peeps, I promise to show some forward momentum. They are lovers, after all.

Claimed by the Cyborg Description

March Fellows assumed he had all the time in the galaxy to pursue a relationship with Jules, an alien exchange student from Xenia, until she vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he finds his lost love on the eve of her arranged marriage.

The daughter of the Xenian emperor, Julietta never meant to fall in love with a Terran man while visiting Earth. Leaving to fulfill her responsibilities on her home planet opened up a hole in her heart that could never be filled. When March, now a cyborg, unexpectedly shows up just before she is to be bonded, she struggles to find the courage to turn him away a second time and follow through with her duty. Before she can act, the lovers are thrust into a political conspiracy that threatens the Xenian empire and their lives.

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