Friday, February 12, 2016

FOUR DAYS TIL LAUNCH AND WE GOT GOODIES!




Greetings, SF Loungers! I hate to say it, but today, THIS IS NOT THE BLOG YOU WANT! Today, you want the other excellent blogs listed below, where I’m visiting to talk about my upcoming release of Trouble in Mind, Book Two of the Interstellar Rescue series, on Tuesday, February 16!

Check in with Jayne Fury’s Femme Fatale blog, where I compare my FBI agent heroine Lana Matheson with other FBI femme fatales facing the unknown!  

Read my fun interview with Riley Moreland on Smart Girls Love Sci Fi. Riley asks the best questions!

On Monday, be sure to catch my book spotlight on Anna Durand’s Spunk and Hunks blog, with an excerpt to get you fired up for Tuesday’s release!

And don’t forget to reward yourself for following all these links! Click HERE to sign up for my Rafflecopter giveaway of a $50 Amazon Gift Card just for being the loyal reader you are!

Is this exciting, or what?

Oh, and one more thing. If you have somehow been stranded on Mars for a year and missed reading Unchained Memory, Book One of the Interstellar Rescue series, or would like to give it to a friend (or ten), the Kindle book is only $0.99 for a limited time on Amazon right now! Hurry, because as part of this Kindle Countdown Deal, this price won’t last long! 

Join me next Tuesday for more blog links and giveaway fun on Launch Day!

Cheers, Donna






Thursday, February 11, 2016

Making it up as you go along

(c) Stock Unlimited
Okay so I've started a new story. I told you about that last week. But where to go from there? Plot, Outline? To be very truthful, I had no real idea where this story was going to take me. I'm very conscious of the fact that I write space opera, so I can't just have a scifi mystery set in the future on some planet. There have to be spaceships. There have to be greater odds than just that somebody was murdered. Or even a serial killer. That can be part of the plot. But not the whole thing. Besides, even in our own age it's getting pretty hard for people to get away with much, what with DNA testing, spy satellites and the like.

Space Opera is what I write. Personal stories set in a greater, sweeping saga. And what I think people expect from one of my books. Am I writing to my audience? I suppose so. But I'm also writing what I'm comfortable with. It seems that history degree has had its value because I quite often find myself delving into my universe's history. Things that have been lost, and should never be found again. Forgotten pasts. The legacy of mythology. Ancient, ingrained beliefs.

So I find myself taking Brent and Tian down a road of discovery. They've found a symbol scratched on a wall. It's Yrmak, but what does it mean? And where will it take them?

Tell you what. I'll let you know when I work it out. But here's a teaser.


"Have you seen this around?" Tian used the table controls to draw three concentric circles with eight rays crossing over the center and directed the image to a screen.

Brent considered the design, his lower lip jutting. "Looks a bit like a spoke." His brow wrinkled. "Yeah, I have. But it was a graffiti on a wall down in Lizardville at Semla." The Yrmak sector of any space port was always called Lizardville by the human pilots. But then, the Yrmaks called the human sector Apetown. 

"Is that where you delivered the… ah… tractor parts?"

"Yeah." He cleared his throat. "What's it mean? I figured it was just kids leaving their mark, you know?"

"We're hearing rumors of a new church in the Yrmak heartlands. You know they think the constellation…. Well, no, you wouldn't. From Pok Yaavan, which is their world of origin, you can see a constellation they call the Mother." Tian brought up the view from Pok Yaavan, then used lines to join the outline of the mythical figure on the starscape.

"Huh. Doesn't look like my mother. And anyway, how can space-faring species believe that crap?"

"Well, they do." Tian requested an image of the Mother as represented in art, a female Yrmak carrying a tree branch in her right hand. "Here she is. This is a statue in the Temple of the Mother in Nambor space station's Yrmak district."

Ooooh - religion. Always starting wars. Let's see where this takes me. 

DUN DUN DAAAAH

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not Waving But Drowning #amwriting #amediting #amfreakingout


Ohmygosh, I am drowning in edits and rewrites. I screwed up my schedule royally by deciding to re-release Zombie Girl and release Quickshot. So now I have edits for an entire novel due out June, rewrites and edits for a novella due out 21st May (which I'm also planning an event for), a short story to release in March, and somehow I have to fit writing in there. By the time the June novel is out, I'll have to dive straight into Keir's Shadow (Book Three of Redemption) because I'd like to release that May 2017, but it's 80K mess of a novel that needs a complete overhaul before I can even think about sending it to Dani. 

And in the real world, my daughter has reached the point in her school life at the age of thirteen where she needs to decide the exam subjects that will shape/make her future career. Eeep! She's stressed and we're stressed for her and about her. Too much pressure at her age! My eldest boy is also rapidly approaching the move from junior to senior school. He's on the autistic spectrum, and while it hasn't affected his learning ability (he's a maths genius), it does impact his social skills and ability to deal with changes. He also doesn't deal with his own stress very well, and it can lead to explosive outbursts that are difficult to accept or handle for those unfamiliar with him and/or his condition. His current school has been fantastic in supporting him, but the transition might well give him good reason to slip back and bring back his anxiety issues.

So this is a short post. Next week is school holidays which has become a no working/no social media time for me, for the sake of my kids and my sanity. I need to have Reunion complete by the end of March to stop me freaking out over release dates. The June novel - well, if it goes into July/August, I don't mind but it's the knock-on effect for Keir's Shadow that bothers me. And I'd still like to release my Rebecca finalist Revived and finish that pesky winter SFR in time for this December. But I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime...

Happenings

Want to read my books for free? Well, there's a couple of ways you can do that completely legitimately over the next couple of months. Keir is up at NetGalley again to read and review for free. Keir's Fall will go up next month (March). And there's a print edition of Keir's Fall up for giveaway at Goodreads. I've also started a Read To Review sign up HERE which you can join to automatically receive ARCs of my future books before they release to the rest of the universe.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Keir's Fall by Pippa Jay     

Keir's Fall

by Pippa Jay

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

On the 10th I'm part of Liza O'Connor's Blue Men from Space blog, and there's a contest!
On the 11th I'm guesting at Dawn's Reading Nook and talking about five killer kisses.
On the 17th Keir is taking part in the Great Pick-Up Line at The Delighted Reader blog. It's a month long event with giveaways.
Did you vote for Keir in the Hunky Hero-fest and enter the giveaway? There's still time. Go HERE.

Status Update
Last weekend I revealed the covers for both Reunion and Quickshot. In case you missed them...


Space Opera Short Story
Goodreads | Webpage
Amazon inc KU

Aren't they glorious? Again, these are the awesome work of my wonderful cover designer Danielle Fine. Check out her services HERE.

Reunion at Kasha-Asor, my planned release for 21st May and a side story in Keir's Redemption series, is in second round edits but also undergoing a partial rewrite. My planned June release is with me for first round edits.

Quickshot is now up for pre-order and due to release 31st March (link under the book cover above), and will be Amazon exclusive for at least the first 90 days (my apologies to the non-Kindle peeps. However, if you'd like a non-Amazon edition, here's the deal. Buy it from Amazon, send me proof of purchase and the actual format you need, and I will send it to you. Or you could sign up to my Read To Review list HERE, although you will need to have reviewed at least one of my other titles before).
Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened is also up for pre-order, due to release at most online retailers on the 15th February (links under the cover in the right hand side bar).
And Keir finally hit 50 reviews on Amazon US. That last one was a long time coming! I thought it would be stuck on 49 forever. Um, did I mention I have an obsession with numbers?

Ping Pong
Next week I'm trading places with Donna as her second novel - Trouble In Mind - releases on Tuesday! So I'm moving over to Friday for the week. I'm also taking time out from the internet as my monsters have their half term holiday, so any posts/tweets will be running on automatic.
See you on the flip side! Um, that's the 23rd of February in translation...

Monday, February 8, 2016

Star Wars Storytelling = The Struggle for Balance

Recently I stumbled upon this ScreenRant video that gave a fascinating take on the Star Wars saga. If you want to watch all or part before reading on, take a look. (By the way, the narrator delivers his theory in a normal voice with no gimmicks, sound effects, silliness or outrageous rants, and backs it up with clips and thoughtful commentary on various scenes, which I greatly appreciated!)



Though I'd never looked at the Star Wars saga in quite this way (and will probably never see it quite the same again), I think this theory carries a lot of weight.

And this had me do a lot of thinking about storytelling in general.

In a real universe, things aren't all black or all white--it's all about the struggle for balance. Moderation. Harmony. About the pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other, trying to find the perfect middle ground.

Having peace doesn't mean there's no conflict, only that the conflict is less dramatic and savage than that of war. The struggle is more subdued. The pendulum wants to come to rest at the very center, where the forces are balanced, but it will never happen. Because different people or groups want different things. The pendulum wants to center itself, but a major force will always be exerted that sets it in motion again, swinging from one extreme to the other. That motion creates upheaval and struggle in the universe.

And that's where the story lies.

If the pendulum isn't centered, an individual, based on his philosophies and experiences, is going to view the circumstances as either being bad or good. But that's only one perspective. Those with different beliefs may believe the opposite.

Great epics must be told from one perspective, but that individual--like Anakin, Luke and Kylo Ren--must always struggle with the pull of the opposite force that is attempting to re-attain balance.

In the Hero's Journey model, the hero must always face life-changing choices--and usually must be forced to do the very thing that he has sworn he will never do, or go to the place he has sworn he will never go--because that's what shapes his character and makes him evolve into something greater than he was. That's what the pendulum demands of him.

That which does not kill us, makes us stronger...indeed.

That's why when some sagas flip perspective and show us the so-called villain's POV, it can be so fascinating. It presents a way of looking at the situation we hadn't considered before. It shows us new things, new ideas, and new ways of thinking.

When the "villain's" version is contrasted to the "hero's" version, we begin to understand the total dynamics. Were the Jedi truly forces of good? That's open to debate. They began influencing and molding minds of very young children when they indoctrinated young Padawans into their way of thinking. Some might call that brainwashing. They didn't believe in love or marriage, warning it would lead to the Dark Side. So in that frame, there seemed to be no true good or evil, only the striving for balance. Anakin, Luke and Kylo all struggle with the opposite extreme of the Force from the one that they've chosen.

Every story requires reversals of the pendulum, struggles with the forces at play.

This has given me a new dynamic to consider when crafting a story. I now see how storytelling can be viewed more as a side-to-side motion as forces in the particular universe attempt to restore balance than it is climbing a mountain, which is more how I had envisioned the plot process in the past.

In closing, I'd like to offer another video to take us back to the Star Wars saga. This one presents a fan theory about Rey's true history in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and it seems to further compliment the Struggle for Balance theory. See what you think.




Have a great week!

~~ * ~~

Friday, February 5, 2016

MEET THE BAD BOYS OF TROUBLE IN MIND



Every story has a villain. Trouble in Mind, Book Two of my Interstellar Rescue series, has three. One of them, though, has some redeeming qualities. In fact, by the end of the book, you might even say he’s a good bad guy, my favorite kind of villain.

The being who calls the plays for Team Evil is Ren Sennik, Minister of Labor for the Minertsan Consortium, one of those little Gray aliens who have been haunting the common consciousness of humans for at least the last 70 years. Sennik aims to take over his planet’s government and a young human boy is key to that plot. Unfortunately for Sennik, his prize slave has been freed in a raid by the cursed Interstellar Council for Abolition and Rescue. So the Minister hires two Thrane hunters to retrieve the boy.

                                          From NIGHTMARE (directed by Rodney Ascher)
Brothers Kinnian and Trevyn Dar are among the most proficient trackers in the galaxy. That’s a trait they share with their half-brother Gabriel Cruz, the bastard son of their brutal father, Kylan. But there the similarity ends. These two are bloodthirsty and relentless, with fully developed psi talents which Kinnian, in particular, never hesitates to use to rip open minds to find what he wants. Once they track the boy to Earth, they will destroy any number of vulnerable humans to run him down, slicing through their minds like so much sofra cheese.

Kinnian and Trevyn are enraged to find that their quarry is in the hands of black ops kidnappers on a mission to acquire a different target—his mother, Asia Burdette. What’s worse, their own half-brother Gabriel is on the boy’s trail, too. Kinnian sees this as the opportunity he’s been looking for to eliminate his rival for power in the family once and for all. But Trevyn . . . well, let’s just say he sees this unexpected reunion with Gabriel in a completely different light.

Meanwhile, back on Minertsa, other elements of Sennik’s plot are coming together. But someone quite close to him is secretly working against him, and the results of his scheming will not be quite what he’d planned.

And now, an excerpt:

     The Minister of Labor opened his mind in summons and waited until he saw his second-in-command appear in the doorway of his office.
     --You needed me, Director Prime?
     Sennik let the female be aware that he approved of her prompt appearance.  In fact, he approved of Ardis’s appearance in all aspects—her smooth, light skin, her long-fingered hands, her large, liquid, black eyes.  Her aura, as usual a delicate lavender shot through with deeper tones of violet and midnight blue, communicated just the right combination of respect and ambition, of eagerness and ruthlessness.  Then there was that intriguing hint of sexual interest that sometimes seemed to curl around the edge of his perception. 
     He monitored his own vibratory emissions and was pleased to note none of his observations had colored his aura.  He remained an even-toned silver-gray.
     --What is the status of our search for the slaves stolen in the raid on Del Origa? 
     --We have identified all those taken, sir, and we have begun reacquisition of all the test subjects who remain in accessible territories.
     --Excellent.  When do you anticipate completion of this task?
     Director Second Ardis’s aura blushed with an uncomfortable salmon.  There are many who have been resettled on Terrene.  Taking them all at once would raise questions.  The teams have been forced to be discreet.
     --Blast Terrene!  Nothing but a poison pool where fang-eels slither to hide!  Take the slaves or kill them outright if taking them is impossible.  Sennik noted the boiling black in his aura and struggled to calm himself.  He amended his order.  Except, of course, the immature ones.  Those we must have.  We have too much invested in them to lose them.  What news of the coordinator?
     Ardis’s aura flashed green with fear.  The Thranes report he may have been among those who have been sent back.
     --Sent back?
     --You are aware the abolitionist organization Rescue often tries to send the slaves back to their home planet?
     Sennik waved a hand.  It’s not as if that ridiculous speck of dust they all come from—what is the name of that stupid place?  Erp?
     --Earth, sir.
     --Yes, well.  It’s not as if the place is at the far end of Zfar’s Galaxy.  The ball of dirt practically sits on top of one of our busiest jump nodes.  It should be a simple matter to get my property back.  I sent Thrane hunters after the boy for a reason.  Contact the Bloodstalker and tell Kinnian Dar I am waiting for him to earn the credits I’m paying him.

Trouble in Mind launches February 16, 2016. You can pre-order your Kindle copy NOW on Amazon.

Cheers, Donna

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A new story is happening

It has been a long time since I applied myself to getting a new novel finished. I've had a few starts, but not had the inspiration to continue. Besides, life kinda gets in the way sometimes.

But this week I'm past the 10k words mark. I'm still not sure how long the book will be but I'm guessing 50k+, so a shorter novel. However, that's a guess. I might end with a novella, I might end up with 90k. Time will tell.

It's set in the Dryden Universe, same basic settings as A Matter of Trust and The Demon's Eye. The story has two main protagonists and the background conflict is the grand scale tension you'd expect from space opera. There'll be some planet-hopping, some action and adventure. And a dollop of romance.

Here's a small taste.


The noise in the bar swirled around Brent Walker like a storm. Highs and lows, shrills and flats, all meaningless sounds mixing with the cocktail of stale beer and the unmistakable tang of carra weed. Swallowing the last of his beer he shoved himself to his feet. There was no point in staying here. In fact, he'd better get Vagabond out of here before the station master impounded her. His stomach lurched at the thought of losing his ship. Fuck Narvak. Brent had only been an hour late, bugger all in the scheme of things. But Narvak didn't wait for anybody. 
 
Brent sidled past a group of half-drunk miners. One of them had a girl sitting on his knee, his gaze fixed on her tits. Huh. Brent would have been doing the same thing if he'd had the credits. Oh well. At least Vagabond had sexcapades in her database. The Yrmak bouncers eyed him as he slipped past them into the street.

Outside the air was cooler, even here in the middle of the station, which said more about the heating level in the bar than the air circulation in the station. Brent trudged off toward the transit system which would take him to the distant docking bay where Vagabond and the other tramp haulers were located. The street was virtually empty in this industrial part of town. The din from the Wayfarer subsided to a drone when he went around a corner. The warehouses huddled together, virtually hanging over the street, the peeling facades and faded signs a testament to the times. A streetbot beeped toward him, gathering up the litter. Brent stepped around the machine and was about to walk on when he heard someone trying to stifle a cry of pain. He hesitated for a nanosecond, then moved on. Not his business. He had his own problems. He'd taken two paces before another sound jerked him to a halt.

That splat was someone hitting someone. The woman's cry of pain was bitten off. A male voice growled, the tone threatening. He knew that scenario all too well, listening to his father beating up his mother. Anger twisted his gut as the images surfaced; the bruises on her face, the cut lip, the broken ribs. He'd been small then, too small to help. But he wasn't now. Brent let his ears lead him to the narrow alley between two buildings that he'd just passed.

In the shadows he made out a hulking figure standing over someone on the ground. "On yer feet, bitch. And don't try that again."

All subject to change without notice, you understand. That's how it is with first drafts.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why Zombie Girl is back #YA #zombie #dystopia

Original cover
After much inner deliberation, last week I took the decision to put my last missing ex-Lycaon Press title back up. It's been sitting on my hard drive gathering virtual dust since Breathless/Lycaon closed May 2015, and I'd had no real inclination to re-release it at the time.

Why the change of heart? Well, things happened. I originally wrote Zombie Girl specifically for Lycaon's call for YA short stories after the whole thing came to mind while I was at a music concert for one of my daughter's favourite bands. It released 22nd April 2015, just nine days before my publisher shut for good, and just as I reached the final stretch of writing book two for the April Camp NaNoWriMo. Bummer.

Despite the fact BP/LP let us use the edited versions of all our books for free, Zombie Girl was the only one of my five titles with them that I decided not to put back out with the rest. I'd already planned to re-release my debut novel Keir in May after the sale of that publisher resulted in my rights reversion, and suddenly I was another five titles down that would still need artwork paid for in order to re-release them. So I ended up re-releasing one novel, three novellas and a short story over May because they'd proved they were earning money, while Zombie Girl hadn't had the chance to. It was a killer month! Afterward, with the shock of BP/LP's closure finally setting in and the exhaustion of redoing and republishing five titles, I was done. My thoughts on Zombie Girl had changed, and I had other commitments.

But nine months on, I figured Zombie Girl should be out earning her keep. It was edited, and I thought that just for once I'd do my own cover and re-release it (FYI, in the end the marvellous Danielle Fine actually took my makeshift attempt and turned the rough draft into a polished gem). Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened was uploaded Thursday for a release date of 15th February. I wish I could put everything out that quick and clean!

I don't expect huge sales and I'm not pimping it (I already did the launch with Lycaon last year, so I'm not willing to do it over). The next book won't be coming out any time soon either, I'm afraid. I have other priorities and budget commitments until next year.

But I did learn some reassuring things during the upload. Despite managing to bodge up my pdf file five times (I kept checking through and finding things like I hadn't made the blurb the same size font as the rest, line spacings differed, I'd missed a link - stupid little things, really), I had ZG formatted as Amazon, general, and pdf galleys in half a day. It took me just three hours to upload it to Amazon, Draft2Digital, All Romance eBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords, and to check the resulting files. Aside from a slight hiccup at ARe (trust me, that's really minor compared to my usual battle with them), it all went perfectly (yup, even the Smashwords MeatGrinder, though I'm actually more familiar with that than conversion at any of the other distributors).

For the first time ever my D2D files were perfect on the first attempt. And to cap it all, Amazon had my pre-order live in a couple of hours, SW within an hour, and Kobo by the end of the day. Even iTunes was live in less than 24 hours, with B&N finally crawling in over the weekend. Kobo did make me hunt for my title after an email informing me that it was live (for a moment I envisaged the seven weeks of repeated emails trying to get a previous title to show up in their search engine *shudders*, but it popped up by itself). And the crowning glory came from Amazon in telling me I had 0 possible spelling errors during its conversion of Zombie Girl. Woot! (Normally it at least highlights my invented technological terms if nothing else, or takes aversion to a character name).

My excitement stems from this being an unheard of occurrence. Formatting, converting, uploading and checking the various ebook files is probably one of the most mind-numbingly tedious parts of being an indie author, and one I've come to loathe (for most of my self pubbed titles, Dani has actually formatted the digital galley for me, and she does all the print ones--check out her services HERE--but the ex-BP titles I did by myself (addition - Tethered was formatted for me by the lovely Gayl Taylor, formally of Breathless Press, and her official page is HERE)). But the smoothness of this particular title made it much more gratifying. Dare I hope I've actually got the hang of this author thing? At least this particular aspect of it anyway...

Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened--a YA dystopian zombie novella set a hundred years in our future--is now available for pre-order at the retailers listed under the book cover, with a release date of 15th February. You'd better start running!

YA Zombie Dystopia Novella
Goodreads | Website
Available from...
Amazon
iTunes | Omnilit
Kobo | Smashwords | B&N

Blurb:
Imagine waking up to find the world has ended, but unfortunately you're not alone...

For Connor Innis, awakening from a year-long coma with no memories, no ability to move, and unable to speak was bad enough. Then he learns that a bioweapon set off a zombie apocalypse—for real—while he was sleeping, and the world he can't even remember no longer exists.

Rehabilitation might be torture, but far worse awaits him outside. All too soon, the hospital Mentor declares him fit to leave with nothing to go home to except a city full of mindless, flesh-eating monsters. That is, until he forms a strange relationship with the one he nicknames 'Zombie Girl'.

Previously published by Lycaon Press, 22nd April 2015.

WARNING: contains swearing, and some moderate gore and violence.

Happenings

Want to read my books for free? Well, there's a couple of ways you can do that completely legitimately over the next couple of months. Keir is up at NetGalley again to read and review for free. Keir's Fall will go up next month (March). And there's a print edition of Keir's Fall up for giveaway at Goodreads.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Keir's Fall by Pippa Jay

Keir's Fall

by Pippa Jay

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
Yesterday Keir took part in the Hunky Hero-fest over at Audra Middleton's blog, where he was interviewed about the new-to-him concept of Valentine's Day. It put him into a bit of a panic, I must say! The event is continuing over the whole of February, with giveaways included, and there's a vote for the best hero. Needless to say I'd love you to go vote for Keir.
On the 11th I'm guesting at Dawn's Reading Nook and talking about five killer kisses.
On the 17th Keir is also taking part in the Great Pick-Up Line at The Delighted Reader blog. Again, it's a month long event with giveaways.

Status Update
Reunion at Kasha-Asor, my planned release for 21st May and a side story in Keir's Redemption series, is in second round edits but I'm currently brainstorming some ideas with Dani (my editor, designer and all round hero) and Laurel (editor, proof reader, and general sounding board). My planned June release is now back for first round edits. My proposed 31st March release, space opera short Quickshot, has been given a glorious cover by the talented Dani Fine (seriously, it is totally awesome and HAWT!) despite the highly demanding requests I made for my two MCs, so that should be releasing on schedule. If the February SFRB Presents goes ahead I'll be doing a double cover reveal for Reunion at Kasha-Asor and Quickshot.

These will bring my published works up to 15 titles, with Keir's Shadow (Book Three of Redemption) a definite release for 2017. Anything else will depend on having the funds to pay for editing/cover art. At the moment I'm focusing on a few more bits and pieces for BristolCon in October, including having to pay for accommodation and transport. I'm not risking my old car again, so I'm looking at hiring something that will hopefully ensure we'll get to the convention this time!

Ping Pong
Best of luck to Donna as she approaches launch day for Trouble in Mind on the 16th February.
Hugs to Laurie as she battles with her edits.
Seems both Greta and I were feeling featherbrained last week with us both posting on the topic of birds, though admittedly her ones would probably eat mine for breakfast... >.<