Category Archives: Degree of Resistance

Want to win a Kindle Fire? Of course you do!

Do you like sci fi romance? Do you have a hankering for a new Kindle Fire? Then do I have a contest for you!

BookSweeps is holding an awesome giveaway where you can win my book Degree of Resistance, plus books from authors like Evangeline Anderson and Cara Bristol, as well as a new Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends on May 1, so make sure you hurry and enter here — bit.ly/sfr-apr-17. Good luck!

Want to win a new Kindle Fire AND a copy of Degree of Resistance?

Have you seen this awesome giveaway from BookSweeps? You can win my book Degree of Resistance, plus books from authors like Evangeline Anderson and Cara Bristol, and a Kindle Fire. This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry and enter! Good luck!

Join the fun here! bit.ly/sfr-apr-17

Gracious, that was fast

Just found out that Degree of Resistance, Empress of Storms and Palace of Scoundrels have all been requested for review at Manic Readers, so hopefully that will generate some positive reviews and sales. The funny thing is that Empress still sells at least one copy almost every day, so that book definitely has legs. If I can get Palace and Degree to that stage, I’ll be the happiest smut writer this side of the Red River.

As if that wasn’t enough, I also had a wee epiphany this morning about the title of Pacifica Rising 2. The working (and probably permanent) title will be Uncertainty Principle, which refers to at least three different situations in the plot. Trust me, it’ll make sense once you read it. I’m finishing up the outlining now, and I’ll write it in April with a goal of a late May release. And yes, I’ll be doing a marathon follow-along here in the vein of 83K or Bust.

In other writing news, I’m thisclose to finishing the expanded shifter short story Shifter Woods: Howl which has now become a novella, bless its furry heart. Look for that to be released next week. Once I finish the companion piece Shifter Woods: Roar, I’ll combine them for a print version.

And while this has nothing to do with me, I was absolutely freaking delighted this morning to read that the lovely and talented Louis Herthum (aka he who inspired me to write Degree) has been signed as a regular cast member for the second season of Westworld. Considering that his character Peter Abernathy is now a walking thumb drive carrying 30 years of R&D on the androids, the writers can do some hella awesome stuff with that — Delos wants him for that R&D info and are willing to kill to get it, other companies want him for the same reason, and the androids want him because he carries the history of their race. Can’t wait!

In which Nicola decides to gird her loins for battle

*cranks up sound system and puts on “Eye of the Tiger”*
*warms up with some push-ups, finger exercises, and shadow boxing*
*cracks neck*

Oh, yeah.

http://mirandemia.tumblr.com/post/99032161477/i-saw-this-step-by-step-tutorial-of-how-to-gird

That whine you hear in the background is me kicking the promo machine into fifth gear for both Palace of Scoundrels and Degree of Resistance. Ain’t nobody gonna do this for me but myself (and frankly I’m tired of sitting here wondering what the hell is going on), so I’m actively hunting down reviewers and utilizing opportunities to get the books in front of said reviewers. By the end of April, I want to see a significant upswing in sales because dammit, these books are good and readers will love them.

Trundling along on Tuesday

My, it’s only Tuesday and already I’m having a productive week. On the minus side, I got turned down by an agent and BookBub (whomp whomp). It happens, no biggie, and I’ll just keep trying until one or both work out.

On the plus side, I’m thisclose to getting Most Malicious Murder off to the betas, and I now have a frigging GREAT idea for Pacifica Rising 2 that I will start outlining tomorrow (today is already taken up with crits for my writing group, the last bit of the tax paperwork, and mailing out bills). Also, a print copy of Degree of Resistance will soon be in the hands of the lovely and talented man who helped to inspire it, which … well, frankly, is giving me the heebie-jeebies. Writing a romance story  complete with sex scenes is just part of the job to me by now, so I sometimes forget that what I see as normal and no big deal might not come across that way to other people. Especially if they know that they helped inspire a story that includes some fairly explicit love scenes.

I did add a cover letter that explained the contents and said it would be totally fine with me if he just smiled at the egoboo and stuck it on a shelf somewhere, and actually reading it was not required. If he does read it … well, let’s just hope I don’t get a DM starting off with, “What the HELL, Nic…”

Wednesday musings on writing

It occurred to me earlier today that I’ve been working professionally in the writing dodge (and by professionally I mean people have given me money in exchange for my words) for about twenty-two years, now. My writing career can legally drink, if not rent a car. Which is probably for the best, if you think about it.

So while I may bitch and moan about sales at times, in retrospect I’m actually pretty happy with where I’ve gotten to at this point. Between my SF and romance names (by the way, you all DO know that I write science fiction and urban fantasy as Melanie Fletcher, right?) I have seven full-length novels, three novellas, two novelettes, and twenty-six short stories to my credit. That’s not bad at all, especially since I’ll be bringing out at least another three novels this year as well as more novellas and short stories.

And not only have I been publishing, but I’ve been gifted with a fiercely devoted band of readers (you know who you are, and you are all in the will), plus I’ve been getting critical attention for my work. Night Owl Reviews just did an interview with me, and the lovely and talented Cynthia Sax will also have an interview on Degree of Resistance up on her website soon. So, yeah, I’ve actually done pretty well in my career so far (take that, Imposter Syndrome!).

Fabulous, I hear you say, but why are you babbling at us about this? Well, 1) because I can, and 2) it helps to work out what I’m going to do next. This year I’ve decided to concentrate on leveling up to the next professional step; namely, increasing my readership, shooting for a USA Today bestseller list slot, and maybe even winning an award or two (although I’m reminded of the fact that Sir Terry Pratchett, he of the insanely successful and brilliant Discworld series, never won anything until late in his career. People rarely take humor with the seriousness it deserves. But I digress). And the best way to do all that is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep entertaining folks, which, yeah, just twist my arm already.

Did I mention that you’re all cruel but beautiful, and I love you oodles for reading my stuff? Because I do.

It’s time to pull on my Big Writer Panties

degreeofresistancecoverDegree of Resistance has now been out for a shade over a week, and the bulk of my wonderful ARC readers have left reviews (thank you all, *mwah*). I have requests out to a slew of reviewers, advertising going on at various locations, and I’m in the process of getting my media pack out to various bloggers who are kind enough to host my stuff.

And so far … yeah, the sales are perhaps a touch disappointing. The folks who have read the book so far say it’s hella good (and these people have no reason to blow smoke up my ass. If I’d produced something crappy, they would’ve told me). So what that confirms is that my marketing plan is not optimal and I have to come up with a better method of getting Evie and Ben’s story out in front of readers who love smokin’ cyborg romance.

To that end, the lovely and talented Cecilia Tan (my first editor and now my cherished colleague) was kind enough to spend an hour on Skype with me on Thursday going over various battle plans and ways to promote DoR. Some of them, I must admit, had simply never occurred to me but seem obvious in retrospect (e.g. find ways to write blogs posts that will appeal to girl geek-slanted publications such as The Daily Dot and io9, since a significant proportion of my SFR-loving readers will be found there). Others will require careful use of SEO terms to boost exposure, creative use of graphics, or just plain throwing money at the problem. As I am a poor but honest writer who is still paying off the costs of Wild Wicked Weekend (Tl;dr I had a frigging ball and sold more books than last year)  I’m hoping to keep this last method down to a minimum, at least until the end of the month. I still want to try submitting Empress of Storms to BookBub, but I need to save up for that as well, plus I have to wait until I’m past the 90 day limit on sales prices (since it was on sale along with Palace of Scoundrels in December, that should take effect later this month).

So goes the life of a modern hybrid author. Still the best job I’ve ever had, though.

SFR Brigade Showcase: Degree of Resistance

sfrb-showcasebannerHello, folks! My new cyborg romance Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1) is now available on Amazon and other online retailers of fine SF romance, and I want to share a scene here that, to me, encapsulates the relationship between my main characters, bless their hard little heads.

Some backstory: the year is 2048, the United States has fallen and the Pacifica Protectorate is the most powerful nation-state on the West Coast. Evie Contreras is a freelance cybertech who lost the love of her life, Ben Drake, twelve years ago. When she finds out that Ben is still alive and has been turned into a cyborg soldier by the protectorate, she rescues him with the help of a shadowy resistance group known as Rubicon. In return, Rubicon wants Evie to go back to the Pacifica Protectorate and retrieve a hidden AI for them. Needless to say, Ben is not happy about this.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great SF romance at the SFR Brigade Showcase!

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

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes, you are.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s what heroes always say.”

“You think I’m a hero?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home. That sounded like a fine idea.


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks, and welcome to Mid Week Tease hosted by Angelica Dawson! So, Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), is now out and available for purchase. Today’s scene is where Evie first sees the graphic evidence of what the Pacifica Protectorate did to Ben. Next week we’re back to sexytimes, I promise.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecover“Excuse me,” Evie said, “where’s the ICU?”

The nurse pointed down the hallway. “Go down, turn left at the nurse’s station, then left again at the restrooms. It’s behind the big blue security doors—you can’t miss it.”

“Thanks.” She followed the directions to the doors that were marked “ICU—authorized medical personnel only.” If they were locked and controlled by Lilith, would the AI let her through? And even if she got through the doors, someone might challenge her.

Act like you belong. That was easy enough; she was already wearing scrubs. For added verisimilitude she grabbed a pile of sheets from a small cart as a prop, plopping the tablet on top. Taking a breath, she pushed at one of the doors. It opened and she stepped through.

A short hallway beyond ended at a circular nurse’s station manned by a handsome and clearly bored man in surgical blue scrubs. His curly black hair had been cut short, and he needed a shave judging by the heavy five o’clock shadow, but his eyes lit up when he saw her.

“Hel-lo,” he said in a drawled British accent. “Did someone finally hear my plea for more help?”

“That’s what I was told,” Evie said. “I’m Ally. Where do you need me?”

“Oh, my.” The man gave her a slow up and down that was too deliberately over the top to be offensive. “Don’t ask me questions like that, love. I’m still on call for two more hours.”

She snorted, glancing at the whiteboard propped up on the station’s counter. It had to be a list of patient rooms. “I bet you say that to all the staff members.”

“Only the ones who’ve stolen my heart.” He plunked his hand over his breastbone. “Promise me I’ll see you later, Ally. It may be the only thing that gets me through this deathly dull shift.”

This one was a charmer, which made things easier and harder at the same time. Easier because he’d let her slide past. Harder because he’d undoubtedly check out her ass as she walked away. “No promises—”

“Samir. Dr. Samir Haddad.” Something on his console beeped and he grimaced. “Damn. Duty calls, love. I’ll catch you later?”

“You can try.” Giving him a smile, she walked around the station, resisting the urge to hurry.

The nurse’s station sat at the crosspoint of four corridors like a bull’s eye. Luck and left-to-right reading habits were with her and B corridor was immediately opposite. She headed down there, counting rooms until she came to B4.

The board had Drake, B printed neatly next to the B4 slot. Licking dry lips, she grabbed the door handle. The worst they would do was kick her out, maybe yell at her for coming in without authorization, right? She’d take that if she could just see him for a minute, make sure he was all right, maybe even talk to him.

She opened the door, ready to smile.

And stopped.

Her mind couldn’t comprehend the form that was on the hospital bed. It was as if someone had made a lifelike mannequin of Ben, then removed both arms and everything below the middle of its chest. The holes in the trunk and arms had been sealed neatly with some sort of gelatinous caps, and a variety of tubes and wires ran from them to a combination of equipment arranged around the bed. Some of it she recognized from her own work, like the rounded white med droid with the spidery arms that stood in the corner. The rest appeared to be high-tech hospital equipment, all of it keeping what was on the bed alive.

She’d known intellectually what a cyborg was. Artificial arms, legs, internal organs; she could accept that. She thought she could accept that. But this was something that bypassed rational thought and went straight to the primitive brain, terrifying it.

She gasped a little when he opened his eyes. “Ben?” It was a whispered prayer.

But he heard her. Those grey-blue eyes opened, blinking a few times before he could focus on her. It broke her heart when he smiled. “Evie?”

Go to him. Touch him, tell him it’s going to be all right.

She couldn’t move.

His smile faded. He glanced down, craning his neck. His eyes went wide, filling with horror. “No. Oh, God, no!”

She choked back a sob, shaking her head.

Fierce color flooded his face. The horror disappeared, replaced by incandescent fury. “Get out!” he shouted, raising his head off the bed far enough to jostle some of the wires and tubes. Somewhere an alarm began to bleep. “Goddamn you, Evie, don’t look at me! Get out!”

She wanted to. She didn’t want to see any of this. Screwing her eyes shut, she fumbled for the door handle behind her.

“Get out!”

There it was. She stepped backwards, away from the raging half-man screaming at her from the bed.

And backed into someone. When she turned, Samir glowered down at her. “I think we need to have a chat, Ally.”


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks, and welcome to Mid Week Tease hosted by Angelica Dawson! So, Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), is now out and available for purchase. And to switch things up a bit, today’s scene is more tense than teasing — after Evie, Ben, and Evie’s daughter have been captured by Ben’s former commanding officer General Camden, Evie’s ex …  I hesitate to call him boyfriend. Guy she was expected to have sex with in order to keep her job? Anyway, Gene shows up, wanting his property back. Ben’s not going to be very happy about this, as you will soon see.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecoverCamden settled back on the desk, wrinkling her nose. “There, that’s better. Now, the rest of us can have a lovely little chat.”

“Yeah, about that,” Gene said, practically vibrating in place. “You want the guy and his kid, fine. You’ve got them. I’m taking Evie now.”

Evie wasn’t sure who tensed first, herself or Ben. If Gene took her now, she knew she’d never see Ben or Ally again.

The general pursed her lips in dismay. “Oh, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. I need her for this next part.”

Gene’s attention jumped between Evie and Camden. “We had a deal. I was supposed to tell you if she showed up. You’d take anyone she was with, and I’d get her. That was the deal.”

Camden’s bright good humor didn’t change, but a thin layer of ice formed under it. “To paraphrase one of my favorite movie characters, I’m changing the deal.” She leaned forward, fixing a predator’s grin on the younger man. “Pray I don’t change it further.”

Evie had to bite back a hysterical laugh when Gene’s jaw dropped in shock. He struggled to regain control, his status as a Shareholder’s heir helping to shore that up. “That shit may work on your soldier boys, lady, but it doesn’t work on me. I went to a fuckload of time and expense to get a cabin up north for her, and I’m not going to waste all of that because you want to play some fucked-up game.”

Camden blinked. “I see. And what were you planning on doing in this cabin with Ms. Contreras?”

“What do you think?”

Ben’s muscles tensed for a lunge at Gene. Evie gripped his arm hard.

The general steepled her hands, raised index fingers resting on her lips. “I’m thinking you were planning on kidnapping a citizen of the protectorate and imprisoning her in that godforsaken wilderness near Portland so that you could rape her whenever your wife-to-be cut you off from your marital privileges. Is that roughly what you had in mind?”

This time Gene’s jaw almost hit his chest. “I’m not—I don’t—what the fuck is wrong with you?”

Evie had to throw all of her weight into keeping Ben on the couch. “Don’t,” she pleaded softly. “Please.”

Camden threw them a smirk. “Captain Drake here doesn’t seem all that impressed with your plans, Mr. Song. Neither does your inamorata, to be honest.”

Startled, Gene glanced at Evie. “Look, I know it’s little primitive but it’ll do for now.” From the slight whine in his tone, it was clear he was annoyed at having to use persuasion. “But you can stay there and no one will ever be able to find you, I promise.” He held out a hand. “She’s not stupid enough to shoot either of us. Come on, let’s go.”

Evie stared at him. He was right; Camden wouldn’t shoot the heir of Dae-Jung Song in his own home. If she took his hand and walked out the door with him now, she’d live.

As his sex slave, trapped in the middle of nowhere and totally dependent on him for everything. Protected behind his privileged bubble, he couldn’t understand that his offer wasn’t life. It was a life sentence.

Slowly, she shook her head. “I’m not going anywhere with you, Gene.”

His brow furrowed. “Goddamn it, Evie, I’m telling you I found a way we can be together. Hye won’t ever find out—”

“I don’t care about Hye. I’m not going anywhere with you, don’t you understand that?” She wrapped her hand around Ben’s. Gene spotted the gesture, eyes widening in astonishment. “I don’t want to be with you.”

His incomprehension disappeared, replaced by anger. “You belong to me,” he snarled.

“No, I don’t. I never belonged to you.” All those emotion bottled for so many years rose to the surface, burning her clean. “I didn’t have a choice about fucking you—that was all your father’s idea. Now I do have a choice. I’m free, and I’m not going anywhere with you.”

He bared a set of perfect teeth in a predator’s snarl. “You stupid bitch. I’m going to stash you in that cabin until that fucking fidelity clause is up, and I will fuck you any way I please, and you will say ‘thank you, sir’ each fucking time, do you understand—”

“Sit down, captain,” Camden barked.

Ben dropped back onto the couch from a half-crouch, blue eyes flat and murderous as they fixed on Gene. “Then tell him to shut his mouth before I shut it for him permanently,” he said softly.


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