Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, angels! You know how much I love SF romance, so today I’m featuring Jessica Coulter Smith and her new SF romance Heidi and the Alien Cop (Intergalactic Brides #12), now available from Changeling Press. Take it away, Jessica!
Heidi’s life hasn’t been easy since she dropped out of school at sixteen to have a baby. The worst mistake she ever made was moving in with her boyfriend Brent, who turned out to be an abusive bastard, but with no education and no job, there’s nowhere for her to go. Her life for the last five years has disillusioned her that happily-ever-after could possibly exist… Then he comes into her life.
When Raylic rushes to Heidi’s aid, the last thing he expects is to end up with house guests, but she and her small son, Shane, are just what he needs. They bring life to his monstrous home and make him want things better left alone. But the more time he spends with the little family, the more he wants to keep them with him forever. Even knowing Heidi is pregnant with another man’s child doesn’t stop him from wanting to claim her.
Heidi knows Raylic is one of the good guys, but can she dare trust her heart to someone again? He’s everything she’s ever wanted, but she knows wanting and having aren’t the same thing.
Heidi hoped like hell that Shane had gotten out of the house. She hadn’t heard the door open or shut but prayed her little boy had run to safety and not stayed to help her. Despite his young age, he acted like her protector when his dad got mad, which was far too often.
She placed a protective hand over her stomach as she cowered in the corner of the room. Brent towered over her, his face flush from too much alcohol and the rage that was burning in his veins. It wasn’t the first time he’d struck her, and she knew it wouldn’t be the last, unless she finally managed to escape. But where would she go? Without a job, or friends, or family, only the streets waited for her and their small son.
“Everyone was talking tonight about how you’ve been whoring around behind my back,” Brent said, spit flying from his lips.
“Brent, please. You know how rumors are around here.” She swallowed the knot of fear in her throat. She’d learned the hard way that fighting back only made it worse. When she fought back, it pushed him to the point of nearly killing her, and she had to keep living to take care of their son. She couldn’t leave him in Brent’s hands. Either her boyfriend would kill him, or he’d turn her sweet boy into a monster.
“Stupid, lying bitch. Did you think I wouldn’t hear about it? I bet that brat in your belly isn’t even mine. Who’s to say the other little snot is mine either? You just saw a meal ticket and latched on.”
“Of course, it’s yours, Brent. They both are. You know I haven’t been with anyone else.”
He backhanded her across the face again, an explosion of pain ricocheting through her cheek and rattling her brain. Another blow landing in almost the same spot nearly knocked her off her feet. She had just braced herself on the wall when another fist pummeled her stomach. Heidi cried out, her hands clutching her belly, hoping he hadn’t harmed their child. She’d tried damn hard not to get pregnant a second time by him, but the condom had broken two months ago.
She saw his hand wind back for another blow and cowered down, but it never came.
“I know humans play by different rules, but where I come from, we don’t beat females,” a deep voice said with a hint of a growl.
Heidi’s eyes went wide as she looked around Brent at the purple alien with the badge clipped to his belt. Was he a real cop or one of those Terran guards? He knocked Brent’s legs out from under him, then pressed him face first onto the floor, wrenching Brent’s hands behind his back. Her drunken boyfriend was no match for the rather brawny guy manhandling him. The alien slapped cuffs on Brent, then pulled out a cell phone.
“Dispatch, this is Officer Raylic. Can you send a car around to pick up some trash I found beating a female?”
She didn’t hear what else was said as the room spun around her. Heidi sank to her knees and tried to process what was happening. Had someone really come to her rescue? How had he known where to find her? A small hand slipped into hers, and she looked into the terrified eyes of her son.
“I found a police officer, Mama. He’ll take care of us, won’t he?” Shane asked, looking more troubled than a five-year-old had any right to.
“Are you all right?” the officer asked her.
“I don’t know. He hit me in the stomach and the face.”
Shane’s face scrunched up. “What about the baby?”
“You have a baby?” the officer asked.
“In her tummy,” Shane told him.
The officer cursed. Brent took his moment of distraction to rear up and lunge at Heidi, a murderous glint in his eyes. She jumped to her feet and lashed out at him, kicking him in the shin and hitting him in the eye. The officer made a grab for him and shoved him back down. Brent fell face first onto the floor, getting a mouthful of nasty carpet. Heidi had to admit that it had felt damn good to fight back for once.
Heidi approached her boyfriend. With a well-placed kick between his splayed legs, she had him howling and cursing her all at the same time. She felt a bit of satisfaction, knowing she’d caused him pain, but it wasn’t enough. She looked at the officer who regarded her with a bit of mirth for attacking her abuser.
“Want to have another go at him?” the officer asked.
“What I’d like to do is beat him over the head, with a cast-iron skillet, until he can’t ever hurt anyone again.”
He nodded. “I probably would get into a bit of trouble if I let you do that. But feel free to kick him again. It’s just his word against mine.”
She looked at her bare feet. “It might contaminate my foot if I kick him there again. I’ve always heard if someone accuses you of cheating, they’re probably the one with the guilty conscience. No telling where he’s put that thing.”
The officer chuckled a bit. “As soon as backup arrives to take care of him, I’m going to take you somewhere safe. We’ll stop by the Terran Station first though. I want our healer to look at you. As small as you are, he could have easily broken bones or caused internal damage.”
“Thank you for helping us,” she said. “No one’s ever helped us before.”
He frowned. “Have you called the police before now?”
She nodded. “The officer who answered the call said I was overly emotional and it was just a domestic dispute. He said if he got another call, he would haul both of us to jail. It was the first and last time I asked for help.”
“Asshole,” the officer muttered. “Do you remember who it was? I’ll make sure he’s written up.”
He nodded. “I can see him saying something like that. Don’t worry. Your husband is getting locked up this time.”
“We’re not married,” she said.
“Good. Then you can make a clean break when he’s taken out of here today. Do you plan to stay in this apartment?” he asked, looking around.
She knew what he’d see. Cracked walls, stained carpets, and the ugliest furniture imaginable. The place reeked of mildew and piss, and unfortunately for her, the rent was past due. It might not have been much, but it had been home for the last year. As often as they’d been late, no way the landlord would renew the lease. Not that she could pay it anyway.
“Where are we gonna go, Mama?” Shane asked.
“I don’t know, baby.”
The officer tilted his head. “Go pack your things. I was going to take you to a hotel for the night to give you some time to think things through, but it sounds like you need a more permanent solution.”
“The rent is past due here,” she said. “I don’t have a job to pay for a hotel room. Could you take us to a shelter?”
“Don’t worry about the cost,” he said in a soothing tone. “Just pack your things and be ready to go as soon as possible. Don’t leave anything behind that you want to keep.”
Where to Buy
About the Author
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child. Her first stories may have been written in crayon, but now she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and spills over from her professional life into her personal one. When she went on that first date with her husband, she never expected to hear the words “marry me” pop out of his mouth–and judging by the shocked look on his face, he hadn’t meant to say them either. But, being the hopeless romantic that she is, Jessica said yes and they’ve been married since 2000.
TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Jessica Coulter Smith’s new romance Ella and the Alien Gamer, now available from Changeling Press and other purveyors of fine online romance. Take it away, Jessica!
Ella has had a hard life as a single mom who barely makes ends meet. But she’s never once asked for help, and she never would. When Valero barrels into her life asking for things she’s not ready to give, she holds herself back. Mostly. The thought of taking the sexy alien to bed is more than a little tempting … except he’s playing hard to get.
Valero has wanted a mate ever since he was old enough to think of having a family of his own. He’s never thought of claiming a female with a child in tow, but Connor’s amazing gaming skills intrigue the video game designer. Asking the small family to move in with him seems reasonable enough since he plans to claim them as his, but Ella’s commitment issues prove to be a problem.
What’s a geeky gamer to do when the Cinderella of his dreams wants sex, but nothing else?
Valero growled as he jabbed at the buttons on the controller. Rory and her damned dragons! When she’d said she couldn’t beat this level, he’d thought it would be a piece of cake. How hard could a game be that centered around an adolescent purple dragon? Harder than fuck, that’s how hard.
“Bust the gem, turn the wheel,” he muttered as he went through the steps. Little green things attacked him. “Argh. Die, you little bastards!”
“My mama will wash your mouth out with soap,” said a small voice.
He glanced to his right and nearly dropped the controller when he saw a small human child. Where the hell had he come from?
“You’re doing that wrong,” the boy said.
No shit. That was why he’d been trying to put out the fires for the last half hour without success. What the hell did the small child know about it though? He held out the controller.
“Since you seem to know what you’re doing, want to show me how it’s done?” Valero asked.
The boy grinned from ear to ear, snatched the controller, and started playing with the finesse of an advanced gamer.
“How the hell did you know where the buckets were?” Valero asked.
“Soap,” the boy replied in response to his bad word. Apparently hell wasn’t allowed either. “And I have this game at home. I beat it on the second day. I probably would have done it sooner, but Mama wouldn’t let me stay up playing all night.”
The boy beat the level and handed the controller back.
“What other games can you play?” Valero asked. He’d never met such a young gamer before and he had to admit he was a little fascinated. He hadn’t even known such a small human could play video games.
“I have Minecraft, Sonic, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Star Wars, and a few others.”
“What about Halo or Gears of War?” Valero asked.
“Mama says they’re too violent for me. But I wish I could play them. The kid games are too easy. I don’t see why the adults are the only ones being challenged.”
Valero’s eyebrows went up. A challenging children’s game? Was there a market for such a thing? Unless this child was a gaming prodigy, then there were probably others out there feeling his same frustration. Definitely something worth looking into.
“What types of challenges would you like to see in a game?” Valero asked.
“Well, I like the time challenges where you have to complete so many tasks in a certain amount of time. I like the fighting levels in Lego Star Wars. But collecting stuff like the rings in Sonic or the gems in Spyro can be fun. I just wish you could do more with it.”
The kid was rather insightful for someone so young. And he was giving Valero an idea. His game company was still in the fledgling stages and he needed something new and edgy to put him on the map. Or so he’d thought. Maybe he was looking at the wrong demographic. He’d been thinking of a game adults would like where you blew up stuff, but if gamers were starting out as young as this kid, children who weren’t allowed to play the more violent games, then maybe he needed to tap into that audience. The only problem was that his game testers were Rory and Zwyk, and neither would be able to give him the information he needed.
“He’s not bothering you, is he?” a soft voice asked.
Valero stood and faced the woman, and damn near swallowed his tongue.
Where to Buy
About the Author
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child writing her first stories in crayon. Today she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and spills over from her professional life into her personal one. When she went on that first date with her husband, she never expected to hear the words “marry me” pop out of his mouth — and judging by the shocked look on his face, he hadn’t meant to say them either. But, being the hopeless romantic that she is, Jessica said yes and they’ve been married since 2000.
Jessica firmly believes that love will find you at the right time, even if Mr. Right is literally out of this world. She’s often gazed at the stars and wondered what, or who, else might be out there. Who’s to say that hunky model on the hottest romance bestseller isn’t really from some far off galaxy? Maybe that blue Martian you saw at Halloween wasn’t really in costume. After all, there’s an awful lot of space out there for us to be the only ones living in it.
Find more Changeling Press books by Jessica Coulter Smith at http://www.changelingpress.com/author.php?uid=144.
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!
Okay, Day Three and I’m already behind but I had a really, really good reason. I’m not going to discuss it in extreme detail here because, frankly, it was pretty disgusting. Let us just say that access to a bathroom was required for the bulk of the day and I feel positively empty at the moment.
That being said, note that I DID get some wordage in, so there.
Anyway, today’s stats:
Started With: 5,714 words
Wrote: 636 words
Total word count: 6,350 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Cleaned up the downstairs bathroom because, yeah, it was sort of necessary.
Writing Tips: Even if you don’t hit your daily word quota, it’s cool. Some words are better than no words at all. If you only write 500 words a day, that’s 15,000 words give or take in a month, and 91,000 words in half a year. Hell, at that rate you could churn out two books a year, which is nothing to sneeze at. So sit down and toss some words into your story, even if all you add is a sentence or two. You’ll be glad you did.
Well, this turned out to be a day where I pretty much shuttled between Uncertainty Principle and Shifter Woods: Howl when I wasn’t vacuuming, food shopping, or turfing the damn cats off my lap. The one pictured above is particularly determined and will jump onto the table where I put my laptop when I’m not working in order to sneak a paw onto my lap desk. I push it off, and she’ll wait a moment before sneaking it back on. If I don’t push it off (because I’m, you know, working), she’ll take that as a sign to try and climb on either the lap desk or me. She did get cuddles and scritches today because I’m not a complete monster, but man, she would live ON me if it was at all possible.
About the book — Evie gets back to quarters early and finds Ben packing an overnight bag. He has to go off base to accompany a team that’s picking up scavenged goods from one of their regular suppliers. She’s a little worried because she knows that he’s having nightmares, but has no idea how to broach the subject because he keeps telling her he’s fine. Plus she’s just been seconded to Project Rubicon and is learning stuff that is curling her hair a little bit, but she can’t discuss it with Ben because he’s not cleared for that level of security. There’s a reason why I called this one Uncertainty Principle, you know. There might be also be a sex scene at the end of this chapter, I’m not sure yet.
Started With: 3,043 words
Wrote: 2,666 words
Total word count: 5,714 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: The usual cat chores, obtained the makings for Italian wedding soup, vacuumed the living room, dusted some picture frames, and edited Shifter Woods: Howl.
Hello, lovelies, and welcome to April where I will be writing the first draft of Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising 2) in one month. Yes, watch me shut off my internal editor and vomit words onto the page like a drunk in a Chicago bar on St. Patrick’s Day!
So far? I have a moody Ben, a distracted Evie, and Lilith having a discussion about what it means to be human. Because this is a romance, you know. Jesus, I can never do things the easy way.
Started With: 0 words
Wrote: 3,043 words
Total word count: 3,043 words
What else did you do today, Nicola: Much laundry, cat chores, stopped off for more wet food and some protein for me, and edited Shifter Woods: Howl before getting to work on this. Because yeah, I’m a masochist.
Writing Tips: Give yourself permission to write crap. Not every word that you write in the first draft will be gold. In fact, they’re going to be pretty shitty, with little glittering bits here and there that show promise. Think of it as digging clay out of a riverbank and slapping it into the general form of a person — the second/third/yadda yadda drafts are when you start carving everything into shape, adding stuff here and deleting stuff there. Sometimes deleting a lot of stuff there. Right now you’re not concerned with precision, or the perfect turn of phrase (although if you can manage those little glittering bits, please do so), or a gripping scene. You want shitty words that convey the general plotline of the story, and you want enough of them so that you make your word count. Do whatever you have to do to get them there — write a general outline that you’ll fill in later, skip ahead in the story, write something absolutely ridiculous that you know you’ll have to delete later but amuses you now. This is the time to get mud all over everything and build that castle.
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.
Degree 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.
So I’m running around like the proverbial headless chicken trying to get my gift basket and author swag for Wild Wicked Weekend put together, and I like how things are shaping up. The gift basket will have a tiara, three–count them, three–bottles of wine, both Two Thrones books and Degree of Resistance (CreateSpace worked a miracle and the print copies should arrive the morning I leave for San Antonio), some lovely chocolates from World Market, Belgian hazelnut cookies, a VISA gift card, a Burt’s Bees care package, and a purse-sized lint roller and bottle of hand sanitizer for purposes of practicality. If you’re coming to San Antonio next weekend, make sure you bid on my basket — it’s going to be awesome. Also, come find me at the group signing and get me to personalize your books.
I’m also busy doing promo on Facebook and Twitter for Degree of Resistance, (THREE MORE DAYS, PEOPLE! Get your copy at 99¢ while you still can!) and I came close to disaster a few times. See, in order to have the ad graphic appear instead of the graphic link to Amazon I have to upload the ad first, then paste in the text with the Amazon link. The link is still active, but that way I get to choose what graphic gets used in the post.
Under normal circumstances this little dance works splendidly, except that my graphic is only one of two graphics on my desktop at the moment and I almost posted a picture of Louis Herthum a couple of times. Which wouldn’t be bad, mind you, especially since he provided so much inspiration for this book. But it’s rude to involve people in your PR without their permission.
That being said — damn, he’s cute.
I honestly don’t know where this weekend went to. Well, no, I do — it went into sending out copies of Degree of Resistance to my beta readers, finalizing the cover for DoR, setting up pre-sales at Amazon (available here if you’re of a mind to pick it up for 99¢ before it goes up to $3.99 on release day), cleaning my utter sty of an office (whereupon I discovered that one of my furry darlings peed in my office closet, which required me to move everything off the floor so that I could attend the stain with the portable rug cleaner and some Nature’s Miracle, whee…), doing laundry, attending a meeting at the local Democrats office, having coffee with one of my beta readers who reassured me that she was enjoying the story so far (and she will tell me if I’m screwing up), adding DoR here to the Bookshelf, creating ads and doing promo on social media, and formatting the DoR ebook. I’m going to hold off on doing the print version until I have all of the other edits done, but in the meantime I can get the print version of Palace of Scoundrels finally done and published, which would be nice seeing as it was released in, oh, late October.
Yeah, well, we were kind of busy around that time.
Anyhoo, yeah, the weekend kinda got away from me and I still need to put all the laundry away, pay bills, and finish cleaning the office (aren’t you envious of my glamorous life?). But by God I’m going to hit the ground running tomorrow, especially since I don’t have to start Round Three of edits on DoR until Wednesday (I swear to God I actually have a schedule this time), and that means I can continue to edit the alternate history mystery starring Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll that’s been languishing on my hard drive for the last three years and get it ready for release on 2/28.
Two books released in one month. Yeah, I like the sound of that.