my TBR list just exploded

Since I discovered SFR I added The Galaxy Express and Smart Girls Love Scifi blogs. I read along, entered a contest, and randomness chose me to win free ebooks. I was going to buy many of these books anyway, but I think that the writers’ generosity should be…followed? Repaid? Anyway, those authors will get reviews for their newest books on this blog and on Amazon. It’s another great way for me to put pressure on myself! I love adding things to my To Do list!

Why review if it takes time and effort? I want to advance the interests of the SFR community. I love science fiction, I love romance, I read both, but I did not put the two together as something I could find until a few weeks ago. Reviews boost the signal so the books and authors can get more exposure and all of us can get (and write) more awesome stories. Also, reviewing will help me understand what does and doesn’t work for me in SFR, so I can learn what to look for when I want a curated list, and how to get more articulate about what I love. I was working on a cyberpunk romance story months ago, went on hiatus, and have picked up writing again, fueled by the inspiration the SFR community has given me.

I’ve been reviewing lingerie for years now, and I have a format I use: basic commentary, why I bought the article I did, the properties of its construction, how it fits and looks, and who would like it most. I haven’t reviewed books much before, so I’m reading up on review formats. Short summary, my critical and emotional reactions, and what else I found noteworthy. Many reviews end with a quantitative evaluation. I don’t like assigning numbers, stars, or letter grades, since they are far too easily influenced by when I last ate. Instead I’ll try for who I think would enjoy/dislike this book and reasons to read/skip it. All four should get a mention. A short version of the review will go on Amazon, since those are pretty widely read. This format is subject to change as I learn how to best contribute. It’s an eight book project. If I or others find the reviews useful, I’ll continue reviewing SFR books.

Reading scifi romance voraciously

The past winter I took a writing class for short stories, and I found it rewarding. I had not written fiction in fifteen years, and I was unsure whether I’d enjoy another solitary hobby.  The experience has been rewarding afterwards, albeit in fits and starts. I had a story I wanted to flesh out, and there are plenty of sticky points in the plot I have not tackled. I have another story I’m thinking of expanding beyond four hundred words. They’re both science fiction romance, or will be once I get more into them. The idea is to have fun and write something I can look at and say “yeah, that’s kind of cool”. My ambitions lie in finishing projects, the bigger the better. I have no deadline because I’m just doing this for me, but I try to set aside some time a few days a week to devote to books.

Part of my writing-time is actually reading-time. Plenty of authors encourage this, but it’s a no-brainer to me. I read what I love (and some other things for variety) so why wouldn’t I write what I love! My first exposure to science fiction romance must have been the first three books by Dara Joy and some Johanna Lindsey when I was a teenager. They were quite campy, and that was pretty representative of the genre at the time. I loved reading science fiction and romance, why not the two together? Fantasy romance was so much easier to find, and I had a higher chance of finding a story with Serious Stuff in it. There were exceptions that I stumbled upon and treasured: Gena Showalter’s Alien Huntress series hit the spot especially with Savor Me Slowly, in which our heroine is a killer cyborg, and Marcella Burnard’s Enemy Within left me wanting more than just one other novel in the series.

During and after my college years, Ellora’s Cave pioneered lots of electronic romance novels, and with the lower overhead cost of e-publishing (I assume), they could take more risks with niche genres. Of the authors there, Nathalie Gray wowed me the most with Demo Derby and the Femme Metal series. Publishing has by now changed so that books that traditional publishers would never have taken before can see the light via self-publishing or small e-press. I imagine that some of it may not be good, so I’ve been on the lookout for curation.

In March I took the Seattle Public Library’s recommendation of Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach and devoured the book (and its sequels). Better than flourless chocolate cake. While it was a science fiction novel with romantic elements instead of having the romance as the central plot, I realized that this is what I want to read and if the library’s carrying it, what have I been missing? The answer was plenty. Great novels had been published when I wasn’t paying attention and I found myself with some more library books to read: Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series (I have read Grimspace and Wanderlust), and Linnea Sinclair’s everything (I adored Games of Command and am reading The Down Home Zombie Blues). Holy Lego Man, I’ve hit pay dirt!

As if that weren’t enough in my queue, the publishing world continues to change, and there are communities on the internet dedicated to science fiction romance, complete with reading lists and networking. Why didn’t I look at this before? I’m mystified by the oversight, but now the spread in front of me is overwhelming. I am trying to wrap my mind around the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and the Galaxy Express. A new world awaits me, and I hope it helps spur my own work on. Even if it doesn’t, I’ve got months of delight to come!