A Great Cause: Why I Write for Pets in Space® 4 By S.E. Smith

A huge, big welcome to fellow Pets in Space sci-fi romance author, S.E. Smith! Her story in the anthology is called MADAS’ FALLING STAR (part of her Lords of Kassis Series) and stars a warrior, a warrior princess, and a super cute pet called L’eon.

This is my fourth year of writing a story for Pets in Space® and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of something that has taken on a life of its own and a project that gives back so much to our community. What do I mean? Well, Pets in Space® 4 is one of those very unique opportunities that you get in life to pay it forward.

When I was in 8th grade I remember our teacher having us write an essay about what we wanted to do when we were older. I had my life mapped out — I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. I was going to graduate, go to college, spend a couple of years after I graduated traveling, then join the Air Force. My teacher was impressed with my plans. LOL. Well, I didn’t necessarily follow them all the way. I had a few detours and never joined the Air Force (I was an officer in the Civil Air Patrol which I was proud of) but… I did marry an Air Force veteran. Many of my family members all belonged to the military in one form or another over the years, serving with pride. When Pauline and Veronica first approached me and asked if I would be interested in participating in an anthology that benefited Hero-Dogs.org, I researched them and knew this was one way I could help support not only veterans, but first responders as well.

Life is about giving. In a world that sometimes feels like we have forgotten, it only takes one act of kindness to help us remember that what we give is the legacy that we leave behind. I am proud of the amazing authors who have participated in this charity. To date, we’ve been able to donate almost $8000 while giving readers hours of enjoyment. Join me in paying it forward by supporting Hero-Dogs.org and the outstanding authors in this years Pets in Space® 4!

PS: The Pets in Space® 4 Anthology will only be available for a limited time! Don’t miss out on this amazing collection of stories before it disappears! More info here: https://petsinspaceantho.com

S.E. Smith is an internationally acclaimed, New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.

STAR CRUISE: IDOL’S CURSE by Veronica Scott

Pets in Space 4 is almost here! I am so excited for this anthology of fun sci-fi romances to arrive. I am also very excited to have one of my fellow authors — the always awesome Veronica Scott — here today to talk about her story and share a snippet! I have to say that I totally want to go on a star cruise in space thanks to her series.

Welcome, Veronica…

Usually I start with the concept of the pet for my Pets In Space® stories and develop the plot from what the animal ‘suggests’ to me but this time my jumping off place was legends about tourists having bad luck after removing rocks from national parks as souvenirs.

Of  course since I’m writing science fiction, I then took the entire topic a step further and gave my ‘rock’ some scary attributes, the ability to do real harm and a bit of carving to justify referring to an idol’s curse in the title.

Stunning petrified wood in the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, USA

It seemed to me the idea of tourists and souvenirs fit in very nicely with my interstellar luxury cruise ship Nebula Zephyr, and then since an entire deck of the ship is devoted to recreating a beach from the planet Tahumaroa Two, it was logical for the rock or ‘idol’ in question in my story to have come from that planet and need to go back there. This led me to ponder who in the crew would be likely to become involved with returning a rock and I decided it was time for the Cruise Director, Juli Shaeffer, to get her story. She’s been referenced many times in other STAR CRUISE stories but we really never met her.  I got to do all kinds of fun research into what exactly a cruise director does on Earth and then embellish and enhance for my starship.

I also got to stage a fun beach party on the ship as they prepare to arrive at the planet.

My next challenge was how to put a pet front and center in the story, and to engage them in a meaningful fashion with the action. I decided Juli and Third Officer Steve Aureli had unfinished romantic business, and that Steve has an elderly aunt traveling aboard this particular cruise. Of course Dian and Charrli, her dog, have a lot more backstory and aren’t what they seem on the surface. They’re veterans of the Sectors Special Forces Z Corps, which means Charrli is very smart and telepathic with Dian. Charrli also bonds with Juli and has an affinity for the rock or idol of the novel’s title. I liked the idea of making Charrli a darling little dog who could be carried around in a purse but who actually has all this ferocious military style training and abilities. He’s not afraid of anything, not even alien idols!

He and Moby the Ship’s cat from other STAR CRUISE stories might not get along too well but I pretty much left her out this time – I think she might have flounced off in disdain after someone let a dog on board and refused to show up for the book!

The excerpt:

Juli was traversing the beach venue on Level Five when Charrli scampered up to her, barking. She craned her head, searching the crowd for Dian but didn’t see her. “Are you lost?” she asked the dog.

Charrli ran a few steps, danced in a circle and yipped as if to demand she follow him.

“I don’t know what you want,” she said. “I can’t play right now—I’m working.”

The dog bounded to her side and carefully clamped his teeth on her hand, taking care not to break the skin as she stooped over to pet him. He growled.

Fearing perhaps Dian was ill, or in some kind of trouble, Juli looked around wildly for Steve, even as Charrli tugged harder. Deciding she could call for help on the senior officer channel if there was a problem but would feel silly if all the dog wanted was to play, Juli said, “All right, I’m coming. Show me the way.”

Charrli released her hand and bolted along the beach as if time was of the essence. Juli pursued him as fast as she could although he got a bit ahead of her. He was barking excitedly and circling an object in the sand as she quickened her pace.

And came to a dead halt, shocked at what lay in front of her.

Grab your copy of Pets in Space® 4 today! For a limited time, Pets in Space® 4 brings together today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors to help Hero-Dogs.org, a non-profit charity that helps our service veterans and first responders. 

More Info

USA Today Best Selling Author Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything.

Veronica’s Blog: https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/

Warleader

One of my favorite science fiction romances has been revamped and re-released by the awesome Susan Grant!
 
It has a strong heroine (she’s an admiral!), a sexy hero (he’s a warleader), lots of action, and a steamy enemy-to-lovers romance. Happy release day, Susan!
 
Galactic Rules of Engagement:
#1: Enemies must not become lovers.
Welcome to the Borderlands, where rules are meant to be broken…
 

“A riveting plot, compelling characters, and a heart wrenching love story.” —Linnea Sinclair, RITA winning author

Admiral Brit Bandar is the Coalition’s greatest starship commander. The outlaw known as the Scourge of the Borderlands taunted her in a galactic game of cat and mouse for years, but she never caught him. Now they’re supposed to make peace and serve together on the same starship? Not so easy to do when your sworn enemy turns out to be the hottest piece you’ve ever seen.

Warleader Finn Rorkken doesn’t care how many medals “Stone-Heart” Bandar has. He’s going to show her what it’s like to be pursued and caught by a master. Intergalactic peace is on the line, and if she wants his obedience, she’ll have to pay his price. Challenge accepted, Admiral.

“One of my favorite science fiction romances!” —Anna Hackett, USA Today bestselling author

Amazon

Our First Fictional Pet by Tiffany Roberts

Anna here, and happy to report I’m having an awesome release week! Embrace the Passion is now out and finding so many readers. And a huge bonus is that we are generating lots of support for the Hero Dogs charity!

Today, I’m welcoming husband and wife sci-fi romance writing duo Tiffany Roberts to talk about their Embrace the Passion story, Hunter of the Tide. They’re talking about the cutest-looking fish cat I’ve ever seen (okay, maybe the only fish cat I’ve ever seen, but still the cutest!)

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Throughout the books in our Kraken series, we’ve done our best to create vibrant alien environments both above and below the waves, but we knew our needs for Hunter of the Tide would be unique. The creatures we’re already established in the world of Halora were firmly planted either on land or in the sea (apart from the titular kraken, of course, who get to enjoy both), and none of them would quite work to suit the circumstances of our hero, Randall. As a human, Randall would spend most of his time in the air, but his life among the kraken meant he’d be in the water quite a bit, too. He needed a pet that could thrive with him in both environments.

We had a few criteria to meet in the creation of his companion—as mentioned, the animal needed to function well on land and at sea, it needed to be endearing to both the characters in the story and the readers, and it needed to be something that felt like a real, living part of Halora.

We looked to some earth creatures for inspiration, particularly semiaquatic mammals like seals and otters, but they weren’t quite alien enough as they were. Some inspirational artwork added the last bits we needed to create the prixxir, a semiaquatic species that lives along the coastlines of Halora. Part otter, part feline, and part fish, the prixxir present something vaguely familiar to Halora’s humans—a faint echo of the dogs and cats that were their ancestors’ companions on another world—while all the same having alien features.

The prixxir Randall befriends, Ikaros, is little more than a pup in Hunter of the Tide, but he demonstrates some of the best qualities a pet can have—loyalty, empathy, cunning, protectiveness, and affection. Ikaros is the first pet we’ve written in any of our stories (which is surprising to realize, now that we look back), but he was great fun to create and bring to life in the story. Though Hunter is about Randall and his relationship with Rhea, Ikaros provides the story’s heart and soul in true Pets in Space fashion, and we hope everyone enjoys reading about him as much as we enjoyed writing about him.

Hunter of the Tide Teaser

“He is eating so well,” Melaina said, twisting to grin at Rhea and Randall. Her attention immediately swung back to the prixxir. She offered another bite of fish, and the creature devoured the morsel, long tail waving eagerly.

“That’s good. It’ll help him heal faster,” Randall said.

Rhea watched her daughter pet the creature. Melaina’s face was aglow with delight, and her eyes sparkled with adoration. Rhea’s chest tightened; the youngling’s wanderlust had caused trouble over the last year, but seeing Melaina so happy filled Rhea’s hearts near to bursting.

And it was because of Randall. He’d made it possible by agreeing to care for the prixxir.

Ikaros chirruped, cocking its head and tilting it back when Melaina dangled a bit of fish higher up. The prixxir followed the moving food with large eyes, and the instant the meat came within its reach, it darted up to snatch the food out of Melaina’s fingers. She giggled.

“Once he’s fully grown, you won’t be able to hold food out of his reach anymore,” Randall said. “Not until you grow up, yourself.”

“When I’m as tall as you?” Melaina asked.

Randall glanced at Rhea, sweeping his gaze over her from tentacles to head, before looking back at Melaina. “You’ll probably be taller than me when you’re done.”

“Are you done growing? You don’t seem so tall for a male.”

Rhea smirked.

“Yeah, I’m all done growing. Maybe I’m not as big as Dracchus—”

“No one is as big as Dracchus,” Melaina interrupted.

Randall smiled. “But I make up for it by being the hairiest one in this whole place.”

Melaina laughed, pointing at Randall’s chest. “You are!”

“Everyone has to have something they’re good at.”

“Being the hairiest cannot be all you are good at,” Rhea said.

“I might have a few other talents,” he replied, eyes roving over Rhea’s body again. Her brows rose, and her lips curved into a smile. “But I usually let other people judge that for themselves.”

Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Bio: Tiffany Roberts, a husband and wife writing duo, are now actively living their dream creating happily-ever-afters one monster or alien at a time.

The pets are back in this new, exciting collection of eleven original stories from today’s hottest Science Fiction Romance authors! Feel the action and passion! https://www.petsinspaceantho.com

Future Crimes, Punishments, and Pets by Carol Van Natta

Today, I’m welcoming my fellow Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology author Carol over to my blog to talk about her story in the anthology! I really enjoy her Central Galactic Concordance series — space opera with romance for the win!

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My Central Galactic Concordance (CGC) space opera series has a grand, sprawling plot going on about evolutionary change and rebellion. I love all its twists and turns, but sometimes I like to take a break and visit the unexplored places in my CGC universe. Novellas, like CATS OF WAR in the Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology, give me the chance to explore background aspects and explore their implications for the galactic civilization at large.

My previous novella for last year’s Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 anthology, PET TRADE, centered on shady pet trade industry. For CATS OF WAR, the backdrop is the CGC’s Criminal Restitution Indenture and Obligation (CRIO) system.

The CGC has more than 500 member planets. Serious criminals (e.g., murder, rape, genocide, etc.) go to prison, or get mind erasure and menial jobs for life. In extraordinary cases, the CGC executes the criminal on a live simulcast feed throughout the civilized worlds. However, for lesser crimes that involve theft and property destruction, convicts must pay back the monetary damage, or be sent to the CRIO system to work off their obligation.

The CGC government partners with private industry and assigns indenturees to provide the labor. Like any other human-created institution, the CRIO system can be gamed, and there are rumors of hellholes.

One of the better CRIO installations is the setting for CATS OF WAR. The facility itself is in the middle a swamp. It filters rare-earth metals from mountain water runoff, which the government uses for building faster-than-light stardrives. On paper, it’s a win-win. Reality is more complicated.

The hero of CATS OF WAR, Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti, is the military liaison for indenturees who are veterans. He had no more choice in his assignment than did the heroine, indenturee Ferra Barray, who is doing restitution time for property damage.

Ordinarily, they’d have no reason to interact, but they are brought together by the unlikely arrival of two mysterious creatures who need their help—or might be the help that both Kedron and Ferra need when trouble comes to call.

Here’s a little excerpt from CATS OF WAR:

While Kedron wouldn’t miss the Argint d’Apa facility, he would miss the swamp. He’d disliked it at first, the same way most staffers still did, but it had grown on him. He’d spent time studying its ecology and gone with the biodiversity scientists on a few sample-collection expeditions. Living so close to untamed nature made it easier to understand how everything, from the majestic giant trees to annoying clouds of gnats, had a place. Maybe he did, too, even if he couldn’t see it.

He put away his uniform and decided to walk laps on the campus’s wide perimeter walkway, rather than spend another evening alone in the gym. Regulations restricted it to military personnel, and he’d never seen the CPS representative use it.

As much as possible, he kept his interactions with her in virtual space. As a mid-level telepath, she could read thoughts, and as a low-level sifter, she could affect brain chemicals, detect lies, and sense the use of active minder talents. Military personnel caught with minder talents earned an immediate, permanent transfer to the CPS’s Minder Corps.

Kedron’s minder talent wasn’t much, just an ability to use seemingly unrelated information to find things of interest, but he’d rather direct traffic for a city of half a billion or be an indenturee than work for the Minder Corps. Too many private family stories warned of how badly the Minder Corps treated its personnel. He’d learned to hide his talent well enough to beat the CPS Testing Center for mandatory age twelve and seventeen tests, and random ones since, but some sifters were better than the equipment. Fortunately, minder talents in the patterner class were hard for even high-level sifters to detect.

He pulled on pants and a long-sleeved top to ward off biting insects and stepped into one of his few indulgences, custom-tailored, waterproof, adaptive boots. Even with myriad modern transportation options, Ground Div gunnin, from the lowest ranker to High Command commodores, spent a lot of time walking, running, and marching. Good boots made all the difference.

He looked out the north-facing window of his quarters to check the weather and the path. Non-essential indenturees were on lockdown, and half the staff was busy, so he wasn’t surprised to see it deserted. The tall perimeter fence’s horizontal power lines beyond the road-glass pathway glowed faintly as reminders of their presence. The overhead and glass path lights blinked on and off erratically, then stayed off. Twilight and mold sometimes messed with the sensors.

Shadowed movement caught his eye. Someone carrying a shallow, rectangular crate stepped off the path toward the exterior powered fence. The figure knelt right in front of the fence and set the crate down. After furtive looks left and right, the figure slid something under the fence.

 Read more in CATS OF WAR, one of eleven new, original stories in Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

10% of the first month’s profits goes to Hero-Dogs.org

Story blurb for CATS OF WAR:

A repair technician must convince a disgraced military sub-captain to help her save two special cats before trouble engulfs them all.

Military Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring in his previous assignment. He’s more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he’s told her, because technically, he’s her warden.

Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She’s lucked into a tech repair job, and If she keeps her head down, she’ll be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local boss behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she’s running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.

Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn’t know what she’ll do if she can’t convince Tauceti to take them with him and keep them until she’s free to come for them.

When trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them. Find out what happens in this exciting stand-alone novella from Carol Van Natta’s award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.



Anthology Blurb for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Pets in Space is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity.

Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders.

Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 today!

PETS Website 

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About the Author:

USA TODAY bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Carol Van Natta shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, all of whom would love to travel to the stars.