Got #editing? #SF #SFR

If you’ve read my past editorials at SFRQ, you’ll know that I have always been an independent/self-publishing advocate. I believe that independent publishing offers avenues for other and less common voices to be heard and that readers are hungry for stories from different perspectives. You only need to see the number of highly popular series coming out places like Netflix, Hulu, HBO (and now, Amazon!) to know that “independence” and “popularity” aren’t mutually exclusive. Could you have imagined one of the regular network channels producing The Sopranos, The Wire or Breaking Bad? And let’s not even mention Game of Thrones!

As a result of their tremendous and innovative work, nobody throws brickbats at Hulu, HBO or Netflix anymore, but people still disparage independently-published books. And, unfortunately, one flaw that dogs such books is the editorial quality of the prose. In a nutshell, there ain’t any.

The “independent networks” discovered that they could compete with the Big Boys if they had the same production values as the competition. Pair that with compelling writing and you have a winner on your hands. It’s something that the independent networks have learned, but something that I think still needs to happen across the independent publishing landscape as well.

Which brings me to the focus of this post. Finally. 🙂 Besides being the Chief Editor of SFRQ for three years, and a writer of SFR for ten, I’ve also been a technical writer and editor for…oh dear…more than 30 years. I feel so old having said that. LOL Despite this amount of experience, I have never thought that I could publish my own books without any kind of editorial help, which is why you’ll see two other names in the back matter of my books. They’re my editors.

I’d like to throw their (and my) expertise open to you. J’s and my business, Challis Tower, is now taking on clients for its editorial services. While most other freelance editorial services offer one editor, we’re offering…three! That’s right. Three editors for the price of one.

There are a couple of caveats. One, we only offer two packages in order to keep the team’s process (and this process spans continents!) flowing as smoothly as possible:

  • Our Manuscript Critique service involves two editors, of which I’m one
  • Our standard (and only) Editing Package involves three editors, of which I’m one

The other caveat is that we’re currently only open to writers with manuscripts in the following genres:

  • Science/speculative fiction
  • Science fiction romance
  • Science fiction with romantic elements

If you’ve decided to take the independent path of publishing, then it’s up to you to make your story as flawless as possible. The better the quality, the more appreciative your readership. And here’s an opportunity to run your prose past three editors, all of whom have editorial experience in the SF/SFR genres.

If you’re interested in having your manuscript looked over by up to three editors at a single rate, or if you have any questions, you can go to the Challis Tower Services page or drop me a line at editing #at% ChallisTowerBooks #dot& com

We’d love to hear from you!

Kaz and the gang at Challis Tower

Guest Post & Giveaway by Laurel Wanrow, Author of PASSAGES

Galaxy Express 2.0 welcomes author Laurel Wanrow, author of the recently released sci-fi romance PASSAGES. She’s here with a guest post, information about her book, and details of a giveaway!

The Mystery of Transporters

I grew up watching Star Trek, so of course was familiar with transporters…wasn’t I? Without a second thought, I wrote a sort of transporter into my sci-fi Passages and called it a Conducer, from the Latin conducere meaning “bring together.” Yet when I moved on from the draft stage and began to put more detail into the story, I looked up the Star Trek transporters to find out how those writers explained the machine’s operation.

There is nothing to look up.

If you have ever tried to find the episode in which they explain transporters, there isn’t one. According to Wikipedia, the Star Trek producers needed a simpler, cheaper solution to filming a starship landing, and devised a transporter for the pilot, purportedly thinking it was an original idea. Later, The Fly was pointed out to Gene Roddenberry.

Still, I liked this method of travel and it made sense that a futuristic race coming to the aid of a ravaged planet would use shortcuts for traveling to the planet. “Instant travel” made it possible for the main setting of the story to be off in a remote and rather unique corner of the planet, yet the characters could arrive at their headquarters in a minute. Also, I’d discovered my hero Quinn has a knack for “rearranging particles for movement.” I’d been playing with this idea of futuristic particle physics since seeing particle tracks in a Wilson’s cloud chamber, and wanted to Quinn to have easy opportunities to use his talent in the story.

Wilson’s cloud chamber with visible particle tracks (short, thick: α-particles; long, thin: β-particles)

So with no precedent for how it worked, I forged ahead with my Conducer, describing it as a particle accelerator set along a corridor lined with five sets of gray plates that one must walk through. On remote posts, Conducers start up and operate by reading book titles. Of course, I chose novels with ways of entering other worlds, a fun nod to some of my favorites.

Excerpt from Quinn’s point of view:

And then it was our turn. We hefted our travel packs and entered the small limestone station. The plates of the particle accelerator hummed along the thirty-foot corridor, making the air ripple between the five sets of wall-mounted gray rectangles.

Graen offered our verification paper to the operator perched at the console, then pulled it back at the last instant. “Did he get it right?” she asked with false concern. “Stranaar? On the coast?”

I slid behind her, peering at the paper she held to me while edging closer to the raised line of yellow stones bisecting the slate floor, the actual Conducer entrance. I needed extra time between the first set of plates to start the leap. Afterward, all we had to do was reach the end. Together.

“Did he get our town entered right?” Graen waved the slip and fidgeted from foot to foot, effectively positioning us at the yellow threshold.

I stepped across. Energy flowed over my body. With a thought, I connected to it.

Graen said, “Young man, check this, would you?”

“Yes.” The operator snatched the paper and studied it. He repeated an impatient “yes” and bent to input the destination that would lock us into going to the Stranaar station.

Graen clasped my hand. We walked, each step dissolving us as I hijacked the power we’d need for our cross-leap, a method our people used to make direct connections to a particular destination. Six steps, seven, eight—


My adrenaline spiked, but we couldn’t stop. Wouldn’t. Nine steps, ten. Halfway through the array of plates, halfway dissolved. Graen faltered, then slipped from my grasp. What the—?

I shoved my molasses-dense particles into solidity and turned around.

Between the third and fourth sets of plates, a Blackguard blocked Graen, his sword waving in one outstretched hand, the other batting at her loosely collected figure. A weird sense of déjà vu hit me, muddling my mind and breaking my concentration. This has happened before, in another place, in another leap more urgent than this one.


Blurb for PASSAGES:

“Find someone you can trust.”

For decades, Eve and her fellow electorgs—part human, part machine—have worked on the quiet planet of Aarde, beating back toxic spores that threaten to poison the native people. When the new commander halts work right before a deadly spore release, Eve frantically plots to protect the villagers she considers friends and family.

On the run after an ambush, Quinn holds a secret that nearly got him killed. If only he knew what it was. Though the attack scrambled his memories, Quinn is sure of one thing—he can’t trust the electorgs. But they know information he desperately needs to puzzle out who wants him dead, and why.

With the fate of life on Aarde in the balance, the logic of joining forces with Eve overrides Quinn’s fears…and erupts into an attraction that could prove fatal for both of them.

Because the planet’s commander might just be Quinn himself.

Follow the Passages Blog Tour to read more science & fantasy tidbits!

Below are the bloggers participating in the Blog Tour for Passages. Each stop will have excerpts and tidbits about the science & fantasy, and a chance to win the tour prizes: a $10 Amazon eGC or a signed paperback of Passages. (Giveaway open to US/CAN)

Jan 26: Travel to a Mineral Hot Springs on Vicki Batman’s Handbags, Books, Whatever…

Jan 27: Goudrogen Crystals on Jessica E. Subject’s Happily Ever Afters Across the Universe

Jan 27: Hornworts on C. D. Hersh’s Two Hearts Creating Everlasting Love Stories

Jan 29-31: Thermophiles on The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor

Jan 29: Author Interview with Mia Jo Celeste on Other World Diner

Jan 30: Moons and Rising Waters with Laurie A. Green on Spacefreighters Lounge

Jan 31: Creating a Character’s Home Planet—in a Red Dwarf Star System on Pippa Jay’s Adventures in Scifi

Jan 31: What kind of a book is it? With Kira Decker on Toni Decker Books

Jan 31: Lacuna, a Bit of Realism, a Bit of Magic on Author J. C. Nelson’s Urban Fantasy and More

Feb 1: Resolving your story problems…including knocking out a pesky spore? on Riley Moreland’s Whiskey With My Book

Feb 3: What do you think of when I say “cyborg”? on Veronica Scott’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog

Feb 4: The Mystery of Transporters on Heather Massey’s Galaxy Express 2.0

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Passages is on preorder & sale for .99 through February 5th.

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About the author

Before kids, Laurel Wanrow studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower walks and answers calls about the snake that wandered into your garage. During a stint of homeschooling, she turned her writing skills to fiction to share her love of the land, magical characters and fantastical settings.

When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. Though they live on the East Coast, a cherished family cabin in the Colorado Rockies holds Laurel’s heart.

Find Laurel at:

Website| Twitter| Facebook | Pinterest| Goodreads

Announcing the 5th Annual SFR Galaxy Awards!

The 5th Annual SFR Galaxy Awards has launched!

This award celebrates the standout books in sci-fi romance and is based on a fun, festive approach since the judges create award categories based on criteria of their own choosing. Visit the SFR Galaxy Awards blog to view this year’s winners and discover new books!

Re-Release Announcement: Heather Massey’s DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS

I received the rights back to my short story DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS and am re-releasing it! This story was previously published with SilkWords and featured a “choose your own path” structure. I revised DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS to make it a linear story.

Here’s the blurb:

Rumors of bizarre scientific experiments on planet Bali draws Fortean, Inc. agent Lucia Alvarez to investigate. She’s on a mission to crack the mystery behind Stavanger Corporation’s derelict research facility. But once there, she discovers an even greater danger—the man who once broke her heart.

Derek Pearson was everything Lucia wanted in a man—athletic, genuine, accomplished lover—until the day he inexplicably disappeared from her life. Unable to track him down, she threw herself into her work, desperate to forget she’d ever met him.

Now he’s on Bali and no longer the man she once knew. Can they overcome their fractured bond to join forces and solve the mystery, or will Derek’s dark secret tear them apart?


Learn more about this story!


As a longtime fan of strange phenomena (like the kind chronicled in Fortean Times magazine), SF stories that explore genetic engineering, the film ALIEN (especially H.R. Giger’s designs), action-adventure stories, and John Carpenter’s THE THING, I basically wanted to mash up all those interests into an entertaining story. A romance involving a pair of reunited lovers provided the perfect framework for the premise, plus it was something new for me to try.

One thing the heroine loves about the hero, and vice versa:

Derek loves Lucia’s take-charge attitude. Lucia loves Derek’s commitment to protecting the ones he loves.

Why DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS has a sci-fi romance setting:

My goal was to explore themes related to corporate corruption as well as how corporations and their policies frequently endanger people. The science fiction romance setting, with its speculative “What if…” approach, allowed me to explore what might happen if a powerful corporation became involved in devious scientific experiments. Who would be exploited by their efforts? How far would they go to cover up their actions?

The science fiction romance setting also offers a superb opportunity to create a smart, compelling action heroine, so I took it! Superhuman characters with extraordinary talents is another fun concept, so I decided to offer readers a hero with unique abilities.

Sci-fi romance often features couples who are best able to save the day in a position of united strength. When they fall in love along the way, it raises the stakes and allows readers to indulge in the concept of love against all odds.


DANGEROUS RENDEZVOUS is available at Smashwords and Amazon. Visit for more information. Thanks for your interest!

Romantic SF Alert: ACROSS THE REALM by Isobel Mitton

I received a heads up via publisher Blake Moore and Bond regarding author Isobel Mitton‘s ACROSS THE REALM (Across the Realm Series #1). Seems like it might appeal to sci-fi romance/SF romance readers who enjoy forbidden romances, so here’s the cover and blurb!

Set over 600 years in the future, this is the first book in the Across the Realm series! Enter an Earth physically torn between the Northern Hemisphere and the South. Two worlds divided by a boiling sea and on a collision course as ideologies fight for survival in the face of a fate neither side can tackle alone.

Sweeping elegantly between Northern and Southern perspectives, we meet 阿斯卡里 (Askari) Naledi Choto and Colonel Gregory Douglas two people on opposing sides of the war and with whom the bond is instant. Isobel Mitton, seamlessly weaves in filial love, brutality, betrayal, forbidden romance and loyalty in a tale that stands uniquely on it’s [sic] own.

This tale is an exciting and subtle exploration of a reality where segregation and communal living have both become necessities for humanity’s survival and hence have been made to work! It is a tale that shows the truth of the human spirit when faced with adversity.

Isobel Mitton has created epic story stretching across all the continents from Asia to Africa, from America to Europe, with characters that make this book impossible to put down. Follow our heroes, as they navigate a war between two polar civilizations, traversing twists and turns that will leave you wondering “which side you are on?!”


Book two in the series, WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR, will be released on February 6, 2017. Watch the book trailer.

For more information about author Isobel Mitton, visit her Web site and follow her on Twitter: @IsobelMitton