Book Review: Across Worlds: Collision

Title: Across Worlds: Collision
Author: S. A. Snow
Genre: mixed gender sci-fi erotica adventure

 

Jane expected six months undercover to be hard; she expected it to be lonely and bleak. She didn’t expect to find love.

Jane Butler, a CIA operative, is assigned the task of infiltrating the Xanthians and determining if they’re a threat to humanity. Going undercover as a Xanthian mate, she boards the transport ship and meets Usnavi—her new mate. After spending six days traveling through space, Jane is ecstatic to explore the Xanthian station and soon sets out to complete her mission. The only problem? Usnavi—and the feelings she is quickly developing.

Fumbling their way through varying sexual expectations, cooking catastrophes, and cultural differences, they soon discover life together is never boring. As Jane and Usnavi careen into a relationship neither of them expected, Jane uncovers dark secrets about the Xanthians and realizes she may no longer be safe. When it becomes clear she’s on her own, Jane is forced to trust and rely on Usnavi. Simultaneously struggling with her mission, her feelings for Usnavi, and homesickness, Jane faces questions she never imagined she would have to answer.

Full disclosure: I am acquainted with the author, worked on the novel during its first draft stage, and received an advance reader’s copy. I have not been paid in exchange for this review.

I admit I’m not generally a fan of erotica—not because I dislike reading sexy, steamy novels but because, well, they’re often boring. (My apologies to people who write erotica). That may be a function of poor writing, unfortunately. Some authors seem to believe that if they can write good smut, that should carry an entire novel’s plot.

The good news is that Across Worlds: Collision fulfills the requirement to be hot as Hades while not skimping on excellent plot. It also features two of my other favorite elements: romance and humor, often both at the same time. There is plenty of action, adventure, and intergalactic intrigue to satisfy even someone as picky as I am. No worries, though—there is enough well-crafted sensuality to keep genuine fans of erotica turning the pages (and dog-earring a few on the way).

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/435337

 

 

 

After chasing around puppies and corralling kittens, S.A. Snow flips open her BSG replicated console and enters her mysterious world of imagination. Seeking to escape the rigors of her day jobs, she enters flight mode and powers her engines full-speed ahead.

A prolific writer of non-traditional erotica, S.A. Snow grew up on a small alpaca farm high in the Andes Mountains. A lover of yoga and meditation, she spends her free time constructing alien space stations, organizing werewolf governments, and cataloging all episodes of Star Trek in order of technical soundness. A firm believer that one need not choose between Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas, she also has closely examines all Star Wars movies in order to determine which episode is more factually based.

S.A. Snow writes truth and only truth, factoring in all evidences she can find. She writes only about parallel universes she has personally visited, and believes if something about her books isn’t shocking, she’s not effectively telling the story.

 

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Giving this Round of Words in 80 Days thing a try

I thought about it. I considered it in April. Then I considered jumping in when that one finished. But I hedged, and I missed the first week. I don’t normally like to come late to a party; I feel foolish walking into everyone’s established conversations. But I’m making an exception because I need to stop doing this alone.

So, here I am. I’m committed to making some positive changes in my writing life. I’ve always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of writer, and I don’t expect that to change. I don’t outline. I don’t make many notes. Heck, I don’t even jot down ideas as they occur. (Instead, I mostly just complain that writing on my phone is a pain and my best ideas show up in the shower.)

I confess to not having enjoyed NaNoWriMo due to the crunched time and the expectation that I’m going to have some semblance of a (badly-written) novel at the end of that time. I don’t write a story start to finish, chapter-by-chapter. I tend to go, “Ooh, there’s this thing I want to happen between these two people here. Gotta put that in!” Sometimes, I write the end first. More often than not, those elements change. But I like having them there to play with. All of that makes NaNoWriMo hard for me. Last year, I was a NaNo Rebel—I wrote 50,000 words, but they were part of an established novel that I was stalling on.

Instead of stressing over word count and “winning,” I’m trying out the ROW80. I can make reasonable, manageable goals for myself while still holding out hope for the bigger picture. It makes sense to me!

Here are my goals for the rest of the 80 days:

1. Write an hour a day on my new novel. My hope is to finish it, but if I don’t, at least this gives me a good chunk.

2. Post something on my blog once a week that isn’t a WIPpet (snippet of my work in progress) or an ROW80 update. I don’t have anything specific in mind, though I do plan to write several book reviews.

3. Spend 30 minutes a day reading an actual book (all right, probably a Kindle book and not paper, but close enough). I’ve gotten into the bad habit of just messing around playing mindless games before bed. I could take the exact same 30 minutes and read something instead.

Those feel like goals I can work with. So far,just going over my last week, I have managed only one of those—I wrote for about an hour (at least) every day on my current novel-in-progress. Here’s to getting on track and making these goals my priority for the next 73 days, right?

If you’re interested in following my progress, I check in on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you want to play along, with or without linking up, go to the ROW80 blog. Best of luck, and keep writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Unhelpful Thoughts

It’s that time again—another Wednesday, another week down. So far, it’s been a little challenging, balancing writing and editing with having both kids home. Next week, the kids are at camp, so that means a whole 7 hours a day to work. Good thing, because I keep having projects land in my lap. At the moment, I’m working on stuff with several other writers: three novels consistently, one inconsistently, and three fan fictions (those are also inconsistent, though).

I settled on Passing on Faith for the new title. Others seemed to like it, and I’m partial to its lovely multi-layered meaning to the story.

I thought for this week, I’d give you the bit that immediately follows last week’s snippet. I posted the beginning of this scene some time ago. In case you’ve forgotten, I’ll recap: Micah has gone to the lake house he inherited. His neighbor stopped by. Micah’s first impression was to be caught off-guard (Cat’s irritating, but he is adorable)—until he opened his mouth and Micah just wanted him to close it again.

Just for fun, my math is 9 (for the day) + 1 + 4 (for the year) = 14 sentences. Um…I could’ve just used the year, actually. But it’s more fun and convoluted this way. Which kind of describes Cat, so it fits.

Cat’s mouth twitched like he might smile; he didn’t, but his eyes twinkled. He turned around and retreated up the walkway. Micah was certain he saw Cat sway his hips flirtatiously just a little, but by the time he’d convinced himself, the moment was gone. Cat rounded the front hedges and disappeared from view.

Cute, a traitorous part of Micah’s brain supplied helpfully. He forced the rational portion of his mind to answer that thought with, No. He’s more like a damn chipmunk. Right…a sexy chipmunk. Wait. No. Not at all. That just sounds wrong. Plus, he’s too young, as well as nosy and annoying.

Micah let out a frustrated growl and unlocked the front door.

For a bit of clarification (before someone comments to that effect), when Micah says “too young,” he doesn’t mean Cat is a child or even barely legal. Micah’s a couple of years younger than I am, and Cat’s twenty-seven—about an eight- or nine-year difference. There’s nothing creepy going on, but there’s a reason Micah’s wary of the age gap that I’m not telling you yet.

WIPpet Wednesdays are hosted by K. L. Schwengel, so be sure to go see what she’s up to on her page. If you want to join us, post a bit of your current WIP, associate it somehow with the date, and add it here. Don’t forget to read the other entries and leave some love on the authors’ blogs. Happy writing!

WIPpet Wednesday: Nosy Neighbor

Happy Wednesday! Sorry I flaked out last week. I knew I didn’t have time to post or read the other entries, so I skipped it. Good thing I did—I ended up with all five of my beta-reading projects in my inbox at once! I also managed to get my second draft of my novel back to the publisher. Whew! Now that those things are done, I’m back to working on my new-ish story (the Puss in Boots one). Or, rather, I’m staring at the screen and wishing the words would magically appear.

I’m renaming this novel. The working title was A Worthy Inheritance, which is cheesy and doesn’t fit the tone of the story. But I had to name my file something. So now I’m deciding between Passing on Faith and A Passable Faith. The reason behind both is the double meaning, which is very important to the story. If you have a preference, let me know in the comments.

When we last left Micah, he had just met his neighbor—the mightily irritating Cat. We join them again, still on Micah’s front porch. My math is pathetic today: 7 + 2 + 2 (from 2014) = 11 short paragraphs.

Micah hesitated He scrubbed the side of his face, trying to think of an explanation; he felt tired and far older than his years. After a minute or two he said, “I inherited this house, and I haven’t been here in—” he calculated quickly in his head “—twenty-two years. I’m pretty sure no one else has been here in at least the last few.”

Cat nearly choked. “What? That’s crazy! Well, now that you’re here, I’ll show you around. You’ll like Debbie, she’s great. And Angie and Mark, in the house at the end of the lane, and—”

Micah cut him off. “I’m really only here to fix this house and sell it,” he said, trying to make it clear the conversation was over. “I don’t plan to live here.”

“Oh. Okay, then.” Cat almost sounded disappointed. “How long will you be staying?”

“Just for a couple months. I have a job to get back to.” Micah turned toward the door.

“Really? What kind of job?”

Micah ground his teeth together to keep from swearing at Cat. He lowered the hand holding his key and glanced over his shoulder. “I’m a teacher.”

“Ooh!” Cat’s face lit up. “Yeah? What do you teach?”

After taking a deep, calming breath, Micah replied, “Fifth grade. Look, I really don’t want to talk right now. I need to get inside and see what state the house is in.”

“Got it. Well, I’ll leave you to it, then. See you around?”

Micah shrugged, relieved to be nearly rid of Cat and his incessant questions. “Probably.” Under his breath, he muttered, “I’ll be here all damn summer long.”

Yeahhhhh. Is it wrong for me to be glad he’s not my neighbor?

All the thanks to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. Link up with us here, and don’t forget to enjoy the other entries.

WIPpet Wednesday: Unnecessary Step

Why, hello there, Wednesday! You sure crept up on me.

Today, my son’s school is having a fundraising event for cancer. His jazz band is playing again, so a bit later I’m off to his school to hear them.

This week’s WIPpet is from a scene that gave me a lot of trouble. It felt dry, so one of my betas suggesting adding heat to the argument. I struggle to write good fictional fights—it’s why I write love stories and not action! My beta was right, though, so I added a lot more tension.

When I changed the scene, I realized that I had an angsty teenager on my hands who was likely to say some things for the purpose of being as hurtful as possible. I’ve been back and forth on this one, and I’ve changed it more than once. I sensed it would be true to his character to use a particularly awful homophobic slur. However, I felt that it would be inappropriate and offensive for me to actually write it, for a number of reasons. So I didn’t; I implied. Today’s bit is the rest of that argument.

The title of the post is what my kids say whenever someone has taken things too far. Simple math: today’s the 18th, so 1 + 8 = 9 dialog paragraphs.

The blood drained from Alex’s face; he put up a hand. “Don’t you dare ever call me that again.”

Michael made an irritated sound in his throat. “I’m done listening to anything you have to say.”

“Was there a time when you did?” Alex snapped. He wanted to take the words back the moment they left his mouth.

Michael’s expression darkened. “Screw you,” he spat.

“Your mom wouldn’t be too happy if she heard you say that to me.”

“You know what? I don’t care. I don’t need you to tell me what to do, and neither does Mom.” He pushed away from the wall and stepped close to Alex. “Don’t you get it? We don’t need you.”

Alex stared at him, his mouth open, trying to find words. “I—”

Michael huffed and rolled his eyes. “I’m going to wait outside.” He turned around and stalked off.

“You’re still wearing your tap shoes!” Alex called after him; Michael gave him the finger.

Be sure to go here and read the other entries. You can add your own if you like—just post a bit of your WIP, connect it to the date by whatever tangled means necessary, and enter the link in the collection. Thanks again to K. L. Schwengel for hosting!

How Should She Be Treated?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since I posted about the “date your daughter” video. While I stand by everything I said, and I don’t believe I need to apologize or clarify anything, I do have some further thoughts.

I am not opposed to parents spending time with their children. I’m not opposed to dressing up in fancy clothes, if that’s what the child wants. I may think it’s weird to play on the playground in prom attire, but let’s face it—was there really any playing going on? That whole video was staged, not a real “date.” I challenged the heteronormativity/two-parent family model, but I also suggested that quality one-on-one time with our kids is a good thing.

After some more thinking, I concluded that one of the things that makes me feel creepy and strange about it is the idea that dads must show their daughters how a man should treat them. This is pure nonsense for several reasons.

1. It assumes dating and marriage, rather than personal growth and development, are the goals.

The assumption is that every girl is going to grow up to become a wife (to a man). I understand that culture too well. When I was in college, there was an unspoken rule that many young women were not there for college degrees but to find mates, or that the degree was secondary. Not every woman wants to get married.

2. It assumes heterosexuality.

By teaching girls how men should treat them, it sends the message that relationships with men are expected. This is awkward at best when a girl is not interested in boys. It’s destructive at worst.

3. It assumes every person the parents call “daughter” is a girl and every person the parents call “son” is a boy.

These daddy-daughter date nights with reinforced gender roles are hurting gender non-conforming, genderqueer, and transgender individuals. That applies to both people presumed boys and people presumed girls.

4. It assumes families configured other than Mom + Dad + Kids are dysfunctional and inadequate.

Some families have a single mother. Some have two mothers. Some are formed in other ways. If there is no man living in a particular household, that is not some automatic death knell for a girl’s future dating life. Plenty of women grow up in households with dads who don’t date them, and they adjust to being wives and partners just fine.

5. It assumes all dads have to do is show up for date night.

If a father is present in his children’s lives in other ways, it isn’t necessary to make up for it by having the occasional night out. The failure to nurture, protect, and teach our kids cannot be overcome with dates. If a father behaves in destructive ways otherwise, date night won’t help. Similarly, living with integrity and showing love to our kids on a daily basis does not need to be supplemented with dates. The primary purpose of one-on-one time should be because it’s enjoyable, not because it’s a teachable moment.

6. It assumes women cannot figure out for themselves what they want in a relationship.

My biggest question is why any woman would need a man to teach her how men should treat her. If she can’t figure out for herself what she wants, she has bigger concerns than can be cured by dating her dad. It makes it sound like girls are too ignorant, unintelligent, weak, foolish, or innocent to have any idea at all what they want in a potential partner. I have never heard of a boy being taken out by his mother in order to “teach” him what he should expect from a date. So why should anyone believe girls are less capable of figuring these things out?

I find the culture of Daddy-Daughter Dating to be highly controlling. It’s yet another way to transition a girl from being under daddy’s care to being under a husband’s care. It is an erasure of her personhood, her autonomy, and her sexuality. Not only that, it erases her mother as an influencing force. If a girl really needs help learning about healthy relationships, why is that not the territory of her mother? Why can’t her mom help her learn “how she should be treated” on a date?

Once again, I have a much better idea. Let’s teach our children how to respect themselves and others. Let’s help them set healthy boundaries for themselves and reinforce that they need to be aware of other people’s boundaries. Let’s help them develop as people first—to discover their interests, passions, hobbies, talents. If we put relationships in the context of helping them become well-rounded, we eliminate the emphasis on “someday, you’ll be appropriately straight-married.” Instead, they discover the kinds of people they want in their lives—whether romantically or in friendship—without the need to “practice” with their parents.

Date Your Daughter

This video appeared in my Facebook feed today. I normally don’t bother with this stuff anymore, but I was bored and curious, so I clicked.

If you don’t feel like watching, here’s the summary: Guy getting all dressed up. For some reason, he’s with another guy, and they’re talking about whatever is going on like it’s a big deal. Guy #1 says whoever “she” is will be surprised. It sounds for all the world like he’s about to propose marriage (though from the title of the video you know already that’s not true). We follow him to another location, where he picks up not an adult woman but a little girl who turns out to be his daughter. He proceeds to tell her how cute she is (she says she gets it from her mother). Then they go on their “date,” all dressed up, to play at the playground. At the end, the text says, “You’ll always be her first love.”

Ew.

The first thing that grabs me is how utterly creepy this is due to the common aspect of conservative Christian culture where dads “date” their daughters and daughters make purity pledges. Now, I’m not saying that’s what’s going on in the video; only that it reminds me of purity culture. Aside from the unnecessary sexualization surrounding the “date” concept, this puts dads as a place holder for their daughters’ future husbands. What an absolutely inappropriate practice, a sheer removal of her agency in her own life.

I also found myself wondering why the hell they needed to get into formal wear to play on the playground. Have these people ever seen kids at playgrounds? Mine always come home dirty and sweaty. And fancy dresses are not a whole lot of fun for climbing and running and jumping. Couldn’t dad and daughter just have gone out to play without all the hoopla?

Additionally, what about a girl who doesn’t have a dad in her life? Perhaps he died or disappeared or she’s only ever had two moms. What then? Should her mom or moms hire a dad for the day? Or is she under the care of her grandfather or an uncle? On the flip side, a girl might have more than one dad. Is she expected to do this with both a father and a stepfather if she’s close to both of them? In fact, is she even allowed to? Do both her gay dads have to put on tuxes for her? And is that simultaneous or one at a time? I have so many questions.

We do not do this to our sons. We do not encourage mommies to dress up in pearls and ball gowns and “date” our sons. (Though if we did, it would look vastly different—it would be on the sons to pretend to be grown up men, courting their ladies.) In fact, we think boys with this attachment to their moms is unhealthy and strange. It’s even in our language. Being a “daddy’s girl” is a good thing, a sign that dad is the most important man in her life. Being a “mama’s boy” is exactly the opposite—evidence of an immature little boy in a man’s body who can’t let go (or his mother won’t let go).

I’m going to take it one step further and say that we don’t encourage moms to “date” daughters and dads to “date” sons, either. That speaks volumes to the fact that it does indeed have romantic/sexual overtones. If we were to encourage moms to “date” their daughters (and I mean more than a girls’ day out to the spa), we would have to acknowledge both the pre-sexualization and the homophobia present in the “date” concept.

We would also have to acknowledge the gender-role norming. Dads are certainly encouraged to spend time with their sons, but not ever by doing anything as “gay” as getting dressed up in tuxes and going on a date or as “feminine” as treating themselves to a day at the spa or a round of shoe shopping. (Believe me, I know plenty of guys—gay and straight—who would have loved the chance to do this with their dads!)

I’d like to propose a far less creepy alternative (with far less messiness than figuring out who gets to/has to play Dad-in-Shining-Armor). How about we eliminate the “date” concept entirely? Maybe we just spend time one-on-one with our kids, doing things they enjoy. Maybe instead of a surprise day of playing playground prom we get into our grubby clothes and hang out with them at the park. Maybe we listen to them and find out what their interests are and then find ways to enjoy their hobbies together.

Here’s an idea: Let’s talk about it and share ideas for fun things to do with our kids. If you’re a parent (even if your kids are grown), what do you like to do with your kids? What do your kids enjoy?