Today, I am very excited to welcome not one, not two, but THREE fabulous SciFi Romance authors to Smart Girls Love SciFi Romance. Laurie A. Green, Pauline Baird Jones and Veronica Scott. They are here to tell us about the Science Fiction Romance Brigade project – Portals. First, here is Laurie to tell you what to expect with Portals.
MAKING OF THE PORTALS PROJECT
You may have already heard the buzz about Portals or this might be the first time it’s come to your attention. The idea behind the project is to help readers find Science Fiction Romance books they love by offering a free sampling of a wide variety of story openers. Here’s the concept summary from the official project unveiling:
The SFR Brigade community of writers is planning a FREE four volume set of Science Fiction Romance beginnings ~ and only beginnings ~ of 40 books by 40 different authors!
This isn’t an anthology, it’s a transport to whisk you away to a host of exciting SFR worlds. We know you’re going to enjoy the trip, and you’re sure to find many amazing adventures you’ll want to get lost in.
The first volume has an anticipated release date of May 17th, with a new volume releasing approximately every two weeks after that.
As you can imagine, this project required a few dedicated individuals to spearhead the efforts. Here’s how it all happened, in their own words.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Pauline Baird Jones – Production Manager
Laurie asked me to write a post about how the Portals Project came to be.
Usually when you tell a story, you start at the beginning, you share the interesting points along the way, and then segue into the Big Ending. But the beginning is hard to find in the tangled story of this project, so I’ll just say…
I let my fingers type something like, “I saw where this group of authors has a first chapters thing that they give away for free. We should do that.”
I shouldn’t have been surprised by the level of enthusiasm this simple statement garnered. There are a lot of positives in a project like this, the main ones being:
1. No one has to write something new.
2. No one has to keep track of payments to various authors for a free project.
I can’t say I planned to find myself in the middle of all the mayhem (though I shouldn’t be surprised since mayhem is my go-to place). I just tossed the idea out as something that sounded like it might be a good promo tool for the Science Fiction Romance Brigade author/members.
I’m still not sure how I ended up herding forty authors and their first chapters into four volumes with staggered release dates over the next two months.
Yes, I am officially crazy.
But… despite the crazy, the three of us spearheading this effort, Laurie A. Green (founder of SFRB), Veronica Scott (USA Today Columnist) and I (lowly author), are so excited by the surge of support and excitement being generated within the group. Other efforts at raising the visibility of the genre are spinning off this one, including some anthologies.
There is a growing feeling that maybe it is finally going to happen. That the Big Ending will actually be an amazing beginning as science fiction romance takes off as a Genre to be Reckoned With out there in the wider world of readers.
The 800+ members of the Brigade love the genre for as many reasons as there are members, but mostly we’re hoping that these collections will help readers discover the amazing variety—and just plain fun—to be found in reading your next great adventure in science fiction romance.
In addition to the collections, there is a dedicated readers group, the SFRB Fan Page, and the official Portals Website. If you want to try, or just read more, SFR, we are here to help you find it!
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: DESIGN COVERS FOR THIS FOUR-HEADED MONSTER!
Veronica Scott – Cover Coordinator and General Consultant
I thoroughly enjoy the cover art process, in partnership with the wonderful Fiona Jayde, who creates my science fiction romance covers. It’s time consuming, searching through various stock photo sites for a few candidate heroes, which is where she and I usually begin. (Yes, hard work but someone has to do it, ahem.) Often we go back and forth a few times, with Fiona patiently explaining to me why the various guys with whom I fell in love-lust-or-like really don’t work for a romance cover.
So imagine me tackling this process for what is essentially a book with thirty-nine other authors! When the Portals project was first conceived by members of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, I volunteered to come up with a cover that could be used for four volumes of differing heat levels, and which would do the best job possible of representing the content.
Fiona was up for the challenge. We had some conditions, set by various authors who had strong feelings. No bare chested model. No tattoos. We had suggestions galore – use a couple, change couples on each cover, use a guy looking over his shoulder at us, have a bare chested tattooed guy on the volume with the high heat content, use silhouettes, have spaceships, don’t have spaceships…it sounds head spinning, but it was valuable input for Fiona and me.
The feedback from the authors also beautifully illustrates the sheer variety of stories available in science fiction romance. Readers can enjoy tales set in space, on Earth, on other planets, on space stations… the characters can be human, alien, different genders, same genders – the possibilities are endless. We hope that among the forty stories represented in the complete Portals collection, readers will find many combinations of setting, plot and characters to enjoy.
Eventually Fiona and I collaborated on the Portal Keeper concept, with this appealingly scruffy, slightly mysterious, but handsome sentinel inviting you to enter the “Gateway to the worlds of science fiction romance.” We felt that the concept embodied a strong brand identity to tell readers what they would find behind the cover of each volume.
I’d go through the Portal, wouldn’t you?
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE…FACEBOOK GROUP
Laurie A. Green – Coordinator
Let’s make no bones about it. This project wouldn’t have come together in such a spectacular way without the expertise and enthusiasm of these two dynamos! With Pauline and Veronica doing all the heavy lifting, I tried to make myself useful by managing the high amp background energy.
Once the Project Portals buzz started swamping the SFR Brigade Facebook group, I created a breakout chat group where the authors could ask questions, provide information, jump up and down with excitement, and hammer out some of the finer details without having the discussion threads overrun the general group. (Did I mention this is a very high energy group?)
I worked closely with Pauline and Veronica to provide project support, and filled a few PR functions such as making the first public announcement about the Portals project concept on Spacefreighters Lounge, coordinating the exclusive cover reveal of the four Portals volumes hosted by Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express 2.0, and creating the Portals site to serve as “Portals Central” for both readers and authors.
Psst. Here’s a special bonus for you courtesy of Smart Girls Love SciFi Romance. *drum roll* The first-ever public unveiling of the Portals site. Ta da!
One of our very fun side discussions involved gracing our Portal Keeper with a fitting name, and many of the authors offered well-researched ideas and suggestions. The group eventually settled on Sender Najan as his name (Sender because….well, isn’t that just an awesome name for a Portal Keeper? And “Najan” means star in Arabic). Authors Lea Kirk and AR Riddle-DeClerck teamed up with Veronica to provide his introduction, including his explanation of PORTALS’ heat levels, which can be found here.
I couldn’t wrap this up without first giving a huge hand (applause, applause) to the enthusiastic authors of Portals for making this such a rewarding experience. Each is dedicated to the Science Fiction Romance genre as a whole, and makes a shining example of one of Pauline’s favorite phrases: “A rising tide floats all boats.” From New York Times bestsellers to debut pioneers, these authors have been downright amazing to work with! They put the team in teamwork.
Be sure to check out the Portals Author Page for the full list of authors and the links to their websites.
Laurie, Pauline and Veronica – Thank you for enlightening us about this gateway to 40 out-of-this-world books. Personally, I love this idea. I often get asked for SFR recommendations and every time, I end up going to my Goodreads SFR shelf to nudge my memory for authors and titles I’ve enjoyed. No more! Now, I am just going to point the requestor to Portals. In fact, when I am looking for a new SFR read, I am going to point myself to Portals!