Category Archives: Starheart

Starheart is ready to fly

Picture of cover for StarheartStarheart has a brand new cover. People told me the old cover looked like a soppy M&B number and those who’ve read the story assured me Jess, my main character, wasn’t like that at all, at all. So the cover was aimed at the wrong audience. And that’s a wrong move.

Readers voted for the cover at left. Yep, that’s Jess. Never, ever get between a tigress and her cubs. It’s dangerous.

It’s now available on Smashwords. And of course, there’s still Amazon US and Amazon UK. as well as Omnilit.

Here’s one review from Amazon to give you an idea

This is my first space opera, sci fi and I went into it a little sceptically. Thank you Greta!! The world you created had me fascinated and so impressed at all the details which made it so believable. And I loved the hard edge of the hero. It worked for me that he was always so tasky and focused – I found that sexy! Jess, the heroine was feisty, intelligent and, above all, a mother ready to scratch the eyes/heart out of anyone who came between herself and her daughter. This might have been my first of Greta’s books but it won’t be the last.

Please help me choose

I’ve been doing some cover tweaking. One of them is Starheart. Somebody said the current cover shown at left, with two lovers, looks a bit too much like a standard romance cover. And that’s not what Starheart is. As one reviewer said, it’s “A fun action/adventure, a murder mystery, a crime novel and a romance all in one.”

Here’s the blurb;

She’s lost her husband, her best friend is missing. What else has she got to lose?

Slightly shady freighter captain, Jess Sondijk, thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson’s Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband’s death on his way back from Tabora wasn’t accidental? Jess decides to investigate, while keeping Hudson at arms’ length.

While he’s attracted to the lovely Jess, Hudson is also concerned about what might be happening on Tabora and how that may involve the Confederacy’s enemies.

Jess and Hudson’s interests collide in more ways than one. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what’s hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed. At the end of the day, how much is he willing to lose for the woman he has come to love?

Like Morgan’s Choice, the romance is the icing on the cake, not the raison d’etre. So, what do you think?

The original or this one?

Starheart cover design Based on feedback so far, I’ve tried a different approach. What about this?

For Two Days ONLY…

Jes and inline skimmerStarheart is released on the Kindle Select program – and for March 13 and 14 you can download the book for FREE. 

Once again, my good friend Kevin Radthorne has created an image which is perfect for Jess, heroine of Starheart.  Here she is, dressed in her ‘invisible’ suit, ready for a little bit of break-and-enter. Find this picture, and more of Kevin’s wonderful art here. And here’s a little snippet of Starheart to go with the picture.

Dressed in the ‘invisible’ suit, currently set to black, she caught the lift down to the basement and fired up Troy’s in-line skimmer. Looking at the machine brought back memories. They’d ridden klicks on this thing, him driving, her behind, zooming along the back tracks of the mountains back in the days before Tenna was born. They’d gone away for weekends in the woods, camping up near Lake Maribou. She hadn’t thrown a leg over since he died.

Settled in the seat she activated the sensor to open the basement door. It clicked and rose into the ceiling, allowing access to the street. She overrode the skimmer’s auto-drive function. No point in sneaking out at night and leaving the evidence of where she’d been on the machine’s system.

She pushed the throttle on. The nose lifted, flinging her back in the saddle. Shit. Too fast. She throttled back, only just avoiding a scrape along the wall. Relax, let yourself remember. She juggled the balance until she had it right, then let the skimmer glide up the ramp into the road, the door dropping into place behind her. At this time of night residential Orham City slept, at least for the most part. An automated cleaner bot rounded a corner up ahead but the road was free of traffic. Jess drove easily, enjoying the throb of the beast beneath her. She had clipped the sensor detection pen on her shirt and her Calvin C40 light laser pistol sat in its holster at her hip.

Don’t forget – to read more, take a look at Starheart. Action, adventure, spaceships, aliens – and a dollop of romance.

Where did you get that dress?

Write about what you know, that’s the old adage, isn’t it? I confess, fashion isn’t the most important thing in my list of interests, so when I had to come up with a suitable dress for Jess Sondijk in a scene in my latest book, Starheart, I delved into my own history. It’s quicker and easier than looking up photos of movie stars in women’s magazines.

Jess has decided to attend a meet ‘n greet to find out a little more about rather attractive Admiral Ullric Hudson, who has just arrived in her part of the Galaxy. Is he really there to queer the pitch for small-time smugglers like her? So she turns up, dressed to kill.

She had made a special effort. The red dress was a favorite. The neckline plunged deep, affording everyone quite an eyeful. The rest clung to her waist and hips, accentuating her figure. The split up the front meant she was able to stride if she wanted and provided more than a glimpse of leg.

I thought you might like to see something approximating the original. Jess is a beauty, with long, blonde hair. But you can see where the inspiration came from.

What about you? Have you used your wardrobe (or anything else) to inspire a scene?

A gay guy is a girl’s best friend

As you know, I’m touring the internet to introduce readers to my new novel, Starheart. So far, if you’ve been following my posts, you’ll have learnt a little bit about Jess Sondijk and Admiral Ullric Hudson, two of the main characters in the book. But, in the immortal words of Yoda, there is another.

Santh Dekstra, Jess’s best friend and first officer of her freighter Saintly Maid has his own major role in the story, which revolves around how Jess’s husband, Troy, died in a botched boarding a year and a half ago. Hudson stirs up questions Jess had thought laid to rest with Troy. Santh had been close to Troy, too, and together Jess and Santh decide to find out what might have happened to him. That proves to be a perilous undertaking.

As I said in an earlier post, Santh is one of those marvellous gay men who really can be a girl’s best friend. Pop over to Sodahead, where the site actually asked if readers would be friends with a gay guy. They have a lovely picture of a nice young man who is a bit young for Santh, but you’ll get the idea.

Here’s a little piece about Santh and Jess at a function organised by the Nordheim Government to introduce Admiral Hudson and his senior officers to the planet’s domestic captains. Jess has gone along to see what she can find out about Hudson’s plans.

Santh, drink in hand, strolled up to Jess, looking her up and down.

“Jess, baby, he doesn’t stand a chance.”

Jess laughed. “Well, thank you, spacer but I don’t know what you’re talking about. You look lovely yourself.”

The pale blue breeches molded to his slim and athletic form and he’d tied back his luxuriant dark-blond hair. He’d covered the white shirt with a sleeveless jerkin, giving him a dashing air.

She had made a special effort. The red dress was a favorite. The neckline plunged deep, affording everyone quite an eyeful. The rest clung to her waist and hips, accentuating her figure. The split up the front meant she was able to stride if she wanted and provided more than a glimpse of leg.

Santh flicked a finger at a waiter, who approached with a laden tray, his eyes following the plunge of her dress.

“Careful,” Santh said, straightening the tray from a dangerous angle. “She wants to drink the wine, not wear it.”

Jess selected a glass of pale yellow wine and watched the youth walk away. “Not your type?” she said to Santh.

“No. But I expect somebody will be.” He winked.

I like Santh. A lot. I’ve had gay friends like him. He’s in for a serious adventure, I must say. Find out more on Amazon.

I’ll be at http://pippajay.wordpress.com/ tomorrow for some more spicy bits and pieces.

Don’t forget – to celebrate the release of ‘Starheart’ I’ll be giving a $25 Amazon gift voucher to one person who leaves a comment on any of the blogs I visit until 10th March. So leave a comment here and you’ll be in the draw.

Starheart – Chapter One

“We’re gonna get boarded, Jess.” Santh glanced up from his console, where Confederacy Battle Cruiser Defender, sleek, dark and weapons hot, dominated the display. Jess read the ‘oh shit’ in her first officer’s eyes.

“Santh, we’re chugging along on our way to the space station, minding our own business. It’s got to be routine. Let me do the talking.”

But even so, her heart hammered. She’d been boarded before, by teams from Nordheim Militia’s patrol frigates, but this was the first time she’d ever seen a battle cruiser in this part of the Confederacy.

“Saintly Maid this is Confederacy Battle Cruiser Defender. You will shut down all drives and prepare to be boarded. If you fail to comply you will be attacked.” A crisp military voice barked instructions, sharp and to the point, no visuals.

“Saintly Maid to Confederacy Battle Cruiser Defender. Message received and understood. Welcome aboard.”

If they brought InfoDroids with them and they searched thoroughly… She pushed the thought away.

“Shut us down, Santh. I’ll pop off and fix my makeup. Might as well look the part.”

Jess headed out of the bridge, through the freighter’s common room and into her own quarters. Let’s see now, what did she have suitable for a military boarding party? She rummaged through her wardrobe and selected the dark green uniform. The pants accentuated her long legs and if she left the jacket unbuttoned over a white shirt, she’d give them something else to think about other than the cargo. She pulled out the clasp holding her hair back and let the blonde mane hang around her shoulders. A little bit of makeup, but not too much, and she was ready.

“Just in time,” Santh said as she slid back into the captain’s chair. “Their cutter has attached to our airlock.”

The airlock status gauge flashed orange. Airing up prior to release. The numbers rose… seventy, eighty, ninety. The gauge glowed green. Jess pressed the hatch release. The boarding party appeared in her view screen, eight people, suited up in black, helmets on. The spheroid shape of an InfoDroid drifting beside them sent a shiver down her spine. Even her security couldn’t beat one of those. Still, even an InfoDroid would need to scan the right place and they hadn’t the other times. She crossed mental fingers and hoped her luck hadn’t changed.

Three of the boarding party, InfoDroid in tow, clumped off to search the cargo hold. Two started searching the common room, and the other three… She rose to greet the trooper who stepped onto the bridge. The other two, both armed with laser rifles, stood outside.

The leader took off his helmet, revealing an attractive young man staring at her with unabashed admiration. “Er… ma’am… Are you Captain Jestinia Sondijk?”

Jess smiled. “Correct, Lieutenant…” She checked his name patch, “…Douglas. And this is First Officer Santhias Dekstra.”

Douglas cleared his throat and stiffened into a more military posture.

“You and your first officer are to be transferred to Defender for interrogation, ma’am, while the boarding party makes a thorough search of your ship.”

Her nerves twanged. “Oh? Is there some sort of problem, Lieutenant? We’re on our way to the space station to dock. I wouldn’t want to miss my arrival slot.”

“Those are my orders.”

“We’ll comply, of course. Please,” she thrust out a hand. “Lead on.”

She followed the officer through to the airlock off the hold and into the cutter, Santh at her heels. This was unexpected. And scary. Usually they searched the ship, looked at the trade manifestos and left empty-handed. She exchanged a look with Santh. He’d know enough to keep his mouth shut. If this trip was intended to unsettle them the move had worked. The butterflies in her stomach were performing a salsa.

The warship’s side loomed like an apartment block with a few lighted windows. The cutter aimed for the window with the flashing light and slid into the vessel’s interior. A few minutes for the airlock to air up and they were out. Jess sniffed the air. Not even a hint of mustiness or cooking. Their filters were obviously better than Saintly Maid’s.

Jess and Santh walked together, the troopers behind them, while Lieutenant Douglas led the way to a transit foyer, where he pressed a button to summon a car.

Jess stared around her at clean grey walls and floors, and a row of no less than ten lifts. Strewth. The buttons went up to thirty. Thirty levels. This ship was huge. A group of people appeared from a doorway, also heading for the transit foyer. Three senior officers. She fixed her ‘not sure why this is happening but I’m being co-operative’ expression on her face as they approached.

Well, well, well. The captain, a senior commander and a rather dishy admiral. Tall, thick brown hair, heavy eyebrows over blue eyes that right now were shifting his gaze over her body and most especially down the carefully-judged split at the front of her shirt. She smiled at him, taking care to adjust her hair while she did so. Now what would a Star Fleet admiral be doing at Nordheim?

Beside her, Lieutenant Douglas and the two escorts stiffened to parade ground attention.

The admiral stopped in front of her, still staring. “What have we here, Lieutenant?”

The look in his eye sent a sexy shimmy down her spine. No prizes for guessing what was on his mind right now. And under different circumstances, she wouldn’t mind. No, not at all.

“Captain and First Officer of a suspicious ship, Sir. The Saintly Maid. They’re here for interrogation.”

Jess widened her eyes. “Suspicious ship? Oh, really, Lieutenant, you must have mistaken the Maid for some other vessel.”

The admiral grinned. The transit car the senior commander had summoned arrived with a gentle ping. The captain and the senior commander both had their bodies pointed towards the open door but the admiral lingered, gazing down at her.

“Delightful to meet you, Captain…?”

“Sondijk .And equally delightful to meet you, Admiral…?”

“Hudson. Ullric Hudson.”

She gave him a long, hard once-over, her gaze traveling slowly down his body and back up to his eyes. “Welcome to Nordheim, Admiral Hudson.”

He chuckled, jerked his head down in a brief nod and followed the two officers into the transit.

 

****

 

Douglas herded her into the waiting transit car, then selected a destination on the key pad.

“Just visiting, Lieutenant?” Jess said as the car rose. “We’ve never had a battle cruiser on our patch before. I thought they were busy keeping the ptorix hordes at bay.”

His lips jerked in a smile. “The admiral doesn’t share the orders from the High Command with the likes of me, ma’am.”

No, he probably didn’t. Admiral Ullric Hudson certainly looked like a man in charge. Those three wide bars on his shoulders denoted a fleet admiral, a very senior rank for a back-water like Nordheim. Interesting. She’d have to ask a few questions back home when she got a chance.

The transit car slowed, causing that familiar rising feeling in Jess’ stomach. The door slid aside to reveal an anonymous grey corridor lined with doors at regular intervals. A large sign between each pair of doors announced 4-D in red to the left, in green to the right. They took Santh off into one room and marched her along to another. Grey walls, sensors in the corners, a desk with one chair on the side nearest the door, and two chairs opposite, both occupied. She suppressed the sigh. These two wore Nordheim Militia uniforms. She should have known the local planetary border control would be involved in this raid.

She didn’t recognize these two. The middle-aged male commander’s swift up-and-down revealed suitable appreciation of her presentation but the hard-faced female sergeant looked like she’d swallowed vinegar. Knowing Longford, their commanding officer, he’d probably chosen the woman specially.

“I’m Commander Harcourt,” the man said,” and this is Sergeant Box. Please sit down.”

Jess walked the three steps to the chair on her side and sat.

“I expect you know I’m Jess Sondijk.” Jess put on an engaging smile. “What would you like to know?”

“Perhaps you can tell me where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing in this last voyage,” the commander said.

“I’m sure this warship’s scanners have already pulled my navigation system and my cargo manifests, Commander. And you would have had my voyage plan and cargo manifests from the space station. But … I left Nordheim with a cargo of local manufactured goods; vases, carvings, beads and jewelry, dresses, bolts of material headed for the markets at Kentor. I managed to sell most of my stock and came back with some precision cutting gear which should fetch a good price in the manufacturing sector here.”

The man grunted. He clearly already knew this. She’d play his little game.

“How long were you there?” he asked.

Jess pulled a wry face. As if he didn’t know? “Three days at the space station. It cost me a lot in docking fees, I can tell you.”

And gave her enough time to shift the cases of fine wine and Pyrrhian silk that weren’t on the manifest to the GPR ship parked in the level below.

“We have intelligence indicating you met with representatives of the Galactic People’s Republic.”

“Oh, ‘met with’ is a bit over the top. Exchanged a few words in a tavern, more like. When did that become illegal?”

“When the transaction involves smuggling.”

Jess threw her arm over the chair back and crossed her legs. His gaze strayed to her breasts. “I’ve nothing to worry about.”

“Your ship is being dismantled as we speak. If we find contraband you can expect a jail sentence.”

“Yes, I kinda guessed that. I hope the boarding party has a good time. I’m an honest trader, Commander. If those people break anything on Saintly Maid, I’ll send the Fleet admiral the bill. And a complaint to Longford.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Admiral Longford.”

She folded her arms. “Whatever. You report to him. I don’t.”

He jerked his lips. “In the meantime, you’re under suspicion. I’ll leave you with Sergeant Box,” he said, rising to his feet. “She will perform a strip-search. I’m sure you’ll understand.”

Jess kept her face straight. A strip-search? Strewth.

The door swished closed behind the commander.

The sergeant smiled, if that screwed-up expression qualified, stood and pulled a pair of thin gloves out of her pocket.

Buy the book on Amazon

Starheart is here

The big day has arrived. Starheart is officially released to the reading public.

Come with me on a tour of discovery as I tell you a bit about the story and the characters. For today, here’s the blurb.

She’s lost her husband, her best friend is missing. What else has she got to lose?

Slightly shady freighter captain, Jess Sondijk, thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson’s Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband’s death on his way back from Tabora wasn’t accidental? Jess decides to investigate, while keeping Hudson at arms’ length.

While he’s attracted to the lovely Jess, Hudson is also concerned about what might be happening on Tabora and how that may involve the Confederacy’s enemies.

Jess and Hudson’s interests collide in more ways than one. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what’s hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed. At the end of the day, how much is he willing to lose for the woman he has come to love?

If that’s enough to pique your interest, Starheart is available on Amazon.

If you’d like to come along and find out more, here’s a list of topics – and by the way, anyone who leaves a comment on my post at any of these sites will be placed in a draw for a $25 Amazon gift voucher.

23 Feb http://francespauli.blogspot.com/ A slightly shady freighter captain

24 Feb http://www.cerebralwriter.com/ What brings a battle cruiser to Nordheim?

25 Feb http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com.au/ A womanising admiral

26 Feb http://www.tulagihotel.com/ An interview with me

27 Feb A gay guy is a girl’s best friend

29 Feb http://pippajay.blogspot.com.au What is a Starheart?

1 Mar http://livingwritingandotherstuff.com Surprise! Aliens that aren’t humanoid

3 Mar http://mariakuroshchepova.blogspot.com.au/ Interview

5 Mar http://sesshabattousai.com/cgi-bin/wordpress Alpha male meets alpha female

8 Mar www.imogenenix.blogspot.com Romance is just one story arc

9 Mar http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com.au Six questions

I’ll announce the winner of the gift voucher on 11th March and attempt to contact that person via email.

Good luck, enjoy and may the Games Begin.

Addendum:

The tour is over and Mona Karel won the $25 Amazon voucher. Thank you to everyone who took part and to all those wonderful people who allowed me to post on their blogs.

Ten days and counting…

Ten days to go. In ten days time my latest science fiction romance novel Starheart will be out there on kindle. I’m getting a bit excited about it all. The book has done a few rounds with a few beta-readers who set me straight on the subject of being mother of a teenage daughter. It’s ready to go, and I’m very happy with the result.

The picture on the left was done by the multi-talented Kevin Radthorne. Check out his wonderful gallery here. He didn’t create the image for me – but as it happens, I think it’s an excellent representation of the heroine in Starheart, slightly shady freighter captain Jess Sondijk. Blonde, beautiful and not above using her bountiful assets if it will give her an advantage.

Of course, there’s an admiral. Tall, well-built womaniser Ullric Hudson. Just to tickle your fancy, here’s an excerpt where Hudson has Jess brought on board his battle cruiser. She is NOT HAPPY.

 

Tomas was waiting for him when he disembarked. “Where is she?”

“In an interrogation cell, Sir.” His adjutant’s eyes twinkled. “The same one the Militia used last time she was here.”

Hudson grinned. How would she have reacted to that? “Have her brought to my office.”

“Sir.”

He hardly had time to make himself comfortable in his chair when his clerk said via his implant, “Captain Sondijk is here, Sir.”

He sat back in his seat, watching the door when she entered. Her grey ship suit was unzipped at the front and the scoop-necked white shirt she wore underneath revealed a tantalizing expanse of breast. The last time she’d been brought aboard she’d dressed for the occasion but this time she probably didn’t even realize. Her eyes blazed with fury as she barged into his office, flanked by a lieutenant and two troopers. No, intimidation didn’t work on Jess Sondijk.

“What in blazes is this about? Annoyed I stood you up?”

“Thank you, Lieutenant, you may go,” Hudson said.

He waited until the door closed behind the troopers.

“I admit, I’m not accustomed to being stood up.”

She slammed both her palms on his desk and leaned towards him, affording him a lovely view of her cleavage. “You are not the fucking centre of the universe.”

His gaze slid down to admire the swell of her breasts. Nice. Exquisite. Two delicious handfuls. His mouth watered. The prospect of a close and personal encounter with that body was enough to give a man a hard-on.

She pushed herself upright. “Oh, for fuck’s sake. Do you ever think about anything but your cock?”

He leaned back, grinning. “If you flaunt your assets, my dear, you can hardly blame me for looking.”

Scowling, she zipped up her suit.

“Very good. Now sit.” He pointed at the visitor’s chair beside her.

“Go to hell. You have no reason, no right to stop me and impound my ship. I’ve done nothing wrong and I’ve other things to do apart from some… some sort of verbal foreplay with you.” She folded her arms, staring down at him.

 

I loved writing this book. I love Hudson and Jess – and Jess’s friend, Santh. Come along for an action-packed adventure and find out what a Starheart really is.