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Friday, June 29, 2012

Memories of my Father

Hmm, maybe I should retitle this as my dad is still very much alive and kicking in Colorado. Of course, I still have memories of him, so I guess it works either way and that it was he who inspired me to become a writer.

I will tell you that my mother is an artist and my father is an accountant. Taking that at face value, one might automatically conclude that my mother gave me her talents. There was a time when I drew. I was pretty good, but it wasn't my passion. Growing up, I knew that was being an artist was hard, that my art would be put in front of a critical public and have them make snide remarks.

My drawings (yes, I still have them) are for my own personal consumption. They're not perfect and I never plan to devote the time to get them that way. I never plan to put them in front of anyone to critique. My mother has a critique group made up of other artists. Just like in writing, being around others who share your passion is required to improve your talent. Of course, there are also those that don't 'get' you but that's a topic for another story.

Growing up, I realized that my father was extremely talented too. Now before you start thinking he was cooking the books, I mean his talent was in the way he saw patterns in numbers that helped him invest and budget. Many times I would go grocery shopping with my father and we'd talk about value of products--taste is important, not just the price tag.

But there were also the times when we'd be alone in the car and he'd entertain me my making up lyrics to songs. My favorite--Car wars, nothing but car wars. Get in your cars and drive away, sung if you will to the Star Wars theme song a la Bill Murray style. There were many more and to this day I still sing the lyrics he did, often when my kids are in the car:-). Some traditions deserve to be passed down.

He also made things up besides lyrics. Once when we were waiting for one of my sisters to get off work, he told me he'd been a jackass in another life and my mother had been a snake. They'd kept each other company in their animal forms until he found her in this life. Now that's creative!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Father's Day

I know that I’m late for Father’s Day.  It was ten days ago, but I’m going to tell you about my dad anyway.

Dad married relatively late in life for the times.  He was thirty-two.  He’d had lots of living done before he met my mom.

Even after they met and married, Dad did lots of different things in an effort to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

He was a trapper (yes, Virginia, just like in the western movies), a cowboy, an airfield warden, a hod carrier for a cinder block company (no, I don’t know what a hod carrier is either.  My mom told me it was very hard physical labor) and a county road equipment driver.

All of these things he did with an eighth grade education.  Am I advocating quitting school in the eighth grade?  Not at all.  I’m a big proponent of education.  What I am advocating is having drive to succeed.  My father succeeded despite his lack of education not because of it.  I’m sure he would have liked to finish school, but he had to quit and get a job to help support his parents and siblings.  And there were a lot of siblings.  Dad was one of thirteen children, the second oldest of the group.
He had no choice in what he did.  He was always there to help his siblings.  Even on the night he died.  I was five.

We were coming home from my uncle’s house and it was Dad’s 51st birthday.  I don’t know if we had gone there to celebrate it but knowing my parents, we were there to help my uncle with something, not celebrate Dad’s birthday.

Dad wasn’t feeling well so Mom drove home.  Dad sat in the middle and I sat next to the door and my little brother, who was three at the time, was curled up on the floor board of the car asleep.
I remember getting Dad’s pills from the glove compartment.  Apparently, according to my Mom, I also told him that we would get him some gingerale when we got home and he would feel better.  You see, whenever I was sick Dad brought home gingerale to make me feel better.  It was an extravagant treat and we only got it when we were sick.

Only gingerale wasn’t going to help my Dad.  Neither were the nitroglycerin tablets that I gave him from the glove compartment.  You see, Dad was having a massive heart attack and nothing at the time could have saved him. 

I have very few memories of my dad that are my own and not something someone else told me.  The one memory I do have is the night he died.  On his birthday at age 51.  It’s blazed in my memory, so that now, fifty one years later I can still see, hear and feel the things that happened on that ride home.  A ride that changed my life forever.
Monday, June 25, 2012

Blasters and Swords


As an author, I write romance in futuristic and medieval settings, and sometimes, I mix both into the same series, like in the Chronicles of Kassouk, where I pit a medieval society against an advanced technological race. And contrary to modern logic, medieval humans are smart, very resourceful and full of surprises... and swords may be archaic, but in the hands of a true warrior, they can overcome overwhelming odds. Everyone enjoys seeing the oppressed win in the end.

In Snatched, a modern warrior is abducted by an Alien race and sold as a fighting Amazon to entertain a decadent society.  Advanced civilizations and ancient fighting techniques often go hand in hand. Despite our advanced weapons, we still practice ancient fighting techniques as a sport, like boxing, or Karate.


A number of new authors are now also writing swords in their  science fiction and mix it with fantasy. This is not a new phenomenon. Marion Zimmer Bradley in the eighties and nineties wrote in both science fiction and medieval fantasy genres with her Mists of Avalon (Arthurian legends) series and her Darkover (speculative fiction) series, and she met with great success in both genres. Most of her readers did cross over the genres to read all her books. And swords were important weapons and symbols.

Writing the past or the future, or imaginary worlds and parallel universes, is not so far apart.

People do not change much through the ages. Although we would like to believe that we evolved over the last centuries, we really haven’t. Despite our fancy laws, we still have serial killers and terrorists. Given the opportunity, any human being will behave in the same noble or despicable manner now as he or she would have centuries ago. And in the future, it will probably still be the case.

Of course, in the future there also might be robots, cyborgs, and clones which might operate under a different set of rules. But is that so different from the rules controlling the slaves of ancient times? And since History repeats itself, is it not likely that ancient rules might resurface in the future?

The struggle for justice, however, like the need for love and freedom, are timeless and constant themes that keep repeating in the past, the present, and will most likely endure in the future. Because these needs are inherent to human nature.

In conclusion, whether a writer tackles the past, the future, or an alternate universe, what carries a story, beyond the action, adventure and plot, is human emotion.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vintage Sci-Fi Romance Is Extra Awesome

Part of the fun of science fiction and sci-fi romance is the covers, and the 60s and 70s had some of the most awesome--complete with voluptuous females, death rays, and beehive hairdos.

But did you know Harlequin dabbled in science-fiction romance? Me either! Well, enjoy a blast from the past with a few boss covers from the biggest romance publisher on the planet. Hmmm...Planet Biggest Romance sounds like a great title for an SFR book!

Science Fiction Romance is still going strong. Check out all the authors on this blog and satisfy your futuristic/bizarre/dystopian/weird romance. It will never go out of style!

Cover images from

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Father's Influence

The Star Trek Gallery
The greatest influence my father had in my life was introducing me to science fiction.  He and I would watch Star Trek episodes and movies like Blade Runner. Maybe I only watched BR because it had Harrison Ford in it, but I have come to appreciate the movie over time.  

And while I saw the movie Dune first, I did eventually read the book.  Surprisingly, I enjoyed the science Frank Herbert included on the ecology of Arrakis. I discovered science could be educational and fun to read about. My father continued to read the rest of the Dune series, but I gave up after the third book. The religious aspect overshadowed any science and I lost interest.

In college, I found a group of friends who enjoyed Star Wars and Star Trek as much as I did. We all had quirky senses of humor and would dress up for midnight movie showings and the local sci-fi conventions. 

While I may never go into space, every day I check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day and think of my dad. What interest of yours has your father helped foster?

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Post Father's Day Post

When I was 16, I co-wrote a book with an older friend of mine. A romance novel. Sure, what I knew about romance came from romance novels. It wasn't exactly a stand-out piece of work. It had issues that stemmed mainly from writing mechanics and plot holes.

For Christmas my friend had a hard copy of the book spiral bound and sent it to me. This was back before the days when publishers accepted electronic copies of books. Everything had to be printed off. My friend decided there wasn't any harm in submitting the book to Harlequin. We waited and waited to hear something back. And after a while, we did. It wasn't the rejection you might have expected--or that I think about whenever I look at how badly this book was put together--instead it was a letter saying it was going to another editor. This happened a couple of times. All told, I think Harlequin had the MS for a year and a half. 

My dad came from a humble background. He grew up dirt poor on a farm down by the James River in southwestern Missouri. Believe me, I wish like hell, pardon my French, that my grandma had never sold the farm because I'm pretty sure it's a slice of heaven on earth. My dad knew hunting, cars, and how to make moonshine. He was smart and he liked to read, but coming from that kind of lifestyle, he never had the chance to go beyond 12th grade. That, and he married my mom right out of high school. No, it wasn't a shotgun wedding. *wink, wink*

My parents encouraged me to write because it was obvious I was never going excel in math or at sports. One day when my dad asked me to give him the hard copy of the MS, I was curious about why. To interrupt the story for a second, I want to tell you that he was actually pretty cool about sex. One day I was watching Swept from the Sea. The characters were getting a little physical. Our washer and dryer were in the basement on the other side of the living room. My dad came strolling through to get something out of the dryer. He looked at the TV, looked at me and said, "Hunh. They're doing the nasty." And he just kept walking. 

Back to the first story: He asked for the MS. I gave it to him, wondering if he was going to tear out the dirty bits and doubting he'd read it because I never saw him pick up a romance novel (he sparked my love for Louis L'Amour novels). I found out later that he took it to work with him just so he could tell his friends that his daughter had written a novel that was being considered by Harlequin editors.

I often wonder if he would be proud of the turn my writing has taken. He retired the year before he died, so he wouldn't have taken a copy of The Treasure Hunter's Lady to work, but I can picture him showing it off because he never met a stranger.

I just wanted to say, love you, Dad. And I miss you.
Robert Cox
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fathers in Fact and Fiction

With Father's Day just around the corner my thoughts naturally turn to the subject of fathers, both in fact and fiction.

A father is a boy's first role model and a girl's first love. Everything a child needs to know about what it means to be a man, a husband, and a father a child learns from the first man in their lives, their father. I once heard it said the best gift a woman can give her children is to pick the right father for them. I have to agree.

I grew up watching The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, Leave It To Beaver, I Love Lucy and the like. (Yeah, I know I'm older than dirt.) The image of fatherhood I saw in these shows gave me a yard stick by which to judge my family, my parents and myself. Though we never quite lived up to those impossible TV standards - our family seemed a bit more The Simpsons and Rosanne - looking back now I realize how close we came at least in spirit and intent.

I'm blessed to have a great Dad. At ninety-one years old he's smart, funny, intelligent and one of my biggest fans. My nearly eight-eight year old mother is the other, and in addition to being a superb mother, she did a fabulous job of picking out my dad. By choosing a good dad for me she gave me the tools I needed to find a wonderful husband for myself and an excellent dad for our sons.

On the other hand my fictional characters aren't quite so lucky with the fathers I create for them. Often they're totally awful. In fiction crappy fathers give our heroes, heroines and even villains interesting backstories and motivations for their goals, motivations and conflicts.

In my contemporary romance THE BABY RACE the heroine's father spends all his time searching for treasure, ignoring the gem right under his nose. And the hero's father, while well -meaning, didn't even know he had a son until the boy was fourteen and his mother died. So when the hero and heroine come together to parent neither has a clue how to go about it.

In my Moon fantasies I killed off most of my characters' parents. And those that I allowed to live were usually the evil ones.  In STAR RAIDERS my upcoming release I had a blast with the hero and heroine's parental situations.

So while in real life loving fathers make for healthy, emotionally stable children, in fiction crappy, evil fathers create thought-provoking drama and provide built in conflict. Playing around with my characters' parental units is a lot of fun without all the personal emotional trauma. I get to play God. Too bad all my characters are devout atheists - at least where I'm concerned.
Monday, June 11, 2012

So what am I reading?

A Night Like ThisThere are so many books I would love to read but so little time. Some of the best-sellers sure have me curious from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Hunger Games.

There was a time I couldn't even read fiction. I would end up critiquing it. It got so bad that the only book I could read was non-fiction. Only when I did that would the little voice inside my head stop critiquing sentences, word choices, plot holes and character development.

It has gotten better. Thank goodness! But I still have to read outside my genre which covers alot since I right a mixture of suspense, contemporary, fantasy and sci-fi romance. I absolutely now love reading Regency romance from Christina Dodd (I'm hoping she goes back to writing historical again), Julia Quinn and Theresa Medeiros. They might be historical but to me they are pure fantasy and escapism. Right now I am reading Julia Quinn's A Night Like This. It's pure Quinn. As always she delivers with a mix of sensuality, romance and humor.
Nothing beats escaping into a great story no matter the genre. For a brief hour or two I can forget about my own world and the problems they involve and sometimes they seem so insignificant compared to what a number of heroes and heroines go through inside the pages of a book. At least I don't have the world ending. I am not getting kidnapped or shot at or about to be eaten by aliens. but I am falling in love all over again inside the pages of a romance.
Friday, June 8, 2012

What am I reading?

Why do you read?

For me, it is either for information or escape. Usually, the latter. Not that my life sucks. I love my life, it's just nice to be someone else for while.

Sadly, I haven't done much reading of late.

Apparently, I have the mimicking gene. Never heard of it? It's when you begin to sound like the person you're talking to after a few minutes in their company. Sure, I can adopt that cool British accent or down shift into a slow Southern draw for those lazy summer days. But it's not a good thing when that person has a stutter or lisp.

I hadn't been writing too long when I noticed that I do the same thing. If I read and author, I'll subconsciously ape their style--including rhythm, syntax and word use. A useful skill if I was a ghost writer.

So how does this tie in to what I'm reading. Well, I can't help it. Sometimes I want to escape from my writing and there's no better place to get inspired than in some else's words. This last weekend, I took a couple hours off and read Vijaya Schartz's Coyote Gorgeous.

It has everything I love in romance--hunky hero, mystery and paranormal elements. She does a fantastic job of blending Chupacabra and the trickster/coyote legends. And at 99 cents it's a steal.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What am I reading now?

What am I reading?  Well I read many different things as once.  Right now I’m reading Evangeline Andersons Brides of the Kindred series.  It’s good, erotic, sci-fi.  I’ve only read the first, Claimed, and thought that the heroine was a big whiny but it wasn’t enough to put me off the series.  I have just started the second, Hunted, and over all would have to say I’m enjoying the series.  I’m told that the latest one is the best but I have three more books to go before I get there.

I’m also reading Third Grave Straight Ahead by Darynda Jones.  I’ve loved the first two books, First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left.  Charley and Reyes are the hottest non-couple yet.  Darynda writes hot without being too explicit which puts her more in the main stream of things.
I’m also reading my friend CJ Snyder’s Maverick.  This is a stand alone that is not part of CJ’s Black Fire series.  It’s about a woman who does something because she’s forced to and then has to run for her life because of it.  Quite thrilling in it’s own right.

So now, what are you reading?  I’d love to hear back from you what books you’re reading and why you like them or don’t.  Obviously, we can’t like everything we read.  Have you ever loved a book so much that you started it over right away because you knew you missed something the first time through? 

What is on your keeper shelf or if you’re like me your keeper boxes?  I have probably 10 boxes of books in my basement that I refuse to part with.  They are my keepers and I read some of them once a year, every year, without fail because I love them.  They are usually historicals for some reason.  Maybe because that is what I started reading when I first began with romance novels.  I loved Victoria Holt when I was growing up.  Something about the gothic novel drew me.

As you can tell, my reading habits are varied.  I read mostly romance with some thriller, suspense thrown in.  I don’t read horror, not that I haven’t tried, I just can’t wrap my brain around it.  I don’t enjoy it.  If I can’t get into a book by the third chapter, it never gets finished.  I know that you’ve all done the same thing.  Read two chapters of a book and then thrown it against the wall, never to be read again.

It makes me wonder how the book ever got published.  I find that I read mostly indie authors any more.  The stories are fresher and the approaches to the story are different than with traditional publishing. 

So now you know what I’m reading and why I read what I do.  How about you?
Monday, June 4, 2012

The Chronicles of Kassouk, an example of how societies evolve

I’m glad I had the opportunity to write the prequel to this series. NOAH’S ARK does explain a lot about how these modern humans who came in a spaceship lost their technology and reversed to a medieval level of civilization. It’s not a natural evolution. It was forced upon them by the powerful aliens who claimed and exploited the planet where they crashed. Of course, it had to be an exciting adventure, with a central romance, lots of action and worthwhile conflicts to forge the beginning of this new society. I believe NOAH’S ARK is all of that.

In Book One, WHITE TIGER, after several centuries the human settlers have all but forgotten their true origins. All that remains of their past are legends mixed with superstition. By then they have adapted to this wintry world, they have their own history, and they are ruled and kept ignorant of technology by a powerful advanced race who exploits them for their own purpose. The heroine, White Tiger, raised by a military man, is a captain in the human cavalry. She knows there is hidden technology, although she doesn’t have access to it. The hero is a highly educated handsome Mutant, Dragomir... the result of breeding experiments mixing human and alien DNA. And boy, is he gorgeous!

In Book Two, RED LEOPARD, a few generations after White Tiger, the hero is the first human to access the governing council of Kassouk. Terek is highly educated, although the population at large is not, and he is in charge of the city in the king’s absence. The heroine is a cool, double edge sword alien female, a warrior princess, who has more human than alien traits, and is considered flawed among her people. The issue here is one of trust.

In Book Three, BLACK JAGUAR, the planet is warming and the human population has reached the stage of building large sea-faring galleons. Our hero is a Zerker prince, Kahuel of Yalta, a descendant of White Tiger’s mortal enemies. They now have evolved into a civilized society. When he embarks on a voyage of adventure and discovery, he finds primitive humans who can read minds where no humans should be. As for the heroine, Talina, she is innocent and pure, highly spiritual, connected to the land and her people, and she can read the heart of this warrior prince, who fits the prophecy of her people.

In BLUE LIONESS, still further in time, the kind Mutant king dies a suspicious death and is replaced by a Mutant council hostile to humans. Ariela of Kassouk, a Black Sword captain educated beyond the allowed human limits, feels she is the only one who can help the human race avoid slavery. She needs help, and Starro, crown prince of the Star People, the mysterious tribe from beyond the sea, might just provide what she needs... but he has frightening supernatural powers...

I believe all societies are in constant flux and subject to all kinds of influences. I’m fascinated by history, so writing a society of my own and watching it evolve from book to book was a very exciting experience. I enjoyed writing every page.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Love In The Stars Above

I came across a science article recently that gives a new twist to the term (and title of the blog) 'starbound lovers'. 

A group of stars was seen to be "a very intimate couple", "tightly bound" and "dancing around each other in a diabolic waltz" according to an article from The Register by Lewis Page.

Intimate. Bound....diabolical. 

Sounds a little like science-fiction romance.

The article continues:

"The pair in question are a so-called "stellar mass" black hole* and its twin, a Wolf-Rayet star perhaps 20 times as hefty as our own sun, located in the far-off galaxy NGC 300. The Wolf-Rayet star whips around the black hole every 32 hours, according to top boffins, with matter being pulled off it all the time by the intense gravitational field of its neighbour.

An intense gravitational field. 


"This is indeed a very 'intimate' couple," says Open University astro brainbox Robin Barnard. "How such a tightly bound system has been formed is still a mystery."

Perhaps a mystery called love?

Peruse the authors of this blog for a fantastic selection of starbound and starcrossed love and romance that even the heavens replicate...while enjoying this very appropriate tune: *Supermassive Black Hole by Muse.

Who We Are

This tells about us.