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navajorug1** Please forgive the odd timing, we’ve been on hurricane alert in Hawaii and I admit prepping for the storm did take a little bit of my attention**

Last week we talked about continuing threads in story fiction… this week we get to continue the discussion.

I’ve been working on a story for Capes & Clockwork II – the follow up anthology to the popular Steampunk Anthology from Dark Oak Press – Author D. Alan Lewis is both an author in the anthology and the editor.

I had a conversation with him about a story in the anthology, Captain Amy and the Steam-driven Kittens of Doom.  In the story we are introduced to the intrepid Captain Amy as she struggles to defeat her arch-enemy, Professor Von-Dark… and then we are suddenly transported…

capesfcoverbigAmyLynn, a young girl needed at the dinner table, begs off for just a few more moments to finish the story…

What happened?

When I spoke with Alan, he was working on the follow up story to this one, and explained that AmyLynn’s family had experienced a loss and bringing these stories to life with her imagination is how Amy was working through her grief.

It wasn’t what he had in mind when he started, but the ‘twist’ was an inspiration that came to him while he wrote the story. AND, will carry on to more Captain Amy stories… perhaps a novel or collection. It sounds like a lot of great inspiration.

So, for more steam-powered superheroes and intriguing stories… keep your eyes open for more information on Capes & Clockwork II from Dark Oak Press!

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navajorug*First, I am so happy to be back from my trip. My first Vacation in seven-ish years!*

I had the opportunity to spend some time within the Navajo Nation studying their history and culture. Spending four days living in a traditional Navajo Hogan on a family ranch in Many Farms Chapter. During my travels I visited the Interactive Navajo Museum in Tuba City. One of the many ideas that struck my interest was the idea of continuing inspiration. My tour guide, a young lady born and raised in the area, explained that rug weavers, eager to keep their creative muse excited and inspired would weave a continuing thread into their rugs.

There are different ways that they can do this…
1) Weave in a different colored thread along a side or border that literally leads off the rug
2) Design a path of color that also leads off the edge of the rug, like a pathway in a maze
… incorporating either method or a combination of the two gives a weaver ample ways of continuing their creativity into their next project.

So, how do we do this in our own works?

The most obvious method is to leave open a storyline that might inspire a sequel to a story/novel.

Leave an unanswered question in the story. Not every question posed by the characters will end up answered with a pretty little bow at the end of your story.

A supporting character might create that link to another story. Readers may fall in love or in hate with that character and clamour to know what happens to them in a future installment.

Where is your thread? Where is your pathway out from the maze? Maybe you have more than one… enjoy it, write it, and then share it!

Capes & Clockwork, an anthology of Steampunk Superhero stories published by Dark Oak Press, has its own continuing path… a second anthology is in the works and next week, we’ll discuss how the stories, authors, ideas from the first anthology are finding new life in the second!

I’d love to hear how you, as either readers or writers, have been inspired by THREADS in stories? Comment below and let me know!

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ALNTcoverThe dark twists and turns of Edgar Allan Poe’s mind have inspired many a nightmare and some hazy imaginings…

Aadenian Press has published “All the Night-Tide” – an anthology of Steampunk stories inspired by poems written by the Victorian writer.

This is the first of TWO posts about the release of “All the Night-Tide”


I asked Hazel Butler, the editor of the collection, about the anthology.

“When we were first batting around ideas for this anthology, there were a lot of them. So many possibilities. It was, however, eventually decided that since Aädenian Ink was founded for the express purpose of publishing Gothic and Steampunk art and fiction, it seemed natural that this, our first anthology, reflect that goal. The possibility of drawing on the works of Edgar Allan Poe presented itself very early on in the creative process as he is a much-loved Gothic author, and has such a wide range of works. It was decided that each piece in the anthology should be based on one of Poe’s uniquely dark and delicious poems. It was further decided that we wanted these stories to have a Steampunk twist to them.”

The selection process for stories can seem mysterious to some. Hazel explained how the stories were picked  for the anthology.

“The process of selecting the stories was quite a simple one in the end, at least in terms of the process. Editor Hazel Butler read all submissions and basically chose her favourites. That left a pile of about fifteen or sixteen. We couldn’t include all of those so it had to be whittled down. In the end she chose those stories that she felt had entered into the spirit of the anthology the most. In some cases this was simply a matter of them being well based on a poem and having a Steampunk theme or Steampunk elements. In other cases it was a deeper sense that they were truly quite Gothic in tone and reflected the nature of Edgar Allan Poe’s work quite well.”

The cover artwork is truly an amazing image and there are individual story graphics inside the anthology. I asked Hazel about the images in this volume: 

“The artwork is a combination of several images by artist Alice Rope, who recently did a large exhibit of bird studies. Three of these were of a raven or crow, and this tied in very nicely with the central ‘Poe’ image of the raven that was chosen for the cover design. The cover itself is a digital painting that was done by the Editor, Hazel Butler, who is also an artist and author. She used the raven to represent one of the most well-known poems of Poe, and the image of the woman, in all her Steampunk finery, holding the raven in a cage, was a good ALNTcoverrepresentation of what we were trying to achieve in the anthology – the melding of the two genres. On the back cover, the raven appears again in silhouette, this time free of the cage. Hazel and Alice also illustrated several stories each, with illustrations done specifically for the stories.”

The anthology is currently available at Amazon.com in hardcover. There will be a kindle edition available later.

 

Next week Friday, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from the authors…


As a contributing author in a number of anthologies, Ray Dean enjoys writing about many different cultures. Steampunk speaks to her in a retroactive futurism that opens so many possibilities. Her blog, My Ethereality (http://raydean.net), explores history, culture, war and love in eras and countries that influence the Steampunk world.

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coverA few days ago, a new small press and a new Steampunk anthology took their first breaths… To help launch this new endeavor, I’ve put together a post to introduce the press and then the authors who have stories in the anthology. – Ray

 

First, a few words from the head of Witty Bard Publishing  about the company and the new anthology: 

My name is Anna Victoria Jones, I prefer to go by Victoria or V. I have been working in Marketing at a Fortune 500 company for about 3 years, prior to that I received 2 degrees in IT. I am back in college, pre-law, at the moment. I have always loved to read and write and I have stumbled into a lot of terrific indie authors over the years. I was shocked, however, that no one else that I knew had heard of them. I have also had a few friends go through a traditional publisher and they are seeing pennies of the profits and are not really seeing much in the way of promotion either. I looked around at publishing options and there really isn’t a middle ground.
I started Witty Bard Publishing, LLC (WBP) to bridge the gap between a total self-published author and a traditional large corporate publisher. I use my marketing knowledge and business skills to promote the authors that, otherwise, may go unnoticed by so many willing readers. WBP focuses on promoting and rewarding quality writing no matter the writer. The competitions we host are one way to do that very thing. My judges do not know the names of the stories or the authors while they are judging. This way there is no author bias on the part of my judges; they grade the writing on its own merits. My plans for WBP include continuing to host competitions, while also offering many other author services, including editing/proofreading, publishing, promotion, etc., more information on those services can be found on our website www.wittybardpublishing.com. My main goal is and will always be to help authors receive the notoriety they deserve.
WBPLogoI am very new to the Steampunk genre. It is something that has always interested me, but I have never become that involved with it. After I decided that I wanted to do competitions I was trying to decide where I should start and a friend suggested Steampunk. I started learning more about Steampunk and I found it super interesting. I have enjoyed reading all the amazing stories that were submitted. I am super excited to see so much interest from the Steampunk crowd! If there is enough interest so soon, I may do another Steampunk anthology with the next set of competitions.
I think that this anthology has turned out very well! I was super excited by the amount and quality of entries and all the interest within the community. There is such a huge amount of diversity between the stories and I think that everyone can find something they love in the anthology. I cannot wait to publish it!
I am always looking to meet new people and I would appreciate any suggestions for future contests. I am also accepting applications for future judging spots, feel free to contact me. 🙂
Happy Writing!
V

 I also had the opportunity to ask the other authors about their stories and writing…

 (the images below will give you an idea of where our authors hail from)authorsmap

1. Author Name – Website

Lee Parry – www.themire.co.uk

John Walton – www.facebook.com/john.walton.927543 

Seamus Sweeney – www.nthposition.com/author.php?authid=217 or scarfaceproject.blogspot.com

Ross Baxter – www.amazon.co.uk/Ross-Baxter/e/B0041DO99U/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_3

Nicole Lavigne – http://www.nllavigne.wordpress.com

Liam Hogan http://happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk

Ray Dean www.raydean.net

 

2. The first – Your story is published in the first “Witty Bard” Publication – how excited are you to be a part of this inaugural event?

Lee: Very excited. It’s the first competition I had entered and I was thrilled to have won.

John: Very, It’s always good to get in on the ground floor then you become part of the history

Seamus:  It is an honour to be considered worthy of inclusion. It is an exciting development and I am extremely impressed with Witty Bard’s professionalism and enthusiasm.

Ross: Very excited, its always great to get a piece published and even better when its with an outfit like Witty Bard.

Nicole: Very excited. It’s a fun theme and I am looking forward to reading the other stories in the anthology. Doubly excited because this is also my first publication.

Liam: It’s always lovely to see one of my stories find a home, and being part of a “first” makes it extra special, hopefully Witty Bard can go on to many more anthologies, and I can say I was there at the start.

Ray: Love the energy of it all. Our publisher was so on the ball and things just kept rolling along. I hope to keep a strong working relationship with Witty Bard!

3. Is this your first Steampunk story?

If yes – what prompted your foray into the genre?

If no – did this story take you in a new direction within the genre?

Lee: No — I had previously self-published a novel that had significant Steampunk elements. It was more tongue-in-cheek and straight-up comedic than my novel. The novel had similar elements (as the short story’s protagonist was a supporting character in the novel)  but was far heavier and dramatic than the short story.

John: I am currently busy with a series The Voyages of the Black Thistle No1. This is a back story of one of the devices and some of the characters. Which will eventually form a companion volume. So to answer your question, not a new direction but an opportunity.

Seamus: Not really, but it is my first published one. Various threads in Irish history have acted as my inspiration. One is a chap called Henry Joy McCracken, who was one of the United Irishmen who, inspired by the French Revolution, rebelled in 1798. McCracken was a Presbyterian mill owner in Belfast. It is one of the ironies of history that the movement for Irish independence was initially led by Ulster Presbyterians, who would in later times be the bulwarks of Unionism. Reading about that period in history and subsequent events, there are many other roads that things could have gone down. There was much sympathy between Catholic communities and “dissenter” ones, well into the 19th Century we read of the communities helping each other to build churches and meeting houses. Also, as someone raised and educated in the Republic of Ireland, little of the industrial heritage of the whole Island was taught to us. I was also inspired by a book called “Jacquard’s Web” which essentially described how the loom invented by Jacquard in the early 19th century was a form of early computer. So, somewhat in the spirit of Gibson and Sterling’s “Difference Engine”, I postulate mass computational technology arising much earlier, but using spinning/weaving technology. I retain, at least in broad terms, the social structure of those industries, with cottage-based spinning giving way to industrial processes as the 19th Century continued. And also it is very much a muscle-power based industry.

I’ve written three of these “flaxpunk” stories so far, of which “An Honest Ulster Spinner” is the middle story chronologically. The first story deals with Henry Joy McCracken with various other twists. It probably has more exposition than the other two, and another speculative fiction element which I won’t give away here. In “real history” McCracken was executed  after the 1798 rebellion; that doesn’t quite happen in my timeline! The third follows Caroline, the daughter in “An Honest Ulster Spinner”, many years later. I’ve submitted both to various outlets so we’ll see what happens. They are standalone stories but with some overlap.

Ross: No. I’ve got a Steampunk Novella published with Phaze.com, available on Kindle. However, it’s Steampunk with a difference – it is erotic Steampunk written for a (very) mature audience (!)Writing erotic Steampunk pays well, but is a very narrow genre. The story in Witty Bard is more mainstream, and has allowed me to play a bit.

Nicole: It is the first Steampunk story that I have completed. I’ve read a few Steampunk stories and really enjoyed the juxtaposition of technology with history. Plus, it’s fun and the costumes look cool.

Liam: Ahem. I may have squeaked in by the narrowest of margins in definition terms. But that’s okay. I seem to have predated steam by (quite) a bit, and it’s rather less punk than others in the anthology! I tend to write all sorts of styles, depending on the seed-idea for the story – some horror, some sci-fi, some urban fantasy. And now, a little bit of Steampunk.

Ray: My first published story was Steampunk and so are a few of the other stories that are published or in the process of publication. This story is the first one that I’ve written that was set in my ‘hometown’ – The Hawaiian Kingdom/Sandwich Islands.

4. Hopefully your muse has continued to draw upon more Steampunk inspiration, are you planning to write more Steampunk stories? Short or novel length?

Lee: I am writing another short story set within the same universe for a similar competition, and I am also working on a second novel — again, set in the same universe.

John: Oh Yes – both

Seamus: I would like to explore this flaxpunk world more. I would see it developing as a series of vignettes and episodes, getting a sense of everyday lives lived in a specific world. At the start of 2014 I had notions of writing a story a month along these lines but things haven’t gone entirely to plan!

Ross:  If the right idea comes along, then yes. I find it very hard to write Steampunk, and need a great idea to help me carry it.

Nicole: I have another Steampunk short story in the works right now that will be quite different from Stolen Cargo.

Liam: Absolutely. I’m going to try my hand at a proper Steampunk short story, for Steampunk Trails – Steam punk meets the Wild West. Lets see if they like it.

cover

Ray: Have a bunch in the process of publication and I’m always working on more… both short and novel-length.

So… how do you get your copy???

1. Use any of these links to find a format to order:

2. Reply to this post and I’ll select a random participant to receive a KINDLE copy of the anthology 

– to be considered, please have your ‘comment’ completed by end of  Monday May19, 2014

 

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Jane Loudon

Jane Loudon

Jane Loudon’s novel, The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century was published anonymously as a trilogy in 1827, and again in 1828. It was the first book about a mummy brought back to life, a popular plot to this day. However, there’s a lot more to Loudon’s contribution to sci-fi. In the regency era, a time when the word sci-fi wasn’t even used, she understood what futuristic sci-fi was meant to be. She wrote of the future in a way no one had before. Instead of just taking her own time period and moving it into the future making few changes except for utopian or dystopian ones, she built an actual futuristic world with advanced technology, futuristic clothing, and a different type of government. Jane Loudon was the first sci-fi author to actually world build.

The gadgets in her future world all spring from the regency era when the high-end technology of the day was steam and balloons. Two of Loudon’s characters, Edwin and Dr. Entwerfen embark on an expedition to the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops (Khufu), to shock him back to life with a galvanized battery. Their dialogue when leaving for Egypt and realizing they have too much baggage for the balloon touches on some of Loudon’s interesting futuristic inventions. She even envisioned a certain type of space flight as a fashionable mode of travel. Here’s a short excerpt:

“The cloaks are of asbestos and will be necessary to protect us from ignition, if we should encounter any electric matter in the clouds; and the hampers are filled with elastic plugs for our ears and noses, and tubes and barrels of common air, for us to breathe when we get beyond the common atmosphere of the earth. “

“But what occasion shall we have to go beyond it?”

“How can we do otherwise? Surely you don’t meant to travel the whole distance in the balloon? I thought of course, you would adopt the present fashionable mode of traveling, and after mounting the seventeen miles or thereabouts, which is necessary to get clear of the mundane attraction, to wait there till the turning of the globe should bring Egypt directly under our feet.”

“But it is not in the same latitude.”

Then the doctor explains the box he wants to bring on the balloon contains his portable galvanic battery and his apparatus for making and collecting the inflammable air. It also holds a machine for producing and concentrating quicksilver vapor – the power to propel them onward in place of steam. It even has laughing gas for the sole purpose of keeping up their spirits.

Another change in everyday life in the future is fast mail delivery. Letters are placed inside balls and fired from steam cannons. Every town and district have a woven wire suspended in the air as a net to catch the ball and a cannon to send it off again when the letters for that neighborhood are extracted. A smaller wooden ball with a hole in its side to making whizzing noise as it sails through the air is sent before each mail ball to alert people to keep out of the way.

Also Stage balloons are used to make fast deliveries. One of the characters receives a collection of ballads, at least three hundred years old, sent from London by stage balloon that morning. They are on rag paper since asbestos paper used in the 22nd century had only been invented for two hundred years.

Movable houses are another change in the future. One of the characters, Edric, sees a house slide out of place and glide along the road. A lady at the window blows a kiss to someone in another house as she passes by. When someone wants to go into the country for a few weeks they take their house with them, which saves the trouble of packing and allows everyone to have all their little conveniences about. There are grooves in the bottom of the houses that fit on the iron railways. Propelled by steam, they slide on without much trouble but it only works for small houses as large ones aren’t compact enough.

More futuristic marvels are feather-fans hung from the ceiling, circulating aeriform fluid. Also they use tubes in the houses to suck out stale air and bring the fresh air in. And the most stylish coats are made in a machine. At one end it strips the wool off a sheep, then weaves it so a ready to wear coat comes out at the other end of the machine. Also Bridges are movable and steam-powered to rotate in all directions and to adjust to whatever height is needed for the different waterways. Even streets are modernized, they are warmed by pipes of hot air so no one perishes of cold.

She envisions a lot of technological advancements in agriculture including a steam-powered lawnmower and a mechanical milking machine. Also when the sun doesn’t shine enough to make hay they use a burning glass to make it. When it doesn’t rain enough for the crops they use an electrical machine to draw down clouds to cause rain on the fields that need it.

She also shares a glimpse of futuristic fashion: “The ladies were all arrayed in loose trousers, over which hung drapery in graceful folds; and most of them carried on their heads streams of lighted gas forced by capillary tubes into plumes, fleurs-de-lis, or in short any form the wearer pleased; which jets de feu had an uncommonly chase and elegant effect.”

There are also political changes from the Regency era to the 22nd century. After undergoing a revolution, and even a period of democracy, England returns to an absolute monarchy but as a matriarchy. All rulers are queens and the candidates are single women of the royal family between the ages of 20 and 25. There is  a law that the queen cannot get married. In the towns, the men in the country 21 years on up, in groups of 10,000, choose a deputy to represent them in London. The queen is elected through the majority vote of these deputies.

The Mummy! 1828 2nd edition - title page

The Mummy! 1828 2nd edition – title page

The main characters in The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century come from two families with their eyes on the crown: the Montagues and the house of the Duke of Cornwall. The Montagues have two sons, Edmund, a national hero and Edric, an intellectual. The Duke of Cornwall’s family has two daughters Elvira and Rosabella, who are the next in line to the throne if anything happens to Queen Claudia. Edric’s father has arranged for him to marry Rosabella but he reuses. Edric is fascinated by the idea of reanimating the dead. His friend, Dr. Entwerfen tells him that since the ancient Egyptians believed the souls of their mummies were chained to them in a torpid state till the final day of judgment, there is every reason to believe that by employing so powerful an agent as a galvanic battery of fifty surgeon power re-animation may be produced. Edric is too squeamish to touch a dead corpse’s flesh but he’s willing to touch a mummy as it swathed in wrappings. He and Dr. Entwerfen go to Egypt and resurrect the mummy, Cheops. But the mummy runs out of the pyramid, hijacks their balloon, and flies back to England. When he flies over Queen Claudia’s coronation pageant, his balloon gets tangled up with all the other balloons crowding he sky. His balloon gets torn and falls to the earth landing on and killing Queen Claudia. The story continues with political intrigue, a secret birth father, and love triangles, all with a little help from the wise Pharaoh, Cheops, who has the most common sense and perception of anyone in the book.

The similarity between awakening the mummy and awakening Frankenstein back to life and the similarity of the two main male characters, hero and intellectual as in in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, is no coincidence. Jane Loudon uses them as a parody to show her own view point. Her political, social and religious beliefs differ greatly form Mary Shelley’s.

I have to say it, Sci-fi readers and writers owe Jane Loudon and Mary Shelley so much. Frankenstein was written and first published in 1818, when Mary Wollstoncroft was only nineteen. Jane Webb wrote The mummy, a Tale of the 22nd century when she was 17 and it was published in 1827. H. G. Wells and Jules Verne didn’t write their first books for many years after this: Jules Verne’s – Five Weeks In A Balloon in 1863 and H. G. Wells – The Time Machine in 1895. Not only have women been reading and writing sci-fi for over two hundred years, the sci-fi genre wouldn’t be the same without them. The genre was pioneered by two teenage girls with very different views on politics and religion, both writing in the Regency era. I think that’s awesome.

 ~       ~        ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be making several appearances next month in May at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans and at Comicpalooza in Houston.

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DELcover

Click on the bookcover image to visit the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Website

It was too good to be true… a copy of Dawn’s Early Light in my own hands… I had it for all of a few seconds before my son snapped it up out of my hands. With a stern demand in my tone and a promise to return it to his hands when I was done reading it, I soon had it back. And in my hands it stayed until I’d finished it. And smiled… and smiled… more.

The third book in the series, Dawn’s Early Light has been highly anticipated in my household and it did not disappoint! From the very opening, we are treated to action and adventure with our favorite duo, Books & Braun! Even in transit to the Americas they can’t seem to catch a break and have some peace and quiet. But if they did, they wouldn’t be our favorite agents… 😀

Arriving in America they make quick work of finding their American counterparts and getting to know one another. But of course for these two, the simple act of meeting “Wild Bill” and Felicity is entertaining and promises more fun before the end of the book. More than national pride separates the agents, competition is high, and there’s still the emotional confusion welling up within our Ministry agents. It’s all good!

Another exciting facet of the novel, the ‘tech’ in this new ‘Ministry’ book doesn’t disappoint. Wellington’s tinkering and inventive mind certainly make me smile. His continued interest, even so far away from home, was a joy! Add to it a number of other scientists we all know and love… and some perhaps on the other end of the spectrum, and the game is on!

I really appreciate the way the parallel story lines are presented. It’s easy to follow along with all the characters in the adventures covered in this volume. Even with the additional characters that are part and parcel with changing the setting in a series of books, no one seems left out or plays the part of an ‘extra.’ All the characters live and breathe within this brave ‘new world’ of Book Three!

The pacing of the book is another plus for me… the action moves things forward, the relationships and interactions of the characters move the plot along. It’s a satisfying read that clips along and builds excitement not just for the happenings in Dawn’s Early Light, but continuing on in the series.

That is one of the delights of this series. I always worry when the first two books of a series are great… I’ve been let down a few times before with other authors and other genres. So, I was very happy to read this book and know that this is a series that just keeps getting better!

Eager for more information on this amazing series, I sent a few questions to the author’s of the book.

TSD

click on this picture to visit their writing website

Q & A with the authors of Dawn’s Early Light

Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Q: Finally, the third novel in the series! What prompted the change to America instead of other places Books & Braun may have traveled?

A: Dawn’s Early Light picks up shortly after the end of The Janus Affair. Eliza has been reinstated as a Field Agent while Wellington has been “promoted” (at least on paper anyway) to be Eliza’s partner. They have been sent, strictly as advisors, to the Office of the Supernatural and Metaphysical who are on a case that has stumped the agents there. So we join our Ministry agents on a coast-to-coast adventure.

Q: Creating characters can be both exciting and stressful, taking the setting out of England, what challenge did those barbaric Americans create for you?

A: Our adventure invites the brave agents of the Office of the Supernatural and Metaphysical (OSM, or agents of “awesome”) along for the ride, and really, Felicity Lovelace and “Wild Bill” Wheatley were a joy to write against Eliza and Welly. Felicity and Bill are mirror reflections of the two of them, and sometimes Eliza and Welly don’t like what is staring back at them. It was a challenge digging deep into the American agents and poking fun at our own world personas. We had a blast mixing it up with our agents from opposite ends of the Atlantic.

Q:  Personally, I’m thrilled that Wild American West is the locale for your newest book. Wild Bill is a nickname given to a number of personages in that period of American History. Is your Wild Bill focused on one in particular, an amalgamation, or did you pull him from thin air?

A: The name “Wild Bill” I’m sure will conjure images of Bill Hickok but our “Wild Bill” is more of an appropriate reputation for a loose cannon in the Intelligence Community. Bill Wheatley is similar to Eliza in that he likes to make an impression with as much firepower as he can muster. I believe there is a bit of method to Bill’s madness, and in the end I think Eliza and Wellington both grow to like him…after a fashion.

Q: In our family, your Ministry books are shared between two generations. What do you think is key to your multi-generational appeal?

A: Spies are cool. Period. Whether it is James Bond, James West and Artemis Gordon, or the crew taking care of Warehouse 13, spies are appealing to all ages. It could be the gadgets. It could be the action and adventure. It could be the intrigue and the lifestyle, but there is something about spies that keeps all ages engaged. When you see the lines at the International Spy Museum, you really see all kinds of people anxious to see the toys and soak in the history. It’s the cloak-and-dagger that draws everybody in.

Q: Do you have plans for beyond book 4? Are there any hints you’d care to share?

A: I can’t go too much into what we’re working on with Book 4 but I will tell you this: bring a flashlight. We’re going dark.

Thanks to Pip & Tee for taking the time to answer some of my questions! Now… all I have to do is somehow WAIT for book Four.

Wait.  *tapping fingers* Hmm… *bouncing my knee up and down underneath my computer table*  “Is it done yet? Huh?”

From Ray Dean: Howdy from Hawai’i, folks! I’ve been a guest blogger on Steamed! on several occasions, but thanks to Suzanne who gave me the opportunity to do this on a regular basis. So the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month you will be subjected… err… entertained(?) by my blog posts… YOU WILL BE ENTERTAINED, I said… *cough*

Anywho… A hui hou (Until we meet again) – Ray Dean – www.raydean.net – My Ethereality

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capesandclockworkbookcoverDuring a forgotten time when the world was powered by steam and clockwork, heroes arose to do battle against the forces of evil. Some were outfitted with the latest technology. Others were changed by the mysteries of science and magic, while a few came from the skies. Capes and Clockwork fuses the fantasy and beauty of steampunk with the action and adventure of the superhero genre. Tease your imagination with sixteen stories of good versus evil, monster versus hero, and steam versus muscle! 

The Capes and Clockwork Anthology was published on January 1, 2014 by Dark Oak Press – what a great way to start off the year!

I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to some of the authors of this anthology –

Are you primarily a short story writer or novel length?

Alan D Lewis:  I’ve written both and enjoy both. A novel gives you plenty of room to explore the characters and their worlds in my depth and detail. I prefer writing novels. On the other hand, short stories can tell a brief but compelling story, not weighing the reader down.

For me, writing a few short stories after finishing up a draft of a novel is a pallet cleanser, so to speak.

Logan L Masterson:

It’s hard to say, since I haven’t actually finished a novel to date. Wait. Maybe it’s not that hard. With Clockwork Demons in Capes & Clockwork, a very brief story in an upcoming werewolf anthology, and a novella from Pro Se Press, I suppose I’m really a short form writer. I enjoy exploring the economy of shorter works, and I think they support theme a lot better than novels.

David J Fielding: Though I have aspirations at being a novelist, I find myself concentrating on short stories at the present time. There is a challenge to take readers on a journey, with a beginning, middle and end and keep it to a limited word count. Perhaps that’s the influence of modern media on storytellers – the on-demand format, the hyper-link generation – micro-bursts of entertainment; when they want it, how they want it. As a writer it challenges you to convey your ideas and story in a streamlined way. You find yourself creating shortcuts. There’s a Stephen King short story Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut that (for me) is a great metaphor of writing short stories – and that new roads, worlds and layers are out there.

Christopher Valin: I haven’t written a novel yet, although I did write a history book. Most of my work has consisted of short stories, feature scripts, and teleplays. I grew up reading comic books and eventually worked in the comic business as an inker and writer, so I’ve always loved superheroes.

Brent Nichols: I write frequently at a wide variety of lengths, from short stories to novellas to novels. Each form has its challenges and its rewards, and I’m fairly comfortable with all of them. Mostly, I like to tell a story, and I don’t worry too much about length. The story goes from the start to the finish, whether that’s four pages or four hundred.

What aspects of the Steampunk genre do you find the most satisfying?

Alan D Lewis:  With Steampunk, I’ve always been drawn to the Victorian Era and the spirit of adventure and wonder. It was a time where anyone with some know-how could take a box of metal cogs and springs and invent wondrous contraptions. Balloons and airship were indeed flying during this time. Maybe not monstrous flying machines, but they did exist and were built by individuals, not by aerospace corporations.

So Steampunk let my imagination run wild with what ‘could have been’.

And superheroes? Well as a kid, I grew up reading The Avengers, Thor, and others. So writing about them wasn’t a problem but joy.

Logan L Masterson: The best thing about steampunk is the opportunity of exploration. The Victorian era was a brilliant time, and its settings allow authors to as some great what if questions. That there remained so many unknowns opens the field. We can explore social issues, the resurgence of mysticism, technology, and wide, vast dominions, all with the same breath.

Christopher Valin: As for Steampunk, it’s something I liked for many years without knowing it was a genre. For example, as a kid, ‘Wild, Wild West’ was one of my favorite shows.

But it wasn’t until six or seven years ago that I realized it was a genre in itself, and started not only reading it, but writing stories in that vein.

So being able to write a story combining the two and figuring out how to make it work was very satisfying to me. I loved thinking about how superheroes would have been over a hundred years ago.

Brent Nichols:  The beauty of Steampunk for me is the absence of limits in certain key areas. I grew up reading science fiction and old-fashioned adventure stories, and steampunk at its best combines the two.

The thing about Steampunk technology is that it feels accessible. You can’t take apart a piece of modern technology and tinker with it. Pull the cover off of your smart phone some time and see how far you get. So much of modern technology is simply beyond the grasp of an individual. Most science fiction these days doesn’t involve a solitary genius making a breakthrough or building an innovative new machine. That sort of thing is done by the huge R&D departments of major corporations these days, not one smart person with a lab in his basement.

In the 19th century, though, we had men like Edison and Tesla, and a few women, too, making truly astonishing discoveries and building devices that changed the world. Steampunk technology often feels like something you could create on your own, or at least take apart and tinker with, and understand. It’s just plain more fun than modern science fiction.

The other part of Steampunk that appeals to me is the ability to play in a wild, fascinating past world, when every corner of the planet was not yet mapped and measured, when there were still lost tribes and unexplored jungles and so many things that were simply unknown. A steampunk writer gets to play in that marvellous world, without the need to be limited by actual history. Steampunk worlds are alternate worlds, and we get to make changes. We get to say, let’s change that historical fact, or devise that gadget that would not, strictly speaking, actually work. Let’s keep the story rooted in history and technology that are basically sound and feel plausible, but let’s allow for wondrous machines and places and events, because it allows us to tell such awesome stories.

What writing challenges have you learned to overcome?

Alan D Lewis: When I first started writing, my main problem wasn’t with developing the story or plot or characters. It was with the mechanics of writing. The subject had never been a strong point in school and I struggled, early on with that fact. Storytelling always came easy. Writing did not. But I surrounded myself with other writers who weren’t afraid to point out my errors and encourage me to continue. I also had to get over the fact that it doesn’t have to be right the first time. A writer can edit and rewrite and rewrites some more. My first book was a long, long road, but I learned enough that the second novel took a fraction of the time to turn around from an idea to a published manuscript.

Logan L Masterson:  Steampunk’s challenges are relatively few for me. It’s really a natural genre, since I grew up reading mostly comic books and, you guessed it, classics. Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and so many others. I was a teenager before I got past Tolkien into other “modern” fantasists, so the fusion of science fiction and Victoriana was easy for me. Add my love of comic books, and Clockwork Demons may have been the easiest story I’ve ever written. The only challenge for me was devising a unique, distinctive technology for my world. Once I had that wound up (hah!), the rest fell into place.

Christopher Valin: For several years, I wrote almost nothing by screenplays, so the biggest challenge for me in writing short stories is probably changing my mindset and including more description and inner dialogue.

I’m still hesitant to include too much about how everything looks because I want to leave some of it to the ‘director’… which, in this case, is the reader picturing the story in his or her head.

Brent Nichols: Learning to tie my shoes was a big hurdle. More recently, I’ve been struggling with how to present the technology of steampunk in a way that’s plausible and interesting without bogging the reader down in a lot of technical detail.

The big problem with Steampunk technology is that most of it wouldn’t actually work. There were no airships in the Victorian era, no walking machines, no hydraulic spiders or steam-powered giant mechanical ants. Steam power requires vast weights of iron and water to function. The really cool inventions that steampunk writers and artists dream up simply wouldn’t work in the real world.

I deal with it by dreaming up gadgets that are just a little bit beyond the realms of physics as we know it. Far enough out there to be cool, but not far enough out there to be ridiculous. And I hint at alternate-reality technologies, things that, if they had existed, would have opened the doors of possibility and allowed the fantastic gadgets of steampunk to be real. Enhanced coal, for example. My fictional enhanced coal burns hotter and faster than real coal and makes some preposterous machines just a little more plausible.

Now, what are you waiting for? Delve into the Capes & Clockwork stories –

Buy Capes & Clockwork on Amazon.com
Capes & Clockwork Facebook page

For more information on the authors in this Q & A –

Alan D Lewis – www.dalanlewis.com
Logan L Masterson – www.agonyzer.com
David J Fielding
Christopher Valin – www.christophervalin.com
Brent Nichols – www.steampunch.com

From Ray Dean: Howdy from Hawai’i, folks! I’ve been a guest blogger on Steamed! on several occasions, but thanks to Suzanne who gave me the opportunity to do this on a regular basis. So the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month you will be subjected… err… entertained(?) by my blog posts… YOU WILL BE ENTERTAINED, I said… *cough*

Anywho… A hui hou (Until we meet again)

Ray Dean – www.raydean.net – My Ethereality

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