Author Interview — Ross Baxter

The hits just keep on coming! Today I go to England to continue my series of interviews of authors whose stories appear in the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships!

Ross BaxterI interviewed Ross Baxter, who completed a career in the Royal Navy and now concentrates on writing sci-fi and horror fiction. His varied work has been published in print and Kindle by a number of publishing houses in the US and the UK. He’s married to a Norwegian and with two Anglo-Viking kids, he now lives in Derby, England.

Let’s weigh anchor and get the interview underway:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Ross Baxter: I began writing fiction to relieve the boredom of long night watches when serving with the British Royal Navy Reserve. Not that I didn’t enjoy my time, but it did drag on occasion. That was about twelve years ago. I left the Royal Navy Reserve after 30 years service in October 2011, and finding more time on my hands increased my writing rate accordingly.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

R.B.: Ideas are the easiest things, but committing them to paper is the hardest. I’m not the most academic person, and I’m afraid never listened much in English classes at school. As a result I really have to work hard on grammar and style, both which are a challenge.

P.S.: Your website states you’re an author of horror, sci-fi, and westerns. What about those genres intrigues you?

R.B.: Many will disagree, but I feel westerns and sci-fi are very close bedfellows. Both share an expansive landscape, both are unimpeded by the “norms” of society, and in both anything can happen (literally). Which is why I love both genres. Horror is also a favourite as it can span many genres, which gives a horror yarn a huge scope.

P.S.: Is the Western genre still retaining some popularity?

R.B.: Unfortunately, I think that the Western genre is effectively dead. Yes, from time to time someone tries to resurrect it, yet despite some brave attempts it now remains virtually a small niche. It is a shame that it no longer captures the imagination of the vast majority, and I’m not sure why this is the case. Take the relatively recent TV series Deadwood; to me it was superb in every way and perfectly shows the depth and width of the canvas that Westerns can provide, yet it was well down in the popularity charts. (I should take this opportunity to recommend the novel Deadwood by Pete Dexter; an excellent read).

P.S.: How did your career in the Royal Navy influence your writing?

R.B.: It certainly imparted an understanding of the military, and what it means to live and serve in close confines with others. It also spawned a whole legion of ideas, many based on actual events.

Corporate AlienP.S.: Your novel Corporate Alien was recently published. Please tell us about it.

R.B.: It is my first novel, a science fiction space opera heavily influenced by authors such as Iain M. Banks and Alan Dean Foster. Although sci-fi, anyone who has suffered in the recent economic downturn should be able to easily relate to it. It’s all about corporate greed, corporate (ir)responsibility, and how easy the downtrodden become even more downtrodden. I’m hoping it will sell well in Detroit!

P.S.: What are the common themes of your short stories and novels?

R.B.: I have to say that most are relatively dark, although I do strive to inject some humour. I do enjoy trying different things though, and this has worked well in the past few years with my biggest selling stories actually being an erotic romance novella, and a story for kids!

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: Your short story, “Go Green,” will appear in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Can you tell us a bit about the protagonist and his or her main conflict?

R.B.: This is my third published steampunk story, and the characters are the same as in the first two. All the stories are set in an airship converted into a floating brothel, and “Go Green” continues the series based on a flashy, leather-clad ex-Colonel and his level-headed female engineer.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

R.B.: I’m finishing my second novel; a nautical thriller set in South-East Asia in present times, regarding increasing tensions amongst Pacific-rim countries following the sinking of a research vessel by the Chinese off the Spratly Islands. It’s full of murdering Russians, trigger-happy Chinese and the US Seventh Fleet: it’s a scenario that could happen at any time!

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Ross Baxter: Practice, practice, practice…and keep at it. It took me seven years before I got anything published, but the practice and hard work did finally pay off.

 

Thanks, Ross! You’ve reminded me that despite the close alliance between the US and the UK, we may never agree on the spelling of certain words. I certainly wish you great success. My readers can find more about Ross Baxter on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, LinkedIn and his website.

Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 27, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Wynelda Ann Deaver

…And my series of interviews continues. I’ve come to the conclusion that the nearly-published anthology Avast, Ye Airships! contains stories by some of the most enthralling authors writing steampunk today.

Wynelda Deaver & sonToday I’d like you to meet Wynelda Ann Deaver. Her website, Wynword’s Weblog, is subtitled “Life, Love, Kids, and Being a Little Nuts.” I didn’t find much evidence of her being nuts, but the other three topics really define her site. They also permeate the answers to my interview questions, which she answered with clarity and brevity:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Wynelda Ann Deaver: I started writing fiction in the fifth grade. I think it was mostly me wanting to be someone else—be the heroine for once.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

W.D.: Ideas are easy. But computers come with internet now, and there’s Facebook, and blogs, and email… Not to mention being a single parent. It’s not that I don’t have the time. It’s that time management is very hard for me.

P.S.: How did you become interested in writing in your primary genre?

W.D.: Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. I read my first one in the fourth grade. My mom read romance, so she flipped through it, saw the “Adult Conspiracy” and knew it would be ok for me. I was hooked.

P.S.: Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

W.D.: Everywhere. Sometimes you just have to take your view and twist it.

P.S.: Your short story, “Steampunk Garden,” is set to appear in the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships! AvastYeAirshipsWhat was the inspiration for it?

W.D.: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of the books that I adored growing up. I still do. So I took it and… twisted it. Made it into a new story.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing?

W.D.: Mercedes Lackey, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Anne Bishop, Elizabeth Haydon.

P.S.: Recently your book The Golden Apple and Other Stories was published. Please tell us a little about it.

W.D.: The Golden Apple and Other Storiesgolden_apple_72dpi1 is something I’m really proud of. There are three retellings of fairytales and two personal myths in it. One of the fairytales, “The Golden Apple,” is one my sister used to tell her daughters and me while we were in the car.

P.S.: From your website it’s clear your son has been diagnosed with Dyspraxia. My heart goes out to you. How have your efforts to cope with his condition influenced your writing?

W.D.: My son is a huge part of my life, and in his first five or six years so was his dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that affects motor skills, memory, speech, balance, emotional health… a lot. When he was younger, I didn’t write very much— too busy with him and getting him up to at least near where he needs to be. Now that he’s older, it’s easier to write. He has friends. He can ride a bike with no training wheels (it took five months, but he stuck with it!). He doesn’t need me quite as much. But I’m finding him popping up in my fiction now: in the urban fantasy, there’s a wee little toddler who has dyspraxic symptoms. In The Golden Apple, there’s a personal myth with a mother and son in a candy garden. This started with a story between my son and I… I just twisted it really hard!

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

W.D.: I am currently working on an urban fantasy. A witch, a vampire and a siren are best friends…

Poseidon’s Scribe:   What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Wynelda Ann Deaver: Just write. And read. Read a lot, but write more. You also have to make the decision— are you writing for love or money? Personally, I have to write the stories I do, whether or not they find a home. My hard drive is full of stories that haven’t found a home yet. I might send them out again. Or self-publish since that’s now readily available in the e-book market. I wrote them for me, the original audience. And sometimes that’s enough.

 

Thank you, Wynelda, for captivating my readers with your answers today. I wish you many sales. Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

 Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 24, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Libby A. Smith

When you’re on a hot streak, go with it. I’ve been interviewing some fascinating authors lately.  Today I question another author who contributed to the anthology Avast, Ye Airships!, Libby A. Smith.

Libby A SmithLibby is a two-time winner of the Little Rock Free Press’ Literary Contest. She lives in Little Rock with her three cats.

Libby’s stories have appeared in Caliber Comic’s “Negative Burn” and “Dominique: Protect and Serve,” Hanthercraft Publications’ “Tandra” and “Dragonroc” universe comics and website, and Shanda Fantasy Art’s “Atomic Mouse.” Most recently her story “Newcomers” appeared in the Short Short Story issue of 4 Star Stories.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Libby A. Smith: I’ve always known I was going to be a writer. My first poem was in a local newspaper when I was around 7 years old. I don’t recall seriously writing fiction until I was in college. I went on to earn a BA in English with an emphasis on creative writing.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

L.A.S.: The easiest aspect for me is writing dialogue which leads to developing the characters. I love people watching which really helps me “keep it real” no matter how strange the story itself is. There’s very colorful real life characters everywhere. Normally, I also am speaking the dialogue out loud when I write. This helps me determine how “real” it sounds.

The hardest part of writing for me is knowing where to start the story. I’ve learned to relax about it and just start writing. Many times what I intend to be the story’s end turns out to be the beginning.

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: You have a story, “Plunder in the Valley,” in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Without spoiling anything, can you tell us a little about the story, and what inspired you to write it?

L.A.S.: The inspiration for the story came from the editor reminding me I had about 24 hours to submit a story! Truly! The year was a rough one, ending with a friend being found dead on Christmas Day from natural causes. He was a huge science fiction fan and had written a few stories. I was just drained physically and emotionally. When faced with the deadline, I recalled a partial story I had in my files which my friend loved. Although I ended up completely rewriting it, the original rough draft provided good “bones” and the tone I wanted.

In this case, the characters created the plot. I grew up in a small yet fast-growing town with a fantastic oral history and many colorful “old timers” around who were still going strong. Some welcomed the newcomers to town, some didn’t. Although not based on specific individuals in this case, they provided the soul to the characters and story. I’d describe it as “country humor Steampunk.”

P.S.: I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Country Humor Steampunk sounds fascinating and original. What other genres do you write in?

L.A.S.: “Plunder in the Valley” is definitely steampunk even if it is different than the norm. When I have a story to tell, I don’t really worry about genre unless it is intended for a specific market as in this case. I’ve written southern lit, gay & lesbian, poetry, comic books, science fiction, comic book scripts, and fantasy. I’m sure I’m leaving something out!

P.S.: Are you interested in writing a sequel to that story, with some of the same characters?

L.A.S.: Definitely! It’d be a lot of fun if I get the opportunity to do so.

P.S.: What is the audience you’re aiming for in your stories?

L.A.S.: It depends on the story. But even when it seems rather specific such as ‘gay & lesbian,’ I want my work to speak to others. After all, there’s a universality to the emotions we all experience.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing?

L.A.S.: Every author I’ve read. The biggest single influence is Maya Angelou. I recall reading  “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” in around fifth grade and realizing she was once a little girl in Arkansas. That’s when it dawned on me that I could really be a writer and I didn’t have to live in a big city.

I’ve never thought about this until now but another would be Lois Lenski. She was my first “favorite writer” when I was in second grade. She’d traveled the country visiting different areas to research her books like ‘Strawberry Girl.’ They told the stories of what it was like to be a child in different areas and situations. Each time  I read one of her books, I thought, “Wow! This could be me if I’d been born there.’

Yes, it is odd that they aren’t science fiction or fantasy authors. Quite a few did and do influence me like Stephen Donaldson, Arthur C. Clarke, and so forth. But a good story is a good story no matter the genre.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

L.A.S.: To be honest, nothing! I’m also an actor and have been auditioning a lot lately. This is on top of a full time day job and being extremely involved in my church’s music ministry. I have bits and pieces of stories started as well as formulating in my head, I just haven’t serious started working on any particular one.

Yet.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Libby A. Smith: Remember to live. Making a living only from writing is very hard and, believe me, it becomes too much like work. If you find another way to make a living wage, you’ll find writing is easier since you don’t have to worry as much about the yucky things like shelter, food, a working computer, etc. I used to hang around science fiction conventions with a group of folks about my age who’d also just broken into “published writing.” Those who quit their day jobs eventually stopped writing from the stress of surviving. I kept plugging along in the mundane world and am still writing.

If all you focus on is writing, you aren’t living. Your stories and characters will be less “real” because you aren’t experiencing real life. You need to mingle with people or at least get out and observe them. Ease drop in public places such as grocery stories. Go to a park with a snack and just watch people around you. Volunteer somewhere that gets out and among people other than your immediate family and friends. Hang out occasionally with others outside your writing buddies. You can’t write believably about the world—or any world—without going out to discover what makes life an adventure.

Every person is a character in a story. Every life event is a plot. Everyone truly does have a story.

 

Thanks for inspiring the readers of Poseidon’s Scribe today, Libby! Fans can find out more about Libby A. Smith on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Poseidon’s Scribe

 

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January 23, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Ogarita

The authors of stories in the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships! continue to be willing to be interviewed by me. I haven’t scared the remaining ones away yet.

Speaking of scaring others, today’s interviewee is author Ogarita, no stranger to the art of terrifying readers, while armed with nothing but her bare words. Think I’m kidding? The opening picture on her website is of a lonely cemetery, in the dead of winter. My internet browser was afraid to open the page the first time, and now refuses to go back.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Ogarita: I’ve noodled around with writing stories since I was ten years old and conjured a girl, dumped in a boarding school, who is transported (via a mysterious and never explained glowing rectangle) to a world combining elements of Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain. I turned to writing daily about three years ago, after retiring from an active-duty career in the U.S. Navy.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

O.: Most difficult? I always, always begin a story in the wrong place. A couple of novels ago I decided this just didn’t matter . . . for first drafts, at least. I save that pain for subsequent revisions, during which I suffer the recurring and depressing realization I will never produce anything as wondrously creative as the beginning of Nabokov’s Lolita. Regardless of one’s opinion of that story, the opening is fabulous writing.

The easiest part of writing? Everything other than beginnings.

P.S.: On your website, you’re known as Ogarita (not your real name), and the story of how you got that name is fascinating.  Is that family tradition of bestowing strange, secret, family names likely to continue to future generations?

O.: My family’s history is filled with bizarre names, among which Ogarita figures as fairly tame. This custom took a steep dive, however, two generations ago, when my grandfather abandoned the name Yakeley and renamed himself Robert. The love of eccentric names continues, however; throughout my childhood my mother expressed frequent regret she hadn’t named me Hepzibah. It’s possible this close call inspires me to write stories filled with fear.

P.S.: Ogarita it is, then. You’ve said you write stories of “ghosts and banshees, creepy houses and spooky cemeteries, stalkers and extroverts.” How did you become interested in writing tales of that type?

O.: First, discovering the best ghost movie ever filmed: The Uninvited, made in 1944 and based on Dorothy Macardle’s 1941 novel, Uneasy Freehold. When, three-quarters of the way through the movie, the double doors bang open . . . glorious terror! The book isn’t bad, either, although the secondary female characters tend to be a bit soppy. Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House kept me awake at night for three days after finishing it, and I’m still not keen on holding hands in the dark. I’m always searching out well-written stories in which sympathetic characters find themselves inadvertently involved with the supernatural . . . and scared nearly to death.

P.S.: You call yourself a middle grade and Young Adult author. In what ways is that different from writing for a more general audience?

O.: A fair number of writers, and I include myself among them, claim there is and should be little difference between writing for MG/YA and adults, other than the former being a bit less overt in depicting violence, sex, and in using profanity/obscenity. These, however, are far from being hard rules. The characters in John Green’s collaborative book (with David Levithan), Will Grayson, Will Grayson, don’t hold back in terms of verbal obscenities. Nor does Stephen King dumb down the dangers faced by nine-year-old Trisha (in The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), when she’s lost in the woods. Are Green and King writing for adults or middle-graders?

In my MG/YA ghost story novels I shoot for spinal meltdown moments, hoping to ruin the sleep of all my readers. That’s what I’ve loved since I was a kid and still do today.

P.S.: You have a story, “Captain Wexford’s Dilemma,” in the anthology AvastYeAirshipsAvast Ye Airships! Without spoiling anything, can you tell us a little about the story, and what inspired you to write it?

O.: The superheated steam produced by a ship’s boilers, properly controlled, creates enormous amounts of beneficial power. Controlling the steam, however, requires careful maintenance and the right materials—steel, for example—that can withstand the intense and high heat. In October 1990 the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) docked in Bahrain for repairs to a steam valve. A contractor mistakenly chose metal fasteners of brass, rather than steel, to fasten down the bonnet of a steam valve; when the ship got underway, the fasteners gave way and the ship’s boiler room flooded with superheated steam. Eleven men died because of a small, crucial, mistaken choice. Captain Wexford’s Dilemma allowed me to create and take control of a similar situation, but from that starting place spin a fantasy with a different outcome, one that I found emotionally salvific. And, because I have long worked in the field of religious diversity, humor crept in as the story revealed itself and Captain Wexford struggled to find ways to deal with a far less material challenge to the safety of her airship.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing?

O.:

  • Terry Pratchett. A genius who made Death one of fantasy’s most believable character.
  • Barbara Hambley. Those Who Hunt the Night (1988) a vampire-filled murder mystery, uses suspense and a sense of place exceptionally well.
  • Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand, Stefan Bachmann, and Emma Trevayne. The Cabinet of Curiosities (2014) contains thirty-six inventive and beautifully written short stories. I read these, then decided I needed to explore this form; the result was “Captain Wexford’s Dilemma.”
  • Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. I Remember You (2014; 2012 in the UK) is the best ghost story published in the last five years, hands down. Like Stephen King, Sigurðardóttir isn’t afraid to allow her characters to develop before she turns loose the ghosts.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

O.: I’m finishing the first draft of “The Lake Eerie Ghost,” a MG murder mystery/ghost story about a group of kids attending summer camp on a fictitious island in Lake Erie. There’s a haunted lighthouse involved, because I’m crazy about lighthouses. At the same time, I’m revising another MG story that I hope will delight and frighten: “Curse of the Banshee,” in which a young girl and her twin cousins investigate a series of near-fatal accidents and an ancient curse. Murder, mayhem, and spooks make each day of writing pure pleasure.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Ogarita:

  • Don’t let anyone, editors or readers, tell you the semi-colon has no place in fiction; this fabulous bit of punctuation has ably separated closely-related independent clauses since 1494.
  • Write or revise or outline every day. Every. Single. Day. Doing this has been a trial at times, but it has also improved my writing and kept at bay writer’s block.
  • Ignore those who say one’s best writing (or revising and outlining) is done early in the morning. I’m convinced early-morning writers are masochists.
  • Exercise. Walk, lift weights, bike, swim, do yoga, anything that keeps blood pumping and muscles toned!
  • Find or create a support group of other authors. A good group celebrates success, understands rejection, and keeps dreams alive, often with cupcakes.

 

Ogarita, thanks so much for that fascinating interview. My readers can find out more about Ogarita’s spine-chilling tales on Twitter and at her website.

Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 21, 2015Permalink

The Votes Are In

predlogoTheCometeers72dpiTimesDeformedHand72dpi

 

 

 

 

 

I owe a great big thank-you to those who voted for my stories in the Critters Workshop Annual Preditors and Editors Readers Poll for 2014.

My story “The Cometeers” came in 3rd of 7 among Steampunk Short Stories, and “Time’s Deformèd Hand” tied for 3rd out of 25, in the All Other Short Stories category.

Thanks again for voting for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 17, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Jeffrey Cook

A group of fascinating authors contributed to the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Today I bring you another intriguing interview, this time with Jeffrey CookJeffrey Cook.

Jeff lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, but has lived all over the United States. He began writing professionally in 2014. In addition to his novels and anthology projects, he has contributed material to publications by Deep7 Games out of Seattle, WA. When not reading, researching or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Jeffrey Cook: I got the storytelling bug when I was about six, on long car rides with my dad. My mother insists that’s when I started proclaiming I wanted to be an author when I grew up. I began my first series of books, a set of emergent Steampunk epistolary novels, after getting laid off from an energy-draining desk job, thus freeing up a lot of time and creativity.

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

J.C.: Output is easier for me than for a lot of people. Once I get some momentum going – in a decent atmosphere without any large dogs trying to get on my lap – I’m fairly prolific, writing in big chunks.

The most difficult aspects are the editing and the marketing.

P.S.: You have written in the steampunk, science fiction, and urban fantasy genres. Which is your favorite genre and why?

J.C.: Steampunk has been and continues to be a really fun experiment, and the best way of telling the story of the characters I wanted to tell there, but I grew up on fantasy. It pretty much has to be my favorite.

P.S.: Your website mentions you enjoy role-playing games. Aside from the enjoyment you derive from that, do you find that RPGs influence or even improve your writing?

J.C.: I love telling stories as a team. I like the combination of planning and improvisation, the characterization, worldbuilding, and different perspectives. Kate, my editor and sometime co-writer, feels the need to point out how action-oriented a lot of my writing is sometimes, which certainly gets a lot of practice narrating RPG scenes.

Additionally, I met Kate in an online role-playing group, so that’s certainly been useful, too.

P.S.: You mentioned having a co-writer. What is it like to write collaboratively with another author?

J.C.: As with RPGs, I love collective storytelling. In addition to bouncing ideas off of each other, we can capitalize on each other’s strengths and compensate for weaknesses. Kate, for instance, is very slow at writing, but incredibly efficient at rewrites.

P.S.: You have a story, “Maiden Voyage,” in the anthology AvastYeAirshipsAvast Ye Airships! Without spoiling, can you tell us a little about the story, and what inspired you to write it?

J.C.: From time to time, Kate and I write stories about a one-eyed cross-dressing lesbian cavalry officer and her clockwork-and-steam-enhanced dancer girlfriend. When we first saw the web site for the Avast anthology, we decided to put the girls on an airship. This is actually the second published Luca and Emily story. We’re hoping to eventually combine our various anthology submissions with them into a book of short stories.

P.S.: You’ve written some stories aimed at the Young Adult market. In what ways is that different from writing for a more general audience?

J.C.: It was a huge transition. The stories in the Dawn of Steamdawn-of-steam-first-light-w-award-badge series are, intentionally, very dense reads. They’re written in Regency voice (early 1800’s, like Jules Verne or Jane Austen) and in epistolary (letters and journal entries) format. They required a lot of historical research. Writing for YA involved as much world building, but since both my current, and upcoming YA books are set in Seattle, I know some of the area better. They’re also much more dialogue heavy and faster-reading.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

J.C.: With my epistolary Steampunk series wrapping up this March, I’m focusing a lot on a four-book YA urban fantasy series about, among other things, fairies in Seattle. It’s another collaboration with Kate, who’s really quite interested in getting the folklore research about different legends – mostly Irish/British but also Hawaiian and others – alongside medically accurate descriptions of ADHD.

While it’s also almost done, I’m also heading up a charity anthology consisting of Shakespeare stories reinterpreted through the lens of different punk genres: steampunk, cyberpunk, etc. The proceeds from that will benefit a local animal shelter. I’m contributing the “More bear”-steampunked version of The Winter’s Tale for that.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Jeffrey Cook: Try to write or do something related to your writing every day in order to cultivate good habits.

Get someone reasonably impartial to read your work at some point, and learn to take constructive criticism, because once you publish, criticism is going to come eventually. Having done both self-publishing and with a small press, I I’d like to point out that in self-publishing, two very important things to have are good editing and good cover art.

 

Thank you very much, Jeff! Readers of Poseidon’s Scribe will be eager to find out more about you, and here’s how they can. You’re on Twitter as @JeffreyCook74, and on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. Explore Jeffrey Cook’s website here.

Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 17, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Robert McGough

Robert McGoughAnother treat for Poseidon’s Scribe readers today. I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert McGough, whose short story “Black Hydra” will appear in the upcoming anthology Avast, Ye Airships! He tells me he writes in the Horror, Steampunk, and Southern Gothic genres. On to the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Robert McGough: I have written fiction as long as I can remember really, though my first serious attempts came in high school. They were laughably bad, so I more or less shelved any sort of serious writing til about two and a half years ago, during grad school. As for where, I was born and raised in south central Alabama!

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

R.McG: Writing is easy. Editing is a nightmare. I can happily crank out 1-3 thousand words a day for weeks on end…but when it comes time to edit, I typically don’t. I would rather get new ideas to paper than spend time revising old ideas. I typically only edit when I am actually sending something off for submission.

P.S.: I see on your website you have participated in Nanowrimo several times. What were those experiences like? Do you plan to do it again?

R.McG: I have ‘won’ it three times now, the past three years. My first ‘win’ came about four months after I started back seriously writing. I would not trade the experiences for anything, but I find that each year gets a little bit harder. I will likely keep doing it until such point that I feel the strain outweighs the gain.

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: You have a story, “Black Hydra,” in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Tell us a little about the story, and what inspired you to write it.

R.McG: I have created a fantasy/steampunk world that all of my steampunk stories take place in. As most of them are currently tied up in what I hope will be a future publication, I decided to write a story for this anthology. It is in fact the third story I have written featuring the main character, Colonel Gurthwait, a somewhat bumbling ‘great white hunter’ type.

P.S.: Your story “Whispers on the Wind” got published in the anthology Journals of Horror: Found Fiction. Please tell us about that story, and how you got the idea for it.

R.McG: H.P. Lovecraft is a huge influence on me, and this was the first story that I wrote in emulation of his style. It is about a writer who hears stories on the wind, and begins to write them for publication, and the fall out that ensues. It is not cthulian however, I have come up with my own mythos which is based on gnosticism. But if you love Lovecraft, then I think you will like it.

P.S.: Your website suggests you write in three genres: Horror, Steampunk, and Southern Gothic. I haven’t heard of Southern Gothic–can you describe it?

R.McG: The most famous southern gothic writers are Faulkner, Flannery O’Conner, and Harper Lee. They are tales set in the south that feature the eccentric, the strange, the grotesque. Like more mainstream gothic tales they often feature a bit of a hint of the supernatural. All in all, good stuff!

P.S.: What is your current work in progress?

R.McG: Tonight I finished a southern gothic tale called ‘Pearls Before Swine’ which is a take on deals with the devil. I am also working on a weird fiction story, editing up a steampunk novella, and am about to start a pair of fantasy stories. I typically keep several projects going at a time so that I don’t get bored.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?

Robert McGough: The best advice I can give is that whatever excuse you have to not write is likely bullshit. If writing is important to you, you will make the time. If you find yourself continually making excuses, maybe you need to find a different hobby.

 

Thank you, Bob! Folks can find out more about Robert McGough on Twitter (@talesbybob), Facebook, at his website, and his blog.

 Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 16, 2015Permalink

Editor and Author Interview — Rie Sheridan Rose

SteampunkRie-e1302614168720Today I’m delighted to welcome Editor and Author Rie Sheridan Rose to the world of Poseidon’s Scribe. She’s the editor of the forthcoming anthology Avast Ye Airships! as well as being an accomplished author. Among her published novels is The Marvelous Mechanical Man. Mechanical Man Final COVER ONLY

On to the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When did you begin writing fiction?

Rie Sheridan Rose: Technically, I began writing when I was a kid, but I began doing it for publication in 1998 when my children’s story “Bedtime for Benny” was chosen as a finalist in the Half-Price BooksSay Goodnight to Illiteracy” contest.  My first novel was published in 2000 (after I started it at 12 originally…)

P.S.: What are the easiest, and the most difficult, aspects of writing for you?

R.S.R.: The hardest is having the discipline to actually do the work. I’ve been very bad about procrastination, though I am working on it. The second hardest part is finding markets–but places like ralan.com can help with that.

The easiest is…oh, wow…I’ve never thought about that. For me, the easy part is talking about my writing once it is done. 🙂

P.S.: On your website, you refer to yourself as the Barbadee Poet. What does that mean?

R.S.R.: When I originally coined that title, I was very enamored of the Brobdingnagian Bards. I wanted to be a bard myself…but I didn’t feel I was quite there. So I was a “wannabee” bard — or a “bardabee”.

One of the proudest moments of my career was when Marc Gunn named me Bard. Now I have to figure out the requirements to make it official…

P.S.: Who is the audience you’re trying to reach in your stories?

R.S.R.: My audience varies as widely as my subject matter. I wouldn’t expect the people who like my fantasies to necessarily be comfortable with my horror stories. I can’t decide if being so diverse is good because it expands the potential markets or bad because it dilutes the fan base…but I get bored if I stick to one genre. I am pretty sure that I have at least something for everyone though.

P.S.: What are your favorite genres to write in?

R.S.R.: Poetry — always number one; horror; and Steampunk. But I dabble in everything from Weird West to noir to science fiction.

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: Where did the idea for Avast Ye Airships! come from, and can you briefly describe the idea of the anthology?

R.S.R.: The idea was first proposed on the Mocha Memoirs Authors Facebook page when Dahlia DeWinters was bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t find enough good Steampunk romances. Particularly with Steampunk Airship Pirates. Then Wynelda-Ann Deaver suggested we do our own anthology and graciously volunteered me to edit it. I thought about it…and said “Why not?” The rest is history.

The premise was to provide a collection of stories representing the vast diversity to be found in the world of Steampunk piracy. And we do have a very diverse group of stories from fantasy to science fiction to romance with the unifying characteristics of Steampunk and piracy.

P.S.: You have a story, “Hooked,” in the anthology Avast Ye Airships! What inspired you to write “Hooked”?

R.S.R.: From the moment we started talking about the anthology, Captain Hook kept popping into my head. Who is the most famous pirate of all time? Well, some might claim Blackbeard, or Jack Sparrow, but I think Hook trumps them all. And the Jolly Roger? It already flies!

I wanted to have a story in the anthology, but I didn’t want to take too much of the space away from other authors, so I wrote this very short piece to satisfy both of those requirements. 🙂

P.S.: Have you ever edited an anthology before? What was the most difficult aspect?

R.S.R.: No, I have never edited an anthology before, though I have always been curious about it.

The most difficult aspect is the logistics of it all. What stories do you choose? What factor decides this well-written story beats out that well-written story (in the end, for me, it was space.) Which story goes in what order? How do you decide on the length of the submissions period? How will it be marketed? How do you coordinate everything?

I have learned a lot doing this anthology…and hope to do another one some day. But not for a little while. I need to recover!

P.S.: What is your current writing project?

R.S.R.: My personal project at the moment is to get the second volume of my Steampunk series The Conn-Mann Chronicles through a second draft before I start edits in March. Hopefully, we will release in June or July. I love my characters, and can’t wait to let the world see what Jo and Alistair are up to next.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?

Rie Sheridan Rose: Set goals. You might not meet them, but have them. Two years ago, my husband challenged me to get 300 rejections by the end of the year. His theory was that immersion therapy would have me get over the fear of rejection — and therefore of submitting — by making it a routine thing. You can BET my submissions went up astronomically from ever before. And I’ve gotten in the habit of sending most things back out the day they are rejected to see if another market wants it.

That first year, I got 145 rejections and felt terrible because I was so far below his mark. On the other hand, I got 43 acceptances, which was the most I have ever gotten in a year.

Last year, I cut it back to 200 rejections…and slacked off a lot. Only 70 rejections and 21 acceptances.

So this year, I am changing things up and coming at it from a different direction. I have a personal goal of trying to make a submission every day this year. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a new piece, but it has to be something sent out to a new market every day. As of the time I am writing this, I’ve made that goal…but it is difficult some days!

I have cut the rejection number again to 100, but with the increase in submissions, I hope to do better. I’ve got three so far…

 

Thank you very much, Rie! I wish you every success in your writing endeavors. Readers of the Poseidon’s Scribe blog can find out more about Rie Sheridan Rose on Facebook, at her website, on Goodreads, and at Amazon.

 Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 14, 2015Permalink

Words You Hate…and How to Love Them

Hated WordsAdmit it. There are some words and phrases that irritate you. Words you wish others would stop saying. Words that shouldn’t have become trendy, but did, without anyone asking your permission. Words you think should be banned.

This blog post might cause you to think about those words in a different way.

First, what sort of words am I talking about? Some are used to fill up silence with sound, but don’t mean anything. Some occur at the beginning of sentences, others at the end. Some convey a meaning, but either the meaning is stupid, or the word’s trend has run its course. In the following sentences, the hated word is italicized:

I was actually so mad I could spit.

Anyways, that’s what I heard.

Anywhoo, I figured I’d head out to the park.

Duh.

Then I go “what?” and she goes “you heard me.”

Honestly [or To be honest], he was really mean to me.

Like, my math teacher is crazy.

When I said that, his head literally exploded.

Meh.

I know, right?

Say, are you doing okay?

See [or You see], it was like this…

So what are you doing today?

That was totally the best.

Then the, uh [or um or er], transmission thing failed and I had to pull over.

Well, I don’t know about that at all.

It was, you know, the funniest thing I ever heard.

Some of these may not bother you at all. Others may drive you toward causing great bodily harm. (My current pet peeve is starting sentences with ‘So.’) Each of us has different reactions to these words.

How is my blog post going to make you love these words? Simple. If you’re a writer of fiction, you need to understand that people really say (or used to say) these words and phrases in conversation.

For you, the words can serve several purposes. They can:

  1. Help distinguish one character’s speech mode from another—very helpful to a reader confronted with a long string of dialogue;
  2. Lend realism to your dialogue;
  3. Establish the historical timeframe of your story;
  4. Emphasize an age difference between characters, as when an older character uses “Well,” and the younger character uses “Like;” and
  5. Increase the hatred you (and possibly some readers) feel toward your story’s antagonist.

Let the debate rage here and there on the Internet about which is the worst word on the planet. You can even leave me a comment about your own personal, hated-word list. But you have to admit, those hated words can be useful to you.

So you’re actually starting to look at those, um, hated words in a different way, right? You’re starting to love them, aren’t you, as much as—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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January 11, 2015Permalink

Vote for Your Favorite Story of 2014

Happy New Year! That must mean it’s time for the Critters Writers Workshop to conduct their Preditors and Editors Poll (the 17th annual one this time) to see which newly published e-book readers prefer.

critters_headerYou can vote for your favorite book in a wide variety of categories. It’s not really a scientific poll, but winning it (or landing in the top ten) gives each author some bragging rights.

TheCometeers72dpi Someone has entered two of my own stories in the poll. “The Cometeers” is in the Steampunk Short Story category and is currently running 2nd out of 6 in the poll. Also, “Time’s Deformèd Hand” is in the All Other Short Story category and is currently running 3rd out of 22 in the poll.TimesDeformedHand72dpi  The links in this paragraph and the story cover images take you straight to the correct poll category to vote.

If you wish, you could vote for my stories. All you do is click the button beside your favorite story’s title (for example, “The Cometeers” and “Time’s Deformèd Hand”), then scroll to the bottom, enter your e-mail address, and type an author’s name from a book cover image to prove you’re not a spam robot. Then you’ll get an e-mail to confirm your vote; just click the link in the email and you’re done. Please vote before January 14, when they close the polling.

Once again, our good ol’ Earth has reached the beginning of its orbit and started another elliptical swing around the Sun. That’s worth celebrating! The astronomers and calendar manufacturers have declared we get to start a new year, so that’s not a bad deal. Happy 2015, everyone, from—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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