My Books, Now Half Price

Yes, the rumors are true. This is Read an Ebook Week, and all of my books listed on Smashwords are half price!

Hard to believe, but it’s a fact. Read an Ebook Week runs from today until March 11. My entire series, called “What Man Hath Wrought,” might as well be called What Man Half Wrought” since the titles that were $3.99 are now $2.00 and the ones that were $2.99 are just $1.50.

You read that correctly. Get The Wind-Sphere Ship, Within Victorian Mists, A Steampunk Carol, and The Six Hundred Dollar Man for just $1.50 each.

 

 

 

 

Get Alexander’s Odyssey, Leonardo’s Lion, Against All Gods, A Tale More True, Rallying Cry/Last Vessel of Atlantis, To be First/Wheels of Heaven, The Cometeers, Time’s Deformèd Hand, Ripper’s Ring, and After the Martians for only $2.00 each.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the books are listed at full price at Smashwords, when you click on any of them, you’ll be urged to enter code RAE50 at checkout to get the half-price discount.

If I’ve totaled correctly, you can get the whole set, the entire series of 14 books (16 stories), for just $27. What a great way to sample the adventurous imagination of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

It’s 2017; What’s Your Favorite Story from 2016?

<Clink!> ~kazoo blast~ Happy New Year! Yes, the ol’ Earth made it one more time around its elliptical orbit to a particular, and arbitrary, point. Let’s party!

I know a productive way you could begin 2017. You could click over to the Critters Writers Workshop site and vote in their annual Preditors & Editors Poll for your favorite books published during 2016.

The poll includes a variety of categories. Although it’s not a scientific poll, winning it gives the fortunate author some bragging rights, and even making it to the top ten is an honor.

You could (ahem) even vote for two of my stories. One of them, After the Martians,” is in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story category. In the Anthologies category, the book In a Cat’s Eye contains my story “The Cats of Nerio-3.” The links in this paragraph and the book cover images open a new tab taking you straight to the correct poll category to vote.

To vote, click the button beside your favorite story’s (or anthology’s) title, then enter your name and e-mail address, then scroll to the bottom where you’ll see the image of a book’s cover (not mine). Type the author’s name of that book in the box to prove you’re not a spam robot. You’ll receive an e-mail to confirm your vote; just click the link in the e-mail and you’re done. Please vote before January 14, when they close the polling.

Recently, In a Cat’s Eye received a five-star review on Amazon by Katherine A. Lashley. She singled out “The Cats of Nerio-3” as one of her favorites in the book, saying it “does an amazing job in exploring the future of humans, artificial intelligence, and cats.” Thank you very much, Katherine!

If you haven’t read “After the Martians” or In a Cat’s Eye, you can still vote for them in the Preditors & Editors poll, but I also recommend reading them. Whether you vote for my stories or those written by others, I thank you for supporting authors. We value any scrap of appreciation thrown our way. Take it from—

                                                  Poseidon’s Scribe

Making the Queen of the Clouds

The advent of 3D printing has made it economical to design and make some of the gadgets, vehicles, and character figurines from readers’ favorite stories. I’ve been working with a 3D printing expert to make some objects from my own books.

WithinVictorianMists9Readers of this blog already know about the Ring of Gyges from my story “Ripper’s Ring,” and the Martian tripod fighting machine from “After the Martians.” Today, I’ll discuss the Queen of the Clouds airship from “Within Victorian Mists,” a model I first displayed publicly at BALTICON last week.

The model airship is the one available on Thingiverse.com here. It was designed by Arnold Patrick Martin, who goes by RealAbsurdity on Thingiverse.

I painted mine a cream color. I know the airship in the story is silver, but I wasn’t sure my silver paint would be light enough. I later realized I could have mixed silver with white to lighten the hue.

WVM3

“Within Victorian Mists” is steampunk, and airships are common in that genre, but the Queen of the Clouds is actually a small part of the story. WVM4The main gadget in the tale is the laser hologram invention of the male hero, Stanton Wardgrave, but that wouldn’t be much to look at. The airship makes an appearance near the end when the female lead, Josephine Boulton, is about to board it and leave Stanton forever.

WVM5The concept of clouds/steam/mists/vapor/etc. is a main metaphor and symbol in the story, so Queen of the Clouds is an apt airship name.

For this prototype, I selected a design available online. If I were a 3D Printing designer, there are a few things I’d change to make the model truer to the story, aside from the color discussed above. First, I’d make the whole hull slimmer. Second, the Queen is a steam-powered dirigible (I know, not practical, but it’s fiction) with smokestacks, so I’d add those. Third, I’d add more propellers, and each would have just two blades. Last, there should be three gondolas underneath, not just one.

Please let me know what you think of this model. Have any of my stories inspired you to make your own 3D printed objects? If so, send pictures of them to—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Author Interview—N.O.A. Rawle

The fun continues today as I interview another author with a story appearing in the anthology Hides the Dark Tower. To obtain this interview, I had to travel all the way to Greece…well, virtually.

NaomiRawleN.A.O. Rawle is a British writer, teacher and translator living and working in mythical Thessalian Plain in Greece. She graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy. After many years of procrastinating, she took the plunge and has started publishing short sci-fi/horror/fantasy stories. She’s had over a dozen short stories and poems published. She’s been published in the anthology Once Bitten, and The Girl at the End of the World, Book II  and the anthology Denizens of Steam.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: How did you get started writing? What prompted you?

N.A.O. Rawle: First, thank you for having me on your blog, it’s great to talk to you. I grew up with books as my dad was a librarian. He had a study stuffed floor to ceiling with books, mostly about fly fishing and theology, but that’s where I got the bug. The actual writing started with fan fiction when I was in Secondary school and progressed into photocopied comic books in my late teens. Published work came a lot later.

P.S.: What other authors influenced your writing? What are a few of your favorite books?

N.R.: Harder to answer than I imagined. I can’t say who has influenced my writing style as I don’t think I’ve really found my own. (At the moment I’m going through a phase of stories in rhyming prose and that comes straight from Dr Seuss and ‘The Night Before Christmas’!) Once I had finished James Herbert’s The Magic Cottage, I remember thinking “I should like to do that.” I love Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Iain M. Banks, George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Bret Easton Ellis, Harlan Ellison and Bruce Sterling…

P.S.: In your blog, you’ve mentioned having thirty writing projects going at once, in various stages. Have you accepted that as a normal state of affairs for you, or would you prefer to be more focused?

N.R.: That’s normal. I live by flitting from one thing to the other and half finished projects everywhere, and I don’t mean just writing. I can focus and do occasionally, to the point of obsessive! That’s when work gets done fast.

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

N.R.: Being asked to do edits is the hardest. Not because I’m too proud and don’t want to change what I’ve written but because I find incorporating another’s perspective bewildering. Will it look right to the reader? Have I clarified and tidied up the waffle? The easiest is writing. I can sit and type for hours and hours.

P.S.: Your bio mentions your British nationality, your current work location in Greece, your teaching and translation work, and your education in creative writing and philosophy. In ‘Core Craving’ and ‘Those Who Can, Do,’ you touch on two of those aspects. In what other ways do your varied background and education inspire your stories?

N.R.: I’ve done (counts on fingers and gives up) many jobs since the age of fifteen so there’s always a bit of those experiences in my writing but it’s not necessarily what I know about them. In ‘Those Who Can, Do’ I was more interested in the fact that so many teachers appear to have forgotten the purpose of their jobs and get into some sort of power place ‘us’ and ‘them’. I also had some hideous teachers at school who really didn’t understand that the colour of my shirt was not a factor in the learning process. Greece crops up in my work frequently, I’ve spent almost half my life here now and it would be weird for it not to feature. A character might come from someone I’ve met or the atmosphere of a place might inspire a scene, I’m always trying to paint a picture so that my reader can see what I do.

P.S.: It appears you’re participating in NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month) for the first time this year. How is that going?

N.R.: It’s going…I did it in the hope that I could complete one of those projects I’ve been composting for about a decade as there is outside interest in it after a short story grew from some of the remnants that I had cut from the original work. (‘Synchronysi’ due to be published in the New Year). If I can get the plot down then I know I’ll get it sorted.

P.S.: Lately, you’ve been writing some steampunk stories. Why does that genre appeal to you?

N.R.: It’s what Goths do when they discover brown, or so a friend of mine tells me. No, I like that I can mix up fancy frocks with feminism and mechanical monsters! Oh and rhyming prose, ‘A Walk in the Park’ is the first story I’ve self-published that is Steampunk in Denizens of Steam, an anthology that I helped ‘curate’ to promote the Scribbler’s Den writing forum on the Steampunk Empire.

P.S.: You’ve guest-blogged for Rie Sheridan Rose about your story ‘Core Craving’ in Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]Hides the Dark Tower and mentioned the research you did on the castle. Had that story idea been kicking around in your mind before the anthology’s call for submissions, or did it all click together afterward?

N.R.: The story was fully formed but had not found a home. Vonnie and Kelly [editors Vonnie Winslow Crist and Kelly A. Harmon] made it welcome in Hides the Dark Tower, an anthology, which is a real treat to read and an honour to be included in! ‘Core Craving’ is such a small story but one that took a long time to build and the first one published which is set in my home town (I have several others) so I’m pleased it’s found its niche amongst so many respected authors.

P.S.: Among your many current Works in Progress (or, as you have quipped, Works in Procrastination), would you mind telling us a little about one of them?

N.R.: I have a story called ‘Touched’ which has been simmering for a long time (read years). It’s a fantasy/horror mishmash involving fae folk who live in the beautiful Greek mountain forests. (I am told, in all seriousness, that fairies do reside there.) I have so much written but on an ancient word processor whose disks I have been unable to print up anywhere since the WP died on me. I’ve been trying to remember the story but there are big gaps in the plot and I am so sad. I’m patching it up but it’s beginning to resemble Frankenstein’s monster not the glorious creation I envisaged. In my heart I know I can make it good but I need determination.

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

N.O.A. Rawle: Jim Morrison wrote “Words dissemble, words be quick, words resemble walking sticks, plant them and they will grow…”

Sow the seeds of stories and see what becomes of them. Some will become roses and others prickly thistles that you’ll need to weed out. Like plants, some tales are therapeutic and others poisonous. Some will charm you with their beauty and there will be down-right ugly ones; they will all teach you something about writing but only if you keep tending them.

 

Thanks, Naomi! I know readers of my blog will want to find out more about you, and, luckily, I have that information handy. You have a blog and you’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. You also appear on Google+, Pinterest, and Amazon as N.O.A. Rawle, and on Steampunk Empire as Lady Naomi.

Poseidon’s Scribe

November 15, 2015Permalink

Missing People, Unsolved Crimes

Today I’ll let you inside the thinking process of a writer as he tries to flesh out a story idea. In this case, it’s the idea for the story that would become RippersRing72dpi“Ripper’s Ring.”

I had read about the Ring of Gyges and thought it would be a great idea for a story. There’ve been many famous novels with invisibility rings, so I needed to separate my story from those in some way.

While thinking about how to form a story about the Ring of Gyges, I wondered what would happen to the ring over time. It occurred to me that an owner would not pass it to his own child. First, the ring’s owner would be unlikely to tell anyone about it, even his own children. Second, he would be unlikely to relinquish it to anyone while he remained alive. Third, possession of the ring ends up being a curse, so the owner would not want to pass that on.

Therefore the ring would remain on its owner until the owner’s death, and someone would likely remove it from the finger of the corpse, or, if long enough afterward, the skeleton. I realized the ring would leave behind a long string of owners who had either vanished mysteriously, or who had committed crimes no one could solve.

Wikipedia contains lists of both unexplained disappearances and unsolved crimes. I could select any one of these for my story, or more than one if I wanted. As a writer of steampunk, I focused on Victorian times, and therefore to the crimes of Jack the Ripper. Although there have been many stories about that killer, I think the addition of the Ring of Gyges sets mine apart.

Still, I was unsatisfied. I wanted to convey the explanation of the ring’s creation, as well as the notion of its passing from owner to owner down the centuries. But how do I do that with a story told from one person’s point of view? I hit on the idea of giving the ring one more property in addition to invisibility—the ring allows owners to see visions of past owners, all the way back to the jeweler who created it. My Jack the Ripper character would see all these visions, and the reader would understand not only the history of the ring, but also project beyond my story, and wonder where the ring is now.

In my story, I briefly mention these visions of past owners. My ‘Jack’ character only gets vague impressions of clothing and surroundings, of course, not names. The ones he sees are the rebel slave Spartacus (71 B.C.), the Roman general Valens (378 A.D.), the Egyptian Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (1021), vague mentions of others, the diplomat Benjamin Bathurst (1809), and finally gun manufacturer William Cantelo (1880s).

Once the reader grasps the idea of a single ring causing strange disappearances and unexplainable crimes through history, it’s a short mental leap to realize such a ring could also explain the unidentified Zodiac Killer (late 1960s), and the disappearances of D.B. Cooper (1971), Jimmy Hoffa (1975), and many others from our time.

Now you see how I came up with the idea for “Ripper’s Ring.” Enjoy the story, and leave a comment with your thoughts about my process for developing and maturing the idea for the story. If I’ve helped you along the way in your own writing journey, that’s the sincere hope of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Author Interview — Stephen Blake

You may have noticed I have not yet interviewed all the authors who have stories in the newly famous anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Today I’m pleased to bring you one more; I’m interviewing Stephen Blake.

Stephen BlakeOn his website, Stephen describes himself as just an ordinary bloke (he’s English), and a fantasy and science fiction loving geek.  His Twitter page describes him as “Writer & exaggerator. Cat, Dog & Guinea Pig Wrangler. Tai Chi Enthusiast. Cornish and Proud.”

Now, the interview (British spelling and all!):

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

Stephen Blake: I’d always spoken about writing, always dreamed that I might be able to do something. It took a redundancy, illness and a lot of encouragement from my wife to actually go for it. I should say that a trip to a convention (BristolCon 2012) also made a difference. I’d always had ideas for stories but never did anything about it. Finally meeting authors who were real people, who sometimes held down jobs and seeing that they were not that different from me – it got me thinking. I realised the only difference between us were my own excuses – so I got rid of them (the excuses that is; all the authors I met are fine and did not meet their demise).

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

S.B.: Ideas seem the easiest. In fact I probably have too many. Having free flowing ideas is great until you can’t decide which one to work on next.

The most difficult aspect for me is that of personal discipline. I’ll procrastinate and dance around getting on with a job but once I start I am usually very productive. It’s just the getting going part.

I should say I also struggle with the reading in public. Unless you write so well as to not need to promote your work, it seems that giving a reading is an important part of being an author. I get nervous but I read in public at least once a month now and I’m dealing with it better all the time.

P.S.: How did you become interested in writing steampunk?

S.B.: I find the whole idea fascinating. I grew up watching things like “Island at the Top of the World,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Warlords of Atlantis.” Steampunk, for me, encapsulates adventure and excitement. The possibilities are huge. You can go fantasy and discover lost races, you can go sci-fi and have clockwork automatons. The setting, usually the Victorian age, is so interesting. Remember how interested they were in the supernatural, the thing to do back then was to have a séance. Someone will say you can do all these things in any setting or time period. All I’ll say is ‘steampunk’ lets you do it with style.

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

S.B.: I’ve always been a voracious reader. Childhood favourites stay with me now, such as Enid Blyton, C.S.Lewis, and Roald Dahl.

At school I always had one book out of the library over and over and that was a collection of Greek myths. Even now, I enjoy reading them.

More recently I’ve enjoyed R. A. Salvatore, Gareth Powell, Kim Lakin-Smith, and Joanne Hall. I read all kinds of things. I’ve not long finished some Agatha Christie and Robert Louis Stevenson. I like reading all sorts, I even believe Stan Lee has had an influence on me, hence my characters always seem to have a disability of some sort or they are a social outcast. I think as writers we can learn from one another. I’m like a sponge trying to take in every lesson I can.

AvastYeAirships (4)P.S.: You wrote “Beneath the Brass” for Avast, Ye Airships!  Can you tell us a bit about the story?

S.B.: It’s a journal, kept by a young woman who has been put into an asylum. There’s nothing wrong with her but she accused her brother of attacking her and he’s made it seem like she is mad. Pirates rescue her and it is her account of all that befalls her during that time. It’s love, peril, airships and automatons but not necessarily in that order.

P.S.: In your website, you mentioned having joined a critique group. How has that group affected your writing?

S.B.: Well hopefully I’m reducing the vast amount of commas I apparently use. Mostly it is just very supportive, knowing that people are going to be honest with you and give you constructive criticism. I struggle sometimes with confidence – believing myself to be more lucky than talented. I know that these people (Victoria and Inez) will be brutally honest, so that when they say “it’s good”, it really means a lot.

Airship300P.S.: Your story “Lord Craddock: Ascension” appears in the anthology Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion. What is that story about?

S.B.: It’s about fighting slavery, fighting stereotypes and preconceptions and using those preconceptions to your advantage when trying to take down slave traders. It also involves automatic carriages and jumping automatons.

Bristol has history of being part of the ‘triangular’ slave trade route and I liked the idea of someone fighting racism and slavery in a steampunk vigilante kind of way.

P.S.: Before writing your stories, do you imagine a scene, a character, or a plot outline?

S.B.: I get an idea. Usually it’s a ‘what if?’ scenario. After that I just think about it and see how it plays out. It’s usually no more than the beginning and end. I normally take a while to figure out what happens in the middle. I can just think and scribble notes for months before I actually start typing a story.

Recently I had a story accepted for an anthology typed out and submitted within ninety minutes. I don’t see that happening often though, if ever again.

For “Beneath the Brass,” my first thought was, what if Stephen Hawkins was alive in that time period? What if he became a pirate? In the end the story is not about the pirates but about Miss Alice Reynolds, the lady stuck in an asylum. Until you start typing away on your keyboard you can never be entirely sure how it will unfold.

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

S.B.: I’ve a few things on the go. My big work in progress is tentatively called “Blood Key” and is a YA fantasy with elements of steampunk. It’s the tale of a young girl who ends up in a world not seen by us since the days when the Celtic druids travelled there. It’s the story of her trying to get home and those who want to use her to get the magic flowing again and seize power.

I’m also working on a really interesting project called “The Adventures of Dayton Barnes.” It’s an anthology of children’s stories designed to encourage young boys to read. It’s very fascinating because each story will actually be chapters. I’ve written three stories for it but that is not the end. I now have to work with the other authors to make all our stories fit seamlessly together as if it were a single book. I’ve got to say this has tested my imagination no end. I can dream up tales of Victorian steampunk, demons and zombies quite easily – trying to put myself in the shoes of a mid west American twelve year old has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever written.

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

Stephen Blake: Go for it – that is the best advice. You’ve got to give it a go. The more you write the better you’ll get. Lord Craddock was my first attempt and it got published (after an awful lot of editing mind you). For some time I believed that was a fluke and yet here I am with a story in Avast, Ye Airships!, and soon I’ll have another three stories in a children’s anthology, “The Adventures of Dayton Barnes.” All because I just stopped talking about how I’d like to write and did it.

One other thing I realised early on is that writing is like music. One person hears a song and it evokes an intense feeling of dislike within them. Another hears the same tune and they feel it touches their very soul and fills them with happiness. Write the stories you want to write and they’ll find an audience, even if it’s only you (but that is highly unlikely!).

I could go on and on. Join a local group of writers. Read lots. If possible meet authors and compare notes. Keep trying for anthologies because you’ll meet great editors who will take your writing by the scruff and knock it into shape.

Thanks, Steve! All my readers will soon be regular followers of you on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, and will become avid readers of your blog.

Poseidon’s Scribe

Author Interview — Steve Cook

Once again Poseidon’s Scribe has landed a fascinating interview with a fellow author, who has a story appearing in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Today’s interview is with Steve Cook.

Steven CookSteve Cook is a part-time writer, part-time teacher, currently dialing down on the latter so he can focus on the former. He’s married and lives with his wife and cat in London, England.

At last, the interview:

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

Steve Cook: I began writing fiction in 2010. It was my first year working as a primary school teacher and I had prepared as much as I possibly could during the Christmas holiday. Then, the first week back in January, we had a record snowfall for the area and the school was closed. We happened to live opposite a Starbucks, which meant we were basically in there every evening. I just grabbed my netbook and took it over there and started to write, funneling all the readiness and energy into that instead. I rattled along writing chapters of a pretty terrible book idea, and then got into NaNoWriMo in a big way. That’s been responsible for most of my output over the last six years.

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

S.C.: The easiest aspect of writing for me is world-building. I probably spend too long on it, but it pays off when you can write something in that suggests a deeper, richer world beyond it. Short stories and flash fiction that flesh out the world are something I really enjoy doing. The most difficult aspect of writing is editing, without a doubt, and I get round it by showing my stuff to different people. Everyone has a different thing they look for: my wife is a designer and illustrator, for example, and she really focuses on the visual design of what I write.

P.S.: What genres have you written in, and do you have a favorite?

S.C.: I’ve written mainly fantasy and science fiction. I enjoy both of them! Most of my fantasy writing in the last year or so has been for the Dungeons and Dragons group I run; they’ve been playing for the best part of three years now. I’ve been doing a lot of writing for Noctis Point, which is the book I’m working on right now. It’s set a couple of hundred years into the future, and it’s really fun to take technology from today, or even theoretical technology, and apply it to that setting.

AvastYeAirshipsP.S.: You wrote “The Clockwork Dragon” for the Avast, Ye Airships! anthology.  Can you tell us a little about that story?

S.C.: “The Clockwork Dragon” is a story about some privateers working under contract to retrieve an artifact; they’re ex-pirates, so it’s not long before treachery and greed overcome the captain, who teams up with the cook and absconds with the loot. It’s up to the first mate to track them down in a chase in the skies of Ireland and Scotland. Like most of the fiction I write, it grew organically from one image, one scene: a giant clockwork dragon, bellows for lungs, canvas wings and so on, hovering over an airship in lashing rain. I actually own a clockwork dragon miniature, and it has made an appearance in our D&D game!Clockwork Dragon

P.S.: You participated in Nanowrimo last November.  Was that your first nano?  What was that experience like?

S.C.: I’ve been taking part in NaNo since 2010. I honestly can’t remember how I came across it, but it’s brilliant. It breaks up the writing into bitesize chunks and even gives me a little chart to let me know how much I’ve written, what my average is, that sort of thing. It also helped me to come across other local authors in the Milton Keynes area; several of us met up towards the end of the 2010 NaNo to write together. I didn’t make it the following year, sadly; a combination of a lack of enthusiasm in my story idea and a crazy work schedule meant that I fell short by a considerable distance. In 2012, I wrote Poisonroot, and built the world that my D&D group plays in, so that’s constantly being worked on. In 2013 I cheated slightly and wrote ten short stories set in the world of Poisonroot; that was even more fun because I got to play with different styles and techniques within the same body of work. I actually completed two NaNo projects in 2014, because I did Camp NaNoWriMo earlier in the year. That was the first version of what would eventually become Noctis Point, the bulk of which I wrote in November 2014. Finishing my most recent NaNo was a close run thing; I was working as a teacher still, and we had the inspectors come in. We had four days of twenty-hour work days, and writing just wasn’t a priority any more. I had to write 12,000 words in two days to finish. My NaNo author page is here.

P.S.: From your website, it appears you are into Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs.)  Do you find that helps your fiction writing, or takes time away from it?

S.C.: Definitely it takes time away from it! I’ve played a lot of MMOs, but for the last eighteen months I’ve been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIV. It’s a real timesink, but it’s also a way to talk with my friends and be social. My wife and flatmate both play it as well, so there’s always something going on. There are some wonderful little bits of writing that are inspirational, but mainly I’m in it for the music, which I listen to when I’m writing.

Murder MatchesP.S.: You recently collaborated on a product called Murder Matches.  It looks like a murder story told from eight different points of view.  Can you tell us more about that?

S.C.: Nana Li is a good friend of mine, and incredibly talented. She had been working on an idea inspired by designer matchboxes, and wanted it to be a murder mystery where each matchbox contained a character profile or statement which, when put together, would help a reader solve the mystery. I love things that twist and I’m a real fiend for puzzles, so it was awesome to work with her on this. I can’t give away too much for fear of spoiling the mystery! Writing the characters was fun, as each one had a different voice. It was a real challenge, giving away a couple of clues in each one while at the same time trying to suggest a motive for everyone. We’re working on a sequel for release this year.

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

S.C.: I’ve read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, which is pretty much all I write. For fantasy, authors such as Trudi Canavan, Stephen R. Donaldson, Tolkien, Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett, Raymond E. Feist and Peter V. Brett have really inspired me. On the science fiction side, Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Stephen Baxter, Stel Pavlou, Iain M. Banks and Dan Simmons are really high up on the list. I’ve read quite a lot of John Courtenay Grimwood’s cyberpunk books as well. The truth is I’ll read pretty much anything going! I can see little things that have inspired me from all of those authors, flairs or personal touches that strike me as being from that particular style of writing, but I try wherever possible to have my own style.

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

S.C.: Noctis Point is a science fiction story set a couple of hundred years in the future. Through war and economic collapse, the Earth has eventually been united into an Empire, which has begun to reach out to the stars for colonization. In the process, it has encountered an alien race living on the moons of Jupiter; imagine spider-centaurs and you’re halfway there. These ‘Spiders’ are initially peaceful, but things quickly turn bad when they ambush a delegation from Earth during peace talks, and battle lines are drawn. Another faction involved in all this is the psychs, living on Mars. They are humans who have evolved psychic powers when they turn sixteen, and more of them are beginning to appear every year. Partly in fear of them, the Empire has ordained that they should live on Mars, in a base known as Noctis Point, where they will be trained in preparation for joining the Empire’s armies as elite soldiers. The story follows two main characters: Alex, a boy who manifests the power and is sent to Noctis Point to train; and Imperial Princess Ariadne Cutter, the daughter of the Emperor, whose role as her father’s spymistress leads her into a terrorist plot that could have grave consequences on the war.

P.S.: Please tell us about your podcasting activities.

S.C.: I run a once-weekly podcast, Pocket Fiction, where I read either a short story or part of a longer piece. Up until just recently it’s been my own work, which has been really useful for me, but I’m looking forward to working with some of my fellow pirates in the anthology. I’m always looking for people to collaborate with, and producing Pocket Fiction is genuinely fun. Having more time recently has allowed me to go for better production values as well. I built a little recording booth and I’ve begun to add sound and vocal effects to deepen the immersion even further. Pocket Fiction is available on the iTunes store, but I also upload each week to Tumblr and to YouTube, where each video is played over a roaring fire. That was one of the initial ideas I had for the podcast; that it was tales told around a campfire, something to make you feel warm and relaxed.

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

Steve Cook: Tell people who you trust to give you honest feedback that you’re writing; they’ll help you and support you, and hopefully you can persuade them to read your work. Sometimes it’s good to plan stories out, but more often than not I find the characters somehow wrest control of the story away from me halfway through and we diverge. It’s ok for characters to be different on paper than how you initially imagined them. Probably the most useful thing I do is read my stuff out loud; having to read each word finds every mistake, every awkward phrasing, and sometimes you pick up on things that you would otherwise have missed.

 

Thanks, Steve! I’m sure you’ve enticed my readers to visit your blog, follow you on Twitter, and visit you on Tumblr.

Poseidon’s Scribe

Video Trailer for Avast, Ye Airships!

Here’s a marvelous video trailer for the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! 

 

The trailer was made by d chang, and the original music composed and performed by Dan Bernardo.

The music and video have a nice, ethereal quality. I love the sounds of—well, it sounds like rope tightening, or planks creaking—interspersed with the rush of wind. You really feel like you’re aboard a steampunk pirate airship. You may even be overcome by an urge to drop everything and buy the book.

I hope you do, and that you enjoy one story in particular, “A Clouded Affair,” by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Facebook Launch Party

Attention, Poseidon’s Scribe fans, and Steampunk party hounds: there will be a Facebook launch party for the anthology AvastYeAirshipsAvast, Ye Airships! It will happen Saturday, February 28th, from 7:00 to 11:00 PM EST. That’s 6 PM to 10 PM CST, 5 PM to 9 PM MST, and 4 PM to 8 PM PST. You’ll have to calculate it yourself for all other time zones.

My tentative timeslot for this party is 8:30 to 8:45 EST, and I’ll put out a new post or update this one if that changes or is confirmed.

I’ve never participated in a Facebook party before, but my understanding is that it’s like a chat, where you can ask me questions. As a service to my fans, I thought I’d give you some tidbits about the story I wrote for the anthology. These may prompt some questions you can ask:

  • Story title: “A Clouded Affair”
  • Backstory and Setting: It’s an alternate 1920, where large, dirigible airships in Europe have been preyed upon by sky pirates for decades. They’ve developed strong defenses, which forced the pirates to become crafty, hiding in the clouds as a tactic. In the New World, air piracy is a more recent thing, so the big cargo airships fly without escorts, nets, or defensive weapons.
  • Main Characters: William Starling leads an aging gang of English pirates flying a steam ornithopter. They’ve abandoned Europe for the greater promise of American aerial loot. Last to join his gang was young Nell Remige, a female adventure-seeker who worked hard to become William’s first mate. If William isn’t careful, he’ll encounter Crank Deco and his Chicago-based gang who fly a modern, diesel-engine biplane. That could bring on a steampunk vs. dieselpunk contest in the air, the last thing William needs. As for Nell, if she and William somehow make it out of this alive, what does she really want?

Remember, this Saturday night is your big chance, if you’ve ever wanted to party with—

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 22, 2015Permalink

Author Interview — Amy Braun

North to Canada we go today for the next interview in this series. I’m on a quest to interview as many contributing authors to the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! as I can, and this time, it’s Amy Braun.

Amy BraunAmy Braun is an aspiring urban fantasy and horror author addicted to monsters and mythology. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, or gaming. She’s a recipient, in 2014, of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery.”

On a side note (or two), that may be the world’s only award that contains “bad-assery” in its title, and I think General Bad-Assery would be a great name for both a rock band and a senior Army officer.

After that irrelevant tangent, here’s the interview:

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

Amy Braun: One of my friends once told me I had an overactive imagination. He was more right than he knew. I’m constantly daydreaming, thinking of crazy worlds, What-If scenarios, wicked action scenes with wickeder monsters. I’ve been that way since my pre-teens, when writing was just a hobby for me. I can’t picture myself writing anything but fiction. I love letting my imagination run wild, and just seeing what it can do makes it worth the effort. I once read a quote saying that “creating something that didn’t exist before is as close to magic as I’ll ever get.” That couldn’t be more true for me.

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

A.B.: Most days, writing the words is easy. If I have an ironclad view on how I want a scene to be, the words just flow. The same can be said for action scenes. If I have the right music going, I can dive into the fight scene and make it absolutely insane. The faster paced or more dramatic the story, the better I do. In contrast, I have some difficulty when it comes to research. The Internet is great, but it can be a hindrance when certain “experts” disagree on certain things. For some stories I cheat and use magic, but that doesn’t always work. For example, in Crimson Sky, the novel inspired by “Lost Sky,” my main character Claire is an engineer. Since I know as much about engineering as I do about brain surgery, I had to do some research and find out her limits. Not an easy, or thrilling thing to do. The same can be said with some of the devices Claire uses. You can’t always skim over the truth, and even though this is a fantasy series, I had to at least give some kind of explanation to how her tools worked.

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

A.B.: More than I can name, and each for their own reasons. The biggest influences are Rob Thurman for her sharp dialogue and in depth characters. Jennifer Estep for her amazing action scenes, easy flow, and ability to keep ever her longest running series fresh and exciting. Kevin Hearne for the detail he puts into his mythology and lore. Alexander Gordon Smith and Scott Sigler for their skills at writing fast-paced, truly engaging horror. And most recently, Michael J. Sullivan for his ability to show rather than tell, and involve the reader so deeply that they can bring you to tears without trying. Not that that’s happened to me. Ahem.

P.S.: I see you have been participating in the Weekend Writing Warriors‘ 8Sunday promotions, and that they are some of your most popular blog posts. How do you choose the 8 sentences to share?

A.B.: Usually I go with the novel or shot story I’m currently working on. A lot of the authors I read from WeWriWa tend to choose a chapter and have consistency for their posts. That’s a great idea for obvious reasons, but I’m the kind of writer who works too fast to want to do that. I like choosing snippets that I think are engaging and fun, something to draw the reader in without giving too much away. I also like sharing various work to tease at future projects and hopefully draw a more interested audience. 8Sunday has been a huge help for me, and I hope to build a larger following through it.

P.S.: You mentioned in one post that you’re a fast writer and cranked out 78,000 words in one month, even though you have what you call a Real Job. That output is very impressive. How do you manage to write so fast?

A.B.: Honestly, I do nothing else with my free time. My days off are Mondays and Tuesdays, and I take full advantage of the time that I have to accomplish as much as I can. If I’m having a good day, I can write over 10,000 words. Even on a bad day where my focus isn’t 100% there, I can still get out at least 6,000. Literally, all I do is sit at my computer, listen to music and write. If I think of wanting to do something else, that thought strain usually goes, “Well I could be catching up on The Walking Dead… or I could be writing.” It’s become an addiction I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. Even when I’m at work, I’m thinking about a story and what to do next in a scene. On my breaks or when I’m caught up on my projects, I use my phone to write. Not as effective as a laptop, but I’ll use what I have available. I love and need writing like a flower loves and needs the sun.

P.S.: Your short story, “Lost Sky” will appear in the AvastYeAirshipsAvast, Ye Airships! anthology. Please tell us a little about the story.

A.B.: “Lost Sky” is sort of a guinea pig. It was a crazy idea I wanted to try since I was in my pre-teens, that I finally took a chance with. The story is about a young engineer named Claire living in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world that has been overrun with bloodthirsty vampire like creatures called Hellions. Claire’s younger sister Abby is kidnapped and taken to the Behemoth, the large Hellion ship that oversees the entire city. To rescue her, Claire is forced to join sides with three Marauders, roguish pirates who are looking for their own revenge against the Hellions. It’s a fun story and I have a lot of pride for it. Hopefully other readers will enjoy it as much as I did writing it.

P.S.: Is it true that “Lost Sky” inspired a trilogy of novels, called the Dark Sky collection? When will those novels be available? What ties them together?

A.B.: Yes, it’s definitely true. Dark Sky dives into the world created in “Lost Sky,” and follows Claire and the Marauders as they search for a machine her parents made that is supposed to close the Breach, the tear in the sky that allowed the Hellions to invade. The novels follow Claire’s adventures as she learns her family’s secrets, begins to take up the work they left behind, and tests it against the horrible might of the Hellions. The first novel, Crimson Sky, is completed its rough draft, though I’m looking at several different publishing options at the moment. I could have a couple publishers lined up should they take to the idea and be willing to publish a full-length novel, though if that fails I will likely self-publish. I know what a long and strenuous process it is to submit to companies and hope they say yes. So right now, the release date is up in the air, though I think I’ll be shooting for late summer/early fall.

P.S.: Recently your short story, “DeathCafe_Hotel_HellDeath’s Cafe: Hotel Hell,” was published. Sounds creepy… What is it about?

A.B.: “Hotel Hell” is one of my favorite short stories ever written. It’s about a man named Milo whose fiancée went missing. Unable to wait any longer, he sets out to find her and encounters a mysterious hotel. As he asks the staff about her disappearance, he begins to feel unnerved by them. He senses something strange about the hotel, and its secrets could cost him dearly. It’s a subtle, more environmental horror story in contrast to my last Mocha Memoirs horror short, “Call from the GCall From The Grave cover 8.27.47 AMrave.” But I loved writing it. Creating atmospheric horror is just as fun as writing splatterfest gore, and I had a great time coming up with the visuals for it.

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

A.B.: Currently, I’m working on the second book in the Dark Sky trilogy, Midnight Sky. I’m about halfway through it now, and hope to have it done soon. Once it’s finished, I’ll be looking into a few open submission calls that have caught my eye, and beginning a project called Bond Unknown, a series of novellas being put together by Canadian publisher April Moon Books, now that the rights regarding Ian Fleming’s famous super spy have been released to Canada.

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

Amy Braun: The same advice that’s been given to me countless times, the same advice hundreds of famous authors give whenever someone asks. Write. Simply write. The more you write, the better you will do. That isn’t to say that your bestseller will be the first book you create. In all likelihood, it won’t be. Every author I’ve ever respected and read has been rejected by everyone in the universe. Despite my successes last year, I know that it’s a long road ahead and I’ll get a million more doors slammed in my face. But I write every day for as long as I can. I get the words out, and don’t think about editing until I’m done. I make little notes, but I don’t edit halfway through. And never be afraid to take chances. If you have a crazy idea you want to write, then write it. Publishers and editors are always looking for something new, something exciting and engaging. Even if the idea you adore with every ounce of your soul has been rejected (and mine have been), don’t give up. This is not an easy a career, and even though I work by the “if you write it, they will come” theory, that doesn’t mean I’ll be signed by a professional, major label. And honestly, I’m okay with that. If you truly, deeply, love writing with the very core of your soul, if you live and breathe it, find peace in it, you will find a way to get your story out there. If I have to self-publish for the rest of my career, I will. I have too much creativity to be restrained by a label’s nitpickiness. Continue to learn, take critiques as advice, and again, never stop writing.

 

Thanks, Amy! After that interview, my readers will want to know more, and they can visit Amy’s author page on Amazon, on Goodreads, on Twitter, and at her website.

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 16, 2015Permalink