Vote for Your Favorite Story of 2015

Happy New Year! It’s time again for the Critters Writers Workshop to conduct their Preditors & Editors Readers Poll (their 18th) 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.

RippersRing72dpiPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]AvastYeAirships

One of my stories, “Ripper’s Ring,” is in the Horror Short Story category, and is currently second of ten in votes. In the Anthologies category, two books contain other short stories I wrote. The two anthologies are Hides the Dark Tower and Avast, Ye Airships! The links in this paragraph and the book cover images take 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.

Whether you’ve read “Ripper’s Ring” or the anthologies, or not, this is a great way to start 2016. If you haven’t read my stories, you might feel prompted to buy them and read them. If you have, then it’s a great way to show your appreciation to—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Guest Post – Rie Sheridan Rose

I’ll be interspersing my regular posts with interviews of, and guest posts by, other authors whose stories appear in the anthology Hides the Dark Tower.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] First up is a guest post from SteampunkRie-e1302614168720-113x300Rie Sheridan Rose, who is already familiar to my readers from her interview on January 14, 2015, and as the editor of Avast, Ye Airships! Her story in Hides is “Leaving the Tower,” and here’s her post:

Why I Wrote “Leaving the Tower”

The moment I saw the call for Hides the Dark Tower, my mind went to one of the most famous towers I could think of—Rapunzel’s prison. This is a story I have explored before from the witch’s point-of-view in my poem “Jealousy” in Straying from the Path, but this time, I wanted to tell Rapunzel’s story.

Just think about it. She was placed in this unassailable tower as an infant, according to the story. Given away by her parents like a loaf of bread. She never saw anyone except the witch her entire life before the prince breaches the tower.

I gave the witch the benefit of the doubt that she would have enough humanity to give the girl books and teach her to read, but she was still a prisoner in a cell that makes max security look like a picnic. What would you do in this situation? Would you develop the same view of the world that a normal child would have? It’s an interesting puzzle to contemplate.

Having a pet chameleon to sing to wouldn’t be all that much relief. (Though I do think Tangled was a fabulous take on the story.)

I love to retell fairy tales, so I thought about logical progression. If A happened, what is the logical B? This led me through my story. I don’t want to give spoilers, but suffice to say, I was pleased with the result—and so was Rapunzel.

Rie Sheridan Rose

Thanks again, Rie! My readers can find out more about Rie Sheridan Rose on Facebook , at her website, on Goodreads, and on Amazon. Her story “Leaving the Tower” is  wonderful; you can take it from—

Poseidon’s Scribe

October 28, 2015Permalink

What a Great Time at BALTICON!

Although I’ve attended the major science fiction and fantasy convention in Baltimore for many years, this year marked the first time I spoke as a participant. It’s been a wonderful experience!

b49_banner_1First, I spoke on a panel called “Being Out in Fandom.” It was about the issues faced by the LGBTQ community as fans at cons. My thanks to fellow panelists Stephanie “Flashcat” Burke and Hugh J. O’Donnell, and to moderator Jennifer R. Povey for helping me through that unfamiliar territory. I think I learned more than the audience!

I felt more conversant about being on the panel called “Engineers Can’t Write—Some Known Counter-Examples.” I had suggested that idea to the BALTICON staff, after all! I greatly enjoyed the experience with the other panelists Karen Burnham, Gary Ehrlich, and Walt Boyes. Jack Clemmons did a superb job as the moderator.

The next panel was part of the weekend-long tribute to the late C.J Henderson, who was the con’s Ghost of Honor. It was titled “Do You Want Pulp With That?” and we talked about what pulp fiction is, and Henderson’s forays into that realm. It was the first panel I’d ever moderated. I’m grateful to panelists John L. French, Michael Black, and Michael Underwood for keeping things interesting and informative for the audience (and for me).

On Sunday morning, I was honored to be in a reading session with Melissa Scott and Ada Palmer. (Despite the ‘ladies first’ adage, I should have gone first. I see that now.) After they read wonderful excerpts from upcoming works, I read a passage from “A Clouded Affair” in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships!

That afternoon, I sat at an autograph table with Jack McDevitt. Yes, the Jack McDevitt, winner of the Nebula Award, and recent winner of the Heinlein Award. He was wonderful to talk to, and a few of the fans who’d lined up for his autograph spent some time at my end of the table.

We had a packed session for a panel I moderated called “Bars, Inns, and Taverns: Fiction and Reality.” Panelists Katie Bryski, Ada Palmer, John Skylar, and Nathan Lowell kept it fun and instructive. BALTICON’s Guest of Honor, Jo Walton (Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell Award winner!), also attended and shared her knowledge of the history of English pubs.

Among those who attended the launching of my story “Ripper’s Ring” were friends Kelly A. Harmon and Trisha Wooldridge. I thank them both.

Late Sunday night, I moderated a panel called “Knowing That I Know That You Know: Xanatos Gambits and Chessmasters.” The only panelist was Grig Larson, who was both funny and knowledgeable about this rather arcane topic.

On Monday I moderated the “Long YA, Short YA” panel discussing the explosion in long novels for young adults. Panelist Michael Underwood and Compton Crook Award Winner Alexandra Duncan kept the audience engaged.

Lastly, I moderated one more panel on “Tropes in Young Adult SF/F.” The lone panelist, Alexandra Duncan, was marvelous in this one too. I’m learning how to be a panel moderator, and it’s nice when a skilled and expert panelist makes up for any shortcomings in the moderator, (like when he runs out of questions).

All in all, a spectacular weekend! My sincere thanks go to the BALTICON programming coordinators for giving me a chance. I’m grateful, as well, to all the more experienced authors I met who told me, and showed by example, how to have a successful convention.

This BALTICON will linger long and fondly in the memory 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

Recalling the Moment

When people ask, “how did you get the idea for that story?” it’s useful to be able to remember that exact instant when the lightning struck, when the light bulb glowed, when the muse whispered. For some of my stories, I can. For others, I have no idea.

People expect you to remember. They want to hear about the light bulb moment. After all, that’s a bit of a story in itself.

220px-Suzanne_Collins_David_Shankbone_2010Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games series, has a great story for how she came up with the idea for the first book in the series. As reported here, she was channel-surfing between a reality show involving a competition among young people, and some news coverage of a war. The two TV shows blurred in her mind, and she came up with her book idea. She also claims that the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, which she read at age eight, became the inspiration for the plot.

This is often how it happens. Two or more ideas get merged in your mind, and they can be widely separated in time. Some of these ideas could be something half-remembered from childhood.

On occasion, an entire story coming to a writer in a flash, so that it becomes a race to get it written down before the memory degrades. Other authors refine and mature a basic idea over time before they are ready to write. Whichever method you use, it’s still a good thing to write down the initial idea right after the bulb illuminates, perhaps in a daily journal. That way you’ll be ready when people ask.

What’s that you’re thinking? You’re wondering how I got the ideas for some of my recent stories? How nice of you to ask.

A Clouded Affair” came from a clash of two ideas. I was in a dieselpunk mood, having never written in that subgenre. Then I saw the call for stories for an anthology titled Avast, Ye Airships! Clearly, they wanted steampunk. What to do? How about a battle between a steampunk pirate and a dieselpunk pirate?

For “Time’s Deformèd Hand,” I was responding to a planned anthology of Steampunk Shakespeare stories. I wanted a lighter tale, so I reviewed the Bard’s comedies, and selected “A Comedy of Errors.” Clockpunk seemed a better fit than steampunk, so I went with that. While my story didn’t get picked for the anthology, it found a happier home as part of my What Man Hath Wrought series.

The Cometeers” is one story whose genesis I don’t recall. For some reason, I must have been thinking about save-the-Earth-from-destruction plot lines, and thought about how I could set such a story in the steampunk era.

Here’s a sneaky notion, to wrap things up. Since you won’t always recall the “ah-ha moment” when a story idea occurred to you, and since your zillions of fans will demand to know how it actually happened, it’s probably okay in this instance to make up a story. After all, you’re a fiction writer—making up stories is what you do. Moreover, who would say your explanation is wrong? Certainly not—

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

Author Interview — Diana Parparita

Poseidon’s Scribe has done it again and now presents another interview with a captivating author whose story appears in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships! Today I welcome Diana ParparitaDiana Parparita, a Romanian author living in Bucharest who writes fantasy and steampunk.

Read on for the interview:

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

Diana Parparita: I started writing fiction when I was four or five years old. I hadn’t learned to write yet, back then, so I dictated my stories to my grandmother, but the intent to write speculative fiction was there, even at that age. The reason why I began writing, or, rather, dictating, was that I kept making stories in my head to entertain myself, and I liked them enough that I wanted to share them with others. And I kept forgetting them, so a big incentive for writing was to have a way to remember the best stories that I’d come up with.

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

D.P.: The easiest part of writing for me is writing dialogues. My characters feel very much alive to me, and tend to act as if they had a mind of their own, so they talk naturally and I can always picture what they’d say and how they’d say it. The most difficult part for me is writing action scenes. I still haven’t been able to figure out a good pacing for writing action. When I read, I tend to skip through most of the fight scenes because I just want to know how it ends, and I haven’t been able to find a way to keep the reader’s attention on the action itself, at least not my attention.

P.S.: What is your favorite genre to write in?

D.P.: My favorite genre is fantasy, because it offers me complete freedom to create any type of world and society I choose. But I’m also fond of sci-fi, for the same reason, although I find it colder than fantasy.

P.S.: You live in Romania, right? Have you used Romania as a setting in any of your stories? If not, are there other ways that living in that country has influenced your fiction?

D.P.: Yes, I live in Romania. I haven’t used Romania per se as a setting, but the setting for the stories in my Huntsfee series is loosely based on Romania. There are, however, other ways I which living in Romania and being Romanian has influenced my writing. Romania is at the border between several cultures, and has seen a good number of invaders over the centuries, and as a result, Romanian writers tend to incorporate elements from different cultures into their writing. In that respect, my writing stories set in a fictional version of the Victorian age, as well as mixing that with elements from other cultures, is in perfect agreement with my Romanian heritage. To give an example, the story I wrote for Avast, Ye Airships! is influenced by the steampunk stories I’ve read and by Victorian England, but also by Jules Verne and an Italian 19th century writer of adventure novels, whose pirates have played an important part in my adolescence. This mixture of elements from three different cultures is all very natural to a Romanian writer and to Romanian culture.

P.S.: Your story “Miss Warlyss Meets the Black Buzzard” will appear in the anthology Avast, AvastYeAirshipsYe Airships! Please tell us a little about Miss Warlyss.

D.P.: Miss Warlyss is the daughter of a governor, who grew up in a pensionnat, and she’s now being sent home to become the bride of one of her father’s political allies. Which, of course, is something she doesn’t quite fancy doing in the near future. But you’ll have to read the story to see just how she manages to avoid getting married.

P.S.: In your website and in social media, your sense of humor is evident. Do you include humor in all your stories, or are there some purely serious ones?

D.P.: I’ve written some stories that are meant to be purely serious, but I’m afraid my sense of humor does show even in those, though to a lesser degree. I tend to make fun of the worst parts of life, as a form of self-preservation, so the darker the story, the harder it is not to add a touch of humor to it.

P.S.: From your Facebook page, I gather that a cat figures prominently in your home life. Does the cat inspire any characteristics or features of any of the animals in your stories?

D.P.: Actually, the cat in question is a rather new addition to the household. We’ve only had her for a few months. I used to have a cat before her, but she never inspired any characters either. But whenever I write animals, they are indeed based on nature. I always pay close attention to animals when I have a chance, and I try to study them before I use any animals as characters. Except for the horse in the first story I’ve ever published, “Sir Joseph’s Choice,” which was heavily anthropomorphized from a psychological point of view.

P.S.: One of your published books is Doctor Edmund HuntseeHuntsfee’s Perilous Expedition into the Heart of the Flood Plains. It appears this has inspired a series, with a second story published and a third being written. What do you find fascinating about the world or characters in this series?

D.P.: What I find most fascinating about the series is the continuous study of new and original species. Dr. Huntsfee is a sort of natural historian who specializes in the study of fantasy creatures, so each story enables me to create and present in detail a new personal species. But there’s one more thing that fascinates me about this series, and that’s the relationship between two of the characters in it, Miss Ophelia Dalton and Captain Joseph Marlin. They were both created to serve very specific roles within the story: Miss Ophelia is the chaperon of Dr. Huntsfee’s friend and love interest, while the captain was meant to be in charge of the boat the expedition is sailing on. They were never meant to be a couple, and that shows even in the age difference between them, with him being about ten years younger than her, but from their first scene together, they’ve developed a special chemistry that I hadn’t planned for them to have. So now I’m very curious to see where that’s going and I want to explore that budding relationship through many other stories.

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

D.P.: I’m always working on several things at the same time, so right now I’m working on the third installment in the Huntsfee series, a steampunk retelling of The Little Mermaid, and a young adult novel about a girl who finds out she’s part dryad and gathers an army to free her country of an evil dictator and the dragons under his command.

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

Diana Parparita: I think the best advice I can offer is to read the best stories and novels in the genre they want to specialize in, as well as the very best that other genres have to offer. I’ve noticed that quality is something that tends to rub off, so the more good books you read the better. Also, there’s one piece of advice that I haven’t heard enough: live! Get as much life experience as you possibly can. I have a bad record of never staying in a job for longer than a year and a half, but, apart from it looking dreadful on my résumé, this has helped me meet all sorts of people and has placed me in all sorts of environments. The pirates in “Miss Warlyss Meets the Black Buzzard,” for instance, are based on some of my co-workers from a male-dominated workplace I landed in a couple of years ago. Having lived my entire life in a female-dominated environment, it was just as much of a shock to me as it was to Miss Warlyss, and that provided me both with an understanding of her experience and with a good reference for my pirates and for male-dominated environments in general. My pirates would have never seemed authentic if I’d found a comfortable job and stayed in it all my life. So I definitely advise experiencing things outside of your comfort zone.

 

Thank you, Diana! My many readers are urged to learn more about Diana Parparita on Facebook, on DeviantArt, and at her website.

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 12, 2015Permalink