New Book Alert – After the Martians

That’s right. I’m announcing the upcoming launch of a new book in the What Man Hath Wrought series. It’s called “After the Martians,” and the cover is sensational.

AftertheMartians72d

Here’s the blurb for the book, an alternate history occurring after the events of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds:

In 1901 the Martians attacked Earth, but tiny bacteria vanquished them. Their advanced weaponry lay everywhere—giant three-legged fighting machines, heat rays, and poison gas. Now, in 1917, The Great War rages across Europe but each side uses Martian technology. Join Corporal Johnny Branch, a young man from Wyoming, as he pursues his dream to fight for America. Follow magazine photographer Frank Robinson while he roams the front lines, hoping to snap a photo conveying true American valor. Perhaps they’ll discover, as the Martians did before them, that little things can change the world.

Gypsy Shadow Publishing and I are planning for a book launch in early May. You’ll find more news about “After the Martians” here at this website, so check back frequently with—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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Writing Blurbs

Whether readers buy books online or in a bookstore, they look at the cover first and the blurb second. If the blurb doesn’t grab them, they move on. Don’t kill that sale with a bad blurb.

BlurbA blurb is defined as a short description of your book, written for promotional purposes and appearing on the back cover. That definition sucks all the life out of the word, though. Scratch out “written for promotional purposes” and substitute “written to seize the prospective reader’s attention and imbed an irresistible desire to possess the book and read every word.”

My primary publisher, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, asks for two blurbs for each book—a long one that’s less than 150 words, and a short one no longer than 25 words. Both of these are difficult for me to write, but the short blurb is the toughest.

What should be in a blurb?

  • Hint at the plot or main conflict.
  • Name and mention distinguishing trait of main character(s).
  • Describe the setting or ‘world.’ This is vital in science fiction and fantasy.
  • If available, include quotes about this book or your previous books.
  • If space available, include an author bio.

How do you write one?

  • Study other book blurbs in your genre. Learn the common words and language.
  • Write a summary of your book (if not done already), then shorten it down to its essence. What’s the book’s “elevator speech?”
  • Use image-laden words, those powerful words that speak to readers of the book’s genre.
  • Ensure the tone of the blurb matches that of the book.
  • Write several blurbs and combine the best features.
  • Set it aside for a few days, then read it again. If meh, rewrite.
  • Ask your critique group to comment on it. You are in a critique group, right?

Further Reading

You can find out even more about blurbs from Amy Wilkins, Marilynn Byerly, and the master of writer advice, Joanna Penn. I’ve shamelessly stolen from them in writing this post.

Examples

Here are three of the 25-word blurbs from my most recent books. These don’t contain all the elements noted above, but the 150-word, lengthier versions do:

  • Ripper’s Ring:” The ancient Ring of Gyges grants the power of invisibility to Jack the Ripper. A Scotland Yard detective tracks a killer who can’t be seen.
  • Time’s Deformèd Hand:” Time for zany mix-ups in a clock-obsessed village. Long-separated twins, giant automatons, and Shakespeare add to the madcap comedy. Read it before it’s too late!
  • The Cometeers:” A comet threatens Earth…in 1897! Of the six men launched by cannon to deflect it, one is a saboteur. It’s steampunk Armageddon!

With some practice and creativity, your blurbs should be even better than any written by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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The Story behind “Time’s Deformèd Hand”

You were wondering about this new story of mine, “Time’s Deformèd Hand,” so I’ve written this blog post to answer all your questions. It’s the least I can do to satisfy your curiosity. Luckily for both of us, the post contains no spoilers.

Q: What’s the book about?

A: Here’s a short book blurb: “Time for zany mix-ups in a clock-obsessed village. Long-separated twins, giant automatons, and Shakespeare add to the madcap comedy. Read it before it’s too late!”

Q: What’s with the weird title, and why is there a grave accent mark in the word ‘deformed?’
A: The title is stolen from Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.” In fact, I pretty much ripped off the Bard’s whole play. The story has many, many references to time, clocks, and calendars, and all the sorts of errors associated with time measurement, so the title is appropriate. The grave accent mark (`) means to pronounce that usually-silent ‘e’ as you would in ‘scented,’ to make the poetic rhythm come out right.

Q: What made you think of writing it?

A: I got the idea, somehow, to combine Shakespeare and clockpunk. I wanted the tale to be lighthearted, so I picked one of Shakespeare’s comedies. Having raised a set of identical twins myself, I was drawn to “The Comedy of Errors” due to all its mistaken-identity gags. Rather than two sets of identical twins separated at birth, I thought I’d have just one set, but each young man has a clockman, and all clockmen are identical.

Q: What are clockmen?

A: In my story, clockmen are clockwork automatons, invented by Leonardo da Vinci a century before my story. They’re eight feet tall, with an outer shell of wood covering the metal gears, ratchets, and cogs. They display a clock on their chest, and have a large, wind-up key protruding from their back. Due to a special property of a certain kind of wood, clockmen are sentient, though they seem dull-witted.

Q: What are the story’s strangest characters?

A: First, I’d have to say the town’s Wachmeister, or constable. Wachmeister Baumann is pompous, and also overconfident, considering he can’t seem to correctly pronounce any policing terms. Then there’s the proprietor of the city’s clockman repair shop, a certain William Shakespeare. Herr Shakespeare had moved from England to this Swiss village. For a repairman, he has the rather odd habit of speaking in iambic pentameter, and a deep understanding of human nature.

Q: What do you mean by ‘many references to time?’

A: The setting of the story is a Swiss village called Spätbourg (“late-town”). It is shaped like a clock, with twelve streets radiating out from the center. It contains the Tempus Fugit Restaurant, the Oaken Cuckoo Tavern, and the Sundial Inn. In addition, the story includes several clock jokes, clock mix-ups, as well as clock and calendar paradoxes.

Q: When and where can I buy it?

A: Thought you’d never ask. The book is launching today! You can buy it here, here, and here, and soon it will be available at Gypsy Shadow Publishing and other places.

What? You have more questions about “Time’s Deformèd Hand?” Better leave a comment for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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November 16, 2014Permalink

Time for a Story to Launch

I just learned my next story, “Time’s Deformèd Hand,” is scheduled to be launched by Gypsy Shadow Publishing in just three days, on November 15th. It’s the 12th book in that What Man Hath Wrought series everyone’s talking about.

Here’s the blurb: It’s 1600 in an alternate Switzerland, a world where Da Vinci’s mechanical automatons and human-powered flight almost work, thanks to magic trees. Long-separated twins, Georg the reluctant groom and Georg the clock thief, roam the clocklike village of Spätbourg, beset by more time and date errors than you can shake an hour hand at. Will Georg get married after all, and repair the town’s central tower clock? Will Georg—the other one—purloin more timepieces, or give up his pilfering ways? Will William Shakespeare lend a hand, and some iambic pentameter poetry, to reset the cogs and gears of this zany comedy? Only time will tell…or maybe not, in this ultimate clockpunk tale of mistaken identity and temporal mix-ups.

I’ll be sure to let you know when “Time’s Deformèd Hand” is launched and where you can buy it. You know if there’s one person who’d never leave you uninformed, it’s—

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November 13, 2014Permalink

How I Inspired an Expedition

According to news accounts here, here, and here, divers will use a special diving suit (called the Exosuit) to explore off the coast of Antikythera Island near Greece. The site is a debris field left by a Roman merchant ship estimated to have sunk around 60 B.C. in 200 feet of water.

300px-NAMA_Machine_d'Anticythère_1They’ll be looking for more pieces of “the world’s oldest computer.” It’s a geared calculating machine, discovered by divers in 1900. No one credited the ancient Greeks with much knowledge of gear technology, until the discovery of this machine.

The question you’re probably wondering is, why now? The mechanism has been known about for more than a century. Why are scientists and explorers suddenly interested in finding out if they are missing some parts of the machine, or if they already have extra pieces and there were two devices aboard the ship? What prompted this new expedition?

I might have had something to do with it.

ToBeFirstWheels3fYou see, I wrote a story about the Antikythera Mechanism called “Wheels of Heaven,” and it just got published (by Gypsy Shadow Publishing) a couple of months ago. In my tale, I explain what the machine is and how it came to rest at the bottom of the Aegean Sea.

You’d have to agree this can’t be a coincidence. Obviously someone read my story and got to thinking, “I wonder if he’s right? Is that how it happened?”

No one associated with the expedition is likely to admit it, of course. They might even deny it if asked. After all, no scientist wants to confess to being inspired by a mere fictional short story.

But we know the truth, don’t we? The connection is too strong to ignore. They can refute it all they want.

At this point you’re probably curious what the fuss is all about. You can purchase “Wheels of Heaven” along with another story “To Be First” here, here, here, and other places too. Sail along on the ship Prospectus with the Roman astrologer Drusus Praesentius Viator, and a common sailor from Crete named Abrax as they argue over whether the machine can tell the future.

Once again we see mysterious parallels between the breaking news of today’s world and the worlds depicted in my stories. A few weeks ago, I told you about the upcoming landing on a comet, an event similar to the one in my story “The Cometeers.”

The question we must ask, then, is which will be the next story of mine to have some strong link to the news headlines? Which of my other books of alternate history will prompt the next scientist, explorer, or engineer to undertake a grand investigative effort? You can offer your own answer to this question by leaving a comment to this blog post.

Strange how this keeps happening, isn’t it? If you want to know the science and technology news of tomorrow, simply to turn to the works of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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September 21, 2014Permalink

First to Land on a Comet?

This week the European Space Agency (ESA) announced they will choose from among five sites on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for the Rosetta spacecraft’s robot laboratory Philae to land, as reported here, here, and here. Crop_from_the_4_August_processed_image_of_comet_67P_Churyumov_Gerasimenko300px-Rosetta

Philae_over_a_comet_(crop)They claim this will be the first time a human-built spacecraft has landed on a comet.

I beg to differ.

I’m aware of an alternate universe very close to our own, a universe in which an actual manned—not robotic—landing has already occurred.

In 1897.

It’s all documented in my story, “The Cometeers,” a story to be launched tomorrow by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Yes, that’s tomorrow. The 1st of September.TheCometeers72dpi

That means you don’t have to wait for the ESA to take their sweet time choosing a landing site and preparing to send down the Philae probe. They’re not even attempting their landing until mid-November. That’s not for two and a half whole months!

Who wants to wait that long? You can be witness to a manned landing on a comet as soon as tomorrow.

Also, in my story, the comet isn’t some benign rock way out there at some safe distance.  Not at all.  It’s huge, and it’s hurtling toward Earth.

A planet-buster.

Further, the heroes of “The Cometeers” don’t have fancy computers, or Ariane 5 rockets, or robots, let alone nuclear weapons. All they’ve got is gunpowder. And a big cannon. And their ingenuity.

And a few sticks of gum.

I’ve got nothing against the fine folks at the ESA. Really. The Rosetta mission is exciting, and it has the added benefit that it’s really taking place in our own universe.

Sometimes, though, alternate universes can be fun, too. Read “The Cometeers” and see if you agree. Jules Verne said, “Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.” It looks like the ESA will soon make something real, something that first blasted like a cannon shot from the imagination of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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Launching July 1st

It’s the event anticipated all over the world and throughout the known universe, and it’s happening July 1st. For those not in the know, that’s the date of the launch of my newest ebook.

ToBeFirstWheels72dpiIt’s part of the celebrated What Man Hath Wrought series published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and once again you’ll be getting two alternate history stories for the price of one.

“To Be First” follows two space voyagers from an alternate universe as they return from the moon, in 1933. In their timeline, manned rocketry began in the Ottoman Empire, which advanced and spread. When these Ottoman lunanauts end up orbiting our comparatively backward world, they have a choice to make, one that will forever change their future and ours. Along the way, one of them will learn something about why humans explore.

In “Wheels of Heaven,” an arrogant Roman astrologer finds a geared Grecian machine for predicting the positions of celestial bodies. Today we know the device as the Antikythera Mechanism. On the voyage back to Rome, the seer meets a sailor who dismisses astrology, an astonishing notion in 86 B.C. But when the sailor’s prediction is right, and every one of the astrologer’s is wrong, he begins to question his most basic beliefs.

The star-studded cover, designed by Charlotte Holley, not only demands attention, but it illustrates the connection both stories have to outer space.

You’ll be able to purchase the book in all the usual places: Gypsy Shadow Publishing, Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, etc.

Now you’re caught up with everyone else in the universe. No need to thank me. It’s all part of the service provided by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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Guess Who’s Author of the Week

Yours truly is the Author of the Week for Gypsy Shadow Publishing. For those of you who’ve been on the fence, somewhat undecided about purchasing one or more of my stories, this would be the week to buy one (or more). It’s a rare opportunity to purchase a book during the same period in which I’m Author of the Week. Very few people can say they’ve done that.

To celebrate the week, I am embarking on a world tour. Well, not physically, but virtually. For this whole week, I’m making this website available everywhere all over the world.

GSBannerBrdrFor this honor, I’d like to thank Gypsy Shadow Publishing, the company that has published a good number of my stories, all in the What Man Hath Wrought series. Among the company’s huge staff, CEO Charlotte Holley and Chief Editor Denise Bartlett deserve being singled out for special mention. Thanks to them, my rough manuscripts have become e-books of timeless prose with eye-seizing covers.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also express my gratitude to all those who’ve influenced me in one way or another, helping me achieve this level of accomplishment. This list includes my parents, my critique group, and my spouse. Thanks as well to you, my legions of eager readers. I couldn’t have done it without you.

I’ve let it become known around my household that being the GSP Author of the Week comes with certain privileges, certain reasonable expectations of being catered to. These expectations include freedom from common drudgery work, absolute quiet while writing, the appearance before me of the beverage of my asking within moments of my asking, the use of respectful forms of address (such as Your Most Illustrious Highness, Author of the Week), and a polite bow or curtsey when approaching my presence.

To my amazement, my announcements of these sensible forms of deference have been met with very little interest, and even less obedience. This I find curious, and I’m sure you do too. Ah, well, I suppose greatness comes with the responsibility to educate the less deserving, to increase their understanding of the grandeur and glory of me.  It’s true that genius often goes unappreciated in its own week.

And, yes, to answer the question uppermost in your mind, it is wonderful for all of us to be alive during the very time that I’m the GSP Author of the Week. Someday your grandchildren will sit in reverential awe while you relate the sheer excitement of it.

Now that I think about it, being Author of the Week is the sort of honor that could go to one’s head. During weeks when it’s bestowed on lesser authors, that might well be a concern. But my unsurpassed humility and matchless modesty combine to keep me from becoming, in the slightest degree, egotistical.

No, fear not. I’ll go on, unaffected by the focused adoration of the Earth’s billions. To all of you, I’ll be the same old, unassuming—

                     Poseidon’s Scribe, Gypsy Shadow Publishing’s Author of the Week

 

 

 

 

 

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FAQs About My Latest Book

RallyingCry72dpiEver since I’ve been dropping hint after hint about my upcoming book (Rallying Cry and Last Vessel of Atlantis), questions have been pouring in.  Flooding in.  Give me a break, I’m drowning here!  More questions came in than I could answer individually.

So I paid for some time on a supercomputer that compiled all the questions, sorted them, combined similar ones, performed complex statistical analyses, and spit out a list of the most frequently asked questions.

Below are those FAQs, complete with answers.

1.  What is the book about?  In “Rallying Cry,” an aimless youth meets two old geezers who spin bizarre war stories. They tell of a secret World War I regiment in France with ship-sized helicopters and mechanized walking tanks. Just as an inspiring shout can move soldiers to action, perhaps all Kane really needs to turn his life around is a rallying cry. In “Last Vessel of Atlantis,” a ship captain and his crew of explorers return to find Atlantis gone. While facing violent savages, braving fierce storms, and solving internal disputes, they must somehow ensure their advanced Atlantean civilization is not lost forever.

2.  Why two stories in one book?  I was in a generous mood.

3.  Why are these two particular stories combined?  They seem so different.  Actually, they’re both perfect fits for the What Man Hath Wrought series, which contains stories of alternate history involving people grappling with new technology.  The tales are quite different, though, but that means any reader would be bound to like one of them, at least.  That makes the book a pretty good purchase, I’d say. 

4.  What inspired you to write these stories?  I’ve written about that before…here and here.

5.  That’s a great cover.  Who designed it?  It is a wonderful cover.  Charlotte Holley of Gypsy Shadow Publishing designed it.  The bearded soldier gazes at something while a huge steampunk airship glides overhead and a big explosion goes off in the background. 

6.  Where can I buy the book?  Right now you can get it at Smashwords and Amazon.  Soon it will be available elsewhere, too. 

7.  You wrote an Atlantis story before, didn’t you?  What a memory you have!  My Atlantis-based story, “The Vessel” was published several years ago in an Atlantis anthology.  “Last Vessel of Atlantis” is that same story, with a title change and a few other alterations.  Definitely worth enjoying again.

8.  When will you have a print version rather than an e-book?   When the What Man Hath Wrought series is complete, I’m thinking about having a print version of the series.  It won’t be for a little while yet, since I have more stories I’d like to add to  WMHW. 

9.  What’s the next story in your What Hath Man Wrought series?  But that would spoil the surprise! 

Thanks for submitting your questions.  I’d invite more, but the deluge nearly crashed the supercomputer last time and almost tripped a wide sector of our national electrical power grid.  Let’s avoid tempting that fate, shall we?  I suggest you read the book, post a review, and before long there will be another book by—

                                                    Poseidon’s Scribe

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Author Interview — C. A. Szarek

Chrissy-140 I’m pleased to welcome author C.A. Szarek.  She writes in the fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, and Young Adult genres.

C.A. is originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could.  She is married and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.  She works with kids when she’s not writing.  She’s always wanted to be a writer and is overjoyed to share her stories with the world.

 

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Sword’s Call (King’s Riders Book One) is available now from Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

Collision Force (Crossing Forces Book One) just released on June 28, 2013 from Total-E-Bound Publishing.  Bad boy FBI agent and feisty widowed police detective collide pursuing a human trafficker in small town Texas on their way to true love.

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

C.A. Szarek:  Oh gosh, I have been writing since I was very young. Poetry when I was seven or eight, and then stories that slowly wended themselves into novels when I was about fourteen.

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

C.A.:  Hmmm, a hard one. The most difficult part for me is telling my inner critic to be quiet so I can just write. Sometimes I question too much: The story, myself, where the scene is going. I think the best part is making up stuff. Hehehe. Bringing life to characters, making them real people. Making them have feelings and emotions and making them real.

P.S.:  What inspired you to write Collision Force?

C.A.:  I’m not sure it was any one thing specifically.  I have a law enforcement background, and I have always been interested in this type of story. I watch tons of cop shows on TV, so I thought I could write one! I “met” Andi and Cole a long time ago, when I was about seventeen. So, they’ve been with me for years. But it was good I waited to write their story. I didn’t have the expertise to write it back then.

P.S.:  What is the audience you’re trying to reach with that book?

C.A.:  Well, it is a romantic suspense novel, a mix of a good cop story and a love story, so I would assume women would be into it.  But I know a few guys who have checked it out and have liked it, so who knows?

P.S.:  You’re an author of fantasy, paranormal, romantic suspense, and YA.  Why do you prefer those genres?

C.A.:  I never set out to write multi-genres. But when a good story occurs to me, I write it. But I have always been a fantasy girl. It’s fun to make up your own world, but it’s difficult, as well. But I like my romantic suspense world of Crossing Forces (that’s my series title) as much as I love the world of the King’s Riders (my fantasy series)

P.S.:  Every Tuesday, your blog features interviews or guest posts from other authors, and it usually gets many comments; why do you think that regular feature has become so popular?

C.A.:  I’m not sure. I love authors and books and reading as much as I love writing, so I love to share all the authors I know with the rest of the world. I try to promote, promote, promote. I hope everyone will check out my friends’ books as much as I want them to check out my own. I think if we all work together to get the word out, we can all succeed.

P.S.:  Without giving too much away, what is your current writing project?

C.A.:  I am working on Chance Collision, which is the 2nd book in my Crossing Forces Series. It is Pete and Nikki’s story and I am loving it so far.

P.S.:  What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?

C.A.:  Don’t ever give up. Rejection happens. If you want it bad enough, you keep going. Always.

Thanks so much, C.A.!  I wish you every success. My readers can find out more about C.A. Szarek at her website, her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  Her site at Gypsy Shadow Publishing is here.

                                              Poseidon’s Scribe

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