Instability

What’s that trumpet fanfare I’m hearing? Oh, that’s right. My story “Instability” will appear in the anthology Dark Luminous Wings. It’s another Pole to Pole Publishing anthology, edited by the incomparable Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Crist.

Kelly and Vonnie wanted stories involving wings, so I did some research and brainstorming. As usual, I generated plenty of ideas and had to down-select to one that would result in a compelling story of the right length.

From Wikipedia.org

In my research I’d come across the account of Brother Eilmer of Malmesbury Abbey. A Benedictine monk who lived around 1000 AD, Eilmer is supposed to have flown from the abbey’s tower using a set of wings he made. These were Daedalus-and-Icarus style wings that he flapped with his arms. He didn’t really “fly,” but more likely glided in an uncontrolled manner. The account says he crash-landed, broke both legs, and was lame the rest of his life.

Medieval monks weren’t generally known for their technological creativity and spirit of adventure. Imagine Brother Eilmer engaged in a life of worship, hard work, singing, praying, and copying. He reads the Greek account of Daedalus and Icarus, and decides he could construct wings and fly as they did. Imagine him standing atop the tower, trying to overcome his fear so he can leap off. Think how he must have felt at first, actually flying, before losing control.

In my fictionalized account, throw in a fellow monk of the lying, scheming and snitching variety as well as an Abbott who can’t decide if Eilmer is insane or possessed, and you’ve got my story, “Instability.”

When Dark Luminous Wings comes out in print, I’ll tell you how to get your copy so you can read my story, along with all the others. I found Eilmer such a fascinating character, I may write more tales about him. Maybe he’ll get his own series. A book of stories about a medieval scribe, scribbled by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Author Interview — Lauren Marrero

We’ve been meeting fascinating authors recently through my interviews, and that streak continues today with my interview of Lauren Marrero.

Lauren-Marrero1On her website, Lauren describes herself as a sapiosexual romance novelist, cat lady, and adventuress. She’s the author of the novel Seducing the Laird.

Here’s the interview:

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

Lauren Marrero: I was a writer long before I was consciously aware of it. Back in school, I became so excited about writing essays—my friends definitely thought I was weird. It wasn’t until college, while choosing a major, that I realized writing was my passion.

P.S.: You have a short story, “Her Majesty’s Service,” appearing in the anthology AvastYeAirshipsAvast, Ye Airships! What is your story about?

L.M.: After a passionate one night stand, a young woman discovers the man she slept with is caught up in a dangerous world of intrigue.

P.S.: You’ve written a historical novel, Seducing-the-Laird-CoverSeducing the Laird. Please introduce us to the main character, Verena.

L.M.: Set during the late middle ages, Verena is the perfect spy, working for the ruthlessly-ambitious Lord Gundy. Her mission is to recover a fabled cache of Roman silver, lost for hundreds of years beneath the stronghold of the Scottish laird Cairn McPherson. She must use all of her powers of seduction and intelligence to infiltrate Cairn’s household, but this mission may be her undoing.

Verena is an anti-hero, a woman forced to do whatever she must to survive. She is deeply disturbed by her assignment, knowing that her actions may cause the destruction of a clan she has grown to love. This is a story about redemption and realizing that it is never too late to be a better person.

P.S.: Reviewers keep saying they couldn’t put your novel down, that you had them from page one. Would you care to share your secret for how you achieve that?

L.M.: Honestly, I was a little surprised to see such positive reviews for a first novel. Sure, I loved it, but I wasn’t sure my audience would love the same characters and laugh at the same jokes.

I tried to bring my enthusiasm for the characters onto each page. I constantly asked the opinions of my friends and family while writing. Did they think a scene was realistic? How would they feel if a character behaved a certain way? That feedback helped to make the story much better.

P.S.: I see you enjoy traveling. Are all your stories set in places you’ve been?

L.M.: Unfortunately, no. Unlike Nandi from “Her Majesty’s Service,” I have never been to Cairo, but that is definitely on my list!

P.S.: The topic of food keeps coming up on your website. How do you use food in your fiction writing–just to show the characters being real, or to give credibility to the historical time and place setting, or to advance the plot?

L.M.: People say to write what you love. I am a foodie. I believe knowing people’s tastes gives insight into their character. Laird Cairn McPherson is a tough and capable leader, but has an incurable sweet tooth. Verena cleverly uses that knowledge during her seduction. When he is at his lowest moment, not knowing if he will live or die, Verena appears before him like an angel of mercy, offering all the comforts of home. It is no wonder he falls for her!

P.S.: If you could bring back a dead author to talk to over dinner, whom would it be, and what would you be anxious to ask?

L.M.: I consider Oscar Wilde to be one of the greatest writers. Few authors are so skillful at combining emotions. While reading his work, I want to laugh, cry, beat up some characters, and hug others. I wouldn’t presume to ask Oscar Wilde anything. I would just let him talk.

P.S.: In what way is your fiction different from that of other authors of historical romance?

L.M.: I wanted my novel to be a more evolved story. There is intrigue, espionage, ghosts, malicious fairies, and the threat of war. Yes, the characters fall in love, but there is much more to the book.

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

L.M.: I am currently working on the sequel to Seducing the Laird. In the first book, I introduced an entire family of spies, each with complex stories and diverse backgrounds. I believe each of them deserve to fall in love.

The next novel takes place in France during the Italian Wars. Italy, France, and Spain are pitted against each other. It is up to the spies to resolve it –and break a few hearts in the process.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers? In particular, what do you wish someone had told you about writing or getting published that you had to learn the hard way?

Lauren Marrero: Make friends. I found that the best way to stay motivated is to be around like-minded people. Join writing groups and attend readings by local authors. It may take years before you see your work on a bookshelf, but if you can keep your attention on writing, it will keep you focused on your goal.

 

Thanks, Lauren! Luckily for readers of my blog, I know where you can find out more about Lauren Marrero.  She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. Her website is here.

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 9, 2015Permalink

Secrets of the Past

Is it possible that some amazing things happened in historical times, but never made it in the history books? Today I’ll discuss the subgenre of fiction known as secret histories.

Wikipedia’s entry provides a good definition: “A secret history (or shadow history) is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real (or known) history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars. Secret history is also used to describe a type or genre of fiction which portrays a substantially different motivation or backstory from established historical events.”

With secret histories the author can deviate from actual history as far as she’d like, but she must return things to status quo or else explain why historical accounts don’t align with her story.

For this reason, secret histories are not to be classified as alternate histories (as I mistakenly did here.  There is no permanent altering of history. Rather the world returns to the one we know. The thrill for the reader is seeing how close the world came to actually changing in some dramatic way.

Secret histories work well as thriller stories with assassins or spies, since they work in secret anyway. Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal and Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle are two examples.

I’ve written secret histories myself, but my stories involve technology, not spies or assassins. In each one I leave it to the reader to speculate how much further ahead we’d be if some inventions had occurred earlier.

9781926704012In “The Sea-Wagon of Yantai,” an inventor creates a submarine in China in 200 B.C. There are obscure references asserting that something of that sort actually happened, and those references inspired my story. The tale ends in a way that explains why more submarines weren’t made as a result of this invention.

steamcover5My story “The Steam Elephant” (which appeared in Steampunk Tales magazine) is a secret history in which a traveling group of Britons and one Frenchman are enjoying a safari from the vantage of a steam-powered elephant invited by one of the Brits. They get caught up in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. This is intended as a sequel to the two books of Jules Verne’s Steam House series.

WindSphereShip4In “The Wind-Sphere Ship,” Heron of Alexandria takes his simple steam-powered toy and uses it to power a ship. If there had been a steamship in the 1st Century A.D., it boggles the mind to think we could have had the Industrial Revolution seventeen hundred years early and skipped the Dark Ages.

LeonardosLion3fAnother secret history is “Leonardo’s Lion” which answers what happened to the mechanical clockwork lion built by Leonardo da Vinci in 1515. In the story, humanity comes very close to seeing all of da Vinci’s designs made real, which would have advanced science and engineering by centuries.

TheSixHundredDollarMan3fI’d categorize “The Six Hundred Dollar Man” as secret history too, when a man fits steam-powered limbs on another man who’d been injured in a stampede. The story takes place in 1870 in Wyoming and it’s pretty clear by the story’s end why that technology didn’t catch on.

RallyingCry3fRallying Cry” is a tale about a young man who learns there have been secret high-technology regiments and brigades in wars going back at least to World War I. Members of these teams cannot reveal their group’s existence, so it fits the secret history genre.

ToBeFirstWheels5In “Wheels of Heaven” I take what is factually known about the Antikythera Mechanism, and weave a fictional tale to explain it.

As you can see, I like writing in this sub-genre. Imagine something interesting and imaginative happened in history, write about it, then tie up all the loose ends so that our modern historical accounts remain unchanged. Leave the reader wondering if the story could have really happened. History that might have been, courtesy of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

December 7, 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—

Poseidon’s Scribe

November 13, 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

The Story Behind “To Be First”

ToBeFirstWheels5As the launch date for “To Be First” and “Wheels of Heaven” nears (this Tuesday, July 1st), and excitement builds, I think it’s time for me to reveal the story behind “To Be First.”

A few years ago, I watched an episode of the TV show Mythbusters where they replicated a feat supposedly performed by Lagâri Hasan Çelebi in the Ottoman Empire in 1633. Çelebi is said to have constructed a rocket chair, launched himself into the air, and flown down safely using a wing-like apparatus. The event was intended to commemorate and honor the birth of the Sultan’s daughter.

The Mythbusters team considered the myth busted, but it got me to thinking. What if such a marvelous flight had taken place? What if the Sultan had understood the geopolitical and military implications?

LagariThink of it. Manned rocket flight in the 17th Century. Defensive city walls and high castle walls would mean nothing to a country with armed rocket-men. Rather than expanding and then beginning its slow decline to finally die with the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire might have spread much more quickly and farther.

Had the Ottomans also embraced the science behind rocketry, they might have hastened other technical achievements, and been the source of those advancements rather than watching America and the rest of Europe prosper.

It seemed like an interesting basis for an alternate history tale, so I wrote one. In my version, it’s 1933, three centuries after Çelebi’s flight, and two Ottoman astronauts (called lunanauts) are returning from the first manned flight to the Moon. Yes, I said 1933, not 1969.

Nuruosmaniye_MosqueI imagined their space capsule being about the same size as the Apollo capsule, but dome-shaped with a central spike like the roof of an Ottoman mosque.  The capsule would have a couple of windows and there would be some of that beautiful, flowing Ottoman Turkish writing on the outside.

As the story commences, the lunanauts encounter a strange ionic storm in space, and their capsule passes into an alternate universe. The tale takes off from there.

My central characters, Yazid and Kemal, hold differing views on what it means to be an explorer. What are the motivations behind those who roam beyond all prior journeys, who probe far into unknown regions? Do they do it for the money? For fame? For love? Or is it something simpler?

If you read my story, perhaps you’ll be motivated to become an explorer, and you’ll write your own gripping story of heroic and fantastic adventure. You, too, can manage ‘To Be First.’ At least, so says—

Poseidon’s Scribe

The Story behind “Wheels of Heaven”

ToBeFirstWheels72dpiWith my story “Wheels of Heaven” about to launch on July 1st, I thought I’d tell you how I got the idea for the tale.

The series What Man Hath Wrought consists of alternate history stories involving technology. Basically, they’re “what if” stories that ask what would have happened if things had gone differently. While doing some research on interesting ancient technologies, I came across the Antikythera Mechanism. Or perhaps I saw a mention of it on a documentary on the Science Channel, Discovery Channel or History Channel.

300px-NAMA_Machine_d'Anticythère_1It’s a fascinating machine, advanced well beyond what anyone gave the ancient Greeks credit for. Moreover, until x-ray tomography was conducted on the device in recent years, no one knew what it was for.

Intrigued by the mechanism, I then had to think of an interesting way to fictionalize it. Some outlandish, but really fun, ideas occurred to me, but other authors had already explored notions such as the device being a time machine, teleportation machine, or even an alien communicator.

My story ended up being more plausible. I portrayed the mechanism as being exactly as it really was, a device for computing the position of the sun and major planets—the wheels of heaven.

In 1900 and 1901, divers discovered the device amid other shipwreck debris off Antikythera Island. “Wheels of Heaven” is my fictional account of how it came to rest there. An arrogant Roman astrologer will discover he can make predictions with greater speed using the device, but will come to question the connections between people and the stars.

rimtradeWhen research revealed the wreck to be a Roman merchant ship, I checked out what those ships were like. They differ from trireme warships in interesting ways. The carved neck and head of a swan which I describe in the story was actually a common feature of these ships.

For the most part, of course, “Wheels of Heaven” is about the struggles people have, the struggles we still have today. If you were certain you were right about something, an idea about which you’d formed a long career, and you found out it was all wrong, could you accept it? Are we all slaves of predetermined fate, or do we have free will?

Go ahead, take a trip through time to about 80 B.C. and voyage with my characters Viator and Abrax aboard the Prospectus. I know you’ll enjoy it; that much has been written in the stars by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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

What Everyone’s Waiting For

Everybody’s talking about it.  It’s all over the internet, crashing servers with the added traffic.  Social media sites are abuzz about it.  You can feel the pervasive air of excitement and anticipation.

RallyingCry72dpiCalm down, world.  It’s just my next book.  You’re going to have to wait until the release date of March 1 to buy it.

Actually, it’s two stories in one e-book release, a two-fer.  “Rallying Cry” and “Last Vessel of Atlantis” are paired together.  What are these stories about?  Thought you’d never ask.

In “Rallying Cry,” an aimless youth named Kane Jones meets two old geezers who spin bizarre war stories.  They tell about having served in a secret World War I outfit in France—the Jules Verne Regiment—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.

Ever since reading John Biggins’ novel A Sailor of Austria, I’d longed to write a story set in a nursing home with an older character (two, in my story) imparting the memories of a bygone time to a younger character.  I finally did.  “Rallying Cry” takes off in different directions than Biggins’ book, of course, and I recommend you read both.

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.  Fans with long memories will realize this is a slightly revised version of another story of mine published as “The Vessel.”  The new title is better, don’t you think?

I explained the origin of this story in a previous blog post.  It was fun for me to imagine the difficulties faced by a small crew of sailors who find themselves the sole survivors of their advanced civilization, with all other continents populated by primitive savages.

If you can just hang on a couple of weeks until March 1, the book will be available here.  Deep breaths might help you cope with the anxiety until then, along with taking time to think about other, less exciting, things.  Your patience will be rewarded, and that’s a promise from—

                                                      Poseidon’s Scribe

February 16, 2014Permalink

Two New Stories!

I’m pretty excited!  Gypsy Shadow Publishing has just put out two of my steampunk stories at the same time.

Let’s start with “A Steampunk Carol.”  That stuffy Victorian inventor, Stanton Wardgrave, is back again, eight years after inventing holograms and meeting the American Josephine Boulton…Within Victorian Mists.  Married now, with a son and daughter, he’s dealing with rather too much balderdash and poppycock this Christmas Eve.  Conversing with his dead father?  Expecting three visitors?  It all seems so very Dickensian.  But he knows he’s not at all like that Ebenezer Scrooge fellow…is he?  What, this story asks, would Christmas be without a bit of steampunk in it?  This story (published in time for the holidays…hint!) is available here.

The other story is “The Six Hundred Dollar Man.”  Wait, is that a smokestack over his right shoulder?  What’s with his left hand?  Sonny Houston, cowpoke.  A man barely alive.  “I can rebuild him, make him the first steam-powered man.  A darn sight better than before. Better, faster, and a heap stronger, too. I’ve got the know-how.”  A century before any bionic man, a doctor in the Wyoming Territory attached steam powered legs and an arm to a man trampled in a stampede.  Get ready, Pardner, for a rip-roarin’ steampunk adventure!  This story is available here.

I’m proud of these two stories and pleased to bring them to you, thanks to the great folks at Gypsy Shadow.  Today’s indeed a great day for—

                                                            Poseidon’s Scribe

November 22, 2012Permalink