As I type these words, brave Australian volunteers and Firefighters are battling blazes across Queensland and New South Wales, with warnings of more to come in South Australia. Many have already lost their lives and their homes in this traumatic start to spring and summer. The BookBaybz have decided to put up 20 copies of their first edition of Iron Heart for sale, and all proceeds are donated to the rural fire fighters. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your copy and support today!
When my elder son started swanning around in tight fitting pseudo-Victorian, Steampunk attire, wearing retro leather goggles, I hoped he was just going through a phase. Little did I imagine that, a few years later, I would be publishing a novel in the Steampunk genre.
For the uninitiated, Steampunk is a relatively recent offshoot of the Sci-Fi branch of the literary family tree. It gets its name from the use of anachronistic, often steam powered technology that features prominently in it. It is a melange of speculative – or alternative – historical fiction, fantasy and others such as horror, romance or crime. The name was coined in the mid-eighties by a science fiction author who needed a way to distinguish works like his from those of traditional Victorian Era authors like Jules Verne.
When MC D’Alton and I set about writing Iron Heart, we didn’t just need characters and a plot, we needed to build a whole world, a steampunk world, for them to live in. That was, for me, the most fun. We looked on the internet, that cornucopia of knowledge for the fertile mind, and came up with some images which gave us a springboard.
One such element was the unicarriage. In the first scene, Galena Tindale, fleeing from the angry mob (sans pitchforks), is accidently hit by the hero in his unicarriage.
We envisioned it as the body of a hansom cab, as one might find in Sherlock Holmes, with the head and neck of a brass horse as the cab, for the driver. The engine would be beneath it, steam powered of course, so he would need to top it up with water and slow burning fuel. Steam would pour artistically from the nostrils of the horse… We imagineered a single wheel in the middle of the front part with a dozen whirling hooves on it. That was awesome fun. There is such freedom in letting your imagination run away with you.
Of course, the main piece of retro-futuristic invention was the Iron (and later the other) Heart, but I would spoil MC’s fun by describing that. My other favourite invention was the Pocket Messenger. Just as today everyone would be lost without their smart phone, so in the Victorian Edinburgh of my fantasy, everyone has a small, elegant case, not much bigger than a cigarette case, into which one inserts a role of silvered paper. When the glass screen is inscribed using a black wax stylus, and the lid is closed, a chemical reaction, similar to old fashioned photography, instantly sends the writer’s message to the receiver. Simple, logical and oh, so cool.
And finally, there was the dirigible. They of course were and are quite real. But I did make a few changes. I used steam powered fans to propel them, making them more manoeuvrable and faster. They are also larger. Real dirigibles of the period would not carry my passengers in any kind of luxury.
Writing Iron Heart was the most fun I’ve had writing for a long time… And the nifty gadgets (worthy of James Bond’s Q, if I do say so myself) were largely responsible for that. If you happen to read Iron Heart, let me know what you think.
There is nothing like taking a leap in to the unknown to get the adrenal glands pumping copious amounts of RUN into your blood stream. That’s how Melanie and I have felt these last 2 weeks. Continue reading “Signing, Publishing and OMG!”
Q. Did any of your previous work influence the story you wrote for the anthology? If not, what was your inspiration – If so – how?
I haven’t written anything like ‘Broken Karma’ in the past. My inspiration for this story partially came from my own life and going through a separation after being married for 27 years. I reflected on the path I have taken over the past year and captured some of the emotions I felt during that journey. Although it is a work of fiction, I think everyone has felt at one time in their life that their karma was broken. Deep down, they know they are a good person, but everything in their life is working against them – Their home life, their work life, their social life, nothing seems to go right. In the end, my character discovered that it wasn’t his karma that was broken, but the people around him and their choices were not working toward his goals. He made some changes to better his life and became a stronger person. My main message came at the end of the story where he invited to a party all the people in his life, good or bad, to share in the success of his new life. He didn’t hold any anger or animosity toward them. He discovered that they each helped him become stronger and achieve this point in his life. Once I reached this point in my own life, things started turning for the better. I forgave, but understood the role others played in my life. I fit them in, even with their deceit. I quit my job and found a place to work where I am happier. And, I found a group of friends that support me for who I am. I felt that was worth sharing with the world.
Gary Little – Ring Around the Rosie
Q. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
My answer to that question is a palette of multiple characters. I chose a little bit from my wife, some from my sister (she always thinks she’s smarter than me) and wives I have known through Barbershop. I do have to admit I may tend towards the masculine, though. Oh yeah, and there is this author I know that I may use to add an accent to a character. 🙂
D.A. Steen – Praenuntia
Q. Do you hide any secrets in your books/ stories that only a few people will find?
Killing Lee My best friend growing up (and still), is a guy named Lee. For fun, (and with his enthusiastic approval) I try to find a new way to kill off a “Lee” character in most of my projects. Let me add here that I don’t use gratuitous violence in my stories, but if, in writing my preferred genres of fantasy, sci-fi, and suspense, the plot requires a dark turn here or there, I usually try to kill off a version of Lee. I’ve used the names Lee, Leeman, Leland, Liam, Leo, and Lenny and have so far had the pleasure of drowning him, shooting him, pushing him off a cliff, burying him in the sand, and sending him forever tumbling through a rip in deep space. Good times, right? It sounds a little dark but it’s all in fun and has served as a long-running source of entertainment and laughter between my friend and me.
As for the novel I’ve been writing, The Tumultu, I’m on the 3rd to 4th draft. After four years, it is a heckuva tale. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the value of outlining. I wish I’d planned better from the beginning.
I’m working on a few short stories, as I figure out the story to my novel. One of the stories I’m working on a horror story about a person trapped in a town, and the other is a sci-fi short story about a society of clones.
Q. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I love fishing almost as much as I do writing. I feel like Ernest Hemingway catching marlins and giant tunas in the Caribbean. Now, back to the question. I remember when I was about five years old, I pronounced a large word. It was transcontinental. I read it from over my mom’s shoulder and she was ecstatic. My mom has always been an avid reader and encouraged me to read at a young age. After this encounter, I knew words carried weight and I would choose my words carefully so they would have the biggest impact. I wasn’t the best speaker so writing became a way for me to express those words. It became my language of expression to the world. Thanks for the opportunity.
Q. In a nut shell, how did your story of discovery show it self to you?
This story was a fun one for me. For weeks I ruminated on the theme and honestly had no idea what I wanted to write for it. Then I picked up a new book, read about three paragraphs, and the opening lines for my story just popped into my head. I always have a notebook nearby, so I jotted the lines down and went back to reading. I wasn’t sure where I was going with the story yet. But I couldn’t concentrate on reading; the story kept popping in my head with new lines. About an hour and a half later, I’d scribbled the entire thing in one mad frenzy of writing. I could barely move my hand afterward, but I didn’t care. I love it when stories take over me like that! It happens rarely, but when it does it makes all the hard days of writing worth it.
Instagram is probably the best way to connect with me right now. There’s also my site for email sign-ups WEBSITE.
Theresa Jacobs – Josie and the Muse.
Q. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
This is the hardest question for me to answer because though I’m a voracious reader, I’ve never been a socializer. Those two things go hand in hand- don’t you think? Until I began writing, only five short years ago, I did not connect with people about books or writing. Therefore, other then the most obvious famous books, I have no inkling as to what might be an underappreciated book. I will tell you one of my all time favorite books is: Dreams Of Leaving by Rupert Thomson. So if you’ve never heard of it grab a copy and we’ll talk.
Q. What about story telling and writing is the most important for you?
I do think
fiction stories must entertain first, but then, when that entertainment contract,
that promise made by the writer to the reader is filled so that there is a
degree of trust, there is an opportunity for the writer to inspire or to
challenge the reader to look at the world differently, perhaps to understand
another more deeply, perhaps to endure more patiently in hope of a better
tomorrow, perhaps to love more honestly, perhaps to risk more, to change or to
affirm something within themselves. (That’s a terribly long sentence, isn’t it?)
So in addition to entertainment, it’s important to me that my stories resonate
with readers and inspire them in a positive way.
I’ve noticed a growing societal disdain for men so that women seem to feel emboldened to treat them with contempt and rudeness, even those they profess to love. It’s not cute or clever and I don’t want my sons treated that way. A particularly egregious demonstration of this behavior (and a litter of stray puppies in the road one day) came together in the story ‘A Gentle Sort of Love.’
Q. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Oh my, just one? Haha. Okay. The ONE thing holding me back from becoming a better writer more than any other is Perfectionism. I re-read and edit as I go, checking for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and typos. I spend nearly as much time seeking a ‘better’ verb or adjective on an online thesaurus as I do actually writing my stories. I feel strongly that procrastination is part of my own ‘special’ type of perfectionism. For me, they are one and the same: checking, re-checking, scolding myself, second-guessing my word choices, and changing sentence structure as I write. When I force myself to ‘just write’ whatever is in my head without reviewing what I’ve written, I feel as if I’m doing something wrong or forgetting something important or even vital to my story. This is something I have to work on. Logically I know this is what drafts are all about, but tell that to my writer’s brain!
Q. What inspired my story for the theme of discovery?
My story Grace at the intermission is actually an amalgamation of two stories I had started.Well, actually one was more just the diner scene and interactions. I pictured that particular one as a mystery in which the protagonist i.e. Kevin was searching for his sister. The discovery aspect was in finding romance/attraction with Genevieve. The other story was a supernatural angel and demon battle. The difference between the original version and the finished version the protagonist was truly a demon who had been supplanted by the other demon. The angle was an ally of necessity. As I was searching through my notes and unfinished work trying to find something to work on and submit it struck me as a good fit if the two were combined. The reader would discover that the people in the diner were not human and Galadriel and Genevieve would discover they were pair bonded from times inception.
Over the next week The BookBaybZ will be chatting with the Authors of this awesome anthology of short stories all based on the theme of Discovery.
Here’s a little about each of them.
W. E. Pearson – The Caul
Q. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Because I belong to a writing forum and help moderate the site for over 4 years, I am friends with many, many writers/authors. They all write in many different genres and some specifically write in a targeted genre. This alone has stretched me as a writer because I have gone out of my comfort zone to read horror stories/novels in particular. It’s given me an appreciation for psychological fears expressed in stories. These writer/author friends help me write better because many of them have read everything I’ve ever written. Their consistent interest and readership support has given me the needed feedback I require to not only get my first draft down but even multiple edits (second drafts). I also reciprocate and follow their stories/novels and critique their work.
Q. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction? Did this influence your story?
I began, as many often do, reading a lot of books about the craft of writing. Two books in particular that made me think differently about writing fiction were Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft and Chuck Wendig’s Damn Fine Story. They made me understand for the first time that there is no magic recipe for writing fiction, yet there is so much to learn in order to be able to write fiction well. For example, while there are plenty of nuts and bolts kinds of things that need to be learned and skillfully applied, there is so much more beyond that. These other more hard-to-define things are perhaps impossible to teach and have to be learned by each writer in their own way and in their own time. The experience is different for everyone, and the path each writer takes is highly individual and personal. While I have only just begun my journey to become a writer, without the understanding I gained from reading these two books I doubt I could have created the stories I did. They gave me both the confidence to write the stories and the courage to offer them up for publication.
The best way to connect with me at this time is on Twitter
Joslyn Chase – Something Wonderful
Q. How do you select the names of your characters?
When I choose a character’s name, I slide into the zone and let myself think about who he or she is and all the little parts that go into making them that way. And I pay attention to what comes into my mind. When I’ve found something that I think sounds right, I type it into Google to make sure I haven’t unintentionally put together the name of a well-known person. Sometimes I find that my subconscious chooses a name with significance I didn’t realize. For instance, I have a book coming out in November called Steadman’s Blind. The protagonist is loosely based on a Chief Deputy from our local Sheriff’s department whose initials are R.S. so I decided to keep those initials and I came up with the name Randall Steadman, seemingly at random. I just liked the sound of the name. However, as I wrote the book, I began to recognize the sturdy character I was dealing with, truly a steady man. In another instance, I had a character who was out for some vigilante payback. I named her Adalet, which is the Turkish word for justice. I think names are important, and I try to choose them well.
My new book is up for pre-order and I’ve got an awesome deal going, allowing readers to pick up a free copy of my full-length thriller Nocturne In Ashes which ties in with Steadman’s Blind, plus a video virtual tour of the book’s setting, plus a bonus short story featuring Steadman and his partner, Frost. All for a special price of $2.99. If you’d like to link to the pre-order bonus package, I wouldn’t complain!
Joslyn Chase’s most recent book, Double Eclipse, packs twice the suspense, with one mystery and one thriller intertwined beneath a total eclipse of the sun. Her novella, The Tower, is a Romantic Suspense set for release in November 2018. What Leads A Man To Murder, her collection of short suspense, is available for free at joslynchase.com. When she’s not reading or writing, Joslyn loves traveling, teaching, and playing the piano.
Joe Arcara – The Tunnel
Q. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The idea of a spirit animal gave me pause, as I don’t believe I’ve ever thought along those lines before your email. Upon reflection, I suppose most men would choose a bear, wolf or other strong, virile animal. Having the advantage of seventy years of life, I think my spirit animal is most definitely a turtle. Hard shell, but soft inside. Moves slowly, but with purpose and persistence. Yup. It’s a turtle. My website is josepharcara.com
Justin Boote – Discovering Monsters
Q. What did you edit out of this book/story?
As founding member and instigator of the anthology, my main concern was general editing for all stories, from first to second, and in some cases, third drafts, removing or changing any profanity and ensuring each story flowed smoothly with no plotholes or questions left unexplained or answered, occasionally rewriting the odd scene to flow better.
To answer your question, I’m hoping for my readers to get invested in the characters. It may only be a short story, but Sam and the Sea Dragon are part of a much larger, if still fictional world; a world that I’m hoping to expand upon with my own fantasy book series The Three Tails Legends. My first book, Three Tails Legend: The White Wolf, should be out by Winter of 2020, and hopefully, more will follow, some featuring the Sea Dragons and expanding on their culture, their creation and their role in the world.
I was actually travelling through England and stopping at many castles when my story “Knight of Her Heart” took shape. It was my first foray into medieval romance (which I write as Alyssa James) and I was definitely inspired by being in all the castles and imagining what transpired there in medieval times.