Æther Salon: Publishing Transcript

Last month I gave a talk at the Aether Salon in New Babbage, a virtual steampunk city in Second Life. There was a record crowd of avatars representing published writers, hopeful writers, and other interested folk. The transcript, along with the graphics from my slide show presentation (yes you can run a slide show in a virtual setting) has been posted. If you’d like to learn more about publishing, perhaps this will be of help. I had a lot of fun. Continue reading “Æther Salon: Publishing Transcript”

Smile? Okay!

When I was in 6th grade, I thought it would be fun to ride my Flexy Racer down one of the steepest streets in my hilly suburb. It was great fun! I sat on the Flexy and steered with my feet and felt pretty damn bad-ass. But the street ended in a sharp curve to the right, and I couldn’t negotiate it with my feet. I couldn’t brake either, since my feet were controlling the combination steering AND braking pedals. I hit the curb really hard, flew off the Flyer, and landed in the gutter pretty much face-first. I scraped my face pretty badly and chipped my front tooth. It was the week of school photos, too.

Continue reading “Smile? Okay!”

Push It Forward

The Push Chronicles Vol 1

Indie writer J.B. Garner writes about superheroes, but he is a bit of a superhero himself. In his blog, Musings of a Starving Author, he not only talks about his own books, but frequently turns the spotlight on other indie writers, through interviews and book reviews.

J.B. Garner pays it forward. I believe it’s time the readers pay it forward to J.B. Garner. “How can I do that?” you may ask. Good question! It’s easy and fun.

STEP ONE: Pick up Book One of The Push Chronicles

STEP TWO: Add The Push Chronicles to your “Want To Read” list at Goodreads.

STEP THREE: Enjoy the book!

STEP FOUR: Post a review at Amazon and Goodreads. No, you don’t have to write a huge, brilliant manifesto. Write a sentence or two from the heart, and give it some stars. Done and done – you’ve been entertained AND you’ve made a difference. You’ve paid it forward.

Need a teaser for Indomitable? Sure, we can do that!

Irene Roman never wanted to be a hero. She was a scientist living an otherwise normal life and that was enough. One fateful evening, though, Irene discovers a betrayal that undermines everything. One event that, in a literal blink of an eye, changes not only her life, but the future of the entire planet.

Now the world is inhabited by people with powers and abilities far above those of mortal men and women. The repercussions of superhuman battles on the Earth are great and terrible as lives are shattered, communities destroyed, and mankind’s destiny is plucked from its grasp. At the center of it all is Irene, who not only is one of two people on the planet who knows the cause of this unbelievable change, but is one of the few people who may be able to stop it. The only problem is the only other person who does know will do anything in his vast power to keep the world in its terrible altered state.

Who dares to claim the right to choose humanity’s fate? What price will Irene pay to be the hero she never wanted to be? In the end, will Earth return to the safety of the mundane or will it remain in the chaos of the superhuman and supernatural?

Review: The Book Of Speculation

The Book of SpeculationI have to admit that I first became interested in The Book Of Speculation after learning from Goodreads about her over-the-top method of submitting her debut manuscript to publishers.

As if writing a book isn’t daunting enough, learning that she handcrafted aged pages and hand-bound enough ‘old’ books to submit to various publishers… well, I was impressed with her tenacity and absurdity.

Author Erika Swyler explains her method at her Tumblr site in “Adventures in making a fake old book”.

The plot hinges on the idea that a particular old book is such a fascinating object that it could consume someone’s life. It felt very important to create that experience for a person reading my manuscript. It was a simple thought: if they connected with the manuscript as an object, it would pave the way for connecting with the story. I had next to zero experience in bookmaking when I decided to bind and age the manuscripts. I might have balked if I’d known from the start how much of my life the project would devour. — Erika Swyler in an interview with Shelf Awareness

When an author is invested in her work to that level, I have to believe she’s given her all to writing the story, too. At least, I hoped so. And the synopsis promised me mermaids and carnivals. She’d landed a publisher with her unconventional methods, and so I decided to give her story a chance.  I’m glad I did.

The story is really two tales, one set in the distant past (and written in past tense), and one set in present day (written in first person).  The stories are connected, and as I read, the connections between the two became clear. I could attempt to describe the plot in some clever words, but I feel the story really should speak for itself. You can read an excerpt at Tor.com, and if the words intrigue you, perhaps you should allow a new-old book into your life—just as a librarian named Simon Watson did.

Do Clockworks Dream of Gear-Toothed Sheep?

A dear friend’s dream just became a reality. As we all know, the best dreams come true not so much from sleeping as from hard work. This author has put in the work. I’ve not only read the book, I have been lucky enough to know little Nika Thought-werk in another world (it’s complicated. Just smile and trust me), and have spent quite a bit of time with this clockwork girl. Just as I would with any friend, I slowly got to know her over time, and came to appreciate her talents and her quirks. I learned not to use long words, and tried to be helpful if she ran down and needed her key turned.

When it became clear that a book about her life was in the works (or is that werks?), I was thrilled. To have the rare privilege of getting to know a character to the point of calling them a close friend, before reading their book, is a once in a lifetime experience.

Do Clockworks Dream of Gear-Toothed Sheep? is an epic adventure with lovable, likable, but certainly not perfect characters.  Whether you are comforted by the underlying message of the book, or are simply enjoying it for the adventure, I can assure you this is a singular tale, the likes of which you haven’t read in a long, long time. Please take a moment to  read the full synopsis, quoted below. And might I request you linger a bit over the final sentence. This truly may be a groundbreaking novel in the realm of classic fairy tales.

This tale of the Robot Nika (Volume One) is available for $9.99 in a good old fashioned, comforting, hold-in-your-hands  paper book.

Do Clockworks Dream of Gear-Toothed Sheep“An epic fantasy that echoes some of the most beloved classic children’s tales of all time, E. P. Isaacs’s Do Clockworks Dream of Gear-Toothed Sheep? inspires children to see themselves for who they truly are—and never let go.

Nika Thought-werk may not be made from ordinary flesh and bone, but this doesn’t make her any less loved by her friends—or any less needed by those who find themselves in trouble. Although she is made of porcelain, glass, and wax—a doll brought to existence through the astonishing work of a doctor in 1894 Ireland—Nika refuses to live a life that is anything short of extraordinary.

As she makes her way through tornadoes, a lake filled with stew, giant bubblegum bubbles, and a sheep-napping, Nika must find the strength to go on—even when faced with the gravest of dangers.

Along the way, she meets friends of every size and shape—all of whom help Nika learn to see herself for who she truly is.

This enchanting kid’s tale bravely tackles some of the issues that transgender children face, providing readers with hope and encouragement that they are not alone in their quest to find their true identity.”

Learning To Adult

I have three websites. One is a commercial site for chocolate and coffee, one is for promoting my books, and there’s this one – for whatever I damn well wish to write at any given moment.  Still here?  Buckle up, bumpy ride ahead.

This is going to be rather personal and probably a lot maudlin. Feel free to close the browser tab and I send no hard feelings if you do.  By way of explanation, a younger relative of mine is on the cusp of one of life’s greatest adventures – waving farewell to the parents and getting her own apartment. This got me remembering my own rite of passage. Those days are burned into my brain with the red-hot poker of nostalgia.

That’s the weirdest sentence I’ve yet written, but I stand by it. I can still remember the smallest of details. How the cheap wood floorboards creaked. The slam of the trunk of a Yellow Cab. The annoying crackle of a single paint-splattered speaker I laughingly called my ‘stereo system’. The squeaks of an air mattress every time I moved in the night.

Continue reading “Learning To Adult”

The Life Cycle of a Loaf of Bread

 

Bread Basket
Yummy Fresh Bread

Life Stage One: Fresh bread!
It doesn’t matter what type of bread it is, as long as it’s a loaf you love. Around this house, we always have a loaf of classic soft white bread, perfect for peanut butter and jelly sammiches. But I’m also madly in love with dark, hearty, cracked-grain breads, especially when toasted, buttered and heaped with smooshed avocado. That’s my notion of perfection, but I digress. I also enjoy baking sourdough bread. My method is very similar to this: Sourdough Bread from Potato Flake Starter.

Continue reading “The Life Cycle of a Loaf of Bread”

Mary, Maria, Murray, no, MARK! Wait. Jim.

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That’s cute, Shakespeare… now, can anyone tell what those other names actually are?

Did you just blink and draw a blank? You’re in good company. Let’s say you’re a writer. You’ve just conjured up a skinny teenaged boy with an incredible backstory, anger issues, perfect hair and an allergy to squirrels. That’s all well and good, but what’s his name? There’s nothing like being at a loss for the right name when writing an otherwise meaningful character, and I know for me, the quest for a name has often stopped my writing dead in its tracks.

I’ve browsed nearly every name site on the web at one time or another, and eventually I manage to scrape a name or two out and run back to my manuscripts, but it’s rarely been a fun experience.  And never a social one. Now, that’s all changed . Meet Nameberry! This cheery, interesting, sociable site focuses on choosing baby names, but isn’t your story your baby, too? Next time you get stuck trying to name a talkative grandmother who can’t bake but still lifts weights, give Nameberry a go.Nameberry Logo

(From Nameberry’s ‘About’ page) the What’s a Nameberry? Think of it as a baby name….only juicier, smarter, cooler, better. Nameberry is the site created by experts Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, coauthors of ten groundbreaking books on baby names widely quoted on the subject around the world. Nameberry includes an authoritative 50,000 name database developed over two decades, a daily blog on baby names, unique lists and features , and a vibrant community of expectant parents and name lovers. With two million monthly visitors and ten million page views from every country around the world, the Nameberry family includes a daily email newsletter, a popular shop selling personalized products, an active Facebook group, and a wide Twitter following.

Schroedinger’s Rat Lives!

Helen Sarros works new pneumatic tube system to take cash at the Marshall Field s store. Queen of Mighty Basement Consoie November 26, 1947) Sun-Times files

I wrote the first draft of Down The Tubes in November of 2013, for NaNoWriMo. I had such a great time, too! I loved my concept, utterly and completely. I’ve always been fascinated by pneumatic mail systems and had a great time hauling them into my universe. I felt so very clever, and especially enjoyed launching the adventure by killing a rat.

Now, approaching two years and two drafts later, that initial thrill has worn off, and I’m seeing the manuscript through more critical eyes. Earlier this year, I had distinct plans to have Down The Tubes finished by the end of spring. After wrestling mightily with the first two chapters, I adjusted those expectations to late summer.

rat with cheeseThen it was decided that the rat should live. And that notion led to an entirely new chapter two. Suddenly, chapter one looked awfully boring in comparison. You see where I’m going. My new mantra is, ‘Do you want it fast, or do you want it good?’ Down The Tubes will be ready when it’s ready. I’d like to say by the end of the year, but really, it will be done when its done and I’m not able to predict when that will be right now. I will probably write more short stories about the adventures of various kids in my land of Industralia now and then too, whenever I need a break from the Tubes.

But the good news is, I still love my concept. Once I get the first three chapters re-hammered out, I think the entire middle section flows well and is filled with interesting people and situations.  Lots of people from many walks of life and a variety of attitudes and priorities.  Due to a letter mix-up with the pneumatic mail service, many of them end up crossing paths,  which creates some unlikely new partnerships and friendships. It’s a big cast of characters, and I like em all. I hope you will too.

And I hope you will be happy that the rat lives, this time.

Misrembered Quasi Italian Peruvian Salsa

Misremembered SalsaA million years ago, I enjoyed a ‘Peruvian Salsa’ as made by an Italian. Long story. I loved the stuff! I’ve held it in my memory for many years, and never wrote it down till right now.  I’m sure it’s warped a lot being stored in my brain so long. My brain does that to things.

 

(Measurements do not need to be exact. Adjust to your liking.)

1 Cup finely chopped red onion
3 Cloves finely chopped garlic
2 Tbsp oregano (chopped fresh leaves if possible)
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup red wine vinegar
1 Lime – juiced
Approx. 1 Tbsp Ground fresh pepper

Combine everything in a container with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate a few days. Let it warm to room temperature so the olive oil smooths out, and enjoy!

UPDATE! After hearing from the daughter of the one who taught me this recipe, I am corrected. GET THESE PEPPERS.  She says, “Its only red onion, small amount of garlic, toreador chili peppers, a splash of the pepper juice, wine vinegar, and oil but only a little oil. Love this stuff.”

 

 

Who Will Be King, Queen and Chancellor of Fantasy Faire?

(I am sharing this post from the official Fantasy Faire blog, in hopes of getting the word out! )

In the run up to Fantasy Faire, we asked you to select your favourite characters from fantasy to be chosen as King, Queen and Chancellor of Fantasy Faire.

Well, the nominations are in – and your five top selections are ready to move forward to the vote. Let’s find out who they are!

Vote for the King!

FF-KING1-BKWulf FF-KING2-GILGA FF-KING4-HAVELOCK
FF-KING3-LEGOLAS FF-KING5-TYRION

As you’ll see, we have two characters from the Girl Genius universe – the Wulfenbachs, father and son. Will they split the vote and let another candidate in?

From Discworld we have the Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. All powerful and more than a little sinister, will he be the people’s choice?

Lord of the Rings supplies the Elvish candidate for King, Legolas, while our final candidate is Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Fire and Ice / A Game of Thrones. Tyrion is the sole representative of this fantasy element – but with Lannister gold to back him, no-one would rule him out!

Vote for the Queen!

FF-QUEEN3-AGATHA FF-QUEEN4-GALADRIEL FF-QUEEN2-GRANNY
FF-QUEEN5-MALEFICENT FF-QUEEN1-ZANTA

The Queens represent a similar range of fantasy genres – but now we have fairy tales popularised by Disney – or is that the right term for the anti-heroine Maleficient?

From Girl Genius we again have two characters – Agatha Heterodyne and Queen Zantiabraxus. Will they split the steampunk vote?

From Lord of the Rings we have our second Elvish nominee – Galadriel. And last, but definitely not least, we have Granny Weatherwax, that source of common sense and magical skills (not to mention headology) from Lancre in the Discworld.

Vote for the Chancellor!

FF-CHANC4-GENIE FF-CHANC2-GREEBO
FF-CHANC1-KROSP
FF-CHANC3-TREEBRD FF-CHANC5-VONPINN

The Chancellors are drawn from a similarity variety. There’s the Genie from Aladdin (immortalised by the late, great Robin Williams in the Disney movie), and there’s Greebo, Nanny Ogg’s cat from theDiscworld (nursing a secret passion to be ginger).

Once more, there are two Girl Genius characters nominated: this time Krosp (our second cat nomination!) and Vonn Pinn – looking human but really a clank – that world’s robotic forms.

And finally, from the Lord of the Rings, we have the Ent, Treebeard.

Which will you vote for?

You can visit the vendors and place your vote in a special gallery under the waves at Poseidons Abyss.

OR you can pay via Convio.

Read more about how to vote here.

I’m A Contender!

45 of 267 books officially cut in the first round so far in The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off – And The Flight To Brassbright is still in the running. Even if the book doesn’t make it to the next level (this is like a playoff series for indie authors), I made it through a round! This makes me so happy. My book was assigned out to Bibliotropic, and I’m really enjoying checking in there to see how it’s going. The blog posts are interesting, thoughtful and educational, all about reading, reviewing and writing. Do check it out (And follow along to see how I do in the next round).