Thirty Days Later is here!

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Thirty Days Later, the steampunk short story anthology that I mentioned here launched a couple of weeks ago at Clockwork Alchemy, San Jose, California’s steampunk con.  I am honored to be amongst the talented writers that have come together to create this collection.  The concept is a bit different:  each writer pens two short stories–separated from each other by Thirty Days.

Proceeds from the book will be donated to literacy charities.  You can order Thirty Days Later from Amazon as paperback and for Kindle, and from Smashwords for many other ebook formats.

 

The Anteprologue to “To Rule the Skies”–Redux

Anteprologue cover

Back in September 2014, when I was preparing to launch my first book To Rule the Skies, I posted on this blog, an Anteprologue to the novel, that is, a prologue that comes before the actual prologue that begins the book.  At the time, I likened it to the short between-seasons webisodes that Doctor Who was presenting, or the Marvel One-Shots that served to connect the various Marvel Cinema movies.

I’ve continued to putter on this piece and have now re-written it a bit and fixed what I thought were some inconsistencies.  So, in celebration of 2016 Clockwork Alchemy, San Jose’s steampunk con that’s taking place this weekend, I’ve now published it as a free download on Smashwords. Take a look at it and let me know what you think.  If you like it, you might be interested in the novel that it’s an anteprologue of, also available on Smashwords as an ebook for everything but Kindle, and on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback.

And if you’re at Clockwork Alchemy this weekend, stop by Author’s Alley and say Hi to me and all the other talented authors that will be there.

Thirty Days Later is Coming!

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Do you like steampunk and cliffhangers? Adventure and intrigue? Dragons and Sasquatches? Then you’ll like the forthcoming anthology Thirty Days Later, Steaming Forward: 30 Adventures in Time, featuring pairs of stories by favorite steampunk authors who have appeared at the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention!

Thinking Ink Press is proud to announce we will publish Thirty Days Later in time for Clockwork Alchemy this Memorial Day. Edited by AJ Sikes, BJ Sikes, and Dover Whitecliff, Thirty Days Later is the sequel to the steampunk anthology Twelve Hours Later: 24 Tales of Myth and Mystery, a charity anthology to promote California literacy programs, and Thinking Ink Press is proud to donate half the royalties of Thirty Days Later to promote literacy.

I’m honored to be included in this year’s anthology.  My stories involve a Victorian astronomer who makes a world-changing discovery.  Or does he?  Only his more sensible assistant knows for sure. Or does she?

Thirty Days Later will launch at Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA over the Memorial Day weekend.  Stay tuned for more news!

My First Blog-iversary

One year ago today, I took my first tentative steps into this thing called “blogging”, and it has been an interesting year indeed.

I named the blog “Airship Flamel” after the airship that features in my steampunk novel “To Rule the Skies”.  As I was finishing up editing that book, I found that I had accumulated so many interesting stories and historical tidbits while doing research on the time and culture (Victorian). Writing a blog seemed the best and most fun way of writing some non-fiction as well.

Some statistics, thanks to the WordPress Insights page:  This entry is my 89th blog entry of the past year.  That includes re-blogs–I’m not above featuring the work of another blogger on Airship Flamel with proper credit, of course.  No sense re-inventing the wheel, and all that…

The most popular post has been “Did Mark Twain and Charles Dickens ever meet?” which I published back in October and has been read 299 times.  While I found it very interesting to ponder that question myself, the post wasn’t very popular at first, but then really took off in the spring.  I wonder if a teacher somewhere had given the question out as a essay topic.  Before then, my most popular post had been “The Colors of the Past” which examined how poorly early photographic plates recorded different colors, so that we really can’t always be sure what color objects are in period photographs.

In September, my novel was published both as an e-book and as a hard copy.  The second book in the Airship Flamel Adventures series is currently in draft form and my goal is to have it completed by May, 2016.

In December, I previewed Christmas with the Twelve Days of Steampunk Christmas posts which were re-tweeted by Airship Ambassador which generated much traffic to the blog.  They’re still being read almost every day.

In February, I started a new full-time job, which definitely put a dent into the time I had to write.  I’m starting to get the work-life, or rather, work-write balance back on a more even keel, so I predict more regular blog posts in future.

Most of all, I’d like to recognize some of the blog posts that pop up in my reader from some very talented and interesting writers.  Cogpunk Steamscribe gives an always interesting take on steampunk and writing from Down Under.  I don’t know how many times we’ve reblogged each other’s posts!  Another favorite is For Whom the Gear Turns which posts about Steampunk, London, and Making.  Mr. Lee Jackson, a prodigious tweeter, is the author of The Dictionary of Victorian London, an excellent resource for anyone doing research (or just curious) about just about any aspect of Victorian London.  His recent book, “Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight against Filth” is on my to-read list.

Finally, for the 4,481 times that someone has come to my blog during the past year, I hope that I have educated and entertained, and promise that I shall endeavour to continue to do so.

Fantastic Devices to Improve your Steampunk Reality: The Difference Engine

This post ponders a topic that I consider when writing Steampunk/Alternate History: How much real (vs. fantastical) science and technology to include in your writing.

Airships, Automatons, and Aliens...Oh My!

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Airships. Steam powered trains. Carriages drawn by mechanical horses, or self-propelled. When most people think of steampunk, these types of images frequently come to mind. Often these images are accompanied by automatons running amok, strange contraptions that bare little, if any resemblance to devices that currently exist, filled with cogs, gears and springs.

When it comes to the technology of a steam punk reality, the expectation seems to be big and impressive. But perhaps in a reality where the steam engine never gave way to the modern internal combustion engine, there is still a chance of a similar technological revolution. Perhaps in a world of steampunk, the world would be forever changed by a single device. A device that could take complex data and simplify it, translating it into information that the common man could use. We have the computer; our steampunk counterparts might have The Difference Engine.

For one…

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NaNoWriMo Update

As I wrote way back at the end of October, I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2012 and 2013 and completed the 50,000 words to be deemed a Winner.  This year I was going into it with a different goal in mind–to finally finish the novel I started during last year’s NaNoWriMo, or to at least write 20,000 words towards that goal.  As luck would have it, I heaved myself over both my goal lines yesterday evening, reaching what I envisioned as the end of my novel and topping off at 20,059 words.  I was much less diligent than I had been in previous years, but it worked out.

And when I say “finish the novel”, I mean, of course, “finish the first draft of the novel”.  While I quite like some parts, there are others that definitely need work, including the ending which needs major wordsmithing.  And I am sure that when I read it through again (sometime after the Christmas holidays), I will find plot holes and inconsistencies, characters who change names, and many, many typos.  I know this because I’ve gone through the process with my first NaNoWriMo creation. It’s the flip side of racing through writing a novel in 30 days–it can need more editing than it would have otherwise. And I’m ready for it.

Somehow though, the slower, lazier pace I set this year did not create the “magic” that I had found in previous years:  the magic of spending so much time in the world you’ve created with the characters you know so well that sometimes the story writes itself.  Put the characters in a scene, with the aim of doing something which advances the plot, and sit back and take dictation as fast as you can.

Is NaNoWriMo for everyone?  No, and I read a very good blog post lately that went through the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of NaNoWriMo.  Not everyone can sit down and write for a month straight, even if you’ve outlined the plot beforehand.  I’ve done NaNoWriMo because I need the discipline, even if it’s somewhat self-imposed, of sitting down and writing something every day.  Still I find myself wandering off and researching some arcane fact to ensure I get it correct, which is definitely frowned upon in NaNoWriMo.

What NaNoWriMo does provide is an insight into the life of a professional writer.  While I’m not sure if many writers manage to crank out 50,000 words month after month, it’s a reasonable facsimile, and valuable as such.

Will I participate again?  I’m not sure, and December 1 is probably the wrong time to ask that question.  Let’s wait and let the writing settle a bit.  There’s plenty of time–and plenty of words–between now and next November.

Fall First Page Critique Blog Hop

I learned about this from Miss Alexandrina’s blog, and thought it an interesting and useful idea.  We offer up a first page for critique and in exchange, critique the five works above and below ours on the list in return.

So here’s mine:  It’s the first 250 words or so from my present NaNoWriMo work-in-progress, which has a working title of “The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday”, a prequel to my recently published steampunk adventure novel.

It was unlike anything the boy had ever seen.

He had seen large buildings before, of course. Being from the City, he had grown up in the shadow of the great dome of St. Paul’s, and had even ventured inside once at the end of a morning service when the vergers would not notice a poorly dressed boy. The tall spaces of the great cathedral amazed him, but that building was made of stone, and sat squarely upon the ground. This building was made almost entirely of glass and seemed to soar.

“Come along, Nicodemus,” said Mr. Dalrymple, the boy’s master. “Let’s not dawdle. We have lots to see today.”

The boy, staring slack-jawed and wide-eyed at the wonders before him, could only manage, “Cor…”.

“Nicodemus!”

“Yes, sir,” said young Nicodemus, and followed along behind the man.

The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations was the wonder of London all through the summer of 1851. Since being officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in May, almost 5 million people had visited and been marveled by its exhibits. Housing the Exhibition was, of course, the Crystal Palace, a enormous building almost a third of a mile long and over 120 feet high.

Nicodemus and his master stopped under the great dome at the center of the building. The space stretched as far as Nicodemus could see in either direction. “What’ll we see first, Mr. Dalrymple? It’s so big!” exclaimed Nicodemus, still straining his neck to look around at everything at once.