Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Interview With Historical/Steampunk Author Kyle Newton

Today I have an interview with author Kyle Newton who writes two of my favourite genres, steampunk and historical. Enjoy.


Interview With Kyle Newton





Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself?

Greetings, my name is Kyle Newton. I grew up in a very small blue-collar town nestled in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. My mother bred my creativity by watching Star Trek and reading Tolkien, so it didn’t take long for my interest in writing sci-fi/fantasy to bud and blossom. I indie-published my own series, “The Penny Punkers Series,” as well as having been published in several magazines such as Bete Noire. My first book to hit #3 in steampunk was “Revolution’s Reign,” a novella that came as a short story challenge from my magnificent girlfriend. Now, I write novellas about historical fiction for teens and young adults.



How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I have been writing most of my life if you include all the time I preferred writing poetry in school rather than doing math or science (Although still important, I just found myself lost in poetry). I’ve indie-published 3 soft-covered books and 6 ebooks. “The Penny Punker Series” take up the majority of my publishings, which is a fictitious steampunk universe I created. Then there’s “Revolution’s Reign”, which is a standalone historical fiction.


Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?


I’d have to say my current favorite is, “Revolution’s Reign.” Having to find that sweet balance of historical accuracy, peppered with fiction so the plot still makes sense, really helped push my limits and helped me grow as a writer.


Do you have a favourite character? If so, why?

For “Revolution’s Reign,” I’d say my favorite character is Annie Oakley. She might not show up until later in the story, but I find her time in it to be very unexpected and full of energy. I think I reflected on more of her determination and dedication than anything else for her character. And the fact I was able to find a place for her at all made me very happy.


Why did you decide to write in the steampunk genre?

I’ve always loved the Victorian era and found myself studying different aspects of it throughout my life. And I mean it, I even did a school report about the popular clothing and what they saw as “mainstream.” I guess my love for Tolkien’s fantasy world and my fascination for the Victorian lifestyle kind of fused together one day and thus, “Revolution’s Reign,” came to be.


What is the hardest part of writing historical fiction?

First, I want to say I absolutely LOVE writing historical fiction, but the same reason I obsess about it is the same reason it frustrates me. The amusement comes from having a “bare bones” story already laid out for you. It’s then up to you to decide how much escapism you want in your story. “Revolution’s Reign” definitely holds a lot of creative licensing, but then you can find the “Dear America” books and discover there’s very little fiction in them. I find these two are good comparisons for showing how wide the spectrum of historical fiction is. It’s that amount of freedom that really makes it fun for me, testing my balance of captivating creativity and historical accuracy.


What do you enjoy most about writing in the steampunk genre?

Similar to historical fiction, steampunk has a thin line of “must haves,” and the rest is really up to you. What makes steampunk so beautiful is that it doesn’t take much to establish its presence, it all depends on how you add it to your book that makes it a worthwhile genre. Like in “Revolution’s Reign,” I may reference larger economical changes to establish a different Victorian/colonial age, but their rifles and boats are the only distinct changes the reader really interacts with. I also love hearing from readers and getting opinions through reviews, that way, I can keep elevating my steampunk game for them. No matter what, I always add a flavor of steampunk to my writings, so reader input is crucial to me.


You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?

Steampunk is easily my favorite. It’s always fun for me to add a wild west heroine, or an eloquent Victorian villain into the mix. I read a lot of historical fiction when I entered Junior High School and didn’t really stop since then. That’s what drew me to studying history, by learning how much of the book was made up and how much of it was real. My first two publications were for historical magazines, focusing on warfare. From there, I got published in Bete Noire’s magazine with my short story, “Wulver of the Highlands,” which was my first crack at historical fantasy. From there, I found adding steampunk elements to be a bit more interesting and more my style. Not long after that, “Revolution’s Reign,” was published. A month later, it hit #3 in its steampunk genre and #1 in Dieselpunk.


Who is your intended readership?

Since “Revolution’s Reign,”  I’m noticing more teenagers and young adults picking up my books. Which, I really enjoy. My interest in being a writer started around the sixth grade, but the small blue collar town I grew up in made flourishing artistically almost impossible. I hope my books can reach other teenagers to show them that if you have a passion and stick to it, you can get out and make a name for yourself.


What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?


I recently got in touch with the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire and got to write a mystery book for them involving the train station. It was a fascinating challenge because I’ve never written in this genre before. It proved to have its own story arc-issues I never anticipated due to the unfamiliar structure of building a mystery. It’ll be the first one out before Christmas. Around that time, I am going to have another colonial fiction novella out for my teen and YA readers. The last two years I’ve been trying to get my books published in between school semesters, that way students can have something to relax with around those initial days of new classes and the stress that comes with getting used to the schedule.









Monday, 6 November 2017

Book Spotlight: The Dead Ride Fast

Today I have a book spotlight, for the collection of horror western short stories, The Dead Ride Fast by Jackson Kuhl. Enjoy!


The Dead Ride Fast by Jackson Kuhl



A gang of bank robbers arrives in a town where the local newspaper prints the future. A prospector discovers the cost of gold is the loss of himself. An abandoned ranch house conceals a dark history. An ailing sailor is initiated into a secret world after consuming an unusual medicine. A businessman reopens a silver mine that should have been left sealed. Two young girls confront a string of unnoticed disappearances.

The Dead Ride Fast collects five stories previously published in the award-winning magazine Black Static and various anthologies, including the Stoker-nominated Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations. An original story is also included.

Ghosts. Doppelgängers. Our guilty yesterdays and anxious tomorrows. Saddle up for six stories of existential dread on the haunted frontier.



The Dead Ride Fast is available as an e-book on AmazonSmashwords, and Kobo





Author Bio:

Jackson Kuhl is the author of the Revolutionary War biography SAMUEL SMEDLEY, CONNECTICUT PRIVATEER and the fiction collection THE DEAD RIDE FAST. Kuhl has written for Atlas Obscura, Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, National Geographic News, Reason, and other publications.

Website: http://www.jacksonkuhl.com/

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Interview With Author Cassidy Taylor

Today brings an interview with Cassidy Taylor, another one of the authors in the anthology, Mirror & Thorns, which I recently spotlighted. Enjoy.


Interview With Cassidy Taylor






Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I’m a fantasy author who studied English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was there that I found my niche in children’s literature, and won the Bill Hooks Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2007. My first novel, When Rains Fall, is forthcoming in December 2017. The prequel short story, The Dry Season, is available for free on Amazon. I live in beautiful North Carolina with my husband, two kids, two dogs, and one cat who thinks he’s a dog.




Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

My story, The Life & Death of Cora Svanros, is exclusively available in Mirrors & Thorns: An OWS Ink Anthology. Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076HFL17F

Cora Svanros, a self-sacrificing slave girl with an iron will, wants nothing more than to protect her little sister. Sold into slavery after the death of their mother, she’s spent the last eight years being tortured by a cruel, young chief with an unusual ability. When a seer tells her that to defeat him, she must pluck three feathers from the Crow of Malos, she knows she must try, even if it means dying to get what she needs.



How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I’ve been writing since before I could read. One of my earliest memories is making up a story to the pictures in a Peter Pan picture book when I couldn’t find anyone to read it to me. I have two short stories published in anthologies, and my debut novel is set to release in December 2017. They are all set in the same world and interconnected.

The Dry Season (That Moment When…): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N45F679/
The Life & Death of Cora Svanros (Mirrors & Thorns): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076HFL17F/


Why did you decide to write in the fantasy genre?

Writing fantasy is both incredibly freeing and incredibly challenging, and I write it for both reasons. I enjoy the challenge of creating an entire world—its history, its religion, its politics—and finding the characters that the world creates. And I enjoy the freedom of being able to explore today’s important themes without the influence of our world’s history and prejudices.


Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

My ideas can originate from anywhere. As a writer, I listen and I observe, and I take what I find and ask, “What if…?”
As far as my writing process, I’m a reformed pantser. My first four completed manuscripts were written without any planning whatsoever. After NaNoWriMo in 2016, when I sat back and looked at what I had written and found that I was so disappointed—it didn’t look anything like I had originally intended—I set out to learn as much as I could to improve on my craft. Using a combination of skills I learned from KM Weiland and Libbie Hawker and Joanna Penn, I found a way to plot and plan that works for me. 


What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Time, time, time! I work full-time and have two young children. It takes real commitment to sit down and write after the kids are in bed, commitment that it took me years to develop and with which I still struggle every day. I’ve found that accountability is super-important to me, and having a community of fellow writers to back me up and encourage me has been invaluable.


What advice would you give beginning writers?

Read widely, and write often. You won’t improve without either of those things.


What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?

When I’m not writing or working, I’m reading. My goal is to read fifty books each year, but this includes audiobooks that I listen to during my commute. I also have two active young kids, so I spend a lot of time reading or writing in the gymnastics lobby or during soccer practice. I’ve read 70 books so far this year!




Are you working on another book?

I’m finishing up edits on my first novel, When Rains Fall. It’s the first in a series set in the same world as my short stories. I’m currently seeking ARC readers. If interested, readers can sign up here: https://goo.gl/forms/PuU6pjt1182UbDui2











Mirror & Thorns is available at:






About the Author


One of Cassidy Taylor’s earliest memories is flipping through a Peter Pan picture book and making up her own stories to go with the illustrations since she couldn’t read yet. It wasn’t long before she was writing her own stories, the first of which was called The Last Unicorn (not to be confused with the fabulous classic novel of the same name by Peter S. Beagle). As you might have guessed, it didn’t have a happy ending, and she’s been trying to make people cry ever since.
Cassidy attended Young Writers’ conferences as a child, and still has a copy of a poem she wrote about writer’s block that won her a place in one of those conferences, but she won’t show it to you. After completing a degree in English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cassidy went on to get married and raise two wonderful children. Watching her kids grow and discover the magic of reading for themselves has inspired her to return to her own make-believe worlds. 

If you like YA fantasy featuring strong, dangerous women and mysterious magic, and you would like a **free** short story and access to **exclusive content** visit http://cassidytaylor.net and sign up for Cassidy's Reading Warriors.

You can also find her at:



Saturday, 4 November 2017

Book Spotlight: Being Human

Today I have a book spotlight, for the YA paranormal novel, Being Human by Patricia Lynne. Enjoy.


Being Human by Patricia Lynne




For Tommy, there is only one thing he needs to do: survive. 

Only surviving isn't that easy. The hunt for blood can be tricky when humans know to fear the night. Desire sits on the edge of his mind, urging him to become the monster humans think he is. Vampire Forces, a special branch of police, is determined to turn every vampire to ash. Tommy included.

The only human Tommy can trust is his twin brother. A bond connects them, and with Danny's help, Tommy starts to understand the human world he struggles to survive in. He'll learn what friendships means and feel the sting of betrayal, find that sometimes the worst monsters are very human, and come to understand that family means more than blood.

Tommy just wants to survive and he knows what he needs to do. But with the number of humans that mean more to him than a meal growing, Tommy learns there's more to life than simple survival. He'll discover being human doesn't mean being a human.


Being Human is available at:






Author Bio





Patricia Lynne never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes new adult under the name Patricia Josephine.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

For more on Patricia, check out her sites.





Friday, 3 November 2017

Interview With Author J. Lee Strickland

Today I have an interview with J. Lee Strickland, one of the authors in the anthology, Mirror & Thorns which I recently spotlighted. Enjoy.


Interview With Author J. Lee Strickland



Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I grew up in rural northeastern Pennsylvania at a time when the anthracite coal industry, which was centered there, was transitioning from shaft mining to open-pit mining or strip mining. As a consequence of this unique timing and location, I was exposed to great natural beauty and tremendous environmental devastation at the same time. The appreciation for, and fascination with, rural life and the natural world appears often in my writing, as well as in my choice of home here in the southern Adirondacks of upstate New York.
I started writing pretty much as soon as I started reading. I love to tell the story that my first real book—a book with chapters, and pages and pages of words—was Whitefoot the Wood Mouse by Thornton W. Burgess. As soon as I finished it, I wrote my first story, a story about a mouse who lived in the woods. I didn’t learn the word “derivative” until much later.


Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

My story “Roland” is included in the latest anthology from OWS Ink, titled Mirrors and Thorns, a fantasy collection inspired by the darker side of fairy tales. I’m very excited about this anthology. The quality of the writing is excellent; the stories are clever and engaging, and everyone at OWS Ink is enthusiastic and committed to getting the book out to a broad readership. It’s been a real pleasure working with them.


Do you have a favourite character? If so, why?

In my story “Roland,” my favourite character is Iduna. She was a lot of fun to write. Where Roland is often sullen and brooding, always thinking the worst, Iduna is a bundle of frenetic energy. She talks nearly non-stop, filling the world with sound wherever she goes. She’s infectious that way, and it was an interesting challenge to write her convincingly without cluttering the text.


What is the hardest part of writing fantasy fiction?

The big challenge is to avoid falling back on the same tired tropes of fantasy. I love dragons and elves, fairies and magic, and I’ve used them in my writing, but great fantasy writing makes these elements fresh, new, and surprising. The other challenge is to avoid making the story just about the fantasy. All the elements, fantasy and otherwise, must work together in the service of the story. For example, in my story “The Turning of Pesh Thanat,” published in Newfound Journal this past Spring, Elini the slave woman saves the Emperor’s life by literally giving him hers. The magical, physical bond which unites them becomes a metaphor for the way in which traitorous behavior on the part of one person can have devastating consequences for both members of a couple.


What do you enjoy most about writing in the fantasy genre?

Fantasy writing at its best makes explicit that thing which in our ordinary lives we all tend to ignore: that the universe is a mysterious place, that all our probing has produced only the barest outline of what the world truly entails. With fantasy writing, we push the boundaries, illuminate the dark corners, and through imagination, show the truth of this mystery.


You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?

I have written across a number of different styles and genres. Back in the 90’s I published a lot of creative non-fiction pieces centered on my experiments with simple living, alternative life-styles, and alternative energy and building techniques. At the same time, I was writing essays on philosophical and environmental topics, but fiction writing was my first love. Once I became serious about having my fiction published, that feedback loop opened the floodgates of creativity for me. I have written a fair amount of literary fiction, but my imagination seems to gravitate toward fantasy. Even my most realistic stories often have some hint of fantasy in them: ritual transubstantiation that produces undesirable results, or an out-of-body experience with serious physical consequences—the kinds of surprises that lurk at the borders of the ordinary. These are what fascinate me most.


Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?

If I had to pick just one, I would name John Crowley and his master work, Little, Big. He is usually categorized as a fantasy writer, yet he does just what I said earlier where in his writing, the elements of fantasy work in service to the story. I’m really excited about the imminent release of his latest, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr. I don’t really have to stop at one favourite, do I? Ursula LeGuin has been with me since high school, and I never tire of reading her work. Paul Park’s incredible four-volume Princess of Roumania series blew me away. I remember getting to the end of the fourth volume, The Hidden World, and immediately starting back at the first for another read-through. Anne Patchett made fantasy totally believable in State of Wonder, and Elizabeth Gilbert performed writing miracles in The Signature of All Things. These authors and works provide both inspiration and aspiration. I aspire in my own writing to produce such beautifully conceived and deeply affecting work.


What advice would you give beginning writers?

Write as much as you can, as often as you can. The more you write, the better you will become as a writer. Meet other writers. Join a group. Expose your writing to criticism and act on the feedback. Grow a thick skin, and remember that pleasing yourself is easy; pleasing others is hard. Make writing the thing you do in spite of everything else. Submit your work for publication. There is no greater inspiration for a writer than to have a stranger in some editorial office say, “I like what you wrote, and I’m going to give others the chance to read it.”


What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I’m working on a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel set in the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, eastern Mohawk Valley, and Albany area of New York. Ninety percent of the population has been lost in the war and subsequent years of nuclear winter. Albany has been reduced to a radioactive heap of rubble and declared an exclusion zone by the territorial authorities. Its residents are a mix of the dregs of society, the outcasts, and intrepid urban homesteaders who envision a new future for cities, no longer parasites on the land but self-reliant contributors to a peaceful, cooperative community. Along with the clash between idealism and reality, other old divisions rise up in new disguises, as people struggle with what it means to be human. I’d like to hold on to my secrets for a little while yet, but I will say that in the book, the consequences of global war manifest themselves in some surprising ways!


Mirror & Thorns can be found at:





About the Author


J. Lee Strickland is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. In addition to fiction, he has written on the subjects of rural living, modern homesteading and voluntary simplicity. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Workers Write!, Pure Slush, Mad Scientist Journal, Newfound Journal, Jenny, and others. He is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild and served as a judge for the 2015 and 2016 storySouth Million Writers Awards. He is at work on a collection of connected short stories vaguely similar in format to the long-defunct American television series 'Naked City' but without the salacious title.



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