Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Mechanized Masterpieces Book Launch Party!


Today’s the day! The Book Launch Party for Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology!

Come help me, and all the other talented authors celebrate the astonishing world of goggles and gears as we turn Facebook into a blustering, chugging wonderland of Victorian steam.

All the authors will be on the hotseat to answer your questions, each taking turns throughout the party, plus there will be trivia, an internet scavenger hunt, with lots of cool prizes to be won, such as posters, free books and jewelry.

So please join us on Facebook later this afternoon:

And you can check out Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

You can also check out my interview and a review of the book here: http://dinaraeswritestuff.blogspot.ca/2013/04/steampunk-author-af-stewart-stops-by.html

Monday, 29 April 2013

A Review of Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology


My Book Review of  Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology

~
First off I’d like to disclose I have a story in this anthology, and therefore I have a vested interested in this book. So take this review as enthusiastic endorsement for my fellow authors if you will (and perhaps a tiny bit of a shameless promotion).
~

I enjoyed reading the stories in Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology. I found the book to be an entertaining, diverse gaze through the looking-glass of the steampunk world, filtered through classic literature.

The idea of Mechanized Masterpieces is a re-imaging of classic books by such authors as Charles Dickens, Mary Shelly or Charlotte Bronte, which shifts their worlds and characters into the 19th century strangeness that is steampunk. The stories in the book are clanging, banging, puffing prequels, sequels and reboots, rich in quality and captivation.

There are eight fascinating stories in the anthology, based on the books Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibilities, David Copperfield, The Little Match Girl, The Phantom of the Opera, A Christmas Carol and Frankenstein. They are enchanting, sometimes steam-twisted tales to delight. I especially liked the story of Micawber and Copperfield, with its shades of Horatio Hornblower (albeit with dirigibles instead of sailing ships) and Tropic of Cancer, which had a dark, looming undertone of foreboding.

Even with my slightly biased opinion, I can recommend Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology as a great read.

The Book is officially launched on Facebook tomorrow!  Come and join in the fun!

Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology is available on Amazon (in paperback and for Kindle) and Barnes and Noble (for Nook).


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Mechanized Masterpieces: The Story Behind My Story

First up, the official book launch of  Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology happens on April 30th! As one of the authors featured in the book I am inviting all to the Book Launch Party on Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/events/339286706194431/

Next, I have a little ramble about how the story came to be, and some trivia at the end (which may come in handy around party time- hint, hint).  So read on, and enjoy.
 

Mechanized Masterpieces: The Story Behind My Story

Once upon a time (because don’t all happy ending fairy tales start that way, even steampunk ones?) I submitted a story to Xchyler Publishing for a steampunk themed anthology. The idea was to take a classic book and expand on a character, steampunk style.
I thought to myself, “that’s sounds fun, I can do that...” all those things writers tell themselves to get off Facebook and back to creating. So I flew off in search of a classic story and landed on Dickens, (but don’t worry he wasn’t hurt), and A Christmas Carol specifically.
At first I thought perhaps Bob Cratchit would do, or Tiny Tim, but as I reacquainted myself with the story I realised there was a character badly neglected in the original, Scrooge’s nephew Fred. Questions began to race through my head. Who was Fred? What did he do for a living? What if he was a spy? That’s when something clicked- write a spy story, a steampunk spy story.
So off I went, scribbling furiously giving Fred a backstory, and taking his friend Topper and his nameless wife (although in my tale she isn’t yet his wife and she has a name) along for the ride. And about halfway through, I hit a bit of writer’s block, so I like to officially extend my thanks to the Google+ community at Dark-Fantasy Writers for helping me over the hump. Their supportive brainstorming was the inspiration for the rats.
So writer’s block banished, I furiously finished my prose in time to make the deadline, and sent off my story, Our Man Fred, where it ended, nestled in the pages of Mechanized Masterpieces.

Now for some trivia bits:
  • The spy agency in Our Man Fred is called the Clockwork Department, which shares its initials with Charles Dickens as a nod to A Christmas Carol
  • The title Our Man Fred is an homage to the old spy movie Our Man Flint
  •  The automaton man mentioned briefly by Topper was dropped in as a nod to various Victorian era dime novels.
  • The mention of the Penny Dreadfuls by Mary is also a nod to Victorian era fiction.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Interview with A. Wayne Gill

Today author, A. Wayne Gill stops by for a chat about his legal thriller, The Runner, and his writing... 

An Interview with A. Wayne Gill


Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself?
Hello, I am Wayne Gill. I am a commercial lawyer and have been for twenty years now. Also, I am a beginning author.

Can you tell us about your book, The Runner?
Certainly, The Runner is a legal thriller that in addition has a spiritual message. It is centered on a recent college graduate named Michael Knight and his quest to find himself.

Why did you decide to write this book?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I used to write as a child through college I was an English major. I really felt a need to convey the message of The Runner and put them down on paper.

Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your book?
The most surprising thing was the discipline needed. An author must teach themselves to carve out time and just write that was difficult for me.

What was your greatest challenge in writing The Runner?
Again, I would have to say the discipline and just the overall amount of time it took to rewrite and edit the book.

As a lawyer you are of course familiar with the legal world you portrayed in this book. How much, and what type, of research outside the legal profession did you need for your novel?
My research focused on the Christian aspect of my book. I researched the culture of churches. The main character’s father is a minister and I wanted to delve into the culture and way of life for children of a preacher. Also, the town, Ozark Falls is very small. I looked into the background of small towns.

When did you realize you wanted to write?
I was 6 years old and had entered a poetry competition at my school. I had written a poem on Martin Luther King. I ended up winning first place. The writing bug has never left me since.

Who are your writing inspirations?
Too many to name! If I had to mention a few, I would say Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Jimmy Baldwin, Alice Walker, and Stephen King.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I enjoy spending time with my family. We can be on vacation or watching a movie on the couch just that quality time is priceless to me.

Are you working on another book?
Yes, currently I am finishing up the follow up to The Runner.

Author Bio:

A. Wayne Gill is the Managing Partner and CEO of the Gill Law Firm. which has offices in Florida and Georgia. throughout the United States. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the South Florida Minority Supplier Development Council (SFMSDC), the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County, Inc., and the Oasis Compassion Agency, which he co-founded with his wife Sharon, in 2002.
He obtained an English degree from Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut and his law degree from George Washington University in Washington DC. There, among other things, he served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Arthur L. Burnett, Sr. of the DC Trial Court and in the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia, Civil Division. He is also a graduate of the Advanced Minority Executive Program at the Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
He is a frequent speaker, moderator and author.  He’s also published articles and written Continuing Legal Education materials for the National Business Institute. His published books and e-books are available by title at his
website:  www.waynegill.com

You can also find The Runner on Amazon

Monday, 15 April 2013

Greenwood Tree: Cover Reveal and Excerpt

Today we have another treat, with the cover reveal and excerpt from the historical mystery novel, Greenwood Tree by B. Lloyd.  Enjoy...


 

Greenwood Tree:
 
‘Well, what do all mysteries have?' said Aunt Isobel. 'Money, mistresses, and murder.’

1783 – and Lichfield society is enthralled by the arrival of dashing ex-officer Orville; he charms his way into the salons, grand houses and even a great inheritance from extrovert Sir Morton. 

1927 – and detective writer Julia Warren returns to her home in Lichfield to work on her next novel. Initially she hopes to find plot material from the past and set it in the present. Aunt Isobel, while making preparations for the annual midsummer ball, has managed to root out an old journal from 1783 which might prove a source of inspiration. Once Julia starts reading her ancestor’s journal she becomes absorbed in solving the mystery surrounding officer Orville. Detective fever takes over, and she moves from reality to legend as events from the past seem set to re-enact themselves in the present, and she finds herself unravelling more than just the one mystery. Who was Orville? Who was the agent, Oddman, set to spy on him? And who is helpful Mr Grenall ? 

Pagan gods don’t walk away just because you stop looking at them. The Gronny Patch sleeps. Perhaps it dreams. Or perhaps not …

A complex, multi-layered story unlike any other, full of whimsy, horror, and mystery, shifting between the centuries and from source to source, until all the threads are finally drawn together by the imperturbable Miss Warren.

An Excerpt from the Book:


Chapter Three

1927

London


‘A country murder? In a big old mansion, plenty of house-guests and servants? Better set it before the War, then. How many bodies? Four? Five? Have you the odd family ghost you could throw in for good measure?’

Julia mentally heaved a sigh of relief. The ‘talk over tea’ was progressing better than she had expected, with her editor lapping up the storyline she had cobbled together at the last minute. She had set it in her aunt’s house on an impulse, reasoning to herself that she would at least have an excuse to retreat there on the pretexts of research and peace and quiet. She found she had an increasing desire to return, in fact. The mild excitement of earning enough to live on the edge of a crowded metropolis was beginning to pall; the traffic and endless round of theatres and clubs held little attraction for her after all, whereas one more cocktail party with the effete and affected of the literary elite might result in her committing violence.

As if reading her mind, Mr Williams leaned forward confidentially to say: ‘Do you remember that last do at Ashton’s? Miss Vane was there too.’

‘Yes, I do remember.’ Julia had found Harriet Vane somewhat intimidating. As for that beau of hers, thrashing out articles on free love and anarchy—yet always with his hair brilliantined in a singularly unappealing fashion. Somehow brilliantine and speeches on a new world order did not quite go together, at least not for Julia.

‘Well, she’s written an essay lamenting the dearth of good crime fiction, and suggests the crime novelists get together to form a club of sorts; she intends to start a magazine or such-like. Ashton is right behind her, they’ve managed to rope old Chesterton in, and Ashton was wondering if you might be able to contribute?’ Ashton was Chief Editor at Petrel Books and held frequent gatherings at his home in Kensington for writers and editors alike. His influence was such that one did not refuse his requests lightly.

‘Sounds perfectly terrifying. What do they want from me? Not another essay, I hope.’

‘I think it might be more interesting than thatwhy don’t I arrange a get-together, see what is in the air, so to speak? It’s quite true, after all, hardly a soul out there to write mysteries—even Mrs Christie’s “Big Four” only received very mixed reviews . . . so it’s up to us to make a difference, eh?’
Julia did her best to respond with conviction and enthusiasm. She managed to divert the conversation: ‘And what of Miss Vane’s latest?’
‘Haven’t read it. Haven’t even heard much about itwhich makes me wonder whether she might not be taking refuge in this magazine idea. We all know what the Muse does to writers at times, don’t we?’ Julia felt a quiet pinching at the stomach, a reminder of her own fallibility. Had he in fact swallowed whole her excuse for a plot? She tried not to think about that.
 ‘I can at least say you are interested in knowing more?’ Williams looked almost pleadingly at her. Julia dutifully undertook to write something and made her exit gratefully. If only she could escape London now with equal ease.

She was about to cross the street when she felt a friendly pat on her shoulder and turned to find somebody in the same sort of anonymous cloche hat and long straight coat as she was wearing.
‘Hello, May,’ she said, still in chirpy frame of mind from her meeting. ‘They’ve let you out for half an hour, then?’
May chuckled. ‘Oh it’s not that bad. Listen, why don’t we catch up—are you free for tea at Lyons’?’
The teahouse was a little full, but they managed to squeeze in between the crowded, clinking, murmuring tables, and caught up with each other’s news while they waited to be served. May was sympathetic about the editor’s meeting, even if she had little experience of the process. She was a dispenser and in her spare time an avid reader of crime fiction. Julia often had recourse to her when a visit to the Poison Section in the Library proved too far. They had met at a house party, where a case of petty pilfering within the household had caused them to apply their wits—successfully, as it turned out—and they had become close friends. When not engaged in deciphering motive and means, they often exchanged occasionally biting comments on the latest detective novel.
‘So, are you brimming with ideas?’
‘In a sort of a way, I think I am. But it’s not awfully clear yet—I need more material. Sounds dull, I know. But I have been feeling a trifle dull recently.’
‘You are looking a trifle peaky. Sounds to me like going to the country would do you good.’
Tea arrived and talk turned to reminiscence: ‘Do you remember that business about Mrs Clyssum’s necklace? I was just reminded of it the other day at Gracie’s; she had one just like it, very convincing. Why did she do it, really?’
‘Panic. She’d pawned the originals, remember.’
‘I do. But even so . . . poor thing. Still, it was fun, working it out, and I am glad we stopped the maid losing her job.’
‘That must have been the first time we actually put our heads together. Wonder what they’ve got up to since then . . .’
 ‘What have you been reading lately?’ Julia asked. May pulled a wry face and rummaged in her bag, producing a slim volume depicting on its cover a man peering out from under the lid of a wooden crate or box, with another man’s shadow falling across it. Emblazoned across the top half of the cover was the title ‘The Red House Mystery.’
‘I read it ages ago. Think I enjoyed it more the first time round. Wish you’d hurry up and get your next one finished. I’m running out of favourite authors.’
‘We were just talking about that. Apparently Miss Vane considers it a distinctly uninspiring time for crime fiction in general.’
‘I’m not surprised. Even Mrs Christie’s last one fell a bit flat.’
‘Yes, my editor mentioned her too. I wonder if there is some contagious detective ‘flu going around, which reduces the creative flow to pulp. I certainly think I have been infected.’
‘That doesn’t sound like you. Definitely in need of a change of scene, I should say. We both could do with something to wake us up a bit. Wish we had another mystery of our own to work out, like the Clyssum business.’
Julia looked at her. ‘So do I. Easier than writing the wretched things. We could set up an agency: Warren and Downe—Domestic Panic and Hysteria our speciality.’
‘Yes—likewise, Purloined Pearls and Pawnbrokers.’
‘Purses and Pusillanimity.’
‘Peripatetic Parrots and Peevish Pomeranians.’
The banter was briefly interrupted just as it threatened to become hysterical by the arrival of the waitress with laden tray.
They both tried to pick up where they had left off, but somehow today their usual flow of conversation slowed to a halt. Julia briefly allowed herself to be swamped by the voices from the surrounding tables instead—and soon wished she hadn’t:
‘I thought those emeralds were paste, I still do. As for her taste in art . . .’
‘More Art Nasty than Art Nouveau! Mind you, I suspect they would be worth something at auction . . .’
‘Did you read about her niece in the Tatler? Hardly surprising though, the poor girl must have been only too glad to escape, even if it was with the son of a greengrocer.’
‘A very wealthy greengrocer. It’s all money, after all . . .’
Julia enjoyed May’s company, and gossip did often supply a lot of material. But, stuck in the middle of the crowded room with its jarring sounds and cheap chatter, she now felt the tawdriness of smoky, grimy London.
There were gladioli in Aunt Izzy’s garden, and they would be coming into bloom soon: she could picture the late afternoon sun falling across them, turning them a soft apricot gold, and she wanted to be transported back to it at that moment, that very second. She was pulled back from her brief reverie by a squawk from May.
‘Look at the time! I must dash—now don’t forget, I want to know the minute you have decided who the villain is, and if there is poison involved . . . well, you know where I am !’
There was a hurried dispute over the bill, which Julia insisted on paying, then May scuttled off, leaving Julia on the pavement outside with promises of another get-together before long.
The brilliant blue sky prompted her to return home by tram. She climbed to the upper deck just so she could sit away from crowds and enjoy the trees lining the avenue. She craned her neck up and gazed at the leafy branches, and for a moment imagined herself back at home. Finally all those little scraps of dreams that had been hiding away all day returned tenfold to delight her, butterfly-like, with colours and warmth—the walks, the glades, the running hare and cheeky sparrow, the slow-witted blackbirds, sunning themselves in the middle of the lanes; all the whirling memories of the past crowded into her mind and she decided she had stayed away too long. What had seemed a pretext now became necessity. London was stifling her with its relentless gaiety, misery and recklessness. 

Book Trailer:  http://youtu.be/oWDByK6_Djs


Author Bio for B. Lloyd:

A Bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal ...

After studying Early Music in Italy followed by a brief career in concert performance, the Bustle exchanged vocal parts for less vocal arts i.e. a Diploma from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. Her inky mess, both graphic and verbal, can be found in various regions of the Web, and appendaged to good people's works (for no visible reason that she can understand).

At present exploring the mysteries of Northumberland, although if there is a place she could call true home, it would be Venice…while the fields of Waterloo hold a certain resonance for her as well…

More here:

http://about.me/B.Lloyd
and here:

http://lloydanon.wordpress.com

For those who enjoy Twittery:

Do drop by @AuthorsAnon as she enjoys a chat
(Warning: Please expect occasional bouts of nonsense).


Finding the Book:

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Book Review: The Rebels by Elizabeth Lang

My Book Review of The Rebels: 


The novel The Rebels, the sequel to The Empire, is as engrossing as the first book in the series. The author, Elizabeth Lang, once again creates an adroit plot with strong direction and fascinating characters.

The novel picks up where The Empire left off, with heroes, Adrian, Kali and Bryce, turned fugitive and on the run. Quickly, trouble follows and the intrepid band of three are separated, with Adrian falling into the clutches of a bounty hunter and Kali and Bryce out to rescue him. But things are never what they seem, with changes of heart, and new faces and old stirring up danger.

As with the last book in the series, The Rebels best strength lies in its strong characters and their interaction with one another. Despite the fact the two main characters of Adrian and Kali are separated for much of the book, I like the way the author intensified their relationship. Also, I enjoyed the subtle interplay between the bounty hunter and the new character of Dr. Adding. They challenged each other, with attraction and respect creeping in over time.

The storyline is nicely paced and meshes together smoothly, with a deft touch of tension in the right spots. I did find the endgame of the plot a bit predictable, if still entertaining. However the cliffhanger at the end was out of the blue and shocker for me (I definitely did not see that twist coming).

The Rebels is a terrific book and I highly recommend it.


The Rebels is available on Amazon:


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