Monday 24 December 2012

Steampunk Santa

A short Christmas Eve tale...

Steampunk Santa

Once Upon a Christmas Eve, way up at the North Pole, nestled in the snow, sprawled Santa’s Village. Now if you think, from all the sweet tales that have been spun, that this place was a place of dreams, made of gingerbread and sugar plums, you would be wrong.
No, the settlement that housed Old St. Nick and his industrious band of elves was a home of iron and clockwork, of brass and gears, with the hiss of steam and the clash of metal echoing through its halls. Yes, that’s right, 'twas a Steampunk Night Before Christmas.
There’s the toy factory, with its assembly lines of workers, run by giant cogs and gears and pulleys, and a sputtering, puffing engine -fed by coal- powering the whole works. The elves wear goggles, leather gloves and aprons, over natty suits, clanging and banging as they make the toys.
Outside is Santa’s sleigh, packed with those playthings, belching smoke and vapour from its pipes and valves. The air is alive with its noise, a droning snarl announcing its presence as the coal-powered engine produces steam and fires on all pistons. In front are harnessed the reindeer, all nine wondrous beasts of iron, marvels of mechanized automatons. From Prancer to Rudolph with his illuminated nose, they stand eager to fly, rocket packs at the ready.
And here comes St. Nick, dressed in red leather and black boots, his long coat sweeping the top of the snow. His goggles are perched atop his head, his pipe in mouth, and his pistol on his hip. He climbs in his sleigh and snaps the reins. With a grind of gears and a roar of flame they are away into flight.

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Snowy Reading Blog Hop: Meet Althea from Gothic Cavalcade

Welcome to my post for the Snowy Reading Blog Hop!

So pick up that hot chocolate, snuggle down in that comforter and cozy up to an interview with my main character from Gothic Cavalcade, Althea...

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a picturesque small town in the English countryside, in the later part of the 19th century. My father was an attorney, and we were quite well-off financially. We were a close family, with just my parents, myself and my sister, Jenny.  I married at eighteen, to Thomas, a land-owner of substantial means. He seemed quite charming and I thought myself to be a fortunate woman, but I found out his true nature after we were wed. Only then did I realize what an unhappy and horrid mistake I had made. To make matters worse, my parents died a few years after I married leaving me no place to run. My only solace was Jenny found a home with the family of a distant cousin.

Do you enjoy or dislike winter? Tell us why. 
I love winter, it's as if everything is quiet, waiting for something. I have fond memories of my family sitting by the fireplace, with Father reading to us in the evenings, or Sunday outings after Church. There is nothing nicer than a winter carriage ride. And of course there is the Christmas season, which is always so festive, especially if it snows. There is something quite special about snow on Christmas.
What would you do on a date (or with close friends) on a snowy evening?

"Dating" in my day was very strict and any encounters at dances or suitors coming to call were chaperoned. There were one or two evening dances where young gentlemen made my heart flutter, and I remember one handsome fellow who stole a kiss under the mistletoe.
When it's cold and dreary outside, what makes you laugh out loud?

My sister Jenny could always make me laugh, no matter my mood. She was always so happy, so full of mischief. Memories of her can still make me smile. 
If you were sitting around a fire, playing truth or dare, what would you choose and why?

That game sounds a bit scandalous, but I suppose I would chose truth. After all I've been through, the truth doesn't frighten me anymore. 
Tell us about a winter memory from your childhood?

My best memory from my childhood is the Christmas Ball when I was sixteen. Mother took me to the dressmaker for a special gown, made from blue satin brocade with dark velvet trim and lace ruffles on the sleeves. I felt quite the lady in that dress, with my hair in an up-swept fashion, wearing my white gloves and fluttering my lace fan. I smiled my best coquette smile as I entered that ballroom and felt my heart beat faster as the male eyes turned towards me. My dance card filled rapidly, and I dare say I flirted shamelessly, and I had a magnificent evening.

What is the most creative gift you would put under the tree?
I suppose that would be the watercolour I painted for my mother, the Christmas before I married. It was an especially fine landscape and I was quite proud of it.  It was also the last painting I created. My husband did not encourage artistic pursuits.

Would you start a snowball fight? 

Oh dear, I fear someone has been tattling. Jenny and I used to throw snowballs whenever it snowed, much to our Mother's dismay. She said it was not ladylike behaviour.
Tell us about your favourite winter movie or book?

I'm terribly fond of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. My childhood copy is quite dogeared I'm afraid.  I loved to read it every year in the Christmas season.
How do you celebrate the holidays? Be it Christmas or Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice.

A traditional Christmas was quite important with my family, and even when I married Thomas insisted on keeping up appearances at Christmas, inviting family or friends to stay with us. I was grateful for that. He behaved well when we had guests.
I loved to festoon the house with greenery, and decorate the tree and on Christmas Eve we would hang the stockings and sing carols.  The next day, after Church, we would sit down to veritable feast for Christmas dinner.  My favourite parts were always the Christmas pudding with brandy sauce and opening the Christmas crackers.   After dinner we would exchange our gifts, and perhaps partake in some sherry and a bit of Christmas cake, and wish everyone a Happy Christmas. 

Gothic Cavalcade

Gothic romance meets Gothic horror inside a paranormal carnival and beyond...

Meet Althea, a desperate woman running from a secretive and miserable past. She encounters Byron, a mysterious and handsome man with secrets of his own. He brings her to his home, the Masquerade Carnivale, and into the midst of his family. There Althea begins to feel safe, to trust, and to love. She finds friends, laughter and with Byron, romance. She thinks she has found a home, trusts she is protected, until the night Byron and his Family betray her.
But do they? There is more beneath the surface at the Masquerade Carnivale, more to Althea’s past and to her future than she believes. One event put Althea on a path for her reckoning, a path full of pain, fear and ultimately, revenge. A choice is coming for her, one that will change everything.

The Masquerade Carnivale is beckoning... will she answer?

Available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo 

And one lucky commentor will win a free e-copy of Gothic Cavalcade, via a Smashwords coupon.  And to check out more blogs participating in the Snowy Reading Blog Hop scroll way, way down to the bottom of this blog for the Linky List.


Tuesday 4 December 2012

The Next Big Thing

A few weeks ago I was kindly asked my friend and fellow writer, the talented Pat Bertram to participate in The Next Big Thing. For those of you not in the know, basically “The Next Big Thing” is a blog chain where a writer like me answers ten questions about a Work-in- Progress and then tags five more writer/bloggers to carry on the chain with their own Q and A post. You can check out Pat’s Next Big Thing post here:

Now on to the main show, what you’ve all been waiting for, my...Next Big Thing

This is a cover mock-up I created.
What is your working title of your book?
The Duke’s Assassin

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It came from a short story I wrote for a steampunk horror themed anthology. I was looking for an idea for the story and I read an article about Canadian Steampunk, so being from Canada I thought it would be a cool idea to use the city of Halifax (from my home province of Nova Scotia) as a setting. As I was developing the alternate history/horror setting, I realised how much more there was to tell about this world I created and the characters. So I decided to write The Duke’s Assassin, which in turn became the first in a series of novels I plan to write.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s part horror and part steampunk, so Steampunk Horror fits, I think.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I could see Hugh Jackman as my main vampire, Gideon (although I can see him in anything, so I might be biased), Kenneth Branagh as Samuel Cunard, Colin Farrell as the vampire Silas, Natalie Dormer (of The Tudors and Game of Thrones fame) as Nora, Canadian actor, Callum Keith Rennie as Rufus, Richard Armitage as my main villain, Richard and Alan Rickman as the Duke of Kent.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An alternate Victorian world, where vampires, scientists and machines face down anarchists for the fate of the city of Halifax and British North America. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Well, I’m hoping to get it published with a Canadian publishing company, but if that doesn’t happen I will self-publish.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still polishing up the first draft, as there’s still some historical research to muddle through and a few details to iron out, but it’s coming along quickly.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I never like comparing my writing to anything, but I suppose in the book there’s a bit of flavour of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been looking for the right idea to set a book in a Canadian locale and the idea of re-writing history and using my home province as a background was quite the inspiration.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think the main character of Gideon, who’s a vampire, will appeal to readers. He’s not a villain, but neither is he a hero. He does his job protecting the Royal Maritime Commissioner, Samuel Cunard, and the city of Halifax from the threat of the anarchists, but he has no problem killing anyone on the opposing side of his world. He is quite amoral in a charming way. Also, the world itself, with its altered history, steam-powered machines and complicated politics should hold some fascination for readers.

And so ends my post.  Here are the five valiant bloggers who will carry on with the Next Big Thing chain next week:

Nick Paschall: The Nickronomicon

Angela Yuriko Smith: Dandilyon Fluff

Saturday 1 December 2012

End of the World Sale

With those pesky Mayans predicting world doom this month, I thought it was the perfect time to party like it's 1999 (yes, that was my pop culture reference for the day) and have a .99 cent sale for all of my Smashwords ebooks.

So, from today until the end of the month (or the end of the world, whichever come first) every ebook I have listed on Smashwords will be just .99 cents.

Here's a list of the books:

And for those of you looking for freebies, these three offerings are always free for the downloading:

And as soon as the price change trickles down through the lines of distributing, these books will be discounting at other online retailers like Kobo and Barnes and Noble as well.

They're great gifts for lovers of horror and dark fantasy, or perfect as the next addition to your own to-read list.

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