Ride into the Wild West with ten steampunked expansions of classic American tales.
A Princess of Jasoom: An intrepid young researcher reaches for the stars from the Arizona desert, and finds love where she least expects it.
Winged Hope: The widow of a brilliant inventor fights insurmountable odds to see her husband’s dreams realized and save the life of her daughter.
The Van Tassel Legacy: A stranger arrives in Sleepy Hollow to unearth old conspiracies and bring the Van Brunts to justice.
Invested Charm: A mysterious woman doles out justice in Boston society, but who will catch her first: organized crime or the law?
Payoff for Air Pirate Pete: A pair of train-robbing outlaws bite off more than they can chew when they kidnap the son of a railroad bigwig.
Rise of the House of Usher: A mad scientist gains power over life and death at the cost of his family’s sanity, if not their very lives.
The Silver Scams: A fast-talking confidence man ensnares all of Holland in his scheme to eliminate dikes forever . . . for a price.
Nautilus Redux: Captain Nemo’s crew stumble upon an island castaway who claims to be Captain Ahab of the Pequod. Only Moby Dick knows the truth.
Mr. Thornton: Hounded by tragedy and betrayal, a gifted young blacksmith wanders from The Ohio to The Yukon searching for honor, loyalty, and justice.
West End: A heartbroken Theodore Laurence follows the siren song of steam to Jamaica, where love and law collide with explosive results.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I would have liked a little more heft to the encounters with some of the famous characters. The story is obviously very well researched there was just something a little bit disappointing in the action when conflict occurs. The end was fitting for Ahab and interesting for what might happen with other characters in the future. Definitely, hoping any future tales in this storyline keep the same journalist. :-)
My story in Mechanized Masterpieces 2: American Anthology, is Nautilus Redux. When the challenge went out for a story Steampunking a piece of classic American lit, choosing to take off from Moby Dick, one of the clear landmarks of AmLit, was a no-brainer. From there, Nemo meets Ahab/Nautilus meets Moby Dick followed quickly. I did the research and figured out what it would take for Nemo to encounter Ahab in his travels, and Nautilus Redux is the result.
2. Please name some of your other published works?
My debut novel is entitled A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk (Xchyler, 2013), a Steampunk twist on the Shakespeare play. A genius young artificer is betrothed against her will to a young patrician she does not love, and becomes entangled in international intrigue and danger in the streets, sewers, and skies of Victorian London.
I also have several short stories (novelettes, by the common length definition): Tombstone, the story of an old East Texas farmer too ornery to take murder lying down (in the anthology Shades & Shadows); Ganesh, the back-story of a fun character in A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk (the Terra Mechanica anthology); The Year of No Foals, where a young girl’s life is changed forever when her family farm is saved by a miraculous colt and a mysterious old man (The Toll of Another Bell anthology).
Another Xchyler anthology, as yet unnamed, will also have my story Sindisiwe, a Steampunk retelling of the Cinderella fairytale, set in the Midsummer Night’s Steampunk universe, in the island Sultanate of Zanzibar.
3. What is your preferred writing genre?
Being a speculative fiction author gives me the freedom to write in several different genres simultaneously. For instance, on the day I write the answers to these interview questions, I have a techno-thriller novel project, a Steampunk short story project, and a Mormon young adult historical fiction novel project going simultaneously.
4. And preferred reading genre?
Again, speculative fiction—pretty much anything within it that tickles my brain. Let me amend that: anything well written that tickles my brain. I see tons of interesting concepts out there, but too many of them are poorly executed. I prefer a less-than-original idea, executed well, any day.
5. What are your top 3 favorite books?
My brain rebels at trying to narrow it down that far, because there is no absolute right answer, and it would change day to day. Right this very moment, shooting from the hip, the answers would be The Lord of the Ring, Ender’s Game, and The Life of Pi. But ask me again in an hour and I’ll probably give you a different answer. Already looking back at that answer I want to change it, but that could go on all day.
6. Do you have any particular writing habits?
I think I’m a little unusual, maybe even unique, in having multiple, widely-varied projects going simultaneously. I literally have three or four writing project documents open on my computer at the same time, along with their supporting outlines. Right now have three: Dragon Moon, a near-future techno-thriller that will be released this November, The Three Sprockets, a Steampunked version of a Grimm fairy tale, and Rise of the Stripling Warriors, a Mormon young adult offering. When I’m working on one project and the juice starts to run down, or I run into a dramatic situation that I need to let gestate a while, I switch to another project. This seemingly weird way of doing things lets me write for long periods without getting mentally fatigued—or at least without staying mentally fatigued.
7. Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?
I’m a big fan of the “Writer’s Trance” channel on Pandora. Of course I have modified it to my own liking over the years by skipping and liking various pieces. It is instrumental—orchestral and classical, mostly—from various eras. I have it going for hours on end while I write. Like right now.
8. Pantser or outliner?
Big time outliner. I truly admire good writers who just let it flow, but I think they’re vanishingly rare.
AND: I don’t believe pantsing and outlining are mutually exclusive. To me they’re a continuum that nearly all writers (all good ones, anyway) are on. Very few successful writers are exclusively one or the other. Even those who completely shun writing down an outline have a basic plot line in their heads, and they feel free to depart from it liberally. But it’s there.
By the same token, those who have a detailed outline written down before they start their narrative find that the story grows and changes as they write. And that means departing from the outline. For me it means going back to my outline, which I have open as I write, and making adjustments. That is the only way I know of to keep a complex set of events, characters, and settings straight.
9. Advice for writers?
BIC/FOK. “Butt In Chair/Fingers On Keyboard”. Writers gotta write. Discipline yourself. Sit down and do it. Don’t stop just because the Big 5 aren’t (yet) ringing your phone off the hook begging for your book. Know that you must develop your craft, and that takes time, and lots and lots of writing. Even the most talented of writers have to hone the craft.
I think lots of readers get a false expectation that just because they can pick up a book and read and enjoy it, that a writer just sits down and writes and it flows out with the same facility as reading. Not so. It’s work. Writing is not just a talent, but a craft and a profession. Be professional.
Part of that professionalism is getting all the training you can. That means reading voraciously, especially the opinions of other writers working in your genre. I myself am wary of “how-to’s” written for profit by people who don’t write the same kind of fiction that I do. If you must, but one good one, read and absorb it, and know that all the rest are pretty much just rehashes of the same hackneyed how-to tropes. But free advice from people who are actually successful at what it is I am trying to do is gold.
Writers’ conferences are good, especially when you are starting out. That’s where you’re most likely to find not only kindred spirits who are trying to do what you’re doing, but kindred spirits who have already done it. And everybody is there to share.
Being professional also means paying attention to your editor. I firmly believe that every, and I do mean every, writer deserves a good editor. Find one you respect, who has previous work you like, put your ego on hold, and listen. They won’t be 100% right 100% of the time, but then you’re not either, right? Make it a team effort.
10. What's up next for you?
I’m on deadline to turn in the first draft of Dragon Moon, which is a techno-thriller about a newly-reignited space race. It’s a Work In Progress (WIP) that I’ve been building toward for something like fifteen years. The past several of those years I’ve been consciously building my writing skills in preparation for doing justice to this high concept. I’m very excited about how it is shaping up.
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This book is from Xchyler Publishing who graciously gave me an Advanced Reader Copy.