Friday, 20 January 2017

Balancing Act Cover!

2016 was a very sparse year for me as a writer. Let's hope 2017 is more promising and what a better way to begin the year than with a cover reveal?

Great Jones Street is promoting my steampunk short story 'Balancing Act' and they have created this beautiful cover for it.


BALANCING ACT
 Jeremy Alsop has managed to dupe Clarisse and her family into believing he is rich and eligible. As an engagement present he invites Monsieur Du Monde, snake oil man, and the Equilibrator to work it's fickle magic upon his fiancee.

If you want to read 'Balancing Act', 'Synchronysi' or 'Shark Nose' all you have to do is download the free Great Jones Street app from Google Play or App Store and off you go!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Saying Goodbye

The end of 2016 is here and social media is lamenting a long list of lost icons. I too am mourning a loss; that of my godmother. She was one of the last of the real ladies, full of grace and charm and a wicked temper! A lady who told tales of the mountains and the creatures and fairies that live in them. She supplied many tidbits and trivia which have filled my stories with magic and mystery. Her passing is a huge loss. I have included her in my latest work-in-progress, a new short story currently called Hood Winked, as a character that is not too far removed from reality and guides the heroine through a devil of a difficulty. Let's hope this is published so you can meet her and so that she lives on in print as well as memory.

2016 also saw the passing of the lovely lady whose memories graced the pages of my story Shark Nose and I'm glad this story is dedicated to her so that she will always be remebered there. You can read this story on Great Jones Street via your mobile phone.

As a writer you never can tell who or what will inspire you nor what will become of those little sparks; will they fizzle out to nothing or burn like a thousands suns? I have realised that the truth is not fate or luck, but sheer determination. My output this year was minimal because of personal health problems and too much work of the bill-paying kind. I have been gathering sparks in my notebook and I'm hoping to kindle a few blazes this coming year!

Just in case you have missed anything, here's a recap of published works from 2016 - it's a shamefully short list! (One of my colleagues published 75 stories and novellas and thought he had not done enough...I have to get my a**e in gear in 2017 it seems!) Click on the titles for links/purchase details!

Balancing Act (Steampunk)
Synchronysi (Steampunk)
Hark! Hark! (Steampunk)
Shark Nose (Horror)
Close Call* (Horror)
The Night Before (Zombie)
Tickets to Ride (Weird)

* Watch this space for the final chapter in 2017!

HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR AND MAY 2017 BE THE YEAR TO TOP THE REST!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Great Jones Street and a Stranger's Perspective!

First of all, it has been a while since I have written a post that isn't advertising something and to begin with, this may seem yet another one of those posts! I was saving some of the thoughts here for my December post, but I've just had some great news that I want to share.

I have had a run of bad luck on the publishing front this year. Two of the companies that I've had stories with went under and that affected my desire to write more than I thought possible. It felt like I had a jinx on me, especially as one of those anthologies was 'What Went Wrong'! But there's nothing like a bit of stiff upper lip to shake me out of the doldrums and I've just sold three stories to Great Jones Street! What's that you might ask? It's a new short story app and intends to do for short stories what Netflix has done for TV. Sound great right? Looks great too - check out their teaser video. I will give you more details when my stories go live there.

Some of you may have noticed how the title of my blog changed this summer, well there are several reasons for this. Through the Eyes of a Stranger is a line from a song I loved in my early teens and it just seemed apt. The Greek word for foreigner ξένος can also mean stranger. I am a foreigner in the place I've lived almost half my life - that won't change no matter how much I adapt. Thing is, I am also a stranger to the land of my birth not having returned there for over a decade. It's a pretty unique perspective I can tell you. But then, I've always made slightly obtuse observations about things (and often miss what most others see as obvious)!

All this had been churning in my subconscious and the aforementioned dark period acted as a catalyst for what was probably writer's block. It's hard having all the ideas that just pop up in your head just disappear and not have the will to sit down and put pen to paper so to speak because there's nothing there. But it happens. If you don't write then perhaps you've lost your voice at some point in time, or maybe broken a limb? If you have you'll know what it's like to have something you take for granted just stop functioning! You can't go on the way you were, you have to figure out another way. Some writers advise keep on plugging away, write everyday. For me that was like looking inside my soul and seeing a void! Why should I waste time sitting in front of a screen trying to get something from nothing? It was like taking a helter-skelter ride into self-loathing introspection. I didn't stay there and won't attempt it again. Time's too precious to beat yourself up, believe me! I just gave up, took a break, threw myself into some other activities and sure enough, the ideas have come flooding back! Nothing like a little perspective. Be looking out for more fromme in the coming months. Until then, I've finally got a follow tab just on the right here.>>>
Get yourselves signed up for further updates!





Saturday, 12 November 2016

REFLECTIONS - A FOX POCKET ANTHOLOGY

The last in the tenfold series of Fox Pockets 'Reflections' is out!
Take a sneak peek inside my dreams and see if you want 'Tickets to Ride'!


You can buy your copy from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Friday, 4 November 2016

The Den of Antiquity - Be Charitable - Get Your Copy Today!

READ ALL ABOUT IT! ANTHOLOGY TO DONATE ROYALTIES TO DISASTER FUND! 

Amazon US
Amazon. UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
With today's release of The Den Of Antiquity you can not only entertain yourself, but also make a contribution to a worthy cause. The collaborative opinion when we at the Scribblers' Den decided on a new anthology, was that any money made should go to a charity to be decided closer to the date. As one of our Scribblers' Den members actually lives in Haiti and has first hand experience of the destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew, the collective opinion was that the International Red Cross will receive whatever royalties we earn in order to help people who literally have been left with nothing more than the clothes they stand up in. Watch the video below to see what you will be contributing to if you buy the Den of Antiquities today.

READ ALL ABOUT IT! THE SECRETS BEHIND THE STORIES IN THE DEN OF ANTIQUITIES!

A den is a snug place to curl up with a book, or a place close friends gather to discuss ideas. The Den was the theme of our second anthology, each story had to include a den of some kind. I asked the other members of the Scribblers' Den if their stories were unique - specially written for the anthology or if they were offshoots from other books involving familiar characters. Here's what they told me.

Jack Tyler
When Bryce [Raffle] announced the second anthology, and offered such a generous lead time to get a story ready, I decided to try my hand. I'm one of those guys who always has the ready quip, the snide remark, the titillating double-entendre, to the point that it is often suggested by people who know me personally that I should write comedy. Here, I thought, was a golden opportunity to try. What could be funny, and involve a den? My mind lit on a couple of con men, Laurel & Hardy types, who decide as their next scam to set themselves up as a sort of Victorian Ghostbusters. Now, what might happen to these guys if they ran into a real ghost?

I'm pretty sure I missed the mark on comedy, but the fish out of water story seems to work well. Did they see a ghost or didn't they? Or were they convinced by the spooky atmosphere and their client's panic? You decide. Brass & Coal was a rejected name I submitted for a writing group I was in a long time ago, and had it handy to recycle. This is the first time these nitwits have appeared on the page, but I can't guarantee it will be the last. We'll have to see how their debut is received...

Alice E. Keyes
My story for Den of Antiquity is the third story with the characters Nanna and Yggdrasil. The first time these two appeared was is a 100-word flash fiction story that is on my blog (http://aliceekeyes.blogspot.com). I then used them for the Den's first-anniversary tea party contest of 250 words. These stories were turned into the Den's first ebook (Denizen's of Steam). I felt it was only right to continue writing about Nanna and Yggdrasil for this anthology.

The names come from Norse mythology though more importantly, these are two strong women who antagonize each other. I want their stories to be about small battles each character has internally that are reflected in each other. I'm always surprised by where they take their stories and always look forward to writing a Yggdrasil/Nanna story. They are an adventure for me to write and I hope that adventure comes through in their latest tale.

Neale Green
The Reluctant Vampire was originally intended to be a one-off short story for the Den of Antiquity Anthology. I went into it with the intent of being something totally different from the Daemon series of novels.

As such, I came up with an idea and knocked it out in a few days, then made a couple of adjustments as people picked up on points that I'd forgotten about some elements of the back story.

Strangely enough, I had people asking whether it was going anywhere and that idea appealed to me, so I took it up where The Reluctant Vampire finished, with the central character heading off to the Americas before he got caught. With that, the story became Strigoi Doresc, or the Unwilling Undead.

While the first chapter was based mostly in London, from 1888 on it moved to New York. The story is a work in progress and other characters will be introduced as it develops, but I was side tracked onto other stories while I waited for inspiration for this story to return.

David Lee Summers
Professor Maravilla invents large, rabbit automata to work as harvesters in The Brazen Shark. He calls them jackalopes because they have large, antler-like antennae that allow them to be controlled remotely. These jackalope harvesters were inspired by seeing stuffed jackalopes at roadside stops when I'd travel across the United States with my family as a kid. For my story, I imagined what would happen if an outlaw got control of one of these harvesters and used it to commit crimes. Of course, Larissa goes on his trail to put a stop to these shenanigans!

The den of my story was actually invented for another tale of Larissa and the Professor I wrote about three months earlier. I'm pretty excited about that story, but I haven't signed paperwork, so I can't say much yet. What I can say is that you can find more of their adventures in the Clockwork Legion novels and in my story "Reckoning at the Alamo" which appears in the anthology Lost Trails II: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West edited by Cynthia Ward.

"The Jackalope Bandit" features U.S. Marshal Larissa Seaton and her mentor, Professor M.K. Maravilla. Both characters play important roles in my Clockwork Legion novels, Owl Dance, Lightning Wolves, and The Brazen Shark. In my fictional, steampunk world, Larissa is the first woman to be appointed a U.S. Marshal in 1877. In fact, she only predates Phoebe Couzins, the first woman in history to hold that job, by seven years.

Karen J. Carlisle
All That Glitters was an original short story, written specifically for the Den of Antiquity anthology. But what was the thinking behind it?

As The Den of Antiquity project would feature steampunk writers from around the world, I was inspired to add some Australian flavour. I wracked my brain for weeks, trying to come up with an idea related to the theme: a den. In the end, it was inspired, as many of my stories are, by serendipity.

Earlier in the year, one of my short stories featured in an exhibition for the Adelaide Fringe, based on the local parklands and heritage. While researching the area, I found many interesting historical tit bits and inventions, perfect for future alternate history projects.

At the time the Den of Antiquity project was initiated, some of the local Adelaide Hills silver mines opened for an historical tour. The spark was smouldering.

After more research, I discovered there had been gold mines in the Hills, not far from home -- including the Lady Alice Mine, which persisted from the 1850s to 1897. It changed hands several times, the last lease holder (albeit briefly) was Mary Ann Lynch.

The fire was lit. I’d base my story on a small gold mine (with much potential for steampunkery and gadgets) owned by a local woman, add in an alternate historical bent and fold in allusions to a dragon’s den, and its hoard. Perfect.

The main characters in my story are Alice and Soo Lin. Both were created specifically for All That Glitters. Alice (named after the historical mine) is an independent woman determined to eek out as much wealth as she could from her claim. She represents the pioneering women who often had to fend for themselves

Soo Lin is based on a composite of people found in South Australia at the time; a Chinese woman, abandoned by a husband who absconded to the Victorian goldfields in search of gold and riches.

After the Victorian government passed an Act to restrict the immigration of Chinese, in 1855, most Chinese sailed to Port Adelaide and made the long land journey to Victoria. When the South Australian goldfields proved meagre, many men left their farms, shut down shops and businesses, even deserted ships, following the lure of gold into Victoria. Many were listed in the local Police Gazette. Many women were left destitute in a decaying economy. Fortunately, Soo Lin can use her expertise in explosives, to help Alice in her mine.

I enjoyed researching and tinkering with the local history for this project. Some will make an appearance in my next series, The Department of Curiosities.

Who knows? Perhaps Alice and Soo Lin will make an appearance?

N.O.A. Rawle
Hark! Hark! was the second attempt at writing a story for the anthology. The den in the story was inspired by the ski chase scene in James Bond adventure On Her Majesty's Secret Service, although there is no ski chase scene in the story! I wanted a cold icy feel outside my den and the warmth of roaring log fires on the inside. I did spiced tea rather than hot chocolate, but it does not have the warm comforting effects that you might imagine.

As for the characters in Hark! Hark!, they were inspired by a picture from an a childhood nursery rhyme book illustration for the rhyme of the same name. I did a little research into the rhyme that accompanied the picture and found out that the cry of "Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark!" was a warning that strangers were in the area, dating back to plague time. How I got from there to the Avianou, royalty with species issues and an attack from outer space, I cannot really remember. It is my intention to continue the story of Odan Mackenzie and Princess Petaxi, I like the chemistry between them and want to know what will develop. Whether this will be as a series of short stories or a novella, only time will tell.

So what are you waiting for? Donate and get your copy today!



Sunday, 2 October 2016

Forever Hungry Now Out!

If you are in need of something to flesh out your library, to whet your appetite, then the new zombie anthology from Far Horizons, Forever Hungry is now out! It includes my story 'The Night Before'.
Edited by Pete Sutton and Kimberly Nugent. Featuring stories from Eric Krugar, Melanie Waghorne, Tim Jeffreys, Vincent Bivona, Jackie Pitchford, Adam Gaylord, Spencer Carvelho, Scott Woodward, Alex H Leclerc, E.F. Schraeder, Dan Pawley, Jon Charles, Shannon Hollinger, Stephen Blake, Anthony Watson, K. M. Hazel, N.O.A. Rawle, John Kujawski, Sheri White, Sarah, Doebereiner, John A DeMember, Neil John Buchanan, Denorah Walker, Chris MaGrane, Thomas Logan, Liam Hogan, Jared Wright, Pete Aldin, Sean Kavanagh and Lee Glenwright.

Click here to buy from Amazon.com 
Click here to buy from Amazon.co.uk




Saturday, 24 September 2016

Happy Anniversary Scribblers' Den! Cover Reveal: The Den of Antiquity

I have had a band of virtual friends for a little more than a year now, and this week marked the second anniversary of that group: The Scribblers' Den in the Steampunk Empire. Today we are holding another 24 hour party spanning the world East to West, starting with sunrise in Australia and ending at sundown in Haiti, why not join us and see what you are inspired to create? Last years party gave birth to the idea of The Denizens of Steam anthology through a flash fiction competition we held during the party.

This year we are celebrating two years of joyous companionship and to that end I will be revealing the cover our second anthology The Den of Antiquity! This book is bursting with short stories rather than flash fiction and is sculpted rather than being an instinctive creation. But before I reveal the wonderful cover designed by Bryce Raffle, I thought I'd send my roving reporter, Antigone Nix, out into the Steampunk Empire to track dow a few of the members of the Scribblers' Den and the question on her lips was:

What does the Scribblers' Den mean to you?

Thank you N.O.A.! Wow! Just had the most amazing flight in what other than a supersonic dirigible and then crash landed, but at last here I am in Australia with Mrs. Karen J Carlisle (Thanks for the cuppa - I need it!):
"Writing can be lonely. Australia is big. Really big. Writer forums make it easier to communicate with fellow steampunk writers - where ever they be. I can chat fantasy or science fiction writing with local spec fic writers, but it's not the same.
Cue, Scribblers' Den. I can reach out across the ether - to talk writing, conventions, (steampunk specific) book launches - all things steampunk - through the eyes of the world. The members are 'doers', not 'gonnas'. Things happen. Now we have a second anthology about to be published!
(And there is the virtual tea parties).
I've found my tribe."
Now a trip down London way and who is this I see chalking dead bodies all over the streets of the aforementioned city in the name of advertising, but the self-proclaimed recruiting Sergeant, Steve Moore. Let me pop him the question - no, not that one; he's already spoken for! :
"For two years I have been part of a very special close knit community in a virtual pub where there is no drink. Hemingway would just not get it. Writers pull up a chair and discuss the art of writing ( but do not touch my red leather one with bearskin rug located by the oft roaring fire and close the Jack Tyler's mahogany bar with pictures of Airships and Victorian San Diego hanging on the wall).Mental isn't it. I have just described an environment where I meet some of the best friends, I have never met ( except I did get to meet two of my best pals in the Den due to sheer luck that a business trip took me to New York in August and close enough to New Jersey to meet Mrs.Emeline Warren and the good Professor McKraken). This mental environment is just like reading a book, it can be better than life and more amazing and exciting. The fact is the writers of Scribblers Den are wonderful, like minded people, incredibly talented and I am in awe of all of them.I struggle to write, as I was dragged up through a shite education system where English was a chore and not a joy. Scribblers ' Den has taught me some basic grammar and restored a joy that was just waiting to get out. I love writing now. You see I have a vivid imagination. Writing enables me to express it and the Den helps me as everyone is so friendly, collegiate ( there's a word for a dodgy South Londoner) and the boss "Captain Jack Tyler" will not allow trolls and ill minded people through the doors.I enjoy recruiting new writers and sign posting the Den as the self appointed recruiting Sergeant. I was member 51 a magical number for a Limey who wrote ROYAL AMERICA as a first novel effort ( yes it needs editing). 51st State get it. (www.royal-america.co.uk ).So what does the Den mean to me everything friendship and relationships, grins and gripes and stories and yarns and techniques and too many "ands" and not enough commas and all of that amongst a vivid background of wonderful Steampunkery..........Frock coats and Corsets where people look sexier with their clothes on!!!"

So to a meandering walk across the Atlantic (virtual shoes go everywhere even if they do get virtually wet!) to the Empire Observatory, where I see the Den's resident astronomer, Mr. David Lee Summers in on his tea break. Let's get his thoughts:
"Simply put, the Scribbler's Den on the Steampunk Empire feels like my steampunk writing home on the internet. It's the place where I can relax with fellow steampunk writers, talk about topics of interest, celebrate successes, and commiserate about problems. It's like family to me. Sometimes I wander away for a while as my writing interests take me into science fiction or horror, but like a family, I always feel welcome when I'm ready to come back and chat about steampunk topics."
Which kindly gentleman is this offering to transport this damp footed reporter across New England in his steampowered carriage? None other than Mr William J. Jackson, writer of blooming talent. (Those who know will get the pun!)
"Scribblers Den represents the capstone in my personal pyramid of inspiration and mentorship. In the year + I've been wandering it's corners, I've garnered more insight, flavor, advice and advancement in writing than from all the so-called 'expert' books. As an added boon, it comes in the form of casual dialogue, honest personal appraisals and encouragement. We are on our second anthology. Second! Do publishers move as fast? Do governments? No.You want to write better? Take a seat at the Den...but not the red one. It's for Sarge."
Ah there's the museum. Now I happen to know that our resident historian, Mrs Emeline Warren is on duty today, so lets hope she not too busy to chat. As we share another cuppa, this is what she tells me:

"I've been on the Empire several years, but it wasn't until the tail end of 2015 that I discovered the Den, if I recall correctly. Always on the look out for like minded people with an interest in writing, sharing, reading and critiquing, I once headed a small club called The Rough Writers, mainly fellow fencers who met at the Academy after hours--- but.that's history.

Swapping pieces and offering critiques became a vital part of polishing work, and even now I struggle to get response, comments and advice. I was immediately impressed by the friendliness of Denizens, to say nothing of their wit, talent and willingness to share. It's a grand learning experience for all concerned, whether we like it or not! When the rest of the world grabs my sleeve and drags me off to projects and other annoying bits of reality, I'm glad to have a place waiting at the Den.

I'm just here for the tea!!"

I could get used to this life. Now I am looking out across Canada to the mountains and there's a definite chill in the air; winter or zombie breath? (Do zombies have breath?) For me? Oh, I'm being handed a tiny shot of absinthe. As much as I detest the stuff, Mr. Bryce Raffle insists it will dry out my soggy shoes! So what does the Den mean to you, Mr. Raffle?
"When I first started out writing in the steampunk genre, I began looking to establish or find an existing writing group with a focus on the somewhat obscure subgenre. I was disappointed with most of the options, but eventually found my way to the Scribblers' Den. Among the most active online writing communities I've ever come across, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more supportive, friendlier, or more collaborative writing group anywhere. Throughout the year and a half or so that I've been a member of the Den, we've laughed together, drank tea together, collaborated on an anthology together, and grown as writers together. My fellow members continue to inspire me; they've built a shared universe, the world of Port Reprieve. They've written posts for my blog, shared my posts on twitter, and they've read even my earliest drafts of my work-in-progress novel. They're talented, too; some of them have written and published some of the best examples of steampunk I've read to date. No wonder I continue to be inspired. More importantly, I've come to know my fellow denizens as dear friends."
And where would an interview be without a quick chat with 'Blimprider', Mr Jack Tyler:

"I am the founder of this wonderful group. I take no credit for its wonder; it is the wonder of its members that make it what it is. It is a playhouse, full of jokes, yarns, and snapshots of lives fully lived engendering heartfelt laughter. It is the camaraderie of friendly people taking many different paths up the mountain. It is the selfless support of brilliant people, not only lifting you up when you're mired in the doldrums, but cheering you on when you're flying high. It is, in the final analysis, the ultimate clubhouse for the children in all of us who make possible all the glorious worlds we create and populate with fantastic characters and their inventions. How blessed we are to have found each other!"
So N.O.A., What about that cover reveal? I'm intrigued.

Intrigued? Here's the blurb:

When one thinks of a den, one tends to think of comfort. A cozy room in the house—a quiet, comfortable place, a room for conversation, reading, or writing. One doesn’t tend to think of high adventure, dragons, vampires, airships, or paranormal creatures. And yet, that’s just what you’ll find in these pages. Stories of adventure and mystery! Paranormal, dark, and atmospheric tales! The fantastical and the imaginative, the dystopian and post-apocalyptic, and everything in between!

So settle in to the coziest room in your house, plop down into your favourite armchair, and dive in to the Den of Antiquity.


That doesn't even whet my appetite!

Whet your appetite? Here are the stories:

Brass and Coal, by Jack Tyler
An Evening at the Marlon Club as Told by Dr. Horatio Boyle, by Kate Philbrick
Dragon's Breath, by E.C. Jarvis
The Reluctant Vampire, by Neale Green
The Complications of Avery Vane, by Bryce Raffle
Hark! Hark! by N.O.A. Rawle
The Jackalope Bandit, by David Lee Summers
After The Catastrophe: The Lady Of Castle Rock, by Steve Moore
When The Tomb Breaks, by William J. Jackson
All That Glitters, by Karen J Carlisle
Yggdrasil's Triumphant Return, by Alice E. Keyes
After The Crash, by B.A. Sinclair
Okay so I'm hooked, alright!

Hooked? Well I guess I better get on with it. Here it is; the one and only...

Available from November 5th  2016!