Saturday, 30 April 2016

Legendary Stories:What Went Wrong? Cover Reveal.

I'm proud to say that the honour of the cover reveal for Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong? the awesome new anthology from Lit Select, has been given to me!

What will you find inside, you ask me? I can guarantee you 15 fantastic stories of plans gone awry. 15 awesome authors interpretations of a REALLY bad day! Don't believe me? Inside the gorgeous cover, you will find work from Jan Flynn, Bryan Nickelberry, Holly Riordan, Matthew Harrison, Dan Szczesny, Ben Howells, Gregory Norris, Larry Lefkowitz, Jonathan Shipley, Ed Ahern, Eric J. Guinard, Charles Gramlich, TS Alan, T.R. North and N.O.A. Rawle.

Not intrigued enough yet? Here's an excerpt from my contribution, 'Balancing Act':

“Gentlemen! Just starting out on the rocky road to marriage? Want the kinks in your future smoothed out before you start?” The spindly gentleman tugged on his fine moustache for dramatic effect,“Ladies! Want to know that you and your partner will share equal footing in the house? Or know that your spouse will pull his weight?” He allowed himself a smile, but not long enough to arouse suspicion, “We all know that balance is the key to a good relationship but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it… Or is there?My secret is right here!” He gesticulated to the large oblong box draped in purple silk. “It’s simple! Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the key to your Happy Ever After! Here, is what no matchmaker or priest can guarantee! But do you dare to try it?”

The crowd was now so silent that his patent leather boots could be heard as he clicked back across the wooden platform.

“I speak now only to the brave among you. Those of a sound heart! Let me introduce you to the Equilibrator! Modern science, my friends, mixed with a just the right sprinkling of magic of course, has the answer! But are you sure you want what I have to offer?”

The audience nodded, some already murmuring consent.

“The Equilibrator will iron out all your differences before you even know what they might be! Lifelong attraction assured! No arguments! No Discussions! No risk! And I mean no risk, because if you are not satisfied that balance has been brought to your relationship after the first week, I personally, will refund every last penny of your hard earned cash! Yes, that’s right, you heard me correctly! If you can show me that your circumstances are not balanced, I will give you your money back.”

Not enough? Well here's a little bit more: Let me give you a taster from Holly Riordan's '2008':

“I want to test it first, to see if it’s safe,” my aunt said, unfolding the place mats and flipping through them. “Which one wouldn’t you want?”

“We never really did much for Easter. Try using that one.”

“Sounds good to me.” She plucked it from the pile and a smiling bunny face stared up at us. Its fur and little pink nose filled the entire mat, except for a black box in the lower left-hand corner, which held a signature line.

I nudged the knife with my knuckles, hoping she’d pick it up and slice without wasting precious minutes trying to prepare herself for the pain.

That’s exactly what she did. She swept the knife across her skin, like she’d done it hundreds of times before. Like she was as used to seeing blood as the man in the booth.   


“I guess this is my temporary goodbye,” she said as she dipped a pinky into the blood and wrote out the year she wanted. She chose 2008, the same year I was planning on picking. The year before it had happened.

As soon as she finished drawing out the last number, her hands fell to her side. Her eyes rolled up. Her back arched. Then her body froze. I would’ve called an ambulance if I’d had a more innocent childhood, but I’d seen death before. This wasn’t it.
This was magic.


Oh yes indeed!


And now the moment you have been waiting for...




Ladies and Gentlemen, kids and pets (I know at least one author who has a literate pet!)...




I give you Lit Select's Legendary Stories:What Went Wrong!


 
Available from
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Beth Cato Interviewed

Beth Cato talks about Characters, Cooking and of course, her latest Clockwork Dagger off-shoot, The Final Flight.

 
It is my very great pleasure to interview Beth Cato about the last story in The Clockwork Dagger series, The Final Flight and what lies beyond this. Her first novel, The Clockwork Dagger is a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel, The Clockwork Crown was released from Harper Voyager last year along with a novella, The Deepest Poison and Nebula nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone.

First of all, tell us a little bit about the last story in the Clockwork Dagger series, ‘The Final Flight’.

This story follows a minor character from the first book in my series. Captain Hue of the airship Argus had a hard time of it in The Clockwork Dagger, but now things are even worse: his ship has been commandeered by a Clockwork Dagger and Caskentian soldiers as part of some sort of covert mission. Hue's teenage son is aboard, too. Hue wants his boy and his crew safe, but the danger only escalates.

I love how ‘Bready or Not’, your baking blog, appears as a bakery store in the second novel ‘Clockwork Crown’ and that there are even off-shoot recipes that can be baked at home from the novella ‘Wings of Sorrow and Bone’. Will there be any more culinary delights in the last in the series?

Alas, no! Sometimes baked delights don't quite fit with the voice of the story. I do have other stories and poems that continue to explore the wonders of things like cardamom and pie. The theme is alive and well.

When you conceived Octavia Leander, did you imagine that she would reach such great heights?

When I first started writing about Octavia, I just plain wanted to write a book that was good enough to sell to a decent publishing house! I found my agent with another book that we couldn't sell, and wow did that hurt. I was afraid I would never be a published novelist. Octavia gave me a chance to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do this.

All of your characters, Octavia Leander, Alonzo Garret, Mrs. Stout, Rivka, Tatiana Garret, to name but a few, are very credible; where do you draw your influences from?

From other characters in literature or on TV, from people I've known, and combining all of the above. Mrs. Stout is probably my character most strongly based on another character--Mrs. Slocombe from the old British comedy Are You Being Served? I even kept the vividly coloured hair as a blatant tribute. Tatiana is heavily based on another girl I knew as as child, who will go unnamed for obvious reasons as Tatiana is not the most pleasant of people.

There was, to my mind, an increased ‘steampunk influence’ (more mechanisation and industry) in the ‘Clockwork Crown’. Was this due to the developments in the plot or for other reasons?

The increase in technology was really about setting more than anything. My agent was originally rather concerned that the steampunk element in Clockwork Dagger was too light and it might hurt our ability to sell the book. It's a valid concern for sure. I really needed things to stay as they were, though, so that I could eventually show how the kingdom of Caskentia in my first book has regressed because of fifty years of brutal war against the Waste. The southern nations, as shown in Clockwork Crown, are far superior in both technology and education.

Now that the final story in the Clockwork Dagger series is completed, how do you feel?

Relieved that the contract has been fulfilled, but sad, too. I don't want it to be the last story I write in that world, but I know I won't have the chance to return to there anytime soon. I'm working on my new series now that starts with Breath of Earth.

There is an altruistic streak in you Clockwork Dagger series, a love of nature (Worshipping The Lady) and animal rights (Rivka’s emancipation of the Gremlins). Are these messages intentional in your work?

Oh yes. I really want my characters to be passionate about causes that are bigger than them. I've had a lot of readers say they are pleasantly surprised at how the Clockwork Dagger books handle faith in a positive way. I read slush for a magazine, and I was amazed at how many stories followed the trope of "religion is bad! This preacher is really evil!" I wanted to turn that around. I started writing about Rivka while I was still unsure about how she could possibly succeed in saving the gremlins from foul experimentation, but I knew I had to find a way. I'm the proud owner of cats from the SPCA. I really want creatures of all sorts to find happy, loving homes.

As well as the successful steampunk Clockwork Dagger series, you write very lucid poetry and have a plethora of stories published in other areas of the speculative fiction field. Which is your favourite genre to write in?

Fantasy. I have never lost that childhood need for magic to be real.

What can your readers look forward to later this year?

Well, "Final Flight: A Clockwork Dagger Story" is out on April 26th. I have other stories and poems that will be published throughout the year, but the big event is the release of my novel Breath of Earth on August 23rd.

You have already expressed you delight over the Nebula nomination. Where do you intend to go from here? Are there any other awards you've dreamt of?

Actually winning a major award would be nice at some point. So far, I'm 2 for 2 on losing big awards, and I'm pretty certain the Nebula Awards will give me 3 for 3. I'm cool with that--the other novellas are amazing! Someday I would like to nab a Nebula, though. Legally. Without, you know, grabbing an award and making a run for the airport.

As many of my readers are writers, what advice can you give them?

Stay stubborn. This is a tough business no matter what route you take. Believe in yourself and your writing, fight to improve your work, and slog onward!

Thank you for talking to me and good luck in nabbing that Nebula.

Beth hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.


The Final Flight is available for pre-prder from: Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk
(Follow the links throughout the interview for Beth's other books.)
 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Wrong Is Right!

It's April and my attention has been absorbed by my day job, but my writing is still bouncing along, despite being a little late with the last chapter of Close Call. Sadly, you might have to wait a while longer for that.

However, I am pleased that my Steampunk story 'Balancing Act' has been accepted by Lit Select for their 'Legendary Stories: What Went Wrong?' anthology. I am super thrilled about this because I used what I learnt in a copy writing course a year or so ago and still ended up with a story! It's about a wily salesman, a magic machine and love. Don't be thinking it's a romance or anything, mind you. It's a cautionary tale of greed and just deserts! The anthology is due out in May sometime. I will of course let you know.

My other wonderful news is that I have interviewed one of my all-time favourite authors. You can see the results of that next weekend, I'll post it to coincide with her latest book launch. Now who might I be talking about?

If you haven't done so already, add your support to the Indiegogo campaign for 'Forever Hungry' which includes a tale of mine!

Until next weekend!