Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “Indie Books

#indiethursday: Owl Dance – Clockwork Legion Book 1

This #indiethursday I’m sharing my love of…

 

 

Blurb

Owl Dance is a Weird Western steampunk novel. The year is 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico, meets a beguiling woman named Fatemeh Karimi, who is looking to make a new start after escaping the oppression of her homeland. When an ancient life form called Legion comes to Earth, they are pulled into a series of events that will change the history of the world as we know it. In their journeys, Ramon and Fatemeh encounter mad inventors, dangerous outlaws and pirates. Their resources are Ramon’s fast draw and Fatemeh’s uncanny ability to communicate with owls. The question is, will that be enough to save them when airships from Czarist Russia invade the United States?

 

To compensate for my lack of time to do long reviews just now, I’m using the #indiethursday hashtag to share the indie love and point at some fabulous indie books I’ve enjoyed reading 😀

So, what fab indie fiction are you reading / writing this month? Blessings on your brew and best of luck with all your indie endeavours, lets keep flying the flag for indie writing!

 


#indiethursday: The Department Of Curiosities – For The Good Of The Empire

This #indiethursday I’m sharing my love of…

 

Blurb: 

Miss Matilda Meriwether has a secret. Actually, she has several. One of them has shaped her adult life. Another now controls it.
Her Majesty Queen Victoria has control of the Empire. She is the Empire, and creator of its secrets.
Sir Avery works for The Department of Curiosities – the keepers of secrets – especially if they are useful to the Empire.
When Tillie finds herself in the employment of The Department of Curiosities, she realises this is the perfect opportunity to uncover the truth she has been searching for.
But the Queen has other plans for her.

The Department of Curiosities is a steampunk tale of adventure, a heroine, mad scientists, traitors and secrets.
All for the good of the Empire.

 

To compensate for my lack of time to do long reviews just now, I’m using the #indiethursday hashtag to share the indie love and point at some fabulous indie books I’ve enjoyed reading 😀

So, what fab indie fiction are you reading / writing this month? Blessings on your brew and best of luck with all your indie endeavours, lets keep flying the flag for indie writing!

 

 


#indiethursday: How To Successfully Self-Publish Your Steampunk Book on Amazon (Guest Post by Desiree. J. Villena)

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to this special “how to” edition of your favorite blog for all things steampunk! Gather ‘round the virtual fire — particularly those of you who’ve penned your masterpieces but have no idea what to do next — because today we’ll be talking about how to self-publish and sell your very own spectacular steampunk book on Amazon.

The gargantuan online retailer maintains a variety of reputations, from cutthroat marketplace and notorious Borders’ assassin, to a veritable land of milk and honey (if you know the right tricks). And though we as a self-respecting literary faction might want to turn our backs on Amazon, the fact is that it’s one of the easiest platforms for self-publishing authors to use, offering a simple upload process through its Kindle Direct Publishing unit and a range of exciting promotional options for authors.

On top of that, you simply can’t beat the consumer reach: Amazon controls roughly 80% of the ebook market in the US and UK, and significant portions in every other book-buying country too. Everyone knows Amazon, and most people use it, even if we may also shake our fists at the sky and scream “Damn you, Bezos!” whenever we hear about the latest Amazon travesty. Cognitive dissonance, economic convenience, willful ignorance — call it what you want, but Amazon’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

I mentioned “knowing the right tricks” in order to find success on Amazon, and it’s absolutely true that you can’t just waltz into the marketplace (metaphorically) and expect to make millions. Indeed, self-publishing a book is far from a glamorous business; you get more creative freedom and royalties than you would if you published traditionally, but you also have to put in about ten times the work. That said, if you’re courageous enough to put your book out into the world and you’re determined for it to succeed, you’re probably not the type to be dissuaded by hard work.

So with my slightly diatribical intro out of the way, let’s dive into the reason why all of us are here: presenting my most practical tips for self-publishing your book on Amazon and becoming the steampunk sensation you’ve always dreamed of being!

1. Build a devoted following

The most critical move toward successfully self-publishing almost any kind of book on Amazon is, unfortunately, the hardest. This is because it’s not about the publishing process itself, but what you do in the weeks, months, or even years leading up to your book launch: steadily building your following.

Imagine that each of your readers is a feral cat you are trying to tame; if you try to put a collar on it right away, it’ll claw and hiss at you. But if you leave some food out, coo at it, provide it a warm bed and maybe even a few toys, the cat will grow to trust you. By the time you go to slip a collar over its head, it won’t even notice — in fact, it’ll probably purr at the offer, happy to oblige. (This may be a little optimistic for a cat, but I digress.)

Basically, if you try to promote something to a new follower right away, they’ll unfollow you quicker than you can say elevenses. But if you ply them with interesting material, like interviews and reviews of other steampunk authors, they’ll stick around. You might get them to subscribe to a newsletter where you share your personal thoughts on the tropes and trends of the steampunk genre… and which you can eventually segue into talking about your own self-published book.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a steampunk blog or newsletter but you are active in relevant social media circles, try to capitalize on that! Engage in dialogue surrounding new releases and quintessential classics, squeal over fashion and fanart, and share cool and interesting images with your followers (I’ll talk more about this next). Maintain a friendly yet authoritative persona — this is helpful for any author, but especially in a niche like steampunk, where knowledge runs deep even among casual fans.

The point of all this is for other people to enjoy what you have to offer, trust that your content is high-quality, and believe that you are a talented person worthy of their support in the future. This method is known as “give, give, give, take,” and it’s highly effective in tight-knit communities like those of steampunk, where reputation is everything.

Speaking of ways to cultivate a strong reputation…

2. Create striking visuals

Steampunk has a very distinct aesthetic in both the literary genre and subculture as a whole. Even someone who knows very little about it can still hear the word and immediately envision clockwork and corsets. Of course, there’s often a difference between what people think of as “steampunk” and actual steampunk, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of popular perception to promote your book with some amazing art!

By far the most important aspect of this is your book cover design. In the publishing world, we like to joke about how “don’t judge a book by its cover” is totally backwards advice for authors; while it works as a philosophical adage, it’s simply untrue when it comes to actual books. Readers will inevitably judge a book by its cover, and decide whether to “look inside” or even buy based on the quality of the design. Which, to be fair, is sort of logical — if the author didn’t bother making an effort with the cover, why would the inner contents be any better?

This doesn’t mean you need to go to art school just to sell your book. However, you should put some serious thought and probably money toward your cover design, whether that means commissioning a friend or hiring a professional. As you’ll learn throughout this process, this is just one of many times when it’s helpful to have a community — you can ask other steampunk authors what level of quality they’ve gone for with their covers, as well as how they managed to afford it and/or if there’s a particular designer they’d recommend.

Don’t forget to look at other bestselling steampunk books on Amazon, too! Again, there’s a distinct dark-and-metallic aesthetic that universally indicates steampunk. But trends can change, and you want to ensure your book cover is clearly associated with this particular genre, both for your personal promotional purposes and on Amazon itself.

Finally, when it comes to visuals, don’t stop with your cover. If you have the budget for it (or some artistically inclined friends to help you out), you should absolutely get a few additional illustrations for your book. Steampunk is one of the most inventive genres out there, and while there’s something to be said for allowing your readers’ imaginations to run wild, it can also be incredibly powerful to provide some visual aids.

What’s more, you can tease these images alongside text previews from your book in order to give your followers a taste of what’s to come. Remember: give, give, give as much as you can before you take. Even something fairly simple (like, say, a tongue-in-cheek “wanted” poster) can make really fun bonus material for your fans.

3. Test out KDP Select

Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of self-publishing on Amazon. For those who don’t know, all self-publishing authors on the platform use Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, to upload and publish their books.

However, within that all-encompassing process, you also have the option to enroll in KDP Select — a program that allows you to run various price promotions through Amazon, put your book on Kindle Unlimited, and earn higher royalties in certain territories. It’s free to enroll, but it requires 90 days of Amazon ebook exclusivity, meaning you cannot go through any other digital distributors for the first three months of your book’s release.

This is super-condensed summary of everything that KDP Select actually entails, but for our purposes, that’s all you need to know. Your conundrum now is: is it worth it?

The best thing about KDP Select is how easy it is to use. You can start promotions (either free or discounted) with the touch of a button, and then simply direct your fans to your Amazon page. Plus your book will automatically be discoverable on Kindle Unlimited, where subscribers will read it and you’ll get a payout based on how many pages they get through.

The worst thing about KDP Select is, obviously, the fact that your book is restricted to Amazon — despite its far-reaching dominion, it can be unnerving to feel like you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. And if you live in one of those countries where Amazon isn’t quite so totalitarian, you may even be missing out on significant distribution and marketing opportunities. While you will be able to digitally distribute to other places once the 90-day enrollment period is over, you’ll be staking most of your early-launch momentum on Amazon alone.

I can’t tell you outright whether KDP Select is the right choice for you. However, I can tell you which factors to consider: How much help do you want with implementing promotions? Do you have followers who are willing to pay for your book at full price, or will they need a promotion to entice them? How important is wide distribution to you personally? Are you writing a steampunk series? (Series tend to do well on Kindle Unlimited.)

The one aspect of KDP Select that probably appeals to almost all steampunk authors is that there aren’t too many steampunk books currently on Kindle Unlimited. Not only is this a unique selling point for your marketing, but the steampunk-starved SFF readers who subscribe to KU will rush to your book like flies to honey. Of course, there’s no way of knowing how many people will end up read ingyour book through KU, but at least it’s free to get into their library.

4. Experiment with more promotions

Whether or not you decide to enroll in KDP Select and run an Amazon-sanctioned price promotion, there’s still plenty more you can do to externally promote your self-published steampunk book! There are oodles of book review blogs and promotion services that you can explore, not to mention advertising on your own blog and social media — though with relative restraint, since you still don’t want to scare your followers away (remember the cat lesson).

One hot tip for steampunk authors is to aim for quality, not quantity, when reaching out to potential reviewers and third-party promoters. By that I mean: don’t click on those directories and then send a canned email to every single contact on the list! Take the time to comb through your options and select 3-5 reviewers who you think could really help out your book, then write a personalized inquiry to each of them. Off the top of my head, I’d recommend The Kindle Book Review and BookDoggy for first-time authors. And of course, you can always ask for a review or interview from a steampunk-specific blog like this one.

You can do so much more with your own personal connections, too: ask a popular mutual follower about a cross-promotion, encourage your newsletter subscribers to leave a review, and maybe even offer a larger giveaway to increase engagement. The prize doesn’t have to be your book; the giveaway could be for anything steampunk-related, and indeed your followers might be more excited by the prospect of a cool clothing item or small piece of furniture than a book.

Whatever path you take, I certainly hope you’re in a better position to succeed than you were about 2,000 words ago. Steampunk is such a singular genre with an incredible community behind it, and every author’s  voice matters — so get out there and make yours heard.

 

Many thanks from all of us at Blake and Wight to Desiree for this fabulous guest post this morning! Here’s a little more about the author…

“Hello folks! My name is Desiree Villena and I’m a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace and resource hub for self-publishing authors. In the course of my work, I’ve become incredibly passionate about independent publishing and I hope to help as many aspiring writers as possible reach their dreams! I’ve also become a fan of steampunk over the past few months, which is what inspired me to write this particular post. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!”

#indiethursday: Tales Of Hopeless Maine Kickstarter

 

This #indiethursday I’m doing something a little different and waving the flag for the Tales Of Hopeless Maine Kickstarter which is steaming its way towards its third stretch goal! There are just 4 days to go to support this awesome project so here’s all you need to know…

Do you like adventure stories? Steampunk? Monsters and magic? Dashing heroines, doughty heroes? Do you like Verne, Wells, Lovecraft and Burroughs? Well here are two cracking yarns that you are going to love, both based around the popular world of Hopeless, Maine and both with illustrations by Tom Brown himself.

Why are there two books in this Kickstarter? Because printing them together will cost less overall, and we can still give you the choice to buy one, or both of the books.

Hopeless, Maine (for those of you who have not yet visited) is an island lost in time. Haunted and tentacle beset, it is home to strange creatures and even stranger people.

The Oddatsea is a set of four short stories that tell the tale of a Victorian adventuress; Lady Alison Pettigrew, who sets out in her steam-powered submarine to investigate the rumours around a mysterious island. Will she survive the perilous voyage? What befalls her? What does her dashing nephew Jason do? And how will it all end?

The first of these two Tales of Hopeless, Maine is written by Keith Errington, a professional, published author who writes comedy and adventure in equal measure. (You might also know his very best friend Count Rostov?)

 

New England Gothic is the story of Annmarie Nightshade, an orphan who becomes a witch on the island of Hopeless, Maine. There are betrayals, heartbreak and many dangers to overcome but there are also wonders, near escapes and strange journeys. You will meet dark sorcerers, a mad inventor in a lighthouse and the strangest familiar in the history of witchcraft.

This second tale is written by Tom’s partner and co-creator of Hopeless, Maine, Nimue Brown. It goes back in time to reveal the childhood and origin story of one of Hopeless, Maine’s most famous magical inhabitants – Annamarie Nightshade.

This is a prequel to the steampunk graphic novel series Hopeless, Maine. It stands alone but fans of the series will find much that they did not know, which will cast the events in Hopeless, Maine in an entirely new light.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE KICKSTARTER PAGE 

 

http://kck.st/2Zne2Tb

 

 

 


#indiethursdsay: Amster Damned

 

This #indiethursday I’m sharing my love of…

 

Blurb

A seemingly routine missing person case brings Alice Kittyhawk to Amsterdam where she discovers that locating a missing botanist will involve delving into the murky and illicit world of temporal displacement. Working with the mysterious Ministry of Lost & Found, Alice will have to take on some formidable foes and race against the clock in defiance of the odds which seem to be stacked against her.

 

To compensate for my lack of time to do long reviews just now, I’m using the #indiethursday hashtag to share the indie love and point at some fabulous indie books I’ve enjoyed reading 😀

So, what fab indie fiction are you reading / writing this month? Blessings on your brew and best of luck with all your indie endeavours, lets keep flying the flag for indie writing!


#indiethursday: Jennings and Jennings Paranormal Investigators

This #indiethursday I’m sharing my love of…

 

Blurb

‘Jennings and Jennings, Paranormal Investigators, available for hire in the Home Counties. Are you plagued by supernatural goings on or troubled by fantastical events? We can help, using the most modern scientific advances, to rid you of even the most ancient of terrors. 3 pence an hour, double on Sunday.’

So ran the advert and soon came the requests for our husband and wife team to help out in these 4 comedy steampunk paranormal stories. Gasp, laugh, and be generally titillated as you encounter:

A haunted house, a strange case of mesmerism, a murderous fiend, and mysterious theft of alchemical artefacts.

 

To compensate for my lack of time to do long reviews just now, I’m using the #indiethursday hashtag to share the indie love and point at some fabulous indie books I’ve enjoyed reading 😀

So, what fab indie fiction are you reading / writing this month? Blessings on your brew and best of luck with all your indie endeavours, lets keep flying the flag for indie writing!

 


#indiethursday: A Matter Of Temperance

This #indiethursday I’m sharing my love of…

Blurb: 

“Hello, is anyone there?” “This is Ichabod Temperance, transmitting from the year 1875.” “Do you read me?” “Oh my Goodness! We’ve got trouble, y’all!” “Ever since that strange comet passed our world, not only have there been more than just an overwhelming amount of steam and spring inventions popping up all over Earth, but there also have been uncanny monster sightings as well! Well, almost sightings, as these inter-dimensional, over-legged, eyeball-clustered beasties are nearly invisible to the human eye! That is where my own enhanced inventiveness has gotten me into misadventure as I alone have created a device that allows me to see the hippo-sized craw-daddies.” “Maybe Fate had a hand in my goggle development, for it led to my meeting the most beautiful girl in the world in this year of 1875. Now it’s up to me and Miss Plumtartt to save our planet from being gobbled up gone!”

 

 

To compensate for my lack of time to do long reviews just now, I’m using the #indiethursday hashtag to share the indie love and point at some fabulous indie books I’ve enjoyed reading 😀 If you are still waiting for your review please be assured it is in the pipe line, it is only that work and family is leaving very little time for long stints of reading and writing just now, thankyou hugely for your patience and feel free to angry-email me or pelt me with hard cheese if you think I’m Extracting The Michael 😉

So, what fab indie fiction are you reading / writing this month? Blessings on your brew and best of luck with all your indie endeavours, lets keep flying the flag for indie writing!


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology: Elevenses with Guy Donovan

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and, as you already know if you have been keeping up to speed, we are in the happy position of being able to furnish you with links to the kindle pre-order page right here

Not only that, but joining us for elevenses this morning we are honoured to have Guy Donovan, contributor and cover artist for the anthology!  Do please have a seat, (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … well I’m sorry but the Damsel Of Your Dreams will have to move aside as well, we have a real guest this morning who must take precedence over figments of your unhealthy imagination)
I’m so sorry Guy, would you like some tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be so rude)

Hmm…you wouldn’t happen to have any Chamomile, would you? If not, perhaps a
horn of mead, thanks.

We are not OVERLY fond of herbal concoctions but we do have a little chamomile we use for sedating…ah, that is for soothing  some of our more excitable guests – we have had several try to throw themselves from the deck for some reason.

Now then, do tell us more about your contribution to the Dreamtime Damsels anthology, which we have pre-ordered and simply cannot wait to get our tentacles into!

My story is “Better the Thorn,” and its main character is named Lash. Lash is a
female goblin who was born to the ruling class of fae in her dimension, but was
kidnapped by goblins as a child and eventually accepted a goblin life, even taking
on their form through her own inherent ability to wield magic. The story basically involves her quest to seek revenge against the fae, who she blames for never
having tried to rescue her.

Unfortunately for her, the goblins are a barbaric collective of tribes that war with each other as much as they do the fae, who dominate the world of Faerie as benevolent (though equally fierce when necessary) overlords. Being an adept (a term both fae and goblins use for wizards), Lash has the ability to travel interdimensionally. She uses that ability to travel to Earth, where it is currently the mid 1980-s. There, she infiltrates military bases all around the world to steal human weaponry she can take back to Faerie and use against the more powerful fae.

As the story begins, she has just returned with her latest cache of stolen weapons
when a fae patrol attacks her. She has no choice but to run for the safety of her
fortress in a mountain pass, magically constructed by her over the years using
massive thorn vines and bits of Earth military hardware, including the rusted
superstructure of the battleship Arizona sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Lash leads the fae on a merry and murderous chase through a variety of booby-
traps laid throughout the forest. In the process, she and the fae both discover
something that seems too fantastic to believe, but might very well bring their years-
long conflict to a head in a way neither of them ever expected.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. What inspired you to write it?

I love writing stories that have a grounding in different periods of actual history.
This one originally started out set in the late 1960’s. It was supposed to be about a
little girl running away from her mother on the day they are supposed to go to her
father’s funeral, who died in Vietnam. In her mind, she imagined herself as a vicious and magical goblin being pursued by her fae persecutors. As she tries to evade her mother chasing after her in a wood behind their house, she pretends to lay waste to her enemies using the tools of her dead father’s trade.
Ultimately, I was having a hard time figuring out a way to finish that story without it devolving into a syrupy mess. With the submission deadline approaching, I decided to ditch the little girl concept and write it as a straight fantasy/adventure tale set in the mid-80s, during which time I served in the U.S. Marine Corps myself. I’m happy with it.

I see, so it sounds as though the anthology was the strainer of the ointment, as they say! And what would you say most influences your writing in general?

I’m a military brat, so the many places I’ve lived have a big impact on my work. The
music I’m listening to (almost entirely instrumental) also has a tendency to color my current scene. Otherwise, I take a lot of inspiration from what I see around me while I’m writing. A field full of tiny white butterflies flitting about in pairs, a flock of grouse trying to reach the lowest leaves of a tree in the wintertime (and failing
comically)…these are the sort of incidental things that lend themselves to being
included in what I’m writing as I write it. I also love taking outrageous bits of
dialogue I catch in real life and work it into a story.

Ah yes, we are military coves ourselves (albeit in the republican tea army) and travel extensively as a result, it really is wonderful to have such varied experiences to work into your fiction! And are there any authours who have particularly inspired you?

Lots! Notably, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, Victor Hugo, the list
goes on. On the indie side, authors like W.C. Quick and my co-conspirators in
Dream Time Damsels and Fatal Femmes continue to inspire me, not only to keep
going against the odds, but also to keep trying new things and acquiring new skills.

Ah! An excellent selection! (No he doesn’t want to hear your poetry Max, that doesn’t inspire anyone to do anything except throw themselves from the deck, will you stop interrupting)
Battenburg?

Didn’t he die on a boat? Oh, no…that was Mountbatten. You mean the cake, right?
No thanks, I’m trying to cut back.

That is, as the poet says, “An unfortunate political decision reflecting these times” as we fight for the freedom of every man, woman and child to have their cake and eat it, every man woman and child seems to be on some sort of health fad.

Ah well, back to the subject of writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an author.

Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

I’ve always been creative, both art and writing, so as a kid in the late 70s, I started
writing (really bad) Star Wars fan fiction. Of course that was pre-Internet, so luckily none of it saw the light of day.

Many years later, I worked in Hollywood as an animator and designer for most of the big studios (Yes, including Disney, but mostly Warner Brothers). Then, right around 9/11, the bottom had fallen out of the animation industry, with most work being sent overseas in order to maximize studio profits. That left a lot of talented artists out of work. Rather than try to make a living as a freelance greeting card designer or decorating cakes for a local baker, I went into a more (mind-numbingly uncreative) direction in order to get a little job and financial security for me and my family.

After a few years of that, having no creative outlet was driving me absolutely
bonkers. Enter my wife, who had been a film editor in Hollywood but had become a
struggling screenwriter after we both left the business. She had recently written a
spec script for a direct-to-video Barbie movie she called “Barbie and the Dragon’s
Treasure.” It hadn’t sold, and she was in the dumps too, looking to maybe get into
indie publishing. I suggested to her that she take her Dragon’s Treasure concept,
mature it up a good bit, and turn that into a novel. It took her all of ten seconds to
say, “Naah. Why don’t you do it though?”
I thought about it for a few days and eventually decided to give it a try. Ten years
later, I’ve just finished the fourth and final of my own series I call “The Dragon’s
Treasure.”
Sales are…elusive, but I feel much better!

Goodness, it sounds like quite a roller coaster ride! And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

Oh yes. Having basically immersed myself in 5 th century Wales and Scotland for the last ten years, I’m thinking of doing something drastically different. I’ve got an idea for a Southwest border (USA) werewolf story, and a semi-hard sci-fi story about a 21 st century space truck driver hauling an illegal cargo of…something…to Jupiter. I’ve also got a head full of short story ideas all screaming to get out.

Oh marvellous, we LOVE werewolves, having had one as a butler for a couple of terrifying years!  But perhaps you’d better keep your voice down about the illegal cargo… being as we are on board a pirate ship!

Tell me, where can we find your fiction?

My Amazon author page is at: https://www.amazon.com/Guy-
Donovan/e/B00EO3VRD8?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1565292793&sr=1-1

 

And I’m also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/The-Dragons-Treasure-
Series-172879129537712/

Oh marvellous, we will certainly check those out… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap. I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

Not at all. And I must say that it must be fun being basically a living Slip ‘n’ Slide.

What’s that? You say it’s time you were going? I was going to offer you another cup, but if you insist on leaving, I won’t stop you.

Well, actually I wouldn’t mind another…

Oh really? Max be a dear and pass the chamomile would you (shhh, perhaps add a hefty dose of Valerian to it this time as well!) 

Thank you, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup

Paul Michael joins us for elevenses


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Elevenses with Paul Michael

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously raucous and chi-chi to the core parlour located high above it all on board our beautiful rainbow-sailed ship, The Harlequin Ladybird.

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because we are still taking part in the #DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour and, as already know if you have been keeping up to speed, we are in the happy position of being able to furnish you with links to the kindle pre-order page right here

 

 

 

Not only that, but we are over the moon to have our good friend Paul Michael joining us for elevenses this morning!

Do please have a seat, Paul,  (Max, get off the chaise and let him sit down … hm? … no he has not brought Miss Henderson with him, and even if he had, Miss Henderson is not a chair, just move aside.)

I’m so sorry about that, would you like tea? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

If you have Lady Grey that would be marvellous. I find Earl Grey a bit overstimulating at this time and indeed at this altitude.

Of course, I completely understand, it has taken me, as an octopus, quite a while to get used to the heights myself! There you go. Now then , do tell us more about your contribution to this Dreamtime Damsels anthology– the aether is alive with the gossip!

It’s a strange and terrible story about an innocent young lady who becomes a maid at the strange house of the mysterious Count Vlasko, recently arrived from afar and with an unusual condition that makes him afeared of daylight.

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting. (Hm? Yes your quite right, he does sound a little like our old landlord) What inspired you to write it, Paul?

I wanted to create a short story where the character – a Miss Felicity Henderson – would be in the spotlight. The young maid in question is a recurring character in my Jennings and Jennings story cycle, which is my Magnum Opus.

Indeed! As one magnificent octopus to another, we are very well acquainted with your marvellous mystery series, and with the good lady Miss Henderson (Max will you stop making ridiculously opprobrious remarks) Let us just ignore him, what would you say most influences your writing in general?

 I would say I am driven by the obsessive need to write ridiculous and comical stories in a Gothic style. I have seen several alienists on this topic and they are unable to help, although I did get some punctuation tips from one.

Oh, marvellous! Any authours who have particularly inspired you?

The gravitas of Saki, the feather light touch of Lovecraft, the humour of Poe… all of these have affected me deeply.

Ah yes, you certainly have some of my favourites in that list too… (Hm? Max the only comparison that can be made between your poetry and the writings of such masters of gothic horror is that they all fill One with dread! Now do please stop interrupting). Battenburg?

I haven’t been myself but I hear the statuary is quite something.

Probably very wise, last time I checked it was full of cat hair. But back to the lark of writing, you know, writing is something I’ve always fancied turning my talents to – having so many tentacles I imagine I could be quite productive as an authour. Tell me, what was your own road into fiction writing like?

It was many years ago, as the rain lashed the windows and I stared morosely into the middle distance that I first entertained the idea of writing fiction. Suddenly my mind was filled with feverish visions of a man and a woman determined to fight ancient evil and terrible creatures from beyond. I fell onto the task of writing at once, my hand scratching out words as fast as the thoughts were conjured. As daylight broke, I slumped exhausted onto my writing desk, a thousand page epic created and ready to publish. Alas! In my exhausted state I knocked over the inkwell, turning all the pages black and completely unreadable.

After that I bought a computer and started again at a rather more sedate pace.

My goodness! Well, if it makes you feel any better I too have had many catastrophes caused by uncontrollable outbursts of ink; I’m sure I shall never live down Lady Harrington’s charity ball! And where can we find your published work?

I have absolutely no idea. No wait (rummages in pockets)… it is available from this place in South America… 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennings-Paranormal-Investigators-Casebook-One-ebook/dp/B071V9PP6F/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1566288338&sr=8-3

 

And do you have any plans for new projects in the near future?

I am currently writing and serially publishing a novel length story called the Paris Awakening. That is to say, it is a story that is approximately the length of a novel, rather than an usual length. It is part of the aforementioned story cycle, of which the first four novellettes are already collected and published. My collected writings are available at this academic journal of which I am the lead and indeed only writer.

https://thebenthictimes.com/

Oh yes, marvellous, we are avid readers of that marvellous publication and… Wooooah! Dear me I do apologise, the airship must have slipped and I seem to have landed in your lap I hope I haven’t covered you in octopus slime?

In my line of work it is an occupational hazard. I maintain a supply of these eight sided “octochiefs” for exactly these kind of situations.

What a marvellous invention, perhaps we should keep a little store of them here on board for these situations! Now, can I tempt you with another cup of Lady Grey?

Delicious though it was I fear another cup will lead to a dangerous imbalance in my delicate constitution, leading to an outbreak of bilious convunction or possibly a bout of floxy.

But I should like to take this opportunity to thank you for inviting me to your vessel. It has been a great pleasure with only occasional moments of terror.

Oh dear, Max I do believe your threats of imminent and horrific poetry have scared off yet another of our guests. You really must learn to behave yourself ‘In Company.’

Thankyou, friends for joining us this morning on board our beautiful rainbow sailed ship The Harlequin Ladybird, you will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of Character interviews

Jaq D Hawkins helps Mrs Baker to dish up some tasty soup


#DreamtimeDamselsAnthology blog tour: Soup of the day with Jaq D Hawkins

dreamtime damsels anthology

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is another contributor to the Dreamtime Damsels Anthology, Jaq D Hawkins. Thankyou so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today, My Dear! May I take your hat and miscellaneous weaponry?

Oh, don’t let the knives frighten you! I’ve got Mars in Pisces, you see. No temper at all. I’ve never injured an interviewer, promise!

Well thank goodness for that! How was your trip from your own dimension? I hope you did not run into any hostile sugar-zombies or sky pirates on your way?

As it happens, I’m an old hitchhiker and I’ve got history with airship pirates, so I hitched a lift on the Persephone. Best rum I ever tasted!

Marvellous! And have you brought along some soup to share with us?

How could I visit a soup kitchen without bringing something to share! This is something a little special from a now extinct restaurant I used to frequent in my youth.

Potage St. Germain (Pea Soup)

Ingredients

1 (1 pound) ham bone

4 1/2 cups water

1 (13 ounce) can chicken broth

2 cups split peas

2/3 cup finely chopped leeks or green onions

1/3 cup finely chopped carrots

1/3 cup finely chopped celery

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp thyme

Bay leaf

1/2 tsp pepper

2 1/2 cups milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup chopped ham, cooked

1/2 cup chopped chicken (cooked) (optional)

Instructions

Place ham bone in large pot. Add water, chicken stock and peas and bring to boil over medium heat.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes

Saute the onions, carrots and celery just until limp. Add them to the soup pot along with all of the seasoning and continue to simmer until peas are very soft and mixture is thick – about 45 minutes. Remove ham bone. Gradually stir in the milk and cream. Add ham and chicken. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of dry sherry, to taste.

Mmm, it smells delicious! I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely.

You might want to give it an extra splash of sherry to keep them quiet. 😉

Marvellous tip! Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you have a seat by the fire here and tell me a little about the types of fiction that you prefer to write?

In the realm of fiction, I’m basically a Traditional Fantasy writer, though I often lean towards darker themes. Goblins for example, or pirates. My new series will deal heavily with dragons. I’ve also been contributing to a lot of short story anthologies recently and some of those are even Horror.

And I hear you’ve recently made a contribution to the Dreamtime Damsels anthology I’ve heard so much about – would you like to tell us all a little about that?

I was invited to contribute and couldn’t resist, having dealt with the editor on the Dreamtime Dragons anthology and being favourably impressed with his attention to quality and detail. The idea of writing about strong women is a natural for me as I’m pretty resilient myself, but most of my stories so far have featured male protagonists. I decided this would be good practice to develop my female characters more.

Splendid and now I know the book hasn’t actually been released yet but Max and Collin were bragging this morning that they had managed to get their tentacles on a pre-order link for the kindle version?

 

Oh thankyou very much, I will order my own copy post haste! As an adventuress myself, I certainly think it is wonderful to see a fantasy collection where women take the centre stage isn’t it?

It makes a nice change. The Wizard’s Quandary was meant to be a stand alone story, but now it’s inspired me to write a follow-up series, with dragons of course. I think some of them are going to have to be female as well.

Oh dragons are always splendid company… Ah now that’s the kettle boiling, what is your ‘poison’ Dear, and how do you take it?

Usually red wine, not that yuppie Shiraz stuff but a good Malbec. However, as you’ve boiled the kettle, a simple coffee will do. A spoonful of honey please, and a little heavy on the milk.

You are lucky I have just visited The Harlequin and have a plentiful supply of contraband milk! Now, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your own path into fiction writing?

Well that started in childhood. By the time I was in high school I was churning out short stories furiously. It was only natural that I would move on to novels eventually. My goblin world took me there.

Oh my! I have never encountered any goblins personally but they sound terribly exciting and is there anything that particularly inspires you when you write?

Anything. Everything. I hear a phrase and a conversation forms around it. I see a colour and start visualising a scene. Stories go through my head faster than I can write down the notes for them!

That sounds wonderful! Of course we love supporting independent writers, artists and small presses here in Ire; do you have any favourite indie authours who have inspired you or whose work you can recommend?

A large percentage of my reading for enjoyment these days is written by indie authors. The Big 5 have become cautious and keep putting out clones of whatever sold best last week, usually lightweight stuff that doesn’t appeal to me.

Some indie authors I’ve really enjoyed besides the ones contributing to the Dreamtime anthologies include Graeme Reynolds, Shanna Lauffey, Charlton Daines, Jeff Brackett, Lin Senchaid, Lita Burke, Austin Crawley, Frank Tayell and C.M. Gray. I’m sure there are many more on my book shelves but those come to mind.

Splendid, I will be sure to hunt those out – I am always on the look out for a good fireside read to keep me company while I knit or bake. And where can we find more of your own work?

My Amazon page is at

https://www.amazon.com/Jaq-D-Hawkins/e/B0034P4BFI

and my Smashwords page is

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jaqdhawkins

Then of course there is my website where you can read about anything upcoming at http://jaqdhawkins.com

Ah now that soup smells like it is about ready, would you be so kind as to help me serve it up to the orphans?

Certainly. Don’t forget a dollop of sour cream in each bowl! Dibs on licking the cauldron.

Absoloutely!

Thankyou all for joining us in the soup kitchen this morning. You will find all the blog posts so far on the Dreamtime Damsels blog tour listed below and until we see you again, Blessings On Your Brew My Dears!

 

Mary Woldering hosts the first round of character interviews 

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Red, The Wolf

Mary Woldering hosts the second round of character interviews

Our own kitchen witch interviews Nav Logan

Nav Logan joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Leslie Conzatti presents an excerpt from one of the stories in the anthology: Dangerous by Morgan Smith

Mary Woldering hosts the next round of character interviews

A.M Young joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Benjamin Towe joins us for elevenses on The Harlequin

Cover reveal from The Benthic Times

Cover reveal from Collin on The Harlequin Ladybird