The official blog tour for Xchyler Publishing’s “Steel & Bone: Nine Steampunk Adventures” has been over for a few weeks, now. So many tour stops! So much content! So much so, that even I – who had a vested interest in the tour – had difficulty keeping up with it all. Between that and the fact that there’s no guarantee which bits of all the goodies provided by the anthology’s authors will see the light of day, it occurred to me that if I wanted to ensure you guys had the best chance of reading the behind-the-scenes info and extras for my own short story in the collection, Ursula would have to take matters into her own tentacles, so to speak.
(*assumed high-fives from all the Disney’s “Little Mermaid” fans in the house. …and my fellow kraken-lovers, because tentacles*
*double high-fives to anyone whose brain read “Ursula” and for a moment thought “Wilderhark Tales”*)
Keeping the good times a-rolling in this blog space, here’s some more bonus content brought to you by Skycastle, Arcan-Nest, and beyond!*
*Which, as it happens, is totally the name of my “A Mind Prone to Wander”-inspired Pinterest board.
A Day in the Life of Arinwald, Steward of Arcan-Nest
Pre-sunrise – Grooming with the Lord of Wings. (The castle’s master must look appropriately dashing and fierce.)
First hour of sun – Tour the grounds to ensure all is as it should be. (This duty could technically be delegated to the clockwork roc, but it’s good to get out and enjoy the fresh air of the world above the clouds.)
Pre-breakfast – Feed the various birds too domestic to hunt/scavenge for themselves. Gather the eggs of the castle’s laying hens, from chickens to firebirds, and deliver them to the automated kitchen. (Firebird eggs: The cleaner, hotter fuel for your steam-powered engines.)
From post-breakfast to lunch – Clean (and repair, as necessary) the castle’s clockwork staff. Suffer the Lord of Wings’ grumpiness. Wish the lord’s brother were here to deal with him.
Lunch – Perhaps outdoors, if the weather is pleasant.
Naptime – Preferably in the sun.
From post-nap until dinner – Something, somewhere is bound to have broken again, by now; fix it while sniping about the never-ending maintenance a mechanically-run castle requires. Then on to tapestries, draperies, and other laundry. Break up a cockatrice fight. (Belligerent little devils.)
From post-dinner to bed – The evening hours are his to do as he wishes. Read by lamplight. Watch the sun set over the cloudy horizon from atop the outer wall. Trade riddles with ravens and sing duets with nightingales. Stew over every pointless death this castle’s ever known. Count down the days until death’s likely to come again. Wish people would stop being numbskulls. Take a long, hot bath.
Bedtime – To dream of soaring among the stars with his heart’s other half. …wherever it may be.
Interview Q’s, Author A’s
Do you have a playlist for your story?
I’m not one to come up with official playlists, though a mental glance at the setting of “A Mind Prone to Wander” may trigger remembered snippets of “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Misérables or Keith Harkin’s cover of Don McLean’s “Castles in the Air”. But if there’s one song I can think of to best represent the overlapping stories of Rowan, Bellamy, and the Lord of Wings, it’s “Taking Over Me” by Evanescence.
Please provide some insight, a secret or two about your story.
I originally intended “A Mind Prone to Wander” to be a novel, but to my utter shock, it simply refused to be written. I must have come at it from four or five different directions over a good two years, my main character giving me hurt and dirty looks all the way. I’ve never had to wrestle through that kind of writer’s block before, and I hope to heaven I never will again! There was never any real question of giving up, though. I’m tenacious to a fault, like that.
How did you come up with the title?
I’d been thinking of this story’s original iteration as “Singer of Skycastle” for so long, it felt weird calling it anything else. But for the purposes of submission to Xchyler’s anthology contest – and, happily, publication beyond – I wanted something a little more artistic. So I wracked my imagination for the phrase that encompassed the most, story-wise. Given that our narrator’s attention was wont to drift into mad tangents (not to mention The Big Secret he learns ere story’s end), “A Mind Prone to Wander” fit the bill nicely.
Anything else you’d like to share with other writers about the process?
Try, try again. And again. And again and again and again. Sometimes it all comes down to a matter of which one is tougher: The story, or you. And the biggest thing that got me through? Letting go of the parts of the story that just weren’t working. From the beginning, my brain kept getting stuck when I got to a certain point in the plot. Maybe it was part of my subconscious trying to tell me something. Maybe no part of me had any clue, and it was just a truth of the story waiting for me to learn it. Either way, now I’ve got a finished short story, and a bunch of ideas cut free to maybe be a part of a different story one day. I call that a win.
P.S. – Did you see the time Xchyler Pub and I made of vid of me reading an excerpt of “A Mind Prone to Wander”? Click the pic if not, ‘cause that happened!