Book Spine Poetry Prophecy

Word on the ‘Net is April’s been National Poetry Month – i.e., the perfect excuse to finally get around to posting this book spine poem I composed back in February, inspired as I was by the Alexa Loves Books-hosted 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon.

Some of you may recall the last time I shared such a poem (during the 2014 Love-a-Thon, as it happens.) Proud as I was of that piece of art, I do believe I like this one even better. Probably because it strikes me as sounding like some epic, ancient prophecy. Complete with rhymes. ^o^

<<<>>>

Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 1

One more day on the Isle of Sound and Wonder inspired the Seventh Spell:

Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 2

Transparent ink. The violet hour. The toll of another bell.

Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 3

The Song Caster unhinged the door in the mountain; splintered the spirit war.

Spine Poetry Prophecy, Line 4

Vicious, marvelous spirit’s end – mistborn legends and lore.

<<<>>>

This lyrical omen brought to you by…

One More Day by L.S. Murphy and others (including yours truly) – available here

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer – my review here

Inspired by Danielle E. Shipley – available here

The Seventh Spell (Book Three of The Wilderhark Tales) by Danielle E. Shipley – available here

Transparent by Natalie Whipple – my review here

Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun – found here on Goodreads

The Violet Hour (The Violet Hour #1) by Whitney A. Miller – found here on Goodreads

The Toll of Another Bell: A Fantasy Anthology by yours truly and others – available here

The Song Caster (Book Four of The Wilderhark Tales) by Danielle E. Shipley – available here

Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard – my review here

The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet – my review here

Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard – my review here

The Spirit War (Eli Monpress #4) by Rachel Aaron – my review here

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – my review here

Marvelous (The Books of Marvella #1) by Travis Thrasher – found here on Goodreads

Spirit’s End (Eli Monpress #5) by Rachel Aaron – my review here

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – found here on Goodreads

Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions by yours truly and others – available here

Got any cool book spine poems of your own – oracular or otherwise? I do hope you’ll share!

Be a Hero, Be the [Book] Bomb

Aly and Mark, back in the day.
Aly and Mark, back in the day.

Here’s the deal, Ever On Wordians: My dear friend and fellow Xchyler Publishing author Alyson Grauer is going through one of life’s rough patches. Her father, Mark, is undergoing surgery for cancer, and the fight for his health is not coming cheap. The family could use some help footing the bills, and I’m here to share a few ways even the most sorta-kinda-flat-broke of us can make an impact.

1) Mark Grauer’s Cancer Fund on GiveForward.com. Every buck counts! Even if that single dollar is all you have to give  or if all you can afford is to spread the link around  show cancer and the Grauer family respectively just what you think of them, the crowd funding way.

2) The Generous Juli McCarthy. Quoth mutual friend of Aly’s and mine, jewelry artist Juli of Mockingbird Studio:

For the next 5 regularly-priced sales of Touchstone™ pendants from my website I will donate 100% of the purchase price (minus tax and shipping) to [Mark Grauer’s] fund. After those five sales, I will donate $5 per regularly-priced pendant sold until March 31, 2015.

A fine pendant for you, a sale for an artist, a solid for a family in need… It’s a triple win! Consider ordering a Touchstone™ pendant today.

Commedia Aly, Pirate Aly, and Steampunk Aly agree – a Touchstone™ is an anytime accessory!
Commedia Aly, Pirate Aly, and Steampunk Aly agree – a Touchstone™ is an anytime accessory!

3) Book Bomb for “On the Isle of Sound and Wonder”. I read and reviewed it. Will Scarlet interviewed the tale’s air spirit, Aurael. And on this day, Wednesday the 4th of March, a whole mess of people are gathering on Facebook to book bomb Aly’s debut steampunk fantasy Shakespeare retelling. To quote from the event’s page:

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder banner

WHAT?
A Book Bomb is something that indie authors have occasionally done for each other in the past in order to help members of the community in need. We pick one day where we purchase a copy of an author’s book; because of the concentrated buying activity on that specific day, Amazon takes note, and raises the book on their “bestseller” lists! This gets the author some extra attention and activity for their awesome piece of work, and helps them via the extra book sales.

HOW?
On Wednesday, March 4th, at any time during the day, go to this link, and purchase an eBook copy of On the Isle of Sound and Wonder: http://www.amazon.com/Isle-Sound-Wonder-Alyson-Grauer-ebook/dp/B00O5AGM12
It’s important to do it on this day specifically, as it concentrates the activity that Amazon monitors to rank books. The more people who are shopping and see the book, the more likely it is that we can get more support for Aly’s dad!

OTHER DETAILS:
You can also purchase a paperback or hardback copy; however, we are concentrating on eBook sales particularly in order to focus our efforts on getting the book to rank higher on Amazon, so more people will see it.
If you’ve already purchased this book once, that’s great! You can purchase it again [and] gift a copy to someone who might enjoy it! Any kind of activity works.
If you can’t buy another copy of the book, that’s cool – YOU CAN STILL HELP! Another factor that Amazon uses is ratings and reviews! If you’ve read the book already, then leave a review on March 4th and it will really help!

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO INVITE AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE TO THIS EVENT SO WE CAN POOL OUR SUPPORT!

Me rocking my “On the Isle of Sound and Wonder” leggings and matching hardback.
Me rocking my “On the Isle of Sound and Wonder” leggings and matching hardback.

Well, gee. I’ve already got the book and posted a review. Guess there’s nothing for it: I’m gonna have to buy another e-copy and give it away!

How do you enter to win it? Easy.

– Share this post on Facebook

– Share it on Twitter

– Share it on [insert social media platform of your choice here]

– Reblog it to your own web space

Comment below to let me know you have done any or all of these things, and you’re in the raffle. You’ve got ‘til noon today (central time), at which hour I will select the winner and buy their prize.

**Be sure to include the e-mail address you’d want the e-book sent to in your comment entry.** I’m nocturnal now, y’all, and can’t be staying up all day-night to chase down the winner’s e-addy.

Now, MARCH FO[U]RTH and do this day whatever good you can!

Thanks from Aly and me. ❤

EDIT: Even after this blog’s raffle closes, there are more giveaways going down on the book bomb event page on Facebook. Check it out!

That’s the Spirit (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Allyn-a-Dale proclaims before the curtain, “here’s Ever On Word’s original talk show, Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell.”

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

The curtain rises, the studio audience applauds, and Will Scarlet himself walks smiling and waving onto the bright, cozy set.

“Hullo, everyone! Let’s jump right into it, shall we?” Leading by example, he hops into his armchair. “Allyn, who is our guest character today?”

As the guest enters from the other side of the stage, Allyn says, “Author Alyson Grauer describes Aurael thus:

A manipulative, scheming, slippery, chaotic air spirit whose moral code is basically nonexistent.

“Hoo, boy… Welcome, Aurael!” Will greets the air spirit seated in the chair across from his own. “So glad you could join me. First things first – how terrified of you do I need to be, right now? ‘Cause my own story may or may not involve an air-spirit-esque creature trying to kill me and my band, so, um, hahaha, yeah.”

“Oh really?” Aurael twists his mouth into a bemused grimace and goes back to peeling the wings off of a dead dragonfly. “Sounds like a good time to me… And terror is in the eye of the beholder, Will Scarlet.” He shrugs. “I’m only really terrifying if I get bored.” He smiles thinly.

“Right,” Will says brightly. “Good to know. We’ll try to keep things interesting, then. I understand you currently find yourself bound in servitude. Just between you, me, and our viewership, how would you describe your employer? Any perks to working for him? Paid holidays, dental, that sort of thing?”

Aurael’s expression darkens, his eyes like blank slates of lead as spiky protrusions begin to bump out from his brow, cheekbones, nose, skull… He clears his throat and the spikes vanish. He smooths his windblown, silver-blue hair back with a narrow glare. “Dante is a disgusting piece of mortality, if you ask me. He’s manipulative and selfish and snide. He’s self-centered beyond all reasoning, and he’s got eyes for nothing but his own power. Everything else is barely a blip on his brain.” His teeth bare for a moment and they’re shark-like and jagged. “But seriously, no perks, no vacation, nothing.” He pouts thoughtfully. “It’s like being the only trick pony at the circus, if you know what I mean. Complete garbage.”

“Man, and I thought working under Merlin in an immortal Renaissance Faire could get old. But your existence is sure to have some bright spots. How about this: Of your island’s few locals and those recently washed ashore, who do like the most (…or most enjoy tormenting), and why?”

Aurael’s eyebrows shoot upwards thoughtfully at this. A mixture of emotions cross his face as he ponders. Then he squints shrewdly. “I’ll never tire of torturing Karaburan,” he breathes slowly, his lip curled. “Witch-born that he is. His nightmares taste the sweetest.”

The authoress, from the back corner, lifts her hand in contestation of this. “Ahem, if you’ll pardon me,” she says neatly, “Aurael’s favorite person in all the world is Mira. You could go so far as to say he treasures her.”

Aurael’s hair curls into hornlike protrusions, coiling tightly as steam begins to rise from his brow. He scowls and says nothing.

“Adores her, even,” Aly adds.

Aurael’s eyes go black and he stares back at his author, daring her to take one more step.

Aly pauses. “Why don’t you talk about Mira, Aurael? I’m sure Will and the audience would love to know what it’s like for an all-powerful, immortal air spirit to pine for, long for, and against all odds absolutely love a little mortal girl.”

Aurael’s body breaks apart like cloud-puffs, and is replaced with the shape of a massive hideous, steel-silver harpy with terrible talons and a flesh-rending beak. He roars at the author, climbing over the chair to get at her, but bashes face-first into an unseen wall of some kind. The author goes back to taking notes in her book, and harpy-Aurael snarls and snaps and claws at the wall for a moment before hunching its shoulders and peering back over its wings at Will Scarlet.

Will gapes blankly until Allyn coughs from off-camera. “Pun unintended, Will, but we’re still on the air.”

“Ha! Yes! Sorry, I got distracted by the, um, distracting things. Something about a flesh-rending beak. Aaaaanyway, getting back to our happy place: If you were to be granted your freedom, Aurael, what do you suppose you’d want to do with your life? Any long-term dreams or ambitions? Where do you see yourself in— wait, how long does an air spirit tend to live, anyway?”

The question seems to pluck at Aurael’s heartstrings – indeed, if there are any left within him – and he sighs deeply, melting back into the demi-corporeal shape of a silvery-blue man with dark, dark eyes. He sits in the chair again with dignity, as though the harpy form had not occurred. “Immortality is different for everyone,” he admits slowly. “I don’t make plans like that, because I have all the time in the world. Or at least, I did, before I got exiled and captured and all of this grand nonsense.” He seethes quietly. “But I’ll get free again. I will. And Dante will be sorry.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it for one moment,” Will says in placating tones. “Of course, a cunning creature like you will have seen my next question coming from a mile off. Tell me, Aurael, what is your author Alyson’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” Nerves and excitement roil in his eyes. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

Aurael considers this with a long, smug stare at the author. The author does not look up from her note-taking. Aurael purses his lips and at last folds his arms, putting his feet up on the chair next to him and slouching like a teenager. “Her secrets guard themselves in plain sight,” says the air spirit. “Now that the book is out, anyone at all might stumble upon them. It’s all downhill from here.” He pauses. “And kissing never did anyone any favors, Will Scarlet.” His eyebrows arch, and he smiles that same snarky grin from before. “But if you’re offering, I don’t bite.” His teeth show a little through the grin, still sharp and menacing.

Aly looks up. “He won’t bite you. But watch out for your soul, please – he’ll jab a straw into you like an orange in the old Tropicana commercials and schhhhhluuuuurrrrrpp.”

Aurael scowls. “I don’t even know what that means,” he hisses.

“I know you don’t.” Aly shakes her head. “Never mind.”

“Yeeeaaah, we’ll maybe take a rain check on that kiss,” Will decides. “Or should I say, a full-on tempest check?”

“You shouldn’t,” Allyn advises.

“Oh, come on, it’s perfectly hilarious! Let everyone in the joke with a quick word from our sponsor!”

“Today’s Kiss & Tell segment,” says Allyn dutifully, “was brought to you by Alyson Grauer’s newly released debut novel,On the Isle of Sound and Wonder’.

OISW_webkit_thenovel

“Thank you, Allyn,” says Will. “Thank you, Aurael; you, too, Aly! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided in this post, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Such Stuff as @DreamsToBecome Novels Are Made On

Everybody get excited! A super rad-tasitical gal is coming out with a book!

…No, not me, this time. …I mean, yeah, me, on December 2nd. But BEFORE that, there is THIS!

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

I was clamoring to get my hands on an ARC of this one. Alyson Grauer (known as @dreamstobecome on Twitter) is mah girl — not to mention my Ren Faire workfellow and Legends and Lore anthology sister. I had the utmost faith that her debut novel would be a thing of wowsomeness. Guess who was not disappointed?

OISW_webkit_myreview

The story swept me along with the ease of a wave in a gale, the author’s skillful choreography of questions, revelations, and points of view holding me in thrall page after page. Perhaps it is in part a testament to Grauer’s love of theatre shining through that I felt (uncommonly for me) less like a reader and more like a wide-eyed spectator watching a play unfold on my imagination’s stage, complete with humorous scripting and fantastic special effects. I enjoyed moving back and forth between the ensemble cast – from the independent Mira, to the guileful elemental Aurael, to the piteous Karaburan, to the assorted castaways caught as pawns in a twisted magician’s plot. I may or may not have stayed up until three in the morning to find out how it all resolved.

You don’t have to be familiar with the Shakespearean work behind the novel to enjoy it, for this retelling stands tall on its own merits. And if you do happen to be a “Tempest” fan, I expect you’ll only find more to love.

OISW_webkit_theauthor

Find Grauer on the web: Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest

OISW_webkit_anexcerpt

On the Isle of Sound and Wonder by Alyson Grauer

Heck yes, I’ve already ordered my copy! And you don’t have to wait until the official launch date of November 21* to demand your own. Go forth and experience the wonder. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway going on throughout the blog tour (the full schedule of which can be found here). And be sure to watch this space for the Kiss & Tell show scheduled for the 22nd, when Will Scarlet sits down for a chat with one of Alyson Grauer’s company of castaways!

*P.S. – That’s when the release party’s coming to Facebook. You’re ALL invited! Come play!

An Anthology of Mythic Proportions

Early review time!

Legends and LoreThe Book: “Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions”, edited by Penny Freeman.

Genre: Paranormal short story collection.

Blurb: Delve into myth and legend, where the Fates force post-modern man into a world of the unknown—a world long since dismissed as ignorant superstition.

“The Brother-Sister Fable” by Alyson Grauer: A young boy disappears into a realm where only his sister can follow.

“Faelad” by Sarah Hunter Hyatt: Claire Whitaker didn’t even know she was Irish, let alone The Morrigan, the goddess of war.

“By Skyfall” by Emma Michaels: A mer-couple from Atlantis find themselves in the middle of a human murder investigation.

“Charon’s Obol” by. R. M. Ridley: Jonathan Alvey didn’t believe in gods, until he helps a lost child find her all-powerful parents.

“Peradventure” by Sarah E. Seeley: A jinni must choose between the woman he loves and destroying the city that persecuted her.

“Natural Order” by Lance Schonberg: When Carlos Vasquez is kidnapped, he discovers powers within himself to change the world.

“Two Spoons” by Danielle E. Shipley: A little girl’s soul meets its match in the family diner’s most mysterious patron.

“Grail Days” by A. F. Stewart: Living forever has its drawbacks, especially when you spend it clearing away the messes of other immortals.

“Downward Mobility” by M. K. Wiseman: They say love conquers all, but can it save a Valkyrie when she breaks all the rules?

Bonus: The trailer!

Legends and Lore trailer
One of my favorite stills from aforementioned trailer. ^.^

My Thoughts: I’m pleased to say this is one of the best anthologies I’ve read in a while. I thought I’d found a favorite in the opening piece, “The Brother-Sister Fable” enchantingly told by Alyson Grauer. Then I got to A.F. Stewart’s “Grail Days”, a witty take on Arthurian legend, and wondered whether the book could contain anything further up my alley. But it was the poignant romance of “Peradventure” by Sarah E. Seeley that kept me up reading ‘til the wee hours and haunted me well into the next day. (Ye gads, the feels!) Also in the lineup are tales to entice fans of mythology – Greek, Norse, and Celtic – and fae creatures of earth and water. Not to mention the collection’s flavorful finale, “Two Spoons” by— oh, Danielle E. Shipley. Hello.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Yes. Yes, you should. Come the book’s release day on Wednesday, October 22, go forth! Find your favorite story(ies) in the bunch! And feel free to read out of order, if you want to get to my last-but-never-least contribution sooner than later. ;D In the meantime, you can add the book on Goodreads!

Also on the 22nd, Xchyler Pub and the “Legends and Lore” anthology authors are throwing a virtual release party on Facebook! If you can make time anywhere between 4pm – 8pm PDT (that’s 6pm – 10pm Central/Deshipley time), we’d love for you to drop in for fun, games, and prizes. Hope to see you there!

Here There Be Writing Adventures!

Now that I’ve had half-a-sec to catch my breath following “Song Caster” Launch Week (…well, maybe two-fifths-of-a-sec. …okay, so maybe I’m not breathing), I thought it high time to let you in on some other writing-related news bits – sort of a “What’s Up Wednesday” for the Thursday crowd. In order of immediacy:

Can we talk about how this gorgeous button feeds my seafaring soul?
Can we talk about how this gorgeous button feeds my seafaring soul?

1) Hosted by Emily at Oh Magic Hour and Lindsay of The Broke Book Girls, it’s Swashbuckling Summer, a blog event dedicated to all tales pirate-y! Emily asked me if I wanted in, and I replied with a resounding, “AYE!” Check out my guest post on why the fantasy of the high seas calls to me, “Here There Be Adventure”. And be ye informed, there’s more booty to be won than you can shake a cutlass at in the event’s kraken-sized giveaway – including postcards featuring “The Song Caster”s Gant-o’-the-Lute impersonating a pirate! So chart a course that-a-way, mates.

Captain Gant
Ahoy, Captain Gant!

Imminent Danger cover

2) Meanwhile, in the blog space of another friend, Michelle Proulx has gifted me with a short story – “Under Pressure” – starring Dani L (an alternate-dimension me!) and a hottie on the run called Korlethi, also known as Varrin from her humorous sci-fi novel, “Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight Into it”. The short’s a fun little read, and makes me all the more determined to get my hands on Michelle’s novel the next time I’m on a book-buying spree (which will likely be soon, since Rachel Aaron’s “Nice Dragons Finish Last” is set to launch on the 15th, and you know I love me my Rachel Aaron books!).

LSQ Button

3) Also related to blogging: The blog of Luna Station Quarterly – the women-authored speculative fiction magazine which I’ve been honored to have feature a few short stories of mine – is bursting with new life thanks to a full schedule of reviews, guest columns, and such. And guess who’s on the roster to contribute a little something once every quarter? By golly, it’s me! So you can bet you’ll be getting further bulletins as events warrant there. Also feel free to follow along with LSQ via their many social media presences to stay up to date on even the non-Danielle E. Shipley-authored stuff they do. ;D

4) And speaking of my short stories and publishing, I am ecstatic to announce that I’m signed on for inclusion in a paranormal anthology through Xchyler Publishing, slated to release this fall! This will be my first time working with The X as an author (as opposed to just reading their stuff and attending their launch parties on Facebook), and I’m all kinds of thrilled that they smiled upon my submission during their recent contest. (By the by, writer friends, they’re running another contest through the end of August for their next fantasy anthology. Think about it.) Extra squeals of delight due to the fact that my beloved pal Alyson Grauer (famed author of “Lavenza, or the Modern Galatea” from Xchyler’s steampunk antho “Mechanized Masterpieces”) shall ALSO have a story in the paranormal collection! Huzzah for anthology sisterhood!

Xchyler Button

And that, my dears, is all the latest. …not counting my Camp NaNoWriMo project which, so far today, has gone woefully neglected. Let’s see what I can do to remedy that.

Fare thee well, readers! And if you’ve got any exciting stuff happening in your world, the comments section is open to you. Share your glee!

“Grauer” or “A Modern Mary Shelley”

Me: Hello, honored guest! Introduce yourself to all the friendly strangers!

Alyson Grauer, author of Mechanized Masterpiece "Lavenza, or The Modern Galatea".
Alyson Grauer, author of Mechanized Masterpiece “Lavenza, or The Modern Galatea”.

Alyson: Hello, strangers-who-are-friendly! My name is Alyson Grauer and while I am originally from Milwaukee, WI, these days I am a Chicago-based writer, actor, and ukulele-playin’ weirdo. I am a big ol’ nerd with a love of film, tv, comic books, video games, and fiction of all kinds. I can be found performing at Piccolo Theatre in Evanston, or at the Public House Theatre in Chicago with Plan 9 Burlesque (most often as a host and uke-playing variety performer), and also at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, where I am often found Making A Fool of Myself In Public.

Me: Public foolery: A most excellent pastime. You’re here, of course, in connection with your recently published work, “Lavenza, or the Modern Galatea”, the grand finale in “Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology” (which I reviewed here on the blog last week). But what’s the first story you can remember writing?

Alyson: I recall at a very very young age that I wrote and illustrated a picture book called “Dingo”, about a collie that was like Lassie but less goody-two-shoes. The other early venture I remember was a reboot of “The Wizard of Oz” wherein Dorothy follows the red brick road instead of the yellow one, Toto is the first person narrator, and a ton of excellent Greek mythology references got thrown in along the way.

(Me: *cheers for Greek mythology*)

A: It was about 3/4 done when I abandoned it for other shiny objects, but the idea of a smart-mouthed Toto and a ditzy Dorothy Gale have always been in the back of my head. I don’t think I’d write it again, though, because… y’know. There’s enough Oz rewrites in the ‘verse right now.

Me: Ah, well; maybe your story will reinvent itself into something else, one day. Speaking of stories and their reinventions, how did you hear about Xchyler Publishing’s “Mechanized Masterpieces” anthology, and what compelled you to submit?

Alyson: I try to keep abreast of opportunities via Twitter. It is honestly the easiest, quickest way to find out what agents are looking for, what magazines or publications are having open calls for submissions, and if there is a sweet anthology out there waiting for you. I saw the open call on Twitter and loved the accessible nature of “rebooting” classic literature with steampunk elements. So I spent a few days hemming and hawing on Xchyler’s website before deciding that I had an idea good enough to actually write out and then attempt to submit it. It came kinda close to the wire, too; I got very busy and almost didn’t finish my draft, but I did, thank God, and sent it in.

Me: Which is happy news for the world! Not to be biased, I hope, but your story was one of my favorites in the book, and a great way to cap off the collection. How many ideas did you sift through before settling on your reimagining of “Frankenstein”, and what was it about the story that inspired you?

Alyson: Like I said, I knew right away that I wanted to submit something, but I needed to figure out what classic to base my story on, and how I would infuse the steam. I needed something that didn’t NEED the steampunk but was well suited to it, something that I was passionate about already, and a style that I felt comfortable emulating. I considered Austen, but that dame is a darn tricky lady (huge props to fellow “Mechanized Masterpieces” writer Anika Arrington for awesomely using Margaret Dashwood from “Sense and Sensibility” in her story “Sense and Cyborgs”), and so I continued racking my brains for other ideas. Honestly, one of the first things to mind was “Frankenstein” because I have a long history of fangirling Mary Shelley, but I wasn’t sure how to go about steaming it up.

Mechanized Masterpieces

When I finally realized that my heart lay with Frankenstein, I realized also that there was no way I was going to take the obvious route and tell a gear-grinding version of Victor’s journey. It became clear pretty quickly that I wanted to take an unfulfilled story from the main plot and give it a little more attention. Elizabeth, Victor’s betrothed, is portrayed in the original novel as angelic, loving, pure of heart and utterly characterless except for her devotion to Victor and her horrible death at the hands of the Creature. She’s supposed to be a victim, to infuse Victor’s horrible journey with more pain and suffering. I wanted to tell her side of the story, and I wanted to follow the original novel’s details as closely as possible. I used the landmarks in Shelley’s text of what Elizabeth says and does specifically, but I told the story from her own eyes and gave her a secret history so unusual that not even she suspects the depths of it, and therefore, neither does anyone else!

(Me: My favorite kind of character secret. Keep everybody in the dark until the last minute – up to and including the author, sometimes!)

A: Victor blazes through her world unaware that Elizabeth is anything more than his devoted fiancée, which I thought was kind of fun. And the “punk” earmarks of steampunk are an independent, female protagonist who grows in intelligence and strength despite society’s constraints upon her during that time period, as well as a dash of advanced technology and genetic engineering.

Me: Read it, people. I can’t even tell you about that part that got me all internal-flailing excited. This is a spoiler-free zone, so I guess we’ll just have to talk about something else. Any other personal publishing successes you’d like to crow about, Alyson?

Alyson: This is my first published novella, but last summer I was asked to contribute to the “Tales from the Archives” ebook/podcast anthology from Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine over at the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I wrote a short story called “A Trick of Strong Imagination” which is available for 99c on Nook and Kindle, and can be downloaded for free from their website (read by moi, other vocals contributed by David W.M. Kelch, Ben Muller, and Tee Morris). It’s fun, and if you haven’t read the Ministry books, STOP NOW AND PURCHASE THEM – sooooo gooooood.

Me: As someone who’s written multiple works, have you noticed any recurring themes within the Alyson Grauer canon?

Alyson: Recurring themes include pirates, ladies being excellently in charge of their own destinies and comfortable in combat, and elements of a fantastic/supernatural/mythological nature.

Me: Speaking of all things fantastic, our second year on cast at the Bristol Renaissance Faire is upon us! Will you be reprising your former role, or playing someone new?

Alyson: Buongiorno, my friend! I am happy to return to Bristol as one of those darn ragtag Italians in the Commedia dell’Arte troupe (formerly known as At Your Service). Pedrolino, my role last year, has been laid to rest (at the risk of sounding morbid), but you will get to meet a lovely new lady this year, a not-terribly-bright servant named Coviella! She also plays the lute-a-lele, gets distracted easily, and has a penchant for feathered caps.

Me: Who doesn’t have a penchant for feathered caps? Okay, time for some things in threes. Three of your favorite books, and three random favorite things: Go.

Alyson: Three of my favorite books: “The Last Unicorn” by Peter S. Beagle, “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” by Robert A. Heinlein, “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.

Three of my favorite (random) things: Heavy thunderstorms during the summer, Benedict Cumberbatch, and really high grade green tea (Gyokuro Imperial).

Me: Any last words (I ask ominously)?

Alyson: Thank you for the interviewythingy and for the support of the anthology! Big Bristol-sized hugs and congratulations on your own endeavors, Danielle! And to those reading: If you’re in Chicago, please feel free to come check out Plan 9 Burlesque’s monthly nerd-themed cabarets at the Public House Theatre. It is always an AMAZING time! Don’t be shy, come introduce yourself sometime. Also check out my nerd blog co-written by Stella Cheeks (also of Plan 9) at Comma-Chameleon.com. Also I’m on Twitter @dreamstobecome. Sorry, that was a lot of last words.

Me: No worries; I don’t grudge monologues to those about to die. X)

In all seriousness, thank you for stopping by, Alyson! My Town Crier self will give Coviella a shout when next we meet in merry olde Bristol. And readers, if you’re on the fence about whether you should check out “Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology”, allow me to provide you with a benevolent shove. Go get it; shoo. (And feel free to pick up a copy of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales)” while you’re in the neighborhood. Then you’ll be twice as cool.)

“Steampunk” AND “Classics”

Taking a breather from talking about that book I published – *breathes* – to talk about a book I read!

Wikipedia defines “steampunk” as “a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century”. And while I’m not sure who’s in charge of the definition of a literary classic, I generally interpret it as “an old book that a lot of people have read and/or been made to read in the name of higher education, frequently held up by intellectual types as a paragon of the written word”.

Both steampunk and classics have been hit-or-miss with me, in the past, but when a friend o’ mine announced that she’d landed a spot in a new anthology mixing the twain, I was eager to give a chance.

Two words: Zero regrets.

More words: Read on…

The Book: “Mechanized Masterpieces (A Steampunk Anthology)” edited by Penny Freeman, through Xchyler Publishing.

Genre: Steampunk.

Blurb: Amid a cacophony of cranking sprockets and cogs, in chuffs of steam and soot, comes the expansion of classic literature into alternative Steampunk masterpieces. Follow nine skilled authors as they lead old friends and new acquaintances through Jamaica, Singapore, Cape Town, Denmark, Paris, London, and Geneva on a phantasmagorical Steampunk World Tour.

Tropic of Cancer (Neve Talbot): Edward Rochester battles the elements and Bertha Mason to save his brother and his own soul.

Sense and Cyborgs (Anika Arrington): Privateer Margaret Dashwood makes port at Singapore to get her husband back on his feet.

Micawber and Copperfield (David W. Wilkin): Wilkins Micawber and David Copperfield create a legacy of loyalty in the Royal Dirigible Corps.

Little Boiler Girl (Scott William Taylor): Power has a price, and one city unwittingly demands an enslaved child pay it.

The Clockwork Ballet (M.K. Wiseman): At the Palais Garnier, the Phantom trips the light fantastic with Meg Giry, the prima ballerina of his mechanical troupe.

His Frozen Heart (Aaron and Belinda Sikes): Jacob Marley saves Ebenezer Scrooge from robbing his wife’s grave and selling his soul.

Our Man Fred (A.F. Stewart): Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, and his fiancé, Mary, protect the Empire from mechanized malfeasance.

Lavenza, or the Modern Galatea (Alyson Grauer*): Victor Frankenstein’s bride discovers more than his horrific experiments on her wedding day.

My Thoughts: Tied to classics but never bound by them, this collection captivated me from page one. More than simply slapping on some gears and shrouding it in steam, the assembly of authors have done a fine job of making the story worlds and characters of the likes of Charles Dickens and Mary Shelley their own.

While familiarity with the old literature that inspired these works isn’t necessary to enjoy the anthology, for the re-imaginings related to stories I already knew and loved in one form or another, looking for connections and creative deviations was half the fun. I likewise appreciated that the tales didn’t get too bogged down with long, intricate descriptions of mechanical devices, leaving me free to get lost in the story instead of tangled up in wires.

“Mmm, yes; quite tastefully done, I say, old chap.”
“Mmm, yes; quite tastefully done, I say, old chap.”

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Whether you’re already a fan of steampunk or looking for a book to introduce you to the genre, I’ll recommend “Mechanized Masterpieces” every time.

If you’d like to be the proud owner of a lovely paperback, as I am, you can grab one here and here; also available as an e-book, here and here.

*Aly’s my pally! ^-^ Both of us alumni of the Bristol Renaissance Faire, class of 2012. If that’s not an “in” for an interview, I don’t know what is… (;