Tête-à-Tentacles (Will Scarlet’s Kiss & Tell)

“From the stage that brought you Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre,” Will Scarlet 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 steps back onto the bright, cozy set with a broad smile and wave.

“Now, as regular viewers will know, that announcement is usually Allyn-a-Dale’s to make. But our little minstrel friend’s decided to take a mental health day, whatever that’s supposed to mean. So for this episode, I’m flying solo. Jumping right into it then,” he says, leading by example by hopping into his armchair. “Here courtesy of author J. Aurel Guay, let’s give it up for today’s guest, Miss Elizabeth Carter!”

The young woman enters from the other side of the stage and takes a seat in the chair across from Will’s.

“Welcome, Miss Carter! Won’t you give us a brief description of yourself?”

“Gladly Mr. Scarlet. I am, or rather was, a researcher of the mysterious crystals found in my late uncle’s gold mines after his passing. The mines themselves belonged to Automaton Incorporated, referred to as AI. My uncle, John Carter, was rather fond of me and my cousin E. R. Boroughs, and it was a bittersweet prize when Edgar, the officiator of Uncle Jack’s will, informed me that I had been granted the funds for an advanced education.

“Oh, did you say ‘brief’ description? Sorry, I do tend to prattle on, so I’m told. According to some I also have something of a temper. They say it comes with the red hair. Of course I would disagree. I am merely passionate about my work, that is all. Careful now, Nauty! Don’t get your tentacles caught in my hair again…”

“I say!” says Will, leaning forward to inspect the mechanical creature more closely. “What do you call that lively thingamajig?”

“Yes, how could I forget my little friend here? This devious little contraption is Nautilus. We call him Nauty, for reasons that, with any luck, you will not have to bear witness to. He is an oct-omaton and the first to be animated by a synthetically made crystal.”

“Ha! Fantastic. Don’t let my author swipe him off you; she’s got a thing for anything remotely resembling a kraken. So, this work you do – what else can you tell me about it, and these weird crystals of yours?”

“Oh, well unfortunately, I’ve recently found myself unemployed. I was researching the crystals discovered in my uncle John Carter’s gold mine. They had the power both to transmute energy, and perceive human thought. We used them to animate and control our automaton. James could tell you more about them, since as it turns out… well, it’s rather difficult to explain. Let’s just say that he is not quite from this world and that the crystals are very close to his heart.

“As to my role in the recent events… It was really mostly James’ doing. Though I suppose, if I had not enlisted him in studying how the crystal shards animate our automaton, he might never have found the truth about himself. And there was that time I rescued him from a mob of mercenaries…”

“Whoa, what now! How’d you pull that off? Were there tentacles involved?”

“It was nothing really. I had a rather large, nearly sentient automaton on my side and the element of surprise. And no, the tentacles did not come until much later. I did try my best to deal with that beast as well, but it was ultimately James who succeeded. What he thought was a sacrifice on humanity’s behalf, turned out to be the key to his own mystery. Still, he is far too humble about the whole affair. It was he who put a stop to the rotten plans of that dastard Mr. Powell, and even returned my dear Nauty to me.

“But, there I go again carrying on. Rather than listen to me, why don’t you go read about it yourself? My dear friend Dr. J. Aurel Guay has written it up and included it in an anthology by the name ofMechanized Masterpeices 2’. The section regarding our story is titledA Princess of Jasoom(the title still makes me blush each time I hear it, but he gave me no say). I think you can find it on that Amazon thingy, at this address.”

MMAA2_Cover

“My, your thoroughness leaves me with little more to say, though one more very important question to ask. Tell me, Miss Carter, what is your author J’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret?” He flashes his classic smile. “Or would you rather kiss me?”

“Oh, my dear Mr. Scarlet, you should know better than to try to trick a lady, such as myself, into revealing anything she doesn’t want to. Nor do I think you would want to incur the jealousy of an alien spacecraft. Let’s just keep everything aboveboard here shall we?”

“A-alien…? Er, yes,” Will coughs, “maybe I’ll, um, leave that one alone. At least until Allyn’s back to save my tail. In the meantime, thank you, Miss Carter. You, too, little Nauty-boy! And thank you, my beautiful audience. Remember, authors – if your characters would like to appear on the show, simply follow the guidelines provided here, and we’ll get them on the schedule. ‘Til next time, lovelies: Scarlet out!”

Go West, Steampunks!

MMAA2_Webkit_Banner-2

Xchyler Publishing’s first collection of Steampunked classics mined inspiration from the literary treasures of Europe. Now another lineup of authorial talent is back for book two, this time looking across the Atlantic to find their muse.

Mechanized Masterpieces 2: An American Anthology” launches this weekend, and its blog tour is in full swing. Welcome to my stop, featuring both my review of the anthology and a fun Q&A with one of its authors, M. Irish Gardner!

MMAA2_Webkit_TheNovel-2

 

Meet an MMAA Author!

M. Irish Gardner

A day-dreamer at heart, M. Irish Gardner has dabbled in imaginary worlds from Day One and developed an incurable addiction when she finally began recording her ideas. Her bachelor’s degree in recreation management does nothing for her writing, but she sure knows how to play. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two daughters, and all the characters in her head. Gardner’s first published work, “Reformation,” appeared in A Dash of Madness: A Thriller Anthology.

Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

Share how you came up with the concept for your story? 

This is actually the first time I’ve started a story without a full concept in mind. I found Emily Dickinson’s poem, “A Charm Invests a Face”, and decided to create a story around that. Cyborgs are popular in steampunk. And everyone loves a good gypsy character, so I rolled with it.

Any other published works? 

My only other work is “Reformation” in A Dash of Madness, released June 2013.

What is your preferred writing genre?

I have found that every story I write must have some element of romance in it!

And preferred reading genre?

I love stories that incorporate romance, adventure, suspense, and fantasy, all in one neat little (or big) bundle!

MMAA2_Cover

What are your top 3 favorite books?

The Count of Monte Cristo, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter series

Do you have any particular writing habits?

I like to use alliteration, if that’s what you mean. I also tend to mix up idioms…

Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?

Nope. I’ve learned that my words sound much better than they actually are when music is playing. I have to work in silence so I really “hear” the words.

Panster or plotter?

Short stories – pantser. Full-novels – plotter.

Advice for writers?

Read, then practice. Read, then practice. And don’t give up.

What’s up next for you?

I have a non-fiction piece I’m just wrapping up. It’s about a woman who became very ill while pregnant with her second child and spent three months in the hospital. When she left, she was a triple amputee and blind. She’s been wanting to write her story for six long years, so I was really happy that she asked me to help her. I’m hoping her book will be released in 2015, but we still haven’t finalized a publisher.

Who would you cast for your main characters and why?

Romain Duris

I actually don’t have a solid image in my head for my heroine, but my hero is totally Romain Duris. I was searching online for “French actors” to get an idea of what my character would look like, and as soon as I saw him, I said, “YEP! That’s him!” 😀 I’ve attached the picture I used for inspiration while writing. I think it would inspire anyone…

Author Favorite Things:

– Quote = “Falling flat on your face is still moving forward.”

– TV show = Oh, too hard to choose! I love The Musketeers, Firefly, Vikings, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Chuck, Dexter, Lost, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, New Girl, and many more. Maybe I should watch less and write more!

– Comic book character = I’ve always had a thing for Batman.

– Movie = The Last of the Mohicans

– Candy bar = Three Musketeers

– Junk food = I’m a total sucker for Starbucks hot chocolate and their slow roasted ham and Swiss!

– Place you visited = I was blown away by the Washington coast last summer, but I think Havasu Falls, AZ still beats them all!

– Restaurant = I love good comfort food, so I have many Italian, Mexican, and American favorite places to eat. I had fantastic Indian food last spring in California, though!

– Island = No man is a…?

Thanks, Ms. Gardner! And now, onto…

MMAA2_Webkit_MyReview-2

I had the pleasure of reading this book well in advance of its publication – and a genuine pleasure it was. The assembled authors rose to the creative challenge of turning classic works of American prose and poetry into steam-powered stories to stand on their own.

Of course, sometimes the nostalgia of a familiar premise worked in a tale’s favor; my enthusiasm for the recent TV adaptation of the Sleepy Hollow legend and fond feelings for the cozy cast of Louisa May Alcott’s best-known work further enhanced my enjoyment of Jay Barnson’s “The Van Tassel Legacy” and Neve Talbot’s “West End”, respectively. The fact that I’m a sucker for a charming con game made D. Lee Jortner’s “Payoff for Air-Pirate Pete” and M. K. Wiseman’s “The Silver Scam” a pair of easy wins for me. And if you like your adventure accompanied by automatons with personality, “A Princess of Jasoom” by J. Aurel Guay is the perfect anthology opener.

Whether you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe or Emily Dickenson, the sea beasts of Herman Melville and Jules Vernes or the sled dogs of Jack London, or just a reader who likes a good book with a bit of clockwork flavor, this second volume of Mechanized Masterpieces has the makings of a classic in its own right.

MMAA2_Webkit_Available-2

Preorder now, join the Release Party on Facebook this Saturday, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Tour Schedule:

February 22 – A Princess of Jasoom by J. Aurel Guay

www.aealbert.com

http://cbybookclub.blogspot.co.uk

http://lizjostte.blogspot.com

~

February 23 – Winged Hope by Megan Oliphant

http://ifeeltheneedtheneedtoread.com/

http://thenaughtlibrarianplayground.blogspot.com/?m=1

~

February 23 – The Van Tassel Legacy by Jay Barnson

http://authorcandyodonnell.blogspot.com/

http://coffeehobby.blogspot.com/

~

February 24 – Invested Charm by M. Irish Gardner

https://www.facebook.com/KittyMuseBookReviews

semishort.blogspot.com

http://www.melsshelves.blogspot.com

~

February 25 – Payoff for Air Pirate Pete by D. Lee Jortner

mybookshelfbookreviews.blogspot.com

http://www.melsshelves.blogspot.com

http://coffeehobby.blogspot.com/

~

February 26 – Rise of the House of Usher by J.R. Potter

https://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1554130711466153

http://coffeehobby.blogspot.com/

~

February 26 – The Silver Scams by M. K. Wiseman

rebeccalamoreaux-anauthorinprogress.blogspot.com

pennybrojacquie.blogspot.com

~

February 27 – Nautilus Redux by Scott E. Tarbet

semishort.blogspot.com

http://coffeehobby.blogspot.com/

~

February 27 – Mr. Thornton by Scott William Taylor

rebeccalamoreaux-anauthorinprogress.blogspot.com

http://thebookbeacon.com

~

February 28 – West End by Neve Talbot

http://ellelainey.wordpress.com

http://fictionalrendezvousbookblog.blogspot.com/

rebeccalamoreaux-anauthorinprogress.blogspot.com

“Shades and Shadows” plus Journal Giveaway Winners!

Posting two pieces of business, today: A new book review (meaning a new review of a book that is also new), and the giveaway prize announcement we’ve all be waiting for (“we all” being… me plus some other people, I can only hope)! Jumping right into the action…

The Book: “Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology” edited by Terri Wagner and Jessica Shen, through Xchyler Publishing.

Genre: Paranormal Anthology.

Blurb: (Goodreads description)

In the dead of night, you sense something . . . other . . . beyond your sight, out there in the darkness. You feel a breath upon your neck, cold and clammy, fecund with mold and decay. Your hair stands on end from no random chill. The air is still. No one is there.

Travel with nine talented writers into their paranormal world, but don’t disregard that inkling that niggles somewhere in the pit of your stomach to leave the light on, to shun that dark room, and to pull the covers over your head.

Whatever you do, don’t look under the bed.

Shades and Shadows cover pic

(Amazon summary)

The Music Man (Eric White): Peter Hold must face his personal bogeyman and right a terrible wrong . . . and find the key to laying his childhood demon to rest.

China Doll (Ginger C. Mann): Kris discovers deep secrets about her family as she pays the price to repair her beloved china doll.

Split Ends (Scott William Taylor): Frank and Bets open up a whole new realm of possibility when they test the boundaries of their platonic friendship.

Child of the Underworld (Marian Rosarum): Lara escapes her mother’s bleak realm but must decide which she more craves: food for her belly or love for her soul.

Cost of Custody (R.M. Ridley): Jonathan Alvey helps estranged parents create magic to rescue their daughter from a terrible fate.

Tombstone (Scott E. Tarbet): A stubborn old farmer defies the oilmen, his family, and the odds to save his homestead from the ravages of progress.

Ghost Townies (E. Branden Hart): The ghost apocalypse send Dean and Jimbo on the run, armed with only their flashlights, their wits, and dumb luck.

Crossroads (Neve Talbot): Rob Daniels must choose the direction of his life. Can his dead brother keep him on the straight and narrow?

The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells (J. Aurel Guay): Tormented by his tragic past, this young medical resident finds the inner strength to save London from a rash of gruesome murders.

My Thoughts: I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. (A fair trade, said I.) A reader who tends to favor novel-length works over short stories, I always wonder when cracking open a new anthology whether I’ll find anything among the collection that appeals to me, and how the book’s hits and misses will stack up against one another by the end. In the case of “Shades and Shadows”, my overall impression is: The hits win.

Pretty much all of the stories managed to elicit the ol’ “feels” in one part of me or another. While, as expected, some pieces didn’t grab me as others did, especial favorites included Scott E. Tarbet’s “Tombstone” (loved the old farmer’s narrative voice), R.M. Ridley’s “Cost of Custody” (a P.I. adventure that had my adrenaline going), and Neve Talbot’s “Crossroads” (which I started out thinking I’d dislike, due to the protagonist’s attitude about his family, but ended up absolutely sucked in).

Tossing in a couple more shout-outs, “Ghost Townies” was good for its intended chuckle, and just when I was thinking “The Music Man” wasn’t going to do it for me, the story cruised on past my expectations and went to a place that had me going, “Now we’re talkin’!” Meanwhile, “The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells” read like it could have been the pilot for a cool, uncanny drama on TV.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): All told, I’d say it’s worth the read, particularly if you’re craving a ghost story to be enjoyed in a few quick bites.

The anthology’s launch party is coming to Facebook on Thursday – aka, through no coincidence, Halloween. I intend to join in the celebration, congratulate the authors on their projects’ release, maybe try my luck at winning a prize or two… We’d all love to see you over there, so drop by if you get the chance!

And speaking of prizes, it’s time to announce the winners of my “Inspired” Journal Giveaway!” Listed in the order of which of the seven journals they won (1 gets Journal #One, 2 gets Journal #2, etc.), the winners are:

1 = Marissa Halvorson!

2 = Kim Matura!

3 = Laure Estep!

4 = Miranda McNeff!

5 = Aisazia!

6 = Kimberly Kay!

7 = Tyler-Rose Counts!

Huzzah to all of you! I’ll be in touch to make sure I get your shipping information so you can each receive your journal and signed “Inspired” bookmark. Thanks for playing along, and try not to explode with impatience – only a few more months ‘til the novel’s release!