Facebook is not a Waste of Time

Facebook is not a waste of time: it saved my cat.

Not long after my good friend Jim Davies shared a story about his beloved pug’s sudden illness, I came home to find our beautiful cat “Loki the Loquacious” turned lethargic, not interested in food, and yowling at touches to his abdomen. This struck me as seriously unusual, and I was motivated by Jim’s experience to look up Loki’s symptoms.

The recommendation: take him to the vet right away. So we did.

It turned out we were right not to wait: this was a life-threatening urinary blockage which could have killed him through cardiac arrest. According to the emergency room vet, this is a particular issue for male cats near the end of winter, when for some reason they drink less. This leads to increasingly concentrated urine, crystallization of debris in the bladder, and, thanks to the (ahem) tapered nature of the male cat anatomy, can lead to blockages that can kill a cat in under 72 hours.

Fortunately we caught it in time, and they were able to catheterize him, put him on an IV and antibiotics. Loki started out as a feral near-bully cat, but after years of love the vets pronounced him a sweetie.

They thought he would be home after a couple of days, though it was closer to five. But he’s home safe now, and that happened because me and my friends were on Facebook, sharing our stories.

Jim, if you’re reading this, as I said on Facebook: I’m sorry for your loss. But thank you for sharing it. You helped me save my cat’s life.

-the Centaur

The Eagle Has Landed

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Welp, that was anticlimactic! Thanks, God, for a smooth update to WordPress 4.7.3! (And thanks to the WordPress team for maintaining backwards compatibility). And hey, look – the Library has close to 1,000 posts!

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Expect major site updates in the months to come, as WordPress’s Themes and Pages now enable me to do things I could only formerly do with static pages and hand-coded pages, and it will all be backed up easier thanks to WordPress’s Jetpack plugin.

The things you learn helping other people with their web sites ….

-the Centaur

We are go for launch …

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Welp, it’s time: I’ve backed up the Library of Dresan three ways to Sunday, said a prayer … and now am planning to upgrade WordPress from 3.0.1-alpha-15359 to 4.7.3. I know that’s 1.7.2 full version numbers, but it’s been too long, and there are too many new features I need, so … time to press the button.

God, please help me! Everyone else, your prayers, please.

-the Centaur

Auditions are Underway!

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Fantastic news … auditions are now underway for the very first Jeremiah Willstone radio theater play, “Jeremiah Willstone and the Choir of Demons,” based on the story of the (almost) same name published in Aurora Wolf magazine! Here’s the casting call, being handled by the director, Tony Sarrecchia:

Open casting call for an audio/radio drama.

Tony Sarrecchia (The Harry Strange Radio Drama​) is holding open auditions for a new Steampunk audio drama that will be produced in conjunction with the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company The story, an adaptation of Anthony Francis‘s Jeremiah Willstone series will be recorded in Atlanta and is scheduled to be available through several distribution channels later this year.

English actress and voice-over artist Emma Greene (Swamp Murders, The Harry Strange Radio Drama, An Elf’s Story) will play the title character who is a “third-generation female soldier from a world where women’s liberation happened a century earlier than ours” in tales of “betrayal, corsets, and ray guns.” Jeremiah has appeared in eight stories, with four more stories, a novella, and audio adventures on the way! Most exciting of all, she’s now appearing in her first novel-length adventure, Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine! A sprawling tale of brass buttons, steam-powered ray-guns, and rollicking adventure.

For this audio drama, director Tony Sarrecchia is looking for the following:

Detective Tenpenny: A middle-aged female detective with a slight British accent.
Sample lines:
#1: “Perfect! The world is falling down around me, and the Army sends me a green-skinned rookie. Can you at least make coffee?”
#2: “Oh, he’s a monster. Seven dead that we know of…all lost to some nefarious machines designed to disfigure and maul their victims.”

Doctor Waxwood: A 60-year physician. Refined Souther accent.
#1: “I am Doctor Waxwood, the patients attending physician. I trust you both know enough to maintain decorum and discretion.”
#2: “I would love to get my hands on the demons who would do such a thing to a child!”

Madame Windprice: A 50-year solider ravished by time and illness. English accent.
#1: “I saw them everywhere—if I were 20 years younger I’d have taken them all.”
#2: “Blood Boolean toys! Give me an old-fashioned analogue spectroscope any day!”

Ensign Adler: Young male or female solider. English or southern accent.
#1: “Jeremiah, hurry, we’re going to be late!”
#2: “Yes! You struck the nail squarely!”

Prof Kilroe: Male, military professor, 40s. Southern Accent
#1: “Outfitting is the foundation of Expeditionary work. Thanks to modern shape readers and auto whittling, we can customize each Expeditionary’s gear to their individual bodies. Now, I’d like each of you to measure your hand and weapon as outlined on the board. (WALKING AROUND THE ROOM) Yes, good, good. Careful around the fingers. As you trace and measure, the wax cylinder is encoding a sound that will instruct the autowhittler to sculpt a new pistol grip customized to both your left Kathodenstrahl (cat-HOD-en-STRAHL) and your hand.”

Zane Cross: Male, villain, 30s. English or Southern Boston Accent
#1: “Do you propose we just shoot evil-glare at each other for the rest of the night.”
#2: “There is nothing COMMON about me!”

Currently, compensation is in credit and samples. This audition is for actors in the Atlanta Metro area (or those who can attend recording sessions in Atlanta).

Audition recordings specifications:
⁃ Mp3 at 44.1Khz 128 bit rate
⁃ Record each line separately
⁃ Label as follows: your name_character_line#.mp3
⁃ Send in a zip file (or Dropbox) to producer@harrystrange.com
In an email please include the following:
⁃ Your real name
⁃ Credits
⁃ Location
⁃ Phone/Skype
⁃ Willingness to perform in front of a live audience (not a requirement, just a nice to know)

You can contact Tony directly about the open casting call, or contact me at centaur at dresan dot com and I’ll pass it along.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a remixed picture of a wax-cylinder Edison phonograph, picture taken by Billy Hathorn and edited by me under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Guest Post at Magical Words

Want to know more about the process of writing a novel? I believe that you should “put it all in” – to use all your inspiration on every project, and to not hold things back for later. Now is the opportunity; take it! To learn more, check out my guest post at Magical Words!

Putting It All In

One of the most important pieces of writing advice I’ve received is “put it all in.” If you’ve got a great idea, don’t save it for a great story: put it in the story you’re working on now. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I had a great idea that I felt I “wasn’t ready to tell,” but I can tell you that those stories almost never get told.

When I started writing a steampunk novel, I questioned what to put in it. I knew my protagonist was a young female soldier from the Victorian era, but what else should go in the story? Some things seemed obvious …

To find out more about the novel that came out of this process, check out Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine wherever fine books are sold:

-the Centaur

A Day Without Women Would be the End of the World

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Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day, a day that began commemorating the anniversary of a women workers strike – and so perhaps it’s also being celebrated as A Day Without a Woman, another strike designed to call attention to how important women are to our society. But, science fiction writer that I am, I couldn’t help but think of literal day without women – and so, over on the Adventures of Jeremiah Willstone site, I talk about how “A Day Without Women Would be the End of the World”.

-the Centaur

Adventures in Women’s History

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This month, I’ll be talking about women’s history on the Adventures of Jeremiah Willstone site!

Jeremiah’s world is one in which women’s liberation happened a century early, so, with twice as many brains working on hard problems, they’re more advanced in 1908 than we are today – but that doesn’t mean we’re not trying! In March, the people of our universe celebrate Women’s History Month as a way to highlight the important parts of our history that might otherwise be forgotten, and so this month on the Adventures of Jeremiah Willstone I’m going to highlight various figures in women’s history and how they inspired various characters in the Jeremiah Willstone series.

We’ll be talking about women’s liberation pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft and how she inspired Jeremiah Willstone; women scientists Emmy Noether and Marie Curie and how they inspired Doctor Jackson Truthsayer; computer scientists Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper and how they inspired Georgiana Westenhoq, and women soldiers Kristen Griest and Chantelle Taylor and how they inspired characters like Jeremiah and Natasha Faulkner-Jain.

I’ll also talk a bit about Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, and the whole notion of “history months” and how Bayes Rule helps us understand why singling out one group for recognition, which to some people seems prejudiced and unfair, really can be a fair thing if that group has been unfairly treated!

Stay tuned!

-the Centaur

Guest Post at Beauty’s Library!

Want to know more about the philosophy behind Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine? Check out my guest post at Beauty’s Library:

Jeremiah Willstone is a special novel for me, because the smallest of inspirations blossomed into a project that reflects my deepest values. I fell in love with steampunk at Dragon Con 2009, where I saw many amazing steampunk costumes, in particular a young woman with a steam-powered gatling gun. My training as a science fiction writer makes me pick at the loose threads of imagined worlds, so I started to wonder not just what technology could power that gun, but what social changes could have enabled a young woman to become a Victorian soldier.

I’ve been interested in women’s rights since I was a child…

To read the rest, take a look, or to find out more about Jeremiah, check out The Clockwork Time Machine wherever fine books are sold:

-the Centaur

Author Spotlight at Bell Bridge Books!

Over at Bell Bridge Books, I talk about how I came to love steampunk and how Jeremiah Willstone came to be!

Alright, I’ll admit it: I didn’t start out liking steampunk. When The Difference Engine came out, I just didn’t get it. I mean, Charles Babbage’s Difference Engines actually working, much less changing Victorian society? I didn’t buy it. Looking back, I think I just didn’t like alternate history, as I found other, similar novels off-putting.

But as I grew, I watched the steampunk movement grow too, hand in hand with the burgeoning maker community. At the same time I started attending the Maker Faire and admiring all the amazing contraptions our modern independent inventors were coming up with, I started noticing more and more steampunk costumes expressing the same kind of gutsy do-it-yourself, throw-it-all-together flair.

It all came together for me at Dragon Con 2009 …

To read more, check it out at the Bell Bridge Books blog!

-the Centaur