Posts Tagged ‘Gaslights and Rayguns’

Thinking Ink Press Instant Books at the Arsenal

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

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It’s amazing how things come together! Several of the Instant Books created by Thinking Ink Press, the small press of which I’m a part, are now on display as part of the local book section of the Arsenal artist-owned art store in San Jose!

One of the great things about Instant Books is that they seem to be opening new doors. I really enjoy working with traditional publishers and editors like Debra Dixon at Bell Bridge Books, and all my novels are published that way, but working with the writers and artists at the Write to the End group has really opened my eyes to the physical joy of handmade books.

Sure, I’ve done a couple printed chapbooks for my own amusement, but author and paper artist Keiko O’Leary introduced us to this folded format. Fellow flash fiction author Betsy Miller and I started thinking about the stories we had that fit the format. Writer and editor Liza Olmsted helped us prepare them for publication. Keiko, my wife Sandi, and I provided the art. And creative barrier-buster Nathan Vargas gave us important feedback that helped us push the project home – telling us how the prototype books had an awesome feel, like “snack books” that you can read in a single sitting but still get the feel of reading a traditional book.

Except on much, much nicer paper. It matters. It really matters.

My two titles are the flash fiction collection “Jagged Fragments” and the steampunk chapbook “Jeremiah Willstone and the Sorting of the Secret Post“, and Betsy has the flash short “Bees.

So drop in on the Arsenal and check them out, or stay tuned to Thinking Ink Press for more awesome books!

-Anthony

Clockwork Alchemy in Transit

Monday, May 25th, 2015

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No time to blog this proper – things are moving too fast. But here’s a flyover of Clockwork Alchemy in pictures.

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There’s an awesome dealer’s room … with droolworthy clothes (not my size, or it would be mine):

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There’s an awesome art show, with epic props and artwork:

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And I do mean epic:

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There are amazing costumes of all kinds …

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… with bleedover from Fanime and Baycon:

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There’s an awesome Author’s Salon organized by the redoubtable volcano lady, T.E. MacArthur …

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… and featuring alternate historian Harry Turtledove, Madeline Holly-Rosing of the Boston Metaphysical Society, Kaja & Phil Foglio of Girl Genius …

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… and me!

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Many people at Thinking Ink Press helped out, either getting materials together prior to the con or helping out at the table …

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… and we managed to make many fans happy by bringing them LIQUID FIRE!

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… and much more! For the very first time … someone bought the first Skindancer trilogy as a bundle!

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Let’s end on that happy note, and I’ll have more tales of the con soon! One more day to go…

-the Centaur

Jeremiah Willstone and the Sorting of the Secret Post

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

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If you love steampunk, flash fiction, or cool things printed on paper, come by Clockwork Alchemy this weekend. I’m pleased to announce that Thinking Ink Press is printing two pieces of ephemera for the con – the flash fiction Instant Book “Jagged Fragments” and the short story Snapbook “Jeremiah Willstone and the Sorting of the Secret Post.”

I had hoped we’d have JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE ready for Clockwork Alchemy, but Debra, my editor at Bell Bridge Books, thought we should focus on getting Dakota Frost #3, LIQUID FIRE, out first – and she was right. That’s out right now, in fact, just in time for the con – I got the books early this week.

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But Betsy Miller of Thinking Ink Press suggested that I put something together for the con, thinking of three pieces I already had – the flash fiction pieces “The Secret of the T-Rex’s Arms” and “If Looks Could Kill” and the essay “The Rules Disease“. Not to be daunted by taking on too much, I decided I wanted a piece teasing THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE.

So I wrote a brand new short story just for the occasion, “The Sorting of the Secret Post”.

Hand-printed copies of these books will be available at the con. We aren’t sure what we’ll do with these in the future – the beauty of instant books (books printed on a single sheet of paper) and snap books (chapbooks printed on conventional printers) is that they can be printed on demand for an event. We call them “ephemera” and they enable us to experiment with the printed word.

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Here you see Keiko O’Leary of TIP folding instant books (and Liza Olmsted of TIP scowling at a tax form). The editions we’ve produced this time just came together in time for the con. You can’t even have the first ones – Nathan Vargas of TIP bought the very first copies of both books, one-of-a-kinds that will never come around again.

“The Sorting of the Secret Post” in particular is a direct prequel to THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, but it isn’t clear whether we’ll reprint it once the book from Bell Bridge is out (though I hope we will, we haven’t decided). So come on down and get your copies … because whatever they become in the future, they’ll be something different.

-the Centaur

At Clockwork Alchemy this Memorial Day

Monday, May 18th, 2015

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This Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be at the Clockwork Alchemy conference in the Author’s Salon. I’ll have on hand the new steampunk anthology TWELVE HOURS LATER, plus of course the newly released third Dakota Frost, Skindancer book LIQUID FIRE, which, despite the presence of an airship, is firmly an urban fantasy novel.

If I’m not at my table, I will likely be appearing at:

  • The Science of Airships Saturday, May 23 from 2pm – 3pm in the San Juan Workshop Room
  • Steampunk Comics Saturday, May 23 from 6pm to 7pm in the Author’s Salon.
  • Writing Steampunk: Sunday, May 24 from 2pm to 3 pm in the Carmel Fashion Room

In addition to TWELVE HOURS LATER and LIQUID FIRE … I may have something else at the table. Stay tuned.

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-the Centaur

LIQUID FIRE and TWELVE HOURS LATER

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

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I think I’ll be posting this everywhere for a while … LIQUID FIRE, my third novel, is now available for preorder on Amazon. I talk a bit more about this on the Dakota Frost blog, but after a lot of work with beta readers, editing, and my editor, I’m very proud of this book, which takes Dakota out of her comfort zone in Atlanta and brings her to the San Francisco Bay, where she encounters romance, danger, magic, science, art, mathematics, vampires, werewolves, and the fae. It comes out May 22, but you can preorder it now on Amazon! Go get it! You’ll have a blast.

And, almost at the same time, I found out this is coming out on May 22 as well…

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TWELVE HOURS LATER is also available for preorder on Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace. Put together by the Treehouse Writers, TWELVE HOURS LATER is a collection of 24 steampunk stories, one for every hour in the day – many of them in linked pairs, half a day apart … hence “Twelve Hours Later”. My two stories in the anthology, “The Hour of the Wolf” and “The Time of Ghosts”, feature Jeremiah Willstone, the protagonist of “Steampunk Fairy Chick” in the UnCONventional anthology … and also the protagonist of the forthcoming novel THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE from Bell Bridge Books. (It’s also set in the same universe as “The Doorway to Extra Time” from the anthology of the almost identical name).

And, believe it or not, I may have something else coming out soon … stay tuned. :-)

-the Centaur

Hustle and Bustle at the Library

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

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I’ve felt quite harried over the past few weeks … and talking with another author, I realized why.

In April, I finally finished my part of Dakota Frost #3, LIQUID FIRE – sending comments to the publisher Bell Bridge Books on the galley proofs, reviewing cover ideas, contributing to the back cover copy, writing blogposts. I also as part of Camp Nanowrimo finished a rough rough draft of Dakota Frost #4, SPECTRAL IRON. But at the same time, I had recently finished a short story, “Vogler’s Garden”, and have been sending it out to quite a few places.

In May, we expect LIQUID FIRE will be out, I have two stories in the anthology TWELVE HOURS LATER, and I have three guest blog posts coming out, one on “Science is Story: Science, Magic, and the Thin Line Between” on the National Novel Writing Month blog which has gotten some traction. And I’ll be speaking at the Clockwork Alchemy conference. Oh, and I’m about to start responding to Bell Bridge’s feedback on my fourth novel, THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE.

Holy cow. No wonder I feel so harried! But it’s all for a good cause.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a friend at work shattered his monitor and inadvertently made art.

Climbing the Mountain

Friday, April 24th, 2015

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I recently was talking with Debra Dixon, my editor for the Dakota Frost series, and we realized that if we wanted SPECTRAL IRON, Dakota Frost #4, to come out next year, we needed to get a final book (from me) in her hands by January to have time to edit it before year was out.

Given that when we had this conversation we had not yet finished LIQUID FIRE (book 3) and I have yet to edit THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, this caused some understandable panic.

So, rather than keeping to my schedule to work on part 2 of PHANTOM SILVER (book 5) during this April, I decided to bump up my schedule and work on part 3 of SPECTRAL IRON so I’d have a draft done early this year.

I think it’s working – the story is coalescing – but as you can see from above, the copyediting and page proofing of LIQUID FIRE ate up a lot of my time to write SPECTRAL IRON.

So I’m scrambling. Probably few blog posts until this month’s 50,000 added words are done.

Onward!

-Anthony

TWELVE HOURS LATER

Friday, March 20th, 2015

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I’m super stoked to announce that Jeremiah Willstone, my favorite steampunk heroine and protagonist of my forthcoming novel THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, will be appearing in two stories in the TWELVE HOURS LATER anthology!

Created by the wonderful folks at the Clockwork Alchemy writer’s track, this anthology features twenty four short stories each focusing on a single hour of the day. My two stories are 3AM – “The Hour of the Wolf” – and 3PM – “The Time of Ghosts”.

Here’s a taste of what happened on Halloween of 1897 … at 3AM, the hour of the wolf:

Jeremiah Willstone ran full tilt down the alley, the clockwork wolf nipping at her heels.

Her weekend had started pleasantly enough: an evening’s liberty from the cloisters of Liberation Academy, a rattling ride into the city on a battered old mechanical caterpillar—and eluding the proctors for a walking tour of Edinburgh with a dish of an underclassman.

Late that night—or, more properly early Halloween morning—the couple had thrown themselves down on the lawn of the park, and his sweet-talk had promised far more than this ersatz picnic of woven candies and braided sweets; but before they’d found a better use for their Victoria blanket … Jeremiah’s eyes got them in trouble.

“Whatever is that?” she asked, sighting a glint running along the edge of the park.

“Just a rat,” Erskine said, proferring her another twisted cinnamon scone.

“Of brass?” Jeremiah asked, sitting up. “With glowing eyes, I note—”

Uh-oh! What have our heroes found? And what will happen later … at 3PM, the time of ghosts?

Half a mile under Edinburgh Castle, lost in a damp warren of ancient masonry lit only by his guttering candle, Navid Singhal-Croft, Dean of Applied Philosophy at Liberation Academy, wished he’d paid more attention to the ghost stories his cadets whispered about the tunnels.

Of course, that was his own fault: he led the college of sciences at the premiere military academy in the Liberated Territories of Victoriana, and he’d always thought it his duty to drum ghost stories out of the young men and women who were his charges, not to memorize them.

Now was the time, but where was the place? A scream echoed in the dark, very close—and eerily familiar. Shielding his candle with one hand, Navid ran through crumbling brick and flickering light, desperate to find his father before the “ghost” claimed another victim.

If he couldn’t rescue his father … Navid might never be born.

DUN DUN DUNNN! What’s going to happen? You’ll have to buy the anthology to find out!

Stay tuned to find out where to purchase it! I’m assuming that will be “everywhere”.

Prevail, Victoriana!

-Anthony

Dakota Frost and the Copyedit of Doom

Friday, March 20th, 2015

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At long last, LIQUID FIRE is on its way to production at Bell Bridge Books!

This was a particularly difficult copyedit – not because the copyeditor was demanding anything particularly weird, but because a misunderstanding on the style guide led to an edit with five thousand annotations.

At one point working with the PDF, I was zooming in the text 200% to try to see what the copyeditors did, and even when what they were suggesting was clear, the number of edits caused everything to jump around crazily.

Finally I had to ask Bell Bridge to send me a .DOC file, so I could use Microsoft Word’s superior tools. I was quickly able to identify 2,500 of the edits as being completely correctable – ellipses and spellings and such – and started a style guide.

Many of the rest were simple things like the Oxford comma, which we had a style change on. Counting these took us down to about a thousand edits.

Most of those thousand were minor changes which I readily accepted. The copyeditors had different suggestions than me on things like the use of the colon, which I often accepted, and paragraph breaks, which I generally did not.

But there was one particular thing – a replacement of the colon with the dash in sentences that already had the dash, which irked me intuitively, and which also turned out to violate the very Chicago Manual of Style rule the CE was citing.

Because we’d gone back and forth on this so much, what I finally sent back to Bell Bridge was a document with 200 tracked changes – mostly, the copyeditor’s comments with extensive responses from me on what CMOS rules I was citing.

(We also had changes to Cinnamon Frost’s broken English, contributed by the linguist Keiko O’Leary who helped me develop Cinnamon’s dialect; but these were largely nonproblematic).

Debra and the copyeditors accepted these with few changes – but still sent a document back with over forty comments. At this point, even if I didn’t agree with them, I took the changes very seriously.

A lot of their remaining suggestions violated some of the “rules” that I write by. But those are not hard and fast rules – and the fact that Debra critiqued them told me that, regardless of my “rules”, the particular text at hand simply wasn’t doing the job.

I accepted most of these comments. I rejected a small handful of others. And in a few cases, I took Debra’s suggestions and solved them a different way, with a larger rewrite which just made the whole problem she saw just go away.

The manuscript I sent back to them had 30 comments or changes. By my count, it was close to the 130th distinct numbered version of the LIQUID FIRE manuscript that I’ve worked on.

Debra accepted it and sent it on to production on Thursday.

That was a good day.

Now on to the edit of THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE!

-the Centaur

Oasis

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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One of the roles conferences fulfill in my life is a chance to recharge. I’m driven to pursue writing, art, comics, software, entrepreneurship, publishing, movies – but I was raised to be responsible, so I have an equally demanding day job that pays the bills for all these activities until such time that they can pay for themselves.

Sometimes I describe this as having four jobs – my employment (search engines and robots), writing (primarily the Dakota Frost and Jeremiah Willstone series), comics (mostly related to 24 Hour Comic Day through Blitz Comics), and publishing (Thinking Ink Press, a new niche publisher trying to get awesome things into your hands).

Having four jobs means that you sometimes want to take a break.

That’s really difficult if you don’t have an excuse. There are literally hundreds of items on my to-do list that I could work on right now, all day and all night. If I finish one, a dozen more are clamoring for my attention – and that’s not counting the time I want to spend with my wife, friends, and cats, or the time I need to spend on exercise, bills and laundry.

But a few oases exist.

Layovers in airports are one of those: I deliberately arrange for long layovers, because between plane flights you have nothing else to do other than grab a bite and a drink in an airport restaurant, chill out, and read something. True, I often work on writing during layovers, but it’s big-picture stuff, researchy, looking at the picture on a scale larger than I normally do.

Conferences are even better. Whether it’s GDC, AAAI, Dragon Con, Comic Con or Clockwork Alchemy, conferences are filled with new information, interesting books, even more interesting people, which spark my imagination – right at the time that I’m in an enforced multi-day or even week-long break from my schedule.

For a long time, conferences have been a great time to pull out the laptop and/or notebook to write or sketch. The idea for the Jeremiah Willstone series started after I saw some great steampunk costumes at Dragon Con; I sold the Dakota Frost series after Nancy Knight saw me writing at Dragon Con and pointed me to my editor Debra Dixon at Bell Bridge Books.

More recently, I’ve been adding to this the power of ruts. This is something that I need to expand at greater length, but suffice it to say I used to think I simply had to do something different every day, every week, every month. I used to keep lists of restaurants and tried to make sure that I never went to the same one two days in a row, trying new ones periodically.

But then I noticed that I really enjoyed certain things, but didn’t always fully take advantage of them because of this strategy – great places to eat, cool coffee houses, and nice bookstores that I simply didn’t visit often enough. Often, on top of this strategy, my schedule would change, making it hard to visit them – or worse, they’d go out of business, and those opportunities were lost.

So I’ve started cultivating habits – ruts – to do the things that I like. Not too frequently – you don’t want to burn out on them – but if you do the same thing all the time, then you can be free to miss it any time. Even better, if you find a great thing that’s efficient – like a place to eat near work, with a late night coffee house conducive to writing – take advantage of it regularly.

Because one day it may be gone.

At conferences, I employ this strategy with a series of life hacks – go to breakfast before the conference to up your energy level and organize your thoughts, pick the best breakfast place for writing and reading, break for lunch at 11:30 to 11:45 to miss the lunch rush, and also find the best place where there are no lines and concentration can be had.

At GDC, I’ve found a good set of hotels near the conference, a few good breakfast joints on the walk to the Moscone Center and a few places to eat slightly off the beaten path that are pretty empty just before noon – and I hit these places again and again, pulling out my notebook and tackling problems which are really big picture for me, mostly related to future game projects.

At Dragon Con I do similar things – hitting the Flying Biscuit breakfast joint that appears in Dakota Frost, getting coffee at the Starbucks in the Georgia Tech Bookstore, hitting the Willy’s lunch counter that inspired the Jeremiah Willstone story “Steampunk Fairy Chick,” et cetera, et cetera; and at each one I pull out the notebook and work on big picture story ideas.

These places are real oases for me: a break within a break, a special place set aside for thinking within a special time already set aside for recharging. Because of how human memory works, sometimes I can even pull out a notebook (or an older notebook), find my place from last year, and pick up where I left off, plotting my future in an oasis of creative contentment.

This, of course, is my strategy, that works for me – but it works so well, I encourage you to find a strategy that works for you too.

-the Centaur