The Centaur Interviewed on Sage and Savant!

One more interview with Sage and Savant … me!

Anthony Francis talks about Jeremiah Willstone

Q: In your story “The Fall of the Falcon” the main character is female, but she has a male name, Jeremiah Willstone. Why is that?

AF: It’s more than just gender bending: it’s an outward sign of their society’s aggressive approach to women’s liberation. I wanted to tell a steampunk story about a young Victorian female soldier, but the Victorians didn’t have women soldiers – we’ve only recently started to allow them in our military. So I imagined a world where that wasn’t just a little bit different, but comprehensively different – a world where women’s liberation came a century early, and with twice as many brains working on hard problems, they were more advanced in 1908 than we are today. But I needed a way to communicate that in the story, and decided that the women in Jeremiah’s family took male names to try to achieve gender equality. With her history written into her name, I now had the storytelling power to discuss that issue as much as I wanted to – or let it slide into the background until someone innocently asks the question, “So, Jeremiah is female, but has a male name. Why is that?”

To read more, check out my interview, and also check out the podcast on Sage and Savant!

-the Centaur

 

Viiictory the Seventeenth

Huzzah! I have once again completed Camp Nano, the little sister to National Novel Writing Month! This marks the seventeenth time I’ve written 50,000 words in a month!

This month was pretty rough between the recent book launches of THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE and the reprint of TWELVE HOURS LATER, not to mention the upcoming release of SOME TIME LATER – plus a whole bunch of work at work-work teaching robots to learn when the darn things just want to not learn.

That left blood in the water for most of the month, but I really, really, really wanted to be able to take Sunday off and spend time at church, with my wife and cats, and getting caught up on stuff, so I powered through it, trying to make sure I didn’t just finish the 50,000 by my count, but also finished the extra ~1500 or so words caused by the discrepancy between the Camp Nano word counter and the one on Microsoft Word, which I use every day.

I was really struggling until I remembered working on my first Nano project, FROST MOON, in which I had to take my characters to the “werehouse” … which I had no idea how to write … but just dove in, creating some wonderful ideas that fleshed out the story wonderfully, including Cinnamon Frost. Well, this time I had Dakota and one of her friends heading to a Hopi kiva, and I had no idea how to write that either … so I just dove in:

The road dipped and weaved out of the green plains and into low foothills. We stopped at … shudder … a McDonalds-cum-gas station for fuel for us and the car, and I took over driving, as the roads got windier and the hills got higher and drier.

“Here,” Heinz said, pointing, as he checked the map we picked up at the gas station. We weren’t using our phones—what the DEI could scramble, it could likely unscramble—but he had his laptop out, WiFi off, and was crossreferencing Carrington’s notes. “Seventeen more miles.”

The off-ramp led us to an increasingly narrow series of roads connected at T-junctions, with houses and civilization fewer and fewer at each series of turns. Then we crested a hill and were confronted by a valley … the seat of the lone peak called Crown Mountain.

“Fuuck,” Heinz said. “This is important. This means something.”

“Hat tip, Agent Heinz,” I said, leaning forward. “Damn …”

Crown ‘Mountain’ was, technically, a mesa, set on a flat plain of mixed dirt and scrub like a medieval castle. An imposing shaft of rock, solid and red-gold in the afternoon light, rose nineteen hundred feet above the floor of the valley, surrounded by a cone of tumbled rock like slanted ramparts. Atop the shaft, erosion had cut notches like parapets, leading to the crown appearance that gave the crag its name. But our eyes were drawn to the notches cut in it by humans: the largest collection of cave dwellings this side of Mesa Verde … and the only cave dwellings in North America that had been continually inhabited for the last thousand years.

“Holy fuck,” Heinz said, as we drove closer and closer to that jumble of deep gashes, ancient caves, ruined mounds, decaying huts, old houses and new construction that was the town of … “Tuukviela,” Heinz said, reading. “Variously, Crown Village or Mesa Village.”

“Speak of the devil,” I said: an oversized sign read TUUKVIELA: POP 373.

Forgive the rough-draftiness of the passage, but I have the feeling that Crown Mountain, Tuukivela, the Padilla family kiva and nearby Montañacorona will perhaps recur in a later Dakota Frost book … but who knows? I had enough fun to write 7030 words today.

I’ll go into a bit more about why this was a significant milestone in my writing life tomorrow, because it’s 4:16AM and I need some fricking sleep. Till then …

Best of luck, fellow Camp Nano campers!

-the Centaur

Book Giveaway with TIP and S&S

Holy cow, I almost missed this, and I helped organize it – we’re giving away some anthologies in partnership between Thinking Ink Press and steampunk podcast Sage and Savant!

Book Giveaway with Sage and Savant!

I have stories in three of the four books we’re giving away – Jeremiah Willstone stories in the full-length anthologies TWELVE HOURS LATER and THIRTY DAYS LATER, and flash fiction in the Instant Book “Jagged Fragments”.

Sign up, best of luck, and I hope you enjoy it!

-the Centaur

Dover Whitecliff on Sage and Savant

Yet one more of my friends from Clockwork Alchemy, Dover Whitecliff, is interviewed on Sage and Savant! A visit to her sometimes witty, often wacky, occasionally wryly satirical alternate world always makes a fun read!

Down and Dirty with Dover Whitecliff, author and editor at Thinking Ink Press

Q: How did you come up with the theme for the Later anthologies?

DW: The Treehouse Authors met for tea at Linde Lane Tea Room in Dixon and decided that we wanted to do a project together for literacy; an anthology was the obvious choice. But the theme is all down to Kiefer Sutherland. The news story of the day was the comeback of 24 and we had never seen an anthology with hour long stories before (though that doesn’t mean there might not be one out there that we missed). The paired stories came about to fill up a twenty-four-hour day, plus it offered the perfect tag line “You can find out what happens twelve hours later.”

Penelope DreadfulleQ: Yak? Giant Chicken? Trebuchet? What gives?

DW: It started with a dare in our email planning with the authors for Thirty Days Later. One author found a picture of a clockwork yak and threw down the gauntlet: “Bet you can’t fit a yak in.” Challenge accepted. Rumor has it that there are multiple yak sightings (bonus points if you can find them all). Since that was deemed “Way too easy,” the chieftess of shenanigans, Sparky McTrowell, raised the yak ante for Some Time Later with a trebuchet, and somehow a chicken was thrown in, possibly due to an excess of caffeine and chocolate. And Yes. I fit them all in.

To read more, check out her interview on Sage and Savant!

-the Centaur

BJ Sikes on Sage and Savant!

And yet another! Friend and fellow author / editor BJ Sikes is now interviewed on Sage and Savant!

About Alternate History with Author and Editor BJ Sikes

Q: Is herding authors for an anthology indeed like herding cats? Why do you do it?

Some Time LaterBJS: Absolutely. As chief cat wrangler for all three of the Later anthologies, I had to coordinate deadlines and revisions for not just the fifteen or so authors, but also our publisher’s staff. Why do I do it? The power, obviously. But in all seriousness, it’s the satisfaction of being an integral part of a fantastic collection of stories.

Q: What was your favorite story to edit/write for the anthologies?

BJ SikesBJS: That’s a tough one. There are so many great stories and they vary so much in theme, style, and content. I had a great time writing my own stories, especially the first one in Some Time Later, “The Descent.” That one allowed me to get my mycological geek on. I’m partial to Lillian Csernica’s Japanese mythology-inspired stories because they are unique but still feel steampunk.

To read more, check out her interview on Sage and Savant!

Sharon Cathcart on Sage and Savant

Another of my author friends, Sharon Cathcart, was interviewed on Sage and Savant!

A Candid Conversation with Author Sharon E. Cathcart


Twelve Hours Later - Sharon E Cathcart

 Q: What excited you about Twelve Hours Later and the other anthologies in which you’ve participated?

Sharon E CathcartSEC: Short fiction is an art form in and of itself.  Expressing a full story in a little bit of space, means distilling the true essence of your message in a way that someone can read on their lunch hour and still feel like they got a complete picture.  Having the opportunity to challenge myself within the framework of the anthologies’ themes made me work hard to present fully developed characters and concepts within those constraints, and it was a lot of fun!  That the anthologies benefited literacy programs was the icing on the cake.

To read more, check out Sharon’s interview on Sage and Savant!

-the Centaur

AJ Sikes on Sage and Savant

Check it out – my friend and fellow author / editor / publisher AJ Sikes is interviewed on Sage and Savant!

Getting to Know Author and Editor AJ Sikes

Some Time LaterQ: So, these anthologies, what’s the story behind these collections of stories?

AJS: Beginning with Twelve Hours Later, the anthologies have been an effort at showcasing the authors who attend Clockwork Alchemy each year. We wanted to have a way of introducing the whole crew to new readers in one swoop, and we also wanted to give back to the community that attends the event. The charity component has seen over $400 donated to the San Jose Public Library system in the past two years, all of which is intended for literacy programs. We’ve been really pleased with the reception of both Twelve Hours Later and Thirty Days Later. This year’s anthology Some Time Later will round out the trilogy, and we think it’s the best one yet.

To read more, check out the article at Sage and Savant!

-the Centaur

Struggling to Get Started

Ugh. Once again, struggling to get started on Nanowrimo. It isn’t like I have one project struggling to survive at work and three others struggling to get off the ground, or two books to launch, or promotion on two books already out! Excuses, excuses, if I showed my normal graph it would just be blood in the water – I’m doing hundreds of words a day on Camp Nano when I need thousands.

But I also freely admit I’m cheating here. The events of Dakota Frost Book 6 are going to come back later – possibly much later, most likely somewhere in books 10-12 – and I got inspired to write that scene, which I write in the rough draft manuscript for SPIRITUAL GOLD until I decide into which book that scene will land. That inflates the word count of SG a bit … but it also gives me a very clear outcome to drive towards when I work on the scenes in this book that set up the scenes for that book in the far future…

Onward!

-the Centaur

Kirsten Weiss on Sage and Savant

Boosting the signal … my friend and fellow author Kirsten Weiss is on Sage and Savant talking about her writing!

Catching Up With Author Kirsten Weiss

Kirsten Weiss writes genre-blending cozy mystery, urban fantasy, and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.

Pressed to Death Kirsten WeissQ: Tell us about your latest book.

KW: Pressed to Death is a cozy mystery set in a wine country paranormal museum. It’s the second book in my Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum series…

To read more, check out the full interview at Sage and Savant!

-the Centaur

Camp Nano 2017: SPIRITUAL GOLD

Yes, that’s right! National Novel Writing Month’s kid sister, Camp Nano, is back, and I’m once again taking on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in the month on Dakota Frost Book 6 … SPIRITUAL GOLD!

(No, that ain’t the real cover, that’s 10 minutes in Photoshop working over a Christmas Tree Topper and a Hopi Plaque.)

For those a bit surprised that I’m working on Book 6 when Book 3, LIQUID FIRE, is the most recent published one, I want to make sure that when the next Dakota Frost book goes live there’s no big hiatus to the following ones! So I’m working on the next three Dakota Frost books (and the first three Cinnamon Frost books together).

As for this one, I’ll let the Camp Nano summary and excerpt speak for themselves:

Synopsis:

Dakota Frost just wants to ink magic tattoos and raise her weretiger daughter – but it’s getting increasingly hard to do either as she gets drawn deeper and deeper into the magical world of the fae and the superspooks of the DEI. But when they bring a new problem to her door, she can’t turn away – because she herself may be under attack … from the world of her dreams.

Excerpt:

As we drew closer, it got harder to get a good look from the angle of the passenger window. I leaned back, then winced—the scabbard over my back had shifted to just the wrong position. I squirmed until the Salzkammergutschwert was off the center of my torso.

“Wait a minute,” Heinz said incredulously. “Is that what I think it is?”

“I don’t know,” I said pleasantly. “What do you think it is, Heinz?”

“You … packing a sword?” Heinz said incredulously.

I glanced over at him. “Sort of, yeah.”

“What the hell for?”

“You’re packing,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, but a gun,” he said. “That’s useful in a fight—”

“Most of the people I get in fights with,” I said, “won’t be impressed by a peashooter.”

“Ah, very sensible,” said Warstein from the front seat.

“You pack an anti-fae weapon.”

“Sort of, yeah,” I leaned up again, watching through the window as the MIRU shot over the I-64 bridge and through the giant hovering ring. Mr. “Seen it already” Warstein turned away from it with a condescending tone that made Heinz roll his eyes and glance at me for relief.

“You see,” Warstein said, even as one of the greatest wonders of the Western World slid stainless and gleaming past the glass behind him, “if Frost deals with the fae, she must face the fact that many fae are bulletproof, but highly vulnerable to cold iron, or enchanted swords—”

“What the fuck?” Heinz said, looking at me. “You’re telling me that’s Glamdring?”

“Another hat tip,” I said, mouth quirking. “You, ah, can view it as a magic sword—”

“So,” Heinz said, incredulous, “that fucking thing glow when orcs come around?”

“Not that I know of,” I laughed. “Not that I’ve ever met an actual orc—”

“Most magic swords don’t do anything we’d call special,” Warstein said archly. “Like the legendary vorpal blade, their primary capability is that they’re sharp, and made of metal that hurts the fae. A very few, like the, uh, the Saltgammerswort, are specifically anti-fae—”

“Salzkammergutschwert,” I corrected automatically.

“Gesundheit,” said Heinz.

“Excuse me?” Warstein asked.

“It’s called the Salzkammergutschwert,” I said. “It means the Salt Chamber Sword.”

“Which is where it was found,” Warstein said, “very good, very good. The Salz—ah—I can never pronounce it—the Salt Chamber Sword is one of the rarest of blades, a long, black sword of cold iron specifically forged to fight the faerie—”

“Not exactly,” I said. “Technically, it’s a magical radiator, not a sword, though you can use it as one because it’s nearly indestructible. The hilt wrappings are human work, but the blade itself is a faery artifact, repurposed—not a weapon, just something that happens to hurt them.”

Heinz looked at me strangely, then at the scabbard over my back.

“You’re wearing this Gesundheit thing now?”

I shrugged and smirked. “Sort of, yeah—”

“What are you talking about—oh my God,” Warstein said, excited and aghast. I reached up a long arm and popped the blade out of its scabbard briefly, and Warstein keened and wailed, more intense than a fanboy meeting Shatner. “Oh-my-God and aaaa! You’re wearing the literal Salt Chamber Sword? Oh my God. Oh my God! That’s a four million dollar blade—”

“Jesus,” Heinz said, tweaking his ear. “Shout it louder, why don’t—”

“I don’t need you advertising the value of my blade,” I said. “I really don’t.”

 

And so, Dakota’s slow slide towards Gandalf continues … never fear, she’s never going to say “Fly you fools,” nor is she going to come back from the dead with a snazzy white wardrobe. Damnit Francis you have to do that now ….

-the Centaur