Taos Toolbox in the Taillights

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So I and my wife have an agreement: if it isn’t a public appearance, I don’t blog about travel until it’s over. Well, Taos Toolbox 2017 is over, and I can say that this was one of the greatest writing experiences of my life.

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Run by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress, the Toolbox is a “graduate level” workshop for writers who’ve either gone through another workshop like Clarion, or have published something on their own. It was two solid weeks of instruction, critique and writing, complicated by a simultaneous deadline on my part for the Conference on Robot Learning; even despite staying up late many nights working on that paper, I had an amazing experience learning science fiction.

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I’ll flesh out more about the workshop over the next few weeks as I digest it, but as for now, let me just say that this boot camp for writers was a transformative experience which really gave me a much deeper appreciation about how to construct stories and how to tell them. And now … time for a little rest!

-the Centaur

Applied Plotonium at Clockwork Alchemy

Boosting the signal … I’ll be joining my friend David Colby’s panel APPLIED PLOTONIUM at 10am on Sunday at Clockwork Alchemy:

Applied Plotonium
Monterey – Sunday 10:00 AM

Applied Plotonium is a discussion and series of examples of worlds that are, in general, 100% scientifically accurate save for a SINGLE element of applied plotonium – a single element or feature that is downright fantastical. Eagerly explores extrapolation ending in exposition!
Presenter: David Colby

Moderator: Roger Que
Panelists: Anthony Francis, Michael Tierney

David Colby is the author of the hard science fiction young adult novel DEBRIS DREAMS (think “The Hunger Games meets Gravity“) and proposed the panel to explore his love of making the science in science fiction not suck.

In addition to David and me, we’ve also shanghaied, er, convinced two of our  mutual friends to join in: writer and chemist Michael Tierney from the Treehouse Writers will join as a panelist, and the writer and computer scientist Roger Que from Write to the End will serve as our moderator.

Drop in – you’ll enjoy yourself!

-the Centaur

Oh Myyy!

 

Wow. I guess a lot of books are going to be waiting for me when I get home tonight … either the shipment of LATER anthologies for Clockwork Alchemy has arrived, or I really messed up my last Amazon Prime order. Be sure to come by Clockwork Alchemy to check them out, or look on Amazon!

 

“The Fall of the Falcon” Audio

Have you read Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine and wondered why Jeremiah ended up a Ranger when she always wanted to be a Falconer? Or would you like to get started following Jeremiah’s tales on audio? Well, you’re in luck! Our friends at Sage and Savant have read one of the earliest Jeremiah stories, “The Fall of the Falcon”, for your auditory adventuring pleasure!

The Fall of the Falcon

By Anthony Francis

from the anthology Thirty Days Later, Steaming Forward: 30 Adventures in Time

If you’d like to find out what happens next, get a copy of Thirty Days Later and pick up where “The Fall of the Falcon” leaves off with the stirring conclusion, “The Rise of the Dragonfly”!

-The Centaur

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