Everything was on fire until earlier today

Not literally; we were far south of the literal fires, which just barely missed the homes of our friends. But so many other things have been going wrong that it felt like things were on fire … so no posts for a while, sorry.

But tonight, I got to the last chapter of Dakota Frost #6, SPIRITUAL GOLD.

I will likely finish this chapter Saturday.

That makes today a good day.

Time for some cake.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a cat break with Loki. Not how things look right now, but how I feel.

Yeah. That happened.

What you see above is the precise moment Irma touched Greenville, South Carolina, just prior to my supposed flight back to the Bay Area two days later.

That flight was canceled three times, finally being rescheduled to the next day.

Yeah, it was time to get the heck out of Dodge …

-the Centaur

My Daily Dragon Interview in Two Words: “Just Write!”

So at Dragon Con I had a reading this year. Yeah, looks like this is the last year I get to bring all my books – too many, to heavy! I read the two flash fiction pieces in Jagged Fragments, “If Looks Could Kill” and “The Secret of the T-Rex’s Arms”, as well as reading the first chapter of Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, a bit of my and Jim Davies’ essay on the psychology of Star Trek’s artificial intelligences, and even a bit of my very first published story, “Sibling Rivalry“. I also gave the presentation I was supposed to give at the SAM Talks before I realized I was double booked; that was “Risk Getting Worse”.

But that wasn’t recorded, so, oh dang, you’ll have to either go to my Amazon page to get my books, or wait until we get “Risk Getting Worse” recorded. But my interview with Nancy Northcott for the Daily Dragon, “Robots, Computers, and Magic“, however, IS online, so I can share it with you all. Even more so, I want to share what I think is the most important part of my interview:

DD: Do you have any one bit of advice for aspiring writers?

AF: Write. Just write. Don’t worry about perfection, or getting published, or even about pleasing anyone else: just write. Write to the end of what you start, and only then worry about what to do with it. In fact, don’t even worry about finishing everything—don’t be afraid to try anything. Artists know they need to fill a sketchbook before sitting down to create a masterwork, but writers sometimes get trapped trying to polish their first inspiration into a final product.

Don’t get trapped on the first hill! Whip out your notebook and write. Write morning pages. Write diary at the end of the day. Write a thousand starts to stories, and if one takes flight, run with it with all the abandon you have in you. Accept all writing, especially your own. Just write. Write.

That’s it. To read more, check out the interview here, or see all my Daily Dragon mentions at Dragon Con here, or check out my interviewer Nancy Northcott’s site here. Onward!

-the Centaur

 

 

The Centaur at Clockwork Alchemy

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This Memorial Day Weekend, I’ll be appearing at the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention! I’m on a whole passel of panels this year, including the following (all in the Monterey room near the Author’s Alley, as far as I know):

Friday, May 26
4PM: NaNoWriMo – Beat the Clock! [Panelist]

Saturday, May 27
12NOON: Working with Editors [Panelist]
1PM: The Science of Airships [Presenter]
5PM: Versimilitude in Fiction [Panelist]

Sunday, May 28
10AM: Applied Plotonium [Panelist]
12NOON: Organizing an Anthology [Panelist]
1PM: Instill Caring in Readers [Panelist]
2PM: Overcoming Writer’s Block [Presenter]

Monday, May 29
11AM: Past, Present, Future – Other! [Moderator]

Of course, if you don’t want to hear me yap, there are all sorts of other reasons to be there. Many great authors will be in attendance in the Author’s Alley:

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There’s a great dealer’s room and a wonderful art show filled with steampunk maker art:

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For yet another more year, we’ll be co-hosted with Fanime Con, so there will be buses back and forth and fans of both anime and steampunk in attendance:

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As usual, I will have all my latest releases, including Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, the steampunk novel I have like been promising you all like for ever!

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In addition to my fine books, there will also be new titles from Thinking Ink Press, including the steampunk anthologies TWELVE HOURS LATER, THIRTY DAYS LATER, and SOME TIME LATER!

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I think I have about as much fun at Clockwork Alchemy as I do at Dragon Con, and that’s saying something. So I hope you come join us, fellow adventurers, in celebrating all things steampunk!

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-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 Inevitability of Endings

All good things come to an end. I’ve known that since I was a child, when I asked my art teacher whether she had kept any of her childhood drawings, and she, with aplomb, replied no, they all burned in a house fire. But I’ve become more aware of that recently, as, one by one, places that I enjoy have come to an end. I’ve written about this before, but now it’s struck the place where I’ve written much of this: Caffe Romanza is closing.

As I’ve said before, it’s all too easy to kill the golden goose: a business decision which appears to save money may actually undermine the way you make money. Perhaps Books Inc is struggling, but I and many others like me spend a lot late at night, and when they cut their closing hours from 11pm to 10pm it took away one of the reasons I had for going there. Moving from their glorious two-story corner location to a regular storefront will remove more reasons for more people; and eliminating the cafe will remove more reasons still, leaving it just another bookstore instead of a landmark destination.

I don’t have access to their books and I can’t know all their reasons; maybe they were forced into this move. But I’ve talked to similar business owners about similar moves, and they never say, “we can’t afford the late night staff” but instead say “we aren’t making money on the late night traffic,” which shows that they don’t get the connection that the traffic they get at earlier hours is dependent on the later hours, and those of us that are night owls will be compelled to go everywhere. It’s not the four buck cup of coffee we’re paying for: it’s the pleasant environment to drink it in the company of friends.

Still, I wish Books Inc the best of luck in their new location, and I’ll be sure to drop by. And I hope Jay at Caffe Romanza finds a new option. But I will miss that place where I wrote the bulk of my many novels … but I will soon move on and find a new favorite, as the cycle continues.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Books Inc, an insanely large gift certificate for Caffe Romanza given to me by my colleagues on my tenth work anniversary, and Caffe Romanza, end of shift.

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

JW&TCTM is HERE!

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At long last, Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, my fourth published novel, is OUT in the world! You can get it wherever fine books are sold:

The Clockwork Time Machine tells the story of Jeremiah Willstone, a female adventurer from an alternate world called Victoriana, where, because women’s liberation happened a century early and twice as many brains ended up working on hard problems, science has advanced more in 1908 than it has in our world today – but inadvertently, these scientific advances attracted the attention of aliens called Foreigners, who have come calling to make this world their own!

When Jeremiah’s treacherous uncle steals a dangerous alien weapon and secrets it away on an airship to a possibly hostile shore, Jeremiah leads a strike team to retrieve it – and finds herself chasing him across the seas of time itself, with her uncle just possibly aiming to upend the entire world order she holds dear! With time running out, Jeremiah must sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

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Enjoy!

-the Centaur

No, I’m Not Dead

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It might not be immediately apparent from this shot, but outside, it’s sunny and the weather is nice. That’s despite the mammoth evacuation of San Jose yesterday … which, for the record, was nowhere near me:

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I live near Coyote Valley, not Coyote Creek – two totally different areas miles apart – so my home was providentially spared.

I was, however, woken up yesterday morning by a text, a call, and a Messenger message, all wondering whether I was OK. My wife, off to the East Coast on a business trip, called to ask if I’d evacuated yet; I looked out the window to sunny skies, sleeping cats and the early-morning sound of a leaf blower, and said no.

Sorry for concerning you, I know there have been three different disasters / evacuations in San Jose recently! Last night at dinner at Alexander’s, the server, my good friend Todd, reported three different closures of Highway 17 that kept him from work – one that involved a gun battle and five hours trapped in his car, but the rest, weather. 101 in San Jose has suffered similarly. I think these are somehow all related to “atmospheric rivers” which fortunately have dumped all their water before hitting my area. I’d never heard of these before, but apparently the terminology has been around since the 90s.

Thanks for your concern, though! I too am pleased I am not dead! I’ll try to keep it that way!

-the Centaur

Cover Reveal: JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE!

For those wondering what I’ve been up to for the last six months, the biggest thing is THIS …

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At long last, JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE is coming to print! We’ll be picking the actual release date in the next few days, but I can’t think of a better gift for my birthday than seeing the cover of my new novel!

Here’s a sneak peek at the back cover blurb:

From an Epic Award winning author comes a sprawling tale of brass buttons, ray guns, and two-fisted adventure!

In an alternate empire filled with mechanical men, women scientists and fantastic contraptions powered by steam, a high ranking officer in the Victoriana Defense League betrays his country when he steals an airship and awakens an alien weapon that will soon hatch into a walking factory of death.

Commander Jeremiah Willstone and her team must race through time in a desperate bid to stop the traitor’s plan to use the alien weapon to overthrow the world’s social order. With time running out, Jeremiah may have to sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

“Addictive, sassy, sexy, funny, intense, brilliant.” -Bitten By Books, on Frost Moon

Epic Award winner Anthony Francis writes the Dakota Frost, Skindancer series and Jeremiah Willstone series while working on robots for “the Search Engine Which Starts with a ‘G’.”

Prevail, Victoriana!

-the Centaur