UMBRAE Blog Tour

Today on the blog, I’m welcoming author Debbie Manber Kupfer with her new novel UMBRAE, the third book in the P.A.W.S. series. You can follow the rest of the March blog tour through the banner below:

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Step into the Shadows of Umbrae …

Miri’s world at P.A.W.S. in St. Louis is falling apart. First, Danny is accused of stealing her opapa’s charm. But before he can defend himself, he mysteriously disappears. Miri seeks Josh for help and advice, but he too has gone missing.

Then Lilith has a vision – Miri dragged away by wolves. Miri needs answers, answers that she feels sure are hidden in the blank pages of the book of Argentum.

With the help of Lilith, she travels to the ancient city of Safed. There, with the aid of a mystical rabbi and an outspoken werecat, her omama’s story is slowly revealed. And Miri uncovers something else, a world hidden deep beneath our own – the labyrinth of shadows also known as Umbrae.

Available in Kindle or Paperback

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Now, onto my interview with the author!

Interview with Debbie Manber Kupfer

Give us a short summary of what UMBRAE brings to your world in P.A.W.S..

In Argentum (P.A.W.S. 2) Miri receives a mysterious book from an old crone in New York. But the pages are blank. In Umbrae we follow Miri to Israel to the ancient city of Safed where she meets a mystical rabbi and an opinionated werecat and starts to uncover the story hidden in the pages of the book of Argentum. The story of her omama, Celia and a place hidden in the shadows – Umbrae.

How did the P.A.W.S. story come to be?

Back in 2012 I had a sudden flash. I clearly saw a young girl receive a silver cat charm from her grandmother just before her grandmother died and I knew it was important. Over the next few days the story of P.A.W.S. emerged in my head and I started taking notes. This was in October. I had heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and decided to give it go. During November I wrote frantically each day until by the end of the month I had the first draft of P.A.W.S.

What did you find the most difficult aspect of writing UMBRAE?

Keeping my timeline and my ever-growing character list straight. I don’t write linearly, yet Umbrae is essentially historical fiction, based around the years of the Second World War. Everything had to be matched up and crossed-referenced.

What inspires you to write?

Anything and everything. I’m an avid people watcher. I often take walks to local cafes and like to observe and listen. Often times people and snippets of conversations end up in my stories.

What is your favourite part of writing?

The ability to let go, to escape. When the story is flowing it’s a wondrous thing. I’m a discovery writer. I only have the vaguest idea of the directions my story is leading and often times my characters lead me off into the most delicious paths.

When did you realise you were interested in being a writer?

When I was about 8 years old. I used to keep notebooks with novels I was writing all based around our school playground. But although I continued writing stories and poems through the years I only got serious about writing in 2012 after I came out of cancer treatment. Dealing with cancer made me realize my own mortality and that if I truly wanted to write a novel I needed to do it and stop procrastinating.

What do you like most about the world in your P.A.W.S. Saga? Why?

Well I like that it’s supposed to be hidden in our world. That most of the places I mention are real places. I imagine readers searching Forest Park for the entrance to P.A.W.S. and I smile.

Why did you decide to self-publish the P.A.W.S. series?

I didn’t at first. I started off traditionally published with a small press. Then when my contract expired I decided not to renew it. Today I self-publish with Createspace/KDP and love the control I have over the process. The ability to set my own publication dates, prices, and choose my own covers. I’m not saying I’d never go back to traditional, but for now I’m happy being indie.

What would be your one piece of advice for authors working on a sequel?

Make yourself a timeline and character list and add to it whenever you add a new character or event. It is easy to just go with the flow when you are writing book 1 or a standalone story but for series you need to make sure it all matches up.

What’s next on your writing journey?

Londinium (P.A.W.S. 4) will hopefully by ready in late 2017. I’ve written the first draft and am just beginning the editing stage. In it (as you might expect from the name) Miri will be visiting the P.A.W.S. Institute of London.

Apart from that I’m also currently working with a local artist to draw pictures for a children’s story I’ve written, Cecilia’s Tale, and hopefully will be sharing this with the world some time in the next few months.

Thanks!

About the author:

debssmallI grew up in the UK in the East London suburb of Barking. I’ve lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where I work as a writer and freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. I live with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. I believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

 

Find Me Series Book 4 Cover Reveal

Today on the blog I’m hosting the cover reveal of book 4 of the Find Me series by Trish Marie Dawson, part of the series rebrand by Elizabeth Mackey Graphic Design:

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I wanted him to stop talking. To just close his mouth and forget everything he was going to say so I didn’t have to hear the words. He could tuck it away into the back of his mind, I knew he could, because I’d done that with so many things already. But, as if playing a cruel joke on me, he wouldn’t shut up. It’s like he couldn’t.

At one point, I tuned him out, because it began to replay in my mind. I didn’t need his account of my first feverish night in his care, and the sordid tale of my abduction and torture through raging fits of insanity, because I was the one who had lived through the real thing. I was the one who had gone wild. Turned savage, like a caged animal freed after a lifetime of abuse and neglect. I was the one who wandered off into the woods, running away from the ghosts of the dead and the living. Running until I collapsed not far from Jin’s doorstep. He took me in, nursed me back to health, and shared his wisdom, though he didn’t realize it. He’d become a friend.

I felt myself fall backwards, hitting the snow-covered rail with my lower back, and I wondered, for just a moment, if I could fly. Would it be so terrible to die? To let go of the anger, the hate, to accept the pain as it was, a never-ending storm of doubt and grief. I could do it, I thought. To be with my kids again, wherever they were, I could do anything.

But the drawl of Jin’s calming voice pulled me forward, back to the cabin porch we stood shivering on. Back to the frozen pines, and the secrets hidden in the rings of their cores. Away from the jar and its contents. I couldn’t be angry at him, not for repeating my own words, so I did all I could. I let some of it go, some of that grief and pain that so desperately wanted to ruin the good that was left in me. I passed it on to the breeze, and let it drift down the valley with the fading sun. Because I didn’t want to carry it any more.

For the first time since the night he found me in the woods, I let Jin hold me. The two of us couldn’t change what had happened, and we couldn’t prevent the next storm from coming, but our hearts were still beating. We were alive. As we held each other under the first twinkling stars of the early evening, I reminded myself that life hurt because it was worth living; the best things in life were always worth fighting for. Through all the pain and loss, there was also love and friendship. And despite what I’d been through, I still had a family somewhere out there, searching for me. I refused to lose them too.

– © Trish Marie Dawson, Where Hope is Lost, Book 4 of the Find Me Series

THE FIND ME SERIES

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About the author

I was born and mostly raised in San Diego, California where I live nowTMDPromoPic with my family and pets. I began writing short stories and poetry in high school after an obsession with Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. After over fifteen years of crazy dreams and an overactive imagination, I began my first book ‘I Hope You Find Me’ in December of 2011. I didn’t realize then that my first Fantasy series had been born.

When I’m not writing or researching or editing or formatting, I’m home-schooling my amazing daughter and mildly autistic son, reading whatever I can get my hands on, or enjoying the Southern California sun. As a strict Vegetarian, I hold a special place in my heart for animal rights and dash into the backyard weekly to rescue lizards and mice from our three rescue dogs. They all share the house with River, the rescue cat, who is part dog and part old man. I hate roaches due to an unfortunate childhood incident, like, LOATHE COMPLETELY, though I often fantasize about seeing one in Steampunk gear and I have an unhealthy obsession with a certain bow & arrow wielding zombie hunter. Don’t judge me – every girl has dreams

Ten Questions With…Alexandra Ott

Today, I welcome a special guest to my blog: author, Alexandra Ott, who is a member of the Swanky Seventeens group of authors whose debut books are releasing in 2017. Not only that, but Alex is one of my closest Critique Partners, so I am delighted to be chatting to her about her MG Fantasy, RULES FOR THIEVES, a book I had not only the pleasure of reading, but also helping to name!

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Coming Summer 2017 from Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

Twelve-year-old orphan Alli tries to join a legendary band of thieves in order to get the cure for the curse that’s killing her.

  1. Tell us a little about your journey to your publishing deal.

I first wrote Rules for Thieves in the summer of 2012. Revising it took a while because I was in school at the time, but I finally started querying in late 2013. I spent 2014 revising and querying some more. In early 2015, I signed with my agent and went out on submission. We received an offer from Aladdin in the summer of 2015, about three years after I wrote the first draft!

  1. What was the on-submission time like for you?

It actually went by much faster than I thought it would! I knew that the submission process could take a year or more, so I wasn’t expecting to receive an offer so quickly. When my agent first told me there was an offer, I almost didn’t believe it.

  1. What inspired or led you to start writing the plot of RULES FOR THIEVES?

I was inspired by the kinds of stories I loved as a kid. I always really liked heist novels and fantasy books, and I also loved to invent adventure stories and games that I played with my sister. All of those things came together to become Rules for Thieves, which is really an attempt at writing a book I would have loved to read when I was younger.

  1. Has the novel changed much between your first draft and this current draft?

Yes, quite a bit. The first draft was much shorter, and several crucial elements of the book didn’t exist yet. Much of my revision process has been developing and deepening that initial story. I’ve added more than 15,000 words between the first draft and the current one.

  1. What has been the toughest part of writing RULES FOR THIEVES?

The revision process has been a long one, and there were definitely times when I was so tired of reading it again and again that I just wanted to stop working on it. But there was something about this story and these characters that compelled me to keep working—that, and the encouragement of my awesome critique partners. 😉

  1. What is your favourite part of main character, Alli’s personality? Do you think she is like you?

I love how smart and funny Alli is. On the surface, she isn’t much like me at all. She’s snarky, outspoken, impulsive, and daring—all of which I love about her, but none of which is very much like me. But we do have a few things in common, namely impatience and stubbornness!

  1. Why did you decide on a duology, rather than the more common trilogy and stand alones?

I knew early on that it was going to be a series, but I didn’t know how long it was going to be. Eventually, I realized that two books would be the best fit for the story arcs that I have in mind—three books would be stretching the story too thin, and one wasn’t enough to give Alli the resolution that I wanted for her.

  1. Tell us one thing we can look forward to in the sequel.

There’s not much I can share without spoilers, but let’s just say there will be sinister plots and spies and characters who are more than they appear…

  1. Are you more drawn to writing YA or MG and why? RULES FOR THIEVES is MG, but I know you are also working on YA fiction.

I think I’m drawn to both categories equally. I love the sense of adventure and wonder that comes with MG, but I also love going a little older with YA. It’s nice to be able to take a break from one story and work on something that’s completely different. And I love writing both preteen and teenage protagonists—both ages are endlessly fascinating to me and have so much potential for storytelling.

  1. Is this your first novel, or are there some in drawers that you never want to see again?

I have two novel-length manuscripts in drawers, plus some shorter fiction. They were really important manuscripts that taught me how to write, but they’re not ever going to see the light of day!

Hehe, I know the feeling! Thanks for joining me, Alex, and I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy of the finished product!

Interested in learning more about RULES FOR THIEVES or Alex? Check out her updates on social media:

About the Author

Alexandra Ott writes middle grade and young adult fiction. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel Rules for Thieves will be published by Aladdin/S&S in summer 2017.

Alex graduated from the University of Tulsa, where she studied English. She is currently an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. In her spare time, she plays the flute, eats a lot of chocolate, and reads just about everything. She lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord. She is repped by Victoria Doherty Munro of Writers House.

Website

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The Swanky Seventeens

10 Questions With…SL Saboviec

On the blog today, I’m excited to be interviewing one of my Critique Partners, the fabulous SL [Samantha] Saboviec, whom I met via Absolute Write. As a critic, she has a great eye for both detail and the bigger picture of a novel; as a writer, she can balance the creative prose with the depth of a storyline unravelling.

And, somehow, my 10 questions managed to morph into 12!

Her latest novel, REAPING ANGEL, is out now:

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After the battle at the Bastille, the Council of Seraphim offers reluctant demons Enael and Kaspen a chance to return to Heaven—but only after they’ve completed sufficient penance. Ready to move past the ugly chapter in their lives, they settle into their assignments.

Until Enael’s former lover, Voctic, a powerful demon, interferes.

Voctic seduces and demeans, taunts and entices Enael, stirring centuries-old longing in her while infuriating Kaspen. Caught up in the demands of their duties, Kaspen and Enael drift apart until she finds herself isolated.

Fed up with Voctic’s harassment, Enael prepares to fight back. When he targets the new human she’s responsible for protecting, she creates her own plan. His self-proclaimed “gala of the century” will be the perfect cover for her revenge. But will a hasty decision cost her Kaspen—or even her spot in Heaven?

  1. Hi, Samantha! Firstly, tell us a bit about your new book and how it fits in with the other books you’ve published.

My second book, Reaping Angel, is the sequel to my first book, Guarding Angel. The main character, Enael, helped win the big battle at the end of the book against a demon; however, the Council of Seraphim, Heaven’s governing body, is unhappy with her—go figure. This book is about her trying to do what the Council asks, but she’s got some, well, philosophical disagreements with what they’re asking her to do. Oh, and there’s another demon to harass her, of course. This time, it’s her former lover from centuries ago.

  1. What first inspired you to write this series?

I was first inspired to write this series from two angles. The first was the idea of guardian angels and wondering what they were like—how their lives intersected ours, what they think when they disagree with what we’re doing, and how we might make it difficult for them to do their jobs.

The second was the idea for the second book (which, yes, came first!): what would an “avenging angel” be like? Stories out of the Bible like Sodom and Gomorrah talk about angels who were specifically tasked to raze entire cities. They’re supposed to be God’s warriors. So… What’s that about? What’s their story? How can what we assume to be loving, reasonable beings take on such a brutal task?

  1. Tell us a bit about your journey from idea to published novel.

When I first had the idea for this series, I wasn’t really writing. I’d written lots of short stories as a kid, but growing up, I never considered trying to become a novelist. I wanted to do something sensible and wise, and we all know what people think about the sensibility and wisdom of being a starving artist.

I started writing Guarding Angel longhand in a notebook while I was commuting on the train to work. I set it aside. Then in the fall of 2013, I started doing some soul-searching and I came to realize that I was missing something in my life. That something was writing.

I finished and revised the book several times. I queried it, but the minimal feedback I received was that angels were overdone and not selling. But I really believed in Guarding Angel, so I found myself editors, a fabulous cover designer, and a book formatting teacher. Along the way, I improved my writing immensely, and now I’m working on book #3 in the series and book #6 that I’ve written total (not counting the one novel I wrote when I was 12).

Wow, that’s amazing: writing what you believe in, rather than what is the trend. 4. Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route?

Several factors weighed in my decision to self-publish. For one thing, I wanted to learn what it meant to publish a novel, and I definitely did. I also feel strongly about the underlying message, and I think that people connect well with the story. It doesn’t fit in the marketplace that well because most of the angel stories are paranormal romance. Mine’s more about the condition of the human race and questions we all face, like: Why are we here? What’s the point of life? Why did this horrible thing happen to me? It’s not religious fiction because it’s not set against a single religious set of beliefs, but it is spiritual/philosophical because it’s meant to provoke thought.

All of those factors led to the realization that it would be hard to find a publisher for this. And waiting for my second, third, fourth, fourteenth book to be finished and find a publisher would mean that I set myself back in the learning curve. Working directly with an editor that I hired taught me things that have improved my writing tremendously.

It also gave me a dose of reality about the publishing business, while giving me the encouragement to continue. People I’ve never met have read my book. Some of those people like it. That keeps me going.

  1. What was the biggest issue/problem you encountered when writing and publishing REAPING ANGEL?

Lack of motivation to write when I was pregnant. I wanted to write Reaping Angel before Guarding Angel came out; however, when GA released, I was already five months pregnant. I’ve heard stories that pregnancy makes people super creative. Unfortunately, for me, pregnancy made me super bloated, grumpy, and tired. Then there was, of course, a newborn to take care of.

On the other hand, I’m glad that I was the one who set my own pace, worked when I could, and forgave myself the stretches of time when I was focused on something else. I’m very driven—I’m always urging myself to write more, write more, write more, get it out there, that’s the only way you’re gonna make—so I have to remind myself that it takes as long as it takes. Especially when it comes to producing something of a quality I can be proud of.

  1. What’s your favourite part of self-publishing novels?

The control. I seriously love how much control I have over things. I can’t help myself. 😀

  1. Who is your favourite character and why?

In Reaping Angel, my favourite character is Jacqueline, whom you meet about halfway through. She’s a complex human who’s reincarnated almost one hundred times and loves to be a healer and help other people. She chooses to become what’s termed a Victimizer—someone who brings spiritual growth to others by causing them pain. In this instance she’s… Do I want to give away too much? Well, I’ll just say she’s a serial killer in the late 1800s and leave it at that.

Ooh, sounds…creepy, but in a totally artistic way! 🙂 8. What’s next for the characters in REAPING ANGEL? Are you writing another book to be published?

Yes, definitely! As with the first, I had really wanted to have the final book, Warring Angel, written before Reaping Angel was published, but life got in the way. At the time of doing this interview, I have the first act (about 20% written), and I’m tentatively setting to publish it in summer/fall 2017 after several rounds of critiques and edits. The plot is pretty much written, and I’ve done research on the historical events I’m portraying, and now all I have to do is… write.

Haha, yeah, I know the feeling. The writing is, in some ways, both the best and hardest part. 9. Has Fantasy always been your favourite genre to write, or do you habour a secret love for any other genres? 😉

Anything science fiction or fantasy was my thing growing up. I’ve started to move away from writing fantasy in my novels, although more of my short stories are fantasy than science fiction. I’m about 20% into a science fiction novel that I’m setting aside for Warring Angel, and I’m burning to write more space-based sci-fi in the future. I’m sure I’ll eventually come back to fantasy, but the other side is calling to me!

  1. Do you feel that having a degree in Physics has enhanced your Science Fiction-Fantasy?

I think it helps my science fiction. I’ve only recently put that onto my bio because before, it didn’t seem to matter much when I was only writing fantasy. The thing is does for me is lays a foundation for my sci-fi stories. I know what’s possible and what’s not, but there’s an element of “fantasy” to my world-building since I include faster-than-light-speed travel and completely made up substances that do things I know probably will never happen. Then I put in a little bit about the substance being discovered outside the solar system despite all scientific beliefs prior…

There you go. I know how to cheat. That’s what it’s done for me!

Hehe, got to have a bit of realism science in fiction! 11. What are your plans for the future of your writing?

I’m planning on publishing a contemporary urban fantasy loosely based on the Fallen Redemption world, which I wrote in between Guarding Angel and Reaping Angel, either October 2016 or February 2017—depending on how things go as I get it ready. Then, of course, I’m going to publish Warring Angel summer/fall 2017. After that, I have a ton of story ideas. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with all of them yet, but I love that we’re in this new time for publishing. If I can’t find a publisher, then I’m going to self-publish them. I have faith that I’m slowly building a fan base, and hopefully will continue to!

  1. What advice would you give to writers struggling to make the leap from idea to novel?

Read craft books. Critique other writers’ writing. Write short stories.

For me, it was learning how a plot works that really made me feel like I was getting the hang of this writing thing. I mold my stories around the three-act structure, with some beats thrown in. And I practice it by picking apart movies and novels. Almost always, if a story feels “off,” it’s because it deviated from the three-act-and-additional-beats structure. Save the Cat! (Blake Synder) was an all right read for me, but some of the formulaic junk he has in there is just, well, yuck. I like to think we can do better than that.

I also recently read a couple of Donald Maass books about the finer points of the craft that I love. Some of it I already knew (write interesting characters!) but some of it gave me an “aha!” moment that took my writing to the next level. For instance, microtension is used all over the place—and now I pick it out when I see it and work hard at including it. For the record, those books are Writing 21st Century Fiction and The Fire in Fiction, although everything he writes is gold.

Don’t stop learning and reading and growing. The three things I listed—read craft books, critique others’ stories, and write short stories—is what helps you move beyond trying to force words onto paper in a novel format and into really becoming a storyteller. At least, in my humble opinion.

That’s great advice; there’s something for everyone to take from that. Thanks for talking, Samantha!

About the author:

profile_picS. L. Saboviec grew up in a small town in Iowa but became an expat for her Canadian husband, whom she met in the Massive Multi-player Online Role-Playing Game Star Wars: Galaxies (before the NGE, of course). She holds a B.S. in Physics, which qualifies her to B.S. about physics and occasionally do some math for the sci-fi stories she concocts. Her dark, thought-provoking science fiction & fantasy contains flawed, relatable characters and themes that challenge the status quo.

Her short fiction is forthcoming from AE and has appeared in the weekly webzine Grievous Angel. Her debut novel, Guarding Angel, received an honorable mention in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. The sequel, Reaping Angel, is out now.

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Photo of the WeeK: Alex Vintage

Again, weak on the photo proficiency this week, so instead of a photo by me, have a photo of me, in one of my vintage outfits. I treated myself to an early Christmas present (as I got no vintage pieces for Christmas) of the Bernie Dexter Trixie skirt in Essex Poppy Fields print, plus, I’ve recently been inspired by the beautiful Instagram user arianette_b, I’ve been trying to incorporate cardigans into my winter outfits, as I had wear them with t-shirts and blouses both.

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Also wearing my CollectIf cherry print blouse and cherry necklace, two of my faves. The cardigan and cat broach are childhood pieces.

Steampunk Spotlight: Folly Blaine

Steampunk Spotlight is back, woop! *begins waltzing* Today, I’m interviewing Ms. Folly Blaine, a cheerful writer of Lovecraftian short fiction, fantasy and horror. To view her entire bibliography, see her website – her latest short story is a steampunk piece about steampunk shape-shifters in the Gears and Growls Anthology.

Welcome to the blog, Folly. 🙂 What inspired you to start writing Steampunk-esque short stories?

I love the whole Steampunk aesthetic–the costumes, the Victorian setting, the whole alternate history aspect. And I love that Steampunk encourages its fans to interact in the real world and create amazing costumes and contraptions.  Specifically for my short story though, “The Man at the End of the Chain” that just came out in the anthology, Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls, I was also inspired by the anthology’s theme: shapeshifters with Steampunk technology incorporated into their bodies. That was a fun challenge, and it let me go a little dark with the subject matter, which I like.

You have written a lot of horror fiction. Does your writing process differ between writing Steampunk and the horror genre?

Mostly I just try to tell an interesting story. But in terms of process, horror is about the mood of the piece, the sense of dread I want the reader to experience. Steampunk focuses on the setting and historical perspective. So the main difference for me between writing Steampunk and horror, is that writing horror is about pacing and mood, while Steampunk requires more research, more historical context. I particularly recommend Henry Mayhew’s excellent book, London Labour and the London Poor, as a primary source of information.

Alt-history fantasy has expanded into a whole umbrella of genres, including Dieselpunk and Atompunk. What, in your opinion, is a vital attribute of a Steampunk setting or story?

All of these genres are about asking what if—what if this event or events had gone just a little differently–and it’s so satisfying to ask that question. For me, Steampunk is specifically about expanding the genre of Victorian-era science-fiction, and exploring a vision of what the world could have been technology-wise, if say, Charles Babbage’s steam-powered computer (Analytical Engine) had been built 170 years ago. Also, I think it’s important not to limit the “what if’s” to a Victorian England perspective, but taking the whole globe into consideration. 

How did you go about building your Steampunk world? Were any aspects stronger/more well formed than others when you started writing?

For “The Man at the End of the Chain,” I began with the single image of an organ grinder and built the story from there. My story is about a were-capuchin, basically a woman that can shift into a monkey and is forced to work for an organ grinder in her capuchin form, and based on that initial image, I did a lot of research about organ grinders during the time period, as well as therianthropy – shapeshifting ability. I was interested in playing with the idea of a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and using that to explain the main character’s shapeshifting ability, and I was also interested in cemeteries. So based on all of those images, I did some research, connected the dots, and out came this story.

A capuchin monkey. Cute, eh?

 

That’s amazing! I love how much thought you’ve put into even a short story. Do you participate in other parts of the Steampunk genre/lifestyle or only the writing side of Steampunk? 

I’ve attended an annual Steampunk convention called SteamCon in Bellevue, WA, which I enjoyed a lot. Mostly though I’ve focused on the writing side. I’ve never been great at assembling the amazing costumes others put together, but I’m happy to admire their creativity from afar.

Hehe, me neither. Any advice to readers and/or writers just getting into the Steampunk genre?

For writers, it’s a good idea to read inside and outside of the genre. Check out the Mayhew book I mentioned earlier for historical context. Look for critique groups or beta readers who can give you honest feedback. For readers, my introduction to the genre was The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer and S.J. Chambers, and that was helpful for giving me a high-level understanding of the genre. Most recently I’ve enjoyed reading the Steampunk webcomic, Girl Genius, by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

Readers, I’d recommend the comic, too. Folly, what’s the future for your writing? What are your current goals?

I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, WA, over the summer and came out of that experience with six new short stories. I need to finish revising them and send those out. Lately, I’ve been narrating and mastering audiobooks for other people, which has been pretty rewarding.  And I just had another short story come out, “Arkquarium,” in a Lovecraft-inspired anthology called That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley. That story takes places in modern times and is about a strange creature that wreaks havoc at the Arkham Arquarium.

Tell us something interesting about your current Steampunk-y WIP. 

I’m working on a short story about a female mad scientist exiled to Prague in the late 1800s. Well, she doesn’t think of herself as mad, but there’s definitely something wrong with her. 

Ooh, thanks for joining me, Folly. These are great answers 🙂

Find Folly Blaine on Twitter. You can learn more about her on her blog about page, Maybe it was the Moonshine.

7 Quick Takes about Swing, Costuming, and a Hectic Week

It’s Friday again! I’ve been doing a lot, so join me and the other Catholic bloggers at ConversionDiary as we detail our weeks in 7 quick points.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about my first radio show, punk rock dads, and a desperate plea for birthday party ideas

~1~

I’m back at university! It’s great to see the people I lived and worked with last year and the people I will come to live and work with this year as I move into a new corridor. My ‘quarter’ or ‘segment’ or whatever is of four and me, three of which I’ve known well, if not lived with last year. The rest of upper B are people I lived with or socialised with, and a few spares. It’s a good lot, and I’ve been lucky to some respect.

~2~

I played A for Author yesterday: I made myself a giant pencil out of card and gave myself a bit of ‘geek chic’, as I believe it’s called. That was entertaining.

I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.
I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.

~3~

I got more of my costume for steampunk life, including a ‘jumperskirt’ dress I ordered a good couple of months ago – but it had to be sewn to fit my measurements, so I expected the wait. Luckily, although the zip is a stiff one, the dress is pretty much perfect. I’d worried it would be too short for day-wear because of the style, but it’s only just above kneelength and goes well with a new blouse of mine. *air punch*

~4~

The other main activity I’ve been doing this year has been promoting the Swing dancing I do at the university, which involved dressing up (yay!) and standing behind a stall for five-ish hours (boo!). Whilst we are trying to get more people into the activity (classified as a sport, apparently), I’m not used to being on my feet so much again, and it will take me the usual time to adapt.

Swing1

~5~

I also did some walking (partly under duress and necessity) these last couple of days, and I intend to help out with the Quidditch demo that’s going on at the weekend. So, yeah: I’m finally getting back to being, well, healthy. Possibly photos to follow.

~6~

As such, though, my reading this week has been on the low. I brought a bunch of fiction to uni, but I’ve not had so much a quiet minute to read when I’ve not given it to blogging or research. I have a couple of CP crits still to write – I’m getting through them, slowly.

~7~

Writing has been alright. I got around to the first kiss scene in UTC, even though I still need to sort out the plan and the order. I don’t know how this works in terms of the entire plot, but it adds a new level of tension between Laurie and Jess when they have to stay away from each other. I also found out that, when angry/annoyed/stressed, Jess has quite a mouth on her. Sorry.

Before even the slight bob of dizziness reached her, Laurie stiffened, and withdrew. Jess quivered.

“It’s okay.”

“No, its not. This is a mistake. I’m sorry.”

He’d simultaneously turned pink and ghost pale. Jess resisted throwing a hand up to his glorious stubble, to the way his cheeks curved into the dark lines of his hair. She just wanted to play with it, if she were allowed that second opportunity.

But Laurie pulled away, frowned, and Jess’ heart sunk, volcano stone. All those moments she’d fantasised about her lips locking onto his with such strong, passionate attraction, she’d not thought of those moments post-snog, where he might simply reject her in oblivion, pure and hellish.

Laurie had managed to osmosis-drip to the other side of the room. With his big eyes, he bade her a goodbye more sad than it really ought to have been, and pushed through into the corridor.

F***. Not that reaction. Anything but that. She wasn’t that bad a kisser.