Wednesday, June 26, 2013

indiegogo campaigns

I have a couple stories coming out this fall (I hope). Both anthologies are using indiegogo campaigns to raise money to fund the publication. Both are offering some great incentives for giving.

The first story is “Good King David,” which will appear in King David & the Spiders from Mars: Tales of Biblical Terror from Dybbuk Press. "Good King David" combines elements from Absalom's story and Hamlet. Check out the campaign and incentives here.

The second story is “Morphine and Chocolate,” (love that title) which will appear in Volume 4 of The Midnight Diner. This campaign is to raise money for publishing Volume 4 and for funding the next year of the remodeled Midnight Diner. Michelle Pendergrass has returned as editor-in-chief and she's taking The Diner in a new direction: a quarterly publication and a paying market. Check out the campaign and incentives here.

Please take a look at these worthy campaigns and if you feel inclined, please give.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Three Raconteurs

The next issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly is slated for July and readers are in for a treat. Somehow all the stars and planets aligned to land three stories from three friends in the same issue. Miraculous? Astounding? Or just plain weird? I don't know, but to celebrate, the three of us are answering the same questions about our respective stories.

Milo Fowler's comments on "Sins of the Father":

How would you describe your story in one sentence?

It's a weird western, and there's some time travel involved. (SPOILER ALERT!)

What inspired you to write it?

I was watching a really bad spaghetti western (can't even remember the name of it), and my mind wandered...

Are you a bard or a sage? Why?

I'm not wise enough to be a sage, but I could possibly quoth some bardish scifaiku.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Cade, the albino samurai from "Sins of the Father," has shown up in a couple of my other tales, and I have a feeling he will keep doing so. He's like that.

My remarks on "The Facts in the Case of M. Hussman":

How would you describe your story in one sentence? Let the dead die.

What inspired you to write it? The prompt "love beyond the grave" and Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar."

Are you a bard or a sage? Why? Definitely a bard. I make up stories to entertain and stimulate the little gray cells. I still have all my wisdom teeth, but I make no claims regarding the wisdom imparted by my tales..

Anything else you'd like to add? This is my first steampunk effort and my first attempt at an epistolary story. It's a powerful and flexible form that allows for a level of detachment and brevity that would be awkward in a standard narrative. It was a lot of fun to write.

Simon Kewin's comments on "Threads":

How would you describe your story in one sentence?

The barbarian horde is at the gates of the city, but young Queen Myrgiane sits with her courtiers working on her embroidery, calmly waiting for her plans to unfold...

What inspired you to write it?

I like the idea of stories that turn on some apparently insignificant, commonplace thing rather than powerful magical artefacts or great heroes (although they're cool, too). So, a snatch of a song or a chance remark; something that anyone could know or do. I had the idea of the embroidery that features in the story and I thought it would be interesting to contrast it with a rampaging barbarian horde. That, in itself, amused me, but also, how can a mere embroidery save a city from such an onslaught? The answer really comes down to the two characters, Queen Myrgiane and Bloody Argan. The queen, especially, was fun to write. Anyone underestimating her is making a big mistake...

Are you a bard or a sage? Why?

Well, not a bard, given my singing voice, so I'll have to go Sage. There's a long flowing cloak to go with it, right?

Anything else you'd like to add?

Without giving the ending to Threads away, I can't help thinking there are more stories to be written about what happens next. Perhaps I will write them one day...

And here's the best news. You can read these stories for free in July. All you have to do is sign up for the Bards and Sages monthly newsletter.
Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, and get each new issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly sent to you free in PDF format! Our monthly newsletter features information on upcoming Bards and Sages projects, contests, special discounts, sneak previews, industry news, and more.
Go here to sign up for the newsletter and get your free copy of the B & S Quarterly.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Simon Kewin Talks about The Genehunter

The GenehunterSimon Kewin is the author of The Genehunter, a five-part story series that he recently collected into a novel. He's also the author of the soon-to-be-released novels Engn and Hedge Witch. Stop by his blog at to learn more about Simon and his writing.

Warning: Question seven contains some minor spoilers so close your eyes and click somewhere else when you reach the last question if you haven't read the Genehunter stories yet.

I believe you work in information technology. Did your work experience inspire or inform The Genehunter stories?

I guess being a software developer made it easier to drop in (hopefully) believable terminology to bring the Genehunter world to life. But I didn't want to make the stories too techie because that would get boring. And while writing computer software is fun, really, I have to report it probably isn't as thrilling as being a genehunter...

Simms is a mess of contradictions. Did you begin the stories with that ball of contradictions or did they accrue as you "got to know him"?

They accrued. When I started out writing Genehunter I was conscious that most of my protagonists in other stories tend to be good, decent people. I wanted to break out of that and create a character who was selfish, immoral or downright amoral. That was my starting point—Simms is concerned solely for himself, doesn't care about anyone else. Which made him a lot of fun to write. But as you say, his contradictions become clear pretty quickly. He starts to get all these feelings he is poorly equipped to handle—a conscience and a sense of concern for those he is close to. I had a lot of fun giving him these inner struggles—as well as all the exterior struggles with people trying to kill him with guns and stuff.

I like the structure of the stories with each one featuring a gene-hunting job and the series tied together with multiple, longer story lines. What came first: the ideas for the gene thefts or the longer story lines 

The individual gene-hunting jobs came first. I knew I wanted to write four or five self-contained "cases" but also that I'd need an overarching story line to tie them together. But I had no idea what that would be when I set out on "The Wrong Tom Jacks." Then I came across the word boneyard somewhere—probably in some story I was reading—and that set my imagination going. I love it when hearing a single word does that. It sounded cool, but I had no idea who or what Boneyard actually was in my story. In fact I didn't know until quite late on in the series. The challenge was to give each episode a satisfying conclusion, while leaving that larger story-arc out there to draw the reader on.

Simms' name intrigues me. As you probably know, SIMM stands for single in-line memory module. Simms has so many chips embedded in his brain that he might as well be a computer. Do you see our increasing reliance on smart devices eventually leading to a Genehunter-like world?

Yes, I like putting these little jokes into things I write, even if no one else gets them! That connection to Simms' name was certainly in my mind, as was the reason given within the stories—which Simms himself only discovers quite late on. It was the same with Dr. Grendel, who is a bit of a monster (cf Beowulf), but who is also a pioneer of genetics, and it amused me that "Grendel" could be seen as a contraction of "Gregor Mendel". There are other jokes in there that perhaps only I would get...

Will we end up in a world where brain plug-ins record everything we do and enhance our natural abilities? It doesn't seem like that much of a leap. Why do we have to carry all these smartphones around with us? So much easier to have the hardware embedded so we can't lose it. Although that will make upgrading the SIMM card more tricky.

Whether we get to a world like Genehunter I don't know. My intention was obviously to create a fun read rather than a reliable prediction, but some of it will come true, I'm sure. Which will give rise to all sorts of problems and debates. The recent controversy over Google Glasses is a good example of that. How would you feel knowing that everything you say and do is being recorded by people you meet? It's an uncomfortable thought, but perhaps in a few decades it will seem utterly normal. How intrusive or beneficial we allow this technology to be is open to debate. I think we are going to see some interesting battles. But wearable or embedded computing is here already. Even my cat has a chip embedded in her for ID purposes...

The Genehunter reminds me of William Gibson's "Johnny Mnemonic" in which a data-storage system has been surgically implanted in the protagonist's head. Did Gibson or any other cyberpunk writers influence you?

Only in a general sense—things like "Johnny Mnemonic" obviously had an influence, directly or indirectly. As, I freely admit, did Bladerunner. But the main influence I think was the onward march of real technology.

Now that you've created The Genehunter world, can we expect more stories set there?

Always a possibility. I have no immediate plans, but I think it's a universe you could do a lot with. And I do love Simms, for all his failings.

There's a sense of "cosmic justice" throughout the series. In "A Soldier of Megiddo," Simms the gene-hunter winds up an inmate in the type of zoo for which he's been supplying DNA. In the final story "Boneyard", Simms steals the bones of a saint's left hand for Boneyard and then loses his own left hand in a battle with Boneyard. Please comment.

That's a really interesting question. Let's just say I like to play with these ideas. To me those patterns you mention are dramatic irony: I wrote them in because they were amusing or satisfying plot circles. Something like the jokes I mentioned on a larger scale. But who am I to say? Whether that amounts to cosmic justice for the reader is up to them to say. For what it's worth, I don't think Simms sees it that way. The ending—the very last scene—makes that clear to my mind.

Friday, June 7, 2013

It's Alive!

Highway 24A rather odd thing to say about a ghost story but Highway 24 is now available for sale at the MuseItUp, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble stores.

Also check out a mini-interview with me on Milo Fowler's blog at

And there's still time to attend the Highway 24 release party on Goodreads, register to win an eBook by attending or marking Highway 24 as to-read. Follow this link to attend:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Word of the Week: Bound

Elixir BoundI read a novel earlier this year entitled Elixir Bound, a YA fantasy about a quest to obtain the ingredients for a healing elixir. (It's a very good book by the way.) The title got me thinking about the word bound, which is a strange word because it has so many meanings and some of these meanings are contradictory. This is a relatively common occurrence in English which draws words from so many other languages. Words that have contradictory meanings depending on their context are called contronyms. In the case of bound, it can mean you're going somewhere or restrained from moving.

The restrained version of bound is the past tense of bind, which derives from Old English bindan, meaning to tie with bonds or make captive. The past participle of bindan is bunden. The Old English word likely comes from the Proto-Germanic word *bindan. Variations on Old English bindan with similar spelling and meaning exist in Old Saxon, Old Norse, Old Frisian, Old High German, German, and Gothic.

There's another wrinkle in the restrictive meanings of bound. The noun bound meaning a limit or boundary (think out of bounds) derives from the Anglo-Latin term bunda, which comes from Old French bonde, a variant of bodne that derives from Medieval Latin bodina.

For the ready to go meaning of bound, we start with the Middle English boun, which derives from Old Norse buinn, meaning to dwell or prepare. The Old Norse word derives from the Proto-Germanic *bowan. Similar words exist in Old High German and Old Danish.

So, what does “bound” mean in Katie Carroll's Elixir Bound? That's the brilliant part. Carroll packs both meanings into her title. The protagonist Katora is going on a quest to secure the ingredients for the elixir. She's bound for the mountain on which a particular plant grows. However, once Katora finds it and agrees to be the elixir's guardian, she becomes bound to it. She cannot give up her guardianship of her own free will.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Opportunities for Free Stuff

Here are some opportunities to get some free stuff.

The next issue of Bards and Sages Quarterly (July) contains some awesome stories from Milo Fowler, Simon Kewin, and me. You don't want to miss this issue, but the best news is that you can get it for free.

From the Bards and Sages Publishing website:
Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter, and get each new issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly sent to you free in PDF format! Our monthly newsletter features information on upcoming Bards and Sages projects, contests, special discounts, sneak previews, industry news, and more.
Go here to sign up for the newsletter and get your free copy of the B & S Quarterly.

Here's an opportunity from MuseItUp Publishing. Lea Schizas, the Publisher, writes:
Dear Readers,

Are you interested in reading our MuseItUp ebooks for FREE...

Read advanced copies of our upcoming releases...

Receive MIU Gift Certificates simply by posting about one of our ebooks you just read...

If so, then drop me a line at:

publisher AT museituppublishing DOT com

for full details.