Interview with Scott E. Tarbet

One of the first friends I made in the writing and authoring world was Scott E. Tarbet. He and I were both in the Toll of Another Bell fantasy anthology through Xchyler Publishing and both local Utah authors – and we were also in the same chapter of League of Utah Writers for several years. So it goes without saying that we go back a while.

I was thrilled when Scott agreed to an interview because I know he’s led quite the interesting life. From adventuring abroad, to creating gripping stories, Scott’s got a little of everything.

On to the interview!

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

The best place to start is a question to get to know you better. Tell us a little about yourself, including the craziest thing you’ve ever done on a dare.

I have bombed straight down icy double black diamonds, free-climbed vertical cliffs, free-dived to fifty feet to take a ten-pound lobster away from a moray eel. I have charged into burning buildings and torn apart burning vehicles, run marathons, survived being marooned on a deserted seacoast. I have peered down into the glowing containment pool of a nuclear generating station and been stranded without light deep in a limestone cave rapidly filling with water. I have been attacked and robbed at gunpoint, faced down assault weapon wielding Mexican Federales while armed with nothing but righteous zeal and the chutzpa of youth. I have launched three businesses and have failed at two. AND I have published my literary offspring out into the cold, cruel world. In short, I don’t wait for someone to challenge me to perpetrate a craziness. I just do it.

As a creative person, what are your three greatest strengths?

  1. Fearlessness. (See above.)
  2. Craft. I have always been a storyteller, since before I could read or write. I love to read and re-read the literary masters and masterpieces, in every storytelling genre, taking careful note of how they make their stories come alive. In short, I am a student of the craft. Someday I hope to achieve mastery. If I write out every novel in my current writer’s notebook, I should accomplish that sometime before I’m a hundred and twenty.
  3. Love. My characters are my children and my friends. I truly believe no artist can adequately represent something they do not understand at a profound, granular level. Those who try are instantly revealed as frauds to the discerning reader or viewer. And that understanding usually shines through as unmistakable love. Or its polar opposite.

Of all the different projects you’ve worked on, either with the opera, writing, or one of your other many interesting pursuits, what experience has changed you the most?

No other experience has shaken me as profoundly as standing onstage as Otto Frank, father of Ann, at the opening of “The Diary of Ann Frank.” A representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center had just finished an hour-long multi-media presentation on the Holocaust. The images of the death camps were so burned into my soul that I had a difficult time even drawing breath.

At the opening curtain, Otto reenters the family’s attic grotto hiding place after surviving the Nazi death camps and the extermination of his family and friends. As he enters the empty stage a bell slowly tolls six times, once for each of the million Jews killed in the Holocaust. I felt each toll pound through my own brain as if I were being struck a felling blow. I, and a good share of the audience, wept like heartbroken children as the seconds stretched into minutes. I hope never to be so affected again by another piece of art.

In your most recent novel release, Dragon Moon, who was your favorite character and what part of writing it was your biggest challenge?

Dragon Moon was a high concept: the U.S. abandoning the capability to reach the moon and Communist China publicly announcing their intention to turn it into a military base can only turn out badly, right? I believed in the premise. I still believe in it. It’s happening before our eyes.

Bringing that story to life meant creating two main characters that I truly loved, into whom I poured every good impulse that I could imagine. One was a reluctant Chinese-American Air Force intelligence officer, Mu Guiying, manipulated into a world of violence and intrigue she never wanted. The other was a star-gazing teenage boy, Mason Young, obsessed with saving the world by finding and stopping the next extinction-level asteroid. Together they represent so much of the ideal for me that I dedicated the novel “To those who look up and out, and to those who guard their backs while they do it.”

The biggest challenge of writing the book was being humble enough to give up a character whom I really loved to despise, who was Mason’s girlfriend in the first draft. She was deliciously self-centered and snarky in a delightfully Mean Girls sort of way, but my editor pointed out that she was taking up a lot of word count that more rightly went into developing the other threads of the story. But she’ll always have a special place in my “characters I love to hate” pantheon.

I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?

My great-grandfather Enoch Cornia’s missionary hymnal, no bigger than the palm of my hand, dated from his mission in 1891. It really should be in a shadow box. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll do that next . . . month . . . maybe . . .

What’s next? What are you working on?

I always work on multiples at the same time. I literally have three documents open at any given time. If I start to slow down on one, meaning that I have to give it some more thought before proceeding, I switch to another. While I dump out the stuff that is already thought through in another piece, the first one marinades. Then I jump back to it. I’m actually more productive doing it that way rather than staring at the screen while my brain chews like a puppy with a new slipper.

So the next things are:

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk 2: Perils of Pauline. The genius young artificer heroine of the first book is after her new replacement legs, but a meddlesome time traveler has other ideas of where—and when—she should go next. Changing history once is not enough.
  2. Battles of the Stripling Warriors. The iconic young warriors, the Sons of Helaman from the Book of Mormon, return in the second in the series that began with Rise of the Stripling Warriors, which I hope against hope will get out of editing and onto the shelves before the end of 2019.
  3. The Thousand. (working title) A self-aware .2c starship is on a mission thousands of years in duration, to reach thirteen new worlds and choose the right candidates from among the 1,000 best and brightest minds, the cream of humanity that were digitally stored when the race was extinguished. Brigham, the ship’s cantankerous AI, will print them strong young bodies, implant their memories, seed the new colony, and move on. But as Brigham approaches the thirteenth and final planet, s/he has made a discovery that will change the mission, and the fate of the human race, forever.
From great books to amazing Texas style BBQ, Scott Tarbet really can do it all.

About today’s guest –

Scott Tarbet’s speculative fiction stories have garnered multiple awards, critical acclaim, and entertain a burgeoning fanbase. He writes in several genres, including Steampunk, fantasy, paranormal, techno-thriller, and historical fiction.

When he is not submerged in one of his created worlds, which he finds nearly as fascinating as the real one, he sings opera professionally and slow-smokes thousands of pounds of authentic Texas-style barbeque. He was married in full Elizabethan regalia, loves Steampunk and cosplay conventions of all flavors. He makes his home in the mountains of Utah.

Follow his writing adventures:

About Scott’s book Dragon Moon –

A new space race explodes into violence when China quietly sets its sights on the Moon. Now, an unlikely team of US Navy SEALs, Russian Spetsnaz, and a Chinese-American agent have one chance to stop the activation of China’s powerful new weapon before all hope is lost. The cost of failure: worldwide Chinese empire.

Find it on Amazon!


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Interview with Ben Ireland, plus a Sneak Peek inside Bleakwood Lore

Today I’m thrilled to have friend and fellow author Ben Ireland with me to share his thoughts about writing and his books. Better still, I was able to read the first Billy Blacksmith book last week. If you have a kid in your life (or young-at-heart adult) who likes adventures, danger, and an unlikely hero – this is a great series.

Onto the interview!

Tell us about your journey – What led you to writing Billy Blacksmith’s story?

Billy Blacksmith is actually my second published series. The first, Kingdom City, was published by Xchyler. It’s a fun tale about government sanctioned torture, human experimentation, and the desperate struggle to survive in a dystopian city torn apart by war.

Kingdom City is dark, and sometimes brutal. Which I thought was cool when I was younger. The protagonist of Kingdom City is Autumn, a woman who is powerful, brilliant, and internally shattered by her past choices. But by the time Kingdom City: Revolt had come out in 2016, the real world felt like a darker place to me. I wanted to add some light.

One day I walked into my kitchen, the sun was shining through the window, and it’s almost like I heard a voice in my head, saying: “I’m Billy Blacksmith. I like video games, cupcakes, and baseball. My best friend is a demon, and for some reason, I, have to save the world.”

Then, question after question (Why does Billy have to save the world? Why is his best friend a demon?) The Blacksmith Legacy universe was conceived. And it’s been so much stinking fun.

But seasoned with a little darkness, because I can’t help myself.

I’ve found most authors keep special items close by when they work. What’s the most interesting thing you keep on your desk and why?

I usually have my adopted cat, Bam Bam on my lap. Does that count?

Is there a hidden lesson in the Billy Blacksmith books? If so, what is it?

No. I try really hard not to sneak a lesson into my writing. I like to leave room for the reader to make up their own mind about what is happening in the story. There are characters that say things dear to my heart, while other characters express opinions that I find abhorrent.

But then there are times where my characters say “Friendship has tangible, magical value.” So sometimes I’m not all that subtle.

If there is anything I’m trying to say, is that Billy is about the conflict about good and evil. What I want to do is make you question what good and evil really means.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself while writing your books?

I CAN live off 4 hours of sleep most nights. For a limited time.

What’s next? Tell us about the projects you are working on.

Currently I’m working on Bleakwood Lore. The Blacksmith Legacy: Addendum.
The Billy Blacksmith books are all part of The Blacksmith Legacy universe. Bleakwood Lore is the first non-Billy Blacksmith book I’m writing in the series. It has eleven short stories from the perspective of different characters. Some you know, some you’ve only just met briefly. It was that, or have eleven opening chapters to Book Four.
I’m really excited about this one. It was incredibly fun to write, and it has a lot of reveals for those who have been paying attention to the series.

The current titles in the Billy Blacksmith Universe:

About Ben Ireland

Born and raised in Australia, Ben Ireland is uniquely qualified to write about horrifying spiders and how much they would like to kill you. An award-winning writer of both Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Cyber-Horror, Ben received the Gold Quill 2017 for Billy Blacksmith: The Demonslayer from the League of Utah Writers. His other award-winning books include Billy Blacksmith: The Hellforged, The Ironsoul; the cyber-horror series – Kingdom City, and several short stories.
Learn more at BenIrelandBooks.com

Want to grab a copy of one of Ben’s books? Find all of them over at his Amazon author page.

Sneak Peek Excerpt from Ben’s next book, Bleakwood Lore

This is a scene from the 4th story of Bleakwood Lore. Krios—a twenty foot tall demonic spider (and ex-general of the Spider Horde)—has been trapped in the Human Realm with his princess, who happens to be a human. She’s sick, and Krios isn’t sure what to do, so he enlists the aid of a Smith’s worker to purchase some “human medicine.”

A curious, burning smell wafted through the air. Krios crept across the roof and peered over the rearmost wall of the store. The back lot of the store was not brightly lit, a large square of asphalt with several cars parked in the shadows. Around the asphalt unkempt shrubs grew, entangling themselves about a sagging metal fence. To Krios’ left, a ramp descended towards a huge door in the rear of Smith’s store.

Directly beneath him, a single human stood in the dim light. She did not seem large by human standards, with a slim figure and thin arms. Her outfit of black pants and a red collared shirt held the air a uniform. She tucked her short brown hair behind her ear and lifted a small stick to her lips. When she lowered the stick, a cloud which wreaked of burning lifted into the air, much like a demon smoking a pipe, though far less fragrant.

“Human,” Krios grunted in human language.

The woman started in surprise, looking around her for the source of the voice.

“I require drugs,” Krios said. “Are you able to help me?”

The human laughed nervously. “How do I know you’re not a cop?”

“I can assure you, I am not.” Whatever that is. “Can you help me locate drugs?”

“Yeah. I might,” she said. “What are you looking for?”

Krios dropped from the roof and landed in front of the human. “Excellent. I require your assistance immediately.”

The woman screamed and jumped backwards, tumbling over the rail behind her and down the ramp. The burning stick flew into the air, drawing an arc of bitter smoke as it fell.

Krios dashed forward after her, following her down the incline. She scuttled backwards on her hands, her eyes bulging as she took in Krios’ mighty form, until she slammed into the far wall. Her mouth was wide, her body shaking. The only thing she seemed to remember to do was breathe.

“Will you assist me?” Krios asked.

Her eyes passed over Krios, and landed on his sapphyril mandible. “Why can you . . . talk?” she said. “Please don’t eat me.”

“I will not eat you,” Krios said as reassuringly as possible.

She continued her attempts to scuttle backwards, despite the wall hindering any further movement. “What . . . what . . . what do you want?”

Krios rolled his eyes. Humans become quite stupid when you frighten them. “I told you, I require drugs.”

She laughed, though without humor. “I ain’t got a bowl big enough for you.”

***

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Talking Pulp Fiction with Jay Barnson

Before you get all excited about a potential discussion about Uma Thurman, John Travolta, and Samuel L Jackson let me rein you in touch. Today, we’ll be talking about real pulp fiction. Popular stories such as Flash Gordon, Indiana Jones, Tarzan, heck, even Star Wars, all started out as stories that appeared in pulp magazines which were printed on cheap wood pulp paper. They had a distinct smell and feel to them, which pulp fiction enthusiasts have come to love.

My friend, Jay Barnson, is a true pulp fiction aficionado. So much so that he has published several stories in modern pulp publications, such as Storyhack and Cirsova. His new book, Blood Creek Witch, takes the engaging action elements of a good pulp read and weaves them into a fantastic urban fantasy. Jay and I go back to, you might have guessed it, Xchyler Publishing. In 2015, that’s where all the cool local writers hung out.

pulp covers
My big question for Jay is:

What draws you to pulp fiction? (and how has it influenced you…?)

When I was a kid, my primary sources of science fiction and fantasy (which they usually dumped on the same small shelf back then…) were libraries, and occasionally used book stores. This meant I wasn’t reading the newest stuff, and a lot of what I read was anthologies or novel reprints of “classic” science fiction and fantasy — much of which was originally published in pulp magazines. While my friends were discovering Lord of the Rings, I was discovering Conan of Cimmeria. I was into pulp SFF before I even knew what it was! These were the kinds of stories that inspired me. They were the kinds of stories also that inspired some of my favorite movies as a kid, too, like Star Wars (originally three films) and Indiana Jones (um, ditto).

Flash forward to today, and what I want to read (and write) today hasn’t changed much. Stories of the pulp age were well-told yarns focused on escapism and entertainment. The pulp masters made a living writing these things, by producing a constant stream of stories that readers wanted (and would pay for) – through the intermediate layer an editor. It wasn’t about producing an annual book in a series and having a publisher market the crap out of it, or gaining the marketing cachet of a major award or Oprah’s Book Club, or anything else from later eras that drove a “hit.” It was all about entertaining the audience, over and over again. Their stories had to be riveting from page one with nothing else to prop them up except maybe the reputation of their pen name and the name of the magazine.

Since I started getting published, I’ve gone back and read a lot of the original pulps and reprints (and I’ve even picked up a few original paper copies on eBay). Many popular misconceptions about pulp stories can be resolved simply by reading a bunch of them. Yeah, there are plenty of stinkers out there – I’ll be the first to admit that not everything was gold back then. Once you get past the cultural and language barriers of stories from nearly (or over) a hundred years ago, you may find these tales stack up well against a lot of modern stuff published today. They work. The storytelling still works. You can analyze it and find that these men and women figured out (often the hard way) the axioms of writing we take for granted today. They wove magic.

An emphasis on action. Character-driven stories. Show, don’t tell. Lurid spectacle. Escapism. Heart. Thrilling twists. Quiet heroism as well as bold fisticuffs. I want to tell those kinds of stories. Not pastiche stories that sound like they were written in the 1930s, but modern stories that embrace the pulp aesthetic. I’ve been happy to learn that there are a lot of readers out there just like me who crave exactly that kind of story, too, even if they don’t recognize it as “pulpy.” It’s just fun.

***

Spring Into Books, 2016, Viridian Center

Jay Barnson writes speculative fiction across multiple genres. His stories and non-fiction articles have appeared in several anthologies and magazines, including The Escapist and the Hugo-nominated Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. He is the winner of the 2016 DragonComet writing award. Born in West Virginia, Jay grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, much of it from the pulp era. His latest novel, Blood Creek Witch, is a tale of magic, monsters, and mayhem set in the backwoods of modern-day West Virginia.

Blood Creek Witch

Want to connect with Jay?

Here’s his links:

Website/Blog: Rampant Games
Facebook page: Author Jay Barnson
Interested in Jay’s stories and books?
Thanks again for joining us today, Jay!
***
Jay was awesome enough to host me for an interview at his blog, go check it out!

Upcoming Events

Launch Party
Stonebearer’s Betrayal Launch Party Nov 16, 7-9pm. You know you don’t want to miss this. Come join me at the Printed Garden Bookstore in Sandy where I’ll be selling and signing books. There will be treats, activities, prizes, a reading, and a Q&A session. I’d love to see you there!
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Local Authors & You – November 2-3rd: If you live in the Salt Lake valley, this one’s for you! All three of my past guests, John M. Olsen, Candace J. Thomas, and today’s guest Jay Barnson, will be there. Even better, I will be joining them and bringing exclusive pre-release copies of Stonebearer’s Betrayal! So much win! The event is free to the public and requires no registration. It’s a great chance to get signed and personalized Christmas gifts for the book lover on your list.

Why Adults Should Read Fantasy with John M Olsen

I had so much fun featuring Candace J Thomas here on the blog last week that I invited another dear author friend to come join us this week. Be sure to stop by her blog to see her wonderful interview with yours truly. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writer friends are the best.
Today we have John M Olsen with us. He is a fellow Immortal Works author who also has roots back at Xchyler Publishing. In fact, he and I met during the same event where I met Candace back in 2015. John is also currently president elect of the League of Utah Writers and just this summer released The Crystal Queen, the sequel to his first book The Crystal King. 
Crystal queen
My big question for John is:

Why should adults read fantasy?

John’s answer:

A man by the name of G. K. Chesterson said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Adults also know dragons exist. We face them every day. Maybe your dragon is a mortgage or a boss with a personality disorder. Maybe your dragon is a disability or a dear friend who refuses to make good life choices. Many of us like to escape into fantasy worlds, but there is much more than escape going on as we march page by page through a fantasy world. These worlds of the imagination are fraught with peril and doom, and good storytelling puts us on the edge of our seat as we hope good overcomes evil, or that true love will conquer all.

I love themes that confirm my faith in the goodness of humanity and of the universe, especially when we see so much entropy and failure if not outright evil. The bad guys may take the upper hand as a story progresses, but in the end, they will lose. Fantasy, at least the sort I prefer, shines a beacon of success despite the odds and illuminates a path forward. If the hero of your story can achieve great things, then you as a reader can as well, no matter how dark the night.

This is why I write, too. I love to write about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, something all readers can relate to. I’m a regular guy. Most readers are regular folks, too. Few achieve great fame or fortune, and the world spins on its merry way oblivious to our existence. But history is filled with true stories of ordinary people who stepped up just like fantasy characters to do what nobody could expect. We have power we don’t recognize. Power we don’t understand, and power we don’t use. But we will recognize, understand, and use that power as we learn by example. As long as we immerse ourselves in stories of success and never give up on ourselves and those around us, we put ourselves on a path to change lives, and through that to change the world.

Fantasy gives us power over reality’s dragons.

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A huge thanks to John for joining us and for his insightful thoughts on why fantasy is so important for readers of all ages, not just kids.
If you liked this message, please share it using the handy links below!
John M. Olsen 2

You can find John all over the place, here are some handy links:

Twitter: @john_m_olsen
Find his novels and short stories over on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/johnmolsen

 

About John M. Olsen

Motivated by his lifelong love of reading, John M. Olsen writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to entertain and inspire others. His father’s library started him on this journey as a teenager, and he now owns and expands that library to pass his passion on to the next generation of avid readers.

He loves to create things, whether writing novels or short stories or working in his secret lair equipped with dangerous power tools. In all cases, he applies engineering principles and processes to the task at hand, often in unpredictable ways. He usually prefers “Renaissance Man” to “Mad Scientist” as a goal and aesthetic.

He lives in Utah with his lovely wife and a variable number of mostly grown children and a constantly changing subset of extended family.

Check out his ramblings on his blog. Safety goggles are optional but recommended.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Discussing Worldview with Candace J Thomas

Today we are privileged to have my dear friend and fellow fantasy author, Candace J Thomas, here on the blog. Candace has been my cheerleader and spirit animal from the first day we spent time together behind Xchyler Publishing’s sales table at the 2015 Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium. At that point, she embodied everything I wanted to be. She had two amazing books and was working on the third, she radiated warmth and confidence, and she knew the industry.

61iOZETme4L

My big question for her is:

How has creating new worlds and characters changed your world view?

Candace’s answer:

This is a beautiful question.

There are two answers that I came up with.

My first answer – It’s all in the details. I am an observer of life. I’ve always been a people-watcher. People fascinate me, their mannerisms, drives, motivations. When building characters, I focus on these kind of things and strive to make them real, as real as if I knew them in high school.

Also, as an observer, the world becomes a more vivid and interesting place. I search for the interesting peculiarities to bring a more human experience – or basically, the Charm of things.

Currently, I am writing a story that takes place in Chicago. When I visited, there were little things I noticed, like how sidewalks wind around where trees are planted. It’s a charming fact that makes it interesting and human. Maybe the casual reader wouldn’t notice such a little detail, but I find it fulfilling and necessary to my stories. Adding charm is attractive to me.

When in Austin, I saw a side wall outside of bar completely littered with industrial staples where band flyers once hung. I admired the dreams that once were and wondered what happened to the thousands of dreams that came and went.

Nature is a big fascination to me. I like the veins in leaves and how they change color. I like watching fuzzy caterpillars slink across the tree branches, just wandering about their day. I like broken sidewalks and aged cobblestone. As an author, I have a responsibility to bring an experience to the reader. If I don’t add the little details, the bits of charm, I feel like I’m failing. You can find little details in everything I write.

As to the second answer – being an author, in general, has changed my world view. I’m a simple person, with a very simple idea of life, but I am driven by creativity. I view things differently and communicate in the language of art. I am also dyslexic, but that never changed my desire to be creative and write. It did bring challenges and insecurities to what I was trying to do.

I have always ached to be a writer and had the drive to do it and be successful. There are pros and cons to authoring. Becoming an author has pushed my private writing public. It takes me out of my comfort zone and brings this out-going character to the stage. As an author, there is no hiding your mistakes and insecurities in writing. It’s out there for readers, and every reader has an opinion.

I’ve had to learn that not everyone loves reading fantasy, and not everyone will like what I’ve done. I’ve really grown and matured over the last five years being published. I’ve become a confident author and mentor to others. I’m much wiser and more conscientious about how my name, as a brand, is perceived. It’s like I took the blue pill in the Matrix and I can never view the world as general as I did before. But on the flipside, I get to influence readers and creators every time they open my books. That is the very best feeling in the world.

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Headshot Full Body 8.13.17 Full Res

Want to connect with Candace? Of course you do, she’s awesome.

Links: 
Twitter: cjtwrites
Instagram: candacejthomas
News! Candace’s book, Everstar, will be released in Audio very, very soon. Watch these links:

Candace J Thomas is an award-winning of Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-fi. She is the author of the Vivatera Series and Hawkweed, published by Xchyler Publishing. Her debut novel Vivatera won the LUW Diamond Award for Novel of the Year. Her Paranormal Satire, Vampire-ish: A Hypochondriac’s Tale, was published July 2016.

Candace is a freelance editor of the award-winning Billy Blacksmith series by Ben Ireland. as well as founder of Shadesilk Press.

Candace is known for her extreme fanatical love for both Count Chocula and smart, witty writing that expands her imagination and makes her wish she had thought of the idea.

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Candace also hosted me on her blog in an Author Spotlight, go check it out!

Interested in doing a blog swap? Send me a line! Don’t worry, I don’t bite.

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Love staying in touch? So do I! Let’s connect. You can follow here on WordPress, or choose your favorite social media – I’m on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Pre Release Peek: Mechanized Masterpieces 2 – Spotlighting Author Neve Talbot

Mechanized Masterpieces 2: an American Anthology is a collection of steampunk stories from authors around the globe.  This collection takes American classic literature and gives it a steampunk makeover, much to the delight of this reader.

Today we are spotlighting author Neve Talbot, author of the story “West End.”

pennyAs a child, Neve Talbot developed the habit of lulling herself to sleep by dreaming up continuations of her favorite books too soon ended. She never left off the habit, and eventually gained confidence in worlds of her own creation. She first cracked open a spiral binder in high school, and has spent the past decade dutifully penning her prerequisite one million words of bad writing before getting to the good stuff.

Now author, editor, story coach, and journalist, Neve currently lives with her husband under the pseudonym of Penny Freeman, in a quasi-reality filled with fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, Regency romance, the classics, and history books, suspended between the piney woods and sprawling metropolis of southeast Texas. She plans on exploring the world when she grows up.

“West End” is Neve’s third outing with The X, the others being “Crossroads” in Shades and Shadows, and “Tropic of Cancer” in Mechanized Masterpieces, of which “West End” is a sequel.

To learn more about Neve, check out her About me page!

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An Interview with Neve Talbot:

As “West End” is inspired by Little Women, who do you envision playing your characters?

Liam Helmsworth for Theodore Laurence. I think he’s got the right mix of hunkiness, cockiness, and vulnerability to make it really come off.

Ian Somerhalder for Edward Rochester. He’s a touch too good-looking for the part, but he’s got a good combination of dark smolderingness and charm that works.

Julian Meeks (he has a much bigger part in my novel than he does in either Tropic of Cancer or West End): Morris Chestnut, I think. Julian’s a tricky character to cast.

Josephine March: smart, feisty, implacable, and impossible to forget? Emma Watson. Done.

Amy March: Amanda Seyfried

Beth March: This is a really, really difficult one because young actresses try to be sexy, rather than vulnerable and wise. Dakota Johnson has the right combination of both, but . . . ewww. She might be 50 shades of tainted. Too tainted for this angelic part. Victoria Morris seems like she has the sweetness for the part.

Bertha Mason: Halle Berry would make the perfect Bertha, except she’s a touch too old. Nathalie Emmanuel is also gorgeous, but she’s too young. In Bertha’s case, since age is a heavy factor in the plot of Tropic of Cancer, I’d have to go with Halle Berry.

Why did you choose the story of Little Women to convert into a steampunk tale? What is special about it?

Little Women was probably my first ‘adult’ reading experience. I must have been in the 4th grade. It’s held a warm place in my heart ever since. It seemed a natural choice to expand into Steampunk. Since my protagonists tend to be male, Laurie’s story got the nod. Finally, since this book is the sequel to Mechanized Masterpieces, I decided to tie this story into “Tropic of Cancer,”, my expansion of Jane Eyre.

What is your writing process?

I seem to do my best writing late at night, I think because my imagination has more room to maneuver in my brain. Traffic is much lighter. I also tend to write a lot, then delete at least half, then compress that into as succinct a text as possible.

When you have a chance to relax and read, what kind of book do you seek out?

I am a literary omnivore, but my favorites are biography, history, and historical fiction. I also have a fond spot for the classics. Fantasy and Steampunk have really strong historical components, with the world-building, etc., which is why I think I enjoy it. I’m a sucker for a good map. Maps are graphic history.

Do you have a current favorite book?

That’s like asking who’s your favorite child. The book that has had the most impact on me in recent years is Shadow of the Last Men by J.M. Salyards, recently the CYGNUS winner for science fiction.

What do you listen to when you write?

I usually need it quiet so I don’t get distracted. When I do listen to music, I listen to The Writer’s Trance, Orson Scott Card’s writing music on Pandora. Lots of emotive music without the distraction of lyrics.

Our writers out there are dying to know – Panster or plotter?

I used to be a pantser, which is how I made up my first million words of really bad writing. Now, I’m more a plotter, which makes a more finely crafted story. I believe in allowing a character to reveal themselves as the story evolves, which in its turn helps the plot itself to evolve. As they say, even the best battle plans mean nothing once the shooting starts. The same goes for writing. An author needs to be flexible enough to reevaluate and restructure their outline as they go, but having a general direction to travel and a goal to reach really helps. Also, plotters really are pantsers at heart. They just do it in a lot fewer words.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Follow your passion. Let your characters live you, and they will become real to your readers. Never stop learning. Every author deserves a good editor. If you find yourself telling others, “You just don’t get it,” you need to ask yourself what you can do to change it. The responsibility of communication is yours, not the reader’s.

What are some of your current projects?

Gosh. Here’s a partial list: my historical fiction I’ve sworn to finish this year; develop Tropic of Cancer story into a full-length Steampunk novel; a long-nurtured sci-fantasy that I’ve finally muddled out. I’m ready to start outlining that as well.

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I had the pleasure of reading “West End” along with several of the other stories in this new installment of Mechanized Masterpieces. (I’m eagerly awaiting a time to curl up with a cocoa and warm fire to finish the rest!) In this story we get to experience Laurie’s life abroad as he goes about his studies and begins to specialize in the very steampunky field of medicine crossed with metallurgy and robotics. He has feelings for Jo and as readers we get to see his struggle with both life and love. However there is a nice little twist in the story from the original Little Women, one that I think readers will thoroughly enjoy.

I love the way the characters are handled. Each one has a unique and memorable attitude that plays of the strengths and weaknesses of the others.  The steampunk elements are masterfully created and play well with the other elements of the story, which is always nice when it comes to a retelling of a classic tale.

If you like stories that include steampunk, relationships and love, travel, wonder, and Victorian sensibilities, then this story is for you!

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Hey, guess what? There’s a giveaway! Click the link to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A super big thanks to Neve and the awesome people at Xchyler Publishing for letting me participate in the book tour for Mechanized Masterpieces 2.  If you want to learn more, or to buy your own copy, click on the banner below!

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To visit other sites on this blog tour check out the links below:

Sunday, 02.22.2015
A. E. Albert, A Writer’s Blog
Chosen By You Book Club
Liz’s Reading Life
In the Spotlight
Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Monday, 02.23.2015
I Feel the Need, the Need to Read
The Naughty Librarian’s Playground
Creativity from Chaos
Candy O’Donnell
A Virtual Hobby Store and Coffee Haus

Tuesday, 02.24.2015
Kitty Muse Book Reviews
Semi-short Chic
Mel’s Shelves
Ever On Word

Wednesday, 02.25.2015
My Bookshelf
Mel’s Shelves
A Virtual Hobby Story and Coffee Haus
The J. Aurel Guay Archive

Thursday, 02.26.2015
Addicted to Reading
A Virtual Hobby Store and Coffee Haus
The Author Visits
An Author in Progress
Penny Writes

Friday, 02.27.2015
Semi-short Chic
A Virtual Hobby Story and Coffee Haus
An Author in Progress
The Book Beacon
My Literary Quest

Saturday, 02.28.2015
Vampires, Crime and Angels . . . Eclectic Me
Fictional Rendezvous Books
An Author in Progress
Perpetual Chaos of a Wandering Mind

Literary Interview with the Twins

Happy President’s Day everyone! I hope you all have fun plans to celebrate the day.

My friend and fellow writer Ginger Commander Mann had the brilliant idea to allow  the twins from her story “Jilted River” to interview the twins from my story “Breath”. Both our stories appear in the Xchyler Publishing fantasy anthology The Toll of Another Bell.

Head on over to her blog to check it out!

Twin Walks at the Edge of Time

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LTUE conference

This Valentine’s weekend, instead of spending quality time with my ever lovin’, I get to spend it with a horde of fellow speculative fiction writers at the annual Life, the Universe, the Universe, and Everything Conference. I’ll miss my hubby dearly, and this is the best gift he could have given me, to allow me to go. It’s even double sweet, knowing that I’ve had the kids off track from school for the past three weeks and really needed to get away for awhile.

This year, however, marks a change. This year, I’m here with the awesome people at Xchyler Publishing and their booth and I get to promote their books, including the new anthology I’m in.

At previous conferences I’ve either gone it alone (which is not particularly fun) or with a friend or two, (which is way better). This conference tops them all because I’m surrounded by people I like to be with, and even better, have earned their approval. I’ve even found the inside edge to getting on the “expert” panels for future years.

That said, after the first day I’m exhausted and need a break, so this post will be short!

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To see more pictures you can check out Instagram using the hashtag #xchylerpublishing

Toll of Another Bell

51-BE6kx1PLBreath has the distinction of being the first short story I’ve ever published. It tells of Fauna, the Guardian of Souls, who has discovered a vast emptiness in her life and is emotionally paralyzed until she can find a way to fill it. She seeks a solution from her brother Terran, the Guardian of Earth, who is reluctant to tell her because of its great cost. In the end he relents, changing history forever.

Published by Xchyler Publishing in Toll of Another Bell

Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2015

This upcoming weekend my city will be flooded with an alien invasion. That’s right. Call the INS, Avengers, and Ghostbusters – The Salt Lake Comic Con FanX has arrived. From Jan 29 – 31 the downtown area will be flooded with Whovians, Trekkies, all manner of anime, DC and Marvel fans, Potter fans, Star Wars, and so many more that I can’t even count.

To pay homage to this three-day party educational event, today’s post comes from the land of fan created memes.  Well that, and with the kids out of school this week, this is all the concentration I can muster.

Enjoy!

Image from hiddlememes.tumbler.com

Image from hiddlememes.tumbler.com

falls for the bad guy

To check out the guest list or buy your very own ticket (or buy one for me, pleeeese?) go check out the Salt Lake Comic Con webpage. For even more information, and also a whole lot of fun, you can also go to their facebook page.

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And if you are going, be sure to go find my friends at the Xchyler Publishing Table in the Purple 8 zone.  Tell them Jodi sent you!