Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse—Review of Altered States: A Cyberpunk Sci-Fi Anthology, Edited by Roy C. Booth and Jorge Salgado-Reyes

Altered States is a cyberpunk anthology whose stories broaden the horizon of what is usually thought of as subgenre with tight borders. The fifteen stories inside range from the well-defined tropes, to the experimental, to everything in between. Nine are reprints, and six are original to this anthology. My particular favorites were:

“Living in the Singularity” by Tom Borthwick: the plot twist was somewhat expected but fit the story well.

“Ex Machina” by Cynthia Ward: combines hacking with psychology and explores the concept of collective consciousness. I didn’t expect this plot twist at all, and it made for a great ending.

“Extra Credit” by Paul Levinson: combines cyberpunk with parallel worlds. As always, Levinson weaves a great tale from start to finish.

“Attention Whore” by Kerry G.S. Lipp: the most interesting story in the antho. I found it to be just as relatable to modern day as it is to a near-future cyberpunk setting…and the story gave me chills.

Altered States is a great anthology to add to your collection whether you prefer cyberpunk specifically or science fiction in general. I highly recommend it.

Best to read while listening to: the soundtracks to Blade Runner and Johnny Mnemonic. Also throw some Atari Teenage Riot into the mix.

 

Advertisements

December 6, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pankea, Anthologies, and Indy Reads: the Mix that Created “Freezy the Snow Demon”

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEPankea is a world decades in the making, and parts of it still evolve and expand to this day. The world began back when I was thirteen. Back then it was just Quaz City plus a few surrounding cities and towns in a nation called the Land of Quaz, and the cast of characters began, like most such worlds, with the usual archetypes. But in time the world expanded and began to take on a life and personality all its own: its own history, its own cultures, its own unique monsters (such as the vintervolgs, gorlaks, and the Bloodstone Skeletons). And even the “stock” races evolved over time. The magic system had to get retconned once I introduced the Barrier, the Mystic Field, and the possibility of spells going awry or “backlashing.”

At around the age of 15, I had this bright idea that maybe, just maybe, I could write short stories and novels set within that world, and perhaps actually sell them. By 25 I gave up on that notion and started creating other worlds to write in, often developing such worlds at the spur of the moment. While I like all my stories, the worlds that were not Pankea never felt as familiar, as intimate, as my first fantasy world. For one, none of those worlds had a poster-sized map of themselves hanging on my wall (which a cat, who shall remain nameless, later tore down and pissed on, so I had to throw it away). Ironically, my first published short story, “Treecutter,” was set in Pankea at a time before the Great Catastophe forced the Archaians, Hamadans, Vangaardians, and the other non-natives to migrate to the continent-sized island. Later published stories were all set in the current Pankea timeline (around the 1014th year since the birth of Arcus Dragonslayer, or “A.D.”).

When the idea for the Gifts of the Magi anthology was brought to my attention, I was excited. An anthology themed around series? WOOT! And a charity anthology at that? Double WOOT! But the majority of the writers were writing stories based on their novel series, and I’ve yet to have a novel published. Would the editors be okay with a story set in the same world as my other separate but related short stories?

The answer was yes.

So now all I had to do was come up with a Christmas-themed story in a world with no Christmas. But Pankea does have a Winter Solstice celebration. Indeed, Pankea has a lot of holidays, especially in Quaz.

I woke up one morning with the idea of an evil, demon-possessed snowman rampaging through the streets. But the streets of what city? And who would the protagonists be? Eventually I decided the location would be in Raka, the “capital” (and only dwelling) in Wizardreach—a semi-autonomous outpost under the protection of the Land of Quaz, much like Necro and Elvawood Manor. In this way I could provide cameo appearances of three characters who often get mentioned but have never yet appeared in my short stories and trilogy-in-progress: Chancellor Rakeem, Archwizard and Lord of Wizardreach; High Enchantress Larana, Lady of Wizardreach; and General Thalas son of Thorus, Descendent of Arcus (whose great grandfather was the protagonist in my story “Shilak’s Gift”).

Naturally, the protags would be Arnelda Verina and Roland Fornebank, who have an established history with the above characters back when they all adventured together. Also, any story with those two in it is guaranteed to end up with hilarious hijinks and general fun-filled chaos. And I wanted this story to be fun.

That is how “Freezy the Snow Demon” developed for the anthology, Gifts of the Magi, to benefit Indy Reads, making this the first story I’ve written for a charity benefit to a worthy cause. I hope you enjoy my story and all the other awesome stories in it.

November 3, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview, Part 4

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendWelcome to the final part of the Hero’s Best Friend roundtable interview with the authors of the anthology. Sitting at the table tonight are Ian Hunter, Sheila Deeth, Douglas J. Ogurek, and Steven Donahue. Enjoy! J

 

Introductions

 

This is Ian Hunter from Scotland who wrote the story “Scarhead in the Glisting”. I’m the author of three children’s novels, a humourous guide to Glasgow called “Fantastic Glasgow”.  More recently my stories and poems have appeared in “Space and Time”, “The Tenth Black Book of Horror” (and the story in there appears in the very first “Best British Horror 2014”) and “The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2”.I’m poetry editor for the British Fantasy Society, book reviewer for “Interzone” and a member of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle. I write a very infrequent blog at www.ian-hunter.co.uk

 

Name:     Sheila Deeth

Links:    http://www.sheiladeeth.com

http://about.me/sheiladeeth

 

Douglas J. Ogurek

Fiction published in The Literary Review, the British Fantasy Society Journal, Morpheus Tales, Gone Lawn, and several anthologies

Horror, fantasy, sci-fi blogger/film reviewer at Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction (http://theakersquarterly.blogspot.com/)

Written over one hundred articles about architectural planning and design

Website: www.douglasjogurek.weebly.com

 

Steven Donahue was a copywriter for TV Guide magazine for 14 years. His first novel, Amanda Rio, was published in 2004. He released three novels in 2013: The Manila Strangler (Rainstorm Press), Amy the Astronaut and the Flight for Freedom (Hydra Publications), and Comet and Cupid’s Christmas Adventure (Createspace). His short story Grit was also included in the anthology Hero’s Best Friend by Seventh Star Press in 2014.

 

http://amytheastronaut.yolasite.com/

 

http://themanilastrangler.yolasite.com/

 

http://amandario.yolasite.com/

 

http://cometandcupidschristmasadventure.yolasite.com/

 

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

Ian Hunter: I’ve written contemporary Highland Seer stories, almost with the seer as a psychic detective fighting evil, but because I had to have an animal companion, I’ve set this story in the past in the time of the Highland Clearances and have my seer encounter a Scottish Wildcat, which sadly nowadays is almost extinct – the true purebloods, that is, due to loss of habitat and breeding with feral cats, although there is seemingly a family up the road from where I live in Cartland Crags where William Wallace hid from the English after killing the Sheriff of Lanark. It is pretty wild and some of it is hard to get to, so maybe a family of purebloods still survive there, hope so.

 

Sheila Deeth: “Passage” is a prequel to a series of middle-grade fantasies, centered on an Irish-American teen who lives in fairly ordinary town called Hemlock Edge, near a slightly less ordinary forest. The teens of Hemlock Edge discover they can change reality in dreams, but I’d often wondered where their skills came from. The convenient juxtaposition of a call for submissions to Hero’s Best Friend, with a (human best) friend loaning me a book about her ancestors traveling from Ireland, offered me a happy chance to explore Siobhan’s ancestry through the eyes of a slightly magical Irish cat.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek: When their squigglybounce (public transportation vehicle) breaks down, a female dink (double income no kids) and her pet gilpan (a kind of bird) Yourkidsabrat get stuck with a drug addict and the status-obsessed Mommy Wifey. The dink discovers the addict is former children’s entertainment icon Wedge Medge, disgraced for his brutal treatment of gilpans, one of which was Yourkidsabrat (before she adopted him).

The dink protagonist, encumbered by a society that relegates dinks to the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, tries to convince Mommy Wifey to grant her access to Wedge Medge’s chamber so that Yourkidsabrat can use his deadly orbs to exact revenge on his tormentor.

The story was inspired by my love for animals and my ongoing struggle to find the humanity in those who abuse animals for profit.

 

Steven Donahue: Grit tells the story of a dog with telekinetic powers who aids a brave prince on a dangerous quest. The prince seeks exotic ingredients from faraway lands to create a mythical cure for his poisoned wife. Grit uses his powers and courage to help the prince on the perilous quest, where the duo face challenges from man, beast and nature.

 

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

Ian Hunter: Polar bears. I’ve adopted one through the WWF and he writes to me regularly saying he’s hoping to come and visit and eat – sorry, meet – the dog.

 

Sheila Deeth: I’m writing a story about dogs at the moment, but they do have a friend who is a cat. Truth is, I just like animals; but my favorite fictional ones are those that combine a hint of wildness with the gift of companionship.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Jaws – Though I’d rather see Peter Benchley’s iconic great white attacking those who exploit sharks for shark fin soup.

Marley – Journalist John Grogan’s troublesome yet lovable Labrador Retriever. The conclusion of Marley & Me offers a moving description of the impact a dog can have on humans and the lessons that dogs teach us.

Aslan – C.S. Lewis’s anthropomorphic Christ

Speaker-to-Animals/Chmeee – A giant upright alien cat who resists his species’ penchant for violence in Larry Niven’s Ringworld.

Bori – The initially burdensome bird that a musician grows to love in Ha Jin’s “A Composer and His Parakeets.” One of the best short stories I’ve read in recent years. The ending is reminiscent of short story master Raymond Carver at his best.

 

Steven Donahue: I always admired the loyalty of Boxer from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. He lived to selflessly serve those around him, and he had the heart of a hero.

 

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

Ian Hunter: Yes, mainly jazz, or possibly instrumental proggy stuff.

 

Sheila Deeth: I get too caught up in the music if I try to listen to something while I write. Sometimes my characters sing in the back of my head though—a noisy and very confusing place.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Always. Death metal with Christian themes. Also known as white metal (as opposed to the notorious black metal). Variations within the white metal subgenre include Christian technical/ progressive/ melodic death metal (e.g., Becoming the Archetype, Renascent), Christian doom metal (e.g., Paramecium), Christian symphonic metal (e.g., Sympathy, Virgin Black), or, in its most extreme form, unblack metal (e.g., Frost Like Ashes, Horde).

I like power. I like talent. I like nonconformity. I like a positive message. White metal combines all of that.

 

Steven Donahue: I prefer a quiet environment to write in, which is a challenge in the small apartment that I share with my wife, our chubby cat, and our three energetic dogs.

 

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

Ian Hunter: I wrote a horror story called “Fearwheeling” set at the North Sea Jazz festival which was published in “Fear” magazine. When I feel the need to write a poem, but don’t know what to right about I sometimes flick through the pages of “Kerrang” magazine and pick on a song title, or album title or maybe lyric and use that as inspiration, but since I’m totally in love with PJ Harvey, I have a whole load of poems inspired by her album covers, song titles, album titles and lyrics, some of which, I’m pleased to say have been published in the UK, USA and Canada, and will probably be used as evidence against me.

 

Steven Donahue: I use music to inspire me before I start a writing session. Music from the Rocky movies are my favorite, but I’m not sure if they’ve ever influenced something I’ve written.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Yes. Christian death metal influences every one of my stories. I admire this subgenre’s ability to package themes of compassion and empathy in what sounds like the opposite. This music epitomizes the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Like white metal, my stories offer positive messages shrouded in a disturbing, juvenile, or even vile container. For instance, in “Stuck on the Squigglybounce,” the Mommy Wifey character projects images of her husband’s income, her children’s accomplishments, and her possessions on the breast and butt screens embedded in her clothing. I want her juxtaposition with the dink protagonist to throw into question the values and roles that society imposes on the contemporary woman.

Additionally, some have praised or derided my stories as trippy, enigmatic, or even inaccessible. Again, that’s a lot like the music from which I find inspiration.

 

Sheila Deeth: Would the howling of dogs count?

 

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

 

Ian Hunter: Benji, on points.

 

Sheila Deeth: Benji’s gaze would remind Cujo of his true nature, leaving him open to the killing blow that allows him to choose death over causing more injury to those he loves.

 

Steven Donahue: I would root for Benji, but I think Cujo would have him for lunch.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Neither. I would first bring to justice the individuals responsible for instigating the dogfight. Then I would force those individuals to donate time and/or money to help abused or abandoned dogs.

I’d also try to show the instigators the kindness that was probably absent during their lives.

 

June 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview—Part 2

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendTonight sitting at the table are Essel Pratt, Frank Creed, Nick Bryan, and Renee Carter Hall. Enjoy!

 

Introductions

 

Hello, my name is Essel Pratt.  I have been published in multiple anthologies and have my first novel, Final Reverie, releasing this summer.  I can be found on Twitter (@EsselPratt, Facebook (search EsselPrattWriting), and at EsselPratt.Blogspot.com.  Other than Seventh Star Press, I have been published with Rainstorm Press, Cruentus Libri Press, Nightscape Press, Dark Moon Digest, JWK Fiction, Apokrupha, and more.

 

Frank Creed is a housecatter, end-times cyberpunk novelist, creator of The Underground universe, and founder of the Lost Genre Guild for the promotion of Christian speculative fiction. The Chicago born Creed lives in the Vancouver area of BC, Canada. Read the full bio at http://frankcreed.com 

 

I’m Nick Bryan, author of darkly comic crime and fantasy, including stories in Seventh S tar’s A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court anthology, the weekly London detective webserial Hobson & Choi and an upcoming novel re-imagining Hell for a new world. Updates and inner feelings on Nick Bryan Dot Com.

 

I’m Renee Carter Hall, a fantasy/science fiction author writing stories for adults like me who never quite grew up. (A lot of my fiction features animal characters of one sort of another, so this anthology was right in my comfort zone!) My short fiction has showed up in various print, online, and audio publications through the years, including Strange Horizons, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, and the Anthro Dreams podcast. My online home is at http://www.reneecarterhall.com, I blog at http://reneecarterhall.wordpress.com, and I’m also pretty active on Twitter as @RCarterHall.

 

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

Essel Pratt: My normal writing genre is horror, so “Brothers” was a little out of my comfort zone.  So, I created a setting that takes place after a horrific battle between hero and villain.  The story focuses on an aged wolf that fought alongside his human brother during a time of great turmoil.  The reader sees a glimpse of the final battle during a flashback scene and gets a feel for the brotherly love that the two heroes share.  Although the focus of the story is on the canine portion of the team, the overall theme is one of friendship, brotherhood, and unity.

 

Frank Creed: I’d always had the concept of a cyberpunk animal story, and I heard of the anthology when one of our cats died. My contribution, “Dusk,” is the tale of a GMO tuxedo kitten saved from a lab and raised by the Cat Whisperer, or Whisp. While on Underground assignment in Chicago’s Chinatown, the pair are confronted by no fewer than six of the deadly robot-like Goliath battle-suits of the One State. Whisp goes down early in the battle, and the intrepid Dusk is left alone to save his partner.

I always thought my Cyberpunk animal would be more chromed, but Dusk is the size of a small mountain lion, has lengthened dew claws that work like thumbs, and nearly human reasoning capacity.

 

Nick Bryan: My story is “The Violet Curse,” in which a loyal dog tries to help her fantasy hero owner save the day, only to find she might be his undoing.

 

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage” was inspired by the classic Tolkienesque stereotype of a wizard — a bearded old man with a staff — and wondering what might happen if wizards have to deal with the same aspects of aging as their non-magical counterparts. It’s told from the perspective of Jiro, the big-cat companion of the emerald mage Korrinth. Jiro’s accompanied Korrinth on many quests and adventures in their younger days, but now that the mage’s powers are waning, Jiro has to face the prospect of becoming something of a caregiver as well as a companion.

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

Essel Pratt: When reading fiction, my favorite animal characters are those that come to life with a sense of believability.  It really doesn’t matter what type of animal it is, I want to feel a connection to the animal and believe that he or she is real.  In the Jungle Book, Louie is a simple character with depth.  This makes him very believable in the role. Rafiki is more complex in nature, yet his place in The Lion King is portrayed in a comedic way.  I can connect to him because he is that wise old uncle or grandpa that we all know, who acts childish and reckless in his actions but is the best giver of advice you will ever meet.  Then there is Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia.  In the end, he has such a small role in the overall group of stories. However, he also has the most important role.

It really is not about whether the animal is reptile, mammal, amphibian, etc. It is all about how those characters are portrayed and how they add to the story itself.

 

Frank Creed: Charlotte and Templeton from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, the horse from Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Fiver from Richard Adam’s Watership Down.

 

Nick Bryan: I’m a big fan of the array of talking mice and other woodland creatures from the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. Over in comics, We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely uses some amazing storytelling techniques to portray animal senses.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Oh, too many to list them all, but some of the ones coming to mind right away are the rabbits of Watership Down, Jane Lindskold’s Blind Seer, Meredith Ann Pierce’s Jan the unicorn, Aslan from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books, Kipling’s Bagheera, Clare Bell’s Ratha, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, and S. Andrew Swann’s Nohar Rajasthan.

 

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

Essel Pratt: Always.  Internet based radio has guided my fingers across the keyboard more times that I can count.  My preference is very eclectic in nature and varies from Bach to Gwar.  However, some of my biggest inspirations while writing are Nobuo Uemetsu, Lindsey Stirling, and remakes of various popular songs (new and old) using piano or violins as the main instruments.  I typically have multiple playlists with different beats and intensity that I play during various scenes that I am writing.  If I can use the music to set the soundtrack in my head, I can get a better feel for the flow and begin to actually experience it myself.

 

Frank Creed: Yes. Techno from the Quake III soundtrack and from an artist named Bassic make a good backdrop for cyberpunk. It’s been ages since I’ve tried my hand at fantasy, but I used baroque classical music for that.

 

Nick Bryan: I use a lot of ambient music and jangly rock. Some combination of Trent Reznor’s film soundtracks and REM is typical.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Often. I tend to have music in the background most of the time while writing — usually new age of one kind or another. Many of my stories wind up with a playlist or at least a theme song, and having that can make it easier for me to get back into the mindset of the story with each writing session.

 

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

Essel Pratt: My inspiration comes from everywhere, so would need to answer yes to this question.  When writing the flashback scene in “Brothers”, I listened to “One Winged Angel” a lot.  It has the perfect blend of intensity, operatic stress, and builds to climax beautifully.

 

There are many times that I will be cruising down the highway on my hour drive to work and a song will come on the radio that ignites my imagination.  There are many stories that I have yet to write, but are saved in a file on my PC, and have the title of the song that inspired it saved in a file. I will usually create a station on Pandora that begins with that song and the see where it takes me from there.

 

Frank Creed: One of my Underground tales is titled “Whiskey in the Jar” after the Irish proverb for saving up for retirement. It’s available in Splashdown Books’ Aquasynthesis Again anthology. It also happens to be the title of a darn fine Metallica song. J

 

Renee Carter Hall: Most of the time for me, the music gets fitted to the story instead of the other way around, but every once in a while the music is the source.

 

Nick Bryan: A lot of stories have the rhythm and words of whatever music I was listening to as I wrote them, although it’s something that gets refined out in the edit.

 

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

Essel Pratt: I believe that this question is similar to the race between the tortoise and the hare.  With that said, Benji would be the winner.  Cujo will act upon rage and instinct, whereas Benji will take the time to think the situation through.  His small frame will allow him to hide in tight quarters until his plan comes together. Cujo, on the other hand, would more than likely tire himself while scavenging for the little guy.  In the end, even if Cujo did happen to capture Benji, he would most likely choke on his small frame.  Therefore, Benji wins either way.

 

Frank Creed: Benji would outsmart Cujo by running to the local gun shop where the proprietor would already have food out for him, and roasts Cujo with a flamethrower.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Tough call, but I’d say Cujo would infect Benji and they would then roam the streets in darkness together. And fight crime.

 

Nick Bryan: Cujo. Being unrealistic never helped anyone.

 

June 23, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hero’s Best Friend Anthology Tour

Hero’s Best Friend Anthology Tour

Editor: Scott Sandridge

Featured Book Release: Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions

June 16 to June 25 , 2014

HerosBestFriendTourBadge

ScottSandridgeAbout the editor: Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.

 

 

 

 

HerosBestFriendCover1200X800Book Synopsis for Hero’s Best Friend: How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!

 

Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.

Whether you’re a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you!

So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero’s Best Friend.

Featured in Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions:

Joy Ward: “Toby and Steve Save the World”

Frank Creed: “Dusk”

Cassie Schau: “The Hunter’s Boy”

Steven Donahue: “Grit”

Jason Cordova: “Hill 142″

Herika R. Raymer: “Dook”..

Essel Pratt: “Brothers”.

Lisa Hawkridge: “Ezra’s Girl”.

S. H. Roddey: “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”

Steven S. Long: “The Wolf Sentinel”

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum”

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat”.

Ian Hunter: “Scarheid in the Glisting”.

Steven Grassie: “The Masterless”.

David Wright: “Wind of Change”

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage”..

Nick Bryan: “The Violet Curse”..

Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy:

“The Restless Armadillo”.

Douglas J. Ogurek: “Stuck on the Squigglybounce”

Sheila Deeth: “Passage”

 

Editor Links:

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/scottmsandridge

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/smsandwrites

Website/Blog:

https://smsand.wordpress.com

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5772749-scott-sandridge

 

Tour Schedule and Activities

6/16                Beagle Book Space                Guest Post

6/16                Tiffany Apan’s Blog               Interview

6/16                Deal Sharing Aunt                 Interview

6/16                Elizabeth Delana Rosa ~Book Lover and Creator of Worlds~       Review

6/17                Sheila Deeth                           Guest Post

6/18                Come Selahway With Me     Guest Post

6/18                On Cloud Eight-and-a-Half   Guest Post

6/19                Sapphyria’s Book Reviews    Guest Post

6/20                Beauty in Ruins                      Guest Post

6/21                Jorie Loves a Story                Review

6/25                Book in the Bag                     Interview

 

Tour Page URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/heros-best-friend-anthology-tour/

Tour Badge URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/HerosBestFriendTourBadge.jpg

 

Amazon Links for Hero’s Best Friend

Print Version

http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Best-Friend-Anthology-Companions/dp/1937929515

Kindle Version

http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Best-Friend-Anthology-Companions-ebook/dp/B00IAHEI1W

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview, Part 4

Welcome to the final part of the A Chimerical World Round Table interview. Hope you had fun. J

And Part 4 includes Cindy Koepp, J. H. Fleming, Alexandra Christian, Ed Ahern, and Christine Morgan.

 

Introductions

Well hello! My name is Cindy Koepp. I write science fiction, fantasy, and teacher resources when I’m not whistling with my African Grey, editing for two small presses, doing crafty stuff, or learning how to bend glasses back into shape.

I have one science fiction book, stories in 3 anthologies, and 4 books in queue at various publishers.

You can find more stuff about that at my website: http://ckoepp.com

My name is J. H. Fleming. My work has appeared in publications by Visionary Tongue, Evil Girlfriend Media, and Mocha Memoirs Press. I also have a novel and story collection coming from Pro Se Productions this year.

My name is Alexandra Christian and I wrote “Wormwood” for the anthology.  I’m a writer of paranormal erotic romance, horror and dark fantasy for Ellora’s Cave, Purple Sword Publications, Mocha Memoirs Press and now, Seventh Star.  To date, I’ve published 2 novels and 5 shorter works.  My newest release is my angel/ demon romance from Ellora’s Cave, Hellsong.

Ed Ahern. Forty seven stories published thus far, half fantasy/horror/scifi, balance childrens and adult fairy tales, retold folk tales and “literary” stories.

Christine Morgan is the author of several novels and over 60 published short stories, spanning various genres but leaning more toward the darker end of things. In addition to reading, writing, beta-reading and reviewing, she’s recently begun taking on more editing gigs. Her latest project is “Fossil Lake, an anthology of the aberrant,” which debuted at World Horror Convention 2014 in Portland. (http://fossillake.wordpress.com/)

 

Tell us a little about your story

Cindy: When I saw the submission details on Seventh Star Press’s site, I thought about the kinds of characteristics usually attributed to Elves and musical ability ranked high in the list. So, I considered how to put a musical Elf into a science fiction scenario and decided that an Elf would use music to help time their movements in a battle or activate the special characteristics of their equipment.

That gave rise to the idea for “The Last Mission.”

J. H.: My story is about a young girl who’s been dealt one blow after another. She’s sent away to live in a home for girls, some of whom have serious issues, others who have been sent there for bad behavior. She comes across a faery and her companion and thinks she’s finally gone mad, but further events make her realize that she may have found a way out of her bad situation.

Alexandra: “Wormwood” was born of boredom, honestly.  They say that the best stories are conceived doing tedious tasks.  It must be true because I completely wrote Freedom and Ady’s story while stuffing envelopes at the day job.  I wanted to shake up the “traditional faerie story” model and I was thinking about how to do that.  I’m a southern writer myself with an almost unhealthy obsession with the southern gothic genre.  I’m also a Shakespeare fanatic, so it only seemed natural to create a southern gothic story that incorporated the fae and Robin Goodfellow.

Ed: I have a swamp gas mind, and ideas ooze up frequently but unpredictably. My web site is appropriately titled swampgasworks.com. This story fits the pattern.

Christine: With “Taggers,” I wanted to take a skewed, updated, more urban look at the sort of “Shoemaker and the Elves” tale. Instead of the kindly craftsman and the helpful fairies, I went with a grouchy old locksmith in a decaying part of the city, and what happens when he catches one of the hooligans who’s been leaving graffiti on his wall … only to find that he’s dealing with no normal kind of hooligan.

 

What’s your favorite type of faerie?

Cindy: My favorite faerie would have to be Elves: tall, graceful wiseguys … er … wise guys, with a variety of different skills because you can learn a lot in several hundred years.

Ed: For adult fairy tales a noir persona with lots of defects. For children’s stories clean cut but as far away from the usual tropes as I can reach.

J. H.: My favorites are the ones who do whatever they want. Most faeries are really this way, but some lean more toward Seelie or Unseelie. I like the ones that surprise you because you never truly know which way they’ll go.

Alexandra: I’ve always had an affinity for the mischievous faerie.  In my younger days I was on a slow moving train wreck toward being an actress and my first major role was as Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, in a community theater production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  Ever since, Robin Goodfellow has been a particular favorite of mine.  His benevolent nature and bumbling prowess as a trickster have always fascinated me.  Like Freedom, I think he’d be an amazing friend to have.

Christine: I’ve always liked the Fair Folk type, eerie and beautiful, looking just human enough to seem familiar but being decidedly INHUMAN in personality and outlook. The fairies from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” messing with people just because they could (dream casting: Benedict Cumberbatch as Oberon, Tilda Swinton as Titania!) … from Arthurian legend and the classic fairy tales … their society, their indifference to mortal morals … just fascinating.

 

Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when your write?

Alexandra: Music is an essential part of my writing process.  Every story I write has a playlist to go along with it that sets the mood.  As far as the types of music that I listen to when I write, it really depends on what I’m writing.  When writing “Wormwood,” my playlist was a very schizophrenic mix of new age (Enya, Clannad, etc.), spirituals and Civil War songs.  In fact, part of Freedom’s magic that summons Robin in the first place, is her singing “Wade in the Water.”  (Historical fun fact:  “Wade in the Water” is one of the spirituals that is purported to have been a “code song” that would give slaves instructions on how to escape north.)

Cindy: Actually, I prefer quiet when I work. Masika, my African Grey, will sometimes contribute bits of tunes and other silliness when I’m working, and that doesn’t prove too distracting. I save music for when I’m taking a typing break or driving down the rollercoaster roads near my house.

J. H.: I’m almost always listening to music, whether I’m writing or not. When writing, I listen to Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian vocalist, musician, and composer with heavy Celtic and Middle Eastern influences. Her albums always put me in just the right mood, particularly The Visit, The Mask and the Mirror, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, An Ancient Muse, and The Book of Secrets.

Christine: I don’t usually listen to music while I write, but I will sometimes listen to it beforehand during the thinking-and-planning part. My tastes vary, and my choices vary according to the story project in question, but I prefer classical, swing, film soundtracks, and other instrumental works. That, or, when I’m working on a Viking-themed story, I’ll just blast Amon Amarth.

Ed: I drive to classical music, but write in silence. Otherwise can’t hear the gas bubbles pop.

 

Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Ed: Nah.

Christine: Not specifically, though certain pieces –  “Carmina Burana,” Holst’s “Mars – Bringer of War,” Borodin’s “Prince Igor” – always speak powerfully to me and might some day bring about a story.

Cindy: Yes, it has. In the case of The Last Mission, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was an inspiration for part of the tale. I imagined an Elf timing actions during a fight and staying calm through the use of a slow tune like Moonlight Sonata. I didn’t quite figure out a way to work that into the story as I’d imagined it, but I did get the tune mentioned and used the idea in other parts.

J. H.: More than once. I’ve written three stories based off of songs, and two have been published so far. “The Far Horizon,” published by Evil Girlfriend Media, was inspired by “My Lover’s Gone” by Dido, and “Moonsbreath,” published by Mocha Memoirs Press, was inspired by “Samhain Night” by Loreena McKennitt.

 

Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Christine: No idea; I played Q-Bert.

Cindy: That would depend entirely on who has the largest number of hearts and whether the Boomerang of Extra Special Spiffiness has been unlocked.

J. H.: Princess Zelda, hands down.

Alexandra: Zelda definitely.  Princess Toadstool never won a fight.  She always hired plumbers to do her dirty work for her.

Ed: Who cares, but I opt for mud wrestling.

 

57d7e-final_talesoftheseeliecourt_650Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court/dp/1937929477
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTMAO  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court/dp/1937929493
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTVSC

May 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview, Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the A Chimerical World Round Table Interview. This time ariund we have Sarah Madsen, Steven S. Long, Kim Smith,  and BC Brown sitting at the table. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Introductions

Hi! I’m Sarah Madsen.  “The Body Electric” is my first commercial publication, but I have two poems and a play in The Chestatee Review, my school’s literary magazine. I’m hoping to get my novel, Lysistrata, on shelves sometime in the near future, and it’s been getting really good reception so far. You can follow along with my adventures at unfetteredmuse.wordpress.com or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SarahMadsenAuthor.

I’m Steven S. Long. I’m best known for my work as a roleplaying game designer and writer (I’ve written or co-written about 200 books in that field), but in recent years I’ve branched out into writing fiction as well.

You can find out more about me and what I’m up to at www.stevenslong.com

Hi, my name is Kim Smith, and I am the author of the short story “Treehouse”, in A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court. I am the hostess of the wildly popular podcast, Writer Groupie, soon to be hosted on my blog at http://www.kimsmithauthor.com

BC Brown, author of two urban fantasy/contemporary science fiction novels – A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Madness; contributor to multi-author anthologies – A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court, Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories, and Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction. And one out of print fantasy novel – Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows.

 

Tell us a little about your story

BC: “Extra-Ordinary” is a tale about seemingly benign people and events. Those ordinary people often turn out to be portals to extraordinary things.

Sara: “The Body Electric”isn’t your typical fairy story. In fact, the only fae-like elements you’ll find in it are magic and an elf protagonist.  It’s a cyberpunk/urban fantasy story, set in near-future Atlanta. Two runners, Alyssa and Logan, are hired to steal some plans and a prototype from a former Americorp employee’s home office, and get way more than they bargained for in the process. It was inspired by old Ray Bradbury short stories and a YouTube short, Quantic Dream’s Kara, and I was trying for a good mix of classic sci-fi and modern urban fantasy.

Kim: I’ve been writing as long as I could hold a pen, and have always been a lover of fantasy. I remember as a youth hanging out around a gas station/convenience store that carried JRR Tolkien’s books. I visited it weekly waiting on the next book. It took years to finish the whole trilogy. They should have put me on the payroll.

“Treehouse” was the brainchild of wondering what would happen if a child could see faeries but no one would believe her. What if she was telling the truth? I hope I did a good job with expanding that idea.

Steven: I was fortunate enough to place two stories in A Chimerical World — one each in the Seelie and Unseelie volumes. Each of them belongs to a series of stories I’ve written that take place in Tuala Morn, a setting I’ve described in the book of the same name and now use as for fiction. It’s a Fantasy world inspired by Irish/Celtic myth and legend, with a dollop of some other Fantasy tropes thrown in.

Most of the Tuala Morn stories I’ve written so far take place in or around Killdraigan, an enchanted forest that’s often dangerous for mortals due to the faeries, trolls, and monsters that live there — not to mention other perils.

The Seelie story is “The Harpist’s Hand.” It tells how Thomasin Blythe, one of the greatest Tualan bards, has to seek the help of the faeries of Killdraigan when two contentious kings both seek her hand in marriage.

The Unseelie story, “The Rose and the Dragon,” focuses on a different character:  Sir Rhorec of Umbr, the Knight of Five Roses. When he was born, three faeries appeared and pronounced a strange prophecy. Now grown to manhood and armed with the magic sword they left him, he ventures into the deadly confines of Killdraigan Forest to seek the meaning of the prophecy — and slay a fearsome dragon.

 

 

What’s your favorite type of faerie?

Kim: All kinds, I am not discriminatory.

Sara: As in Seelie or Unseelie?  That’s a really hard choice. My gut says Seelie, simply because I love pretty masks and the pretense of civility. However, there’s something refreshing about the Unseelie…they’re at least honest about what they are.

Steven: It’s hard to pick any one type. I’ve researched faerie lore extensively for years and really enjoy it, so getting stories into the Chimerical World anthology was a real treat. I hope someday to have the chance to write a non-fiction book on the subject.

BC: I’ve always been enamored of the more mischievous fey. Basically good-natured, these shining folk embody a spirit of restlessness I can connect with.

 

Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when you write?

Sara: I can’t write without music. It helps me stay centered. I tend to create soundtracks for my projects, so what I’m listening to wont’ always be the same.  If I get really stuck, I find some good instrumental music (like the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy or Deus Ex: Human Revolution for my current project) keeps me from getting too distracted by lyrics.

Steven: It is, in that I listen to music pretty much all the time that I’m awake but not watching TV or talking with someone. But I don’t really consider it a part of my “process” per se, nor do I tailor what I’m listening to what I’m writing.

Kim: I used to listen to my favorite bands, usually classic rock, but now I find that trying to sing to the songs and write conflicts each other so now it’s more nature music, strings, and crickets.

BC: I avoid music while writing. Music influences my mood and, typically, I like a clean slate, so to speak, when writing. It allows the ideas and words to flow unhindered and unbiased.

 

Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Sara: Oh, definitely. I recently wrote a ten minute play called Tea and Temptation that was inspired by World/Inferno Friendship Society’s “The Evil Dance of Nosliw Pilf.”

Steven: Definitely. Among others I have an idea for what I think will be a great story inspired by the Leonard Cohen song, “First We Take Manhattan.”

Kim: Yes! I love celtic songs and Connie Dover sang “A Ruin a Siuil” (I think I spelled it right!) and it just jazzed me into writing this whole historical romance between a Fenian rebel and a Scarlett O’Hara-esque character who tries to charm the Irish out of the man.

BC: A song has inspired a title for a book. However the story itself came well before I’d ever heard the song. Once I did hear it, I felt that the title and lyrics of the song embodied the same message as my story.

 

Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Sara: Psh. Zelda, for sure.

Kim: Zelda. Totally.

Steven: I have absolutely no idea — I never played any of those games. What’s the spread? 😉

BC: The princess. Hands down.

 

Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  32892-final_talesoftheunseeliecourt_650
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court/dp/1937929477
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTMAO  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court/dp/1937929493
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTVSC

May 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Re-Vamped: Blood Lust Revenge on Amazon.com

10155833_474209506012778_7528267649849223687_nLike short stories about blood-sucking vixens? Then get Re-Vamped: Blood Lust Revenge on Kindle for $2.99, an anthology about female vampires that includes my story, “Deidre’s Folly.”

About my story: Deidre hunts the vampire responsible for her best friend’s murder, but she discovers a truth that may threaten her very sanity.

May 3, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Got Paperback?

All three anthologies, now in paperback at both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble!

Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Best-Friend-Anthology-Companions/dp/1937929515/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392559682&sr=1-2

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heros-best-friend-scott-m-sandridge/1118591414?ean=9781937929510&itm=1&usri=scott++sandridge

A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court/dp/1937929477/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392560601&sr=1-3

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-chimerical-world-scott-m-sandridge/1118591415?ean=9781937929473&itm=1&usri=scott+m+sandridge

A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court/dp/1937929493/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392560601&sr=1-1

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-chimerical-world-scott-m-sandridge/1118591426?ean=9781937929497&itm=1&usri=scott+m.+sandridge

If you’re a fan of animal stories, a fan of faeries, or just a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories in general, you will love these. Enjoy! 🙂

February 16, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faeries & Animals & Anthos! Oh My!

Today’s the day!

For the ebook release of the three anthologies we’ve all been waiting for!

And now for some press release copypasta! Yum!

___________________________________________________________________________________

http://seventhstarpress.blogspot.com/2014/02/fey-faeries-and-animals-3-new.html

Fey, Faeries, and Animals!  3 New Anthologies Out Today!

Seventh Star Press is pleased to announce that three brand new anthologies are now available in eBook format!

Links for the Kindle and Nook versions are live and can be found as follows.  Kobo, iBookstore, and others will be live at any time.
Hero’s Best Friend Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Heros-Best-Friend-Anthology-Companions-ebook/dp/B00IAHEI1W
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heros-best-friend-scott-m-sandridge/1118591414?ean=2940148285502
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTMAO
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-chimerical-world-scott-m-sandridge/1118591415?ean=2940148285519
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTVSC
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-chimerical-world-scott-m-sandridge/1118591426?ean=2940148285526

Synopsis are below:
Hero’s Best Friend Synopsis: How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!
Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice—from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.
Whether you’re a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you!
So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero’s Best Friend.
Synopsis of A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court: The Fey have been with us since the beginning, sometimes to our great joy but often to our detriment. Usually divided (at least by us silly humans) into two courts, the first volume of A Chimerical World focuses on the Seelie Court: the court we humans seem to view as the “good” faeries. But “good” and “evil” are human concepts and as alien to the Fey as their mindsets are to us.
Inside you will find 19 stories that delve into the world of the faeries of the Seelie Court, from authors both established and new, including George S. Walker, Eric Garrison, and Alexandra Christian.
But be warned: these faeries are nothing like Tinker Bell.
Synopsis of A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court: The Fey have been with us since the beginning, sometimes to our great joy but often to our detriment. Usually divided (at least by us silly humans) into two courts, the second volume of A Chimerical World focuses on the Unseelie Court: the court we humans seem to view as the “evil” faeries. But “good” and “evil” are human concepts and as alien to the Fey as their mindsets are to us.
Inside you will find 19 stories that delve into the world of the faeries of the Unseelie Court, from authors both established and new, including Michael Shimek, Deedee Davies, and Nick Bryan.
But don’t be surprised if these faeries decide to play with their food.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments