Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse Double Whammy – Review of The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess, Plus an Interview w/ Jason C. Conley

SpecMusicMuse Review—The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess by Jason C Conley

Vosh_white_COVERPrincess Jasper is your typical rich spoiled brat until her father’s kingdom gets overthrown by Lord Buul, a deformed brother she never knew she had. Chained to a monstrous creature named Vork, she escapes with Vork’s aid. And with a motley band of misfits, that includes a boy trapped inside a steam-powered machine and a handsome pirate she knows she shouldn’t trust, Jasper must find a way to retake her father’s kingdom from the clutches of her tyrannical brother.

Fantasy meets steam in an epic battle of good vs. evil that resembled some of my favorite Anime, all the way down to the bizarre misfits and “OMG!” plot twists. All rolled up in timeless and age-old themes, both philosophical and political, that wholly relate to the modern day. Jason C. Conley’s The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess is, to put it mildly, an epic undertaking.

The oft-cheesy dialogue and extreme characterization is typical of Anime, and one could say a requirement for the genre, but which might be off-putting to the casual novel reader. There are some things that work in an animated film, or even in a graphic novel, that just doesn’t come out right when attempted in novel format—and vice versa. That being said, I personally like the Anime-ish feel that it gave, but I’ve been an Anime fan since the first day I watched Akira.

I also found the POV shifts irksome and even confusing. While the occasional switch from Jasper’s first-person POV to Buul’s third-person POV was an interesting experiment, I think it could have been handled a lot better. For one: section breaks (***) between the paragraphs where the shifts occur would’ve been nice. And second, it sometimes seemed that Jasper’s POV would sometimes border on the omniscient.

It could be that I was reading an ARC (and if so, it’d be nice if small presses would start putting “Advance Review Copy” somewhere on their, well, advanced review copies) and the problems I encountered with clunky POV shifts and a couple minor grammar snafus and typos that make grammar Nazis like me want to yell “Aw Seig Hell No!” won’t be present in the official finished copy. I hope so, because it’s a great story well worth its chance in the spotlight, and I would hate to see editorial problems (and easily fixable ones at that) get in the way of its success.

Best to read while listening to: the soundtrack to the Elder Scrolls series.


JasonCConleyInterview With Jason C. Conley

Why did you decide to become a writer, and when?
I don’t know if it was such a conscious decision or not.  It came out of necessity to bring this story out of my head!  It kept bothering me. Like a pesky neighbor’s dog, it kept barking in my ear all night.  So I had to shut it up and get it on paper.  Luckily, it was interesting enough to get a few people’s attention!

I sensed a bit of Anime influence in The Kingdom of Vosh. How close to, or how far off, the mark am I on that?

Pretty close.  Anime, comics, old serial action adventure movies from the 60’s, even videogames, they all played a part in influencing this story. Stuff like Ninja Scroll, Akira, or other over-the-top stories with wild characters and a damaged antagonist.  Movies like Clash of the Titans, (the old one), or Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, The Wizard of Oz, anything concerning a grand quest that included crazy creatures and wild technology.

I also noticed some themes, and events, in the story that parallels our modern day world.

Now here we go!  That’s more like it.  Are you sure you’re ready for the answer?  Absolutely!  I am an observer by nature, a listener.  And what I have observed and been awoken to, especially since 9/11, is a world that has been overtaken by lies from the elite.  Now this isn’t necessarily something new, but the scale and magnitude of such deception and the means by which they are willing to go to maintain control certainly is.  Rogue elements within our government, usually part of the military industrial complex or financial system, have within the past sixty years, since JFK, orchestrated a coup over the American people.  Other similar groups overseas have done so with different means, specifically overwhelming debt creation such as what is going on in Greece.  The result is a massive population that is being steered and milked and driven into the ground by a very, very, select few.  We are being lied to on a grand scale.  Our financial system is collapsing, the dollar is losing its buying power.  Wall Street is at record highs but so is the unemployment rate, homeless rate, bankruptcy rate, divorce rate, and violent crime rate. There is a worsening disconnect between these ruling elites and the ‘unwashed,’ and I believe we are coming to a very critical point in time where these two bodies are going to collide.

This is how tyrannies are formed, not overnight, but through deceit and manipulation.  Patiently. And one of these techniques is what’s called a “false flag” operation.  This is taught in military handbooks as a way to control, distract, and confuse the enemy into believing a person or group is responsible for an act when in reality it is another.  Hitler did this in 1933 by burning down the Reichstag building and blaming it on the Communists, thus giving rise to the Nazi party in Germany and solidifying his control.

More recently, in 1962, the US Joint Chiefs secretly authorized Operation Northwoods as a way to bring the US into war with Cuba.  The head of every branch of the US Armed Forces gave written approval to sink US ships, shoot down commercial aircraft and blow up buildings in Washington DC and Miami and then blame the terrorism on Castro.  It is only through the denial by then President Kennedy that this plan was stopped.  Ironically, Kennedy was then assassinated the next year by who the elite called a “Cuban sympathizer.”

Now what is even more troubling is the rise in advanced weapons technologies such as the drone program and the NSA spying programs.  These weapons of war are now being turned on the populace they were sworn to protect.  Under who’s orders?  What cause?  Security?  Who’s?  Over 30,000 drones will be in the skies over the US within the next six years. Who are they watching?  It’s certainly not Al-Queda.  That’s a Washington Times article.  That should send chills down your back as the Constitution is rolled over. The question is how far will the public allow this to go?  It’s only by waking up to what is going on around us will we not find ourselves under a tyrannical government.  It is allowing the tools of tyranny to be available on a massive scale to control and potentially enslave millions of people.

Oh, but I’m an alarmist though, right?  We are Americans, we would never do such a thing to our own people.  Right?  Ask the Japanese Americans who were put in internment camps during WWII or my own ancestors, the Cherokee Indians, who were removed from their own lands and slaughtered in the Trail of Tears.  We forget how brutal and indifferent people can be if it is not happening to their immediate circle.  And that’s not even touching on 9/11.

So yes, to answer your question.  But I was nowhere near as heavy handed in the book as I was just now. We have to get these ideas into the general lexicon of the people because they don’t realize the deception that is taking place. A well informed public is a safer public.

What attracted you to Steampunk?
The overall asthetic appearance of the technology as well as the way it seemed like anyone could build it in their garage if they had the time.  It’s partly why it’s taken off like it has in Cosplay at conventions.  It’s because it is buildable by everyday Joes out there!  It’s the common man’s jetpack.

How did the idea for The Kingdom of Vosh develop?
Through my artwork mainly.  I was the artist throughout the book, even creating the cover back in 1999.  I would imagine these characters and how they would appear and then sit down and draw them.  Stories began to swirl and eventually a plot materialized.  It was my intention to bring it to life as a graphic novel but I settled on just an ordinary novel with my artwork before each chapter.

Has music ever helped you in your writing, or influenced your writing in any way? And what kind of music works best for Steampunk?

I wrote The Kingdom of Vosh while listening to movie soundtracks, namely Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack and the Dark Knight’s soundtrack.  It was that techno-funk, pulsating groove that got me into the world. Metal clanking and thumping in rhythm, then some crazy techno whir as it pulsated with the beat, it seemed to fit the genre well.


The Kingdom of Vosh: The Chained Princess by Jason C. Conley is now available!  Hardcover, Paperback, or digital.
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December 15, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Review – The Exile’s Violin by R.S. Hunter

17608563I’ll admit it: the most I know about Steampunk is the movie Wild Wild West, the anime Steamboy, and the video game Final Fantasy VI. There was also that whole Sons of Ether tradition in the tabletop RPG, Mage: The Ascension. So I was quite intrigued at the idea of reviewing my first Steampunk novel.

R.S. Hunter’s setting for The Exile’s Violin is richly detailed. Mostly a fantasy setting filled with steam-powered cars, dirigibles, and other gadgets; it also has a real world feel to it. The main character, Jacquie Renairre, is not just merely kickass but believably so.

In a lot of ways, the story struck me as a Steampunk version of Indiana Jones meets Adventures of Sherlock Holmes—action, intrigue, and mystery all rolled up inside a clever and well-developed world. Even better, Hunter manages to reveal that world piece by piece with imaginative detail without ever once bogging down the story’s pace.

Read this story. Even if it’s the last story you read this year. For you will love reading The Exile’s Violin from first page to last.

Best to read while listening to: any Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes soundtrack. The Prodigy and various other techno bands.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Announcing Call for Entries on Hero’s Best Friend Anthology

For Immediate Release February 19,  2013

Announcing Call for Entries on Hero’s Best Friend Anthology

Seventh Star Press announces a call for entries on Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions.   Edited by Scott Sandridge, the speculative fiction anthology brings the spotlight to the noble animal companions of heroic characters.
Hero’s Best Friend welcomes stories of between 2,000 and 10,000 words from all genres of speculative fiction.  All kinds of cultural settings, types of animals, and genres are encouraged for these tales.  The stories should center on the perspective of the animal, in the way that a story would focus on Shadowfax rather than Gandalf, to use one well-known example of a heroic character and animal companion.
Residing in Ohio, editor and author Scott M. Sandridge’s first short story, “Treecutter,” was published in The Sword Review in July 2005. Since then, he’s gone on to publish over 26 more short stories, and over 60 reviews. He has also been a columnist for the Double-Edged Publishing webzines, a Submissions Editor for Ray Gun Revival, and the Managing Editor of Fear and Trembling.  Scott is also an active blogger whose site can be found at:
Hero’s Best Friend will be released in trade paperback and eBook formats in late 2013.  The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2013, and full information on the anthology can be found at

Contact: C.C. James Public Relations, Seventh Star Press ccjames (at)
Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky

February 19, 2013 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marcon 46: How to Survive a Convention while Having Sinusitis.

Yeah. That’s the problem with severe allergies. From time to time, it can turn into something worse. In this case, it was Sinusitis (according to the doc who checked on me in the ER room last night).

Fortunately, people at Marcon 46 were understanding, and even offered me an occasional anti-histamine pill.

While there, I met with a lot of cool people that I’ve come to consider friends. People like Stephen Zimmer and Tammy Jo Ekhart. And of course I got to do some cool panels with Tim Waggoner, S. Andrew Swann, and ERIC FLINT!

Eric frakin’ Flint, man! I got to be on a panel that Eric Flint was on! A panel titled “Alien Sex”…. don’t ask.

And I love love, lllllllllove! Michael Z. Williamson‘s swords.

I ran out of smokes by Saturday night, but that’s okay because the interesting thing about Sinusitis (which I hadn’t realized yet that I had. I just thought it was all the pollen in the air) is that you stop craving nicotene…at least I do.

What’s that damn thing about hindsight again? Oh well, at least the Vampire: The Masquerade game that Tammy ran Saturday night totally rocked. Totally.

Suffice it to say, on all my panels I truly did sound like a country hick with a permanent headcold.

And then came the trip home on Sunday, after leaving my final panel, “Damsels in Chainmail” (and, yes, I shamelessly plugged my character, Yavar).  I went out the wrong door and took a wrong turn at Alberquerque. The result was that by the time I got to the bus stop for the 81 bus on Alum Creek, the last 81 bus had already passed the stop up.  So I walked the rest of the way home, for over two hours, through farmland, cut grass, and pollen so thick you could see it floating by.

And to top it all off, my bookbag busted open along the way. 😦

However, despite Murphy’s Law choosing to kick my ass and laugh in my face, I still had loads of fun. That, and Dayquil makes me high. heheheheheheheeeeeee.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment