Guest Post: Dorothy Winsor

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to another guest post. This time we have Dorothy A. Winsor, another fellow Inspired Quill author who is sharing the ideas around her previous novel, Finders Keepers as we eagerly await her next novel, The Wind Reader (due for release autumn 2018).

The Calendar Is Ending! We Are All Doomed!

dorothyMy middle-grade fantasy, Finders Keepers, turns partly on the struggle to avert a disaster that will occur when the calendar changes to the year 4000. As the story approaches New Year’s Eve, 3999, a plague kills more and more people, earthquakes swallow buildings, and floods threaten to drown the city. All will be lost unless the book’s 12-year-old hero, Cade, is willing to risk his own well-being to save everyone else.

I got the idea for that plot point while I was drafting this book in 2012. The internet was abuzz with speculation over what might happen on 12/21/12, the last date on an ancient Mayan calendar. Speculation that the world would end was so common that NASA put up an information page that explained why it wouldn’t. (http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcasting/jpl-asteroid20120307.html)

The furor reminded me of similar fears when the calendar rolled over to the year 2000, and we endured the so-called Y2K panic. Even some rational people feared civilization would collapse because of computer problems caused by the date change. Given how dependent we are on computers, it was hard to say people had no reason to worry, but a portion of the population entered into the panic with gusto, buying guns and stocking up on food and fuel. They generalized from a computer glitch to a gigantic social meltdown, and in a few cases, the end of the world.

Why do people put so much weight on the change from one page of the calendar to the next? After all, dates are a humanly created and somewhat arbitrary system. Why do we lend them such significance?

I think it’s because we human beings want to understand the unknown. We want cause and effect.  We want meaning. Psychologists say our brains are wired to find patterns, to connect one thing with another even though there’s no necessary connection. So in a primal way, the link between the end of a calendar and the end of the world makes sense.

Given this need, fiction is satisfying partly because a plot shapes events into a pattern. If something happens, experienced readers expect it to matter. If an event has no consequences, we’re likely to be annoyed. Or at least wonder why the editor didn’t insist the scene should be cut.

Events that matter and form a pattern create the difference between plot (one thing causes another) and chronology (one thing simply comes after another). My life has chronology, but not much of a plot. What I’m doing now probably has little connection to what I’ll do this afternoon. On the other hand, my character Cade’s life has a plot. Everything matters. That’s one reason fiction often feels richer and more satisfying than daily life.

On the other hand, Cade’s plot causes him a lot of problems and pain. I was happy to still be around to give an open house on January 1, 2000. Maybe I’m contented to enjoy plots mostly in fiction.

 

Winsor spent years as a technical communications professor, studying the writing of engineers, before discovering that writing YA and MG fantasy was much more fun. Finders Keepers is Winsor’s first novel, though if you look closely, you can probably find a literal million words of Winsor’s Tolkien fan fiction posted somewhere. Winsor lives in Iowa.

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/dorothy.winsor

http://dawinsor.com/

Finders Keepers: https://smile.amazon.com/Finders-Keepers-Dorothy-Winsor-ebook/dp/B01LBEU6RK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519914733&sr=8-2&keywords=dorothy+winsor

Deep as a Tomb: https://smile.amazon.com/Deep-as-Tomb-Dorothy-Winsor/dp/1624320244/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Aethertide

Hi everyone!

Last week, as an apology for a period of bloggio silence, I promised that I’d talk about the comic book I’ve been working on. So here it is!

Last year at the Weekend at the Asylum Steampunk event, I had the pleasure of meeting Katherine Ellis, the excellent artist responsible for the Crankrats webcomic. We got to chatting and, as usually happens when two creative types got together, we started talking about our future projects. Kat had just released a new graphic novel, Nix, which is released for her scores of Patreon followers before being put together into hard copies.

Anyway, I said that I’d always wanted to write a comic. She, very graciously, suggested that we work together on it.

Jackpot!

I got cracking right away. You see, I had the idea already in my head. It goes a little like this:

In Steampunk worlds, there are a few things that you see quite regularly:

  • Steam-powered thingies (obviously)
  • Difference engines (clockwork computers)
  • Tesla-style electricity
  • Aether (sometimes spelled ether, but that’s not as cool)

Aether is often used as a “magic did it” explanation for how Victorians might keep their dirigibles aloft, or how they might travel to the stars. It’s all very much in keeping with the 1800s aesthetic, as aether had a huge buzz around it in Victorian times with the surge in study around electro-magnetism.

That’s the boring pseudo-history bit. You can always read more in-depth about the real word stuff. But that’s not what we’re here for!

I wanted to play around with the idea of aether as a power source. In The Adventures of Alan Shaw trilogy, I had shown the passage of time from Alan’s childhood where steam was in its infancy and Automatons were a brand new science, through his young adult life where steam and clockwork powered airships and all kinds of mechanica. In the third book (I’m still working on so…spoilers, I guess) you’ll see a progression into using electricity. Time moves on.

So, I’d been there and done that with the other Steampunk power sources and how they could change the world. But there was no room in Alan’s story for aether. I’d have to write something brand spanking new. What a shame!

Aethertide is still set in the 1800’s. It’s still very much a Steampunk setting but our story begins after steam power has risen, and after Faraday’s experiments with electro-magnetism. In the world of Aethertide, his faffing with electricity led to an even greater discovery. In this story, Aether is an electrically charged gas which lays just beyond the realm of our perception. It’s the insulation between parallel dimensions that stops universes colliding together. And it can be drawn into our realm, from that extra-planar space, by using electro magnets.

I think that’s pretty neat. What do you think?

But that’s not even the cool part. Enter our lead character, Doctor Olivia Heward. As a black, female scientist int he 1800s, she’s had to fight for everything she’s got. Every book she’s read, every exam she’s taken, has been a battle to achieve. Because the old boys of the British Institute of Science aren’t a fan of women knowing too much, and her race just makes them hate her even more. That doesn’t stop her.

We meet Olivia at the culmination of her research. You see, while aether is in use the world over, no one has ever asked a vital question. Where does it come from? A world obsessed with power doesn’t think that far ahead. [That’s my link to real history and the destruction caused on the environment by the Industrial Revolution, you see? I do think…sometimes] But Olivia does. She’s studying the extra-planar space where the aether is found in its natural state. And, in an effort to observe that place directly, she’s about to be thrown through the barrier between worlds and into a parallel dimension beyond.

That’s where Aethertide really got fun for me. Because having an incredibly intelligent scientist from a Steampunk world thrust into parallel dimensions is the best story-fuel I could ever wish for.

Olivia will be thrust into the world of An-Mor, a jungle filled with aether-conducting crystals and a Magi overlord with an unhinged apprentice. She’ll come across creatures like nothing we’ve ever seen. She’ll find out what lies beyond our little world, and realise that it’s not all good. She’ll make a friend in the An’Morian warrior, Raisa, and enemies of creatures who live outside of time that have been to Olivia’s world once before, and who will do anything to get there again. Aethertide is such a fun mix of Steampunk and Fantasy, with a nod to Arthurian legend. I’ve had an absolute blast writing it.

Anyway, that’s a brief synopsis of the idea that hopefully you’ll be able to read soon. I’m waiting on Kat getting back to me after reading the script. I hope she likes it and feels as enthused by it as I do. I can’t wait for you to meet Olivia and Raisa in their Steam-fantasy meets Sliders (anyone remember that show?) adventure.

 

Thanks for reading, everyone!

It’s Been Quiet…

Hi everyone,

As usual, a gaping void of blog posts exists between us. And, as usual, I’m sorry about that. I’ve been super-duper busy, though, if it makes it any better? What have I been up to? Well, let’s see…

Since Old Haunts (The Adventures of Alan Shaw Book 2) has been released, I’ve been trying to hit as many events as possible, spending more time online marketing and suchlike and, of course, I’ve been writing!

The third Alan Shaw novel has been started, with the first story complete (barring edits, of course). I’ve also been contacted by Katherine Ellis, the artist and writer of the Crankrats and Nix webcomics. We chatted about maybe working together on a comic when we met at the Steampunk Asylum weekend last year. Some of you might remember that I was working on the script. Well, Katherine’s workload has finally made a gap large enough to work on something new and so I’ve been working on finishing that comic so that it can become a reality! I’ll do a proper post all about it, soon.

I’ve also been doing some editing work for a local magazine, Doncopolitan, which has taken up some of my time. As I’m sure you creatives out there know, paid work has to come first and that has meant that the blog has had to take a back seat to a lot of other things.

So, how am I going to make this blog post void up to you?

Like this!

Coming up soon, I’ll be sharing some guest posts from fellow Inspired Quill authors Dorothy Windsor and Mark Cantrell. And I’ve also had the idea to do some posts on tips for new authors. Surviving the first signing, rejection slips and balancing the whole work/life/writing/signing colossus on the head of a pin. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to talk about, yet, but I guess we’ll find out together.

With that, I will leave you once more. I’m off to put some more words to Alan Shaw 3.

 

Thanks for reading!

New projects and old

Hi everyone,

So, I figured I should probably update you guys on the flurry of WIPs that I’m constantly working on. If I’m repeating myself, I apologise, but I think most of this will be new information.

Here we go…

 

Down Days – My insight into living with depression was released over a year ago as a free ebook, and the ongoing blog that followed it is still going over at http://www.downdays.org. When I started with the book, the idea was to release it for free as I believe that money shouldn’t be a barrier to people getting information that they need, especially about something as vital as mental health issues.

However, now that we’re a year on, I’ve stretched Down Days as far as I can on my own. And so, I’m looking for a small publisher to possibly take it on. Check the blog for more info on how far I’ve gotten with that.

Completion – Possibly impossible

 

Emi – A horror fantasy where all the characters are already dead and the creatures of Japanese mythology walk the earth. You might have gleaned from my last post, but Emi is now completed. It’s a project that I’ve been working on since way back in Greaveburn times and continued as I worked on The Adventures of Alan Shaw one and two. Finally, it’s done and…I’m really proud of it. It’s bloody weird, but I think it may be my favourite story I’ve ever written. Which says a lot since I love my novels.

Now, it’s time for Emi to fly the coop and I’ll be trying for serialisation in magazines before novella publication. It’s too short for Inspired Quill, and possibly too weird.

Completion – 100%

 

Cyberpunk novel (working on a title) – A story inspired by my love of William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick and Katsuhiro Otomo. Themes surround the human condition, evolution gone stale and social progression. Written with non-gender specific pronouns and focusing on the characters lives in the futuristic Shika-One city, I’m hoping to really push myself to try something new. Also, this book currently has a soundtrack and I’ve been describing the music that the characters listen to without using lyrics, band names or genres. I never do anything the easy way…

Completion – 60%

 

And now…introducing…

Aethertide – My first attempts at a comic book, I’ll be working with the excellent Katherine Ellis, writer and artist of the Crankrats webcomic. Although still in the embryonic stages, I’m hoping to have a lot of fun with this. Olivia Heward is a genius scientist, studying the origins of the powerful substance known as “aether”. After a slight miscalculation, she’s hurled through the extra-planar space between realities on a wild adventure.

Tell me that doesn’t sound like a riot to write! And hopefully it’ll make a fun graphic novel for you all to read.

Completion – About 20%

 

Well, that’s the update for now. Hope it’s whetted your appetite. Alan Shaw volume 2 will be with you soon, guys, I promise.

 

Thanks for reading.

New Look!

Hi everyone,

So, just a quick post to let you all know that the blog has a new look. Instead of having to trawl through my terrible posts first, you should now hit some pics and details of my books. Hopefully the whole thing is easier to read and use.

If you have the time to check it out, I’d appreciate it. Please feel free to let me know if you find any broken links etc.

In other news (just to make this posts a little less boring) I’ll soon be sharing guest posts from my fellow Inspired Quill authors! They’re nice folks with a lot of talent so I hope you’ll greet them well.

I hope you’re all having a good weekend. I’m off to plot a comic book (May Cthulhu save me).

Thanks for reading!

To the keyboard!

Hi everyone,

Well, after that horrible down period comes the upswing. This is the part that I wish I could ride forever. My fingers can hardly keep up with my brain. I’m still leaving Alan Shaw 3 to stew for a while. The ideas are coming thick and fast with one in particular that has tickled me into thinking that it’s brilliant (I’ll probably change my mind later), but I think I need a break from the Steampunk world. So, I’ve tinkered with my Cyberpunk novel a little, adding another 1k words. That seems to be going very slowly but I think I need to get into a flow with it, is all. The one I’ve picked up this morning, on a complete whim, is Emi. Remember that one? It was a while ago since I last talked about it:

Two dead humans, a man and a girl, wander through a post-apocalyptic landscape where the creatures of folklore and myth have returned. With their humanity forgotten and no purpose or destination, what could possibly happen?

I still love the idea of this story and I can’t wait to finish it. I think it has real potential to be brilliant…if I don;t mess it up. Right now, it feels a little disjointed and choppy, but it also fits with the style of the book. The character have no human drives or needs, only distantly remembered values that have no bearing or place in their new world.

I love books like this and I’ll admit that it’s a little experimental. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going, or if it has a story at all, but these characters keep going from encounter to encounter and I’m totally hooked on what weirdness will come out next.

It’s also going to be quite short, as I find most experimentally odd novels are, but that’s no bad thing. I think it might actually work in the story’s favour. I guess well have to see.

Anyway, I’m off to write more. Hope you all have an excellent writing day!

 

Thanks for reading.