Fact or Fiction? : Indie October Guest Post From Kate Baucherel

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What were the earliest things you learned from reading fiction?

These are some of my memories. Aged six, I discovered that scientists could accelerate atomic particles in a cyclotron – for what purpose I had no idea – thanks to the Target novelisation of Dr Who and the Cave Monsters, which I was caught reading under the desk in Year 2. Aged eleven, my history teacher was impressed by my knowledge of the panoply of Egyptian gods, gleaned entirely from Dr Who and the Pyramids of Mars (there’s a theme here). My love of history flourished thanks to more conventional historical novels ranging from The Wool Pack, laying out the intricacies of the Cotswolds medieval wool trade, to Nancy Mitford’s The Sun King, the tale of Louis XIV which was on my A-level reading list. Whenever I sweep the floor, unbidden into my head comes the voice of Ma Ingalls. “Draw the broom, Laura, don’t flip it; that raises the dust.”  I learned snippets of Morse code from a tale of space hostages, and I still watch the movement of the ailerons on an aircraft wing thanks to a passing fascination with the Jungle Run flying adventures as a teenager.

Along the way, I have had to employ a certain amount of critical thinking, of course. There are no dinosaurs in caves under the Peak District and I’m unlikely to be kidnapped by top secret spacecraft any time soon, more’s the pity. But for me, the presentation of facts in fiction makes them come to life.

In 2016 I met an IT and cybersecurity practitioner with a message to communicate. He had a title for a book in mind: ‘Don’t panic: it’s too late for that’. I liked it. He had the knowledge, and I could write: it seemed like a good idea at the time. About three lunches and four coffees in, though, he suggested that the book should be fiction. Don’t be silly, I said. I can’t write fiction.

For the next eight months, he continued to nudge, and I resisted. Then one day, an idea hit me. I wrote three hundred words. “Keep writing,” said my friend. I did, and the rest is history. Since then, the SimCavalier tales of Cameron, Ross and their team have taken on a life of their own. There are two novels and a short story out in the wild and a third tale on the drawing board. I’m tapping a rich seam of real-life cybercrime and the plots themselves come straight from my fevered imagination.

The somewhat utopian world that my unconscious mind has constructed for the SimCavalier is not dissimilar to our own. I pushed the timeline forward by thirty years, allowing drones to deliver the shopping and autonomous vehicles to whizz around the streets, and I’ve flooded large swathes of low-lying Britain, just for fun. I’ve extrapolated today’s emerging technologies to a point where they reach daily utility but come with their own annoyances and vulnerabilities. Characters struggle with misfiring chip implants and faulty smart door locks while our hero turns to physical, unhackable means of security. Drones drop deliveries with all the finesse of a gig economy driver, squashing the morning muffins and spilling goods down the street. Advertising hoardings tailor their message to each passing individual, a creepy invasion of privacy become normality. Additive manufacturing – the 3D printing of components – provides the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for the manned Mars mission, but also opens new cans of cybersecurity worms.

At the core of the plots lies the human factor, mistakes we can all make. People fail to update their passwords. Stolen login details change hands in shady dark web marketplaces. Faked public wifi networks trap the unwary. Ransomware exploits legacy software systems which are no longer supported by the developers but are clung to like security blankets by people who should know better. The need to stay on top of an ever-evolving cybercrime landscape keeps our heroes busy, but more importantly underlines the fact that there is an astonishing volume of malware circulating in the real world, like sharks around a stricken lifeboat.

Why do good stories make a difference? Research shows that people learn and retain facts easily from stories – including facts which are misrepresented or untrue. When test subjects in a 2003 study[1] responded to a general knowledge quiz, they used the facts they had learned from stories given to them as part of the study, regardless of whether those facts were correct or not. Stories can provide a base layer of understanding in a way which can and does influence behaviour. Sadly, sci fi was one of the genres picked out by the researchers as potentially unreliable, particularly in the way that science is represented. I hope in a small way I have contributed to the reliable side of the equation.

Ultimately, it’s the quality of the story, not the quality of the fact, which makes the impact. I believe that authors of fiction have a duty of care to get the basic facts right. It is said that a lie can travel around the world faster than the truth can get its boots on, and it is only a passing consolation that this quote is probably not by Mark Twain.

[1] E.J. Marsh et al. “Learning Facts from Fiction” Journal of Memory and Language 49 (2003) 519–536

About Kate Baucherel

kateKate Baucherel is a digital strategist, a writer of both non-fiction and cyber-crime sci-fi (the third SimCaviler novel is much anticipated next year), a Blockchain consultant, the COO of City Web Consultants, an occasional guest lecturer at universities, panellist and speaker at technology conferences around the world, Jackie Carlton once bought her a drink,  has been known to dress up as Han Solo at Halloween (or whenever else she can get away with it probably), and if all that is not intimidating enough, is a 2rd Dan black-belt…

kate

Kate Baucherel’s SimCaviler Novels: Cyber crime and cyber crime fighters in the not so far off future

 

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Creative Osmosis: Indie October Guest Post By Nils Nisse Visser

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Please don’t get me wrong on this. I receive short book reviews with fierce and joyous exclamations that will startle the cats into a sulk. I’m at the self-publishing Indie stage where reviews, rather than the occasional sale, are the measure of success.

From that perspective, the length and complexity of a review is irrelevant. “I liked this book” is enough. Some of my favourite reviews are thunderous in their brevity. “Insanely well-written” for Escape from Neverland, and – I suspect by the same reviewer – “KICKS ASS” for Dance into the Wyrd. What more do you need to know? Plus, it’s pretty clear to me that the reviewer has read the books. J

I probably risk undermining the message that ‘any sort of review will do’ by gushing over longer and more comprehensive ones, but those longer ones do something entirely different. In their own way they’re as priceless as “KICKS ASS” and “Insanely Well-Written.”

Apart from the sheer magic of realising that there’s someone out there who has demonstrably grasped the essence of a story, and their generous allocation of time in digesting a story comprehensively, it’s also awfully kind of them to formulate that essence in a manner which I could never do myself. I can write a book, but please – OH HORROR – don’t ask me to describe it.

I can get as far as saying, “Look, I did a thing, where before there was nothing, kinda neat, isn’t it?” If you respond, “Yeah, cool, what’s the story about?” (like a normal human being showing interest would), I withdraw back into my shell. “Erm…ah…nothing much…I dunno…you probably shouldn’t bother…”

Every now and then a reviewer manages to phrase what the story is about with such eloquence that it not only leaves me stunned, but also arms me with an answer to that “what’s the story about” question. I can now answer, “Well, so and so says…” Somehow that is easier.

 Every now and then, a review is so sirageously awesome, that the aftershocks of sheer jubilation transform into renewed inspiration for stories.

I have been fortunate enough to receive two of these reviews recently, for the novella Rottingdean Rhyme. One by Nimue Brown and one by Mark Hayes. I’m profoundly grateful for these reviews, more than they will ever know, so have no hesitation to gush wildly about these two reviewers, and their skills in unravelling aspects of Rottingdean Rhyme.

Through these reviews, both Nimue and Mark have, unwittingly, made a big mark on the two novellas which complete this mini-series regarding the childhood years of Alice Kittyhawk, protagonist of Time Flight Chronicles Book 1: Amster Damned.

Nimue for Them that Ask No Questions (just published), and Mark for Fair Weather for Foul Folk, still in progress.

I’m not entirely sure they’ll be pleased to have been allocated parental responsibility for the stories, so will have to turn to you, the jury, to demonstrate that their creative DNA, strands of their own writerliness as it were, have been woven into the stories about Alice.  I’ll do this in two parts (sharing this same introduction), covering Them that Ask No Questions on Nimue’s blog Druidlife, and Fair Weather for Foul Folk on Mark’s Passing Place blog.

(note the post on Druid life can be found here https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2019/10/10/creative-osmosis-a-guest-blog/   )

THREE COVERS ON SUSSEX FLAG

 FAIR WEATHER FOR FOUL FOLK

In his ‘Smugglers of Sussex’ blog (https://markhayesblog.com/2019/06/03/smugglers-of-sussex/) Mark reviews Rottingdean Rhyme, which he describes as a “wonderfully rich and vibrant novella,” as well as noting that my take on Steampunk has been to weave it into local Sussex smuggling lore.

He points out that smuggler’s tales can be found along most of Britain’s coastline, that local smugglers tend to be revered and/or romanticized by the natives, holding a special place in their hearts. Mark also rightly identifies that many of these smuggler’s tales have a lot of common denominators, storytelling traditions as it were. Whilst recognising these roots in Rottingdean Rhyme, he’s also kind enough to point out that I’ve taken old folk tales to fuse them into something new.

I had been thinking along similar lines for the third novella: Fair Weather for Foul Folk. None of the previous stories had an actual smuggling run in them, they were described from afar, because I was gambling that most people are familiar enough with smuggler’s tales to be able to fill in the blanks by themselves, leaving me to concentrate on the airships my Sussex smugglers employ for their business of Free Trading, and character development.

Yet…yet…I wanted a proper smuggler’s yarn for Alice, involve her in a run, bringing a crop from A to B, chased by Customs & Excise or the Royal Aero Fleet.

Mark’s review spurred me to make this wish a reality, to delve deeply into local traditions once again and steal everything that wasn’t nailed down be inspired by all I found.

I had already identified a setting. Until now the stories were set in Rottingdean and nearby Brighton. I wanted to expand farther along the Sussex Coast and knew exactly where.

I have spent many hours exploring the maze of Hasting’s Old Town, as well as the St Clements smugglers caves. One could not wish for more, but Hastings has another historical gem, one of those factual, historically accurate anomalies that sounds so far-fetched that readers will think I’ve gone mad expecting them to believe it. Well, believe it or not, there’s a small area of Hastings which declared de facto independence from the United Kingdom, back in the early nineteenth century. They build a palisade around their settlement, and raised the Stars and Stripes, as well as electing a governor. He read the American Declaration of Independence out loud and proclaimed the small stretch of shingle beach (1500 yards long, 500 yards wide) as a territorial component of the young United States of America. This within living memory of the American Revolution. What’s even more astonishing, is that records indicate this small corner of the United States, right on England’s doorstep, managed to sustain independence for a good 35 years, possibly longer. This stuff is just too good to ignore, so if I were to stretch that independence by another quarter of a century, I could have Alice pay a visit to the America Ground, as the place was called.

As for tales, I was lucky enough to get my grubby hands on a copy of a rare book written by a Hastings local who was a young lad when smugglers were still active (Reminiscences of Smugglers and Smuggling by John Banks, published in 1873).

I could simply incorporate some of these historical accounts and give them a little twist of my own.

Visiting the small town of Rye, further east along the Sussex Coast, was another eye-opener. There’s a small museum in Ypres Tower, the small castle overlooking Romney Marsh, which has devoted considerable attention to local smuggling history. To top my visit off, when I was by the old-lookout point, atop of the former city walls, I was approached by an old-timer, silver beard and all. I’d told no one about the reasons for my visit, and didn’t ask, but he went straight into yarning away about smuggling. He described how a fog would drift in over the marshes from the sea, and how that would intertwine with the mist rising from the gullies, ditches, and tide channels in the marsh, to form a thick blanket over the marsh, to which he added, “and folk would say: Tis fair weather for foul men.”

As you may imagine, I was in full Jake Blues ‘I have seen the Light!’ mode, furiously scribbling down notes, and you may recognise the origin of the title of this novella.

As for tales, Rye is rich in them. There are accounts of members of the notorious Hawkhurst gang drinking at the Mermaid Inn, guns and cutlasses openly on their tables and boasting of their exploits. Furthermore, the Inn itself has smuggler’s tunnels, priest holes, and many reputed ghosts (of smugglers!). Naturally, I went for a pint in the taproom (scribbling more notes all the while).

Rye was also home to John Ryan, the creator of Captain Pugwash, a popular children’s series about pirates. I didn’t know this when I arrived in town but was delighted, as I couldn’t get enough of Captain Pugwash when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, it was those stories that inspired my lifelong ambition to become a pirate when I grow up (some day). I also discovered a new story, Captain Pugwash and the Huge Reward. Set in the town of ‘Sinkport’ (which has exactly the same streets and buildings as Rye), it sees Captain Pugwash’s involvement in local smuggling. Obviously, I can’t steal Ryan’s characters and stick them in a Sussex Steampunk Tale, but I did want to reflect some of the sheer fun of Ryan’s stories in Fair Weather for Foul Folk.

As if that wasn’t enough, Rye identifies strongly with Russel Thorndyke’s Dr Syn stories, also made into movies, tv series, plays, audio adaptations, and comics. These stories are set in Dymchurch, Kent, but both Rye (in Sussex) and Dymchurch are part of Romney Marsh. Outsiders may draw a county border through the marsh, but marsh-folk are marsh-folk and will stick together.

The fictional Dr Syn was a vicar who doubled as a smuggler, known as “The Scarecrow” (and disguised as such), as well as leader of a smuggling gang called The Hell Riders of Romney Marsh. Unfortunately, Thorndyke sold the copyright to Disney, and Disney is a terrible foe to have if they perceive anyone to be meddling with their rights (is there anything they don’t own?). So, no Dr Syn, Scarecrow, or Hell Riders, and probably best to stay away from Dymchurch. That isn’t really a big problem, because the most fascinating feature of Dr Syn was the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde aspect of his dual personality. Syn was gentle, compassionate, intelligent, and well-mannered. The Scarecrow a rogue capable of being utterly ruthless.

Outsmarting the Queen’s Men is a universal theme in smuggler’s tales, so definitely not exclusively Dr Syn. Neither is the dual personality, as the reference to Jekyll and Hyde already suggests. So that will be the way to go, watch out for two characters, in Rye, Sussex (not Dymchurch, Kent) who may well be the same person.

Each setting will introduce new characters, semi-historical and some partially based on local Steampunks and Pyrates who have volunteered to crew despite the risks (I am disturbingly fond of killing characters off, especially if they are likeable). Those who survive, will accompany Alice to the next lot of books, novels this time, which deal with her teenage years.

So, there you have it, most of the ingredients required for a ripping yarn, like the ones they used to tell in taverns up and down the coast. Deeply rooted in folk traditions, but hopefully renewed for modern audiences, Steampunks or not. I’ve already progressed quite a bit and hope to publish before Christmas. If I pull it off, Mark can claim some credit. If I don’t, we’d best delete this guest-blog and nary a word will be spoken of it forever and longer.

The novellas are set up as stand-alone stories, so can be read in any order you please, but they also form a series. If I’ve whetted your appetite for Fair Weather for Foul Folk, and you don’t want to wait, do consider giving Rottingdean Rhyme or Them that Ask no Questions a try. The Kindle versions are cheaper than contraband brought ashore on a dark and moonless night.

Fair Winds!

Nils

About Nils Nisse Visser

nilNils is a free-lance writer, occasional poet, archer, Homelessness activist, who was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1970 (which was the best year ever to be born *Mark), he grew up in the Netherlands, Thailand, Nepal, Oklahoma, Tanzania, England, Egypt and France. Taught English at various Dutch secondary schools for 18 years, but his firm belief that education is most effective when it is fun raised a few eyebrows. Having been told too often that he lived in his imagination, he took the hint and moved there on a full-time basis. He currently lives in Brighton in the county of Sussex in England. 

Rather confusingly he sometimes writes as Nils Visser, Nisse Visser or Nils Nisse Visser. For which he apologies.

His latest Novella ‘Them That Ask No Questions was released a few days ago, clicking on the picture below might just take you to it, as if by magic…

kick off add VERSION TWO

 

 

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Writing Without Time: Indie October Guest Post by Meredith Debonnaire

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WRITING WITHOUT TIME: Being a poor indie writer trying to write while juggling with two-and-a-half jobs and the electrified zombie of your social life.

I often see advice for writers along the lines of “Write every day” and “set aside two hours every day” and “have a writing room”, and while none of this is necessarily bad advice, it’s not precisely helpful to those of us who don’t have a lot of money or time. This kind of advice can be very pervasive, to the point I’ve seen big name authors say things along the lines of “if you don’t write every day then you aren’t a writer” and “you must have a dedicated writing space” and none of this takes into account that most of us are poor, okay? We’re poor. You might live with your family and not have your own room. You might be sleeping on a friend’s sofa. You might have children or be working a lot of jobs, and you probably can’t afford that super special Author’s Pen. And all the above can make it feel as though you are an imposter: I know it did me.

The only time I’ve managed to have time dedicated to writing every single day was when I was 17 and my dad was supporting me financially. I wrote a novel featuring nihilistic vampires who locked each other in volcanoes and werewolves who worked in the A and E department. Everything since then has been fitted in around all the stuff I have to do in order to support my “Being an alive and fed human being” habit. So here are some odds and ends of advice about writing without time, which may or may not be helpful. Hopefully they’ll at least give you a laugh.

Dedicated writing space is a shiny added extra, but sometimes your best work is going to happen on the aeroplane home from a funeral while sitting next to a screaming five-year-old.

Or in the launderette. I do good work in the launderette. It would be lovely to have a writing room, with a clear desk and a door and no interruptions. For a lot of us this is a dream that may never make it into reality. I’m here to say that you don’t need one. It’s harder, I won’t lie, but you can write on the bus, in the launderette, in bed, on your lunchbreak. It’s frustrating because it takes longer and it can feel like breathing in snatches, but it is possible and you are still a writer, I promise. Even without the special Author’s Pen and Mug. I wrote the beginning of The Life and Times of Angel Evans on loose paper ripped from the back of a diary. I wrote Tales From Tantamount while taking breaks from Tax Returns, in a doctor’s waiting room, and while off my face on out-of-date cough medicine on a friend’s sofa. You can do this, and, as long as you make sure you’ve got a pen and paper or a smartphone you can type notes on on your person, you can do this nearly anywhere.

You must suffer for your art, but only prettily!

This is a lie. You don’t have to suffer for your art. And not all of us can afford to have an aesthetically pleasing breakdown and retire to an attic studio in the countryside where we subsist on tea and biscuits and write our hallucinogenic memoir. That takes money. So, to reiterate, your mental health is important and you don’t have to suffer for your art. You have to work, yes, because writing is a skill that takes practice like any other skill, but you don’t need to suffer. Enjoy your art, celebrate your art, insist that you get paid for your art, and refuse to move into the haunted attic: that ghost isn’t going to split the bills with you.

Conversely, if you are suffering (for your art or otherwise) get help. Talk to friends. Talk to other writers. Talk to professionals if you can access them. Chat about your ideas and your writers block. It may cut into your preciously tiny amount of time for writing, but it will help. If you’re in a position where your livelihood is at stake, don’t feel guilty about putting your writing on hold while you deal with that. There will be no more art if you die. You can go back to writing once you’ve figured out how you’re living.

Write every day.

Look, I can see why this is popular, but personally all this one leads to is guilt. So for anyone who needs to hear it, you don’t need to write every day. Maybe today is the day you lost your job, your cat, your marbles. Maybe today the washing machine ate your knickers and you set the fire alarm off. Maybe today you did your accounts and all the bills are spread out on the floor and looking at them makes you want to cry or scream. You don’t have to write every day. You can take a day, a week, a month, and then come back to it knowing you’ll be fresher for the break. And very likely there are work/childcare/other logistical reasons that get in the way of writing every day, and that’s alright. You know your life best, and you’re going to know where the gaps are that writing will fit into best. And if that’s once a fortnight while you’re on the bus between work and picking up the kids, that’s okay. If that’s once a week when the insomnia really bites, that’s okay too. You’re still a writer.

You have to live alone with an insomniac cat and refuse social calls.

No. Remember the electrified zombie in the title? The one that is your social life? It’s very important. You need friends. You are a squishy mammal that needs other squishy mammals. Go outside and look at ducks on the canal. Go outside and sit in a park. Text a friend. Talk to people. You need to keep that zombie alive. For the sake of your mental health. And if that doesn’t work for you as a reason, frame it as gaining new stimulus for ideas for writing. Having a supportive network is really important for indie writers, because we are mostly  poor and we tend to be very busy and get caught up in ideas and forget to go foodshopping. We need people around who are going to gently check in on us and who we can tell our bonkers ideas to. Cultivate friends, because they are good. And get a cat if you actually want one.

So Meredith, tell us your writing techniques if you’re so wise!

I have a lot of writing techniques, but most of them boil down to desperately fitting in writing wherever I can around whatever part-time work I’m doing at the moment, and experimenting wildly. I write because I enjoy writing, and I think that’s the most important part. That you enjoy it, that even when you’re tearing your hair out because the characters have staged a rebellion and now the plot won’t work, you enjoy it. If you’re stuck, go back to what you love about it. If your current project just won’t fit in around your job, maybe put that project down for a bit and experiment with something else. If the short story is not progressing, give yourself a break and write a haiku instead. It doesn’t have to be good, just get it on the page and you can refine it later. Most of all, I think be compassionate to yourself. If other people are doing way better and you’re berating yourself about that, check in and see if they have access to resources you don’t. If someone else has a publicity team and inherited money and a partner with a stable income, they’re going to have more time and space than you. Go easy.

And most of all, keep that electrified zombie social life going! It’s very important.

About Meredith Debonnaire

merryMeredith Debonnaire is a writer of strange fantasy things(Tales From Tantamount and The Life and Times of Angel Evans being the big two). She also blogs book reviews and poetry, and is a professional proofreader.  She hoards shiny notebooks and writes stories on envelopes.

 

merry banner

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Steampunk and Clocks: Indie October guest post By M. Holly-Rosing

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What is it about steampunk and clocks? Where ever you look you see time pieces and their requisite gears churning away reminding us of the inevitable march of time.  It is a curious thing really, to be able to see seconds slip away on a mechanical device.

The astrolabium is a wonderful example of literally watching seconds, days, and months pass by. Pre-dating this gorgeous mechanism, ancient Greek astronomers had developed a device to determine the position of the sun and stars. However, the astrolabium does more than simply count off hours, minutes, months, and dates.  It gives time beauty and substance in an existential kind of way. Designed by the famous clockmaker Philipp Matthaus Hahn (1739-1790), its origins and/or inspiration can be attributed to the tellurium clock, the Antikythera Mechanism of the 2nd century B.C. and possibly many others.  (Creativity and inspiration often seep across national boundaries and flourish in unexpected ways.)  Whatever its origins, the astrolabium uniquely reminds us of the passage of time with a miniature globe of the earth that rotates and revolves around a solid brass sun in this particular model.

astrolobe

Though it is beautiful, I find it rather annoying. I mean the part about watching your life slip away. But you see I have always liked clocks. Pocket watches, necklace watches, the old mantel piece clocks that once were so fashionable in days gone by.  I love to see the inner workings of clocks and watches for the simple reason I find the craftsmanship to be extraordinary.  And it’s just so damned pretty. If I had enough room in our house there would probably be clocks everywhere, but practicality won out and in their place are stacks of books.

So, what is it about steampunk which finds clocks so enticing and engaging?  And not just any type of clock, but ones where their inner workings are exposed for the world to see and dissect.  It is my belief that in steampunk clockworks are a representation of the human heart.

Its ticking is the equivalent of a heartbeat and its exposure a symbol of human frailty. Gears can falter, skip and even grind to a halt. The human condition all wrapped up in a mechanical device.

Steampunk has imbued clockworks with soul and a sense of purpose beyond the intention of their original makers.  You know the old saying, “you wear your heart on your sleeve?” In this case, it’s on the wall, in your pocket or in the palm of your hand.  And it can be crushed at a whim.

Clocks and time play a very large role in steampunk.  Loosely based on Victorian England sensibilities and technology, steampunk looks to the past for a new vision of the future.  For the uninitiated, you will see steam-based technology augmented with modern devices in steampunk fiction as well as fashion and home-built gadgets. Some make sense, others not so much. But that’s part of the fun.  Fashion is often ripped straight from Victorian styles, though more often than not the person wearing it has given it their own individual flair.

As the writer/creator of the graphic novel and companion novel for BOSTON METAPHYSICAL SOCIETY, I worked within the framework of a specific time and place, but since I was working in fiction I had the opportunity to take a more modern point-of-view towards science and social mores.  It was challenging and rewarding. The challenge being making sure my time line made sense. The reward was when it all worked out.

Though I do not have many visible clocks in the comic, there is however, a “ticking clock” which lurks in the background. A “ticking clock” in the writer’s world means your protagonist must accomplish something in a specific amount of time or something bad will happen. In this panel from the second chapter, Samuel has met with B.E.T.H. to discuss what to do about “The Shifter,” a trans- dimensional being who has been killing people at an ever growing rate. Their job is to stop it before it kills again.

mhr1

The theme of clockworks in steampunk not only suggests the inner workings of the human heart but as I mentioned before evokes another time and place.  And in some cases, those times and places cross over in the most unusual way. In this panel from the first chapter of the comic, Duncan, who is a ghost, had hidden a camera from Caitlin’s vengeful mother. He has crossed over from another time and place to help someone he cares for.

mhr2

Since clockworks and time are inexorably linked, steampunk does what it does best in demonstrating another vision of the past with influences of the future. In this panel from chapter two, the men of B.E.T.H. are on a hill overlooking Boston Harbor. It is an image of an alternate history where dirigibles are common place along with a modern looking steamship which cruises into harbor.

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BOSTON METAPHYSICAL SOCIETY is my first venture into steampunk as a writer, but I have funny feeling I may have found my home.  It allows me to explore the issues and themes which are important to me in a way that appeals to my own personal aesthetic.  For when you strip away the gadgets and the fancy clothes you discover that in steampunk, time is always at the heart.

About M. Holly-Rosing

mhr twitterThe writer/creator of the Boston Metaphysical Society graphic novel series, companion novel, and short stories, Madeleine has also run six successful crowding campaigns and published the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.  She was also the winner of the Sloan Fellowship for screenwriting, and the Gold Aurora and Bronze Telly for a PSA produced by Women In Film as well as having won numerous awards while completing the UCLA MFA Program in Screenwriting.  Source Point Press is set to publish the first six issues and the trade paperback of Boston Metaphysical Society original graphic novel in 2019/2020.

Other comic projects include the short story, The Scout which is part of The 4th Monkey anthology, The Sanctuary (The Edgar Allan Poe Chronicles anthology), The Marriage Counselor (The Cthulhu is Hard to Spell anthology) and the upcoming The Airship Pirate which will be part of  The Rum Row anthology.

The first novel in the series, Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets, was recently awarded a Silver Medal in the SciFi/Fantasy category as well as The Write Companion Award for Best Overall TOP PICK – Adult, Children’s and Young Adult categories in the Feathered Quill Book Awards.

Formerly a nationally ranked epee fencer, she has competed nationally and internationally. Madeleine is an avid reader of comics, steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, and historical military fiction.

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From Russia With Tassels

The Second Hannibal Smyth Misadventure has landed, taking up the story of that notable and somewhat ignoble gentleman’s adventures from the Himalayan cell he found himself imprisoned in at the end of ‘A Spider In The Eye’. Our ‘hero’ has been forged in adversity, but is he now a fine steel edge poised to save the British Empire from the foul assignations of HG Wells and his band of air-pirates? Or is he just a rusty piece of pig iron bound to shatter at the first blow…

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Told in Hannibal’s own meandering ‘honest’ style in, From Russia With Tassels, our reluctant hero is drawn deeper into the Wells conspiracy, faces new dangers, Russian Sky Captains, old foe’s, mad scientists, brass shoguns, The Ministry, the Sleepmen, a war-torn Japan, not to mention his own personal Bad Penny… Fighting not so much for honour, or the empire, or even whats right, but just to save the one thing he really gives a damn about, his own misbegotten skin… Because when the going gets tough, trying to find a good place to hide with a bottle of engine room vodka is always the right choice…

Available on Kindle and in paperback from all good multinationals named after South American rivers.

(note, and as always happens amazon have not quite yet managed to link the paperback and the kindle editions together so there are separate links for both… and the us and Canadian links for the paperback are not quite working yet, will update this list when they are.)

Within the Bounds of Britannia…

In the US and other places beyond Britannia’s shores…

And because it has its own links, in Canada

Posted in amreading, books, Canadian steampunk, goodnews, goodreads, Hannibal Smyth, indie, indie novels, indie writers, indieoctober, indiewriter, novels, pointless things of wonderfulness, publication, reads, sci-fi, self-publishing, steampunk, writes, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t know the answer, I barely understand the question: Indie October guest post by Andy Hill

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Do you wander around a first world town centre, bemused at how the general population manages to exist even as a rudimentary civilisation? Ever stared out of an aeroplane at the houses, roads and train tracks below, knowing full well that if left to you to design or build either, the plane would be hurtling in flames towards buildings that had fallen over anyhow?

As I understand it, some guy called Darwin invented the opposable thumb, while on holiday in Madagascar. Now we have about sixteen billion of them of which half of them are holding chips (fries) at any one time and the other half look on in envy.

As species we have achieved so much and effectively wrangled control of the planet for our own ends. Regrettably we have done it in such a way that is based on resource exploitation which is finite and will impact climate and ecology,in ways we yet don’t fully understand. The problem is, as individuals we dislike and mistrust the type of central global planning needed to restore balance. Previous attempts at central planning have suffered from a combination of nefarious undertones, gross incompetence and personal enrichment. There’s no reason to expect that the next attempts would be any different.

We want change but are we ready for the sacrificial and radical changes that would likely need to be enforced? Would we accept population control, transport restrictions, high energy use food rationing and power consumption limits? Can first world expectations be reconfigured to expect less and third world ambition for a ‘better life’ suffer the crushing of long awaited dreams?

Human civilisation is organised chaos. Somehow, miraculously it more or less works. Chaos however tends to leave a mess.

Luckily for all, I failed to consider these questions and more through the medium of poetry. I urge you not to read any of it and spend these precious minutes of your life doing rewarding and fulfilling tasks. Argue with loved one over trivialities. Pluck nostril hairs till your eyes water.

Most importantly be nice to spiders, they will outlive us.

About Andy Hill

andyBased in North East England, Andy works as a freelance writer and capital market consultant. In other words, a hand to mouth existence scrabbling for paid work. These skills lend themselves with aplomb to the overcrowded world of direct publishing.
Andy’s first work “I Saw You” rocketed to number four, in the prestigious Kindle Love Poetry Top 100 Free chart. Bettered only by Shakespeare, Keats and Shelley in a flush of ego and hubris, Andy splashed out on a new fridge and fly crib, only for those fifteen minutes of fame to evaporate in sixteen minutes. He has also written for the Harvey Duckman Anthologies.

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My Five Favourite Writing Rums: Indie October Guest Post By CG Hatton

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CG Hatton, author of the wonderful Thieves Guild Series, who is busy slaving away with the eight novel and thus in need of more rum, presents her five favourite writing rums! This is because she has a wonderful way of turning Rum is to words, for which we, her readers, are ever grateful because they’re such fabulous words. Take note, supply writers with rum… (intro by mark)

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Bumbu: this is a strange one, tastes awesome and is good for times when a few unexpected twists, turns and shocking reveals are needed.

 

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Bacardi Gold and Bacardi Oakheart: always a good writing rum, Bacardi has a special place in the history of the Thieves’ Guild and its tradition of intrigue, pacts and secrets never to be told…

 

 

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Captain Morgan’s Spiced: this is a firm favourite for those everyday writing moments when the story is ticking along just fine and everyone is behaving… or not. Captain Morgan’s Black Spiced and Private Stock are special treats and saved for darker times when the ante needs to be upped and the drama intensifies.

 

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Kraken Black Spiced: this is the special stuff for special times when the stakes get serious, threat levels rise and the pace needs to be increased. Must admit, this is the one I go through the most…

 

 

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Dark Matter: I’ve not been able to touch Dark Matter since I finished Darkest Fears, but here it is, still at the number one spot and still there on the shelf… waiting… dark times are ahead.

 

 

About CG Hatton

gillieCG Hatton is the author of the fast-paced, military science fiction books set in the high-tech Thieves’ Guild universe of galactic war, knife-edge intrigue, alien invasion, thieves, assassins, bounty hunters and pirates.
She has a PhD in geology and a background in journalism. She loves meringue and football (supports Tottenham Hotspur), drinks spiced rum and listens to Linkin Park, has climbed active volcanoes, walked on the Great Wall of China, and been mugged in Brazil.

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C G Hatton’s Thieves Guild novels: Fast-paced sci-fi that will leave you breathless and gasping for more.

 

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