Happy Thanksgiving!

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If you celebrate the holiday, I hope that it is a joyous one!

I hope that everyone can share this time of year with friends and family.

I hope that we can all spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves.

I hope that all of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who are serving at home and overseas will come back safe and sound.

  • I hope that everyone has something or someone to be thankful for this year.
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    Season Two Spire City Pre-Launch Party, or Why Orlando Bloom Is the Secret God of Steampunk Yet to Be

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    Last night I attended a pre-release party on Facebook for Season Two of Daniel Ausema’s Spire City. Many of my fellow Darkside Codex authors were also guests and we had several discussions about writing and the steampunk genre.

    I would like to thank Daniel for hosting a wonderful party!

    Daniel shared beautiful works of art done for Spire City by Worlds Beyond Art. You can learn more about their work at the following: http://worldsbeyondart.com

    We also had a spirited discussion about steampunk re-imaginings of other stories. Daniel brought up The Lord of the Rings as a work he would love to see steampunked. I thought Pirates of the Caribbean would be a natural one for the steampunk genre, and Nyki Blatchley and Eric Spannerman focused on the Greek Myths. During the discussion, I noted that all of these had one aspect in common: Orlando Bloom. He starred in The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Troy.
    Eric Spannerman dubbed him “The Secret God of Steampunk Yet to Be” and the rest of us concurred.

    You can re-visit our musings at

    https://www.facebook.com/events/750991301641933/?ref_notif_type=event_mall_reply&source=1;

    Cheers!

    Chris

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    Reading: The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame

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    Daniel Ausema’s The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame is a book in the Darkside Codex, a shared world series that revolves around the city of Southwatch.  Stories in this world are based in the steampunk genre, but can have additional elements of science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, romance, paranormal, and/or noir.

    Daniel Ausema’s novel centers on the city of Southwatch and life below the dark cloud.  It deals with addiction, scientific experimentation, and mystery.  Along with the steampunk setting, it has elements of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror.

    In The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame, readers are introduced to Mellia, a young woman who is immune to most electrical currents, but addicted to high voltage.  There is a limit to how much her body can stand, however.  This addiction pushes her ever closer to death whenever she chases a high voltage fix.

    Although Mellia realizes this behavior is killing her, the lure is too hard to resist.  With her new job repairing broken gas masks for Professor Thurston and his students, she has to travel to the depths of the dark cloud to assist with the research.  An innovation that allows an electrical current to run through the filters might keep the gas masks working, but this additional temptation may be the last thing Mellia’s addicted body can handle.

    I enjoyed reading this novel.  It was scary, but not in the same ways that a pure horror novel will evoke.  Some of it has to do with the language and the vivid imagery, but it also has to do with the ideas Ausema presents about the poor quality of life under the dark cloud—ideas that have echoes in our own world.  For example, look at the recent trip President Obama and other world leaders took to China.  The news media reported that the Chinese Government worked for weeks to reduce the level of smog so the world leaders would not choke.  For the first time in years, many people in Beijing could actually see the blue color of the sky.  In The Electro-Addictive Moth-Flame, Ausema raises questions about this type of dense pollution.  What happens in a city when the air is so polluted that the sun will no longer shine?  What happens when plants and trees will no longer grow?

    I stood in one place and pushed each of those thoughts and many others away until I could breathe in and out and think about nothing else. The murky air of the room pulsed, as if it were the breath of some unknown beast, hidden deep within the Cloud. When I looked long enough in a single direction, I began to see at the edge of my vision the ghostly outlines of the plants that had once grown there. Stunted fruit trees and flamboyant grasses and darkly glowing flowers, all now gone except for this deep memory.

    Something that foul, something that terrifying, makes me shiver.

    See more at: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=46&products_id=718#sthash.fCkyu6ek.dpuf

    Disclaimer: I am also an author for the Darkside Codex series.  My own novel, The Caelimane Operation, will be released in January, 2015.

     

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    Reading: The Beryllium Chalice

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    Recently I attended the Musa Anniversary Party where I met quite a few of my fellow authors. In a contest to win a copy of her book, The Beryllium Chalice, Iris Woodbury submitted a hilarious photo. She liked my caption the best and sent me a copy of the novel.

    The Beryllium Chalice is a wonderful novel with a gripping story line. Flora, a dryad from Mount Olympus, Kytos, a battle-weary warrior, and Redwood, a fun-loving, randy satyr, are the only ones who stand between Olympus and the wrath of Hades. The trio must find and return The Beryllium Chalice from Hades grasp or all power and life will fade from the Mount. The three must find a way to band together in spite of their differences, or the God of Death will assume power over the entire world.

    Woodbury’s writing reminds me a bit of Rick Riordan (author of the Percy Jackson novels) and a bit of Jack L. Chalker (author of the Dancing Gods series). Yet Woodbury has her own distinctive style of writing that makes the novel enjoyable to read.

    Woodbury delves into Greek mythology with the storyline, but includes equal parts of romance, tragedy, and adventure. There are touches of humor as well. Indeed, one of the main characters, Redwood presents moments in the novel that are downright hilarious.

    I enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more of Iris Woodbury’s work!

     

    You can learn more about Iris Woodbury at the following:  http://iriswoodbury.wordpress.com/

     

    The Beryllium Chalice [72,000] – $4.99 : Musa Publishing

    Flora the concubine, a soldier, and an oversexed satyr are all that stand between Olympus and the wrath of Hades.

    http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info& . . .

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    On Writing: What I Listen to When Writing

    This is an acoustic version of Gin Wigmore’s “Man Like That.”  I hope that you all enjoy and that the music inspires you to write!

    Cheers!

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    Reading: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

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    Last night I started reading As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (who played Westley/The Dread Pirate Roberts) with Joe Layden. I had planned to read just a few chapters—no more than an hour or so—and then go to sleep with the intention of reading the same amount on subsequent nights until I finished the memoir.

    Yeah—right.

    I couldn’t put the book down. Each page provided new insights and stirred pleasant memories of a movie (and novel) that is termed a cult classic, but is in reality so much more. Terry Pratchett (2002) writes:

    We know what “cult” means. It’s a put-down word. It means “inexplicably popular but unworthy.” It’s a word used by the guardians of the one true flame to dismiss anything that is liked by the wrong kind of people . . .

    Much like the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, L. Frank Baum, or Pratchett himself, William Goldman has created a novel that is beloved by readers. Rob Reiner assembled a cast and crew (including Goldman who wrote the screenplay) that brought the story to the screen in the most memorable way possible. As Pratchett (2002) notes, “sometimes things all come together at the right time in the right place” and make magic. The Princess Bride is a classic—plain and simple.

    The movie has a bit of everything: fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles, and the kiss that left all others behind. The cast, including Elwes, delivered remarkable performances. Even when reading the following lines from the movie, it is impossible for me not to “hear” the actor’s delivery in my head:

    “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

    “Have fun storming the castle.”

    “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

    “Please consider me as an alternative to suicide.”

    “Anybody want a peanut?”

    “Mawidge. That bwessed awangement!”

    “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”

    And, of course, “as you wish.”

    For me, each line has an instantly recognizable connection to the actor’s voice and delivery. I have used these lines in conversation many times (and often try to mimic the actors’ voices with varying results.)

    In Elwes’s memoir, many of the cast and crew share their reminiscences, including Andy Scheinman Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, Mandy Patinkin, Christopher Guest, Chris Sarandon, Carol Kane, Wallace Shawn, and Fred Savage. Norman Lear and Rob Reiner also contribute. The sections are blended effectively; Elwes writes from his point of view, includes comments from the other actors or crew on the same scenes/situations, and then comments on what the others had observed. In many instances it seems like he is not only discussing a wonderful, albeit challenging, time in his life, but also learning more about it through his friends’ musings.

    (Spoilers Ahead)

    At 2 AM I looked at the clock and thought “I have to work tomorrow. I need to get to sleep.” I looked down at my iPad and the open Kindle APP. On the page, Elwes (2014) was describing the atmosphere on the set when they filmed the Miracle Max and Valerie scenes:

    For three days straight and ten hours a day, Billy improvised thirteenth-century period jokes, never saying the same thing or the same line twice. Such was the hilarity of his ad-libbing that he actually caused Mandy to injure himself while fighting to suppress the need to laugh. Therefore you can only imagine what it did to me and to Rob, who had to leave the set because his boisterous laugh was ruining too many early takes.

    I looked at the clock again. Stop reading now? Inconceivable. (I couldn’t resist!)

    I ended up finishing the memoir at 3:45 AM, completely happy and completely satisfied. (Yes I am tired today as I write this.) The stories Elwes and the others share about filming The Princess Bride help bring the people behind the making of this movie to the forefront. As Pratchett (2002) notes, “sometimes things all come together at the right time in the right place” and make magic. For me it is wonderful to have both a copy of The Princess Bride and a literary snapshot of the people involved in creating it on my virtual bookshelves. I can see re-reading As You Wish multiple times and can also see sharing the stories from the memoir with my friends.

    If liking this makes me one of the “wrong kind of people,” I will wear that title with honor.

     

     

    References

    Pratchett, T. (2002). Cult classic. In Meditations on Middle-Earth:

         New Writing on the Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien.

    St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.

    Disclaimer:  I am not associated with any of the authors, actors, or works discussed in this article.

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    Guest Blog Post at Penumbra

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    Hello Everyone,

    I have a guest blog post up at Penumbra:  “Why Charles Dickens Isn’t the Father of Steampunk.”

    http://penumbraezine.blogspot.com/2014/11/why-charles-dickens-isnt-father-of.html

    I hope that you all enjoy!

    Chris

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