Machine Language

February’s story, “Machine Language,” first appeared in the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide v. 5,  from Dreaming Robot Press.

On the damaged colony ship Strelka, limping toward the sanctuary of a nearby planet, Yuka and the other surviving colonists–even the children–struggle to keep the ship moving. They pilot remote rovers on the planet’s inhospitable surface, searching for a region where they might have a chance at survival. But tensions on the ship are high, and the few left uninjured in the disaster–the Fulls–hold themselves separate from the many who survived, but not intact.

When Yuka’s remote rover encounters a robotic explorer that didn’t come from the Strelka, she’s not sure what it means…or who to trust with the information. If she can communicate with it, she might gain valuable planetary data. But what if it poses a threat to the colony even more dangerous than the ones they already face?

It’s available across all platforms for just .99! Find it at your favourite retailer here.

Come-From-Aways

My January release is live! It’s a standalone short story about small towns, strangers, and friends, and you can find it at your favourite retailer by following this link.

Mac Laidlaw returned to his small hometown after a decade away, with big plans to build a theme park and put the place “on the map.”

​​​​​​​For Louise Coldbrook, the town’s mayor (and Mac’s one-that-got-away), Mac’s plans are nothing but bad news. The town has a good thing going–a very, very secret good thing–and the last thing they want is attention from the rest of the world. But Mac’s not a man to take no for an answer…not this time, anyway. And certainly not without a really good explanation, which is the last thing Louise can offer him.

​​​​​​​Not if she wants to keep the town’s secret safe.

It’s just .99 across all platforms, so what are you waiting for? :)

Subordinate Clauses

Earlier this month, I released “Subordinate Clauses,” an Olympia Investigations holiday short story, across all platforms.

When a clutch of elves hire Acacia to investigate a plot against Santa Claus and an elf kidnapping, she has only her supernatural detection abilities to guide her in the right direction. As the days count down and the presents pile up, will Acacia and Oliver be able to find the perpetrator, rescue the elves, and save Christmas?

If you’re in the mood for some fun holiday urban fantasy, you should check it out! Just .99 at your favourite retailer.

 

The Swamp Cat and the Reckless Scout

New short story out today in ebook format (across all platforms!).

Captain Stel Aurora of the Reckless Scout is on a routine ScoutGuard mission when the emergency call comes in – the men of a remote research station are disappearing, possibly kidnapped. The “swamp planet” Inderani B boasts a humid climate, voracious insects…but no other inhabitants, and not many clues to the vanished researchers. It’s a race against time for Aurora and her crew as they delve into the secrets of the jungle, and the mysterious swamp cats who might hold the answers to it all.

This story first appeared in Engen Books’ Pulp Science Fiction from the Rock earlier this year.

Get the ebook for just .99 from your favourite retailer here!

New Book Bundle/Box Set

This week I launched a box set (although ebook only for now!) of the first four Olympia Investigations cases. I’m excited because I’ve been picking away at this idea for a while, and also because I’ve started writing a new novella in this series.

Acacia Sheridan is a private detective with a special gift for communicating with the supernatural. Her clientele includes ghosts, demons, fae, and many more denizens of the otherworld…which makes for some interesting cases. In these first four cases (a short story, two novelettes, and a full-length novella), Acacia and her long-suffering assistant Oliver take on a ghost, a goddess, a vampire, and a coven of witches as clients…and manage to come out alive and still speaking to each other (although sometimes that’s a near thing). Join the urban fantasy fun as Acacia and Oliver bring their deductive talents and sense of humour to bear in dealing with Olympia Investigations’ most unusual clients.

If you love bundle deals, check this one out at your favourite retailer–it’s half the price of buying all the stories individually!

Flights From The Rock takes Flight!

The upcoming anthology from Engen Books, Flights From The Rock, goes on pre-order today and you want to get yours!  This short fiction celebration of all types of flight (but particularly those with a speculative flavour) releases July 14th, 2019, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first non-stop Trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland (AKA the Rock) to Ireland. (And just look at that sweet cover art by Kit Sora!)

When the call for submissions for this anthology went out, it caught my imagination and I really wanted to write a story for it. I’d done some peer review work last year with ArtsNL, the Newfoundland and Labrador arts organization, and had spent a good bit of time looking at maps of NL. There’s still much of the province that seems gloriously empty, and it would have been even more so a hundred years ago. Enough empty land, I wondered, to shelter something big…like really, really big…like…dragons? (cue dramatic music). I mean, once man began taking to the skies, they would have become rather crowded for creatures trying to fly under the radar (pun thoroughly intended). Newfoundland might have seemed a great place to escape to…until the Trans-Atlantic air race brought the annoying flying machines even there.

Thus was born my story, “Unquiet Skies,” a tale of a boy, a dragon, and the Trans-Atlantic air race, which you’ll find along with twenty-six others in this anthology of alternate histories, adventures of lost planes, steampunk tales, modern epics, and more. The book opens for pre-orders today at just $2.99, and could reach the Amazon bestsellers list, as others in the From The Rock series have done. So if you’re interested in stories that showcase “the invention, imagination, and prestige that brought us to the skies,” this book is for you! Order today and help us reach bestseller status!

OWS CyCon 2019 World-Building Showcase – Alice de Sampaio Kalkuhl

As part of OWS CyCon 2019, I’m hosting a stop in the World-Building Showcase Blog Hop. For this intriguing stop, we’ll be highlighting an Unbound to Earth tale (that is, the action is not necessarily set on Earth), but a full list of authors and topics is available on the CyCon website. I’m pleased to be hosting author Alice de Sampaio Kalkuhl for this installment of the hop, where we’ll find out more about the world of Alice’s series, Misguided Minds.

Q: Before we dive in to the specific questions about your world, what is Misguided Minds about?

Alice: The series is about how a group of researchers and the people who pick up on their work later use physics to alter the very concept of reality. Their research ultimately leads to space travel which opens the world up to a whole new  reality.

Q: That sounds fascinating! Does language play any role in your world? Does everyone speak the same language, or is there variety? Did you invent any new slang or terminology during your world-building process?

Alice: Equations play a role and following the principle of Mathematics as a sort of language. They all speak equations. Obviously, the aliens that turn up in the later books have their own languages, but I don’t plan on writing any of the languages.

Q: So, what about the world (or worlds) in the series…what kinds of climates do your characters experience? Do they see a lot of change or is it always the same? Has your world always had this kind of climate, or has it changed over time?

Alice: The climate on earth is the climate on earth, though as the years progress climate change affects the planet. In space, all planets have different climates, and, on each planet, the climate varies between places.

Q: Is there any kind of faith system in your world? Did you draw inspiration from any real cultures, living or dead?

Alice: No, most of the researchers are atheist. A few of them have their own beliefs, but they don’t placate them around.

Q: What do people in your world do for fun? Are there sports, games, music, or other activities they do in their free time?

Alice: There are a couple of amusement planets and the researchers always made sure to bring some sort of music they do, no matter what they do.

Q: What kinds of transportation and other interesting technology do your characters have access to? Are they ahead, behind, or a mix of different kinds of tech compared to where we are now?

Alice: Throughout the series, the development of technology is one of the key results of the research.

Q: Do you have different races or enhanced humans with their own unique abilities inhabiting your world?

Alice: Yes, there are aliens, both in the books taking place on earth and elsewhere. A few of the characters also develop cyborg technology that is later implemented.

Q: Let’s talk a little about your process. When you build a world, do you do a lot of research upfront, wing it completely, or something in between?

Alice: I am a research student. My favourite inspiration is research papers. Whenever I see something that would make for a good aspect to a story, I write it into the notes to my writing project. Another thing I use is pages from the vogue.

Q: How central is the setting of your story to the story itself? Is it more of an interesting backdrop, or is it integral to the events of the story?

Alice: I use setting as something that I set the characters into, not something else.

Q: When helping the reader get to know the world you built, what techniques do you use? Do you tend to be upfront about things, or keep the reader in the dark and feed them only bits at a time?

Alice: I feed readers information one aspect at a time. Long expositions only bore everything.

Q: How much of a role does realism and hard scientific fact play in your world-building? Do you strive for 100% accuracy, or do you leave room for the fantastical and unexplainable in your world?

Alice: A lot. I don’t strive for 100% accuracy. What I strive for instead, is inspiration by research. Extra-information will turn up on my website though and that’s why I occasionally write short stories for.

Q: Do you have any specialized training or background from your “real life” that has informed your world-building?

Alice: I’m about to finish a BSc Genetics which helps with developing new species and I studied a little Physics in the past.

Q: How do you keep all of the details of your world and characters straight? Do you have a system for deciding on different factors and keeping it all organized, or does it live more in your head?

Alice: I write all my books in LaTeX projects which allows me to have note documents. It’s like free Scrivener with programming.

Q: Did you experience any difficulties while building your world? Any facts that refused to cooperate or inconsistencies you needed to address while editing

Alice: It’s difficult to make sure that any new planet ends up being diverse in climate, species distribution, and culture. One thing I did was to design two species per new planet at least and to try having them not be too humanoid.

Alice, thanks so much for dropping by to chat! Where can people find you on the web?

Alice: If you want to find more about my science fiction stories, check out my booth for OWS CyCon. All my stories are available on Inkitt. The Hyperspace Hypothesis which is the first in the series can be found here. For more details on my science fiction check out my website and my blog posts on my science fiction books.

For more stops in the OWS CyCon World-building Showcase, visit the tour page on the OWS CyCon website.

Author Interview – Kari Kilgore (Cat Tales #2 Bundle)

Hey everyone, we’re back today with another author interview from the Cat Tales #2 bundle, this time with author Kari Kilgore.

Sherry: Welcome, Kari! Thanks for stopping by. Could you tell us a little about the story you have in the Cat Tales #2 bundle?

Kari: “Wicked Bone” is an Appalachian folktale or tall tale, but it’s one I made up. We start with a rather self-possessed black cat (aren’t they all?), her new-to-cats owner, and the things cats leave as “gifts” for the ones they love.

And things get strange from there.

Sherry: It sounds like fun! Do you remember what sparked the idea for this story? What was it?

Kari: My story “Wicked Bone” got its start when I heard my Mom talk about a person we knew having a wicked bone, in that they couldn’t help doing things that were hurtful. That stayed with me, but as usual it shifted a bit once my writer-mind got hold of it. I combined it with a sort of tall tale I’d heard when I was seven or eight, cast my own cat Loretta as the feline lead, and that was where it started and ended up. I was still quite surprised at how the story turned out!

Sherry: I should mention that’s a picture of Loretta herself with the paperback version. :) Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

Kari: So many reasons! Love, yes, and the pure fun of writing them. They’re wonderful for answering questions during a longer story. I often need to know more about a side or offstage event, but I know it won’t belong in the novel. Rather than writing notes or some kind of outline, I tend to just go write the story. Sometimes that turns out to be a piece I can submit to magazines or anthologies. Sometimes it’s more just for me, but that also means I can use it for reader rewards for people who enjoyed the longer work. I took a Series Workshop with Kristine Kathryn Rusch earlier this year that was tremendously helpful for thinking of ways to expand a series with short stories.

Besides the fun and great practice, short stories are wonderful for marketing. When a story is in a magazine (or anthology, or a bundle like Cat Tales #2), your work is in front of many readers who get to discover you for the first time. If they dig your story and go looking for more, you may have a fan, and they may have a new favourite writer. Great combination!

Sherry: What’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

Kari: I don’t believe anything in storytelling is ever perfect, but my favourite since I first read it back in the Eighties is “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” by Stephen King. It’s about women, driving, freedom, love, and magic, and it has never truly left my mind. Especially on long road trips or when I get behind the wheel of a fast, responsive car! He gets all kinds of well-deserved attention for his novels, but I love his short work as much if not a bit more.

Sherry: Have you written any series characters? What’s their appeal for you?

Kari: I have several series characters in all lengths of fiction, from short stories to novellas to novels. A few star in all three lengths, and I’ll be doing more of that. I enjoy seeing how the characters change and grow with each new situation, and with the different people they interact with. Even in different genres sometimes, like when characters from a mystery short story series recently encountered a pair from a contemporary fantasy short story series.

It’s fun for me because I already know the characters a bit, so I get to hit the ground running with the story. But at the same time, I’m going to learn more about them every time. I hope readers find characters they already know and relate to, and that they’re excited to follow along on new adventures.

Sherry: Would you say you’re more of a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

Kari: I’m definitely the pantser/gardener type. I was recently on a panel with three other writers who called themselves pantsers, and over the hour I realized I was the purest pantser, in that I truly have no clue what’s going to happen next while I’m writing. Most of them wanted to know the end, or the middle, or the theme, or some other aspect. Not me. I want to enjoy telling myself the story and being surprised the whole way through. I pretty much know what’s going to happen when it happens.

Sherry: I’m with you there! I’ve learned to outline a little when necessity demands it, but I’m pure pantser at heart.:)

Do you think the place where you live (or somewhere you have lived) influences what you write? In what way?

Kari: Absolutely. My husband Jason A. Adams (another writer) and I live in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia. We both grew up in other places, but we always came back here to visit and thought of this as home. Now we have an interesting insider/outsider perspective that allows us to really dive in and explore the culture, dialect, and fascinating and sometimes mysterious world that surrounds us. We have a mix of Scots-Irish, Welsh, Germanic, European, Middle Eastern, and African cultures in our mountain region because so many different people came here to work in mining or timber. That mix is reflected in food, oral storytelling traditions, superstition, place names, so many things.

We also both know and love the proud, independent people in our region, and we want to write about that. Appalachia and hillbillies have always been a bit of a punch line, largely because of myths and misconceptions. If a story I write can help people from other areas better understand us, that’s great. But more important to me is showing other native folks an image of ourselves that isn’t negative or derogatory. We have challenges here, yes, just like every other region. We have an awful lot to be proud of, too.

Sherry:  Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview. :)

Kari: Thank you! I write all over the place as far as genre and story length. Various kinds of fantasy, science fiction, a bit of horror, and even contemporary fiction and romance lately. My twentieth indie title will come out on April 20th of this year. And my first professional short story should be out in Fiction River anthology magazine in September.

As far as cat tales, I’ll have a holiday-themed sweet romance short story that features a cat in a collection from Kristine Kathryn Rusch out over the holidays in 2019. That story will have at least one sequel, since two of my cats haven’t been in a story yet, and they’re starting to wonder why. Another in that collection will be a fantasy short centered on a veteran of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

Returning to Appalachia, I have a post-apocalyptic series that’s partly set here that will wrap up this year called Storms of Future Past.

Sherry: Thanks again, Kari, this was fun!

Kari Kilgore lives and works in her native mountains of Virginia. From that solid home base, she and her husband Jason Adams find adventures all over the world to bring to life in fiction. Exploring local legends and mythologies in particular delights and inspires them.

Kari writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and she’s happiest when she surprises herself. She lives at the end of a long dirt road in the middle of the woods with Jason, two dogs, two cats, and wildlife they’re better off not knowing more about. You can find her website at karikilgore.com.

And don’t forget to check out Cat Tales #2 while you can! :) I still have a few more interviews scheduled, so check back soon!

Author Interview – Donald J. Bingle (Eclectica Bundle)

Sherry: For today’s interview, we’re back to the Eclectica Bundle from BundleRabbit. Joining us this time is Donald J. Bingle, whose collection of four steampunk stories appears in the bundle. Welcome Don! Tell us a little about your contribution to this bundle.

Donald: I’ve written more than fifty published stories over the years, many of them for themed anthologies by DAW or other companies. Since I write in multiple genres, once rights revert I publish the stories in small groups by genre or setting. These are all steampunk or historical fiction pieces.

Sherry: I see one of them appeared in Mike Stackpole’s Chain Story project; I was part of that fun project, too! You’re very prolific, so you should have lots to choose from for my next question: imagine you’ve been kidnapped or trapped by a natural disaster. Which of your own characters (from any work) would you want to rescue you? Why?

Donald: Dick Thornby, the main character in my spy novels series. Dick is a practical, no-nonsense guy, who does whatever needs to be done to accomplish the task.

Sherry: Do you remember what sparked the idea for any of your stories in this bundle? What was it?

Donald: My collection has four stories, so I’ll just talk about the first one, “Dashed Hopes.” When I was asked to contribute to a steampunk romance, I remembered a conversation I had with a client in the mining business. They have a gold mine on Admiralty Island in Alaska, which they said I could visit. Since I have phobias about both suffocation and freezing, I asked how much above sea level the mine workings were. They gave me an odd look and said the mines were well below sea level and that the English had been mining coal under the North Sea for well over a hundred years. That gave me a setting for my romantic adventure and an idea for a steampunk invention.

Sherry: Do you remember the first story you wrote? Tell us about it.

Donald: Not sure it was my first, but I still have an old story about sunflowers worshipping their god by turning their heads to follow his arc across the sky each day. The potential sentience of plants comes up from time to time in stuff I writer—mostly as a joke, but you can never tell.

Sherry: As someone with a long publishing history, have you had to deal with bad reviews? How do you manage them?

Donald: Like many writers I am more frustrated by a lack of reviews than by what people say in their reviews. One thing that irks me is when people assume things about me, my likes or dislikes, or my politics based on a story. Even though I am a big-time gamer (board games, card games, railroad games, and role-playing games) one reviewer said one of my stories proved I hated games and gamers. Nah, that story was simply written to fit the theme of the anthology it was originally written for.

Sherry: You mentioned the idea of plant sentience earlier; are there other themes that keep coming up in your work? If so, is it intentional, or something that just happens?

Donald: Recurring themes in my work include the nature of reality, causation/unintended consequences (everything is more complicated than most people imagine), time/time travel, and dark humor. Since I control my writing and my characters (I hate it when people say their characters just do what they want to), I guess it must be intentional.

Sherry: Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview. :)

Donald: I have two books in my spy thriller series: Net Impact and Wet Work. If sales warrant, I’ll write a third (Flash Drive). If not, I’ve got plenty of other things I can write instead, from other novels to short fiction to screenplays to ghostwriting work. A Writer on Demand (TM) adapts to what the market wants.

Sherry: Donald, thanks so much for dropping by to talk about your work! I’m looking forward to your tales in the bundle.

Donald J. Bingle is the author of five books and more than fifty shorter tales in the science fiction, fantasy, thriller, horror, mystery, steampunk, romance, comedy, and memoir genres. He has written short stories about killer bunnies, civil war soldiers, detectives, Renaissance Faire orcs, giant battling robots, demons, cats, werewolves, time travelers, ghosts, time-traveling ghosts, spies, barbarians, a husband accused of murdering his wife, dogs, horses, gamers, soldiers, Neanderthals, commuters, kender, Victorian adventurers, lawyers, and serial killers (note the serial comma). Of those subjects, he has occasional contact in real life only with dogs, cats, gamers, lawyers, and commuters (unless some of those are, unknown to him, really time travelers, ghosts, demons, serial killers, spies, or murder suspects).

Find Don online at his website, www.donaldjbingle.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

And don’t forget to pick up the Eclectica Bundle for Don’s stories and more!