Guest Post from Jake Bible!

stone-cold-bastards-200x300x72There are endless blog posts and workshops and seminars about character, plot development, voice, cutting passive voice, and all that authory stuff. There are entire websites devoted to spotlighting great covers and mocking the not so great ones. Authors jabber on about their muse and their depressing childhoods and how they had that moment in the shower where their entire novel came to them in a flash and they had to jump out all soaking wet to write it down.

But, you know what?

You don’t hear much about the titles of novels.

Yes, sometimes authors complain on social media about not being able to come up with a title. But the reality is, the title is just as important as everything else, yet it’s almost a throwaway item. An afterthought.

For me, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m all about the title.

The vast majority of the time, I’ve come up with the title before I even have a concept of the novel. I will admit that sometimes the title is the concept. Take Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter, for example. Can you guess what that one is about? Or a new project I’ll be working on in a couple of months, Mech Corps? Not exactly brain surgery to figure that one out.

Now we come to Stone Cold Bastards.

This title slammed into my brain and I instantly made a note on my phone. I loved the name. Stone Cold Bastards. It brought to mind Lee Marvin and The Dirty Dozen. It conjured images of 1970’s WWII grindhouse action flicks. I knew someone in that book had to be chomping on a cigar. Oh, they had to be.

But, what was it about?

Again, it was right there in the title. Stone and cold.

Gargoyles.

Oh, hell, yes! Gargoyles!

I hadn’t done a gargoyle novel before. I mean, I hadn’t even read a gargoyle novel before, but, damn if I wasn’t going to write one!

So, I channelled all that Lee Marvin cool swagger and set to work creating a world where a ragtag team of misfit gargoyles have to protect the last of humanity from the demon-possessed hordes that have taken over the world. I created a n apocalyptic setting and wrote in a genre that I wasn’t all that familiar with. I brought those bastards to life.

And all because three words popped into my head one night.

Folks can have all their character analysis and plot development and other authory stuff they want. For me, it all begins with a smashing good title.

Stone Cold Bastards is now available from these retailers:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mgq4ua

About the Author:jake_bible-jpg

Jake Bible, Bram Stoker Award nominated-novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, has entertained thousands with his horror, sci/fi, thriller, and adventure tales. He reaches audiences of all ages with his uncanny ability to write a wide range of characters and genres.

Jake is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series set in Asheville, NC, the bestselling Salvage Merc One, the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash) and the Mega series for Severed Press, as well as the YA zombie novel, Little Dead Man, the Bram Stoker Award nominated Teen horror novel, Intentional Haunting, the ScareScapes series, and the Reign of Four series for Permuted Press.

Find Jake at jakebible.com. Join him on Twitter @jakebible and find him on Facebook.

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Anthony Francis – Guest Post!

jeremiah_willstone_and_tctm-200x300x72The Philosophy behind Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine

Jeremiah Willstone is a special novel for me, because the smallest of inspirations blossomed into a project that reflects my deepest values. I fell in love with steampunk at Dragon Con 2009, where I saw many amazing steampunk costumes, in particular a young woman with a steam-powered gatling gun. My training as a science fiction writer makes me pick at the loose threads of imagined worlds, so I started to wonder not just what technology could power that gun, but what social changes could have enabled a young woman to become a Victorian soldier.

I’ve been interested in women’s rights since I was a child. Most of the protagonists I write about – Dakota Frost, Cinnamon Frost, Serendipity the Centaur – are female. I once even described myself as “hyper-feminist” until I met some genuine radical feminists with far more militant views, and to whom I gladly donate the term for use in their cause. Still, without trying to crimp the style of men who enjoy being men, women who enjoy being women, and people of all stripes who enjoy their differences, I’ve always been committed to the proposition that everyone in our world should get a fair shake no matter their gender – and always appalled as I learned more and more about the history of oppression of women.

So I decided to make the liberation of women a central feature of the Jeremiah Willstone world. During my research I was surprised to find that the mother of Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a women’s liberation pioneer over a century before modern women’s suffrage; I was also surprised to find that Queen Victoria was a renowned women’s rights opponent. I researched the whole Victorian era, becoming quite appalled at how married women could be forced to work by their husbands – who could then confiscate all those earnings and go drink them away. The Victorians made great progress over the course of their era, mind you, but I wanted to create a society where those problems were already solved.

Thus, in my world, Mary Wollstonecraft survived to pursue women’s rights. Her daughter, Mary Shelley, changed her name to Mark Willstone to make the case for full liberation. Her daughter in turn became the first in a line of female soldiers that eventually produced my protagonist, Jeremiah Willstone. I imagined a world every bit as liberated as ours – perhaps moreso – but with key differences. For example, rather than collapsing male and female pronouns into a generic “they”, the people of Jeremiah’s world always say out “men and women” or “gentlewomen and gentlemen” as a way of writing inclusion into their everyday language.

Writing this world from Jeremiah’s perspective was difficult. After all, I’m a “guy” – technically speaking, a hetero-leaning bisexual male presenting a cis-normative appearance – and no matter how much I try to learn and empathize, I don’t have the experiences that a woman has growing up in an often male-dominated world. So I did research from a variety of perspectives, trying to give voice to real arguments by feminist scholars into the story. I didn’t get everything right. I probably still didn’t, but when depicting the clash of cultures between Jeremiah’s world and our own, I inadvertently made Jeremiah act as the stand-in for her entire world, and made the women she met as a stand-in for our entire world.

But one person is not the whole world. Our world is filled with Queen Victorias and Mary Wollstonecrafts and a whole spectrum of people between. I listened carefully to all the comments of my friends and beta readers, some of whom had strong opinions, which led to long conversations. I shaved off some of Jeremiah’s prickly edges and added nuance, but it wasn’t enough. Finally, in conversation with my editor Debra Dixon, we had a brainflash: to flip many of the arguments that I wanted to make. Instead of having Jeremiah come off as a full-of-herself lecturing crusader, I instead expanded the world, creating new characters and new situations that challenged Jeremiah to respond with respect and nuance.

The world you and I share has made many advances in women’s rights, but it’s still a world where a young woman recently won a Nobel Prize for getting shot in the face for advocating the radical proposition that she should be allowed to go to school. Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine is a novel of derring-do and steam, action and adventure – but one in which issues of women’s rights are first and foremost, even as the novel recognizes and respects the broad spectrum of opinions of people on this fundamentally important topic. I hope your visit with Jeremiah makes you think about the history and progress of women’s rights – but those issues never get in the way of having the fun on her adventures. Enjoy!

Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine is now available at these retailers:

About the Author:author-pic-for-book-color-adjusted

By day Anthony Francis studies human and other minds to design intelligent machines and emotional robots; by night he writes fiction and draws comic books at the collision point of hard science and pure fantasy. He was inspired to study artificial intelligence by Douglas Hofstadter, to become a writer by Isaac Asimov, and to write urban fantasy by Laurell K. Hamilton and Richard P. Feynman. He got his Ph.D in AI and his brown belt in Taido from Georgia Tech; he currently supports his out-of-control reading and writing habits by working at the Search Engine That Starts With a G. Anthony lives in San Jose with his wife and cats but his heart will always belong in Atlanta.

The Challenge by Susan Kearney

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One minute Tessa Camen is taking a fatal bullet for the president of the United States. The next minute she’s waking up THREE HUNDRED YEARS in the future in the arms of Kahn, a totally hot spaceman. Talk about crazy. As she continues to wake up and investigate her surroundings, she finds out that she was chosen by The Federation to come forward in time to take place in a Challenge that will save her world and Kahn’s – and Tessa has no choice in the matter. 

As preparation for The Challenge begins, things start to heat up for Tessa and Kahn who work to fight feelings AND aliens who want to destroy them and their chances of saving their separate planets. 

 

Okay, so I have three words to describe this book – hot, hot, HOT. And I’m not just talking sex scenes (although those were pretty intense! 😉 ) Even the fight scenes were hot! There was so much action throughout the book that I could barely put it down! I just had to know, “Did they make it? Did they beat them? Are they gonna have SEX? :O”

And not only is The Challenge action packed and steamy, it’s funny too! That’s mostly due to the comedic relief of Dora the computer. With almost every too serious situation, you can bet that Dora will be there with a snarky comment to lighten the mood. 🙂

Overall, this was a great book and I can’t wait to read the rest of this fantastic series!

The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith

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Hey guys, I know it’s been a while, but I just finished reading The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith. In Crossroads, Cathryn Deen is a woman who has it all. Money, Fame, a Gorgeous, Wealthy husband, and most importantly, Beauty. She has been prided on her looks from the day she was born and she believes that that is her one great attribute. Without her looks, she is nothing. Unfortunately, after a day of celebration for her new line of cosmetics, Flawless, she is part of a tragic car accident that burns her terribly and leaves her scarred. She is hospitalized and soon learns that her husband wants nothing to do with her and that her “fans” only want to exploit her. She also learns of her cousin Delta and Delta’s friend, Thomas, who call and send her gifts weekly. 

She leaves the hospital and, after spending days secluded in her mansion, she moves into her Granny’s house in North Carolina and finally meets Delta and Thomas face to face. 

Thomas is an architect from New York with a troubled past of his own. His wife and baby were victims of nine eleven. Thomas feels guilty over this and has been drinking his pain away for the last years since it happened. It also doesn’t help that he keeps mementos from that morning and that his cruel sister in law sends him a special wedding anniversary “gift” every year to remind him of what was lost.

The Crossroads Cafe follows these two people as, together, they attempt to mend themselves and each other. 

I took my sweet time reading this book (obviously!) and it was worth it. I was mesmerized by the characters and the story line by the end of the prologue. Honestly, if I had had more time, I would have finished this book in two days, possibly less. Everything about it drew me in. The characters, the scenery, the problems the characters are dealing with….and the quotes! At the beginning of each Part there are quotes dealing with beauty. The entire book just has a way of making you smile. HIGHLY recommended. 😀