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.

INSPIRATION AND LEMONADE

The story behind Beyond the Misty Shore

by Vicki Hinze

Into every life, lemon juice does pour.  If you’re lucky, you learn to love lemonade. I’m lucky. And it’s a good thing because…

I was having a pitcher-full and a truth about life and lemonade settled in:  Loving lemonade is a choice.  I mean, we can’t avoid lemon juice any more than we can avoid challenges. We can fight it, but we are going to lose. Lemon juice will be poured; it’s inevitable. But that doesn’t mean it has to be bitter. We can make a different choice. Sprinkle in a little sugar or Splenda, so to speak, a little water, and we’ve got lemonade, which tastes quite good and, on a hot day, it’s amazingly refreshing.

So I got juiced. I was at this crossroad in my life, debating which way to go, and this lemonade truth kept stealing my attention. I refilled my glass with half-a-pitcher to go, and another thought came to mind.  We have a choice. When life throws us lemons, we can choose to make lemonade, or not. Another thought chased that one:

What if we couldn’t?

What if we didn’t have a choice. Or the choice wasn’t ours to make. We’d be stuck. Literally swimming in lemon juice without lemonade or a solution or resolution in sight!

I didn’t care for the feeling, and it shot holes in my theory that I had at least a little control in my life. Don’t you hate it when that happens?  When your illusions are shattered and as leaky as a sieve?

I more than didn’t like it, I hated it…but I was intrigued. So I thought about it.  Okay, so you have not a pitcher full of lemon juice but a barrel full. You’re already banged up.  (Can anyone get to adulthood in life without getting banged up?  Unlikely.  Rare, even.) So you’re chugging lemon juice from the barrel, eager to drain it and get the nastiness behind you.  You’ve deciphered your problems and have progressed to looking for solutions, and you’re feeling good about that because, while the bad stuff isn’t behind you yet, you’ve made progress.  You’re on your way to getting rid of it.

Only you’re not. You’ve wracked your brain and there just are no solutions. Not even one. Worse, not only have you been robbed of a solution, your choice in what to do has been stolen, too.  Now what?  What do you do?

That was the situation I found myself in that led me to write the Seascape novels, and Beyond the Misty Shore specifically.

Being stuck doesn’t exactly inspire you to be in the most receptive frame of mind. Sunshine is arrogant when you’re grieving, right? But isn’t it true that the worst possible time is always when important things happen? When life-changing things happen?

That’s been true in my life, and so I made it true in TJ MacGregor’s life, too.  He is the hero stuck at Seascape Inn in Beyond the Misty Shore.  Add more lemon juice in the form of Maggie Wright, a woman who loves to hate him, and Miss Hattie, the wise Seascape innkeeper (who seems to know everything about everything but won’t just tell anyone anything because “some things are best learned firsthand”), a colorful cast of local characters, Maine cliffs, and a little otherworldly intervention, and, well, T.J. has his work cut out for him, doesn’t he?

He did, and so did I. But don’t feel too bad for him.  We’ve all tasted the tart of the juice and, you know, sometimes when we’re broken, we have to really hurt to ever get beyond the pain. We have to figure out that we can heal before we do heal.

Eventually, we get it. And when we do, magic happens. We no longer just survive. We truly live.

Like you and me, he’ll figure it out… eventually. So will Maggie.  And what fun to watch without personally sucking lemons!

I’m getting a little misty here. I think I’ll pack a bag and go visit Seascape Inn again . . . just as soon as I finish this glass of lemonade.  Care to join me?

 

 

Vicki Hinze’s Seascape Trilogy is on sale through March 1st! Pick up these paranormal romances today!

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Beyond the Misty Shore – Free!
Whimsy. Serenity. And a Touch of Magic. The Seascape Inn.

Marketing executive Maggie Wright and artist T.J. MacGregor are linked by a mysterious car accident that killed Maggie’s cousin, Carolyn, T.J.’s fiancée. When Maggie arrives on the Maine coast determined to get answers from T.J., she discovers a tortured man who is bound to the Seascape Inn by supernatural forces.

Despite the tragedy that stands between them, Maggie and T.J. begin to fall in love, seeking answers and a healing spirit they may never achieve.

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Upon a Mystic Tide – Only $1.99!Upon a Mystic Tide - 200 x 300 x 72

With their painful divorce looming on the horizon, radio psychologist Bess Cameron and her soon-to-be-ex-husband, John Mystic, meet at Maine’s Seascape Inn to finalize the terms of a property settlement. Bess believes John is in love with someone else, and she’s determined to move on without him. Their marriage appears doomed until the Inn’s matchmaking ghost, Tony, and its irrepressible owner, Miss Hattie, take matters in hand.

Sometimes you have to leap upon a mystic tide and have faith the sand will shift and an island will appear . . . The second book of bestselling author Vicki Hinze’s Seascape Trilogy brings readers back to the gentle magic of a place where love is always stronger than the fragile boundaries of life.

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Beside a Dreamswept Sea – Just $5.99!

Welcome to the third book of The Seascape Trilogy, three mystical romance-mystery novels by bestselling author Vicki Hinze.

New love isn’t on the agenda for widower Bryce Richards, who comes to the peaceful Seascape Inn with his three children, hoping the ethereal setting will help them recover from the death of their mother. Likewise, fellow inn guest Callie isn’t looking for romance either; she’s recovering from an emotionally abusive marriage.

It will take all the matchmaking skills of innkeeper Hattie Stillman and her ghostly assistant to bring Bryce and Cally together.

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About the Author:

31LEQcm1WqL._SX150_Raised in New Orleans, Vicki Hinze began writing before Kindergarten but her journey to writing books included a lot of corporate pitstops. Eventually, she settled in and her first novel landed an array of awards and on the bestseller list. With nearly 40 books published, she’s been back many times with awards in multiple genres and appearances on multiple bestseller lists, including USA TODAY. Vicki is recognized by Who’s Who in the World as an author and an educator and is best known for chilling suspense, trailblazing, and creating series that genre-blend. Her works include suspense, mystery and romance. Since 1994, this former VP of International Thriller Writers has written heavily about military and military families and in nearly all genres except horror. Hinze is a Floridian married to a former Hurricane Hunter/Special Operations Officer. She constantly pushes the boundaries on existing genres, opening the door for new novel blends.