Category: Steampunk

MMAA Blog Tour; Spotlight on J. R. Potter

James PotterToday I would like to spotlight one of my fellow authors in ‘Mechanized Masterpieces 2, an American Anthology’; J. R. Potter and his short story ‘Rise of the House of Usher’ based on Poe’s classic work ‘Fall of the House of Usher’. 

A lover of graphic novels and the occult fiction of the late great John Bellairs, James gravitated towards the paranormal world from an early age. Watching the first episode of The X-Files with his older brother was a transformative experience, as well as an education in great storytelling and myth-making.

Since “growing up,” James has devoted his time to finding his voice through writing, publishing short fiction in The Portland Review, and winning two international short story competitions for science fiction and horror. When he’s not writing, he tours with his incredible wife Amy as “The Crooked Angels,” an Americana duo specializing in rocking your socks off.

Potter is currently collaborating with artist Klaus “Plaid Klaus” Shmidheiser in the graphic novel series “Glimmer Society.”

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1. Please share how you came up with the concept for your story?
To be honest, I’ve really benefitted from Xchyler’s writing prompts and challenges. There. I said it! I’m naturally driven to Continue reading
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MMAA Blog Tour; Spotlight on D. Lee Jortner

Today I would like to spotlight one of my fellow authors in ‘Mechanized Masterpieces 2, an American Anthology’; D. Lee Jortner and her short story ‘Payoff for Aire-Pirate Pete’. 

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D. Lee Jortner – “I grew up in the West and love and miss the mountains here in the midwest, so I was happy to place my story out where the sky is big and the mountains reach past the clouds.”

DL Jortner

Playing with imaginary friends and writing and directing plays in the neighbor’s garage filled D. Lee Jortner’s childhood. Today she lets her imagination flow onto her keyboard as she writes mystery, fantasy and steampunk stories and novels. “Payoff for Air-Pirate Pete” is her first short story for Xchyler Publishing. She also enjoys her marketing role with the company and teaching English composition at Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso, Indiana. When not writing or working, Jortner is usually busy with her husband, children or grandchildren.

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Be sure and enter the RAFFLECOPTER contest to win some  great prizes from Xchyler Publishing!

I caught up with Miss Jortner to talk about her writing:

Please share how you came up with the concept for your story? 

I always loved O.Henry.  I remember my Dad reading Continue reading

Mechanized Masterpieces 2 – An American Anthology!

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Ride into the Wild West with ten steampunked expansions of classic American tales:

10628500_464697883673326_5650381832943665180_nA Princess of Jasoom: An intrepid young researcher reaches for the stars from the Arizona desert, and finds love where she least expects it. – J. Aurel Guay

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Winged Hope: The widow of a brilliant inventor fights insurmountable odds to see her husband’s dreams realized and save the life of her daughter. – Megan Collins Oliphant

“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

The Van Tassel Legacy: A stranger arrives in Sleepy Hollow to unearth old conspiracies and bring the Van Brunts to justice. – Jay Barnson

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving

Invested Charm: A mysterious woman doles out justice in Boston society, but who will catch her first: organized crime or the law? – M. Irish Gardner

‘A Charm invests a face…’ by Emily Dickinson

Payoff for Air Pirate Pete: A pair of train-robbing outlaws bite off more than they can chew when they kidnap the son of a railroad bigwig. – Diane Lee Jortner

The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry

10612583_464697900339991_7591844242252676265_nRise of the House of Usher: A mad scientist gains power over life and death at the cost of his family’s sanity, if not their very lives. – J. H. Potter
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe

The Silver Scams: A fast-talking confidence man ensnares all of Holland in his scheme to eliminate dikes forever . . . for a price. – M. K. Wiseman
Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge

Nautilus Redux: Captain Nemo’s crew stumble upon an island castaway who claims to be Captain Ahab of the Pequod. Only Moby Dick knows the truth. – Scott E. Tarbet
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Mr. Thornton: Hounded by tragedy and betrayal, a gifted young blacksmith wanders from The Ohio to The Yukon searching for honor, loyalty, and justice. – Scott William Taylor; Call of the Wild, by Jack London

West End: A heartbroken Theodore Laurence follows the siren song of steam to Jamaica, where love and law collide with explosive results. – Neve Talbot

Louisa May Alcott  and Charlotte Bronte (Currer Bell)



10628308_464697887006659_1096093619983796145_n(All image rights belong to their respective owners)

Mechanized Masterpieces 2 page updated!

10612583_464697900339991_7591844242252676265_nThe release date for Mechanized Masterpieces II an American Anthology is fast approaching. My story just passed line editing and is now in the hands of the proof readers!

The official release date is February 28th, but Advance reader copies will be available near the end of January. Let me know if you want to support us by reading and reviewing this great anthology before the release date!

Cover Reveal for Mechanized Masterpieces 2

Coming February 2015

1939845_798760483531107_7442566140266734985_oIn the sequel to Mechanized Masterpieces an Amarican Anthology, the authors of Xchyler Publishing were challenged to add a steampunk flavor to their favorite works in American literature. The result is ten fantastic stories full of cogs, gears, and the love of classic literature. So what can you expect from this anthology? Here is a breakdown of the authors and their inspirations:

Jay Barnson; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving
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Scott William Taylor; Jack London
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J. Aurel Guay; A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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M. Irish Gardner; Emily Dickinson
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Megan Collins Oliphant; Emily Dickinson
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J. H. Potter; Edgar Allen Poe
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Diane Lee Jortner; The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry
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Neve Talbot; Louisa May Alcott  and Charlotte Bronte (Currer Bell)
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M. K. Wiseman; Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge
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Scott E. Tarbet; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Manuscript Accepted! Raise the Dirigibles and Bring on the Steam!

10660375_464697890339992_5856595183846179556_nI am simply elated right now! This past night, I got the official word from the ever illustrious and gracious Xchyler Publishing, that I will be published yet AGAIN! This time as an author in an anthology of steampunk stories inspired by great American literature. I am so pleased about this on so very many levels. I’ve been hinting about my story in progress on my facebook page and twitter. At some point in the near future, I will compile all the clues and hints to wet your appetite.

The short story is titled ‘A Princess of Jasoom’ and derives from the novel that inspired it, namely ‘A Princess of Mars’ by Edgar Rice Boroughs. As readers of  A Princess of Mars might recall, Jasoom is the Martian name for Earth, and I thought the inversion of the title fitting for my story based on Earth. I must confess that, while it is one of my best imaginations, as it stands the manuscript is certainly one of my worst executions, owing to the extreme time constraints under which I rushed to complete the project. Yet, in the end it seems to have been worth it. For, the editors of Xchyler must have seen through my basal grammar, and ragged prose, to the potential buried deep beneath.

10628500_464697883673326_5650381832943665180_nMuch work is yet to be done to bring this tale up to even my own standards, much less the high standards of my beloved editors. It was a delight to try to emulate the verbose and vivid writing style of Edgar Rice Boroughs. However, it will be a challenge to refine that style into the limited word count and restrictions on passive voice to which Mr. Boroughs was so given.

So what can you expect from this tale? It is not a retelling of the original story, but a thrilling story of mystery and action set in parallel to the historical work where two characters strive to prevent an evil warlord from conquering Earth by means of an ancient Martian technology. It comes complete with fantastic creatures and inventions that I hope give credit to the creative mind of Mr. Borough’s.

10612583_464697900339991_7591844242252676265_nSteampunk blends into the tale in the import of the many varieties of steam powered automaton that have arisen since John Carter’s second egress from Earth back to Mars. The cogs and boilers of these are the critical element that drive the story and, I hope, will likewise drive the steampunk fans on through its pages.

I can tell you that the heart of the story is a very old idea of mine I had that has taken many forms over the years. It started as an Indian Jones style tale of world traveling adventure and ancient artifacts, progressed to a science fiction tale (that you can read the beginnings of here), and finally evolved into a true steampunk tribute, first aimed at Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, then later finding its better inspiration in the work of Edgar Rice Boroughs.

Be looking for more details in the coming months and be sure to sign up as an Advance Copy Reader in order that you might have the first peak at this wonderful collection of cog and steam driven tales.

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Conversation with Jay Barnson ~ Author Interview

Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Mr. Jay Barnson, which occurred during his visit to my little corner of the etherverse.  Barnson is video game designer, up and coming novelist and acquaintance of mine through Xchyler Publishing.

JayPunkHeadshot1J. Aurel: Hello Mr. Barnson, It was so good of you to accept my invitation for an afternoon drink at the ‘Grog-and-Dart’. Pull yourself up a stool.

Barnson: What, they’ve got stools here, too? Man. Classy establishment. So much better than the last place I found myself…

J. Aurel: I understand that you have a new work of fiction. Can you tell us a little about your story?

Barnson: I could tell you, but then I’d have to ki… oh, fiction. Right.

I was actually inspired when I was doing research on what was going to be a totally different story, involving telecommunications in the Victorian era. I had some weird idea for steampunk technology, but the more I dug into the actual technology of the era, the more I realized that what I thought would be science fiction in the 1880s was actually science fact. They really did have pretty amazing technology back then. Trans-Atlantic communication, fax machines, “online” romances, telecommunications fraud…Really, all the stuff that we think are unique to the Internet age… maybe back when it was text-based, at least… existed back then, on a smaller scale.

A few months earlier, I’d read an article about a profoundly autistic teenaged girl. Her therapists believed that she was also intellectually disabled. With a great deal of effort, her family taught her to use the keyboard. After a while, she was able to write messages to explain what she was going through. Even her family, who loved her and knew her best, had completely underestimated her. Here was an intelligent young lady with the same emotions as any other girl her age, fully cognizant of how her brain and body were betraying her. Until she used an alternative form of communication, everyone assumed she was incapable of understanding what she was doing.

Between this, and a little study of Savant Syndrome, I thought about how little we know now in the 21st century about these kinds of disabilities. Back in the 19th century, what chance would even a mildly autistic individual have?

These ideas became the seeds for Dots, Dashes, and Deceit. From the high-tech telegraphy industry came Winnie. She’s a young, small-town telegraph operator who has been displaced by advancing technology. She’s frustrated by her love of technology and hope for adventure, and the expectations of society which considers her perilously close to “old maid” status. Then you have Joshua, a mute savant, dismissed by the town as harmless but hopelessly “dumb,” in both senses of the word. However, nobody recognizes that the supposedly nervous habit he has of tapping with his hand is actually Morse code… and that he’s discovered a deadly plot that he has been unable to communicate.

Add to that an eccentric inventor, mechanical men controlled via Morse code, an alternate history where the East India Company was not nationalized after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, long-distance plots from across the world coordinated via coded telegraph messages, and an airship full of thugs… and you have Dots, Dashes, and Deceit, my short story coming soon in Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology.

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J. Aurel: Wow that sounds like quite the story! What moved you to become an author?

Barnson: I honestly can’t Continue reading