Leaving A Light On For Sovran’s Pawn

While involved in a writer’s discussion several weeks ago, the topic turned to music as inspiration for our writing. I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t alone in listening to music to help me get in the mood to write certain scenes. What I found fascinating was the wide range of musical tastes and genres preferred by the different writers. Some of their choices surprised me, but knowing their books, I could see the influence the songs brought into play.

I started writing BARRON’S LAST STAND first to the soundtrack of artists like Great Big Sea, Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly. SOVRAN’S PAWN was originally part of my backstory notes for what I’d planned as a stand alone novel ~ a last desperate bid at publication. From the first moments Bo Barron and Blade Devon strolled across my imagination, I’d always planned to tell their story as a series. After nearly 30 years, delays caused by personal crises and multiple rejections from agents and publishers, I was almost ready to give up. BARRON’S LAST STAND was in actuality what the title suggests.

A submission call from an editor I admire and wanted to work with came out last October. BARRON’S LAST STAND was nowhere near completion, but I had enough of the backstory written to cobble together a novella. I toyed with the idea for weeks while continuing work on BARRON’S LAST STAND. It wasn’t until a spate of family tragedies hit that I turned to the goal of completing and submitting a novella to escape my own emotional turmoil. I needed a realistic challenge to regain a sense of control over my life and my situation.

With apologies to BARRON’S LAST STAND, I set it aside and threw myself headlong into SOVRAN’S PAWN.

It was about that same time that my husband took me to St. Augustine to see one of my favorite bands in concert supporting their new CD, released six months prior. The band is Duran Duran and the CD they were supporting is ALL YOU NEED IS NOW. As the band who provided much of the soundtrack for my misspent youth, I’ve always found a measure of inspiration in their often obscure lyrics and their haunting melodies. That night was no exception. I came away from the concert as inspired as I had been the night I drove home from their STRANGE BEHAVIOUR tour back in the late 80’s.

The title track touched a responsive chord in my soul and with this CD as my soundtrack, I attacked SOVRAN’S PAWN with an optimism I hadn’t expected to find.  One track on my playlist kept returning to haunt me ~ LEAVE A LIGHT ON. The song captured for me the very essence of theme of the book  as well as the relationship between Bo and Blade; and I played the hell out of it. Before I knew it, my novella became a full-length novel and I completed it in record time.

***

***

ALL YOU NEED IS NOW started out without a record label as a labor of love and a leap of faith by Duran Duran. I’d followed their progress on social media and was impressed with the grassroots way they rallied their fan base. By the time the tracks hit iTunes in December 2010, they had generated enough buzz to warrant a CD release, a music video and now a concert tour they’ve been on for more than a year.

Inspired by their faith in their own project, and the fact they recorded, released and now support it on their own terms, I decided not to submit SOVRAN’S PAWN to a publisher who wouldn’t have as much at stake, nor be as emotionally invested in the project as I would be. I followed the example Duran Duran set and I’ve published independently, on my own terms. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do so without witnessing the painstaking progress of ALL YOU NEED IS NOW.

I didn’t set out to link my book to this CD, or to Duran Duran. It just happened that way. I’m so very glad it did.

Thanks guys!

The Paperbacks are Coming!!

I am waiting on the proof copy of SOVRAN’S PAWN in paperback to arrive.

The release of the paperback edition of SOVRAN’S PAWN has been delayed due to illness and other unforeseen circumstances. However, the long-awaited email announcing the shipment of the first proof copy of the book has arrived, telling me to expect to receive my copy any time within the next week or two.

If everything passes muster, look for SOVRAN’S PAWN in paperback by August 1, 2012!!

Book Review: The Whispering Tombs

THE WHISPERING TOMBS
A Quality Times Novella
by Gayle Ramage

Love Quality Times! She’s a tongue-in-cheek time-traveling adventurer. Her sidekick, Tim, is a great foil for her jaded demeanor as she’s dragged into an ever-increasingly dangerous adventure with twists and turns to keep you turning the pages! Tim, an unapologetic Whovian, tries telling people he’s a Timelord from Gallifrey, much to Quality’s chagrin.

In their first adventure (of many, I hope) Quality Times and Tim are on a quest to see the universe. With a time machine/space ship that shrinks down to the size of a child’s toy, all of time and space are theirs for the exploring. So where do they go? Why to a resort, of course. That’s where they meet Bob, a self-styled archaeologist complete with safari outfit and pith helmet. Bob’s hunky assistant Qez, a.k.a. Bluey the “sexy police siren” catches Quality’s eye.

Joining forces with Bob and Qez, Quality and Tim try their hand at grave robbing, I mean archaeology, and end up taking on more than they’d anticipated.

The Whispering Tombs is a rollicking good romp complete with betrayal, greed, grave robbing, gunplay and extinct critters that keep popping up at the darnedest moments. It’s a quick and fun escape that ends all-too-quickly and leaves you turning the page looking for more. You’ll gasp with surprise, laugh out loud at some parts and groan at others. All-in-all, expect to be delighted and entertained.

***

Meet Quality Times, just your average 21st century woman who happens to own a shrinkable time machine. Along on her intergalactic adventures is Tim, a self-confessed sci-fi geek who takes everything in his stride.

In ‘The Whispering Tombs’, Quality and Tim are residing at the luxurious Baala Haven Resort, on an unpronounceable planet, when they’re invited on a quest to find ancient hidden treasure by a wealthy alien archaeologist. Reaching the caves of Azrokaran, however, loyalties are tested to the very limits as those within the group reveal their true colours.

A light-hearted mix of science fiction, adventure and humour.

Spending “Quality Times” With Author Gayle Ramage

Good news! It looks like the Author Spotlight is going to become a recurring feature here on GNMB! I’m excited because I’ve met so many wonderful writers on my journey and I’m happy to share these friends with the rest of my world.

Today’s featured author is Gayle Ramage, a talented writer with a quirky sense of humor and a fascination for Doctor Who. You know me, I can’t resist anyone who says they want to grow their own TARDIS (check out her Bio down towards the bottom)! I invited Gayle over to kick off her blog tour celebrating the launch of her new release THE WHISPERING TOMBS – A Quality Times Novella.

So, (settling in with some fish fingers and custard) Gayle, tell me about yourself.

I’m a life-long resident of Scotland, having been born in Edinburgh almost thirty-one years ago and have lived in various places in the lowlands since then. I’m “living in sin” with my partner, and we have two children – a girl and a boy – under ten. I’m currently a stay at home mum while writing, but during my working life I’ve been a shops assistant, admin assistant, and also a Reprographic Assistant for a large law firm.

In other words, typical writer with a diverse background… oddly enough, sounds like a typical background for a Doctor’s Companion, too… hmmm… (shaking myself back to the interview at hand)

Why Science Fiction? What is it about the genre that attracts you?

I think mainly for the time travel aspect, though it’s so much fun and freeing to create worlds and populate them with non-human beings. I think with science fiction, to a certain degree, you can make up the rules.

Where did the idea for Quality Times come from?

Two words. Doctor Who.

Of course (eye roll.) Why did I even bother to ask?

I’m such a huge fan and wanted to be able to write my own ‘space and time adventurer’ story, but obviously I couldn’t use the idea of the TARDIS (bigger on the inside) so I came up with a shrinkable time machine.

Which I think is a really cool twist, btw.

There are also elements of Doctor Who spin-off “Iris Wildthyme” in there, too. (Wildthyme is a mature lady timelord whose TARDIS is a red double-decker bus. Her companion is a talking toy panda, while Iris herself enjoys a drink or twelve. The stories are also very humorous.)

I got particular enjoyment out of the overt Doctor Who homage, and the influence certainly shows.

Like the Doctor Who series, you originally published QUALITY TIMES AND THE WHISPERING TOMBS as a serial. How did that work out for you?

It started well. Especially as I’d made the individual parts free to download. Unfortunately, there was a problem with Smashwords, and I had to unpublish the parts there. I did have them up on my own website for a while, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to tell how many people downloaded them.

Qez or Bluey, made quite an impression on me when I first read THE WHISPERING TOMBS. Love the “sexy police siren” description. How do you come up with Quality’s off-beat observations?

I suppose I tend not to overthink what she will say, in some situations. Just like real life, sometimes you just blurt out things without really thinking about what you’re saying. For the “sexy police siren”, it was the first thing that came to me when I was needing Quality to liken Qez to something.

The overall tone of the story really grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek. Is this a departure for you from your other work?

I suppose, to a certain degree, it is a bit of a departure. The Quality Times series is a lot more humorous and, as you say, tongue-in-cheek than my other work. Cigs, Bolan and Strange Men With  Guns had a bit of humour in it, as did my christmas short story collection, Three French Hens, but they weren’t as quirky as Quality Times.

What comes next for Gayle and Quality Times?

Well, the second book in the series, The Grandparent Trap, is still in its first draft but I have the overall plot sorted out so I need to get that completed, edited, etc. However, with that story, it’s being written in third-person narrative instead of first. Also, we get to meet Quality’s granny, Necessity, who is mentioned in The Whispering Tombs. I also have a few plot lines for another couple of books, so that will keep me going, writing wise, for the foreseeable future.

Thanks, Gayle, for stopping by and best of luck with THE WHISPERING TOMBS.

***

If you haven’t had the pleasure yet of discovering the works of Gayle Ramage, I strongly recommend THE WHISPERING TOMBS. I’ve had the good fortune to read and enjoy the serialized version and I’m completely hooked! I can’t wait for the next installment in the QUALITY TIMES series! You can see my abbreviated review on Goodreads.

***

Meet Quality Times, just your average 21st century woman who happens to own a shrinkable time machine. Along on her intergalactic adventures is Tim, a self-confessed sci-fi geek who takes everything in his stride.

In ‘The Whispering Tombs’, Quality and Tim are residing at the luxurious Baala Haven Resort, on an unpronounceable planet, when they’re invited on a quest to find ancient hidden treasure by a wealthy alien archaeologist. Reaching the caves of Azrokaran, however, loyalties are tested to the very limits as those within the group reveal their true colours.

A light-hearted mix of science fiction, adventure and humour.

BIO
Gayle Ramage is a writer, living in the Scottish lowlands. She would love to grow her own TARDIS if only to go back in time to find out if her ancestors were as mad as she is.

LINKS

Alone on the Edge with Patrick Stutzman

Every now and then, I get to meet some fascinating people.  Someone who has been a good friend to me over the past six months is a fellow Jed-head and SF writer Patrick Stutzman. Not only have we played the Geek version of “What are you wearing?” over the Twitter feed, which is far less provocative than it sounds because the clothing involved happened to be a Phantom Menace T-shirt (which we both own identical copies of,) but we’ve also matched wits playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. (It was a draw.) I invited him to share some of his wit and wisdom on the old blog today.

I promise, no Star Wars trivia questions.

So… (breaking out zee little notebook) Make yourself comfortable on zee couch and tell me about yourself.

(You had to post the hard question first, didn’t you?)

Well, I could throw you a softball Star Wars trivia question right off, but I already promised no Star Wars trivia questions, so… yeah.

My name is Patrick Stutzman, and I am a writer. (Hi, Patrick!) My secret identity is that of a mild-mannered online support agent for a regional bank’s website. But by night, beware! I become a writing- and gaming-nightmare! Bwahahahaha! … (Oh, sorry). Seriously, I write science fiction, but I started as a freelance game designer. Some of you may recognize my name in association with the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, Saga Edition that was produced by Wizards of the Coast a few years ago. I have done some other assignments on the side as well, but most of my design work was for Star Wars.

Beyond that, I live in the greater Kansas City area with my wife, two kids, and a veritable menagerie of pets. I work with games, technology (computers in particular), and other minor things that may appear from time to time that are shiny and quickly catch my attention. I like long walks on the beach, relaxing by the fire at night, and … (Dang it! This isn’t that online dating survey! Stop that!)

To learn more about me, check out my websites (Is that a typo? No, I meant to make that a single word.) listed below:

The Worlds of Patrick Stutzman (writer site) – http://patrickstutzman.swtft.com

Star Wars: The Forgotten Tales (Star Wars RPG site) – http://www.swtft.com

The Sims Realty Co. (Sims 2 site) – http://thesimsrealty.swtft.com

Why Science Fiction? What is it about the genre that attracts you?

I have always looked to the future and speculate what lies ahead for me and the rest of humanity/civilization. I guess that’s why I’ve always had an interest in studying prophecies like in Revelation, the quatrains of Nostrodamus, etc. Science fiction, for the large part, allows us to delve into the minds of others’ ideas of what the future may hold, whether it involves space travel, crossing dimensional barriers, encountering strange, new lifeforms, or what have you.

You know, that explains so much to me.
Where did the idea for ALONE ON THE EDGE come from?

From the dark recesses of my mind! Most people emerge as a different person after they go in! Seriously, I finished work on my last book for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game and wanted to keep my writing skills sharp. So, I pulled out my handy-dandy … (Notebook? WRONG! It was my laptop! Ha, ha! 10 points for me!) laptop and started planning on a story to keep me busy. I was originally not planning on publishing it, but I looked up and found that I was already 40,000 words into it without being close to finishing the story. So, I figured I’d see where it took me.

Did you ever feel that you’d painted yourself into corner with your premise for ALONE ON THE EDGE?

No.

No? That’s it? Just no? 

Oh, you want a longer answer! My bad!

Not really. I have been writing my books organically. I put down the premise and the setting, and let the characters drive themselves. I know of several other authors that write that way. Honestly, I love it! I find it as entertaining as reading a book for the first time, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next until it happens. I feel like I am a reporter giving a play-by-play record of what is taking place inside my head. As a result, the characters are always looking for ways to resolve their situations. Sometimes, it works for them; sometimes, it doesn’t. You’ll find that to be the case with Anna throughout the book. Some of her ideas and plans go off without a hitch, while others will fall flat or just have a few unexpected complications arise in the process. She just has to deal with it and move on as best she can.

I find it interesting that you chose to have a character like Anna as your protagonist in this series. I’m also fascinated when male writers choose a female protagonist for a story like this. Why Anna? Why not Bob? What was it about Anna’s character that made her the only character to put into this situation?

I suppose the choice of writing about a female protagonist for ALONE ON THE EDGE originally came from my fascination and love for strong, independent women. You might say it’s a fantasy of mine. (It came true! I married one!) Throughout my life, I have had a STRONG attraction to the type of woman that you really don’t want to make angry but at the same time want to take home to satisfy your manly urges. I wrote stories involving women like that even back in junior high and high school. Thinking back, the seed for this came from George Lucas. Thanks for introducing Princess Leia Organa to the world!

It always comes back to Star Wars, doesn’t it?
What comes next for Patrick and Anna?

Anna’s adventures are far from over! Book 2 in the series, titled ALONE IN PARADISE, is currently being edited and should be released soon. In fact, Book 3, titled ALONE IN THE CROWD, is currently being written, so we’re looking at a full-blown trilogy. In addition to the other two books, I also have a short story already available called ALONE WITH HER THOUGHTS, which is best described as a missing chapter from ALONE ON THE EDGE. I have made the short available for free wherever I could.

Thanks for stopping by today, Patrick, and best of luck with Anna’s adventures. I look forward to ALONE IN PARADISE. 

Writers are very needy types and like to know that someone, ANYONE is out there. Please don’t leave Patrick ALONE ON THE EDGE. He would love it (you have no idea how much he would love it) if you would take a minute to leave a little encouragement for him in the comment section of the page. Just click on the quote balloon up at the top or on the comment link below.

“What’s Next? What’s Next?”

Now that SOVRAN’S PAWN is out in the world for everyone to see, the question I keep getting is “What’s next?” I am delighted to know my meager efforts have been so well-received. I’d like to thank everyone who has already bought an e-copy of my book and assure those waiting for the paperback, that it won’t be long in coming. Look for it sometime in June. Yes, I will have a supply on hand, signed, that I will happily sell direct to you at a discount, plus shipping costs.

As for what’s next, look for ARCANA DOUBLE CROSS sometime this fall. It is the premiere installment of THE MERCENARY ADVENTURES OF BLADE DEVON, a companion series of books featuring the man himself in all his swashbuckling glory. (Be still my heart!) You can find an excerpt under the tab at the top or by clicking the link.

The first draft of Book Two of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES, tentatively titled THE WATCHTOWER, is two-thirds complete. Plans are for a release in Spring 2013, provided we all survive the Zombie Apocalypse of December 2012.

I hope to be spending a lot of time at the beach between now and then, doing research. Much of THE WATCHTOWER is set on the Outland Fringe planet Kah Lahtrec whose people have adopted Blade as a native son. He has a pretty nifty villa on the beach there that was given to him by the Lahtrecki government in recognition for… well, you’re just going to have to wait and see. Book Two is going to be a lot of fun as it introduces some of my favorite characters in the series:  Ballanshi – Tryrium te Kah Lahtrec, his lovely and formidable wife Madine – Tryrine te Kah Lahtrec, and the wizened old holy man Tahar. Book Two also explains the how and why of Blade’s leaving his career in holofeatures for the life of an itinerate mercenary, complete with the scene in the theater which is part of Blade Devon lore.

Not to worry, the romance with Bo continues, as she carries on her quest to clear her name and find her father. Book Two finds Bo settling into her new role as a facilitator in her brother’s organization, and she has learned to have fun. With a new confidence, her puckish sense of humor emerges, but her resolve is put to the test as she draws closer to finding the answers she so desperately seeks, one of which threatens to destroy her relationship with Blade forever.

Now that I’ve told you entirely TOO much, I’m off to get back to work making all of these claims a reality.

Special Feature – Interview With Blade Devon

Blade Devon AvatarGotta Name My Blog was fortunate enough today to score an interview with holofeature heart throb, Blade Devon, the charming rascal whose imaging pad heroics in Underneath Dead Star catapulted him to cult hero status virtually overnight. The technical challenges in getting this interview from the Commonwealth were legion. We’re still not sure how we made it happen and we’re not sure we could fold space enough to reproduce the results. As it was, the holographic image of Blade that accompanied the transcript of the interview was impossible for our computers to translate, so we had to rely on Yahoo! Avatars to come up with a rough approximation of the man himself. We think we captured his personality quite well, don’t you? The following is pretty much the entire interview, except for the off-topic bits where Blade kept hitting on our GNMB correspondent.

GNMB: Thank you for taking time out of your busy shooting schedule to talk with us today, Blade.

BD: Happy to be here.

GNMB: Now, you haven’t been making holofeatures for very long, have you?

BD: Nearly three years now. Seems much longer than that.

GNMB: Already you’re getting typecast into the action hero role. First playing Rube in Underneath Dead Star

BD: My breakout role.

GNMB:which is fast becoming a cult classic. Then you moved on to Dwarf Star Incident, and then Fire and Ice. In all three holofeatures you played a two-fisted action hero.

BD: The old adage is to play to your strengths and you’ll never go wrong.

GNMB: Your bio says that you’re a former Inner Circle Agent, but I find that hard to believe.

BD: Why is that so hard to believe?

GNMB: Why would the Inner Circle allow a former operative to take on such a high-profile career?

BD: I’m afraid you’ll have to ask the IC for the answer to that. I’m not authorized to speak for the organization.

GNMB: I did ask the IC and they confirmed that you did, in fact, join the Consular Guard at the age of sixteen and were trained in Search and Rescue, beyond that, they had nothing to say.

BD: Then I guess I was never actually an IC operative so they shouldn’t care one way or another how I choose to make a living, should they?

GNMB: Aren’t you concerned that you’ll be brought up on charges for falsifying your military service?

BD: I’m more concerned with hitting my marks, remembering my lines and not showing up on set blind drunk or hung over.

GNMB: So despite the fact you’re discounted as a glorified stunt man, you take your roles seriously?

BD: I leave the stunt work to my brother, Chase. That’s real work. On the types of holofeatures I’ve made, the stunt performers have the hardest jobs on the set. My brother puts in far longer hours than I do, and he’s the one risking death and injury just to get the most exciting shots. If the critics are going to dismiss me, they should do it for all the right reasons, saying that all I do is look pretty and make sure they get my good side. Calling me a glorified stunt man is actually a compliment.

GNMB: You got your start in holofeatures working for your brother as a stunt performer, didn’t you?

BD: Yes, when I left the IC… I mean, when Chase got tired of letting his freeloading little brother sit around on his sofa all day watching the holovid and drinking his liquor, he told me that either I drove in this one gag, or I looked for a new place to live. So not wanting to live on the street, I agreed. The producer thought I was pretty and next thing I knew, I was making holofeatures.

GNMB: It sounds like you don’t take your holofeature job any more seriously than you take the IC.

BD: Just because I treat everything with contempt doesn’t mean I don’t take anything seriously.

GNMB: Pintubo Racing has just announced that you’re one of their drivers for the upcoming racing circuit. Do you take that seriously?

BD: Of course I do. It’s what they pay me for. The contempt only comes out when there’s a proviso in my holofeature contract that won’t allow me to drive for Pintubo while working on a holofeature. Producers and investors tend to be reluctant to let their lead actors die in a fiery crash before they wrap shooting. They’re unreasonably touchy that way.

GNMB: How dare they?

BD: Well at least they’re honest enough to prefer that I die rather than be maimed or horribly disfigured. Death in that manner would make my last feature epic and legendary. There wouldn’t be any of this guano about being a glorified stunt man. The critics would sit around and point out the promise in my performance and the subtle genius of my portrayal. They’d speculate on how brilliant I would have been in a few more years. Retrospectives don’t have the same emotional impact if you’re merely disfigured.

GNMB: So what’s next for Blade Devon?

BD: I’m taking some time off to recharge before I start work on my next holofeature. Pintubo wants to enter me in next year’s Catarrh Endurance Rally. My brother is retiring from the Catarrh after his win last year and he’s already on board to be my crew chief. Other than that, I’m thinking of taking a cruise.

GNMB: Well, I hope you enjoy your cruise, Blade and best of luck in the Catarrh and on your next holofeature. Any hints on what we can expect from your next role?

BD: I’ve been told to get my singing voice into shape. It’s a musical, and my agent says there are no explosions in the entire script.

GNMB: Do you sing?

BD: No.

GNMB: That could be problematic.

Blade shrugged and flashed me his trademark lopsided grin. Once again, I was left to wonder whether he took anything seriously.

***

If you’d like to learn more about Blade Devon and the cruise he took, look for SOVRAN’S PAWN, Book One of THE BLACK WING CHRONICLES coming out April 20. Follow the links for a sneak peek.