You Mean I’m Not Rich?

This morning I was checking the spam folders on my email accounts and discovered that the White House Chief of Staff had sent me an email to let me know that I won a whole lot of money. Woot!

And it must be real! I mean, if the email were from a Nigerian prince I wouldn’t fall for it, but if the White House says it’s true, I guess I should be watching my mailbox for that check to arrive. And here I thought Monday was going to be filled with work and no play!

In other news, I’ve put in an application for Corrugated Sky to do a day table at the Baltimore Book Festival in September. The show is juried, which means that just because I sent in an application doesn’t mean that I’m automatically getting a spot under the big tent — and there may be a waiting list, too. I’ll post more about the festival when I get more information.

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Becoming a Bookseller

Corrugated Sky’s books at the Ellicott City Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

Last Saturday, June 30, I set up a small table for my first on-site book sales venture. The location was historic Ellicott City, Maryland, which has recently been ravaged by flooding for the second time in just a few years. The venue was the Howard County Historical Society’s Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

As nature would have it, the weather was not only hot, it was dangerously hot. The sale was smaller than I expected it to be, and for the first two hours a small but steady stream of people came by the table. And as the sun rose higher in the sky, the people evaporated in direct proportion to the amount of shade available — or more likely, ran for shelter to a nearby building or the air conditioning of their cars.

I sold two books, and I got sunburned. I passed out bookmarks for all the available titles (in case you can’t see them clearly in the photo, from left to right the books are Seacombe Island, Tales of the Black Dog, Smoke and Steam, and Hellfire) and chatted with a few people who stopped by. Quite a few people were accompanied by their dogs, who gamely trotted alongside their owners despite the heat.

While I wouldn’t call the sale a resounding success, it wasn’t a flop, and it was good to get out from behind the keyboard and spend some time outside. It was also a good way to test out the table I bought and play with some ideas for displaying books at events. I have a shopping list now: banner, table cloth, book easels.

The next venue is HallowRead — also held in Ellicott City — at the end of October.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 147

Ah, it’s past midnight, so technically this is a Friday writing prompt, but I’m not going to break with tradition and change the name of the post. It’s been a long week at work and my eyes are bleary, but I just can’t sleep, and so here I am working on the blog.

I lay awake in bed for an hour and I kept seeing airplane lights out the window until I realized that it was fireflies that I was seeing. Here it is mid-June already, and usually I’m peeking out the window in the evening waiting for the fireflies to appear, but this year I haven’t even thought about them. I suppose that has a lot to do with my troglodyte existence these days, although I did pry myself outside today and went for a walk in a local park and got some sunshine.

My zombie short story is coming along very, very slowly. Actually I should say that it is shambling along, which is par for the course as far as zombies are concerned. We are still hoping to have the anthology out by Halloween (in case you missed my earlier post about it, this book will be Corrugated Sky’s third anthology and will contain four short stories). In other news, I signed up for the Zombies, Run! pro app and I’m restarting season one.

I was going to do a prompt about alliteration, but since I’ve spent so much time writing about zombies, I guess that gives us a natural topic for this week, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe zombies are not exactly “natural,” but let’s go with it. Your task is to create a zombie character and write a description about it. Put some effort into making the zombie a real character so it’s not just another moaning shambler out on a brain-search. How did it become a zombie? What was it before it turned? And can a zombie have a goal other than eating brains? Maybe … that’s your department. Now go forth and write, and don’t let the zombies bite!

More Steam!

This week we are promoting our Steampunk anthology, Smoke and Steam, Corrugated Sky’s second title. The four stories are novella length, and yes, there are airships!

I’m answering the question about what inspired my story “Hekatite.” When we first decided on a Steampunk theme for the second anthology I began thinking about Victorian adventure stories, which is something that’s always had appeal for me. Journey to the Center of the Earth? Check. The Time Machine? Check. The Mysterious Island? Check. Check.

Combine that interest with the fact that I’d written about Arctic and Antarctic exploration a couple of years back for an encyclopedia that is coming out this year, and I suppose the germ of an idea was hatched. Oh, and throw in a James Bond-esque island with a hidden warehouse inside it, and you have Seacombe.

My story “Hekatite” takes place in the same world that my novel Seacombe Island is set, and includes three characters from the novel. The events in the novella take place roughly five years before the events in the novel and the story fills in some back story for the characters as well as information about Hekatite, the mysterious fuel that everyone wants to get their hands on. Hekatite is a volatile energy source that is refined from the Hekate orchid, a fictitious plant that grows only on Seacombe. Unfortunately, while the Hekatite is a great source of energy, it’s also quite poisonous.

Ha! You knew there was a catch, didn’t you? Well, there wouldn’t be much story if everything was so easy!

Now as it happens, I wrote “Hekatite” before I finished the final round of drafts on Seacombe Island. I found myself stuck on a few details about the protagonist and his interactions with a few of the characters, and writing the short story helped me sort out quite a few plot issues that I hadn’t managed to get a handle on. “Hekatite” is a fun read and I think you’ll be hooked and want to read the novel. Or, if you’ve read the novel, pick up the anthology. And if you haven’t read either, get both books! It won’t matter if you read the story or the novel first; while “Hekatite” fills in some blanks, it won’t spoil the plot of the novel and you’ll feel superior when you have an inkling of what’s happening while the novel’s protagonist, Thomas Ashton, is still trying to figure out what’s going on at Seacombe Island.

And actually, I’m still trying to figure out Seacombe Island. I’m sure the island is big enough for a few more mysteries — and a few more stories.