Navigating the skies of Steam Punk

Last November I announced my NaNoWriMo novel. I may have mentioned that it was a steampunk story world. Some of you are probably wondering what that means. (Apparently there are many ways to define steampunk.)

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I used to think you can just type Airship and instantly turn any story into a steampunk one. No each steampunk story is unique. Some even have intricate magic systems.

Though it isn’t really steam punk without at least one airship, and Goggles. Goggles are a must. My personal philosophy is the three Gs of steampunk: Gears, Goggles and Grit. Yes Grit, because burning coal tends to make everything dirty.

As a fiction genre steampunk comes across as the mutant offspring of: Historical fiction, Science fiction and Fantasy.

Some advocate for the strict adherence to historical technology. (Do not have your Victorian dandy fire a ray gun.) One author said that steampunk must be an alternate version of our history. ( That means no made up worlds.) Another camp seems to see steampunk as only dealing with Steam power. (Makes sense, but very limiting.) The last camp is an anything goes super-genre mash-up that only requires a pair of goggles and a jolly good time to tell a story. That’s my camp.

 

This visual aesthetic, made up of vintage Victorian designs with industrial embellishments. (Keys, coins, gears, and gauges, to name a few.) Is what I love about steampunk.

This aesthetic is part of what I want to capture in my world building.

As soon as I realized that the rules didn’t matter a new world of ideas opened up to me. I saw a world with gears sown on in place of buttons and where teenagers wore goggles on their heads. I knew that airships were the only way to travel and that keys could be used to accent a hat. The entire story world formed in my head because I figured out the only way this aesthetic could evolve naturally from a culture starting from a Victorian baseline.

See it had to feel authentic to the world otherwise I was just riffing off the current trend.

How would you incorporate such a design choice?

New Name Blog Tour

 

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Check it out, I got my copy of A.C. Williams New Name. This is a book I’ve waited for, for almost a year. I’ve looked forward to it so much that I Pre ordered it. I never Pre-order books. But I did this one and the one before it. Namesake. That is how amazing this series is.

The Morningstar series is comprised of the three books in the Destiny Trilogy: Nameless, Namesake and New Name. They follow a girl who goes by Xander. That’s not her name, she doesn’t remember her real name. She has deep amnesia and only knows that she has nowhere to belong. Until she gets swept up with a ragtag team of bounty hunters on a fixer upper ship.

Sound familiar? While the destiny Trilogy is not Fan fiction it is certainly fiction for fans.

Having gotten to know Amy through the wonderful Realm Makers writers conference, I thought I’d take the time to ask her a few  insightful questions about her series. This interview is intended to find the geek worthy bits, the nerdy nuggets and the fan girlish fantasies that hide with in.

Warning: While we agreed to keep out spoilers for New Name, the following interview may contain minor spoilers for Namesake, the second book in the trilogy. So make sure you get caught up.

C: While reading Nameless and Namesake I was struck by how familiar it felt. In a, “OMG this is everything I love about sci-fi complied into one squeal worthy story,” kind of way. There are certainly a lot of time tested tropes within the Destiny Trilogy. What trope do you feel is a must have for any series to feel truly sci-fi?

A: I love speculative fiction of every variety, but just because it’s speculative doesn’t make it science fiction. To be real science fiction, the stories, characters, objects, and/or environment must be based on scientific fact. Events or incidents in science fiction don’t happen through magic. There’s always a logical explanation for how and why technology or biology is the way it is. Ray guns and aliens and laser swords and quirky spaceships add dimension to a story, but none of them are required for it to be science fiction. They just make it more fun.

C: Fair enough, But just between us, and everyone else reading this. Was there any one TV show or movie that was the main inspiration for this series?

A: This is a question I get asked a lot. Believe it or not, there was no real inspiration for the original idea of the stories in the Destiny Trilogy. I think I may have seen a promotional image for Cowboy Bebop that sparked my interest, but I didn’t watch the show until I’d already planned most of the storyline of the Destiny Trilogy. And I didn’t watch Firefly until after the movie, Serenity, released. I was horrified, at first, how similar those two amazing shows and the Destiny Trilogy were. I didn’t know whether to table the novels or keep working on them. But I’m glad I did! If there were any inspiration for the series, it probably came from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I grew up watching. I loved the idea of having a spaceship traveling from planet to planet. I loved having a bookworm for a captain. And I loved having an android with a ton of personality. If Cowboy Bebop inspired anything, it was the idea of having a dog on board the ship.

C: I love it, just more proof that great minds think alike. Since we just covered the topic of TV Shows. Did you create a dream cast in your head? If so, reveal the actors who would play three of your main characters

A: I am not really a visual person. When I “see” a character, I see their actions, their motivations, the why of their souls. What they look like on the outside isn’t my first glimpse of them. That being said, it does help me when I have to describe them if I can find someone who looks like the vague image in my mind, so I did put together a dream cast of sorts.

aura-morningstar_annalise-basso  Aura/Xander – Annalise Basso

kale-ravenwood_grey-damon  Kale Ravenwood – Grey Damon

talon-mcleod_gerard-butler  Talon McLeod – Gerard Butler

evy-berkley_kate-hudson  Evy Berkley – Kate Hudson

devon-chase_justin-hartley  Devon Chase – Justin Hartley

vix-valentine_megan-fox  Vix Valentine – Megan Fox

jaz-carver_katee-sackoff  Jaz Carver – Katee Sackoff

al  Al – ? a mystery like her character.

braedon-kmight_scott-paulin  Braedon Knight – Scott Paulin

darien-stone_eduardo-verastegui  Darien Stone – Eduardo Verastegui

C: Great cast, I love Butler as McLeod. If this series is ever adapted for screen You must make sure he’s in it. But back to the books now.

I think I’ve found some geeky Easter eggs in your books. What is the top Easter egg that people have said they found? Is there one that you know of that no one has told you they found?

A: The Easter egg everyone identifies straight out is the Old Man in the Red Scarf, who Xander/Aura meets in the Oasis in the first chapter of Nameless. Everyone knows he’s important, but nobody knows why. And, honestly, the Old Man is one of the most important characters in the series. So answers about him aren’t coming anytime soon. But there will be more Easter eggs. The Easter egg in Nameless that no one really catches is pretty vague, but I think it’s mentioned twice: Aura trips over a lever in the galley. I also draw attention to it again in the new short story I just released on Kindle—Burn. I won’t say why it’s important. Just know I explain it in New Name.

C: So far the series has featured a girl who goes from being Xander to Aura, and if the title of the new book is to be believed she will get a “New Name” again. Are there any names for the character that you considered but decided not to use?

A: Oh, good question. Yes, this will actually be included in a trivia page I’m working on for the series. Originally, Aura’s last name was Morningside. And honestly I can’t remember why I changed it. It may have been a typo. Those were the days when I kept all my notes on pieces of scratch paper, and I think I got some of my notes confused at one point. It’s funny, too, because originally I didn’t have a plan for what her name would mean. I named her Aura because I worked with someone named Aura Rosebury. I just thought it was a beautiful name. I had no idea how much her name would actually turn out to mean to the series.

C: In Namesake you have a ship named the Tempest and a character named Ariel, that can not be a coincidence. What does Shakespeare have to do with Aura’s destiny?

A: Speaking of Easter Eggs, good job. Not many have made that particular connection. That was mainly me throwing in names with connections for my own amusement. The Tempest was a ship that belonged to the bad guys, and when Ariel entered, I wanted to throw in a little hint that she shouldn’t be trusted. So Shakespeare doesn’t have much to do with Aura’s continuing adventures, but I will say that Ariel might.

C: I am a card carrying member of the Shakespeare fandom. To be honest I geeked out more over the Tempest reference than the Sci-fi nods.

Without giving spoilers, can you reveal any geeky surprises in the new book? If doing so would be a spoiler can you reveal a page number for us to look forward to?

A: Oh, I had some real fun with New Name. There are several little surprises for every variety of geek. There’s a new character named Marvin Meredith, and everything about him and his hobbies will make those of the nerdy persuasion chuckle. For anyone who’s a fan of the 9th Doctor, there’s a very tiny little tidbit in chapter 12 about a certain flatulent alien. We also get to briefly meet a new character named Tuan Nguyen. I won’t spill the beans about him yet, but let’s just say he’s important for future stories. And anyone who is a fan of the anime Fullmetal Alchemist may appreciate the nickname Tuan uses—Renkin.

C: Wow so much to look forward to. Almost makes me want to stop the interview and start reading.

With the up coming star wars movie, Rogue One, only a day away, it’s time for the inevitable movie anticipation tie in question. Which side of the force would Kale Ravenwood use if he had force sensitivity?

A: Oh, the dark side, unquestionably. But I recall a Star Wars video game that came out several years ago about a dark-side user who came over to the good side but retained many of the dark side’s abilities. Like the Force lightning and such. So I think Kale would fit into that category. He’ll always be a bit of a bad boy.

C: Good answer. I like to think that everyone can choose to come back from a bad choice. Okay next fandom—

The Doctor in his TARDIS lands on the deck of the Prodigal he can only choose one crew member as a companion. Who goes with him, and why?

A: Words can’t express how much I love this question. I’m a huge fan of the 12th Doctor, so I’ll use his version. He and Talon would enjoy being Scottish together, I know that for sure, but I’m not sure Talon would go with him. Talon’s awfully responsible. Honestly? The one I could see getting on with the Doctor the best is Al! She’d be just the sort to wander off into the TARDIS, probably with Newt the puppy trailing along with her. I think they would probably have some really hilarious conversations. Possibly some yo-yo competitions. And I think the Doctor would be able to read between the lines of the crazy things Al says to understand she isn’t actually as crazy as she sounds all the time. That being said? Anyone off the crew of the Prodigal would be hilarious on an adventure with the Doctor. Maybe I should write some fan fiction…

C: I would be first in line to read that fan fiction. While I have you thinking about time and space–

The book Namesake teased the potential of time travel. If it were possible, would you go back in time? Forward in Time? Or is this truly, “power no man should have?”

A: This is a tricky question, because there are several things I’d love to go back in time and experience. I’d love to witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I’d love to have a cup of tea with William Shakespeare or C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, to share a meal with Amy Carmichael, or shake the hand of Jim Elliot. To watch the Wright Brother’s fly, to hear Mission Control wish John Glenn Godspeed, or to giggle at the astonished gasps of the first audience to watch Star Wars: A New Hope? Can you imagine how awesome that would all be? But I honestly do believe that power over Time is something Humanity will never have, and even if we found a way to change history, nothing would change. I believe that God is Sovereign over Time, and even if we tried to change something, history would unfold as God designed it. But it’s fun to imagine. And the concept provides a valuable, engaging platform to start conversations about faith.

C: Very true. It is fun to think about and I don’t think there’s one person alive who wouldn’t be a little tempted to use that kind of power. But to get this wrapped up–

The book New Name is the last book in the Destiny Trilogy, will I need tissues?

A: Yes. You will. But not for the same reason you needed them for Namesake. Just saying. 😉

Bonus: And, just so everyone knows, this may be the end of the Destiny Trilogy, but I’m already planning the second trilogy in the Morningstar Series. The Covenant Trilogy. And there will be some actual time travel happening!

C: There’s more coming! That’s the most awesome news I’ve heard since the return of Star Wars.

Thank you Amy for taking the time to geek out with me over your amazing series.

new-name_small New Name and all of the books in the Destiny Trilogy are available at www.crosshairpress.com/newname

Bio

acwilliams2015  Amy Williams is a novelist, freelance writer, founding member of Crosshair Press LLC, and professional nerd. You can find most of her work under the name A.C. Williams, but she also writes young adult fantasy (The Legend of the Lightkeepers) under the pen name Kimberly McNeil. Amy is single and lives in her family’s 100-year-old farmhouse on five acres in the middle of the Kansas prairie. She loves cats and drinks far too much coffee.

Follow her random adventures on her blog (www.amycwilliams.com) on Facebook (AmytheStoryteller), Twitter (@acwilliams05), and Instagram (@acwilliams05).

 

I’m a NaNo loser

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Yes NaNoWriMo is over. That grand challenge that drives writers to double their work load during the busiest time of year. Amidst the hustle and bustle of black Friday frenzies, three thanksgiving meals over the course of four day weekend, and 48 hour work weeks, we are expected to churn out an entire novel of 50,000 words.

So how did I do you ask. I got down on paper, 35,124 words. I averaged 1,170 words per day. I never had a day where I broke 3,000 words though I often wrote less. And even though MS word counts ### as a word. Nano word counter does not.

So yes I am a loser. But a NaNo loser is a nano loser which is only a little bit of a loser.

Am I done? Does losing the challenge mean my novel is abandoned?

No but I am taking a break to regain some sanity, pay some sleep debt and work on some short stories that need polishing. I also have to work on finishing my Goodreads reading challenge for the year. 7 books to read before new years still.

The good news: I will pick it up again for JaNoWriMo. You may guess that means: January novel writing month. You are right. The Realm Makers Consortium group on facebook is hosting this more convenient challenge. The challenge is even more manageable because the goal is only to write 40,000 words instead of 50,000. My personal goal is to add to my current novel and hopefully to finish. I am aiming for a 90,000 word novel. There is the ending to write and a subplot that still want to go back and add. Hopefully the more convenient timing will allow me to finish it up.

So yes I lost NaNoWriMo, but as the Beatles sang, “I’m a loser, but I’m not what I appear to be.”

I appear to be some one with less than half a full length novel, but I’m 35,000 words into a novel. That’s only 45,000 words away from being a Paperback Writer.

NaNo Anouncment

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It is official. This year I am writing a novel for the month of November. I even registered, and have a Nano profile. If you Nano too, you can follow my progress at Nanowrimo.org.

I am writing under the user name dolphin18cb, naturally.

I have had this story brewing in my head for a few months now and I told my self I wouldn’t commit to it unless I have a solid ending, a decent villain, and a hero with realistic flaws. I think I have all of those so I took the leap and the rest is with God.

Right now it is untitled, but it will be a steampunk story.

The Hero: Jay Becket isn’t concerned with the underground resistance movement. He just wants to keep his younger brother Myles safe. He has absolutely no interest in claiming the throne that could have been his.

The Villain: His great uncle, Robert Nuklare is not so sure. Ever since he led the coup that deposed his niece, Robert Nuklare has not stopped looking for the missing boy that could bring it all crashing down around him.

I won’t tell you how it will end, because honestly it could change while I write the rest of it.

But here’s some back cover copy to get you interested.

The blurb:

Jay Becket longs to be an airship pilot. He would love nothing more than to soar above the mountain ranges that surround the kingdom of Victorica and leave it all behind. The only problem is, a royal can not leave the kingdom.
As the illegitimate son of the deposed Queen, Jay certainly doesn’t qualify as a prince. With his adopted brother, Myles, to watch out for Jay also has little interest in the resistance movement trying to reinstate the queen to her throne.

Rumors start circulating that the queen is close to winning and that she is looking for her lost son. Followed closely by rumors that his Great Uncle Robert Nuklare is close to wiping out the royal line for good. But the rumor that Jay is most interested in is the one about a cure for the genetic curse that keeps him trapped within the kingdom’s boarders.

Secrets have become the glue that hold the fragile government of Victorica together. When the truth gets out, it all starts unraveling.

So would you read it? Let me know in the comments and send some encouragement my way.