All posts by talon007

Capes & Clockwork author interview with Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Capes & Clockwork author interview with:
 Nikki Nelson-Hicks
 
 
 
    Capes & Clockwork is an upcoming anthology from Dark Oak Press which fuses the beauty and elegance of steampunk with the action and adventure of the superhero genre. As part of the ‘gearing up’ to the release of ‘Capes & Clockwork: Superheroes in the Age of Steam’, I’ll be interviewing some of the great authors that contributed.

And now on the stage, right here for your reading pleasure is…. Nikki Nelson-Hicks.
Nikki is a resident of Nashville, Tennessee and is often heard muttering, “That’ll show ‘em! Eat my last Chips Ahoy, the cookie stealing summamitches!” while wearing only flannel bottoms and a black rhinestone studded bra. She is a blogger, a government worker/drone and her story, Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, is featured in Capes & Clockwork

 

Nikki, when you create your characters, do you base them on people you know and how much of you is in your characters?

I put these two questions together because I can. So, yes. I like to start off with a seed of someone I know. It helps me to build a character by using the skeleton of someone I know then I slap on whatever meat I need to make the character do and be what the story requires. Does that make sense? Or is that way creepy?
As for how much of myself is in my characters, John Irving said that every novelist starts off writing about himself but if he wants to succeed, he’d best quit and learn to write about other people because NO ONE is that interesting. I agree with that sentiment although I also believe that, as egoists (and ALL writers are egoists), we can’t help not putting a little bit of ourselves into our characters, not if they are organic.
 
 

Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go?

A little bit of both. I only NEED two things at the beginning: where I am going (how the story ends) so I can figure out the best way to get there (how to start the story). It is always the middle part that is a fatty quagmire. To keep myself on track, I always keep a journal of my stories. I prefer Moleskine journals, unlined, so I can draw and doodle characters and sketch out plots.

 

Sometimes I will write a chapter from several different angles until I find the right POV. It’s a trick I learned from an artist friend who would sketch an object from 3-4 different angles before deciding on which idea was perfect.

For this story, Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, I was told the setup (a mashup of Steampunk and Superheroes) and a word count. That was it. The rest of it was up to me to figure out. I usually write horror so a Ghost Busters theme seemed natural for me. I did a little research on Victorian child labor, theatre and Spiritualism.

First, I created my villain, decided what he wanted, and how he would get it.

 

Then I created my heroes and figured out what they wanted and how they would foil the villain’s plans.

And then I just ran with it.

I often compare writing a story to shooting up heroin. If I can find the perfect vein, it’s a rush. The story just flows through my bloodstream. But, sometimes, there is a lot of jabbing with a very dull needle before finding that right vein. It can be hellishly depressing. Luckily, I didn’t have that trouble with this story. I fell in love with Timothy Flood, Giselle Benedict and WEB and had a blast telling their story.

 
 

Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what do you listen to?

With Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, I wanted something with a Steampunkish feel so I listened to the soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also I’m a huge Holmesian so…it killed two birds with one stone.

While I was writing A Chick, A Dick, and a Witch Walked Into A Barn…, a short story I wrote for Pro Se Productions. It had a very 1930’s pulpy feel, so I listened to red hot swing music.

Do I think it is a necessity? No. Neil Gaiman said he needs complete silence in the beginning of a story or he gets distracted. Stephen King said about how music created a barrier between himself and the outside world so he could create. Everyone’s process is different.

If you could live the life of one of your characters, who would it be?

Easy question. Harry Dean Frogge. He is a protagonist in my Travis Dare series of stories about a ghost hunting team and their adventures. Harry has flaws: he likes to live rough and has a tendency to dabble in drugs and unsavory things BUT he is the bravest, most badass friend you could ever want to have on your side. Can you be jealous of someone you created? I am. I wish I was as fearless as Harry. This is a guy who has been through some serious traumatic shit, came out the other side, stood up and said, “Is that all, motherfucker?” He has no fear in helping other people or doing what is right.

 

What genre do you prefer to write/read?

I write horror so I am predisposed to things that are weird and fantastic.

However, let me define what I mean by horror.

I don’t like gore or splatter punk. I don’t like stories where people are massacred or tortured. Yes, a woman is hung by her thumbs while her vagina is welded shut (yes, a writer submitted a story to me for an anthology I was editing with that little gem. I rejected it) is horrific and nightmarish but there has to be a freaking REASON for it. And that reason better be damn solid. If it is done for the effect of grossing me out, that is sloppy and boring writing.

The difference between reality and literature is that there are definite rules in Storybook World. Things happen for a reason. Metaphor is a solid, not a liquid, squishy thing. And it is never more important than in Horror. Without a reason, it’s just gore and that’s lazy writing.  I despise lazy writing.

 

Is Writer’s Block a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it?

 

My family is often on my back to keep writing. They are always asking what project I am thinking about, what am I writing, what new idea am I brewing because they know, better than anyone else in the world, that I am a very poor human being when I am not writing. I become depressed and that leads down a very dark, slippery slope down a very deep hole.

When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

 
For me, the worst times are right after I have finished a project. There are the few days of blissful, YAY! LOOKY WHAT I DID! but they fade to that gray sludge of what to do next. My mind is flat and my creative well is dry.

So, what do I do?

I refill the well. I go on walks in strange, new places. I read new books. I read fiction and nonfiction. I go wandering. I draw, paint, sculpt with clay. Some other artform that isn’t writing. I watch movies, television, go to plays. Hell, find some play that is doing open auditions. Nothing gets those creative juices flowing like anxiety and competition.

I keep my mind open and look for new ideas. I try desperately not to pay any heed to the Black Dog of Depression that is howling just over the hill. It is always there and it does no good to sit down and wait for it to rip out your throat. Keep moving, keeping pumping and fill the well.

And then I put my butt back into the seat and write.

 

What is your latest project/release?


Currently I have Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, a short story in the Capes and Clockwork anthology. I also have stories in the anthologies Nashville Noir (The Unanswered Call) and Soundtrack Not Included (Black Cherry). I also have three short stories with Pro Se Productions that are due to come out in 2014. I edited a horror anthology called, Comfort Foods: This Ain’t Your Momma’s Cooking which is available on Amazon. I also edited a book for Pro Se Productions, Six Guns and Spaceships, an anthology of space Westerns.

And in my spare time, I am working on stories of my own. The Travis Dare Adventures and the Bogie Bar stories are high on my list of Very Important Stories to Finish.

As well as getting back to my blog, www.nikcubed.blogspot.com. Sometimes it is forgotten in all the craziness.

Do you have a special way of generating story ideas?

I read. I read lots of things. Fiction, nonfiction. Encyclopedias. Magazines. Newspapers. Obituaries. Oh, man…obituaries are a gold mine for life stories and names.

 I talk to people. Strangers, friends, friends of friends. Everyone has a story to tell and, if you talk to a writer, you can damn well be sure it will end up in a story.

I ask questions. Lots of questions. Who? Why? What the fuck? Those are the main three.

I watch people. I’m that creepy creep sitting in the corner table at the pub, drinking alone and scribbling in a notebook. I try to suss up people standing around me. Why are they wearing that? Where did they come from? Where are they going? Who are they meeting? Who are they avoiding? I put on my imaginary deerstalker and go Sherlock Holmes on their asses. It’s fun for me. Probably not so much for them, I guess.

But here’s a tip that most people won’t tell you: try and kill a story before writing it. You have to decide which are worth spending time on. Which ones are worth the days, weeks, months they will eat up if you decide to write them to life. Is it worth it? Ask yourself that question before opening up that vein and pouring your life’s blood into it.

 


 

What are the 3 things every aspiring writer should know?

 
1)                  Whatever you are thinking, think bigger.

2)                  It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

3)                  Don’t think. Get out of your own damn way.

And here’s a fourth one because I’m a Giver: Have Fun. If you aren’t having fun, neither will your reader.

 

What is your funniest/awkward moment at a convention/signing event?

When Neil Gaiman broke my heart and made fun of my t-shirt.

You can read the whole story at my blog, www.nikcubed.blogspot.comunder the heading The Neil Gaiman Story.



Capes & Clockwork author interview with Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Capes & Clockwork author interview with:
 Nikki Nelson-Hicks
 
 
 
    Capes & Clockwork is an upcoming anthology from Dark Oak Press which fuses the beauty and elegance of steampunk with the action and adventure of the superhero genre. As part of the ‘gearing up’ to the release of ‘Capes & Clockwork: Superheroes in the Age of Steam’, I’ll be interviewing some of the great authors that contributed.
And now on the stage, right here for your reading pleasure is…. Nikki Nelson-Hicks.
Nikki is a resident of Nashville, Tennessee and is often heard muttering, “That’ll show ‘em! Eat my last Chips Ahoy, the cookie stealing summamitches!” while wearing only flannel bottoms and a black rhinestone studded bra. She is a blogger, a government worker/drone and her story, Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, is featured in Capes & Clockwork
 

Nikki, when you create your characters, do you base them on people you know and how much of you is in your characters?

I put these two questions together because I can. So, yes. I like to start off with a seed of someone I know. It helps me to build a character by using the skeleton of someone I know then I slap on whatever meat I need to make the character do and be what the story requires. Does that make sense? Or is that way creepy?
As for how much of myself is in my characters, John Irving said that every novelist starts off writing about himself but if he wants to succeed, he’d best quit and learn to write about other people because NO ONE is that interesting. I agree with that sentiment although I also believe that, as egoists (and ALL writers are egoists), we can’t help not putting a little bit of ourselves into our characters, not if they are organic.
 
 

Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go?

A little bit of both. I only NEED two things at the beginning: where I am going (how the story ends) so I can figure out the best way to get there (how to start the story). It is always the middle part that is a fatty quagmire. To keep myself on track, I always keep a journal of my stories. I prefer Moleskine journals, unlined, so I can draw and doodle characters and sketch out plots.
 
Sometimes I will write a chapter from several different angles until I find the right POV. It’s a trick I learned from an artist friend who would sketch an object from 3-4 different angles before deciding on which idea was perfect.
For this story, Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, I was told the setup (a mashup of Steampunk and Superheroes) and a word count. That was it. The rest of it was up to me to figure out. I usually write horror so a Ghost Busters theme seemed natural for me. I did a little research on Victorian child labor, theatre and Spiritualism.
First, I created my villain, decided what he wanted, and how he would get it. 
Then I created my heroes and figured out what they wanted and how they would foil the villain’s plans.
And then I just ran with it.
I often compare writing a story to shooting up heroin. If I can find the perfect vein, it’s a rush. The story just flows through my bloodstream. But, sometimes, there is a lot of jabbing with a very dull needle before finding that right vein. It can be hellishly depressing. Luckily, I didn’t have that trouble with this story. I fell in love with Timothy Flood, Giselle Benedict and WEB and had a blast telling their story.
 
 

Do you listen to music while you write and if so, what do you listen to?

With Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, I wanted something with a Steampunkish feel so I listened to the soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Also I’m a huge Holmesian so…it killed two birds with one stone.
While I was writing A Chick, A Dick, and a Witch Walked Into A Barn…, a short story I wrote for Pro Se Productions. It had a very 1930’s pulpy feel, so I listened to red hot swing music.
Do I think it is a necessity? No. Neil Gaiman said he needs complete silence in the beginning of a story or he gets distracted. Stephen King said about how music created a barrier between himself and the outside world so he could create. Everyone’s process is different.

If you could live the life of one of your characters, who would it be?

Easy question. Harry Dean Frogge. He is a protagonist in my Travis Dare series of stories about a ghost hunting team and their adventures. Harry has flaws: he likes to live rough and has a tendency to dabble in drugs and unsavory things BUT he is the bravest, most badass friend you could ever want to have on your side. Can you be jealous of someone you created? I am. I wish I was as fearless as Harry. This is a guy who has been through some serious traumatic shit, came out the other side, stood up and said, “Is that all, motherfucker?” He has no fear in helping other people or doing what is right.
 

What genre do you prefer to write/read?

I write horror so I am predisposed to things that are weird and fantastic.
However, let me define what I mean by horror.
I don’t like gore or splatter punk. I don’t like stories where people are massacred or tortured. Yes, a woman is hung by her thumbs while her vagina is welded shut (yes, a writer submitted a story to me for an anthology I was editing with that little gem. I rejected it) is horrific and nightmarish but there has to be a freaking REASON for it. And that reason better be damn solid. If it is done for the effect of grossing me out, that is sloppy and boring writing.
The difference between reality and literature is that there are definite rules in Storybook World. Things happen for a reason. Metaphor is a solid, not a liquid, squishy thing. And it is never more important than in Horror. Without a reason, it’s just gore and that’s lazy writing.  I despise lazy writing.
 

Is Writer’s Block a problem for you? If so, how do you deal with it?

 
My family is often on my back to keep writing. They are always asking what project I am thinking about, what am I writing, what new idea am I brewing because they know, better than anyone else in the world, that I am a very poor human being when I am not writing. I become depressed and that leads down a very dark, slippery slope down a very deep hole.
When Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
 
For me, the worst times are right after I have finished a project. There are the few days of blissful, YAY! LOOKY WHAT I DID! but they fade to that gray sludge of what to do next. My mind is flat and my creative well is dry.
So, what do I do?
I refill the well. I go on walks in strange, new places. I read new books. I read fiction and nonfiction. I go wandering. I draw, paint, sculpt with clay. Some other artform that isn’t writing. I watch movies, television, go to plays. Hell, find some play that is doing open auditions. Nothing gets those creative juices flowing like anxiety and competition.
I keep my mind open and look for new ideas. I try desperately not to pay any heed to the Black Dog of Depression that is howling just over the hill. It is always there and it does no good to sit down and wait for it to rip out your throat. Keep moving, keeping pumping and fill the well.
And then I put my butt back into the seat and write.
 

What is your latest project/release?

Currently I have Ectoplasmic Eradicators Wanted, a short story in the Capes and Clockwork anthology. I also have stories in the anthologies Nashville Noir (The Unanswered Call) and Soundtrack Not Included (Black Cherry). I also have three short stories with Pro Se Productions that are due to come out in 2014. I edited a horror anthology called, Comfort Foods: This Ain’t Your Momma’s Cooking which is available on Amazon. I also edited a book for Pro Se Productions, Six Guns and Spaceships, an anthology of space Westerns.
And in my spare time, I am working on stories of my own. The Travis Dare Adventures and the Bogie Bar stories are high on my list of Very Important Stories to Finish.
As well as getting back to my blog, www.nikcubed.blogspot.com. Sometimes it is forgotten in all the craziness.

Do you have a special way of generating story ideas?

I read. I read lots of things. Fiction, nonfiction. Encyclopedias. Magazines. Newspapers. Obituaries. Oh, man…obituaries are a gold mine for life stories and names.
 I talk to people. Strangers, friends, friends of friends. Everyone has a story to tell and, if you talk to a writer, you can damn well be sure it will end up in a story.
I ask questions. Lots of questions. Who? Why? What the fuck? Those are the main three.
I watch people. I’m that creepy creep sitting in the corner table at the pub, drinking alone and scribbling in a notebook. I try to suss up people standing around me. Why are they wearing that? Where did they come from? Where are they going? Who are they meeting? Who are they avoiding? I put on my imaginary deerstalker and go Sherlock Holmes on their asses. It’s fun for me. Probably not so much for them, I guess.
But here’s a tip that most people won’t tell you: try and kill a story before writing it. You have to decide which are worth spending time on. Which ones are worth the days, weeks, months they will eat up if you decide to write them to life. Is it worth it? Ask yourself that question before opening up that vein and pouring your life’s blood into it.
 
 

What are the 3 things every aspiring writer should know?

 
1)                  Whatever you are thinking, think bigger.
2)                  It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.
3)                  Don’t think. Get out of your own damn way.
And here’s a fourth one because I’m a Giver: Have Fun. If you aren’t having fun, neither will your reader.

 

What is your funniest/awkward moment at a convention/signing event?

When Neil Gaiman broke my heart and made fun of my t-shirt.
You can read the whole story at my blog, www.nikcubed.blogspot.comunder the heading The Neil Gaiman Story.

Steampunk Pirates Rule!!!

          One of my short stories, ‘The Celeste Affair’ has been accepted to be in Dark Oak’s upcoming pirate anthology, ‘A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder’. Robert Krog is the editor and gave his permission for me to post the opening scene.

          This steampunk/pirate story revolves around Annastia Hawke, mother to Jasmine and Thyme Hawke from ‘The Lightning Bolts of Zeus’ and the upcoming ‘Young Hawke Girls’ children’s series.

Look for it, later this year.

 
The Celeste Affair
By  D. Alan Lewis

North Atlantic, 1863

The waves of gray fog, spiced with the acidic smoke belched from the ship’s engines, left a bitter taste in her mouth. She tightened her grip on the railing as the fishing vessel rolled back and forth through the North Atlantic. The morning fog had not been anticipated nor had the thick cloud-cover that hovered a thousand feet above that. Anastasia only hoped that the bitterness of the mist wasn’t a foreshadowing of things to come.

Her mission would be hard enough, but considering the news she bore and the conversation that lay ahead, the next few days would make the taste in her mouth seem trifle. Her stomach churned and her head pounded. Sea sickness wasn’t usually a problem for her when traveling by ship, but she’d been ill every morning for the past two weeks. Her breakfast threatened to return at any moment. Swallowing hard, the woman refused to let it happen. She refused to let the brutes see any weakness.

“Keep ringing the bell!” She shouted back to the one-eyed hulk who manned the ship’s wheel. As captain of this rotting schooner, he’d made his dislike of women and children clear. But the promise of cash and the poor hauls the ship had made lately convinced him to make this special trip, a rendezvous, fifty miles off the Irish coast.

He huffed but did as she said. The high-pitched clang made her wince but with little wind, the noise should travel far. All eyes looked to the sky and hoped.

A tug on her dress brought her gaze down to a mop of red hair resting atop a bundle of jackets and scarves. She stooped down and tugged at a thick green scarf until the eyes of her five year old daughter appeared, staring back at her.

“Jasmine Abigail, didn’t I tell you to stay below?” She scolded her daughter. “It’s too cold out here for you.”

“Is he here yet?” Jasmine asked but when Anastasia shook her head, the girl looked up with pleading eyes. “But… But I want to see him.”

The blast of an air horn made everyone onboard jump. Anastasia looked up and tilted her head as the underside of the airship materialized through the fog. The brilliant colors of the Union Jack seemed to glow against the bland gray and blue of the ship’s paint scheme. Her heart skipped a beat and she thought of him, up there, always watching over her.

This, the first true airship designed solely as a warship, bore the name Britannic. While flying vessels had been around for ten years or so, most were sea-going vessels stripped of their masts and sails and secured by ropes to large gasbags. The flagship of the Royal Air Navy stood apart from every other vessel aloft. Anastasia had been on board twice and still marveled at how the Brits had woven the most advanced technologies with centuries of sea-going traditions. She loved this ship, but not as much as the man who captained her.

“Of course,” she looked down at her daughter and a laugh escaped her, “I stand out here for hours, watching and waiting but as soon as you ask, he arrives.”

“I see something comin’ down,” someone shouted.

The hulk turned his duties at the wheel over to someone else and approached her. He pointed to a pair of men and bellowed, “Grab that thing as soon as it’s low enough and hold it steady.”

It only took minutes for the gondola to touchdown on the ship’s deck. Their bags were gingerly tossed into it after which, Anastasia guided the little girl in as well. Jasmine pulled the scarf down, her eyes wide and full of excitement. Anastasia couldn’t help but smile at her precious baby. Her daughter knew the dangers of being pulled off a ship in this manner and she didn’t care. Like her mother, Jasmine thrived on adventure.

While his men studied the airship, the captain’s attention never left her. Anastasia pulled a bag from her pocket and tossed it to the hulking figure. He snatched it out of the air, shook it and gave her an odd look.

“It’s more than I asked for,” he snarled.

She stepped into the metal box, closed the door and rang a small bell attached to the roof. With a jerk, the cable stretching from the top of the gondola to the airship tightened and lifted it from the deck.

“Half is our agreed price. The other half is for your silence. The airship, my daughter and myself… We were never here.”

 
The rest of the story is coming soon in
‘A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder’ from Dark Oak.
Steampunk Pirates Rule!!!

          One of my short stories, ‘The Celeste Affair’ has been accepted to be in Dark Oak’s upcoming pirate anthology, ‘A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder’. Robert Krog is the editor and gave his permission for me to post the opening scene.

          This steampunk/pirate story revolves around Annastia Hawke, mother to Jasmine and Thyme Hawke from ‘The Lightning Bolts of Zeus’ and the upcoming ‘Young Hawke Girls’ children’s series.

Look for it, later this year.
 
The Celeste Affair
By  D. Alan Lewis

North Atlantic, 1863

The waves of gray fog, spiced with the acidic smoke belched from the ship’s engines, left a bitter taste in her mouth. She tightened her grip on the railing as the fishing vessel rolled back and forth through the North Atlantic. The morning fog had not been anticipated nor had the thick cloud-cover that hovered a thousand feet above that. Anastasia only hoped that the bitterness of the mist wasn’t a foreshadowing of things to come.

Her mission would be hard enough, but considering the news she bore and the conversation that lay ahead, the next few days would make the taste in her mouth seem trifle. Her stomach churned and her head pounded. Sea sickness wasn’t usually a problem for her when traveling by ship, but she’d been ill every morning for the past two weeks. Her breakfast threatened to return at any moment. Swallowing hard, the woman refused to let it happen. She refused to let the brutes see any weakness.

“Keep ringing the bell!” She shouted back to the one-eyed hulk who manned the ship’s wheel. As captain of this rotting schooner, he’d made his dislike of women and children clear. But the promise of cash and the poor hauls the ship had made lately convinced him to make this special trip, a rendezvous, fifty miles off the Irish coast.

He huffed but did as she said. The high-pitched clang made her wince but with little wind, the noise should travel far. All eyes looked to the sky and hoped.

A tug on her dress brought her gaze down to a mop of red hair resting atop a bundle of jackets and scarves. She stooped down and tugged at a thick green scarf until the eyes of her five year old daughter appeared, staring back at her.

“Jasmine Abigail, didn’t I tell you to stay below?” She scolded her daughter. “It’s too cold out here for you.”

“Is he here yet?” Jasmine asked but when Anastasia shook her head, the girl looked up with pleading eyes. “But… But I want to see him.”

The blast of an air horn made everyone onboard jump. Anastasia looked up and tilted her head as the underside of the airship materialized through the fog. The brilliant colors of the Union Jack seemed to glow against the bland gray and blue of the ship’s paint scheme. Her heart skipped a beat and she thought of him, up there, always watching over her.

This, the first true airship designed solely as a warship, bore the name Britannic. While flying vessels had been around for ten years or so, most were sea-going vessels stripped of their masts and sails and secured by ropes to large gasbags. The flagship of the Royal Air Navy stood apart from every other vessel aloft. Anastasia had been on board twice and still marveled at how the Brits had woven the most advanced technologies with centuries of sea-going traditions. She loved this ship, but not as much as the man who captained her.

“Of course,” she looked down at her daughter and a laugh escaped her, “I stand out here for hours, watching and waiting but as soon as you ask, he arrives.”

“I see something comin’ down,” someone shouted.

The hulk turned his duties at the wheel over to someone else and approached her. He pointed to a pair of men and bellowed, “Grab that thing as soon as it’s low enough and hold it steady.”

It only took minutes for the gondola to touchdown on the ship’s deck. Their bags were gingerly tossed into it after which, Anastasia guided the little girl in as well. Jasmine pulled the scarf down, her eyes wide and full of excitement. Anastasia couldn’t help but smile at her precious baby. Her daughter knew the dangers of being pulled off a ship in this manner and she didn’t care. Like her mother, Jasmine thrived on adventure.

While his men studied the airship, the captain’s attention never left her. Anastasia pulled a bag from her pocket and tossed it to the hulking figure. He snatched it out of the air, shook it and gave her an odd look.

“It’s more than I asked for,” he snarled.

She stepped into the metal box, closed the door and rang a small bell attached to the roof. With a jerk, the cable stretching from the top of the gondola to the airship tightened and lifted it from the deck.

“Half is our agreed price. The other half is for your silence. The airship, my daughter and myself… We were never here.”
 
The rest of the story is coming soon in
‘A Tall Ship, A Star, and Plunder’ from Dark Oak.

The Blood Red Ruby

I thought I’d post a little writing from one of my published stories. This is the open scene for ‘The Blood Red Ruby’ in May-December’s ‘Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2’.

The Blood Red Ruby
By D. Alan Lewis

December, 1935

She smelled nice and looked at me with big round eyes that held such innocence that I couldn’t imagine she was in the line of work that required her clothing to litter the floor. The red dress clung tight to her curves but even more so as she slid into the booth across from me. She was just another working girl, looking for a score, but she was new to Jerry’s. Having spent most of the past four years living in whatever bottle was the cheapest, I’d gotten to know the girls who worked the nearby corners and frequented this dive.

“Hope you don’t mind, but I need to get off me feet and all the stools was taken.” Her lips were painted cherry red and talking wasn’t what they did best. She squinted when I didn’t answer. “You have … you have nice eyes. But they look so sad, so empty.”

“Look around, pumpkin,” I replied and took a long sip of my whiskey. “Everyone in here has that look. Some lost everything in ’29. Some are lonely. Some just can’t bare living without a little assistance” I raised my glass at the last part and took another sip. Her eyes glanced around, nervously. She was as much a hooker as I was. A little girl lost in the big city with no job, no man, and no cash. I’d seen it a hundred times, but she had something different. She had eyes that made a man want to talk to her, had looks that made a man want to hold her, and was as innocent as the snow. But in this city, even the whitest snow tinged as soon as it hit the grime of the streets.

Her eyes studied my glass. The amber liquid looked inviting but tasted like a dog’s butt. I noticed the trembling hands as she tried to make herself look comfortable. She was young and stupid and desperate. I knew what she wanted and it wasn’t providing the usual service. I nodded to the bar-keep, pointed to the glass and held up two fingers.

“So … what made your life so…” she shifted about, searching for a word that she hoped wouldn’t insult me. I found it amusing, but decided to help the poor thing out.

“Empty?” She nodded and I continued. “Hun, that is a long story and something that’ll keep you up at night.”

“Scary?” she asked as our drinks were placed in front of us. She looked at her glass apprehensively, but I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol or my words that had her bothered. Those beautiful eyes turned and looked me over, studying what type of man I was. “Can I hear it? Your story, I mean. I … I really don’t want to go back out tonight.”

“I’ll tell you, but you need to understand that it is the truth, every word.” Again, she nodded. “It may have been four years ago, but I feel like that night aged me; turned me old before my time. I’ve never seen the world the same since.”
 
 
                        If you want to hear his story, you’ll have to buy the book.
 

 
 

The Blood Red Ruby

I thought I’d post a little writing from one of my published stories. This is the open scene for ‘The Blood Red Ruby’ in May-December’s ‘Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2’.

The Blood Red Ruby
By D. Alan Lewis

December, 1935

She smelled nice and looked at me with big round eyes that held such innocence that I couldn’t imagine she was in the line of work that required her clothing to litter the floor. The red dress clung tight to her curves but even more so as she slid into the booth across from me. She was just another working girl, looking for a score, but she was new to Jerry’s. Having spent most of the past four years living in whatever bottle was the cheapest, I’d gotten to know the girls who worked the nearby corners and frequented this dive.

“Hope you don’t mind, but I need to get off me feet and all the stools was taken.” Her lips were painted cherry red and talking wasn’t what they did best. She squinted when I didn’t answer. “You have … you have nice eyes. But they look so sad, so empty.”

“Look around, pumpkin,” I replied and took a long sip of my whiskey. “Everyone in here has that look. Some lost everything in ’29. Some are lonely. Some just can’t bare living without a little assistance” I raised my glass at the last part and took another sip. Her eyes glanced around, nervously. She was as much a hooker as I was. A little girl lost in the big city with no job, no man, and no cash. I’d seen it a hundred times, but she had something different. She had eyes that made a man want to talk to her, had looks that made a man want to hold her, and was as innocent as the snow. But in this city, even the whitest snow tinged as soon as it hit the grime of the streets.

Her eyes studied my glass. The amber liquid looked inviting but tasted like a dog’s butt. I noticed the trembling hands as she tried to make herself look comfortable. She was young and stupid and desperate. I knew what she wanted and it wasn’t providing the usual service. I nodded to the bar-keep, pointed to the glass and held up two fingers.

“So … what made your life so…” she shifted about, searching for a word that she hoped wouldn’t insult me. I found it amusing, but decided to help the poor thing out.

“Empty?” She nodded and I continued. “Hun, that is a long story and something that’ll keep you up at night.”

“Scary?” she asked as our drinks were placed in front of us. She looked at her glass apprehensively, but I wasn’t sure if it was the alcohol or my words that had her bothered. Those beautiful eyes turned and looked me over, studying what type of man I was. “Can I hear it? Your story, I mean. I … I really don’t want to go back out tonight.”

“I’ll tell you, but you need to understand that it is the truth, every word.” Again, she nodded. “It may have been four years ago, but I feel like that night aged me; turned me old before my time. I’ve never seen the world the same since.”
 
 
                        If you want to hear his story, you’ll have to buy the book.
 

 
 

I thought I’d post a little section of my upcoming Steampunk story that will be in Dark Oak’s superhero/steampunk anthology, ‘Capes & Clockwork’.

Keely

 

     She fell from the sky without fanfare or notice by the few inhabitances that still called this God-forsaken city home. I doubt that anyone, save the four of us, who stood near the impact point witnessed the event that was to change everything. Her youthful form dropped through the black fog that hung over the city and she hit with such force that cobblestones for a dozen feet around her went to powder.

Dodging the debris and dust that arose around her, I approached. The stonework of Warner Place had opened up and cradled the young woman like a babe in its mother’s arms. Her nude form lay still and I strained to see if her lungs took in breath. As a man in my thirties, I’d seen nude women many times, but I felt awkward about looking at her. I felt that my concentration on her chest would give others pause to speculate as to my intentions. Her chest didn’t pulse as if breaths were drawn and that brought on a profound sense of loss. Only her long blond hair moved, dancing in the wind.

“Did ya see that?” an old woman said as she stepped up to my side. “A bit unseemly, I’d say. Guess she flung herself off the roof. Another jumper I reckon.” She scoffed when my eyes didn’t move away from the young woman. “Could’ve had the decency to have put a stitch or two on before leaping.”

I glanced at her and nodded slightly. An elderly couple braved the dust as well to get a look at her. While the old man studied the scene intently, his wife tugged at his arm not wanting to see what she assumed was a tragedy. She nagged him to take her home until he finally gave in and they walked off without another word spoken. 

The number of folks who’d jumped from the rooftop or taken their own lives had steadily increased after the European continent had formally collapsed and fallen into the hands of the Otherworlders. The number increased even more when word reached us that the Americans had fallen as well.

With England now standing alone against the alien horde, most people had lost hope and only longed for a quick, painless end. I couldn’t blame them. The Otherworlders wanted more than just land, they wanted us. Every captured soul in the occupied lands were nothing more than food stock, assuming that anyone other than the aliens still lived in those blackened lands. And London stood almost empty due to the daily shells that rained in each afternoon from the massive cannons on the northern coast of France.

My gaze moved to the rooftops and I scanned for any signs of foul play. A naked girl just doesn’t fall from the sky, but what bothered me were the heights of the surrounding structures. The buildings were simply not tall enough for someone to have garnered the speed to make such a devastating impact. When my eyes returned to her, I lacked the ability to understand why her body didn’t show more signs of damage or distress. The impact should have shattered her petite form, spilling blood and organs everywhere.

But she lay there as beautiful as a sleeping princess, awaiting a prince to kiss and awaken her. Flawless, pale flesh and golden locks were a stark contrast to the dark, crumbled stones that she lay in, like a pearl resting within the black and gray shell of an oyster.

“I don’t think she jumped,” I whispered, only to hear the old woman scoff again.

Cautiously, I stepped into the crater and knelt beside her. Her chest heaved slightly, and I almost jumped. Clearing my throat, I looked back to the old woman.

“She’s alive. She’s breathing,” my voice shook slightly, hinting at the fear within me. She couldn’t be natural, maybe not even of this world. No one could have survived a fall like that. I inwardly cursed my inability to deal with the moment in a calm and manly manner. “She, she must be hurt. Is there a carriage about?”

“Bloomin’ city is emptied out. Ain’t nobody around here exceptin’ you and me.”

My mind raced on what course of action I should take. She needed help, medical attention and what not, but without a cart that meant carrying the lass, a dozen or so blocks to the nearest hospital. My flat lay just around the corner, but still, I wasn’t a doctor, not in the medical sense, anyway. And there was the meeting that I should already be sitting at.

I had hoped to catch one of the steambuses that still operated and get to Whitehall and the War Office. My meeting wasn’t urgent. It was more of the usual updating the Admiralty on my efforts. I’m a scientist, a tinkerer, and since the war started, a weapons designer.

I started to scoop her into my arms but hesitated. It’d be unseemly to carry a nude young woman about town, let alone into my flat. I glanced at the old woman and caught sight of a flag pole behind her. The impact had damaged the stones beneath it, causing it to tilt over. I bolted over to it, snatched the Union Jack that dangled from its midpoint and returned to her. With care, I wrapped her up and then lifted the unconscious woman from the damaged stones.

The young woman’s body fell limp in my arms. I groaned at the weight, estimating her at fourteen stone. Yet, she was a tiny little thing and appeared to weigh half that amount.

“Whatchya gonna do with her?” the old woman yelled as I started toward my flat.

I stopped and hesitated, not really knowing what the best course of action would be. Looking back, I replied, “Taking her home. My woman can see to her needs while I fetch a doctor.”

Then I stopped, remembering the situation at home. I had no woman or servants of any kind, not any more. My housekeeper had abandoned me and the city after the enemy’s shells began to fall. All that awaited us in my flat was a laboratory and enough food for a month of good eating. Still, there were few options and her weight prohibited me from carrying her all the way to the hospital.

“On second thought, my woman has escaped the city. Perhaps, you could assist?” I asked. “I’m lousy when it comes to cooking and I’m sure she needs a meal and what-not.”

She looked annoyed until I mentioned food. “Well, mind ya that I’m only coming along causin’ it wouldn’t be proper for a man your age to be carrying a girl like that about.”

“I have others at the lab, several men who assist me in my work, but they’d be no help with…’ I said and nodded towards the woman in my arms.

As I did so, my eyes fixated on her round face. Without a doubt, her beauty was beyond measure. She had rich full lips that were as red as crimson and a small nose, which turned up slightly at the tip. My thoughts were so dazzled by her appearance that I failed to see anything else, including the old woman as she approached. She stepped quickly to my side and gave me a suspicious look.

“Call me Mattie.”

I nodded and glanced over at her, “umm … and I am Thomas Laybourne, the third. My friends call me Tom.”

“Hmm, nice to be makin’ your acquaintance, Mr. Laybourne.”
 
 
 
 
 
To read the rest of the story, you’ll have to wait until the anthology is out.  🙂

 

I thought I’d post a little section of my upcoming Steampunk story that will be in Dark Oak’s superhero/steampunk anthology, ‘Capes & Clockwork’.

Keely

 

     She fell from the sky without fanfare or notice by the few inhabitances that still called this God-forsaken city home. I doubt that anyone, save the four of us, who stood near the impact point witnessed the event that was to change everything. Her youthful form dropped through the black fog that hung over the city and she hit with such force that cobblestones for a dozen feet around her went to powder.

Dodging the debris and dust that arose around her, I approached. The stonework of Warner Place had opened up and cradled the young woman like a babe in its mother’s arms. Her nude form lay still and I strained to see if her lungs took in breath. As a man in my thirties, I’d seen nude women many times, but I felt awkward about looking at her. I felt that my concentration on her chest would give others pause to speculate as to my intentions. Her chest didn’t pulse as if breaths were drawn and that brought on a profound sense of loss. Only her long blond hair moved, dancing in the wind.

“Did ya see that?” an old woman said as she stepped up to my side. “A bit unseemly, I’d say. Guess she flung herself off the roof. Another jumper I reckon.” She scoffed when my eyes didn’t move away from the young woman. “Could’ve had the decency to have put a stitch or two on before leaping.”

I glanced at her and nodded slightly. An elderly couple braved the dust as well to get a look at her. While the old man studied the scene intently, his wife tugged at his arm not wanting to see what she assumed was a tragedy. She nagged him to take her home until he finally gave in and they walked off without another word spoken. 

The number of folks who’d jumped from the rooftop or taken their own lives had steadily increased after the European continent had formally collapsed and fallen into the hands of the Otherworlders. The number increased even more when word reached us that the Americans had fallen as well.

With England now standing alone against the alien horde, most people had lost hope and only longed for a quick, painless end. I couldn’t blame them. The Otherworlders wanted more than just land, they wanted us. Every captured soul in the occupied lands were nothing more than food stock, assuming that anyone other than the aliens still lived in those blackened lands. And London stood almost empty due to the daily shells that rained in each afternoon from the massive cannons on the northern coast of France.

My gaze moved to the rooftops and I scanned for any signs of foul play. A naked girl just doesn’t fall from the sky, but what bothered me were the heights of the surrounding structures. The buildings were simply not tall enough for someone to have garnered the speed to make such a devastating impact. When my eyes returned to her, I lacked the ability to understand why her body didn’t show more signs of damage or distress. The impact should have shattered her petite form, spilling blood and organs everywhere.

But she lay there as beautiful as a sleeping princess, awaiting a prince to kiss and awaken her. Flawless, pale flesh and golden locks were a stark contrast to the dark, crumbled stones that she lay in, like a pearl resting within the black and gray shell of an oyster.

“I don’t think she jumped,” I whispered, only to hear the old woman scoff again.

Cautiously, I stepped into the crater and knelt beside her. Her chest heaved slightly, and I almost jumped. Clearing my throat, I looked back to the old woman.

“She’s alive. She’s breathing,” my voice shook slightly, hinting at the fear within me. She couldn’t be natural, maybe not even of this world. No one could have survived a fall like that. I inwardly cursed my inability to deal with the moment in a calm and manly manner. “She, she must be hurt. Is there a carriage about?”

“Bloomin’ city is emptied out. Ain’t nobody around here exceptin’ you and me.”

My mind raced on what course of action I should take. She needed help, medical attention and what not, but without a cart that meant carrying the lass, a dozen or so blocks to the nearest hospital. My flat lay just around the corner, but still, I wasn’t a doctor, not in the medical sense, anyway. And there was the meeting that I should already be sitting at.

I had hoped to catch one of the steambuses that still operated and get to Whitehall and the War Office. My meeting wasn’t urgent. It was more of the usual updating the Admiralty on my efforts. I’m a scientist, a tinkerer, and since the war started, a weapons designer.

I started to scoop her into my arms but hesitated. It’d be unseemly to carry a nude young woman about town, let alone into my flat. I glanced at the old woman and caught sight of a flag pole behind her. The impact had damaged the stones beneath it, causing it to tilt over. I bolted over to it, snatched the Union Jack that dangled from its midpoint and returned to her. With care, I wrapped her up and then lifted the unconscious woman from the damaged stones.

The young woman’s body fell limp in my arms. I groaned at the weight, estimating her at fourteen stone. Yet, she was a tiny little thing and appeared to weigh half that amount.

“Whatchya gonna do with her?” the old woman yelled as I started toward my flat.

I stopped and hesitated, not really knowing what the best course of action would be. Looking back, I replied, “Taking her home. My woman can see to her needs while I fetch a doctor.”

Then I stopped, remembering the situation at home. I had no woman or servants of any kind, not any more. My housekeeper had abandoned me and the city after the enemy’s shells began to fall. All that awaited us in my flat was a laboratory and enough food for a month of good eating. Still, there were few options and her weight prohibited me from carrying her all the way to the hospital.

“On second thought, my woman has escaped the city. Perhaps, you could assist?” I asked. “I’m lousy when it comes to cooking and I’m sure she needs a meal and what-not.”

She looked annoyed until I mentioned food. “Well, mind ya that I’m only coming along causin’ it wouldn’t be proper for a man your age to be carrying a girl like that about.”

“I have others at the lab, several men who assist me in my work, but they’d be no help with…’ I said and nodded towards the woman in my arms.

As I did so, my eyes fixated on her round face. Without a doubt, her beauty was beyond measure. She had rich full lips that were as red as crimson and a small nose, which turned up slightly at the tip. My thoughts were so dazzled by her appearance that I failed to see anything else, including the old woman as she approached. She stepped quickly to my side and gave me a suspicious look.

“Call me Mattie.”

I nodded and glanced over at her, “umm … and I am Thomas Laybourne, the third. My friends call me Tom.”

“Hmm, nice to be makin’ your acquaintance, Mr. Laybourne.”
 
 
 
 
 
To read the rest of the story, you’ll have to wait until the anthology is out.  🙂

 

I thought I’d post a little section of my upcoming Steampunk story that will be in Dark Oak’s superhero/steampunk anthology, ‘Capes & Clockwork’.

Keely

 

     She fell from the sky without fanfare or notice by the few inhabitances that still called this God-forsaken city home. I doubt that anyone, save the four of us, who stood near the impact point witnessed the event that was to change everything. Her youthful form dropped through the black fog that hung over the city and she hit with such force that cobblestones for a dozen feet around her went to powder.

Dodging the debris and dust that arose around her, I approached. The stonework of Warner Place had opened up and cradled the young woman like a babe in its mother’s arms. Her nude form lay still and I strained to see if her lungs took in breath. As a man in my thirties, I’d seen nude women many times, but I felt awkward about looking at her. I felt that my concentration on her chest would give others pause to speculate as to my intentions. Her chest didn’t pulse as if breaths were drawn and that brought on a profound sense of loss. Only her long blond hair moved, dancing in the wind.

“Did ya see that?” an old woman said as she stepped up to my side. “A bit unseemly, I’d say. Guess she flung herself off the roof. Another jumper I reckon.” She scoffed when my eyes didn’t move away from the young woman. “Could’ve had the decency to have put a stitch or two on before leaping.”

I glanced at her and nodded slightly. An elderly couple braved the dust as well to get a look at her. While the old man studied the scene intently, his wife tugged at his arm not wanting to see what she assumed was a tragedy. She nagged him to take her home until he finally gave in and they walked off without another word spoken. 

The number of folks who’d jumped from the rooftop or taken their own lives had steadily increased after the European continent had formally collapsed and fallen into the hands of the Otherworlders. The number increased even more when word reached us that the Americans had fallen as well.

With England now standing alone against the alien horde, most people had lost hope and only longed for a quick, painless end. I couldn’t blame them. The Otherworlders wanted more than just land, they wanted us. Every captured soul in the occupied lands were nothing more than food stock, assuming that anyone other than the aliens still lived in those blackened lands. And London stood almost empty due to the daily shells that rained in each afternoon from the massive cannons on the northern coast of France.

My gaze moved to the rooftops and I scanned for any signs of foul play. A naked girl just doesn’t fall from the sky, but what bothered me were the heights of the surrounding structures. The buildings were simply not tall enough for someone to have garnered the speed to make such a devastating impact. When my eyes returned to her, I lacked the ability to understand why her body didn’t show more signs of damage or distress. The impact should have shattered her petite form, spilling blood and organs everywhere.

But she lay there as beautiful as a sleeping princess, awaiting a prince to kiss and awaken her. Flawless, pale flesh and golden locks were a stark contrast to the dark, crumbled stones that she lay in, like a pearl resting within the black and gray shell of an oyster.

“I don’t think she jumped,” I whispered, only to hear the old woman scoff again.

Cautiously, I stepped into the crater and knelt beside her. Her chest heaved slightly, and I almost jumped. Clearing my throat, I looked back to the old woman.

“She’s alive. She’s breathing,” my voice shook slightly, hinting at the fear within me. She couldn’t be natural, maybe not even of this world. No one could have survived a fall like that. I inwardly cursed my inability to deal with the moment in a calm and manly manner. “She, she must be hurt. Is there a carriage about?”

“Bloomin’ city is emptied out. Ain’t nobody around here exceptin’ you and me.”

My mind raced on what course of action I should take. She needed help, medical attention and what not, but without a cart that meant carrying the lass, a dozen or so blocks to the nearest hospital. My flat lay just around the corner, but still, I wasn’t a doctor, not in the medical sense, anyway. And there was the meeting that I should already be sitting at.

I had hoped to catch one of the steambuses that still operated and get to Whitehall and the War Office. My meeting wasn’t urgent. It was more of the usual updating the Admiralty on my efforts. I’m a scientist, a tinkerer, and since the war started, a weapons designer.

I started to scoop her into my arms but hesitated. It’d be unseemly to carry a nude young woman about town, let alone into my flat. I glanced at the old woman and caught sight of a flag pole behind her. The impact had damaged the stones beneath it, causing it to tilt over. I bolted over to it, snatched the Union Jack that dangled from its midpoint and returned to her. With care, I wrapped her up and then lifted the unconscious woman from the damaged stones.

The young woman’s body fell limp in my arms. I groaned at the weight, estimating her at fourteen stone. Yet, she was a tiny little thing and appeared to weigh half that amount.

“Whatchya gonna do with her?” the old woman yelled as I started toward my flat.

I stopped and hesitated, not really knowing what the best course of action would be. Looking back, I replied, “Taking her home. My woman can see to her needs while I fetch a doctor.”

Then I stopped, remembering the situation at home. I had no woman or servants of any kind, not any more. My housekeeper had abandoned me and the city after the enemy’s shells began to fall. All that awaited us in my flat was a laboratory and enough food for a month of good eating. Still, there were few options and her weight prohibited me from carrying her all the way to the hospital.

“On second thought, my woman has escaped the city. Perhaps, you could assist?” I asked. “I’m lousy when it comes to cooking and I’m sure she needs a meal and what-not.”

She looked annoyed until I mentioned food. “Well, mind ya that I’m only coming along causin’ it wouldn’t be proper for a man your age to be carrying a girl like that about.”

“I have others at the lab, several men who assist me in my work, but they’d be no help with…’ I said and nodded towards the woman in my arms.

As I did so, my eyes fixated on her round face. Without a doubt, her beauty was beyond measure. She had rich full lips that were as red as crimson and a small nose, which turned up slightly at the tip. My thoughts were so dazzled by her appearance that I failed to see anything else, including the old woman as she approached. She stepped quickly to my side and gave me a suspicious look.

“Call me Mattie.”

I nodded and glanced over at her, “umm … and I am Thomas Laybourne, the third. My friends call me Tom.”

“Hmm, nice to be makin’ your acquaintance, Mr. Laybourne.”
 
 
 
 
 
To read the rest of the story, you’ll have to wait until the anthology is out.  🙂
 

Why Killer Nashville gave me the boost when I needed it most.
In case you don’t follow me on Facebook, A good friend (Logan Masterson) is running a contest for a free membership to this year’s Killer Nashville mystery writer’s conference in Nashville. Some of the other prizes include signed books by Jaden Terrell, C.J. Box and myself.

Killer Nashville is a three-day mystery writers and readers  conference, filled with workshops, panels, writer guest, and so much more. It is a fantastic place for networking with publishers, agents, and fellow writers.

After moving to Nashville, I decided to jump into this crazy thing called writing. KN ended up being a great starting point for me as a writer. The first couple of years I went, I was able to attend many of the workshops and panels which helped give me the pointers needed to refine my writing as well as my search for a publisher. In 2010, I entered my manuscript for ‘The Blood in Snowflake Garden’ into the Claymore Award contest, sponsored by KN. As luck or skill would have it, I ended up as a Top Ten finalist. Lessons learned from their marketing and social media panels was invaluable as a beginning writer.

When my manuscript was first completed, I started querying publishers and agents. This was prior to the contest. I had no responses, but afterwards when I was able to say, ‘It’s a Top Ten Finalist’ the number of publishers interested skyrocketed. I do credit the Claymore along with KN for getting that first publishing deal.

So … Why is Killer Nashville good for you? Of all the books and stories I’ve written, only one is a mystery. Yet, the lessons learned at KN lend themselves to any genre. The workshops can help teach you about reading publishing contracts, marketing, writing tips, and so much more.



 

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