Tag-Archive for » Steampunk «

Mad Tinker’s Daughter: A Review

I happened to find this book free some time and thought it looked awesome, so I nabbed it.

Mad Tinker's DaughterFor starters, that cover, just brilliat. Secondly a steampunk story, so genre for the win. Thirdly, what an awesome title.

The book wasn’t totally perfect. I’ll be honest I was a little confused and there were a few mistakes here and there, but generally it was a pretty decent book. After I’d realised that most of the main characters had to personalities in two different dimensions/worlds and therefore had two names and two jobs etc, I got a lot less confused and into the book.

There were plenty of awesome steampunk style gadgets, although my favourite thing, I must admit, was a table, but it was a big circular table that seated oodles of people (I think it was 50, it might have been more) and everyone sat around the outside of the circle. The very middle of the circle was a stairwell down to the kitchens with space around it for servants to bring up meals and serve them. The inside part of the table spun around so dishes could move past people. It’s like epic Chinese style buffet tables crossed with steampunk. What’s not to love!

I thought the pacing was good in this story, not too fast that I was confused (apart from the two or more dimensions thing at the beginning) and not too slow that I was bored. The characterisation was decent, although not epic. I still don’t love any of the characters particularly, but several are interesting enough.

I’ll keep reading but as much for the genre and gadgets as the plot itself.

Knowing which ideas to write: How-to

I always get far more ideas than I will ever have time to write. In the last year alone I’ve had the ideas for an epic fantasy series (the Winter series I’ve already begun), the plots for the second and third book in the Sherdan series, two more sci-fi ideas, a modern romance/mystery idea, an idea for how I can work a true story in the Mountifield history into a novel, and three fantasy ideas on top of the series. That’s twelve books worth of ideas.

In the same time (a year), I’ve finished writing sherdan’s Prophecy, written two fantasy shorts, begun the Winter series, the trafficking novel idea I already had and the sequel to Sherdan’s Prophecy, Sherdan’s Legacy. So I’ve added eleven ideas and only actually fully crossed off two, although I’ve got another three in the stage of ‘in progress’. So in total, sitting in my notebook I have: Seven fantasy books, five historical, three modern romances, and four sci-fi waiting for me to consider them and three started. For a total of at least another twenty-two stories! That’s about ten years worth of writing at my current rate, if I don’t get any more ideas in that time!

The biggest problem I have when I reach the end of a book is figuring out which one of these many ideas I should start next. Admittedly some are better than others. Some of the historical ones will probably never get written, but the charge still falls to me to pick the right one. My husband says I get so many ideas because I get the privilege of choosing the ones to actually create. There are days when this can feel like more of a burden than a privilege, however.

I also know I’m not the only one. Other writers share this problem. So I thought I’d share some things I do and use to figure out what to write next.

Which one is easiest to write? Some ideas sound amazing until you actually think about the logistics of the plot or the motivations of the character or where you wish to begin and suddenly the idea’s not quite well formed enough to actually begin yet, and it might never be. I prefer to leave these ideas in the melting pot. Sometimes the best bits pop up again later in other ideas anyway. So I tend to look through and think over which ones I could start without too much effort. That eliminates some from the next pile.

Which ones are going to sell best? Let’s face it, some of our ideas are just right to jump on a bandwagon and this can be a good thing sometimes. I will admit. It’s rare for me to pick a book because of this factor, but it can play a part. I prioritise the sequels of a series already on the go over other ideas simply because it keeps the fans happy and does tend to sell better. It’s important to keep fans happy, especially the ones from early on in a career, who gobbel up the books and eagerly ask for more.

Which ones are the most original? Some ideas are pretty much a rehash of old ideas in a new setting and while these can be great easy books to write to bulk up the backlist they aren’t always rewarding and can feel a little like a cop out. Something that feels original and fresh can be very rewarding to both author and readers alike. While occasionally a risk they can suddenly take a career in a brand new unthought of direction.

Which ones are the most exciting? It can take a long time to write a novel and writing the ones that give us the maximum excitement can help get through the tougher moments in the process. If our heart is most passionate about a particular few ideas then they are likeliest to be well written and to be loved through the full journey from plotting to publishing.

Which ones feel right? After I’ve gone through the above set of questions I often find I still have two or three on my list of books to possibly write. At that point I let them circulate in my brain for a few days and try to ‘feel out’ which one would be right to write next. Usually I’m led to one over the rest.

But since I’m in a sharing mood. Here’s a few ideas that might get written in the next little while or might not.

Sci-Fi – A female is woken from a coma to find her business partner has used all her companies and wealth to get their business holdings and houses into the sky, as that’s what everyone left on earth is trying to do. Dwellings are built that are added to and eventually turned into spaceships. But her business partner stuffed things up and not long after getting into space he gets captured by a space pirate who turns him into a cat and keeps him as a pet. She wakes up to find her companies in a mess and has to sort them out, get on a spaceship’s crew and go rescue him. She quickly works her way up to captain of a trading vessel and uses it to go fetch him, making a deal with the pirate for him.

Modern Romance/Mystery – A widow is applying for a new job and is hired by a wealthy bureaucrat who is trying to gain his inheritance from his rich father. He needs to move the historical and grade listed family home. She is hired as an office junior to help get his companies and his house through the move but the current office employees take a dislike to her and blame her for all the mistakes they make. She manages to find all sorts out about the house and even finds forgotten secret passages. She ends up dating him and finds him a fortune and they take over the world, sorta!

Fantasy – Choose your own adventure Dragon Steampunk. Young man works as a servant in a large household. He feeds and looks after the two adolescent dragons in the cellar. Dragons power the steam powered technology of an otherwise Victorian era civilisation. A bit like how to train your own dragon but steampunk.

And yes I do really want the box on the right. So pretty!

Well there’s three of the nineteen ideas still waiting for me to decide to write them. Maybe one day I’ll write them. Of course I fully believe in keeping the fans happy so if anyone preferes one of them over the others, feel free to say and let me know what you’d like me to write.

A female is woken from a coma to find her business partner has used all her companies to get their patch of earth into the sky as that’s what everyone left on earth is trying to do. Dwellings are built that are added to and eventually turned into spaceships but her business partner stuffed things up and not long after getting into space he gets captured by a space pirate who turns him into a cat and keeps him as a pet. She wakes up to find her companies in a mess and has to sort them out, get on a crew and go rescue him. She quickly works her way up to captain of a trading vessel and uses it to go fetch him, making a deal with the pirate for him. She then quite literally tries to take over everything and help the people back on earth.

Bactine: A review

Bactine was gifted to me by the author Paul Kater shortly after I interviewed him and I added it to my very long TBR pile, hoping to get around to it at some point. Well I finally did and I’m so glad I skipped it ahead of the majority of the pile.

The genre is Steampunk and had, therefore, already set the book as a likeable one in my eyes. I really am in love with all things Steampunk lately.

I must say that it took me a little while to figure out how this book was Steampunk as it starts off set in space but as soon as the man character, Daniel, was on the right planet I knew I was going to love this book and love it I did.

The plot had everything I could have wanted, pirates, action, ships, flying and cool technology. It even had a delightful little romance to finish things off with. I was even pleasantly surprised by a few of the plot twists and could perfectly imagine msot of the characters. I’d really love to have more stories set on the planet too.

And that brings me onto another good point about this book, the planet. It actually felt like a planet. There were cities and islands and forests and places that took days and days worth fo travel to get to. Ofen in sci-fi boks planets are so limited and feel like they can’t be bigger than a country but this one felt much bigger and like the hero had only really explored a tiny part of it.

I’m so glad I picked this one up as I think it’s going to be right at the top of my favourite books this year list. I really really do recommend it so here’s the buy links for it, on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Author Interview: Paul Kater

My interviewee today is Paul Kater

Tell us about your latest project.

I have one project that is approaching its finish, and a few that are on the way.

The one nearing completion is a fantasy children’s book. The main character is a young witch who gets into all kinds of strange adventures with a few friends.
This little witch is the kid sister of my almost famous character Hilda the Wicked Witch, of whom I am working on the 9th book.

The last iron in my fire is the 6th story of Lily Marin, my Steampunk heroine. She is a far more intriguing character than Hilda or Charisma. Lily is a singer who has a secret, which made her develop an alter ego that she tries to hide from the people who know her. That, of course, becomes increasingly difficult.

How do you find writing in different genres? Do your fans mind and do you make it obvious for them?

Producing more than one genre is refreshing. That is the only way I can say it. Sticking to one genre for me is like looking at one thing only, and that is a waste, as I’d be ignoring so many other things. There is a lot out there in the world, each thing with its own beauty, shape and colour. Depending on my mood I prefer one thing to the other. That, by the way, is how I started writing Steampunk, because that has somewhat of a ‘dark’ atmosphere. I was not feeling very cheerful and had the urge to write. That is how for Lily Marin came to be.

I don’t think my fans mind the different genres. Some like to read many genres as well, I know of a few who also read genres I don’t write, and that’s of course fine. They also don’t want to look at one thing only.

For the people who only like one particular style or genre, there is always the choice to skip the books they don’t care about.

When I am writing something that is not the fantasy-world of Hilda the Wicked Witch, I mention that on my website and my Facebook Author page clearly, so people know what to expect. The majority of fans, I know that, are there for the Witch though.

It’s unusual for a writer’s main characters to all be the opposite gender, was this a deliberate decision or just what the stories required?

For Hilda this was deliberate in a way. Hilda was ‘born’ out of the necessity to quickly have a character which was very versatile. I quickly was clear on using magic, and what better person to wield magic than a witch? I had a view of the character’s attitude, and somehow that did not blend in well with a wizard.

Lily came to be after I had read a few Steampunk books where the main characters all mostly male. Of course, the Parasol Protectorate of Gail Carriger being a magnificent exception. For some reason, I think that writing female characters fits me better than male characters, although in Bactine, which is a Steampunk/Scifi crossover, the main character is a man. A soldier.

What book do you wish you had written?

Ouch, that is a hard question. There are so many wonderful books. I think that would be Jack Vance’s scifi fantasy series about Tschai the mad planet.

What’s your favourite genre to write and what’s your favourite genre to read?

This has to be fantasy. Steampunk and SciFi are great and interesting, but fantasy is boundless.

For reading, it’s perhaps even harder, as more than one genre have amazing books. Steampunk, fantasy, paranormal, SciFi, they all have their own attraction. I like the diversity in reading, which may be the reason why there is diversity in my writing as well.

Would you still write if there was no financial need to, and if not what would you do instead?

I have a full-time job as an IT consultant, so writing comes – uhm -… No, let’s be honest. Writing comes first, despite the job. If I could support myself through writing, that would be great. So far, I give away most of the books I have written. Only the lastest book of Hilda the Witch (part 8), and a big Steampunk/SciFi story called Bactine are actually for sale.

I cannot see me sit idle, without writing. There are too many stories and ideas inside my head. If I don’t let them out through writing, I think I’d go bonkers.

In juggling both a day job and writing do you have any tips for others doing the same?

First thing would be to be smart with the time you have, although that might be an open door. For me, writing is a creative thing that does not stop when I leave my writing software. I keep thinking about it most of the day (and night even), so I always have something with me to record thoughts, ideas, and things to research. At work that’s a simple little notepad, and in the car I have a voice recorder app on my phone. It’s quick and easy to use, so ideas don’t get lost.

Something else that’s important to me is to get out and away from everything regularly. Don’t live a life that’s only work and writing, because then life escapes while you’re busy doing other things. The best places to describe are the ones you’ve seen, smelled and felt. The best forests I have written about are the ones I walked in, as an example. Keep your eyes, nose and ears open. Pick up everything that’s there, take home a fallen leaf if you want and can. Everything can help to detail a situation better. Pay attention to people, even when you’re waiting in line to pay your groceries. Watch the rain fall, and go outside in it to experience it. You can’t convey what it is to be cold if you’ve never been cold.

What are you planning on doing next/What else are you up to?

The next effort will be to finish book 9 of Hilda. That is in a ‘crucial’ stage now. This story is a rework of three fairy tales that go criss-cross through each other. It’s becoming quite complex. I started this story after a comment in a review on “Hilda – Snow White revisited”, where someone said he’d love to see Hilda appear in another alternate version of a fairy tale. So I decided to take it a bit further, and went for two. Which somehow turned into three fairy tales in one story. (I am not going to do that again, trust me!)

And I already have plans for a new children’s book, but that’s something for the further away future.

If people want to learn more about Paul Kater and the books he has written so far, they can go to his website, where he has a separate page dedicated to the books he has published so far, and have a look (or like) at his Facebook author page or on Google+.