Review: Thunder Road by Chadwick Ginther

Honestly, I was a little nervous about this book. I’d met Chadwick Ginther through friends at a writing convention. He’s a great guy, from the same province, writing about my hometown. Instant friends. When I asked him what his book was about, it sounded pretty cool: Urban Fantasy with Norse Mythology. Except I don’t read a lot of Urban/Contemporary Fantasy.

Thunder Road

I bought Thunder Road and got it autographed. Then I put off reading it for a couple reasons. How do you read your friend’s book and then review it? What if it stinks? Okay, maybe not that extreme. What if you just don’t like it? What it’s not that polished because it’s a small Canadian press?

What if, what if. Shut up and read the damn book. And am I ever glad I did.

This was an excellent story, engaging from the onset and didn’t let up at all. Dialog had me laughing regularly. I mean, you could read this for the banter with Loki alone (no joke).

The production value was no different than a book out of NYC, with clean, crisp pages and well-edited prose. Canadian small press? I wouldn’t have noticed. My bad for thinking otherwise.

The Norse Mythology is blended in without distracting and adds mystery and wonder, keeping you guessing at what each faction’s next move will be. Some author’s love to hammer you (no pun intended) with italicized words from history/myth and this wasn’t so bad.

Ted Callan’s tale reads like a Sword & Sorcery and reminded me of Robert E. Howard’s younger Conan. Where Ted lacks in experience and guile, he makes up for it with heart and sheer will. And he might be selfishly motivated, but finds a way to help the greater good.

Looking forward to the next book.

Dave

Clockwork Universe – Table of Contents

Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs AliensIt’s been a while since the Table of Contents was announced for the upcoming anthology Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens. It happened before my website went live, so I’ll post a quick link to the official Kickstarter update page and list the great people whose stories will fill the hallowed pages of this steampunk/sci-fi mashup.

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Patricia Bray

“The Cavorite Job” by Ian Tregillis

“Gracie’s Fire” by Leah Cutter

“Quinta Essentia” by Bradley P. Beaulieu

“When Comrade Ekaterina Died for the Motherland” by J.R. Hargenrader

“A Clockwork Alien” by Gini Koch

“Heart of the Empire” by Jason Palmatier

“The Red Queen and the White” by C.B. Pratt

“The Wizard of Woodrow Park” by Jean Marie Ward

“Of War and Wings” by Tansy Rayner Roberts

“Airship Down: A Sound and Fury Adventure” by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin

“Steamsuit” by David J. Fortier

“Fingers of Steam, Veins of Gold” by Brad Hafford

“Heart of Clockwork” by S.C. Butler

“Lady Antheia’s Guide to Horticultural Warfare” by Seanan McGuire

There’s a great mix of new author’s and professionals, including some big names that fantasy fans are sure to recognize. I simply cannot wait to get a copy and start reading these.

-DJF

A Novelist Sells a Short Story

Last fall, I received an email from novelists Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier who also edit anthologies, inviting me to write a story for Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens. It wasn’t a guaranteed sale. They had some big name authors to anchor the project, allowing a bunch of newer authors to compete for the final story slots. I was part of the latter group. Excited? Absolutely. Nervous? Hell yeah.Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens

I’d come close a few times on previous anthologies and my short stories were starting to get some traction in the markets. I’d sold one story back in 2012, but it was more a fluke than anything. I’d written a story about a gaming thief and sold it to a magazine that specialized in games and loved thieves. Nothing like a great fit to make a sale.

For this anthology, I read some steampunk, researched Victorian times, and pulled my hair out trying to figure out what to write. I really didn’t have much. A few random ideas about a main character, but nothing solid. In the end, I sat down and started hammering out words. A character emerged, with a goal, and people arrived to mess with her. Sounds like a story, or a start of one.

A chapter later, I had a pair of characters and an opening. No, really, a chapter later. I had 3500 words written without getting my character out of the first scene. Novelist problems combined with not planning anything. My first draft of Steamsuit was about 8800 words, far meandering and convoluted. No worries. I just needed to cut most of the beginning, flesh out the characters, fix the ending, and sharpen everything. Yes, I have an S on my chest, but I still need a cape.

I sent Steamsuit to a couple of friends for critique (excluding Joshua Palmatier since he is an editor for the anthology) and they provided me with some excellent feedback, including suggestions to tighten the story up. Thank the gods. Brevity is not my strength, in case you didn’t notice during this post. At the end of December, after yet another revision, the story came in around 5600 words when submitted it for rejection. I mean, for selection. I get those mixed up too often.

January 26th, after what seemed like a year (note: it was less than a month), Patricia Bray emailed me to say they conditionally wanted to publish my story. Cue angelic fanfare. I just had to fix a bunch of things by the end of February. No worries, except that there was quite a bit to fix and part of it stemmed from conflicting character motivations. I hemmed and hawed, as all good procrastinators do. I then emailed Patricia about the motivations and we sorted out what I think was the best course. This resulted in even more changes, but they fixed the motivation issues and really added a nice layer to the character.Clockwork Universe Cover Flat

After final edits and a run through for typos, the story was officially sold. The entire process definitely developed me as an author. I only hope people enjoy reading the story as much as I loved writing it.

– DJF

Blalan’s Game

Blalan’s Game was originally written based on a writing contest at Flashing Swords based on a writing prompt that something fell through the ceiling. What a great way to start a story. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun creating Blalan and his adversary for the story. It didn’t win the contest, but received good feedback in the revision process.

The story was a perfect fit for Bards and Sages Quarterly, since both the magazine and the story are both about games, and Blalan a former master thief, fits nicely into the tie-in fiction you would find in game worlds. Thanks to the gang over at Bards and Sages for my first sale.

I’m hoping to get Blalan’s game and some follow up tales online soon.

DJF