Friday, March 30, 2012

Rollicking Tales: The Blog Tour

Thomas Pugh, the editor of Rollicking Tales, is here today to share his inspiration for starting up a new anthology.

I was asked by Diana to tell you all about my inspirations for Rollicking Tales: The Farmer’s Almanac. Well, I suppose this can be broken down into two parts. Firstly why was I inspired to edit an anthology of agriculture based tales, after all it doesn’t immediately grab one as a thrilling subject.

Well firstly I am a farmer, and the old adage, stick with what you know, has some merit to it. I like farming, my family has been farming for more generations than anyone knows, so why not.

But also, it is quite a universal theme. People always need to eat, and that means there will always need to be agriculture of some sort. It could be a tale of Neolithic man, when first they sowed some wild corn; or a tale of 28th century slug farmers on the outer reaches of the known universe.

More than this though, looking at a society through its farmers gives, I think, a new and interesting perspective on a universe. It is all very well to write tales of the heroes and kings, but these egotistical posers need to eat something, so somewhere there will be a downtrodden peasant, with a team of oxen, and New Holland 6070 or what ever the 28th century equivalent is. Let’s hear his (or indeed her) story, itsn’t it time they had an adventure?

The other half of the question is why edit Rollicking Tales at all. This is probably easier to answer. I love story telling. Since I’ve started writing properly and even had a couple of things accepted for publication I’ve really felt like I’ve found my calling. But to me, I don’t want to just be involved in the process from one angle. In this day and age storytelling doesn’t just need a teller and a listener (both roles I am happy to fulfil), it also needs a publisher, someone to get these stories from the writer to the reader. It might not sound like the most exciting link in the chain, but I’m loving it.

In some ways it is the best of both worlds. I get to decide the flavour of the stories I want, the topic and the style. But I also get to read great stories sent to me from all over the world.

Really, as the name suggests, Rollicking Tales is inspired by the old pulp magazines of the early part of the 20th century. I want to capture the sense of excitement these publications conveyed. My aim is the same as theirs was, to package great stories as inexpensively as possible and make them available to a wide readership. With the advent of digital books, and the increasing technology behind printing this is becoming more possible by the day. I think a new era of pulp is around the corner, and Rollicking Tales is here in the vanguard.

This post is part of the Rollicking Tales Blog Tour. Tomorrows post is at The Daily Steampunk (
To follow the tour from the beginning go to The Various Electronic Missives of Thomas H Pugh (
The Rollicking Tales website can be found here:

Thank you, Tom, for joining us today. Tom also likes pigs and included a pic of pigs in his blog tour package to me. Aren't they cute?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guest Post: Lindsey Duncan on Unusual or Strange Sources of Inspiritation

Lindsey Duncan is here today talking about the strangest or most unusual sources of inspiration that she has had. She also has a book coming out, Flow from Double Dragon Press.

Thanks to Diana for having me on her blog! Diana and I have known each for a while. I had the pleasure of proofing for her magazine, Emerald Tales – always a good read. And when she suggested the topic of the strangest or most unusual sources of inspiration, how could I resist? (Note that I’ve interpreted this as strange sources for ideas, not necessarily strange ideas in themselves. That would fill a whole volume …)

The first story that leaps to mind was inspired by a computer game. Part of the game involved a mystery sequence where you investigate an outbreak of vampirism in a small town, eventually to discover that the town priest is behind it. However, the game was buggy, and if the sequence wasn’t played in a precise order, the confrontation dialogue with the priest wouldn’t trigger … even though your characters had all the appropriate information. I tried several times to confront the priest, only to receive a blessing every time.

Finally, in annoyance, I shouted at the screen, “Stop blessing me, you’re the villain!”

I stopped, considered this. What a great line of dialogue. I then wondered how such a thing would come to pass, and what kind of character would say it. This turned into “Loyal Dice,” (forthcoming from Darwin’s Evolutions) the prequel to Fatecraft …and I used that opening sentence verbatim. It shaped Pazia’s personality: brave, forthright, and a little snarky. It also gave me the starting place for the antagonist, a priestess of the hearth goddess. But the story bears no resemblance to the game beyond the involvement of a cleric.

On a more disturbing note, I took inspiration for another story from a personal mishap. I am a terrible clutz, constantly bumping, knocking and bruising myself. At one point, I took a particularly impressive slide down the stairs on my leg. The resulting bruise turned out quite artistic – looked, in fact, like an angel. My brain took a left turn from there and pondered a form of temporary tattooing created by deliberate bruises. This turned into a murder mystery, where the “art” was confounded by real injuries.

I’ve always enjoyed randomly generated parameters for stories, whether it be collecting words from volunteers or hitting random on an art site and weaving the images into a plotline. I’ve found divination cards, such as Tarot, to be useful for this purpose, as well … and even an old deck of Magic: The Gathering cards contributed to the cause. I also bought a deck of cards for a fairy tale storytelling game, and “Sleepwalking” (Alternative Coordinates, Winter 2009) came from this.

Probably the most unusual generator I’ve used was intended to create plots, albiet for a very different venue: the 48 Hour Film Project, a madcap adventure where each team is given a character, prop, genre and a line of dialogue and set loose to create a (no more than) seven minute film in the next two days. I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project once as a scriptwriter and had a blast. We had a “road trip” film that involved toting a kayak (one of my contributions to the script was a series of increasingly more complex palindromes), filmed mostly at night. I got sleep – I’m not sure anyone else did!

I ended up writing a bunch of practice scripts from a generator connected to the Project – and one, a recruitment drive for a superhero reality TV show, turned into the short story “Super Solutions.”

So those are some of my most peculiar idea sources, stumbled across over the years. Who knows what the next one will be?

LINDSEY DUNCAN is the author of contemporary fantasy Flow, just released by Double Dragon Publishing. Flow follows the water-witch Chailyn, on dry land for her first mission, and Kit, a contemporary teen with mysterious powers, as they seek the man who killed Kit's mother ... a goal which catches the interest of the darkest of fairies. They must also deal with the Borderwatch, a zealous organization that hunts fairies and has been in a cold war with the water-witches for decades.

Flow can be found here:

To tie back to this post, three of her short stories are also available for individual sale:
Taming the Weald:
The Naming Braid:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SEO for Authors: Is it Necessary?

Here and there around the internet I've heard that authors need to make sure that there websites and blogs have SEO or Search Engine Optimization. I put the information into my memory banks and didn't much think about it. But then the other day on an industry blog, a web guru advised writers to hire a web programmer to build a website for them to include SEO at a cost of $1000 - $1500 AND to ditch blogger and set up their blog on wordpress because you can't do SEO on blogger.

The engineering part of my brain went WTF?!? You can edit the html code on blogger, so you can do whatever needs to be done to get SEO on your blog. But I was assured by the webguru and the blog host that ALL the web progamming experts and gurus say that you NEED to have SEO on your blog and website. The engineering part of my brain was not satisfied with their answer.

Here's the thing about web gurus and computer geeks, they love the bells and whistles of computers and programming. I have much experience with these types of people as my son is one of them. "Oh mom, you need this sound card and this video card to get the best sound and graphics on your computer." Except that I wasn't into computer gaming and those things are only necessary for a great gaming experience. Then there are the mac users vs. windows users arguments. Yeah... Most of us couldn't tell the difference between using a Mac and using Windows. The only people who need to use a Mac are those people who do sound and video editing or graphics like architects and graphic artists. So, the probability that a web guru is telling you that you need to have something you really don't need to have is high.

Web programmers and developers love to complicate things as well. Here's an example: CSS or Cascade Styling Sheets. I still haven't figured out why they are better than using the font or italics or bold codes. In HTML the code for italics is < i > . With a CSS, the code for italics is < s p a n s t y l e = " f o n t - s t y l e : i t a l i c ; " > You tell me which one is easier to remember and type? Right. And yes, I have not yet learned how to use CSS as it appears to be a waste of my time and energy and makes an easy coding job more difficult.

Your eyes are probably rolling into the back of your head, so I'll get to the point.

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It is doing things to your blog or website so that it will appear higher in the search engine results like google or yahoo or whatever search engine one uses. Sounds like something one really needs, right?

Well, no, not if you're an author. People do not use google or yahoo or some other search engine to browse or search for books they might like to read or new authors they might like to check out. It would be a monumental exercise in frustration to search the entire internet for a book or author when you're just browsing. Amazon or Barnes and Noble are better places to browse for unknown books or authors. In other words, regardless of whether you have SEO or not, no one is going to find you doing a general search on google or yahoo.

And if someone does a search for you using your name or the title of your book on google, then you will pop up in the first slot or at least on the first page. I tested this with Cherie Reich, Aubrie Dionne, Nyki Blatchley, Lindsey Duncan, and a few others. Mette Pesonen who's only published work is The Annals of Hypnosia on Scribblers and Ink Spillers comes up on the top spot of a google search. And none of these pages have SEO.

The bottomline: SEO for an author is a waste of time and money. And if someone tells you to spend FIFTEEN HUNDRED dollars to do it, run the other way.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Author's Gender

"I rarely read books written by men." I ran across this statement yesterday and it got me to thinking.

If a man said, "I rarely read books written by women." We would jump all over his butt for being sexist...

Both of those attitudes are ridiculous and limiting for the same reason: The person is automatically rejecting a book using a criteria, the author's gender, which is irrelevant to the quality of the story. There is no gender difference in being able to write well. People who pass over a book written by one gender or the other are missing out on some great books.

And here's the ironic bit: Unless there is a picture of the author on the cover of the book, you do NOT know the gender of the author. There are men who write under female pseudonyms and women who write under male pseudonyms. It is possible that the person who "rarely reads books written by men" is primarily reading books written by men using a female pseudonym.

It's something to think about.

Now if you're consciously trying to read more books written by women or men because you're reading selection seems to be skewed toward one gender, then carry on. That's a different situation as you're attempting to be more inclusive in your reading choices.

Excluding a book because of the author's gender is just silly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Underwater Dogs: The Photographs and Cat Diaries

Seth Casteel, a pet photographer, got the brilliant idea of taking his camera underwater in a swimming pool and taking pictures of dogs swimming underwater to get their pet toys which had been tossed into the pool. This is the result. I think I might buy a print of that black labrador. It's too funny cute to pass up.

Carli Davidson decided to take pictures of dogs shaking water off their fur.

To be fair to the felines, I ran across this youtube video: Cat Diaries: The First Ever Movie Filmed by cats. They put gopro video cameras on the cat's collars to see the world from a cat's point of view.

Monday, March 5, 2012

12 Things You Were Not Taught About Creative Thinking

Here's an interesting article: 12 Things You Were Not Taught About Creative Thinking

Hmmmm It's not a rejection, it's a market that doesn't fit the story.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Peeing Outside of the Box

My cat is doing research for a nonfiction book to be titled: "Peeing Outside of the Box: Tricks and Tips for Annoying Your Human Servant".

I found the following notes:

Pee outside of the box - This trick is particularly good for male cats as our urine smells really BAD. To accomplish, step into the kitty box so that all four feet are in the sand, then lower your hind end so that it hangs over the edge of the box, and pee on the floor. You can't get in trouble for doing this because technically you are in the box when you relieve yourself. WIN!

Howl at the Moon - Yes, I know this is something the dog does, but it is so much more annoying when you do it. It also helps to be born with the a voice that resonates on a frequency that can not be ignored. WIN!

Bonus points for howling if you can do it at 4:00 AM while running. Even more bonus points if you begin your run at the point farthest away from the human's bed and end with a flying leap onto the human's head. WIN! WIN!

Needless to say I am not amused at being the subject human for his research.