Release Day!!!!

For Steam And Country is out! Today is the big day. I know you’ll really enjoy this book. Buy For Steam And Country, check it out, tell your friends. http://bit.ly/forsteamandcountry on Amazon now! Both paperback and ebook are available. Audiobook will be later. I’ll have guest blogs and interviews all over the internet today.

Synopsis:

Her father’s been pronounced dead. Destructive earthquakes ravage the countryside. An invading army looms over the horizon. And Zaira’s day is just getting started…

Abandoned at an early age, Zaira von Monocle found life as the daughter of a great adventurer to be filled with hard work and difficulty. She quickly learned to rely on only herself. But when a messenger brought news that her father was dead and that she was the heir to his airship, her world turned upside down.

Zaira soon finds herself trapped in the midst of a war between her home country of Rislandia and the cruel Wyranth Empire, whose soldiers are acting peculiarly—almost inhuman. With the enemy army advancing, her newfound ship’s crew may be the only ones who can save the kingdom.

For Steam and Country is the first book in the Adventures of Baron Von Monocle series by top-10 Amazon best selling space opera author, Jon Del Arroz.

 “Witty, charming and downright thrilling!  Del Arroz nails the feel of good old fashioned Steampunkery with wit, aplomb and of course… panache.” – Nick Cole, author of the Dragon Award winner, CTRL ALT Revolt

“FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY is a rousing girl-powered fantasy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed airship adventure!” – Laurie Forest, author of The Black Witch

Excerpt:

Six people in dark clothes descended from the side of the ship’s hull, rappelling down long ropes. They hollered like maniacs, brandishing guns and swords.

Our guard stumbled backward, mouth agape. He shook where he stood, staring at me. His Wyranth uniform had several holes in it. Before he could do or say anything else, he fell to the ground.

Blood pooled around his body. I dragged my feet and backed away. Bile rose in my throat faster than I could suppress. I’d never seen a dead man before, let alone one killed so brutally.

The six commandos from the airship dropped to the ground. They spread out, five of them circling around me and James. One I recognized as Marina, but the sixth member of the party surprised me — Captain von Cravat. She glowered at me, but her attention shifted when more shots rang out.

One of the Liliana’s commandos collapsed. The three Wyranth soldiers who had left stood with their guns trained on us, using a nearby tree as cover. My rescuers returned fire, several shots hitting one of the Wyranth soldiers in the shoulder. He fell.

The other two Wyranth soldiers wasted no time. Major Anton moved the quickest, charging the circle of my rescuers. His companion fired his gun behind him to cover him, keeping Major Anton from getting shot. Before I could think to yelp, Major Anton had a knife to my throat.

For Steam And Country – Release Tomorrow – Your Marching Orders For The Grand Rislandian Army!

Tomorrow marks the release of For Steam And Country: Book One of The Adventures of Baron Von Monocle. I’m super thrilled to share this Steampunk fantasy novel with you. Reviewers are also loving the book. Steampunk Chronicle says it’s “a solid adventure tale, much in the mold of Patrick O’Brian.”

The goal is to make a huge splash on release day, and here’s how we’re going to do that together:

  1. Make sure to pick up a copy at http://bit.ly/forsteamandcountry (Remember, don’t buy this until tomorrow, Thursday, June 15th! We want the rankings to hit all on the same day)
  2. Share that link on all of your social media platforms and with any of your friends into fantasy/steampunk/science fiction. There’s a lot of Steampunk or book groups on Facebook, join and share! That does so much help you have no idea.
  3. Add it to your shelf, vote it up on the lists that it’s on so people see it. Leave a star rating. The link is here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35378932-for-steam-and-country
  4. Leave an Amazon review. Even if you’re only a few pages in, people who come to Amazon look for reviews to see how many other people are into something. You can edit it later when you’ve finished, but we need as many showing as possible day one. Write to what you know, be honest, but post it up there!
  5. If you’re on Gab.ai, we are taking over there. Post all day with the hashtag #ForSteamAndCountry so we can get a trending topic going. If you’re not, sign up: http://gab.ai . It’s easy and free. It’s a new social network and the people there are very friendly. It’ll take about 200 posts to get this trending, and I need your help! Talk about everything, ask questions, use the hashtag. I’m @otomo on there if you want to tag me. Can do this on Twitter as well of course. Please tag me with #Steampunk on there at least so this book comes up on that hashtag. Gab is my primary focus, however.

Then keep telling your friends. If you want, let your favorite authors know if you find my writing like their work. Get them to share too. It’s all about the multiplier effect of social media. Trust me, I’ve gotten some crazy things going before, and this time it’s about an AWESOME book so it should be easy. Everyone will love For Steam And Country, young and old.

On a side note. I have beautiful bookmarks to give out. I’ll mail them out to anyone who’s interested free of charge. Leave a comment below if you do, and I’ll grab your email from there and get your address.

Thank you so much for your support. It means a ton to me. I try to acknowledge everyone as best I can, but every single person who reads my work means the world. You’re the best readers anyone could ever hope for, and I hope to keep providing great books to you for years to come.

Tally ho! For Steam And Country!

New Federalist Article: The Alt-Tech Revolution

I’ve written about this before in one of my more popular blog posts: Big Tech is NOT your friend. We have to stop giving the companies that mine our data, track us, and then use that information to propagandize and silence our voices. It’s going to be the only way to enact change long term and make the culture a safe place for us and our children. We saw today the results of the SJWs getting increasingly radicalized by the fake news, propagated by Silicon Valley elites. You can read about the different options here:

http://thefederalist.com/2017/06/14/keep-online-browsing-unfiltered-political-propaganda/

The Last Crusade: Your Work Matters

A friend sent me a link to a NY Times article this morning about Christianity reshaping the middle east. They actually made a positive article about the work Christians are doing over in Syria and other parts of the world that are ridden with terrorism, and how those efforts are shaking the enemies of God and the West, as they see the difference between the Christian way of life and theirs. It’s about the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in awhile.

There’s missionaries, your brothers and sisters, who pick up everything, go overseas and spread the word of Jesus Christ. These people are FAR braver than someone like me, and they deserve tremendous respect and moreover, the support of those of us back home. Their showing Christ and charity to radical Islamic fighters and those oppressed by them in the region helps make people realize that their way is not the right way, and that there is a better way — THE way, the truth and the life.  It’s invaluable.

What’s great is their stories are inspiring, and they can give us some practical advice for living at home according to Him. It takes time and hard work, but it’s impossible not to see the fruits of Christ’s message if you get into it:

Exactly why he sought solace in Christianity, rather than a more mainstream version of Islam, no one can quite explain. Reading the Bible, Mr. Mohammad claimed, made him calmer than reading the Quran. The churches he attended, Mr. Mohammad said, made him feel more welcome than the neighborhood mosques. In his personal view, Christian prayers were more generous than Muslim ones. But these are subjective claims, and many would reject the characterization of Islam as a less benign religion, much as they would reject Nusra’s extremist interpretation of it.

This is exactly why the Word is so important. It changes you. It’s important to read and steady yourself with God’s message every day. Even those who used to fight and slaughter Christians see it, and they can’t help be moved by it. That’s the power of the Holy Spirit.

Ms. Rashid said she dreamed of a biblical figure who used heavenly powers to divide the waters of the sea, which Mr. Mohammad interpreted as a sign of encouragement from Jesus. Then, Mr. Mohammad himself dreamed Jesus had given him some chickpeas. The pair felt loved. 

God is real, and He manifests himself everywhere, but you have to be looking for Him. He is the supernatural, beyond and running through the natural. We forget this a lot in our American ways of life where all we see is the material every day in our busy lives. That’s why studying the Word is so crucial again. There is far more to existence than what our eyes see.

This all made me think of something else I saw this morning, about how another friend made a post about how he’s kept quiet about a number of things in his life, and how now he’s made the choice to speak up, to not straddle the fences where it’s comfortable, where he hopes that no one will make him a target, but he’s going to go out and live his life and profess what he believes.

Every time someone does this, it changes the world. It’s brave to do that where you may get shunned by some friends here, and that shouldn’t be minimized, even though we would be wise to remember that people like Mr. Mohammed face far worse for his bravery. Let his story inspire you to bravery. Every time you put yourself out there for Christ, even if it only changes one person in your life, that will change another person, and another. Look at the results in Syria of all places above. This man has achieved eternal salvation because of a couple of people.

Vox Day posted something incredibly inspiring yesterday on this very topic: Only two numbers matter, 2 and 12. Because one plus one is three and all we need are twelve to change the world.

That’s all it takes. You are making a difference in living by Christ even if it doesn’t feel like it. Keep hope and live strong, for it is commanded:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Your work matters. Mr. Mohammed’s new found calling matters. Your boldness will be rewarded by the fact that others will come to see Christ and His glory. We’ll all rejoice for their coming together with the Lord in his Kingdom. Pray for our bold warriors out there bringing the love of Christ to these souls. Pray for peace.

Writing Advice For New Writers

Author and Editor (one of the best out there) Dario Ciriello wrote a nice guest post on the Hugo-nominated Castalia House blog this morning on writing advice:

The push to force everyone into a one-size-fits-all template began in Hollywood and is now rampant in the publishing industry. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of good people on the creative side of traditional publishing, readers and editors who really care about storytelling and discovering new authors. But they’ve been sipping the Kool-Aid too, right along with the authors of all the writing books, websites, and blogs which parrot the same, tired dogma to writers desperate to publish. And although there’s plenty of excellent advice out there, so much of it is buried among mountains of generalization, dross, and sheer nonsense that most writers learning their craft learn only to march in lockstep. Before long, they’re churning out the same cookie-cutter fiction as everyone else.

You can check out the whole thing here. I’ve read his whole book, Drown The Cat, which is available for preorder. It’s great advice for newer writers, espeically compared to all the books out there that tell you the same thing to make you write the same as everyone else. Be your own voice. That’s what Dario teaches and it’s about the most important thing you can learn.

How To Win (Or What I Learned From The French Open and Rafael Nadal)

I was talking with my dad this morning about the French Open tennis tournament. Before I lose you with sports talk, this is a great metaphor for life that I think is worth your time, so stay with me.  One of the tennis greats is Rafael Nadal, who had a stellar early career, and in the last couple of years has really fallen back in terms of the elite tennis players. The French Open marked a triumphant return where he crushed everyone. He’s 31, which is old for tennis, meaning he doesn’t have the strength/speed of the youngsters coming up, so he has to play his game now and play it smart.

And that’s where the life advice comes into play. I noticed, observing Nadal, that he doesn’t play on the defensive. He directs the flow of play, puts himself out there hard. He plays with aggression, and he plays to win at every moment, and more importantly, no matter the score, he never lets up with that.

That’s the attitude it takes to win. You have to be aggressive, you have to push hard. You have to fire your shots and let the chips fall as they may. Nadal was drilling his shots down the lines, inches from being out so often, and yet those are the shots that his opponents can’t recover from. Think about it.

Life is a risk, and it’s about attitude. The winners in life have confidence, and that’s one of the big key determinants of their success. Nadal has the confidence to take those shots, to play a smart game even though he may not have the physical prowess he used to – and it pays off. Moreover, what confidence does is it makes your opponents feel overwhelmed by you.  Over time, they see your prowess and they start to panic, and when they panic, that’s when they’ll make their mistakes. Confidence is something you can train yourself in. It’s all about how you talk to yourself internally. There’s plenty of books about cultivating that that you can check out, and I recommend Gorilla Mindset.

Next, you have to have a solid strategy in place to begin with, and stick with it. There’ll be points where commentators and bystanders will be out there criticizing your every move – when it looks like you’re against the ropes. That’s part of the swing of life, but it’s also nothing to fear. The commentators don’t care, their “concern” for your strategies is not something that should be second guessed in the middle of play, and it never helps you to do so. The peanut gallery is not there to help you win. Those people are only there to tear you down, nothing else. Stick with your game plan. The minute you equivocate, you lose. Nadal stuck with his game plan through a whole tournament, and through his smart play, he achieved his victory. You can too.

The last thing that you have to follow like Rafael Nadal is to strike hard, and strike fast. Pick your targets with precision and execute. It can’t be haphazard, it has to be according to plan. His shots right down the line or cross court are intentional every time, and that’s what it takes to throw your opponents off balance and achieve victory.

It’s really beautiful watching Nadal play, and inspiring for life. You can take everything he does in working hard, being supremely confident, and executing your game plan into any situation. It doesn’t matter what it is. That type of mindset will ALWAYS come out on top. Just power through the injuries and the bad times and you’ll get there.

For Steam And Country — The Song!

I am not sure it’s going to ever get much cooler than this, even when the book comes out. A wonderful person by the name of Ben Zwycky came to me a few weeks ago and told me he’d written lyrics based on my work (Ben also did some copyediting/proofreading on the book, thank you Ben for working overtime and producing this creative masterpiece!). I thought that by itself was really exciting, and that it was fun.

Then I found out that he’d gotten musician Sean McCleery involved and they set the lyrics to a tune, and Sean provided some really awesome music that sounds like a great military hymn/march. And I’m pleased to share that with you today. Please allow me to present, “Do You See The Cyrstal Spire”

 

Do you see the Crystal Spire
That adorns Rislandia?
You’ll want to join the Crystal Knights
To guard her land, her sea, her air.

When the beating of your heart
Echoes the thundering of the guns,
Then you’ll be sure to play your part
When the battle comes.

The invading Wyranth soldiers’ eyes
Emit an eerie glow;
The ground is shaken by a force
Whose source you’d like to know;
So now climb up this rope,
Renew your old hope as we go!

Do you hear the turbines roar
As we soar into the sky?
This great airship offers more
Than just a simple earthbound life.

When the fire within your heart
Mirrors the glorious setting sun,
Then you’ll be sure to play your part
When adventure comes.

Super thematic and beautiful. You’ll learn all about the Crystal Spire, the knights, and the Wyrath soldier on Thursday when For Steam And Country is released!

#SteampunkMonth Retro Review: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

I had originally thought that this would a short read, something quick that I could get into and show its influence on the streampunk genre, as in steampunk communities, this book is talked about regularly. I’d considered it proto-steampunk from my loose memory of it as a child. Perhaps its due to its attitude, just the time that it was released, but because it was such a slow read it took me a couple of weeks to get through.

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne actually opens in a very nice manner, with an omniscient perspective explaining the disappearances of several ships over years. They’re destroyed, people are worried about a giant sea monster. I was pretty intrigued and excited.

It switches to the perspective of a scientist who is brought aboard a vessel along with a Canadian harpoonist to take down this monster that’s plaguing the oceans. Action occurs here very nicely, as the twist is that it’s not a monster at all – it’s a big metal submarine contrapction! Their boat gets sank, they’re about to die and they’re brought into this strange submarine as prisoners. They’re held in the dark for a long time, wondering what their fate will be, until they’re informed by Captain Nemo they have a choice – join with the Nautalis and vow never to leave, or die. So far so good. I’m intrigued. I wonder why Nemo is so angry and taking down these ships, it’s touched on a little, but never fully explained. Perhaps it’s a mystery that will get explored along with the depths.

And that’s about where the book stops being interesting. They travel around the world, going to different areas. Different geographical regions are explained. Different undersea creatures are explained. And when I say explained I’m talking paragraphs that take up 2-3 pages going into absurd detail like this is some sort of academic journal. Maybe it’s just the deep perspective but yikes. It repeats this for the whole book.

There is some narrative in there as well. The heroes want to escape this creepy Captain Nemo. They keep plotting. Nemo keeps disappearing for hours/days on end and they don’t see him, only to return so they can se something. Something happens so they can’t escape. They forget about it and get lost in the wonder. A few chapters later repeat.

That’s my major qualm, the repetition. It’s over and over. Nothing builds. No tension gets escalated, it’s just more cataloguing and more “Captain Nemo is mysterious and melancholy!” which we were already told. There’s a couple cool parts – a fight with sharks, running from savage natives as they blast them with an electrified hull of the ship, there’s some cool steampunk feel right there, and later when they kinda do battle with a ship hunting them, but it’s sparse between the description.

I’ve read a lot about how there were originally intended themes of anti-imperialism, etc. that Verne really wanted to play up in his battle against various empires, but the edited version of the book we got removed most of that content. Perhaps that’s the case. It’s a cool concept, this submarine contraption. During the day that alone may have been enough to make this book a hit, now if it were described a little better would provide a cool alt-history content take. However, all the cool promises of that didn’t really get fulfilled. Instead we got a catalogue of fish.

I was pretty disappointed. It’s a really tough read. It has some historical value but I wish I could say this was something that would be more inspiring.  4/10

#Steampunk Month Guest Post: Author J.M. Anjewierden

This marks the first time I’ve ever had a guest post on my blog. Not sure how often I’ll do it but I saw that J.M. here had a really awesome Steampunk novel released this week, and invited him to come talk about his release a little bit. The book is Penny Dreadful and the Clockwork Copper, and it is available now on Amazon here.

 

Here’s what J.M. Anjewierden has to say about Steampunk and Penny Dreadful:

Steampunk Month. What a time to be alive! While I’m mostly here to talk about my own new Steampunk novel I’m going to cover some other ground as well, so strap in.

First, who am I?

Well, glad you asked. I am J. M. Anjewierden, author extraordinaire, librarian defender of truly free speech, and possessor of the magnificent beard of mystery.

I have two books out this year, the first of which is ‘The Long Black,’ a Space Opera/Blue Collar story about a starship mechanic, but that’s not why we’re here today. Oh no. You want to hear about the other one, the newly released ‘Penny Dreadful and the Clockwork Copper.’

(Blurb) Viva-3 was built to discover secrets. But they made her too well. She’s the perfect spy: the lethality and persistence of the police clockworks in a body that can pass as human. What the Empire’s police don’t know is that she doesn’t have to obey their orders or her programming. She can think and decide for herself. And she’s doomed if they find out.

Viva is sent undercover with orders to unmask the city’s vigilante hero, Penny Dreadful. She is supposed to stop his one-man war against the criminals of Monte-Ostrum. It will be dangerous, but just maybe Dreadful will be more useful as an ally rather than an enemy… (End Blurb)

 

Penny Dreadful is, of course, a familiar term to any long-time fan of Steampunk, and literature in general. Most recently attached to a horror TV show, it originally was a term for the cheap mass produced stories sold for – of course – a penny.

So that is reason number one for referencing that in my work: The Penny Dreadfuls were the Pulps of their day, and I am firmly in the camp that the Pulps were the Golden Age of SF/F, and further that ebooks represent a chance to recapture the best parts of the Pulp Era. Especially since digital publishing frees the author from the limited publishing schedule of the major houses, often only one book per year. As with anything else, practice makes perfect, and an author who can put out five, six, or more books a year will generally be able to improve their product faster than someone limited to one new release each year.

As for the other reason, well, that requires I bring in my lovely editor, Miss CJ, whose day job is writing for the Chicks on the Right website. (Yep. I married my editor. Very much a time saver, assuming she doesn’t start to go soft on the parts I write none too good. I think we’ll be fine though, I married her first: Most authors who run into trouble with editors no longer editing harshly enough married them second.)

Miss CJ: Penny Dreadful came about – believe it or not – based on a character from a tabletop RPG we tried out with our gaming group. We spent several sessions playing “Airship Pirates,” an indie published steampunk RPG set in the world of the band Abney Park.

I came up with a character who was part of the nobility, but who tired of the tediousness of noble life and wanted to do something more than simply “be a noble.” Also – the character needed skills to serve on a crew of airship pirates. This character spun out into the vigilante, Penny Dreadful. It’s always sounded like a name to do something fun with (and if you read the book, you might also notice there’s also some clever pun work at play. Spoilers, sweeties). Also, it was hilarious during the course of our RPG campaign to have Penny Dreadful run into “fans” who’d read about Penny Dreadful’s adventures in penny dreadful novels.

  1. M.: Yep, Penny Dreadful started out as an RPG character. Honestly, I imagine there quite a few characters and series kicking around that started the same way.

There is an interesting thing to point out with RPG conversions, though. I’m sure you all know that video game movies are just about always rubbish, right?

Have you ever wondered why that is? True, part of it is simply that the producers and directors (and screenplay writers) often have no idea what makes the property tick, but it also goes back to what the medium does well, and does not do well. Video Games (like RPGs) derive a lot of their impact for the audience because of choices, and potential choices. Do I play a wizard, or a fighter? Do I sneak into the building, or go in guns blazing? Those choices give the narrative more impact, because the player will always wonder, what would have happened if…

With a film or TV series that element of choice is lost. Without it the power of the narrative starts to weaken, and that is dangerous because that strong narrative is often all that sustains the property through long bouts of (gloriously) gratuitous fight scenes.

That’s why, in my not so humble opinion, I find that the best adaptations of RPG characters and worlds pointedly focus on things other than the actual game campaign. They might be prequels, or sequels, or origin stories. They might also just take the setting and run with it in new and interesting ways.

In my case I adapted the origin story rather than the campaign arc. Yeah, at the beginning of the game the characters are on an airship working as Sky Pirates, (it is in the name after all) but that isn’t where they started. That is the story of Penny Dreadful and the Clockwork Copper.

Also, I stress to add, I adapted the backstory because I have no desire to steal the creations of Abney Park. They are one of my favorite bands, and their Steampunk is freaking awesome. Aside from having airships and pirates in said airships there is not much in common between the setting they present in their fun RPG and in my book.

In fact, while I already have a rough outline for the next book in the series, it has nothing to do with the campaign we played last year. That story will probably never appear in the sequels. Funnily enough, as a writer I have all those same choices and more as I do when playing a game, and those what ifs have siren calls…

One other thing I wanted to touch on, and I promise this is the last one, since if I indulge in any more tangents you’ll be here all day. (Or more likely not. Better I don’t wear out my welcome.)

Clockwork Copper, why call them that? Part of it is obvious, Cop(per) has been a nickname for the police for quite a long time, and applying it to an artificial policeman actually made out of metal was too good to pass up.

Of course, as the blurb notes, Viva-3 is a copper, but not a metal one. The first instinct would be to name them something else, but stop and think about it. Words persist long after the reasons for their original meaning is no longer relevant.

Heck, just look at the save icon in pretty much any program you use. When was the last time you actually had to put in a 3.5” floppy disk to save? Yet the icon persists.

So, yeah, referring to flesh and bone constructs as clockworks is silly, but no more silly than talking about Xeroxes, or using a floppy disk as the save icon.

As the joke goes, ‘Fiction is harder to write than reality. Fiction has to make sense.” That’s true in a lot of ways, but I find that adding a bit of that real life weirdness into books helps them feel a bit more real to the readers, and of course that helps you enjoy them more.

And after all, it’s my job to entertain you.

And this monkey intends to keep on dancing.