Thursday, September 22, 2016

Guest Blog - Maya Tyler

Interview Questions
I am pleased to introduce Maya Tyler, author of the paranormal romance Dream Hunter.

Q: Tell us something about yourself.
A: I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have two sons and a nine pound shih tzu. I love to read anything I can get my hands on, mainly romance these days. I have a strong interest in healthy living. I am active every day which helps when I decide to cheat on my diet. I have a weakness for carbs and I like a little cream and sugar in my coffee. I love being outside and outdoor living in my backyard (work-in-progress) paradise. We grew beans and broccoli this summer, but I didn’t help much… I have a completely black thumb.

Q. How did you get into writing?
A: As soon as I could hold a pencil, I was writing little stories. I have a box full of stories and poems I wrote as a child, mostly handwritten. These days my first drafts are electronic and saved on my laptop. I just find it easier to express myself in written (or typed) words. I love to read and writing is a natural extension of that love for the written word. Whether I’m blogging, plotting, writing or revising, I try to write every day.

Q. How do you develop your plots and characters?
A: I have an active imagination and love creating believable characters. For the most part, my plots just come to me. I start writing and the story appears in my mind like a movie. Dream Hunter, in particular, was inspired by a dream I had.

Q: What inspires you to write?
A: I write because I love a happily-ever-after. Life isn’t always lollipops and rainbows, it is unpredictable with ups and downs. When I read, I am drawn into a book and, for a time, distracted from life’s worries. I want to write a book which provides my reader with the same solace.

Q: Who is your all-time favorite character (from your books) and why?
A: Gabe, from Dream Hunter, will always have a special place in my heart. I wanted to create a sexy and strong hero, with a hidden protective and sensitive side, and Gabe appeared in my mind. What I didn’t expect was his rebellious and defiant nature, but it certainly came in handy when he met my heroine Cynthia.

Q: Do you prefer coffee or tea?
A: Coffee… I prefer a dark roast and I love Starbucks…

Q: What’s better than chocolate?
A: A lot of women swear by chocolate as their go to sweet. I, unfortunately, have been allergic to chocolate since I was a child. Don’t worry, there are plenty of other vices out there… I get my sugar fix from cake, pie and cookies (whatever’s in the house).

Q: If you believed in this sort of thing and could channel an artist from the beyond, who would it be and why?
A: I ask this question of the authors I interview as well. I would select a humanitarian, one who creates art, not in the traditional sense, but through their betterment of the world. Princess Diana has long inspired me with the grace and compassion she brought to the world.

Q: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: My plans for the future are centered on my health. I plan to continue to live a healthy life and strive to make the world a better place for my children. I see myself writing and publishing more paranormal romance novels.

Q: Any advice for those aspiring novelists out there?
A: If you are an aspiring novelist, keep writing. Write for the pure joy of writing, not to get published or become famous.

Maya Tyler is a romance author, blogger, wife, and mother. She has a degree in Commerce. Over the past few years, she decided to unleash her creative streak and get serious about writing. So far, she has published a short story “Just for Tonight” in an anthology called With Love from Val and Tyne and her debut paranormal romance novella Dream Hunter. She has also written a few other books (Her latest, A Vampire’s Tale, is scheduled to be released in 2017). Writing mostly paranormal romances, all her books have a common theme – happily ever after. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing with Lego and watching superhero movies with her husband and sons.

Thanks so much for your time, Maya

Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four
brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the
University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program. Susan has been writing
most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the
Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-
line Contest where she received a thousand dollar prize. Susan won the National
Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and one of her
poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her novel, A Bend In The Willow, is scheduled for release by Tirgearr Press in January 18, 2017. 

Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Steampunk Contraptions of Dreamwielder

Diversion Books has put book one of The Dreamwielder Chronicles on sale for 99 cents in all ebook formats through September 13, 2016. To celebrate, author Garrett Calcaterra talks about the steampunk-inspired vehicles and contraptions in the series that have captured readers' imaginations and make the books stand out from so many traditional epic fantasies.

When I first started planning Dreamwielder, I knew I wanted it to move beyond the generic medieval fantasy setting. I don't know that I purposefully set out to make the book have a steampunk aesthetic, but a confluence of influences led me in that direction.

One of those influences was reading the work of steampunk progenitors James P. Blaylock, Tim Powers, and K.W. Jeter. Readers might be surprised, however, by how few steampunk gadgets and gizmos are actually in the works of those three authors. Modern steampunk has really gravitated towards having tons of cool steampunk gadgets and vehicles, but that's not the case with Blaylock, Powers, and Jeter. Sure, there are airships and time machines in there, but their work is more about the dingy, early-industrial setting of the Victorian era, and that's what I was interested in.

Artwork by Patrick Williams
The most stereotypical steampunk contraption I included in Dreamwielder is Siegbjorn's airship. His ship achieves buoyancy the same way a hot air balloon does, with...well, hot air. The only unique aspect to the ship is that the fuel source Siegbjorn uses in the furnace is hand-made by sorcerers.

In book two, Souldrifter, I introduce a new breed of airships. These airships achieve buoyancy the same way modern blimps do, with alpha ether (aka helium). They also have outrigger sails that are used to propel the ships forward with the aid of sorcerers known as stormbringers.

Another big influence that led me to adding steampunk components to The Dreamwielder Chronicles was my time working as an industrial hygienist, particularly my time monitoring the processes of oil refineries and then my stint doing air monitoring for cleanup workers during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Artwork by Patrick Williams
I saw firsthand the devastation that our reliance on fossil fuels leads to, and with that in mind I created the dark city of Col Sargoth. To Emperor Guderian, the city is a triumph of human ingenuity over nature and magic, but as the reader quickly learns, it's actually a once proud city that is now ravaged by industry run amok, with coal smelters belching out black smoke that blots out the sky and covers the buildings with soot.

Emperor Guderian's other "triumph" would be his war wagons. These steam-powered, armored wagons are essentially a steampunk version of tanks, and they prove to be unstoppable by traditional means of combat, as our heroes discover in Dreamwielder. The war wagons also play a role in Souldrifter, but to a lesser extent.

The last big influence on the steampunk aspects in Dreamwielder is the work of two more authors: Mary Shelley and Octavia Butler. Shelley's Frankenstein is the classic tale of humans taking technology too far by meddling with life itself. I played with this theme, but by adding magic into the mix of technology and life.

Artwork by Patrick Williams
The Dreamwielder Chronicles is first and foremost a fantasy series, so it's no big surprise that my steampunk aspects are blended with fantasy aspects. This is most apparent with the scenthounds—part human sorcerer, part hound, and part mechanical compass. Readers also get glimpses of a past war where other hybrid abominations were created by magic. In fact, it's these creatures that led people to abhor magic and allowed Emperor Guderian to come into power in the first place. Readers will get to see more of these hybrid creatures in book 3 of the series, which I'm in the process of writing. 

As for Octavia Butler, her novel Wild Seed was a big influence in creating my character Wulfram, the shape changing sorcerer who hunts our hero, the dreamwielder Makarria. Although, now that I think about it, shape changing isn't really a steampunk aspect, so I'll leave it at that!

Garrett Calcaterra is author of The Dreamwielder Chronicles and other works of dark speculative fiction. To learn more, visit