The Centaur at Clockwork Alchemy

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This Memorial Day Weekend, I’ll be appearing at the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention! I’m on a whole passel of panels this year, including the following (all in the Monterey room near the Author’s Alley, as far as I know):

Friday, May 26
4PM: NaNoWriMo – Beat the Clock! [Panelist]

Saturday, May 27
12NOON: Working with Editors [Panelist]
1PM: The Science of Airships [Presenter]
5PM: Versimilitude in Fiction [Panelist]

Sunday, May 28
10AM: Applied Plotonium [Panelist]
12NOON: Organizing an Anthology [Panelist]
1PM: Instill Caring in Readers [Panelist]
2PM: Overcoming Writer’s Block [Presenter]

Monday, May 29
11AM: Past, Present, Future – Other! [Moderator]

Of course, if you don’t want to hear me yap, there are all sorts of other reasons to be there. Many great authors will be in attendance in the Author’s Alley:

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There’s a great dealer’s room and a wonderful art show filled with steampunk maker art:

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For yet another more year, we’ll be co-hosted with Fanime Con, so there will be buses back and forth and fans of both anime and steampunk in attendance:

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As usual, I will have all my latest releases, including Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, the steampunk novel I have like been promising you all like for ever!

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In addition to my fine books, there will also be new titles from Thinking Ink Press, including the steampunk anthologies TWELVE HOURS LATER, THIRTY DAYS LATER, and SOME TIME LATER!

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I think I have about as much fun at Clockwork Alchemy as I do at Dragon Con, and that’s saying something. So I hope you come join us, fellow adventurers, in celebrating all things steampunk!

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-the Centaur

The Centaur Interviewed on Sage and Savant!

One more interview with Sage and Savant … me!

https://www.sageandsavant.com/2017/04/05/anthony-francis-talks-about-jeremiah-willstone/

Q: In your story “The Fall of the Falcon” the main character is female, but she has a male name, Jeremiah Willstone. Why is that?

AF: It’s more than just gender bending: it’s an outward sign of their society’s aggressive approach to women’s liberation. I wanted to tell a steampunk story about a young Victorian female soldier, but the Victorians didn’t have women soldiers – we’ve only recently started to allow them in our military. So I imagined a world where that wasn’t just a little bit different, but comprehensively different – a world where women’s liberation came a century early, and with twice as many brains working on hard problems, they were more advanced in 1908 than we are today. But I needed a way to communicate that in the story, and decided that the women in Jeremiah’s family took male names to try to achieve gender equality. With her history written into her name, I now had the storytelling power to discuss that issue as much as I wanted to – or let it slide into the background until someone innocently asks the question, “So, Jeremiah is female, but has a male name. Why is that?”

To read more, check out my interview, and also check out the podcast on Sage and Savant!

-the Centaur

Book Giveaway with Sage and Savant!

Almost let this one slip by … Thinking Ink Press and Sage and Savant are partnering to give away copies of anthologies containing Jeremiah Willstone stories, TWELVE HOURS LATER and THIRTY DAYS LATER!

Book Giveaway with Sage and Savant!

If you’re waiting for a chance to jump on the Jeremiah Willstone train, now’s a great time to do so! The stories are from the Plague of Gears storyline, chronicling Jeremiah’s time at Liberation Academy, and – shh! – have some inevitable spoilers about JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, so, enjoy, but be warned – or pick up JW&TCTM first!

Enjoy!

-the Centaur

The Steampunk Drinking Game

Hail, fellow adventurers! To help celebrate steampunk (and Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine :-D), our friends at Bell Bridge Books have come up with the Steampunk Drinking Game!

Here are the rules: Pick out a steampunk movie or book of your choice. Beverage may be of your choice. For each item you come across, take the prescribed drink. (Best played with others who don’t actually plan to go anywhere afterward.) The last person standing wins!

  • Aether = 1 drink
  • Airship = 2 sips
  • Automaton = gulp
  • Bodice = 1 drink
  • Corset = down the whole shot
  • Gears = 1 sip
  • Goggles = three sips plus bite of lemon
  • Her Majesty and/or Queen Victoria = down the whole shot
  • Horse and/or carriage = 3 drinks
  • Inventor and/or mad scientist = 4 drinks
  • Inexplicable device = 1 drink
  • Mention of social rank (Duke, Marquess, Earl, Barron, etc.) = 4 sips
  • Parasol = 2 drinks
  • Presence of bioengineering = 4 drinks
  • Puff of steam = 1 drink
  • Raygun = chug
  • Top Hat = 3 drinks
  • Tesla coil = down the whole shot

Now, remember: drink responsibly, and definitely do not attempt to play the drinking game in one sitting with Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine!  According to our calculations, if you followed the Steampunk Drinking Game rules with JW&TCTM, you would end up:

  • taking 155 drinks
  • taking 1,115 sips plus 34 bites of lemon
  • taking 16 shots
  • and would have to chug your drink 12 times!

You know a book is full of steampunk when the Steampunk Drinking Game tries to knock you out with it!

So, I hope you responsibly enjoy JW&TCTM, and celebrate Steampunk!

-the Centaur

Pictured: coffee and pocketwatch from Pixabay, beer sampling by Paul Joseph, by way of Wikimedia Commons.

Women’s History Ongoing

A brief note: I had planned to write five articles for Women’s History month, but I can’t not do something thoroughly, and because real life sometimes intervenes, it looks like three of these (women scientists, computer scientists, and female soldiers) will roll off the end of the month. And that’s OK! Because women’s history is ongoing and isn’t confined to a month – but I do appreciate your patience!

Twelve Hours Later Returning to Print!

I’m happy to announce that Twelve Hours Later, the anthology with the very first Jeremiah Willstone stories (chronologically, that is, if that has any meaning in a heavily tangled time travel universe), is returning to print this Friday, March 24th!

The Jeremiah stories in here are from the “Plague of Gears” storyline detailing Jeremiah’s days in Liberation Academy, and include “The Hour of the Wolf” and “The Time of Ghosts” (shh, that one has SPOILERS for The Clockwork Time Machine).

My friends and colleagues at Thinking Ink Press worked with the editors and authors of Twelve Hours Later to bring this gem back into print. From the release announcement:

Back by popular demand, Thinking Ink Press is republishing the out-of-print steampunk charity anthology Twelve Hours Later: 24 Tales of Myth and Mystery. The brainchild of the Treehouse Writers, fifteen talented authors, artists, and poets, Twelve Hours Later was released at Clockwork Alchemy 2015 and features pairs of stories set within the same day.

Myth! Mystery! Intrigue! Dirigibles!

Support public libraries and explore the world of steampunk fiction. Twelve Hours Later, 24 Tales of Myth and Mystery will thrill you with round-the-world and round-the-clock adventure, weaving lore from ancient Egypt, Greece, Japan, and more into a steampunk tapestry!

  • A devoted nursemaid braves mythical Japanese spirits to save a child’s life
  • Daredevil adventurers tangle with a Chinese demon called the Lord of Death
  • A lady archaeologist battles thieves for possession of Egyptian hieroglyphs

Linked pairs of stories, set 12 hours apart, fill a 24-hour day with a whirlwind of steam, legends, spycraft, and the occasional forest demon!

Half the proceeds of the anthology will be donated to nonprofit organizations that support literacy, including the San Jose Library System. As you indulge your literary senses, you’re also helping to promote literacy!

Twelve Hours Later will be released on Friday, March 24th, and is available for preorder on Amazon. So get a copy and find out what happens … Twelve Hours Later!

-the Centaur

Auditions are Underway!

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Great news, fellow adventurers! Auditions are now underway for the very first Jeremiah Willstone thrilling radio dramatization, “Jeremiah Willstone and the Choir of Demons,” based on the story of the (almost) same name published in Aurora Wolf magazine!

Stay tuned for more exciting news as this aerograph cylinder whirs its way towards an access point on the electromagnetic Internet near you!

-the Centaur

Pictured: a remixed picture of a wax-cylinder Edison phonograph, picture taken by Billy Hathorn and edited by me under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Buzzymag Interview: The Backstory of JW&TCTM

For those interested in how Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine came to be, I’ve hoisted from the archives the following article from BuzzyMag where I was interviewed by Jean Marie Ward at Dragon Con 2014:

JMW: What kind of challenges are you bringing to that Steampunk story?

Dr. Anthony Francis: I was inspired to write this story by coming to Dragoncon and seeing all these people with all these gears and stuff and all the stuff on their costumes. I’m like, how would that possibly work? What if that possibly worked? Wait. Could I design a reason why people would be wearing goggles because they have ray guns that have a lot of ultraviolet? Could I design a reason why there’d be all these tubes where they maybe have gas powered things like with compressed air. So I started building this up and I started writing a small amount of story on this. I’m like, but how did they get that in the early 1900’s, slightly after what in our world would be the death of Queen Victoria? Technically Edwardian rather than Victorian, but you’ll have to read the book to see more of that. But it started to bother me. Like, how did they get in this early 1900’s time frame with all this technology that we don’t have and then it occurred to me. What if some of the scientists didn’t die, like [Riemann], and if we’d had something like modern antibiotics so he didn’t die [of, I think,] tuberculosis or pneumonia, I can’t remember which at this time. And then what if other people didn’t die? What if Mary Shelley didn’t die? I was researching feminism at the time and I had found out that there was a feminist movement in the early 1800’s that died out when Mary Wollstonecraft gave birth to Mary Shelley and died subsequent to the childbirth and then when her husband published her biography, it had the backfire effect of trashing her reputation so women’s rights were set back about a hundred years.

To learn more, go check out the interview at BuzzyMag, fellow adventurers! Or to read the book that was the ultimate product of this thought process, get Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine wherever fine books are sold:

-the Centaur

Pictured: a location from Dragon Con. Or, perhaps, one from JW&TCTM … can you spot it?

Guest Post at Magical Words

Want to know more about the process of writing a novel? Check out my guest post at Magical Words!

Putting It All In

One of the most important pieces of writing advice I’ve received is “put it all in.” If you’ve got a great idea, don’t save it for a great story: put it in the story you’re working on now. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I had a great idea that I felt I “wasn’t ready to tell,” but I can tell you that those stories almost never get told.

When I started writing a steampunk novel, I questioned what to put in it. I knew my protagonist was a young female soldier from the Victorian era, but what else should go in the story? Some things seemed obvious …

To find out more the rest, take a look at the post, or to find out more about Jeremiah, check out The Clockwork Time Machine wherever fine books are sold:

-the Centaur

The Willstone Family Mint Julep

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One of the fun things that Bell Bridge Books does for authors is to find ways to connect them to readers. While brainstorming about Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, one thing they suggested was to find something fun in the books – like an activity, a recipe – or a drink. Well, as it turns out, there’s a cocktail in JW&TCTM: the mint julep.

It was worth the wait. The mint julep was precisely as she remembered her grandmother’s: sweet sugar, sharp bourbon, the tang of mint fresh-picked from the garden, all served icy-cold in a tall Collins glass. It was like a sudden flash from another universe, another time, and Jeremiah felt a pang of homesickness—and forgotten loneliness; her grandmother was long gone, and Jeremiah realized she was more than a decade into the project of redeeming her mother’s good name. After a long sip of mint-muddled bourbon, Jeremiah marshaled herself and spoke.

According to Garden and Gun’s The Southerner’s Handbook, “the mint julep may be the most iconic cocktail in America” after the martini. Originating in the early eighteen hundreds, it was perceived as a drink of the elites – because you needed a heck of lot of money to offer someone a drink, much less one served with ice, in a pewter cup, prepared by a servant, so it arrived frosted, all prior to refrigeration! But in modern times the mint julep is a drink for the masses, perhaps best known for its association with the Kentucky Derby, which in turn shot from regional to international prominence because of Hunter S. Thompson’s groundbreaking article of gonzo journalism, “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.

But all that history takes us away from the damn drink, and while Jeremiah Willstone’s family originated in England with Mary Wollstonecraft, they very definitely became Southerners when they emigrated to America (where the real-life Mary Wollstonecraft had hoped to travel one day, if she’d lived longer). It took a little work to interpolate what the Willstone family’s mint julep might be like, but then I realized, since Victoriana is a century up on us, their drinks might be a mix of old and new. And so:

The Willstone Family Mint Julep

8 mint leaves
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
2.5 ounces Kentucky bourbon
Selzer water
Crushed ice
1 Julep Cup (traditional) or Collins Glass (modern)
1 mint sprig
Put the mint leaves in the bottom of the glass and top with the sugar. Muddle them together until the mint leaves begin to break down. Add a splash of seltzer to dissolve the sugar. Fill the glass 3/4 full with crushed ice and pour in the bourbon; top off with selzer. Stir, then garnish with the mint sprig and serve!

This recipe is a combination of ones from Garden and Gun’s The Southerner’s Handbook, updated slightly through comparison with one by Alton Brown to make it stronger and sweeter and to incorporate the more modern selzer water that the Victorianans would not be afraid to use. Contrariwise, the Garden and Gun one uses hot water instead of seltzer water, a good old Southern trick to make sure that the sugar completely dissolves – so Grandma Mark Willstone just might have poured a “little drop” of hot water on her mint and sugar before muddling it … and pouring in that crushed ice.

Enjoy.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a mint julep, from Wikimedia Commons by CocktailmarlerOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link.