Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Poem for St. Patrick's Day

Irish Sunrise

The gold light of a rising sun
shimmers on the high green hill
where three aged yew trees grow,
above a long-forgotten grave.

Shimmers on the high green hill,
just glimpses of the ancient Sidhe
that haunt the lush emerald clover.

Where three aged yew trees grow,
branches spreading toward the light,
roots extending deep within the soil.

Above a long-forgotten grave,
a rainbow kisses the sapphire sky
and the lonely north wind wails.

© All Rights Reserved A. F. Stewart

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spotlight on Mechanized Masterpieces II

Today I'm featuring the soon-to-be-released anthology, Mechanized Masterpieces II, and one of it's authors, J. Aurel Guay. Plus there's a great Rafflecopter contest, so read on and enjoy...

Now Featuring

J. Aurel Guay writes fantasy and science fiction with an emphasis on strong plots and meaningful themes. Having played at writing fiction since grade school, he revived his passion in reaction to his day work in biomedical science. “The Death of Dr. Marcus Wells,” published in Shades and Shadows: A Paranormal Anthology is his first published work. His current work in progress Jagerund is a novel expanding on the previous short story.

Q/A with Justin; Character Casting and Favorite Things

1.   Please share how you came up with the concept for your story:
This idea goes way, way back. It has taken so many forms since inception. First, it was a mystical archeology adventure (think Indiana Jones), then a sci-fi treasure hunt, then a steampunk journey around the world, before finally finding roots in the inspiration provided by Edgar Rice Boroughs. Fortunately, I made notes when playing around with the first incarnation that dates it back 10 years ago...

2.   Please name some of your other published works:
My previously published work is also a short story. THE DEATH OF DR. MARCUS WELLS was published by Xchyler Publishing in its paranormal anthology SHADES AND SHADOWS, October of 2013. That short story, full of Victorian werewolves and mystery, spawned a larger tale that is still in progress and I hope to be my first published novel.

3.   What is your preferred writing genre?
I meddle mostly in the fantasy and sci-fi categories. I find it hard to restrict myself to anyone subgenre though. In my writings, you will find magic rationalized my science, and science that reflects ancient lore. This tendency toward mixing things together is one of the reasons I have come to love steampunk. The delicate blending of old and new lends naturally to my tendencies to color outside the box.

As an interesting side note, I have something of a knack for writing paranormal that verges on horror, despite the fact that this is one of my least favorite genres to read...

4.   And preferred reading genre?
I really enjoy reading fantasy and sci-fi as much as I do writing them. Any book with a unique twist on magic or technology will grab my attention. The one thing I’m not a fan of is horror. I’m an empathic person, and there’s already enough fear and hurt in the world, I avoid adding more into my mind at all costs!

5.   What are your top 3 favorite books?
Tough call. Can I list everything written by C. S. Lewis? No? how about the all seven books of CHRONICLES OF NARNIA SERIES? Still no? OK then, just THE SILVER CHAIR, and I’m throwing in THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS too.

Outside of C. S. Lewis, I’d have to say that I am a big HARRY POTTER fan, and of course I absolutely love ‘A PRINCESS OF MARS’ by Edgar Rice Boroughs.

6.   Do you have any particular writing habits?
Yeah, my habit is not writing enough... Everyone’s life is crazy, so I won’t claim to have it crazier than anyone else. I just struggle to find time when I am awake and not occupied by something else. Most of my writing sessions happen on lunch breaks in between bites. 
7.   Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?
I often do have play lists for my stories, but for this one I can’t say that I did. If I were to pick a song, I think I’d have to go with Linkin Parks ‘WHAT I’VE DONE’. It has a bit to do with accepting oneself and becoming something new, plus being already associated with certain other giant robots can only help. ;)

8.   Panster or plotter?
Oh gosh, I plot, do I ever plot. I plot and plot and plot some more, then I outline. I often plot when I should be writing. I plot in my sleep, then outline the book, then outline each chapter, then each scene, then outline each paragraph... OK, maybe I’m not that bad, but I certainly do plot, and feel like a boat adrift on the sea when I try to pants things.

9.   Advice for writers?
The only resource I would point you toward is Chuck Wendig, so long as they are not at work, and there are not small children around... Chuck would tell them to stop bothering him and go write something good, or even bad, so long as they wrote.

That’s the bottom line. If you want to be a good writer, then write! That is the most important thing. The next most important is learning to critique yourself and others. But, when self-critiquing, be sure to put the project aside for as long as you can manage first to look at it with fresh eyes. Otherwise, it will be too close to you and see only what you think you wrote, which will be awesome, instead of what you actually wrote, which will probably be lousy. Lastly, be humble. You are not King, Tolkien, or Martin (yet). Take criticism, with a stiff upper lip. Try what suggestions even if they sound dumb. You might be surprised, and if not, there is always the backspace button.

10.        What's up next for you?
I’m still working on the full telling of my short story THE DEATH OF DR. MARCUS WELLS, tentatively titled JAGERUND. This story will take you from the very beginnings of why there were so many werewolf attacks, through the events of the short story, and eventually sweeping your favorite main characters up in a bigger plot of intrigue that will place the fate of Great Britain in their hands!

I also want to keep up with my goal of publishing one short story per year, so keep your eyes out for that in 2016.

1. Character Casting: Who would you cast for your main characters and why?

For Elizabeth Carter, I think I might cast Amy Adams. She's got the hair, and could pull off the explosive tantrums while still looking cute.

For James Brooks... James is tall, but not too distinctive in build. Many actors could portray him. Maybe Keanu Reeves, he's good at looking confused and clueless...

2. Author Favorite Things:
- Quote - If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called Research - Albert Einstein

- TV show - The Office

- Comic book character - Historically I was always a Spiderman kind of guy. But I lean more the Wolverine direction lately.

- Movie - One favorite movie?? I'll give you my top pick in the obscure category: Mimic (1997)

- Book - The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

- Candy bar - Butterfinger

- Junk food - Nachos

- Place you visited - the Ice Caves on Allegash Lake, Maine

- Restaurant - There's a great Japanese Hibachi place near home called Fuji's

- Island - Myst (didn't say it couldn't be a fictitious island from a 90's game!)

You can find Mechanized Masterpieces II on Amazon

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Two Poems for Robert Burns Day

Love in the Highlands

The sunset o’er the Highland grass,
wildling heather and deep morass,
leads the soft step of my pure lass.
Onward to her sweet dear,
where he awaits in sailor brass
and my heart sheds a tear.

The Piper

The sweet song of the pipes will ring,
down the low road I am walking
my ending step and final spring.
Death hailed with a cold hand,
the closing touch its fate did bring.
Last farewell, my highland.

Copyright © 2013 by A. F. Stewart

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Poem For The New Year

The Promise of Time

In youth, hails the promise of time,
and we ne’er heed the long bell’s chime
Salt air and wind, we voyage free,
chart our course, and we sail our sea

With years, we reach harbour, settle
whilst life’s trials test our mettle
From ticking clocks we cannot flee
Chart our course, and we sail our sea

Evening sun, near the horizon
the breeze is still, the passage done
Night will fall, in the echo’s lee,
chart our course, and we sail our sea

 I wish you a kinder sea
with brisk wind for your sail
and idle days beneath a fig tree

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Twelve Days of Geekness

Here's a little rerun of a holiday favourite of mine, enjoy.

The Twelve Days of Geekness

To be sung as a duet, with one singer singing in the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas style and the other doing spoken asides of the words in brackets. The last two lines are spoken.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Twelve Luxans Fighting (over who gets the last Christmas cookie)
Eleven Wizards Conjuring (including the two Harry’s, Dresden and Potter)
Ten Lords a-Battling (in a no holds barred war for Westeros)
Nine Nazgul Riding (run, Frodo run)
Eight Capacitors a-Fluxing (but no Deloreans, alas)
Seven Slayers a-Slaying (dust those vamps, Buffy)
Six Cylons a-Scheming (BSG forever!)
Five Magic Rings (my precious)
Four Birds of Prey (Klingon, of course)
Three AI’s (enter the Matrix, Skynet)
Two Firefly shuttles (plus Serenity and its crew)
And a Doctor Who in a Tardis (complete with sonic screwdriver)

I’m going to need more room on my collectables shelf (you got that right).

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Spotlight: 404

In today's spotlight, 404 by J.G. Sandom, a thriller to be released on November 21st, 2014, but available now for pre-order.

Now Featuring:

404 by J.G. Sandom

Planes crash into one another midair. Nuclear power plants go berserk. Railroad crossing gates rise, letting cars pass just as trains whistle by. Thousands are injured or killed. The only connection between these seemingly unrelated events is that the systems controlling them are all Internet-driven. 

FBI cryptanalyst forensic examiner John Decker, working at the National Counter Terrorism Center in Northern Virginia, uncovers a deadly plot to sabotage a key US defense contractor. When the plot leads to an old Islamist adversary, long thought dead, Special Agent Decker has no idea he is about to be thrust into a diabolical conspiracy that winds to the heart of our national defense. 

In the course of a week, America is paralyzed by a series of devastating cyber-attacks that cripple the nation’s security, financial markets and transportation systems. Assisted by beautiful and brilliant computer expert Xin Liu (Lulu), Decker must unravel the mystery behind whoever – or whatever – is taking over the Net. 

Who’s responsible for these deadly cyber-attacks? Is it Jihadists of the Crimson Scimitar cell, led by Decker’s old nemesis, El Aqrab? Is it North Koreans, working out of Dandong, China, instead? Or, is it somebody else altogether? 

An exciting, fast-paced, well-spun yarn of a patriot betrayed by his wife, his friends, his senses and, ultimately, even himself, 404 explores our nation’s vulnerability to cyber-attack and how the United States is coping with the twenty-first century struggle to balance the right to privacy with our cyber vulnerability. 

Former Special Agent Ron Jaco (FBI) said, "Team up with FBI code-breaker John Decker as he tries to stop a mysterious hacker, recently discovered penetrating government defense systems. Now, the cyber villain has set his sights on Decker and his family. As a former Special Agent, I found this novel not only plausible, but riveting and truly alarming. If you care about our nation's cyber-security, you MUST read this book."

You can find 404 on Amazon

Available for pre-order until its launch on November 21, 2014

Author Bio:

J.G. Sandom co-founded the world's first interactive ad agency, Einstein and Sandom Interactive (EASI) in 1984 before launching an award-winning writing career. He is the author of ten novels, including The God Machine, Gospel Truths and The Wall Street Murder Club, plus The Wave and his most recent techno-thriller 404.

Booklist called Gospel Truths "a splendid, tautly woven thriller . . . (and) an intelligent mystery of tremendous spiritual and literary depth." And Library Journal termed it, "A masterful first novel, based on a true incident, which spins a complicated web of corruption, greed and deception."
Kirkus Reviews called The Wall Street Murder Club "A Big Apple Deliverance, endowing New York culture with all the corrosively dehumanizing power of Dickey's wild nature." And Booklist said, "(Sandom) writes with stunning elegance . . . A sure hit with any suspense reader."

While known mostly as a writer of thrillers & mysteries, Sandom is also the author of several YA novels, including the award-winning Kiss Me, I’m Dead and Confessions of a Teenage Body Snatcher. The Washington Post said, "(Sandom) writes with a precision and delicacy unusual for YA fiction," and called Kiss me, I’m Dead "a subtle gem."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Spotlight: Dragon Choir

Now Featuring:

Dragon Choir by Benjamin Descovich

When the days stretch and the land bakes, dragons will again scour the sky.
A city of bones and a city of gold plot against each other while the rebellion gathers strength.
A young man is caught in a tempest of intrigue that will forge a new era of freedom, or forever scar the land. He must discover the secret of the Dragon Choir to save his father and end the stranglehold of an unforgiven nation.

You can Find Dragon Choir at:

Author Bio:

Benjamin Descovich is the founder of ethicalwriter.com and works everyday writing the seeds to grow a better future. He is a passionate environmentalist, social justice advocate and holds a degree in Political Science. As an Australian living and working in Scotland, he has been spoilt with inspiration for his fiction. Dramatic landscapes, political intrigue and epic battles will keep you turning the pages while the dragons and magic take your breath away.

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