777 Challenge

Steve Moore, author of Royal America, and fellow Denizen of the Scribbler’s Den on The Steampunk Empire challenged me to play the 777 game. In this game, we go to page seven of a work in progress, scroll down seven lines and post the next seven sentences.

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Since Steve is a fellow steampunk writer, I chose The Brazen Shark which has recently been handed off to the tender mercies of my editor:

    She took a sip, then dug into the hearty breakfast.

    Ramon gathered up the second plate and cup, but felt uncomfortable and lazy as he returned to the chair. Ramon had been many things including a sheriff and a ranch hand. He enjoyed working, but Captain Cisneros insisted Ramon and Fatemeh were guests and must enjoy their time together. Despite his lethargy, Ramon’s stomach rumbled. He gulped down breakfast and sopped up the leftover egg yolks and chile with a tortilla.

    “Slow down,” said Fatemeh.

As it turns out, I have two works in progress. My horror novel, The Astronomer’s Crypt is also in the hands of its editor. Here are seven lines to tease you about that novel as well!

    They progressed slowly and steadily about two miles until they came to a bridge over a place called Nana’s ravine. The car ahead hit a patch of ice and spun out of control. Mike’s mouth dropped open as the car slammed into the guardrail just beyond the bridge and toppled over the side.

    As Mike reached the bridge, he felt the wheels of his own car start to skid. He geared the engine down low and eased his foot onto the brakes. The car fishtailed across the bridge, but he maintained control. Once on the other side, he pulled up to the broken guardrail.

These challenges typically ask you to tag more people, but I like to leave these open-ended. Especially in this case I know a lot people who have already been tagged. If you’d like to play, just drop a link to your blog in comments and I’ll update the post with up to the first seven who respond.

Update: Challenge accepted! I tag:

  1. Maxwell Grantley
  2. Karen J. Carlisle

A Professor on Stage

This last week, I was surfing the internet when I came across references to a play called Oppenheimer put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. One of the characters in the play was J. Robert Oppenheimer’s young protégé, Giovanni Rossi Lomanitz. Thing is, Ross Lomanitz was one of my professors at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Here he is as I knew him.

Lomanitz

Huffington Post UK has a review of the play, which also includes a photo of actor Oliver Johnstone as Ross.

I took Modern Physics from Ross during my sophomore year. Not only that, but I met my wife in his class. A few years later, Ross’s wife Josephine would be one of the musicians at our wedding. Of course Ross was there as well. In addition to that Modern Physics class, I went on to take both undergraduate and graduate level quantum mechanics from Ross. I enjoyed his classes and got A’s in them.

As I mentioned, Ross himself was the student of J. Robert Oppenheimer. After World War II, he was summoned before Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Committee to testify about his ties to the Communist Party. Ross stated his loyalty to the United States and also pleaded his fifth amendment rights. The upshot was that he was blacklisted and could not get a job as a physicist for many years until he was hired at New Mexico Tech in 1962.

The Pirates of Sufiro As it turns out, not only was Ross a beloved physics teacher, he and his wife were also members of the first writer’s group I belonged to. Ross worked on a memoir of his post-McCarthy days. In the meantime, I worked on a story called “A Quiet Burning in the Darkness” which would ultimately become the first chapter of my novel The Pirates of Sufiro. Ross and Jo made comments that helped me shape the novel. What’s more, I’m sure the story of a pirate captain exiled from civilization and forming a society based on his own moral compass owes a lot to Ross.

Sadly, Ross passed away in 2003. I hope the play Oppenheimer will find its way over to the United States. It would be a chance to see Ross again, even if only through the lens of theater.

As for The Pirates of Sufiro, you can pick up a copy at Lachesis Publishing. The eBook is free, but if you want a real treat, pick up the paperback with its illustrations by Laura Givens.

LepreCon 41

Next weekend, I’ll be a participant at LepreCon 41 in Phoenix, Arizona. The convention will be held from Thursday, June 25 through Sunday, June 28 at the Embassy Suites Phoenix North. This year’s guests include David Gerrold, Jennifer Brozek, and Dayton Ward. It’s especially exciting since I’ve had the chance to work with or alongside each of those people in at least one project. For more information about LepreCon, visit their website at http://leprecon.org

My schedule at the convention is as follows:

Friday, June 26

    3-4pm – Suite E – Discovering New Worlds. A presentation about the techniques used to discover planets beyond the solar system and a look at the kinds of worlds discovered. This presentation will focus more on how new worlds are found. My presentation on Saturday called “Planets Outside the Solar System” will focus more on what kinds of planets are being discovered.

    5-6pm – Suite D – How to Make Your Own Telescope. I show you how you can make a simple and stylish Newtonian telescope from easy-to-find, inexpensive parts that’s easy to transport and set up so you can enjoy the night sky

    7-8pm – Suite C – East Coast Steampunk meets West Coast. How does Steampunk fashion and style differ from the east coast to the west coast? On the panel with me are Dee Astell and Ileana Herrera.

Saturday, June 27

    11-11:30am – Suite E – Autographing. Bring your books for me to autograph. I’ll also have a few of my own wares along to sell.

    2-3pm – Suite E – Planets Outside the Solar System. A look at how we discover planets outside the solar system, what kinds of planets we’ve discovered, what we know about them, and the future of planet hunting. This presentation will focus more on the actual planets discovered.

    10-11pm – Suite C – Steampunk and History. Steampunk blends elements of history, science fiction, and fantasy. How much historical research needs to go into your steampunk story? Can you completely reinvent history for your steampunk story? Does it even have to be set in history to be called steampunk? I envisioned this as a panel with multiple people, but it looks like I’m doing it by myself, so come equipped with questions. I’ll likely do a reading or two to show how I’ve approached issues of steampunk and history.

Sunday, June 28

    10-11a – Suite E – Mars: A Land Across the Aether. A presentation about Mars of the 19th century and how it became a place in the popular imagination. Where did the Martian canals come from? A look at the early debates about Martian life. Listen to Tesla’s recordings of extraterrestrial signals.

If I missed you at Phoenix Comicon, I hope to see you at LepreCon! Also, remember, the Favorite Heroines Blog Hop is still going on. Be sure to drop by my last post and enter to win a copy of Lightning Wolves.

Science Fiction Titles 25% Off Today – #AReBlast

All my science fiction titles at OmniLit are 25% off today to celebrate the first day of summer!

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This post will give you links to those books they have available. I hope you’ll add one or more of my books to your summer reading list.

The Solar Sea

The Solar Sea A new energy source is discovered around Saturn. The Quinn Corporation builds a solar sail to investigate. Along the way, they discover humans may not be alone in the solar system. Get it at:
https://www.omnilit.com/product-thesolarsea-184660-235.html

Children of the Old Stars

Children of the Old Stars A disgraced starship captain, an alien warrior, and a cult leader go on a quest to learn about a mysterious space vessel that destroys everything in its path. Get it at: https://www.omnilit.com/product-childrenoftheoldstars-90549-245.html

Heirs of the New Earth

Heirs of the New Earth Captain John Mark Ellis must race against time to free the Earth from invasion and stop aliens from altering the structure of the galaxy itself. Get it at: https://www.omnilit.com/product-heirsofthenewearth-183797-235.html



My vampire titles are also on sale! Visit the post at the Scarlet Order blog for a list of titles and links to them.

Favorite Heroines Giveaway Hop

Welcome to this special edition post that’s part of the Favorite Heroines Giveaway Blog Hop. I am giving away an ebook copy of my novel Lightning Wolves. Keep reading for details!

favorite heroines

My favorite heroine is Larissa Crimson, a character in my wild west steampunk novel Lightning Wolves. When we first met Larissa in the novel Owl Dance, she was a bounty hunter because in 1876, people didn’t hire women to be sheriffs or marshals and she wants to bring justice to the western frontier. The healer Fatemeh Karimi recruits her to help stop the Russian invasion of Denver. In that battle, Larissa meets an expatriate Mexican professor who calls himself Maravilla. Professor Maravilla has built owl-shaped flying machines capable of combating the Russian airships.

Larissa

Although she’s good with a gun, Larissa’s real strength is her intelligence. After the Battle of Denver, she teams up with Professor Maravilla to see if science, rather than the gun could be a more effective tool for justice. When the United States Army returns to ask for Professor Maravilla’s aid again, it’s Larissa who goes with them to build the lightning wolves of the novel’s title.

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As I mentioned at the top of the post, I’m giving away an ebook copy of Lightning Wolves. Don’t worry if you haven’t read Owl Dance. Lightning Wolves is designed to stand alone. In the novel, Russians have invaded the Pacific Northwest and are advancing into California. New weapons have proven ineffective or dangerously unstable and the one man who can help has disappeared into Apache Country, hunting ghosts. A healer and a former sheriff lead a band into the heart of the invasion to determine what makes the Russian forces so unstoppable while a young inventor attempts to unleash the power of the lightning wolves.

To find out why Larissa is my favorite heroine, click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. I will draw a winner first thing on June 25. Good luck!

Click the button to continue on and see other stops on the blog hop. Remember, there’s a giveaway at each stop:

The Ghosts of Stars

This past week at Kitt Peak, we observed so-called planetary nebulae. These are the expanding shells of dust and gas, left over when the cores of old stars collapse. In a very real way, they are the ghosts or corpses of stars. Their material is expanding into the interstellar medium where it will be recycled into new matter. It’s a chilling look at the most likely fate for our own sun.

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This nebula pictured is known informally as the Soap Bubble Nebula and was discovered in 2008. This image was taken with the Mayall 4-meter on Kitt Peak using the same system we were using for observations. You can find more information about the Nebula and the observations at the NOAO Image Gallery.

Although this object looks very ethereal and fragile, it’s actually larger than our entire solar system and consists of material hurling away from the stellar core at the center. Also, while this particular planetary nebula is beautiful and round, many are more irregular, their shapes probably influenced by nearby stars and the original star’s magnetic fields and rotation. Planetary nebulae get their names because enough of them are circular that early observers thought they resembled faint, ghostly planets in the telescope.

Planetary nebulae make me think of a beautiful, haunting song by the steampunk band Abney Park called “Beautiful Decline.” The song describes how the works of man eventually get reclaimed and recycled by nature. Of course, nature itself is not static and even stars are not immortal. Yet, even in decline, there is beauty and the promise of new generations of stars. The material will become new planets and even new life.

On the subject of things steampunk and scientific, there will be a special post mid-week as part of the Favorite Heroines Blog Hop. I’ll be discussing one of my favorite kickass heroines from the novel Lightning Wolves. I’ll also be giving away an ebook copy of the novel.

favorite heroines

After you’ve visited my post, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop where bloggers will introduce you to awesome ladies and find out why they’re the best of the best. There will be a giveaway at each stop!


Soap Bubble Nebula Image Credit: T. A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF

A Contract, a Convention, and an Interview

Last week, the run-up to Phoenix Comicon was a perfect storm that kept me from making my usual Saturday morning post. That said, this particular storm really was perfect in that it involved some excellent news. I just signed the contract for the ninth novel I wrote, The Astronomer’s Crypt. The timing was such that we were able to announce it publicly for the first time during the “Tension on Every Page” panel. Of course, it’s only been two weeks since I turned in my tenth novel, The Brazen Shark. Neither book has a formal editing/release schedule yet, so it’ll be something of a race to see which one is released first!

The convention itself was a blast. I was on several excellent panels and got to meet lots of great people both at panels and at my table in the exhibitor hall.

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One thing different this year from previous years was that all the celebrity autograph sessions and photo-ops happened on the third floor instead of the exhibitor hall, so I’m afraid I never really got to see any of the movie and TV stars who were in attendance. That said, I did get to see some really terrific costumes throughout the weekend. Here we see samurai Batman, a terrific rendition of Wolverine, and Calvin and Hobbes. If you click the photo, you’ll get a larger view.

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Finally, one thing I love to do at conventions when I have the opportunity is to give stuff away. I held a drawing for a basket of books, including These Vampires Don’t Sparkle, A Kepler’s Dozen, and Revolution of Air and Rust. All one had to do to enter was sign up for my mailing list. The lucky winner was Edward Pulley. Here we are hamming it up for the camera.

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Of course, if you missed me at Phoenix Comicon, or just didn’t get a chance to attend, you can still click this link to sign up for my mail list. You may ask, what’s the fun in that, since the drawing’s over? Well, besides being the first to hear about news, updates, and special offers, you’ll also be among the first to hear about any giveaways that are happening in the future.

Finally, I’ll wrap up this week’s post by mentioning that Jack Tyler, the founder of the Scribbler’s Den group on the Steampunk Empire has interviewed me about Lightning Wolves. Drop by and learn a little more about me and read a short excerpt at: http://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/850545-David-Lee-Summers