Beyond the Rails is a story with a strange beginning. I had one of those friends who is present in your life like a comfortable old sweater, always there for the good times, and taking an immeasurable part in creating them. He and I were both boardgamers, though he was much more hardcore than I was. He regaled me on several occasions about a game called Dystopian Wars, a steampunk-themed war game that began as a portfolio of fleet actions between navies, and has since grown into something beyond the control of its originators.
The game came packed with extensive backstories on the various countries involved, and the first words in the Britannia section are, “After the conquest of Ireland…” Well, my friend, being a good and proper Irishman, wasn’t going to let that pass unanswered, and he approached me with the germ of a writing project about a British journalist, one Mr. Shackleford Banks, who was hot on the trail of the real story behind the Irish campaign, and working to expose the dirty politicians who had directed it. Banks would be having a rough time of it as he tried to track down clues while evading the attentions of the various British security services, foreign and domestic.
Then he got a promotion to a position that required a great deal of travel, off-hours work, and a number of other extracurricular activities, and for the next few years, we were barely able to work in a game every couple of months. His project went by the wayside, but I was hooked on the punk. Rather than commandeer his project, I moved it forty years in time and four thousand miles in space, and Beyond the Rails was born. I didn’t set out to copy anything, though a number of readers and reviewers have noted its similarity to Firefly. It is undeniable, and given my love of that particular series, hardly surprising, but they missed its connection to a much more obscure vehicle, Howard Hawks’ 1962 feature film, Hatari! I was a child of a broken home, with absentee parents and bitter adults constantly at each others’ necks and mine, and at the age of 13 I saw in Hatari the family I never had. I saw it fourteen times the week it was in my local theater, and to this day I own it and watch it a couple of times a year.
And the point of all this is that it was that world I was unconsciously trying to recreate in Beyond the Rails, a group of misfits and outcasts from the various worlds they should have occupied, coming together and forming a functional family in a backwater colony. Facing the dangers, misfortunes, the greedy, the ignorant, and the just plain evil as they try to make their way in a harsh land, they are the family that the child I was always wanted. It isn’t their adventures that make them special, nor the airship they live on, nor the country where they live. It is the family they have created voluntarily and without intent that carries them through their trials.
Beyond the Rails carries a cumulative rating of 4.8 on Amazon and 4.6 on Goodreads; there are some readers out there who think I did a pretty fair job. Now you can live the whole adventure so far for the total price of $2.97. All three books are available now on Kindle for 99¢ each. Get ’em while they’re hot!
View from the Blimp
… Or you can wait for them to be available free here on the website. Regular readers will have observed a running conversation with friends over the last three installments about giving my books away, and I am I would say about 90% certain that that’s what I’m going to do. Interestingly enough, the good folks who tried so hard to talk me out of it wound up talking me into it. Every time someone offered a very good reason for me not to do it, I had to ponder their reasoning and try to refute it in order to assure myself that my own reasons were valid, and the more I thought about it, the more valid my reasons appeared.
To recap, I’m not making any great amount of money selling books (although I did sell two books on the third; thank you, someone!), so it seems I should at least have some readers. I post to this blog every three days, and when I do, I link to it on my Facebook page plus several groups and websites, and that publicity brings in 15 – 40 visits per day, which I’m sure is more than my Amazon listings get in a month. I will still publish through CreateSpace, which may generate the odd sale here and there, but more importantly will give me access to physical books that I can buy for the grandkids and give as gifts to friends, and in the meantime, anyone who pops in to my blog will be able to read my portfolio in its entirety. I can’t find a single problem with that.
I’m not going to rush in headlong, but once I’m sure this is what I want to do, I will begin posting ALL of my work, all of it, to the tabs at the top of the page. That won’t be done overnight, but will be an ongoing process, and eventually you’ll be able to read my thoughts and plans down here, and all my books and stories up there ↑. What do you think?
In Other News . . .
Cannon Publishing has put out a call for submissions in six different anthologies. This link will take you to their flyer. They are asking for military-themed stories, sci-fi military, and fantasy. They don’t specify length in the flyer, but they do ask you to e-mail them your ideas and interests, so if you have a story in you that’s looking for an outlet, this could be a big opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by!
This month, the e-book retailer Smashwords is running their annual Summer/Winter sale, which runs from July 1 through July 31. Why summer/winter? That’s because it’s summer here in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere! All of Hadrosaur Productions’ titles published at Smashwords will be on sale for 50% off their retail price. All you have to do is enter the code SSW50 at checkout. Smashwords presents their ebooks in a variety of formats including mobi (which work on Kindles), epub (which work on Nooks), and PDF (which work on just about anything). https://www.smashwords.com/books
Interesting Reads . . .
I Villain by Marcus V. Calvert. “My current alias is Benjamin Cly. Just over 10 years ago, I retired from my life of violence and became a fixer – a middleman of sorts. Clients brought me their problems. My talented contractors ‘resolved’ them. As long as the money was right, I worked every side of the law and didn’t think twice about it. Until one of my biggest clients tried to set me up. Then things went sideways. I lost my growing criminal empire at the drop of a hat. A lot of people started trying to kill me. I should’ve run away and hid in some distant corner of the world. But that’s not my style. I don’t run. I thrive. And in a corrupt metropolis like Pillar City, I’ll just start a new empire. But I can’t be a fixer again. Nor do I want to be a mobster – this town has plenty of those. No, I’m going to do the last thing anyone would ever expect a ‘harmless’ guy like me to do: Become a crimefighter. Seeing as I can steal super powers with a touch, it might be fun . . . $3.00 on Kindle.
Dark Voyage by Helen Susan Swift. In 1914, fear and paranoia rule the high seas. Iain Cosgrove is newly married to Jennifer Manson, daughter of a wealthy Scottish merchant. But when Iain leaves for a research trip aboard the Lady Balgay, last of Dundee’s once-grand sealing fleet, a mysterious chain of events is set in motion. Fueled by rum and the eerie tales of the crew, they obsess over ancient superstitions, which Iain dismisses as simple lore… until they reach the frigid Arctic seas. After a string of tragic accidents, Iain begins to question his beliefs. Then, the ship discovers two castaways – one of them a mysterious woman – and events take a sinister turn. $3.99 on Kindle.
Moon, I Revolt by Brian Barr. July 1969, we watched the Apollo 11 blast off into space and land on the moon… but what if there was a second ship? This is the classified story of the Freedom 8, and two of its passengers — siblings Jimmy and Hannah Wallace and their otherworldly experiences that have remained a mystery to this day. 99¢ on Kindle.
And that’s 30 for today. Visit again next Wednesday when I’ll be featuring another talented friend. Until then, read well, and write better!