Works of fiction appearing here are © 2011-2016 by Jack H. Tyler, and are not to be assumed to lie in the public domain.
Any reproduction of this material is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Free Steampunk Books and Stories

          "When I am dead, I hope it is said:
          'His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.'"
                    ~ HILAIRE BELLOC
          Works for me, and while I covered this a couple of posts down, I want it to be the last entry on this particular site, because I don't want someone to buy one of my books, then come here later and feel cheated when they discover that I'm giving them away.  If you want to have hard copies, or to put it on your Kindle to carry around, by all means, they will remain available on Amazon, but if you want to try it, or you've encountered it, and (bless your heart!) want to read more of it, click this link:


          That will take you to my writing.com page, where this blog continues, much of my work, including the stories in the Beyond the Rails books, is posted for free, and eventually all of my finished work, no matter the genre, will reside.  I have it set up so that you must have at least a free writing.com membership to read the Beyond the Rails stories, except The Botanist, which is still free for everyone.  The continuation of this blog, and all my other material, is available to anyone with a mouse; just click in and read.  If you want to leave a comment or join the discussion, you have to be a member of Writing.com, but there is a free level that enables you to partake in just about everything on the site, and if you're a reader (why else are you here?), this will give you open access to the 650,000+ writers who make their home there.
          So with this notice, it's official:  I am a hobbyist author, and I have to say, having abandoned the grind of marketing, it feels like I've been let out of jail!  So, click the link; come on by and visit my new home, and let's get acquainted.  I'd love to hear what you think.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Curses, foiled again!

          I stated in my last post, in the wee hours of this very morning, that I would be sharing my writing portfolio for free.  I intend to.  Alas, Blogger does not intend to allow me to do that here.  I have reposted the same five pages of Temple of Exile several dozen times over the last three days, only to be told that I can't do that.  Accordingly, my material, and my future blogging activity, will be found at:


          Update your bookmarks accordingly, and I'll be honored to host you over there.  I hope you all have a wonderful 2017, and that it started off better than mine; I mean, look at this thing.  It can't even space these lines evenly.   Definitely a first-world problem to be sure, but no less frustrating, for all of that.  I'm sorry it didn't work out, but I hope to see you soon over at my new home on the web; I'll leave the light on for you!  Until then, read well and write better.

Farewell from Blogger Station,

~  Blimprider 

This I Resolve . . .


          "This is the moment of embarking.  All auspicious signs are in place."
                    ~ DENG MING-DAO
          I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions.  Oh, I see the attraction of hanging up a new calendar and saying, "Let's accomplish something big during this cycle," but it always seemed to me that if you intend to accomplish something, you don't need to wait for a new calendar to do it.  However, perhaps due to the coincidental proximity of the new year, I'm going to jump on the band wagon, and offer up a brief handful.
          First, there's the usual stuff.  I'm pre-diabetic, which pretty much means that I don't have it yet, but if I eat like I already do, I probably won't get it.  I've been doing very well with that, and obviously, I resolve to keep that under control.  Also, I've added about ten pounds to my already obese frame since I retired, not surprising, as my job entailed a lot of field work which is now completely gone.  So I resolve to get that under control, mind my intake, and spend more time on the pricey stationary bicycle which is currently parked in my living room.
          Second, eight months into retirement, I hereby resolve to cease involvement in all projects and activities which are not A) enjoyable, or B) productive.  Xbox is enjoyable; that stays.  Exercise is productive; that stays.  My writing activities are another question entirely.  Writing itself, the creation of worlds and plots, the construction of stories, that part is enjoyable; that stays.  I can't honestly say, however, that jumping through the hoops of self-publishing's templates and the never-ending cycles of promotion and marketing that follows has been either, and I am accordingly placing that in the same category as helping you move or dropping what I'm doing twice a day to feed your cat while you're on vacation:  Off my list of things to do.
          I'm going to share a piece of information that is nobody's business, but I'm not embarrassed by it; it's simply a fact:  I haven't had a book sale since October 5th.  This is despite having ad campaigns on a number of well-read sites, including some whose sole focus is steampunk, and a new release with a well-publicized giveaway supporting it.  I'll admit, when I finished my first book, I had this fantasy about becoming one of those celebrity authors who has the world on a string, and not a care to speak of.  I mean, people break out of the pack and begin the rise every day; why not me?  Alas, things didn't turn out that way, and I then had to decide whether to let that particular disappointment fester inside and make me bitter.  Well, I didn't.  I still love to write, and even more than that, I love to be read.  The writing I can do anytime, anyplace; being read has been another matter.  Even though my books are priced at the minimum allowed by Createspace, even that modest cost has proven too great an obstacle to potential readers, so I'm going to shift gears on my whole publishing strategy.
          Astute readers will have already noticed that all of my Beyond the Rails stories, including the new book, have been transferred here where they can be read for free by anyone with a screen.  I am currently transcribing my first book, 1998's Temple of Exile, to the page, and the other four that were never published will be following.  The tabs at the top of the left sidebar will take you to the stories.  I would only ask that anyone moved by the work leave a comment or critique, and offer your thoughts; you'll find me an eager conversationalist.  I'll continue to promote in all the usual places, and welcome anyone who cares to partake with open arms and mind, but seriously, all it does when I show up with a W-2 for $12 worth of book royalties is confuse my tax preparer, and irritate the IRS.
          Another thing I'm not going to do any more of is book reviews.  Most of the books I have read in the last year were written by friends.  I have posted several glowing reviews, because that's what I felt about the books.  But what about the ones that don't get me spun up?  What am I going to say about a poor book by an author I like and respect?  This writer can't handle a plot?  Dialogue is forced and stilted?  I was repeatedly yanked out of the flow by ten-page information dumps?  I'm not going to agonize over that anymore.  I'm not doing public reviews, so don't ask me.  If you'd like a private critique, that's another matter, and you need only inquire.
          Finally, in an unrelated note, the results of the poll:  60% of respondents felt I should enlarge the font, and one suggested making the text as bright as it could be, so I have done both those things.  Anyone find it helpful?
          And there we have it.  No "Year In Review;" I don't have the stomach to relive that one.  Just a brief notice of what to expect going forward.  The main thing to focus on is that you will soon be able to read my entire portfolio for free, including the old, pre-publication material; since it isn't going to cost anything, you may as well get the whole journey, right?  And if you enjoy it, tell your friends.  There's a lot of free reading here, and most people who've read it claim to like it.  So you pitch in to the bright, shiny new year, so ripe with promise, and I'll get working on more of it.
          Have a great 2017!  That isn't chance, it's a choice.  Look for me when you least expect it.  So long for now...

~ Blimprider

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays, whichever you choose!

          "Learning is the fountain of youth.  No matter how old you are, you must never stop growing."
                    ~ CHINESE PROVERB
          I have always been in the camp that holds that the people and stores who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" have ridden the Political Correctness train to the far end of the line.  This year, I had the film peeled off of my eyes by one of my oldest and most respected internet friends, a practicing Jew from southern Australia, who pointed this out in her latest blog post:


          Thank you, Kaz, for the wisdom of your words.  I never wanted to be "that guy."  I didn't know, now I do, and the adjustment has been made.  So like the title says, Happy Holidays, no matter which one you celebrate.
          I would be remiss if I didn't point out that there is a Slayer of Darkness giveaway in progress over at Goodreads.  Click on the widget at the top of the right sidebar to join in.  Signed copies will be mailed to five lucky winners, so get your name in the hat.  This may be the last physical book I ever publish, so don't miss out!
          The party starts early over here, and I need my beauty rest.  Have a great day, and a great holiday season, and I'll be back with another thrilling post New Year's morning.  Don't miss it!

~ Blimprider

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Slayer of Darkness

          "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.  For all one knows, that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention.  And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's personality.  Good prose is like a windowpane."
                    ~ GEORGE ORWELL
          And yet I did it.  I've done it multiple times in the past, and have plans to do it again; it seems to be in the blood.  Last Friday morning, the third installment of the Beyond the Rails series landed on Amazon in both print and e-book formats.  For some time now, I have been fielding suggestions that the crew of the Kestrel should expand into novels, leaving behind their short-story format.  I was resistant to the notion for a good long while, due to the fact that the characters and situations were designed to support short stories.  However, I finally decided that, like TV shows and video games that make the jump to the big screen, taking Beyond the Rails into the format of the novel was a worthy endeavor.  It was a long time coming, I know, and the reason for that was the need to examine the history and determine what loose ends were left in the stories, and there were plenty, that could be brought together and tied up, what supporting characters warranted space in the "big book," and what subplots and distractions could be woven into the fabric.  And now it's done.  I have, as Red Smith said, "sat down at a keyboard and opened a vein," and now the results are out there, open to every sort of scrutiny, and for the next days and weeks I will be waiting with that odd mix of eagerness and apprehension for the first reviews to come in.  I have my own opinions of the crew's transition, but mine aren't the ones that count!
         Since much of the purpose of blogging, Facebooking, Goodreading, and so on is to boost sales, allow me to present the synopsis from the back cover:

          It’s March of 1883, and the inhabitants of the east African colony of Kenya are preparing for the Long Rain. The crew of the Kestrel, a small cargo blimp, are no exception, trying to squeeze in the last few paying runs before two months of high winds and constant rain sweep the airships from the sky.
          Arriving in their midst is an old acquaintance, an Australian woman of uncertain background who brings an unbelievable story, and asks them to aid her in what seems to be an impossible task. She offers to pay them well, but can the money she offers be nearly enough to compensate for the danger she plans to place them in? And what business could the mysterious team of international bounty hunters be engaged upon?
          Join the crew of the Kestrel for their longest journey yet, a thrill-packed, suspenseful ride through a world of shadowy operators that could prove to be their last.

          Exciting enough for you?  I hope so, and I hope the book lives up to it.  It was a year of hard work, exacerbated by much nail-biting, backtracking, and do-overs, and I most sincerely hope it was worth it.  Time, and the reviews, will tell!  If you'd care to join in that particular feeding frenzy, you can get your copy, print or Kindle, by clicking the cover in the left sidebar.  Whatever you think, I'd love to hear from you!
          Until next week, then, play nice, look out for one another, and above all else, get out there and live life like you mean it!

~ Blimprider