Formerly a traditional blog, this has become a showcase for other cool stuff I've found.
|"Blimprider," my legions of fans (actually around fifty) have named me, but my real name is Jack Tyler. My nickname is based on my steampunk trilogy Beyond the Rails, which is available in its entirety on WdC for members only. I've dialed writing waaaaay back, but reading remains a focus, and there is some mighty fine reading to be found here. This is where I point you at it.|
| For over 45 years my former girlfriend, former fiance, and current wife Bonnie has entertained and astounded me with her facility to create the most meaningful poetry the way some folks can create a bologna sandwich. I once got her to take out a membership in WdC, but she never paid much attention to it as she doesn't see her talent as anything special. So I've decided that if she won't share, I will. Perhaps she can be coaxed into sharing more of her joyous writing. Behold the work of a natural poet...
As we walk this earth together,
hand and hand through many miles,
I count the days of joy and peace,
and your blue eyes and your smiles!
There were days that were so testing,
some days we saw no end,
to troubles and the facts of life
but through it all we mend.
And every new sweet morning,
I love you even more,
and thank you for the blessings,
and the life you have restored.
And now we chase those rainbows
as we contemplate our past,
and no matter who was against us,
our love was meant to last!
So worry not my darling
as you come to waken me,
from slumber and my dreaming,
and your face I wake to see.
I am here forever
and our love goes on and on,
and day breaks anew my love,
as we wake to greet the dawn.
There is no endless searching,
for purpose and joy Divine,
For in my arms you're safe my love,
I am yours and you are mine.
Bonnie G. Tyler, 8 April 21
| Good morning, friends and followers, and I hope it finds you well! I have a lot to do all around the site this morning, so I'll get right to it. After my lament of a few days back, I did manage to find two 5-star stories during my reviewing expeditions. The runner-up for the coveted "Talk of the Flight Deck" Award was a delightful reminiscence from childhood about the smallest room in the house,
March's winner was a superb paranormal romance — which is all the more remarkable when you consider that I can't abide those things — conceived and presented with consummate skill by an old member sporting a new look. It is an honor and a pleasure to drop the ribbon and merit badge for March on:
Congratulations to both those fine writers. Keep your quality to a high standard, 'cause you never know when the blimp might be landing in your front yard!
Read well, and write better,
Jack "Blimprider" Tyler
I know, I said I wasn't going to service this blog anymore, but I'll make exceptions for exceptional items, and this is, if nothing else, exceptional.This is an absolutely five star effort from our own CW Hawes . There is a "bad" part, and let's get it out of the way right up front: This is a novella. Four of five of these would make a full-size book, but make no mistake, that's a book I'd like to read.
H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the Cthulhu Mythos, hasn't written anything since 1936, and lifelong fans must decry the absence of his magical pen. Until now. Set on the shore of Lake Superior, this book begins as a direct parallel to The Shadow over Innsmouth, and for the first few paragraphs, it looks like it might be a direct rewrite in a modern setting. But fear not! Pierce Mostyn and his team soon discover what they've been sent to find out, and shortly find their vehicle missing, and the townspeople and their genetically deformed monsters hunting them down in the streets as darkness falls. Lovecraft himself only hinted at the horror of the Shoggoth in much of his work; Hawes brings the damned thing right into the living room and displays it on the coffee table!
This entire series (8 books at this writing) is described as the author's tribute to the Master of Horror himself, and he has really hit it out of the park. I am currently reading The Complete Works of Lovecraft and took a break to read Nightmare in Agate Bay, and I can tell you, with Lovecraft fresh in my mind, I could barely tell the difference. If you're a fan of the Master, you'll find nothing to complain about here, so pour a cup of your favorite brew, curl up under a warm light in your favorite overstuffed chair, and prepare to be creeped out! The whole series is available on Amazon at
| "If writers were good businessmen, they'd have too much sense to be writers."
~ IRVIN S. COBB
Sage advice from a fine old writer and journalist, words I plan to pay some heed to in the near future. Last summer I was gifted with a Premium Membership by a well-meaning colleague who apparently thought I was going to set the site on fire. I have never found a way to use all the features, or even most of the features, of that membership, though I have to admit, it was nice to never have to count items to see what limit I was up against. But come this May, I'm going to dial it way back, not that anyone would notice...
What you will notice are changes to this blog; I think I'm going to stop servicing it. In my never-ending efforts to remain relevant, I scour everything from my old notes from decades back to the Blogger and Wordpress pages of authors I know, looking for things to "write about." In other words, plagiarize. Oh, I rewrite stuff in my own words, but as one of the mods was so kind as to point out to me, all that information is out there anyway, and I'm just wasting my time. I agree. Over my membership here, I've probably wasted scores, hundreds of hours researching subjects to blog about, and unless its something personal about my life, which is interesting to no one but myself, that's time I could have used writing.
But I have things to say on occasion, the little voice reminds me. Yes, small things, mostly promotions of activities conducted by myself and others, and the monthly announcement of the "Talk of the Flight Deck" Award, and you know what? Those short announcements are what my Notebook is for. Anything I post there appears in the newsfeed, and if I've linked your handle, it will be brought to your attention. I may continue to use the blog for group and contest announcements and the occasional personal anecdote; haven't really decided yet, but I'm pretty sure I won't be adding any more rambling essays on how to write. For goodness sake, if I knew that secret, I'd be on half a dozen best-seller lists! But don't worry, I'll still be around, writing, reviewing, running my contests, and teaching the steampunk course. Oh, yeah!
I still have four seats available, and registration closes March 31st at midnight PDT, (3:00 AM April 1st, WdC time). Tuition is 15,000 GPs, payable in advance, and tuition assistance is available from multiple sources. Email me with the GPs to enroll, or ask me about tuition assistance if you need it.
And that's all I've got this trip. Write lots, have fun, and keep out of trouble. Watch your newsfeeds for further developments, and I'll see you around the stacks!
Semper audax esse,
| "Usually the recipe for a bestseller is to give people what they want. My challenge is and was: Give them what they do not expect. Be severe with them. The world of media is full of easy answers, wash-and-wear philosophies, instant ecstasies, what-me-worry epiphanies. Probably readers want a little more."
~ UMBERTO ECO
And perhaps our friend Mr. Eco has explained why the bestseller is a prize that has eluded me for decades. I write to entertain myself, first and foremost, and if my finished product thrills me to the core, then I deem it good enough to share with readers. I went independent long ago, as I felt no kinship with a publisher who felt it his prerogative to tell me that I need to change my story because he thought it should be more like the Last Big Thing. My typically argumentative response was always, "If you want to write a book, write one; leave mine alone!" That isn't how you get publishing contracts, but it was the course I steered, and I've never regretted it.
So, what is it that I don't want anyone messing with? As a child of the '50s and a teen in the '60s, I cut my reading teeth on the Boy's Own adventure novels that were often written in the 1930s. In the years following WWI, the rapid advances in technology opened many doorways to adventure to the writers of the day. The adventures were grand, and most often unbelievable, there were few women, those there were were not in any way sexual, and the replacement of plot, story, and nuance with huge explosions and over-the-top violence was still years in the future. It was truly a golden age for the young lad who wanted grand adventures with few complications. Classic examples of this genre are Doyle's The Lost World, Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, and Stevenson's Treasure Island.
Then came the 1960s and the Cold War, and the adventures moved into the realm of the superspy, the hard-boiled detective, and the rogue police officer, doling out street justice to every punk who deserved it. Violent confrontation replaced the following of clues, and harlots who fell into a man's bed every time they tripped replaced the demure damsels I'd come to know. The Boy's Own genre disappeared like an old friend who'd moved out of the neighborhood, never to be seen again. Not that I didn't enjoy the new friends, but the loss of the old one hurt me severely. Once in a while I'd come across an old book at a thrift store and devour it, but they just weren't being written any more. So I took the only rational course available to me: I decided to write them myself.
"Invalid Item" , "Invalid Item" , and some of the "Invalid Item" are examples of those old tales set in the old days. I'm trying now to set a Boy's Own tale in the very modern era, the first part of the 21st Century. Now, we're very sophisticated people these days, and just roll our eyes at the mere mention of the occult and the supernatural, but the "what if" premise of my latest work is, what if we're wrong? What if some of the things that are unexplained can only be explained through supernatural causes? This is the underlying theme of "Roswell Avenue" , in which a Chicago Police detective loses his job to downsizing and is forced to accept employment with a private detective agency whose main stock in trade is the supernatural. How does a writer approach the suspension of disbelief?
Some writers just cannonball into the deep end with an opening scene depicting a rampaging monster. I did that in "Creeper" , but that was the second story in The Nexus Chronicles, and readers already knew what to expect. How do you approach a jaded, modern reader who dares you to impress him, and get him to suspend his disbelief to invest in the impossible? My approach has been to ease him into it, bringing the weird so gradually that he's like that mythical frog being boiled alive; he could jump out any time, but before he realizes how hot the water's getting, he's caught.
I've also made a concession to the women in these stories. Sex, or the lack of it, was never an issue to me in these early stories; I learned the truth about Santa Claus years before I learned where babies came from, but the women essentially filled two roles in the Boy's Own stories. They were helpless damsels to be rescued, and/or rewards for the hero who successfully completed the challenge set by the plot. Personally, I never knew any weak women. My grandmother built bombers to defeat the Axis, and my mom was a professional gambler before gambling was cool. There were no men in my life, and every day I watched these smart, tough, capable women go out into the world and wrest a living from it. The women in my stories are, unsurprisingly, just like them, smart, tough, and capable.
So what's my point here? Two. The obvious one is to promote some items in my port. The other is to share a couple of my writing techniques, specifically, sneak up on the outlandish in your story, giving your reader time to get used to it. Jump scares and shock items have their place, but not when you're trying to convince a reader that you have a deep, subtle tale of the supernatural to tell. And the other? Write your women with respect. Your readers, male and female, will love you for it, and likely come back for more.
And that's what I've got this week. Play nice, look out for one another, and above all else, read well and write better!
Semper audax esse,
| Good morning, friends, and welcome to the weekend, a concept that is as foreign to me as a quarantined retiree as life on Barsoom. Nonetheless, best wishes to those still using the pre-covid calendar, and I hope you get a chance to unwind. I'm here today to do some shameless self-promotion of two items in particular.
The first comes about from the unexpected success my book sales enjoyed over the Christmas giving season after I posted an ad here; if you recall, I promised to repeat that every 90 days, and being a man of my word, I am here to do just that.
My steampunk trilogy, "Invalid Item" , has been available for members to read in its entirety for some time now. It is also available on Amazon at 99¢ for Kindle editions, and the minimum price I'm allowed to ask for the various paperbacks. Also available here for members are two short stories, "Brass & Coal" and "Sea Story" . These stories both appear in larger anthologies, Den of Antiquity and Southern Steam. In addition, I have on offer there a classic fantasy story that borrows nothing from Tolkien, no elves, dwarves, or orcs, called The Stone Seekers. The only way that can be obtained is by purchase on Amazon. So if you've enjoyed my stories, and think you know someone else who might, maybe they have a birthday coming up, Mother's Day, an anniversary, these could make good gifts for readers of old-fashioned stories from the time before sex scenes, explosions, and love affairs with vampires took over fiction. All except Southern Steam can be found on my Amazon author's page:
Southern Steam is listed separately at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=southern+steam&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
The other item I want to ballyhoo is my upcoming course on writing basic steampunk being offered through the auspices of the "WDC Writers University"
The course will consist of six lessons, and last seven weeks; you'll have two weeks to work on the final project, which will be to create a steampunk story you'll be proud to share on your port, and maybe even find publication in an anthology. Tuition is 15,000 GPs, of which 10,000 pays for the Merit Badge you will receive for completing the course, and the remainder will defray the cost of a nice little surprise you'll have to take the course to discover.
Steampunk is often mistakenly thought of as a genre, and a kids' genre at that. If more people understood what it really is, I have no doubt it would have a lot more adherents than it does. In any case, read the link below, and if it looks like something you'd care to dip your toes into, email me with tuition, and I'll add you to the class. There are six already signed up at this writing, and my instructor/mentor says that I should limit the class to ten. After some waffling, I've decided to follow his advice, so there are four slots left as of this morning. If you're new to WdC and haven't had the chance to build up a fund of GPs for something like this, tuition assistance is available. You can also email me for information on that.
So that's all I have today. Read well, and write better, and above all else, keep yourselves safe! Here's the link:
Now I have to run along and get "Roswell Avenue" back on track. I took a few days off to make sure the steampunk course was polished, but now it's time to get back on it. It's almost finished, and the characters are clamoring for me to complete their stories, so back to it. See you soon!
Semper audax esse,
| Gracious, good California morning to all my friends and followers, and I hope it finds you well. It finds me ecstatic, as I've been able to start writing again, but as most of you will know, that isn't the subject for the first of the month. No, item one is the presentation of the "Talk of the Flight Deck" Award. February was a banner month for quality, as I discovered eight five-star items during the course of my reviews. Two of them struck me as head-and-shoulders above the rest, primarily for their gritty, realistic views into two real-life issues that are more prevalent than we'd like to admit. The choice could have come down to a die roll, but in the end, one of the authors made it for me.
But first, the rest of the field. It always pains me to have to provide a list of stories that, even though they earned five stars, didn't quite get the prize, but the consolation for me is putting them on my blog and publicizing their quality. Perhaps they'll garner some more richly deserved attention because they appeared here. This month's outstanding efforts are as follows:
The two stories that could have represented an impossible choice for me came down to a single factor. You remember my rant from last month about pouring hours into one of my reviews, only to find that the author can't be bothered to take five seconds to type "Thank you for your time?" Well, that is exactly what decided this one. The runner-up was:
This is a fine story in its own right, a study of PTSD and what it's like to live in its grip, but the story that won out due to the courtesy of its author was:
This examines both sides of a frightening coin, what it's like to have a stalker, and what it's like to be one. It is Chapter One of a work under construction, and if the author can keep up this level of writing, it's going to be a real thriller! Congratulations to all concerned.
I usually let the Flight Deck Award stand for the first-of-the-month post, but this month is different. I will soon be teaching a course on basic steampunk through the auspices of
The course will consist of six lessons, and last seven weeks; you'll have two weeks to work on the final. Tuition is 15,000 GPs, of which 10,000 pays for the Merit Badge you will receive for completing the course, and the remainder will defray the cost of a nice little surprise you'll have to take the course to discover.
Steampunk is often mistakenly thought of as a genre, and a kids' genre at that. If more people understood what it really is, I have no doubt it would have a lot more adherents than it does. In any case, read the link below, and if it looks like something you'd care to dip your toes into, email me with tuition, and I'll add you to the class. There are five already signed up at this writing, and my instructor/mentor says that I should limit the class to ten. I'll go a little over that if the interest is there, but I won't take more than fifteen. If you're new and haven't had the chance to build up a fund of GPs for something like this, tuition assistance is available. You can also email me for information on that.
So that's all I have today. Read well, and write better, and above all else, keep yourselves safe! Here's the link:
| "Those big shot writers. . . could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar."
~ MICKEY SPILLANE
Yeah, you thought I meant Mickey Mouse, didn't you? Thing is, all of us set out at some point to be those big shot writers, and why not? Nothing keeps you at it like a powerful dream. Then, one by one, we fall by the wayside, victims of the sea of people who think they can write. There just isn't room for all the books that people want to get published. Back in the days before self-publishing, every single day, a dump truck would back up to the office of every publisher in the western world and drop a full load of manuscripts on the doorstep. Even if every offering was good, who has time to read them? So the best were cherry-picked, and the rest returned with rejection slips.
Then came self-publishing which was supposed to be the cure for all the gate-keepers who were preventing our wonderful works from seeing the light of day. I self-published; it was one of the easiest things I ever did... Well, once the manuscript was complete. Set up the cover, make a few mouse clicks, and voila, a book! The hardest part of the process was writing the blurb.
But statistics, damned statistics. They can be made to say things that aren't there, but there is truth at their core. I read the statistic that on the day I self-published, so did 5,000 other people. And the day before, and the day after, and the next, and the next, and the next. And every day since. Probably more per day, as the population continues to grow. So now I have books sitting on Amazon, ready to buy, with ratings of 4.4+ and good reviews, and no way to make readers aware of them. I don't have $10,000 to spare every month for one radio commercial, never mind $100,000 for one television ad. Do you? There's an old adage that goes, "You have to spend money to make money," and whoever coined it must have come up against the cost of advertising.
All I could do was promote everywhere I could reach. I was fortunate with "Beyond the Rails 1" . When I finished that, Goodreads hadn't been taken over by Amazon yet, and you could still run a free giveaway. Several hundred people signed up to win one of five signed copies, which means they were aware of its existence. Now you want to do that, it will cost you $100 - $300 (round figures) depending on what package you want to buy. That's probably all your book will make unless it is miraculously discovered by a publisher or movie company who shows an interest. That happens, but not often, and relying on that to catapult your book sales is like playing the lottery as your retirement plan.
The end result of promoting in The Steampunk Empire, The Steampunk Writers and Artists Guild, Writing-dot-com, of course, having an off-site blog, and places I've probably forgotten is that I've sold maybe, maybe, a couple of hundred copies of all the books in the trilogy plus an epic fantasy that I have on Amazon besides, and have what I'll loosely call a "fan club," though they aren't organized an any way, of about fifty followers. I've come to terms with that. I enjoy the interaction and being able to say that I have books on Amazon, and "muggles" who aren't well-versed in the industry are awestruck about knowing a "celebrity," but deep down, I know the truth. We all come to terms with the reality in our own way, and mine has been to be happy with what I have.
But those "fans" who stay up to date with me know that for several years my life-long interest in writing has taken a nose dive, and a big part of that might be the knowledge that only a relative handful of people will ever see my work. While I've penned a few short stories over the last year or so, no long-term projects have seen development. Until now. For a dozen or more years I have followed, and still follow, what began as a three-man blog, briefly became a video blog, and has now settled into a podcast called Nerd Lunch (https://nerdlunch.net}, a fascinating site where three college chums talk about all things pop-culture. Eleven years ago they did a blog post where each of them had to create an "elevator pitch" for a new SyFy series, and one caught my eye and my heart and has never been too far from my "idea pool" since. I sought and was granted their permission to develop it, but made several false starts due to my reluctance to stray from their original vision. But recently I've realized that I can't write their vision in any precise manner, so I've tweaked a few things to bring it more into line with my own style, and it has taken off like gangbusters! I'm already halfway through the first episode, with ten scenes of a projected twenty finished, and what I envision for it is an open-ended series with character development, story arcs that play out across multiple episodes, the whole nine yards. I guess you'd call this "urban supernatural," and I'm aiming for a 20,000-word novella for each episode.
Most folks probably prefer a story to be finished before they get involved, but if you're a read-as-it's-written type, you're welcome to swing by the construction site and see it going up before your eyes.
Until we meet again, read well, and write better!
Semper audax esse,
| "A man who writes well writes not as others write, but as he himself writes; it is often in speaking badly that he speaks well."
Good day, friends, and I hope it finds you well. I'm writing today to clear up any of several misconceptions I may have perpetrated in my haste to disseminate information. This here's the straight dope, and supersedes anything you may have heard previously.
Starting April 1st, I will be teaching
I should, however, point out that if you are a new(ish) member who hasn't yet laid up a personal fortune to pay for such extras as this, "Dreamweaver Bar & Grill" is offering a limited number of full scholarships to its members, and tuition assistance up to full scholarships is available from "WDC Writers University" itself. You can contact me concerning either of those programs. And of course you have my guarantee that if you sign up and are then unable to take the course, or if after completing the first two lessons, you don't find it to be what you expected, I will refund your tuition, no questions asked.
So, plenty to gain, nothing to lose. Come join us. It'll be a blast for the ages!
Semper audax esse,
| "To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write."
~ GERTRUDE STEIN
I set out on this journey many decades ago in the belief that I was going to be the next Truman Capote (sort of the Stephen King of his era). That never worked out, but I found happiness first on a Blogspot blog, then here at WdC with maybe fifty fans, and sales of around a hundred or so. That's why I have most of my work posted here to read for free. My joy comes from people liking my work. I hope you'll bear with me when I promote my own books for sale about every 90 days; I also get that thrill anew every time I sell a book, and if those of you who read my stuff like it enough to give to loved ones as gifts, that's an extra thrill above and beyond. I sold four books after advertising before Christmas, so it's a pretty good bet that you're stuck with me for a while. I suspect that seeing that one sale on there once or twice a month gives me a thrill that someone selling a thousand books a day can't possibly imagine, and I thank you for indulging me.
Everyone who knows me knows that I have been suffering from can't-write-itis for the better part of two years now, and have tried to maintain my relevance, such as it is, through blog posts and contests. But I have wonderful news. I have been toying with a project given to me by friends some time ago, and it has suddenly taken off on me. I have not only been able to write, I have been compelled. I never write at night. It just doesn't happen. But tonight, by choice, I gave up a couple of hours on the Xbox to write another scene of "Griffin's Blade" . This makes seven scenes out of a projected twenty, and the story is really taking form rapidly. You can read the whole backstory at
After you read the backstory, scroll down to Griffin's Blade and tell me how wonderful I am; it fuels my writing engine, as I suspect it does for many of you. Keep safe, have a great day, and above all, read well, and write better!