Sunday Showcase #3

Just one lonely book this week, but a worthy one. 🙂

Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece.

With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.

When a sword-slinging stranger shows up, wanting to hire on as her protector, she’s sure he has ulterior motives, but he’s the only one interested in helping her. The question is…why?

An 18,000-word (80 page) novella

Why I picked it up: As you might recall, Lindsay Buroker stopped by last week for a Teaser Tuesday and Who Art Thou Thursday. I fell in love with her excerpt of Flash Gold and ran to pick it up. Okay, okay. It’s an eBook. So I lounged on the couch and clicked a few buttons until Amazon sent it to my Kindle.

Available:  Smashwords and Barnes & Nobles

 

Who Art Thou Thursday: Lindsay Buroker

Lindsay Buroker

Tell us about your most recent publication.

I published Flash Gold, a steampunk novella set in the Yukon during the gold-rush era. It’s my experiment with 99-cent fiction. It’s 18,000 words, so a lot shorter than a novel, but I would love to turn it into a series.

One reviewer said it was a fun story that felt like the pilot to a television series, setting things up for future adventures with the heroes, and that sounds about right. With ebooks, you’re not constrained by word-count conventions, and lots of folks are putting out shorter works. It’s a lot easier to write, edit, and review a 20,000-word story than a 100,000-word one!

Here’s the blurb for Flash Gold if you’re interested:

Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece.

With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.

When a sword-slinging stranger shows up, wanting to hire on as her protector, she’s sure he has ulterior motives, but he’s the only one interested in helping her. The question is…why?

Give us a brief description of a story you have hidden in your skeleton closet? And will it ever see the light of day?

I’ve never been a big reader of the paranormal romance genre, or any fantasy set in the modern world, but I’ve been wanting to write a character who shares some of my modern Earth interests. Can tennis and gardening work in a monster-filled adventure/romance/mystery set in the Seattle area? Hm!

I couldn’t bring myself to write something as typical as vampires and werewolves, but I do think a hunky Legolas-esque elf might make an appearance. When I was a kid, I always liked to play elves in D&D and MUDs, and they haven’t entirely lost their appeal for me.

That said, I want to do more Emperor’s Edge novels and more Flash Gold stories before I branch off in yet another direction.

How much of you/your life do you put into your stories?

My interests often make an appearance in the plot or world-building. Flash Gold is set in the Yukon and involves a dog sled race, all because I enjoyed Jack London as a kid and watched more movies involving dog sled races than I can remember. And gold…well, look at what gold is doing in the market, right now! (I like investing too.)

I’m also intrigued by a lot of the 1800s steam-powered machinery, so most of my stuff has some steampunk flair, at least insofar as inventions and machines go.

As far as personal relationships and my own history, I don’t think much of that gets incorporated. I prefer to write about stuff I’m currently interested in rather than things I’ve lived in the past. An exception might be cool things I’ve seen or done that stuck in my head. There’s a pyramid in the middle of the capital city in my Emperor’s Edge world, thanks to my trip to the Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Which of your characters do you relate to most?

I’ll go with Amaranthe, the main character in The Emperor’s Edge. She’s outgoing and charismatic, and I’m a socially awkward introvert, but she’s a total schemer, and I am too. She doesn’t plan for the future; she plots for it. The fun part is when she talks all these big, burly guys into helping her with her plots!

As far as personality goes, I may be more like Kali in Flash Gold. She has a quick, sometimes sarcastic tongue. She’s tough on the outside, but she’s mostly hiding the fact that she’s vulnerable on the inside. I can relate to that. 😉

For you, what’s the hardest part of the writing process?

Not getting distracted by the internet. 🙂

No, really. Every time the power or internet goes out, it’s amazing how much writing I get done. Sometimes I take a notepad and pen to the coffee shop, so I’m forced to write without the distraction of email and Twitter.

For you, what’s the easiest part of the writing process?

Dialogue. 🙂

I loooove having my characters trade barbs. Of course, I always have to go back and edit things out, since they’ll ramble on about things unrelated to the plot if I let them, but it’s hard to cut some of that stuff!

With hindsight being 20/20, is there anything you would have changed with your publishing journey?

I finished The Emperor’s Edge more than a year before I ended up e-publishing it (I didn’t have a kindle back then, and I wasn’t all that aware of the impending ebook revolution). The novel sat on my hard drive after that because it didn’t sound like the sort of story agents were looking for (high fantasy is apparently not in these days).

I really wish I’d researched e-publishing more back then (2009) and gotten that first book online. I can’t complain with my progress thus far (after four months, I’ve been fortunately enough to recoup my initial expenses, and I’m making a modest part-time income), but you know there’s a lot more competition out there now. Those early adopters definitely have a leg up on us newcomers! 🙂

What’s your favorite part about the publishing process and why? (consider the initial book concept all the way through marketing, and beyond)

I enjoy writing the first draft and seeing where the adventure will take my characters.

And then–this will sound crazy–I kind of like the online marketing stuff. Oh, not all of it, but it’s fun doing guest blog posts, interviews, and working on my own blogs. It’s even more fun seeing the rewards as sales slowly increase. I’m grateful to all the folks who have tried my stories thus far, and I hope many more will download them in the future. Or, you know, right now! What’s holding you back? *g*

How about some quickies!

Pencil or Pen: Pencil

Print or Cursive: Print

Pantser or Plotter: Plotter

Favorite Candy: Anything involving peanutbutter and chocolate

Worst habit: Staying up way too late and eating too many desserts. 😉

***************************

About the Lindsay Buroker

I’ve been writing fantasy novels and short stories since I was seven. I’ve been finishing them since… well, that’s a more recent development.

I’m a professional blogger for my day job, and I live in the Seattle area (“area” is code for “I couldn’t afford a house within twenty miles of the city limits and my neighbors have alpacas”). I have two vizslas who are as spoiled as most people’s kids. Occasionally they let me leave the house to play tennis, go to the coffee shop, or take a yoga class.

Connect with Lindsay Buroker on her website!

Get your copy of Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker at:

Smashwords

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

Find Emperor’s Edge at:

Smashwords

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

iTunes Store

Find other works by Lindsay Buroker at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Nobles

Tuesday Teaser: Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker

Today we have the talented Lindsay Buroker. Not too long ago, I read her middle grade work, The Goblin Brothers Adventure (see review here). Excellent collection of short stories. Her most recent work, Flash Gold, is steampunk set in the Yukon. Now I haven’t read this one, but after devouring this excerpt, you better believe my next stop was to purchase my copy. Keep your eyes open, because you’ll likely be seeing my review of Flash Gold in the next month or two. Until then, enjoy the excerpt Ms. Buroker has offered us. 🙂

Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece.

With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.

When a sword-slinging stranger shows up, wanting to hire on as her protector, she’s sure he has ulterior motives, but he’s the only one interested in helping her. The question is…why?

An 18,000-word (80 page) novella

Flash Gold: Part I

Kali McAlister tapped a wrench against her thigh as she contemplated her invention. She had stripped every extra piece of metal she could from the “dogless sled” and had even debated removing the brush bow, but that seemed unwise. Besides, it’d been cold enough the last week men were complaining of pee freezing before it hit the ground. The ice on Forty Mile Creek ought to be thick enough for the heavy steam sled. If it wasn’t…winning the race would be the last of her worries.

Hinges creaked, and a gust of frigid air hurled snow into the workshop. Kali spun toward the door, her long braid whipping around her shoulder.

A fur-clad figure loomed, head an inch shy of the top of the frame. With those broad shoulders and that height, she assumed it was a man, though a cap buried his eyebrows and a scarf swaddled most of his face. He gripped a rifle in one gloved hand, and the hilt of something—a sword?—poked over his shoulder. Who in tarnation brought a sword to the Klondike?

Kali’s grip tightened on the wrench. Another thug who wanted to interrogate her about her father’s alchemical masterpiece, probably.

“If you’re going to hold the door open that long, you could at least bring in some wood.” That sounded cocky, especially since the wrench was the closest thing to a weapon she had handy, but bravado went a long way in Moose Hollow.

Meanwhile, she sidled closer to the workbench and the panel of levers on the far end of it. The man’s blue eyes were the only thing visible between the cap and scarf, and they narrowed, watching her.

“The stove’ll have to work double time to heat the place again,” Kali said, hoping to distract him from her movement. “Not that this drafty hole could aspire to warm anyhow.”

The man stepped inside. Kali tensed, ready to spring for a bronze lever with a billiards-ball knob.

He did not move past the threshold though. Without taking his eyes from her, he pushed the door closed. He removed the cap, revealing thick tousled black hair, then tugged the scarf down to his throat. Kali might have called him handsome, but a scar gouged one cheek, as if someone had tried to remove one of his eyes. The beard stubble darkening his jaw would do little to warm his chin in the cold. He must be new to the north.

His cool gaze skimmed the shop, resting briefly on the unorthodox metal sled before settling on her.

“You Kali McAlister?” he asked, voice smoother and more pleasant than his rough exterior hinted at.

“Ma’am.” She propped her hands on her hips by way of disguising another step toward the lever. “It’s polite to call a lady ‘ma’am.’ Even if she’s a half-breed wearing man trousers with tools sticking out of all her pockets.” Not to mention she was only eighteen and covered in grease. She would collapse in surprise if anyone called her ma’am without the ulterior motive of needing a favor.

He stared at her for a long moment. “You Kali McAlister? Ma’am.”

“I reckon that depends on who you are.” She pretended to scratch her knee and took another step.

“Your identity changes depending on your caller?”

“Sometimes it does.” Another step.

“Cedar.”

“What?”

“My name.”

“That’s not a name,” she said. “That’s a tree.” Though at his height, children might mistake him for the latter.

“Both.”

“And what are you here for, Cedar?” Three more steps and she would reach the lever. He might plow through her “security measures,” but they would distract him and give her time to run.

He strode toward her. She lifted the wrench threateningly.

“The job.” His free hand delved into a pocket. Paper rustled. He pulled out a sheet with writing on it.

It was Kali’s turn to stare. “What job?”

Wordlessly, he held out the flyer.

ASSISTANT MUSHER FOR BARTON’S RACE

Experienced pugilist preferred. Inquire at Kali McAlister’s Tinkery.

Kali scratched her head. “Where did you get this? I didn’t post it.”

“Nelly’s Good-Time Girls.”

“Nelly. Oh.” Kali puffed out an annoyed breath. While it had been nice having someone step in as a big sister after her father died, sometimes Nelly presumed too much. At least this meant the man was probably not there to rob or interrogate her. “That’s a mistake.” She waved at the flyer. “I can’t afford to hire help. I’m going alone. Sorry to have wasted your time.”

Cedar lowered the paper, but did not leave. “If you win, there will be prize money.”

“Yes…. One thousand dollars hard money goes to the first-place finisher, thanks to Francis Barton’s lucky claim. The old sourdough’s spending like a drunk.”

“Then you’ll be able to pay me.”

Kali’s suspicions toward her visitor returned. Only gold miners worked for the possibility of payment, and most of them were addled in the head. More, nobody in town thought her steam sled would do anything except crash through the ice and disappear forever. Francis wouldn’t have let her enter the race if anyone believed otherwise.

“If I win, I’m using that money to build…something I’ve wanted to build for a long time,” Kali said. “And I’m getting out of Moose Hollow to go somewhere warm.” And where nobody knew about her crazy family or called her a witch.

“One hundred,” Cedar said.

“Are you truly trying to negotiate with me over money that odds are against me winning?”

“You believe you’ll win.” A hint of impatience hardened his jaw.

“Everyone believes they’ll win or they wouldn’t risk their lives in this Godforsaken endless winter to run their dogs up a river. Look, Mister—”

“Cedar.”

“Look, Mister Cedar. I appreciate you coming—”

Something shattered upstairs. Kali froze. That sounded like the ceramic-pot booby trap she had set up in front of her bedroom window.

She scowled at her visitor, suspicions deepening. He did not appear surprised. His head was lifted, eyes toward the open stairway at the back of the workshop.

“You know anything about that?” she asked. He was probably the distraction while his cronies—

The front door slammed open. Three men charged inside, six-shooters leading.

Cedar whirled to face them. Metal rasped, and his sword appeared in his hand.

Hoping the men were focused on him, Kali darted for the bank of levers. She yanked the one with the billiards-ball knob.

A door along the wall slid upward, revealing two bulky figures in a shadowy cubby. Gears whirred, and a pair of four-legged mechanical constructs clanked out. Though comprised of a patchwork of spare parts and metal scraps, they had cohesive, canine forms. And they were big.

Her guard “dogs” angled toward the intruders, issuing growls that sounded like knives rasping against sharpening stones. Two of the men noticed the metal hounds and stumbled backward, eyes wide. The dogs’ steel maws gaped open, and iron teeth snapped.

A shadow fell over Kali. The intruder from upstairs. He vaulted over the railing and landed in a crouch beside her. A leer split his beard and displayed a row of tobacco-stained teeth. He raised a Colt Peacemaker toward her chest.

Kali hurled her wrench at his jaw and spun, intending to run for cover behind the steam sled. A second man dropped into her path from above, and she crashed into his chest.

Before she could jump back, massive arms wrapped around her in a bear hug.

“Got her!” her assailant yelled.

She squirmed, finding room to angle a knee into his crotch. His grip slackened, and a startled grunt flew from his lips. She yanked free, but the first man had recovered and grabbed her from behind.

As quickly as he snatched her, he released her. A howl of pain assaulted her ears. One of her dogs had clamped onto the man’s leg with those iron fangs.

“Good boy,” she caroled while jumping to the side to avoid the man still behind her. He caught her braid though and whipped her back so roughly pain erupted in her neck. He spun her to face him. Sharp, cold steel pressed against her throat.

“Mongrel bitch,” the man snarled. “I’ll send you to the bone orchard for that.”

A rifle fired.

Shock widened her attacker’s eyes. He stumbled back, dropping the knife. She shoved him, and he collapsed.

Her mechanical dog still harried her other assailant. The three men who had charged in the front door lay unmoving, blood spattering the floor around them.

Cedar crouched on top of the boiler on her steam sled, rifle balanced across his knees, while the other dog clanked about below. He glared at the last man standing, but that fellow had noticed his comrades were all down. He raced out the front, slamming the door before the dog could chase after him.

Kali gave the bronze lever a shove. She wanted the metal guardians back in their cabinet before Cedar had a good look at them. She told people all her constructs were simply steam-powered machines, but anyone familiar with the technology would guess more than punchcards directed their actions.

Cedar watched through narrowed eyes as the hounds clanked toward their
kennel. “Interesting.”

“A girl who lives alone up here has to have security measures,” she said, not sure what to make of the speculation on his face.

His blue eyes shifted to study her. They were clear, like the purest ice, and a striking contrast to his dark hair. They could have made her uneasy, but the speculation was not unfriendly. The scar and beard fuzz notwithstanding, she wagered he would be popular with Nelly’s girls. Not that she cared. A handsome man would not swindle her again.

“They say you’re a witch.” Cedar hopped to the floor, landing lightly. He pulled his sword from the belly of one of the downed men without the faintest change in expression that might suggest the killing bothered him.

Kali looked away. “How lovely. The local rumormongers have decided to share their theories with the cheechakos passing through.”

Cedar cleaned the long, thin blade on the dead man’s jacket. “It seems your friend is correct. You need the protection of a pugilist.”

Whatever this fellow was, she suspected he was far more than a simple pugilist. After cleaning the sword, he walked from downed man to downed man, considering each face. He rolled one fellow from belly to back and stared for a long moment before shaking his head slightly.

“Have I proven my capabilities sufficiently so you’ll hire me?” he asked.

“For all I know, you’re one of these bandits, eager to rob me for… whatever they think I have.”

“Would I have shot them if that were the case?”

Kali shrugged. “I haven’t noticed that criminals care overmuch for other criminals.”

He walked toward her. She tensed, but he stopped a few paces away and stared her in the eye.

“I’m no criminal.”

“Then what are you?” she asked. “Why do you want to go with me?”

“I’m a simple traveler seeking adventure.” He nodded toward the sled. “I believe you are someone whom adventure finds.”

Kali snorted. In the aftermath of Sebastian’s betrayal, those words were proving too apt for her tastes. Yet it might be useful to have such a capable fighter along, if he did not mean to betray her himself. At the least, she could put him to work loading and unloading supplies.

“Fine,” she said, hoping she was not making a mistake. “We leave at eight A.M. Bring food for yourself for several days and kerosene for the lamps. Since it’s dark most of the day, we’ll travel through it when the trail allows.”

She headed to a coat tree and bundled up. She would have to visit the new Mountie headquarters to report the incident. Things had been easier before the law showed up, representing the “Dominion of Canada.” Criminals’ bodies had merely been tossed out for the wolves.

“Where do I sleep?” Cedar asked.

Kali stopped at the door and gaped at him. “Uh, the Blue Moon Saloon has a couple rooms.”

“You’re not paying me enough to cover lodgings.”

She wasn’t paying him at all. No holes or frayed sleeves marked his clothing, and he bore quality weapons. Surely, he was no penniless pauper without coin for a room. “You’re not sleeping here.”

She did not want him roaming around her property while she slept. The flash gold was hidden and booby-trapped, but what of her other valuables? Her tools?

“Are you always this warm and demonstrative to men who just saved your life?” Cedar asked.

“I don’t know. You’re the first who’s bothered.”

“Then perhaps you should consider displaying gratitude, thus to encourage others who may consider similar acts.”

Kali scowled at him. Why did she have a feeling he was going to be trouble?

Get your copy of Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker at:

Smashwords

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

 

***************************

About the Lindsay Buroker

I’ve been writing fantasy novels and short stories since I was seven. I’ve been finishing them since… well, that’s a more recent development.

I’m a professional blogger for my day job, and I live in the Seattle area (“area” is code for “I couldn’t afford a house within twenty miles of the city limits and my neighbors have alpacas”). I have two vizslas who are as spoiled as most people’s kids. Occasionally they let me leave the house to play tennis, go to the coffee shop, or take a yoga class.

Connect with Lindsay Buroker on her website!

My Overcrowded Mailbox

This is a little crazy post, since it’s been a long while since I’ve mentioned what’s in my mailbox. I’m so bad, I’ve even reviewed some of the works already. So, here goes!

Print Books

Now this little number was my daughters’ doing. Or maybe it started with a twitter recommendation. Anyway, someone recommended City of Bones (my oldest daughter or twitter). I do know my oldest daughter said City of Bones was the best book she read in 2009. Either way, I purchased it. My youngest daughter often harasses me for reads. I kept telling her, “your sister said City of Bones was the best read she had in 2009.” Finally my young one gave in and read the darned book. Next thing I know, she’s asking me for all the books in the series. Well, I purchased this one and the next one for her. Still waiting for City of Glass to arrive though. As for me, 🙂 I’ve yet to read City of Bones. Shame on me.

There here’s another twitter recommendation. Well, kind of. Someone recommended I read the next book in the series. But being me, I like to start at the beginning. So that’s how this came to be. Honestly, I have no idea what this ones about. All I know is it’s a YA novel. I’m really getting into to the YA genre.

Now this one, I wasn’t expecting in the mail. I even checked my book depository order to make sure I actually ordered it. And yep… I did. The only thing I could think of is that I must have wanted closer while I was selecting books. Not that I have anything against the Tarien Soul series. Just that I thought the last book was unnecessary. Well, I have it now. Here’s hoping for the best.

Anyway… I think I might start doing a next up kind of thing on the side bar. We’ll see.

eBooks

Why am I grouping these three together you might ask? These three I’ve actually already read and reviewed. I picked up The Goblin Brothers Adventures strictly out of courtesy. Not a bad read, I might say (my review here). L.K. Rigel offered me Space Junque around the time she volunteered to do her Authors Helping Authors post last week. Another fun read (Space Junque review here). And Guilty Pleasures… what can I say? I wanted more after reading Comfort Foods. I’ll post the review for Guilty Pleasures this coming Monday.

So shortly after I read Goblin Brothers Adventure, Lindsay Buroker went all crazy and sh*t releasing all these works. One of them, which also happened to be a free read, was Ice Cracker II. Like the smarty I am, I rushed to pick it up. If I’m not mistaken, it’s a bit of a teaser leading into Emperor’s Edge.

So Amanda Hocking books are so popular, I’ve been debating buying them for awhile. After unsuccessfully trying to cram Hush Money by Susan Bischoff down my daughters’ throats, I finally suggested My Blood Approves to my oldest daughter. She read the sample chapter and hopped all over it. One by one, I purchased the novels for her. If she ever gets off restriction, she might get more Amanda Hocking novels.

Forsaken by Shadow was another book I’d been wanting to read. I kept putting it off. Last month (December 17 to be exact), I won a copy of it from Stacey Wallace Benefiel. Yes, I know… that’s how long it’s been since I’ve done my mailbox post. An entire month. For some reason, things just kept popping up. Well, I’m reading it now… so definitely expect a review in the next few weeks. Then Kait Nolan did this awesome thing. Sign up for her newsletter, and she’ll send a copy of Devil’s Eye. I already follow her blog, what’s one more email. haha So voila! I’m the proud owner of Devil’s Eye also.

So, that wraps up this crazy long post. Hopefully the next one won’t be so long. I’m still expecting a batch of books from the book depository. I just need to keep up. 🙂 Man, I need to update my Reading List and Review Page big time. Until next time. Happy readings!