Kyanite Press in Detail

Last week I wrote a post taking a look at Issue #1 of Kyanite Press, Kyanite Publishing’s flagship magazine, a tribute to the pulps of the golden age. Over the weekend I opened the covers and delved into some of the stories, and this is my report on what they’re offering.

I mentioned the layout editing in my last post, and it continues less-than-great as we narrow our focus to the individual stories. Full-page justified when the pages consist of two narrow columns gives an inordinate amount of lines with two or three words separated by loooong spaces. In addition, there are a number of places where the Enter key was struck, hopefully in error, starting a new line in the middle of a sentence. This is annoying at best, though they improve the farther into the magazine you read. Hopefully this clears up completely within an issue or two.

I have to mention these things, as they exist as part of the magazine and need to be addressed. But ultimately, they are cosmetic issues, and some readers will be more distressed by them than others. But what about the stories?

These are a different matter entirely. They are fresh, innovative, and promise to hold a horror fan’s interest from start to finish. Let’s take a closer look at a couple.

The feature story, Prisoner Zero by Matthew Standiford, takes a convoluted look at the old concept of “make the punishment fit the crime,” and takes the reader on a wild ride through parallel worlds in the quest for humane justice.

The Thing Inside by Enkelli Arn Robertson concerns itself with comet-borne entities that change a man’s personality, his life, and drive him toward suicide in his bid to be free.

The Passage of Time by Dennis Mombauer is the most innovative story of all, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It consists of a one-page flash fiction story divided into passages and randomly scattered across the page. The reader must search the passages for order just as the protagonist searches his flooded city for clues. It is impossible to convey this with words, so I’ve photographed a small strip of the story to convey the concept. It is fresh, to say the least.

So this was my first look at, and first impressions of Kyanite Publishing. They’re new, they’re small, and they have some growing to do, but what a wonderful thing it would be to be a part of that growth, as writer or reader. Don’t miss your chance, whichever you are. Kyanite Publishing waits to welcome you.

Until we Friday, semper audax esse,
~ Jack

Kyanite Publishing

Good morning, fellow travelers, and welcome to another pulse-pounding installment of Riding the Blimp! Okay, that’s how it’s supposed to come across. This is the day that I’m supposed to start producing all this insightful, life-changing content for the other writers, beginning and established, to build their writing careers on, but I overlooked one little detail: So much of writing consists of staring out the window while you cradle a cup of coffee that when a writer is in his or her creative phase, there isn’t that much to wax philosophic about. So while I retire for a good think about what I’m actually going to do here each Friday, allow me to regale you with a tale of my prospective publisher.

Having conducted all the research I could manage on-line, I ordered a copy, Issue #1 in fact, of Kyanite Press, their “Journal of Speculative Fiction.” This is an homage to the pulp fiction magazines so popular in the 1920s and 30s. The magazine-format paperback is arranged in similar form with twelve stories interspersed with author bios, ads for books both available and upcoming, and instructions on how to submit your own stories for consideration. The masthead lists a staff of three, Editor in Chief B.K. Bass, Associate Editor Samantha “Sam” Hendricks, and Design Editor Sophia LeRoux.

None of the authors is anyone I know, which is to be expected, as they all seem to be indies who have found or been found by Kyanite. I have not encountered them on Writing-dot-com, or any of the other writing sites I frequent, which means nothing in the grand scheme of things; I hardly know everyone on Facebook, either! I haven’t had a chance to delve into the stories yet, and so can’t speak to the quality. I intend to indulge over the next week, and maybe I’ll have a review or two come next Friday.

The magazine itself is true to its roots. It is 8½ x 11 inches, and printed on pulpy-feeling paper without actually being the authentic cheap stuff. My grandma used to read the “true detective” pulps when I was a kid in the 50s, and if you’ve never had the chance to handle one of the originals, let me assure you that they nailed it. The sole complaint I have, and it is purely one of aesthetics, is that they use a two-column format with both margins justified, and it leads to an inordinate number of lines with three words on them, one on the left, one centered, and one on the right. It’s a little thing, but it’s the sort that tugs on my immersion as I check each time to see whether it’s a mistake or if words are missing.

My stories, at 15-20,000 words, are going to be far too long for the magazine, and if they pick me up, are likely to appear as stand-alone novellas. I’m not fond of that format. I don’t like asking people to pay for fraction of a book. The novella is my comfort zone, long enough for some plot twists, short enough not to need a lot of padding, and the way I handled Beyond the Rails was to include six of them in each book. But this is Kyanite’s business, and Kyanite’s decision, and quite frankly, I’ve spent so many decades begging traditional publishers to give me a chance that I don’t care if they print it on the side of a bus.

This, then, is my first hands-on look at the people I hope will be my publishers. I don’t expect to have a reply before October at the earliest; it’s going to be a long two months! I’ve submitted many stories to a sea of publishers, and have nothing to show for it but enough rejection letters to wallpaper a small bedroom, so why am so excited about this one? Because Editor in Chief B.K. Bass invited me to submit a second story, which I have done. That has never happened in all the years from all the editors, agents, and publishers I’ve ever been in contact with. To borrow the line from Firefly, it isn’t much, but it’s enough.

Kyanite Publishing is new, small and very open to working with unknown authors. They publish on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, their own website, and since my last visit, have added Kobo. They represent a fabulous opportunity for the beginning author (or one who’s been shunned for decades by the Big Boys), but there is a procedure to be followed, so go to the website and learn it. Don’t just start sending them stuff willy-nilly; that will get you nowhere. And if you’re “just” a reader looking for new ideas by new authors, check out their catalog. They aren’t going to be small for long at the rate they’re going, and this is the time to get in on the ground floor . . . or the mezzanine, at least!

Next scheduled broadcast is next Tuesday, when I plan to be looking at some of the intriguing books that authors of my acquaintance have produced. Be here for the tour!

Semper audax esse,
~ Jack

Tuesday with Friends

So, I’ve been looking at what to do with this. Obviously, the Friday post is for me, about me and my projects, and is a bald-faced effort to promote my own work. But I haven’t spent almost a decade as a writer on social media without meeting some literary types who have their own stories to offer. You’ve already met a number of them during my two-week blitz, but now I’m going to start offering them up in groups on Tuesday. They aren’t all just about writing stories, either, as this first group will demonstrate. Behold:

Maxwell Grantly is a British chap I met a few years ago through The Steampunk Empire, a name that can still send me into a murderous rage. But past events aside, the people there were great, and Max is one of them. An educator of young children, Maxwell writes illustrated steampunk books for children, books that teach a subtle lesson without hammering them over the head with it, and aren’t those the ones that are the best retained? Max’s latest project is a cooperative effort with a friend of his from Luxembourg in which they plan to create an accurate computer model of the tiny nation as it was in 1867, then set a game there. It’s a long story, but Max’s blog carries it in two parts with some YouTube videos of how it’s coming along so far.

Cogpunk Steamscribe is the on-line handle of a refined lady of Queensland who also invests a good deal of her life in the creation of engaging stories, many of a steampunk persuasion. In today’s post she talks of her early days of “writing with her eyes,” which includes some pointers on bringing all of your senses into a scene, not just focusing on what it looks like; and may I say that the photo she included in the article is worth the visit by itself. She also blogs about her books, her friends, and various aspects of her life. A nice cozy nook to curl up with some excellent reading.

If popular culture is more your cup of tea, worry not, you won’t be left out of this recommendation roundup. If movies are your thing, then MovieBabble is your site! In multiple posts daily, their knowledgeable staff reviews and discusses the grand and subtle aspects of cinema, from the first flickering images to this week’s blockbusters. Yesterday, in a particularly stunning tour de force, they posted a discussion of The Movies that Defined Each Decade. If you’re a movie buff, or a casual fan, this is not to be missed!

Interested in more than just movies? Games, food, collectables, video devices, sci-fi and fantasy conventions . . . well, I could fill a couple of pages with categories, but I think I’ve made my point. The gang at Nerd Lunch, the first on-line presence that I followed and still do, has transitioned smoothly from a written blog to a podcast. In today’s installment, three Disney World superfans are invited to the show to discuss their favorite aspects, and what they’d like to see in the future. I can’t say enough about these guys. If you’re entertained by the world around you and like to know what others think as well, you really can’t go wrong here!

Finally, I’m going to close with one that is near and dear to my heart. In years past I followed a book blogger who went by the name of Arabella. She talked about a lot of things that interested me, especially steampunk, and she was a big supporter of the Beyond the Rails stories before I collected them for publication. One day I went to visit her site, and she was gone. I figured she was lost forever, but just last week she followed this blog through her new site, Gum trees and Galaxies. In the lifetime of good days that has followed my retirement, the day she showed up in my comment feed is certainly in the top five. Sharon talks about “travel, adventure, books, life, and stuff,” so I’m pretty sure there’s something there for every taste. Do yourself a favor and pay her a visit. Her site is teeming with rich content, and is waiting to entertain you. Don’t miss out!

And that’s plenty for one week. Join me Friday when I’ll be updating what’s going on with me, and maybe have a surprise or two. Next Tuesday I’ll try looking at some books by other authors, so I have a lot coming up in the next week or so. Don’t miss it if you can!

The Story of the Nexus

Okay, I’ve been raving for a couple of months now about how I might be offered a contract to write a series of action/horror novellas for Kyanite Publishing. I don’t have a contract yet, and the truth be known, I have collected enough rejection slips from traditional publishers to wallpaper a small bedroom. So, what’s all the excitement about?

Well, I have had a number of conversations with the managing editor, who has given me the sort of encouragement that I have never received before from editors who had no intention of publishing my work. And, no, that doesn’t guarantee a contract, but it’s encouragement, and I’m seizing it because at 70, this is surely my last chance.

So, what’s the story that has attracted a publisher’s interest? The Nexus Chronicles is a series of tales about a team of monster-hunters who go after dangerous creatures plaguing various sites around the globe. If you think The Man From U.N.C.L.E. meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you probably won’t be too far off.

THE PREMISE: Imagine a universe made up of various planes of reality. We inhabit this one. Otherworldly creatures inhabit theirs, where their lives are routine and normal for their existence. But all of these planes converge and intermingle in one dot on a star map called The Nexus. Portals of energy crackle in and out of existence, and in those brief moments, creatures of one plane can cross into another. Sometimes they cross into ours, and sometimes their destination is Earth. There are those who believe that most of the creatures of myth, magic, and legend are these crossovers; there are those who believe that they are the basis of every folk legend, horror story, and religion on the planet.

The “good” races of our universe, the orderly, the just, some far more advanced than humanity, have traced the source of these infestations to the Nexus, and have established a city there, a headquarters where teams of agents are sent out to defend their own worlds. Humans have been included in this process for about a decade; the year on Earth is 1920.

THE CHARACTERS: Makoto Nagoya is the senior agent for the team of humans that the story follows. I had James Shigeta in mind from the moment I began writing, so this publicity photo is spot-on. Nagoya-san is beginning to feel his years, and may have to retire to the life of an instructor before much longer. Trained as a ninja, he feels a cultural stigma that his non-Japanese colleagues are completely unaware of, and introduces himself as a samurai.

His understudy is Bailey O’Keefe, an Irish-American lass of 21 whose dedication to the work of the Nexus agents is founded on the slaughter of her family by transdimensional demons at the age of 15. She was spared by being overlooked after being thrown through a second story window during the attack. Her goal is simple: she wants to kill them all. She studies every form of unarmed and close-quarters combat that is taught in the Nexus, and is generally considered to be a phenom by her peers. I tried to find a celebrity photo, as they’re usually publicity shots available for use, but the problem with celebrities is that they’re too damned beautiful to be believable. Bailey is a bit cutesy, her freckle-dusted face surrounded by long auburn hair pulled into a braided ponytail for work, but no one who would rivet your eye in a crowd.

The leader of the human component is one Mr. Alistair, a portly, humorless man who evaluates situations and assigns agents based on how their skills line up with each individual case. His chief researcher is Mr. Howard, tall, lanky, friendly enough, but always so lost in his research as to appear a little goofy. Lord Theodore Stratton, the seventh Earl of Edwin, a minor English semi-noble with no hereditary holdings left to him is a junior researcher who occasionally gets sent into the field with the team, where he finds himself so far out of his element that it borders on comedy. He encountered some agents on a job some six months before, and through them contacted the Nexus and was tentatively taken on as a researcher. Whether he finds a true calling with them remains to be seen.

THE GADGETS: The weapons used by the agents are nearly all hand-to-hand devices, usually blades. There are no guns carried into the field; Nexus is not in the business of killing bystanders. Bailey spent six months mastering and qualifying to carry a small crossbow, and Nagoya is a master of the shuriken, but they are rare exceptions. Most of Nagoya-san’s fighting is done with the ninjato, a short, straight sword long in his family that Nexus’s artisans have reconstructed to be disguised as a walking stick. Bailey’s close-in work is done with two daggers with eight-inch blades. Both hold minor but important enchantments, applied for her by friendly extradimensionals. One holds the finger bone of a Spanish conquistador, a conduit to his fighting spirit, in its amber handle. The old warrior seems to relish his unexpected role, for the dagger obeys her will, allowing her to juggle, spin, and make near-impossible throws with it, skills that she completely lacks with any other weapon. Her other knife has a green glass handle blown around a large spider, and anyone cut by the blade is envenomed by the poison of the Brazilian wandering spider, one of the most deadly toxins found in the animal kingdom.

Also in front-and-center use is another device provided by one of the more advanced races of Nexus, the Chronambulator. Inspired by this sundial-compass I was given as a gift for my steampunk collection, the rings and dials are placed on certain settings, and when activated, open portals to various locations throughout the world and Nexus.

And that’s all I’m giving away for free, at least for now. I’m looking to tease the books, not gift them. If I get the contract, I’ll be promoting them like crazy, and I hope they’re interesting enough to pay for. If not, they’ll turn up either here or on writing-dot-com, but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. For now, this is what readers of horror, mystery, and adventure have to look forward to. I hope I’ve sold you!

I’ll see you Tuesday with another promo of some of my friends’ exceptional work. Until then, read well, and write better!

~ Jack

Day 14: Stephanie Kato

Today it is my pleasure to introduce one of my old acquaintances from several websites, Stephanie Kato, “the Steampunk Elf.” That is not an official nickname, and I don’t even know whether she likes it, but she is so energetic and enthusiastic, and come on, look at that face. Can anyone not see it? But I digress. Let’s take a look at what this young lady delivers.

She is, first and foremost, a writer. Her Post-Apocalyptic Society series consists of nine novellas in three volumes about a world, our world, come unraveled, and falling back on older technologies and social models, and the excitement this leads to. In her blog, Looking Toward the Future, she covers a great deal of ground, reviewing books, movies, and TV shows, interviewing other authors in the steampunk genre, as well as figures like cosplayers and such. She is an Angelino (Los Angeles native, if you haven’t encountered the term) who follows and discusses her sports teams. She is a cosplayer herself, and will make appearances in costume at the request of schools and libraries. There’s very little in the world of steampunk that she doesn’t partake of. You’ll recall that I introduced her with the words energetic and enthusiastic, and if she doesn’t qualify, no one does! A visit to her site, and an expedition through her tabs can prove most rewarding.

~~~

On a personal note, I have been on a media blitz for the last two weeks, posting every day for the first fourteen days of this blog’s life in the hope of garnering an audience and creating a dedicated home for the writing gig I haven’t been offered yet. I know, I’m weird; it’s all part of the charm, folks. Results have been mixed, as I have drawn in 116 pairs of eyeballs, but only three followers. That’s all right. It will pick up if I get this contract, and if I don’t, it isn’t going to matter, so I’m good either way.

The point is that I have a finite amount of writing time, and producing all of this content uses some of it, more, in fact, than I care to give up, so commencing immediately (and as planned all along), I will be shifting to two posts a week. Fridays, beginning tomorrow, the posts will be about me and my (mostly) writing activities. Tuesdays I will be promoting authors, bloggers, and other social media personalities that I have found enjoyable in the hope that you will discover some new pleasures, guilty or not. I’m not yet sure whether I’ll feature one at a time, or sprinkle several of them together. I guess that will depend on what the feed looks like come Tuesday morning!

Anyway . . . Tomorrow will feature something, and I honestly don’t know what yet, about me or my writing. Then I’ll see you again on Tuesday with a surprise of one sort or another. Meanwhile, read well, and write better!

~ Jack

Day 13: B.K. Bass

Who better to hold title to my “Lucky 13” page than my prospective publisher, B.K. Bass? Managing editor of Kyanite Publications, B.K. is also a brilliant teacher and guide to the many worlds of horror.

I will mention in passing that Kyanite’s publishing model is to periodically open the doors to submissions, usually for a month, then with a room full of manuscripts, evaluate and make their decisions on what would be the best fit for their various publications. That’s the phase I’m at now, and though I’ve been given some encouragement, I’m trying to hold my excitement down to a low boil. But if you’re a writer in search of a publisher, you may want to visit the website and consider polishing your tale for their next submission window.

But today’s subject is the man himself, and his contributions to the growing world of indie- and small press publishing. What caught my eye today was his comprehensive study of Cosmic Horror, and its unavoidable connections to H.P. Lovecraft. This is very much worth a read if you have a horror-loving bone in your body. Appended to the bottom of the essay is a promo for his latest book, Parting the Veil:

“American socialite Richard Jericho is a world-renowned treasure hunter. British professor of archaeology Wilkins Chapman is his stoic compatriot. Together, the two have uncovered antiquities from South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. On their most recent trip to the jungles of Peru they discover something more than they expected. As the fabric of reality comes apart, the two must journey across the globe chasing clues. As one answer leads to more questions, they begin to piece together a puzzle older than primal memory itself. And the more they part the veil, the more of what lies beyond the veil spills into our reality.” Looks to be a tasty treat for horror fans!

These, then, are the many worlds of B.K. Bass, a practitioner not to be missed in the horror genre. Reader or writer, I encourage you to visit his sites and experience what he has to offer. It’s quite a ride!

See you tomorrow, kiddies, with who knows what. Until then, read well, and write better!

~ Jack

Day 12: Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

Today I introduce another of my writing friends, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt. Alicia maybe should have been visited sooner, as she’s always been right there to support and comment on every blog, page, and site I’ve cracked the lid on. But, never mind, I’m visiting now, and you should, too.

Alicia writes the Pride’s Children series, and is working on the second book of the trilogy, Netherworld. The first book of this contemporary love story, Purgatory, is currently available on Amazon. But I mainly come here to promote her author’s site. On the oddly-titled Liebjabberings (the backstory is on her bio page), she discusses her books, the Craft, offers up some of her short stories, samples and discussions from her main work, and a few other things as well. In her current post she looks at how authors manipulate time, the cues they give (or don’t give) the reader, and suggests that knowing your audience as a writer will (or should!) influence the way you approach this.

How’s that for deep? And that’s just one example. You may not write love stories, but if you’re seriously into your craft, Alicia’s blog is something you might want to check out.

~~~~~

Two things I have every intention of avoiding here are politics and religion. I lost my best friend of over thirty years to the divisiveness of the last presidential election, and discussing religion with people of differing faiths seems to be mostly an exercise in futility. But in the wake of yesterday’s mass shootings, David Lee Summers posted a heartfelt discussion of the culture of outrage in today’s society. If you find these things to be of interest, this one is long on reason and short on rant. Check it out.

And hopefully it will be a better day tomorrow, when I have plans to be here with more news about more of my friends. Until then, read well, and write better!

~ Jack