Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our 4th Pen Punk

So yes, we've read this right. We're a rare breed so it took us some time but please give a punktastic welcome to


our 4th Pen Punk!!

::cue in applauds::

Now, here is a little about Lev:

"Lev is a scientist and artist hybrid, the result of many experiments trying to create a machine that produces art. None expected what would result. Science, with its wonderful curiosity about reality, and art, with its deep emotional investigation, created a powerful mind that is not quite human or computer.

Little did he know, cyberpunk was the life he experienced first-hand. After years of developing his mind, he began writing, and discovered Neuromancer. Thus began his journey into a realm of punk and mind, treating cognitive science and science fiction as a unified whole.

Lev exists within cyberspace, and can be found on Reddit and Twitter."

Kinda like that:

Friday, April 19, 2013

April Novel Feature - The Exile's Violin

 Why hire mercenaries to kill an innocent family just to obtain one little key? That question haunts Jacquie Renairre for six years as she hunts down the people responsible for murdering her parents.

Not even accepting an assignment to investigate a conspiracy that aims to start a war can keep her from searching for the key. Armed with her father’s guns and socialite Clay Baneport, she continues her quest for answers abroad.

With the world edging closer to disaster, Jacquie is running out of time to figure out how the war, the key, and ancient legend are intertwined. The fate of the world hinges on her ability to unravel both mysteries before it’s too late.


 R.S. Hunter

R.S. Hunter fell in love with science-fiction when he watched Star Wars with his grandmother as a small child. From then on there was no turning back. To escape suburban life he turned to stories that took him on wild adventures through time, space, worlds both real and imagined. While he knows space combat won't work the same way it does in the movies, he still hopes that someday he'll get his own X-wing or TARDIS.

Website -- Twitter -- Goodreads 


Going from Star Wars and Dr. Who to a rich steampunk environment is a bit of a jump. What interested you in that world?

I’d just read Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker and the Steampunk anthology edited by the VanderMeers when I started working on The Exile’s Violin. Those two books were my introduction to steampunk. I’d seen some trappings before in anime, movies, and some other stuff on the web, but I didn’t know it existed as a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy.
I began with the airships first when I started creating the world of Tethys. I know the ones I describe in the book defy all normal laws of physics, but I didn’t care. If I wanted to follow all the laws of physics I wouldn’t have been writing secondary world fantasy fiction in the first place!

What made you decide to go with such a damaged main character? Jacquie has been put through her paces, definitely. Did you struggle with that aspect as you wrote her?

I knew the book was going to have a woman be the protagonist from the start. Making Jacquie the way she is kind of just happened. She’s scarred (emotionally and physically) and tough as nails to borrow the cliché. I think those aspects of her character just went well with the steampunk/private eye/noir-esque world I was putting together.

I *love* that Clay is not insta-good at being Jacquie’s sidekick and that he has to go through a learning curve. What was going through his mind when he decided to help Jacquie reclaim her pistols?

I really liked writing all of the bantering between Jacquie and Clay. Those parts of the book came pretty easily. As far as his thoughts during the auction scene go: I just imagine that here’s this guy who has ridiculous amounts of money. He’s bored with his life and looking for something fulfilling. I mean, perhaps it’s a little naïve of him to just trust Jacquie right off the bat when she said she was there to reclaim her stolen property, but he’s got the wealth to deal with the consequences if she wasn’t being truthful or they got caught.
Put another way: what if Bruce Wayne didn’t have the childhood trauma and decided to turn to crime instead of becoming vigilante? Clay’s a little bit like that minus, you know, actually being good at solving (or committing!) crimes. At least at first!

Knowing what you do about the story’s politics, would you be on Alesir’s or Kenesta’s side of the war?

It’s a bit surreal being asked about the politics in my made up world, but I’ll give this one a shot! To be honest, I don’t know which side I’d choose. There’s a lot of manipulation going on in both countries in the time period leading up to the war. It’s not that the regular citizens of either country are inherently bad or evil. Both sides have corruption to deal with so neither one is inherently better than the other.

How fun was your research and world-building?

Tons. World-building is my favorite part of writing fantasy and science fiction. Coming up with new worlds, places, cultures, and histories is a lot of fun. I could probably stand to do a little less of it in the future because it can keep me from actually starting on a project. You can see some of my concept art and terrible sketches at my website.
I’m extremely picky when it comes to choosing names and stuff like that. I’ll usually leave choosing names until I’m done writing a draft, and that will sometimes take me days to get it all to my liking. For the longest time Kenesta was called Rhadeus in my drafts and even in my sketches. But the sound of it just wasn’t quite right. I spent hours messing around with names until I chose Kenesta.

If you lived in this world, do you think you’d be involved in the political affairs? Would you be a private eye like Jacquie? Or would you do something totally different?

Knowing how corrupt the political system in Alesir and Vorleaux is, I’d probably stay as far away from politics as I could. Personally, I’d want to be an airship captain. That’s got to be the coolest job.
My answer would be the same if my book was in the space opera subgenre. There’s just something about being a captain of my own ship (naval, air, or space!) that appeals to me. Maybe it’s a freedom thing. If I lived in Tethys, I’d probably end up something like Mal from Firefly.

What’s next for Jacquie and Clay? What’s next for you?

There are more adventures in store for the two of them, I can tell you that much. I’m in the process of editing the second book in the series, Terraviathan. The story takes some dark turns and Jacquie and Clay don’t always see eye to eye, but they’re still a hell of a lot of fun to write. Look for Terraviathan sometime in late 2013 (or possibly early 2014). After that, who knows what else is in store for Jacquie and Clay!
I’m also revising another novel called Gifts of the Earth, which is the first novel in a brand new sword and sorcery series called The Song of Siya. There’s another book in that series in the works too. It’s too early to try looking for a home for Gifts, but I have high hopes for it!

Thanks so much for joining us!

The Exile's Violin is a fantastic read. Can't wait to check out the next installment in Jacquie and Clay's adventures!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Call for submissions - Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Biopunk Wanted!

Urania - The Speculative Fiction imprint of Musa Publishing has recently posted a special call for submissions for their  "What Honor Requires".

Brandie Tarvin - Urania Publication Coordinator gave us some insights on her punk wishes:

"Urania is the adult speculative fiction imprint of Musa. Our Young Adult imprint (Euterpe) will take any of the punk manuscripts specifically identified as YA, and our Calliope imprint will take any punk manuscripts identified as Erotica.

It is very important that potential authors identify which age group the fiction is for, especially if it is Erotica. We can usually figure out the other stuff, but we don't want to put erotic fiction in the wrong imprint and have readers get up in arms for getting steamier content than they expected.

While we accept shorter fiction pieces, Urania currently wants novellas and novels over short stories and novelettes. My personal wishlist is any 'punk fiction that fits my current special call What Honor Requires. The details of this (which have different submission guidelines than our standard guidelines) can be found here. I'd really love to see some cyberpunk and steampunk for this call. I don't have anything like that right now. Biopunk would also be welcome.

We are not interested in story collections or anthologies. Reprints are welcome so long as the authors have exclusive worldwide English rights in print and digital back under their control, and the work is not currently available for purchase through other channels. We will not publish works which are currently for sale through other publishers or currently online through self-publishing endeavors."

So, you know what to do. Write a kick-ass story and go submit!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gaslamp Fantasy vs Steampunk - by Leanna Renee Hieber

We looooooooooooooove guest posts. Today, we got lucky enough to get Leanna Renee Hieber, authoress extraordinaire of the Strangely Beautiful and Magic Most Foul series among other things, to talk about the difference between Steampunk and Gaslight Fantasy. Take it away, Leanna!

Those of us familiar with Genre fiction such as Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, etc, we know our sub-genres, where things may be shelved, how they might be tagged, and how they're "supposed" to look from one genre to the next. Sometimes we might even label things too much. But in my particular sub-sub-genre they're helpful. Because if a reader wants one thing and they get another, I'll have an unhappy reader. So I'm here to talk briefly about what makes what I write, Gaslight Fantasy, different from Steampunk.

First, my overbroad one-sentence explanation:

What's Steampunk? Very, very broadly, it's a blending of 19th century (typically Victorian) steam-powered technology with Science Fiction elements into a narrative. Steampunk is gadget and world-building driven.

Gaslight Fantasy? A blending of the same 19th century aesthetics with Fantasy elements into the narrative.

Example: If my Victorian "ghost-busting" Guard in the Strangely Beautiful saga were in a Steampunk novel, they'd be stopping ghosts with Aether-Packs on their back, gadgets and devices galore. But my Guard of spectral police use ancient powers pulled from Greek Mythology; holy fire and the powers of the Muses, and follow a prophecy. We know those latter tropes from Fantasy novels, not Science Fiction.

The world-building is no less intricate in either case. Gaslight Fantasy novelists must create a viable magical / fantastical system, Steampunk authors must do the same with their scientific devices and choices about the world's technology. A lot of alternate history can be involved.

The term Steampunk derives loosely from the already established "Cyberpunk" (Think artist H. R. Giger and The Matrix) and highlights the steam-powered historical aesthetic rather than a modern/futuristic one, the term Gaslight or Gaslamp Fantasy has origins in the already established Gaslamp Romance. Gaslamp Romance focuses more on atmosphere, characters and relationships rather than fantastical and/or paranormal worlds and their tropes. My work falls quite squarely within both fantasy and romance.

And yes, I write Gothic romance as strongly into my books as anything, so I'm really a Gothic Fantasy Romance hybrid. The only thing you can't really confuse my work with is Sci-Fi. I love Sci-Fi but I just default to the fantastical, the Gothic and the paranormal. So yes, I'm difficult to shelve. But it's being able to have tags, labels, identifiers like these so that I can find my best audience and not alienate anyone along the way who might be looking for an airship or complex gadgetry. I appreciate said things, I just don't write them. I'm drawn to the sweeping and atmospheric, Gothic leanings you can put onto Gaslight Fantasy. The magic and mystery inherent to this genre is what keeps me coming back for more.

There's a great Wikipedia article on Gaslight Fantasy, by the way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslight_fantasy

Thanks for the post, Leanna!

Leanna's doing something pretty awesome. Not only is her Strangely Beautiful series being re-released by Tor, but she's also serializing the last novel of her Magic Most Foul series for FREE on her blog http://leannareneebooks.blogspot.com. If you haven't read her before, and ESPECIALLY if you love Gothic narratives in the style of Poe and Mary Shelley, you need to check her out. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Our New Logo Revealed!!

Say hello to our little friend....

We have a brand new Pen Punks logo, right off the stylus. The amazing illustrator Ricky Payne sneaked that one on us and we appreciate it so much! It looks AMAZZZZIING!!!

You can follow Ricky on Twitter and check out his Pinterest -- he is still getting settled on the World Wide Web so check often for updated designs.


What do you think? Shiny, isn't it?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Help Wanted!

We're looking for our 4th Pen Punk!!!!!

***This is not an April Fool's Day joke***

Yes, you read it right. We're putting up the "Help Wanted" sign. Turns out there's a lot of punk in the world, and we've barely scratched the surface of it.

So, what do we need in a fellow Punk?

1) You gotta be a fan of Punk fiction. I know, I know, it should probably go without saying. Love punk? Good. Have a favorite punk genre? Even better. But you have to be willing to help us uncover the awesome of all punk genres (like elfpunk, for instance).

2) You need to be willing to commit to the blog. This one, I can't stress enough. We take our punk reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal seriously around here. Doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun (cuz, we're awesome), but there's a lot of dedication that goes into this, too. We love our punk genres. We need you to love them too.

3) Be okay with open communication. I mean scheduled chats and emails. It takes a lot to keep our blog afloat, so we gotta make sure everyone's on the same page with posts, features, and the works.

Interested? We hope so. Email us at thepenpunks[at]gmail[dot]com for more details.

We're fairly relaxed at the Pen Punks HQ but...

Serious inquiries only, please. We want to make this blog a success, and we can't do it without people who are willing to put in the time and effort we need to do so.

Thanks, everyone!