Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Bunny Man, And Other Wild Tales

THE BUNNY MAN

You may not see the Bunny Man above, but he sees you...
I am fortunate to enjoy the friendship of many talented people.

Eve Edelson, for instance, makes movies. Good ones; I encourage you to check out her Vimeo page, and take in The Fare, especially.

Eve's current project is a delightfully macabre short entitled The Bunny Man. Click on the title will take you to the trailer.

I've seen the whole film, which is even now making its way around film festivals, and while I won't give anything away, I will say it's a great little movie. If you see it listed at a film festival, see it! Perfectly safe for viewers of all ages and levels of horror-tolerance.

Is it about a Bunny Man? Well, yes. Which may sound like a contrived cryptid, but isn't -- the source of the mythology seems to originate from Virginia in the 1970s. And while you might initially laugh at the idea of a man-sized rabbit threatening anyone, this one carried an axe.

Eve, you picked a fantastic cast, a talented crew, and together you told a thoroughly entertaining story! I doff my hat to you, one and all.

I'm glad to see people making films without the influence of the big studios. Yes, the studios have the endless FX budgets and the infrastructure to churn out amazing visuals, but frankly they aren't doing anything new these days, and there are only so many iterations of Batman I can sit through without nodding off in my 20-dollar theatre seat.

I'd rather see something new and surprising. So, to you all you valiant indy film-makers out there, keep 'em coming!


AND THE WINNER IS....

Last week I ran a contest. The rules were pretty simple; caption the picture below, and if your caption is judged to be the best, get a free signed book. 



Well, I loved all the submissions so much EVERYBODY GETS A FREE SIGNED BOOK. So, Critter42, April, and Maria, shoot me a snail-mail addy (to franktuttle at franktuttle dot com, replace the at and the dot, you know how it goes), and your copy of THE DARKER CARNIVAL, which will bear my illegible scrawl, will be sent to you forthwith!

One lucky winner gets *two* books, but you'll have to wait by the mailbox to see who that might be...






Sunday, June 21, 2015

Signed Book Giveaway!


Want a signed print copy of the new Markhat adventure, The Darker Carnival?

Sure you do.

But as the loud guys on TV say, but wait, there's more!

I'll send you not one but TWO signed copies, if you'll agree to give the second copy away free to a friend who hasn't read the series.

Sound good? You get a free signed book, maybe I pick up a new fan. Everybody is grinning. 

And just how do you get this book, you ask?

That's easy. Look at the picture below, which is an original artwork depicting Markhat created by a fan, Raevyn Tws aka Eric Ralphs. 

Markhat is obviously saying something -- but what?

Caption the image! Post your caption in the comments section. Best entry of the week gets the books, with the winner announced next Sunday. 

Judging will be conducted by myself and my team of literary canines, who will indicate their preferences via tail-wags and emissions of noxious gasses. 


Pick an actual quote from any of the books, if you want. Or make something up. Inside jokes are welcome. It's all up to you!

So warm up your keyboards, and get those entries in the comments section to this blog. You've got a week!

Good luck, and have fun!


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Heed the Stars!




The fickle stars have spoken!

Read below to learn your fate, if you dare.  Looks like the stars have been watching way too much CSI yet again...

ARIES (March 21-April 20)
Don't act so shocked at all your media attention.  Multiple amputations are seldom associated with petting zoo mishaps.

TAURUS (April 21 - May 20)
Your feeling that you are being watched is tragically validated in later weeks as dental records confirm your jawbone's identity.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 20)
Suddenly, your attorney's insanity defense strategy is dealt a fatal blow.  On the bright side, you've lost eight pounds during the trial!

CANCER (June 21 - July 22)
This is a good time to study the habits and behaviors of the Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake, which is being forced from its natural habitat and into your sock drawer.  

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
As you soon learn, what is called 'bullet-proof' glass is actually better labeled 'bullet-RESISTANT' glass. 

VIRGO (August 23 - September 23)
Even the FBI can't quite determine how a highly toxic pufferfish wound up alive and intact in your small intestine.

LIBRA (September 24 - October 23)
Focus on the positive!  None of your friends will ever wind up with an obituary featured in its entirety on 'News of the Weird.'

SCORPIO (October 24 - November 21)
Some say every knock at your door might be that of Opportunity.  As the police will later state, however, sometimes it's just a lunatic with a wrecking bar and the strong conviction that you are Satan, Lord of the Underworld. 

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 - December 21)
You have to laugh every time you hear someone say 'That which does not kill you makes you stronger.'  And man does it hurt to laugh with all those new stitches.  

CAPRICORN (December 22 - January 19)
Turns out you were wrong to so easily dismiss the stories of anal probes performed during alien abductions.

AQUARIUS (January 20 - February 19)
You will eventually receive proper scholarly recognition for your unfortunate involvement in proving that piranhas have indeed migrated well into North American waterways.

PISCES (February 20 - March 20)
They will never quite piece together your final few moments, leaving your recorded comments about 'the knuckles, the horrible knuckles' an enduring mystery in the field of paranormal research.

SPECIAL NOTE TO SUZANNE IN MEMPHIS:
Not until 2018, when a cold case unit orders the exhumation of your remains.

Have a nice week!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Things That Go Bump, Special Summer Edition -- An EVP and an Anomalous Photo!

Fig. 1, The Red Chair of Summer
Greetings, faithful readers! I've got a lot to cover today, but before I get all spooky on you, I offer you one of my favorite photos, one I call The Red Chair. Because I'm in literal phase. Took the pic yesterday afternoon.

Is the chair haunted or cursed? Does sitting on it allow one to summon creatures of darkness?

No, but it is a good place in which to enjoy one's favorite beverage.

But on to the spooks!

Tula Cemetery


Yesterday I decided to take my mic and my camera out for a quick tour of Lafayette County's finer boneyards. My first stop was the old Tula Cemetery, located just outside the sprawling metropolis of Tula, Mississippi, famous for, well, anyway, it's Tula.

I tromped about. Invited comments. Made small polite talk with people who aren't there. 

My camera had a battery that showed 2/3rds when I arrived. Immediately upon entering the cemetery, it dropped from that to the small red 'you are SO out of luck, mister' icon every photographer loathes.

But being the fellow of foresight I am, I had a fresh battery in my pocket. So I popped it in, only to find it was depleted.

I put the first battery back in, and it went back to 2/3rds.

Odd. I took some pictures and pressed on.


Tula is an old place, although it is still in use. I tend to stick with the more remote, older areas.



A hand-made resting place, probably dating from the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged the place in the early 19th century.



I remained there for a little over ten minutes, recording audio the whole time. I didn't catch anything even remotely like an EVP voice. If you'd like to listen to the session in all its raw unedited glory, knock yourself out -- the link is below. The bugs and birds were so loud I doubt I'd have heard a whole chorus of ghosts performing AC/DC covers while phantom Stukas dropped ghost bombs about me.

LINK TO TULA EVP SESSION

I took a lot of pictures, and this is where things get all mystical-ated and occultified.

One of the pics I snapped is below. Give it a look, and see if you spot anything odd.


Look along the back row of markers, just left of center. I took this image with my 16 megapixel Fuji, so I can blow it up easily. Look below.


Yeah. Now, a lot of people would already be tossing around words such as 'apparition' and 'ghost.' Me, I'm more likely to suggest pareidolia, which is the tendency of out brains to see faces where there isn't really a face at all.

Here's the same cropped portion of the image, rendered in black and white for clarity:



I took this image yesterday, at around 2:00 PM in the afternoon. I'm going to return to Tula today, at the same time, with the same camera. I'm going to stand in the same spot and take the same photo, and then I'm going to approach the marker and take a series of images and we'll just see what the marker really has to say.

I'm betting here and now this is a trick of reflection and shadow. But we will soon see!

Keep reading, I returned to the cemetery at 2:00 PM CST today and located the grave marker. The results are posted at the end of this entry.

St. Peter's Cemetery

I left Tula and headed for Oxford, and the much larger St. Peter's cemetery.


I trudged up the big hill, approaching from the rear, because I'm a master strategist and I hoped to catch the guard ghosts looking the wrong way.


The first oddity I noticed as a trail camera strapped to a tree. I wonder if they've been having issues with vandalism.


I counted four trail cams there, all hung within about 50 feet of each other, all aimed a nondescript patch of ground. Which can of course mean only one thing.


ZOMBIES. Oxford has a zombie problem, and the authorities are keeping it quiet, because if there's one thing Oxonians won't tolerate it's anything that might affect property values. 

Most men would have fled, but I set my manly jaw and held fast. I know how to handle Oxford zombies. You don't have to shoot them in the head -- you just mention the new parking meters around the Square and saunter safely away as the zombie spits and fumes and rants about the injustice of having to feed a meter to eat at Boure.

Now, I didn't get any odd photos at St. Peters. But I had my trusty Zoom H1, and I was recording the whole time. And I might have just gotten something.


The whole unedited session is link below. At around the 8 minutes and 30 seconds mark, as I'm leaving, I catch what sounds a lot like a high shrill 'Hey.' 


In the link below, I make a remark abut my battery being nearly dead, and at the ten second mark there's a very faint 'hey.'


I isolated and looped the 'hey' so you can hear it much better. Click below to listen.


Now, what did I capture?

I'm pretty careful to tag any voices I hear with my ears during a session. I didn't hear this voice. One might argue that it was windy, and I was walking, and one might well have a valid point.  Maybe someone yelled hey in the distance and the wind carried it and my mic picked up what my ears missed.

Could have happened.

Or maybe I got another EVP at St. Peter's. It wouldn't be my first at that location.

Can I say with any sort of conviction that I caught a stray but mundane shout, or an example of a disembodied voice?

Not really. You'll have to decide that for yourself.

But it's images like the one in Tula and voices like the 'hey' that keep me tramping around tombstones. 



2:00 PM Tula Image Update: The Mystery Revealed

I returned to Tula at the same time, so the lighting conditions would be almost identical to the conditions of yesterday. 

Let's have another look at the odd image in discussion.


This was the first image. 

Here's a cropped blow-up of the oddity.


Looks like a face and a white-clad torso, doesn't it, There's even a hint of an ethereal glow about it.

The black and white version:


Yep, that's a ghost.

Or is it?

Look at the pics I took today, just a little while ago. Here's the first image, in which I recreated the original photo.


And there it is again, still looking spooky. I circled it for you.

Filled with noble bravery, I advanced upon the grim spectre, heedless of my personal safety.


The phantom remained. By now my eyes were telling me I was seeing a perfectly natural phenomena, a simple patch of color on a very old headstone. And I was right, there's absolutely nothing supernatural here. The next photos will prove that.




The 'ghost' was a trick of pareidela. The shroud was nothing more than a light patch on the headstone. The face was the same, given further definition by a raised decorative wreath of flowers.


Meet poor little Martha Franklin, who was only ten when she died in 1864. Rest well, Martha.

But she did help teach me a valuable lesson in not jumping to conclusions.

Because what appears to be this:


Is, all too often, simply a trick of light and shadow.

I ran another EVP session while I took the second set of photos today. I'm analyzing it now.

On that note, Ill leave you today with a bit of the Bard.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sorry, Charlie, I Won't Play



The Interwebz are all atwitter over the latest idiotic fad, in which a pair of pencils are used to summon a Mexican demon named Charlie.

Let that sink in for a moment.

I believe this may represent a true watershed moment in human history, in that 'the Charlie game' marks the place in time at which humanity as a whole became dumb enough to believe just about anything.

Honestly. First, Charlie isn't even a Spanish name. Second, pencils are bits of wood surrounded a core of graphite. As occult devices go, they're -- well, they're bloody pencils.

All around the world, dim-wits are placing one pencil at a right angle across the other pencil, and scaring themselves silly when any or all of the purely mundane forces acting on the top pencil cause it to move.

A slight motion on the table-top or floor. A nearly imperceptible breeze. The shock wave of an IQ dropping a hundred points nearby -- any of these things can and will make the pencil move.

This whole thing is especially galling to be as a fantasy author because I agonize over my magical systems so the magic in the books will make sense, but a near-panic has erupted over a pair of pencils and a story so dumb I suspect Congress had a hand in crafting it.

As the Charlie game spread via social media, so too came the warnings from paranormal groups about playing it.

I'd like to add my own warning to this chorus.

If you play the Charlie game, you will look like a knee-biting mouth-breathing knuckle-walking idiot. 

Here is a list of other ways you can't contact non-corporeal entities in your spare time, at home:

1) Scrying via a tub of mayonnaise. Won't work no matter how many black candles you light.

2) Using restaurant menus as Ouija Boards. "Look, he's telling us to get Moo Shu Pork!"

3) Consulting a Medium, based on their shirt size. 'Medium' used to denote clothing size is not the equivalent to the 'medium' applied to psychics, which explains why the guy at Auto Zone acts so confused when he's asked if any dead people are nearby.

4) Don't combine a traditional seance with aerobic exercise. Unless you do so in yoga pants, and in that case, send me the video so I can check it for orbs.

5) Don't hold a lighted candle before a mirror and chant the entire text of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga three times very fast, because that bit with Tom Bombadil cracks you up every time and you have to start all over.

That's my rant for this week. Next week we'll explore methods for summoning Lovecraft's Old Ones using nothing but Cool Whip, a small wooden dowel, and the collected works of Barbara Cartland!





Sunday, May 24, 2015

Strange Night Air


I thought'd present you with something different this afternoon.

Once upon a time, I made what's called a 'Tesla Radio' because I thought it would be cool to listen in on thunderstorms with it. I have yet to capture a recording of an actual thunderstorm on the rig, mainly because I hide under the couch with my dogs when it thunders, but I did take the radio outside late last night and record a brief snippet of eerie random AM radio broadcasts.


There's really nothing to this device. A capacitor, a germanium diode, some wires. The complete schematics are featured in my original Tesla radio blog published on 06-08-2014, linked here.

I did add an audio amplifier (the box on the left in the photo is a pre-amp, and the box on the right is a simple 1 watt amp, nothing fancy about either of them) so I could listen in real time, rather than recording straight to my Zoom field recorder.

Why did I build this thing at all?

Because late one night, many years ago, hard-luck genius Nikola Tesla built one similar to it, and sat up all hours wondering what the heck he was hearing. He describes booming unintelligible voices. He was convinced, it seems, that he was witness to actual communication in some strange tongue by parties unknown.

Now, keep in mind Tesla's world early 20th century was unlike ours. There were no radio stations, no TV stations. No cop on the corner with radar. No weather radars, no Wifi, no commercial RF noise of any kind.

So what was he hearing?

Beats me. If I had to guess, I'd say it was a combination of noise generated by his own laboratory devices and a distant thunderstorm.

And what do I hear when I fire up my home-made device?

Well, listen for yourself.

If you've ever driven cross-country and searched for radio stations you'll be familiar with the sounds. It's the wash of faint voices between the stronger signals. Voices all speaking at once, drowned under the crackle and hiss, most of their words lost in the frenzy of noise.

A few words escape, now and then. Sin is perhaps the most popular, with hellfire and damnation close behind. I'm not sure when the preacher from Stephen King's "Children of the Corn" bought up all the failing AM radio stations across the world, but it sure sounds like he has.

Anyway, late last night I took my rig out on the patio, leaned my mic by the speaker, and had a listen.

It's a short recording. Around a minute in we get dueling nutcase preachers who sound like they're yelling at each other. The British gentleman speaking in the clipped tones of high society is at least calm. Ghostly bits of music wander through, disembodied songs in search of a stage.

I can recall driving alone, late in the night, fiddling with the radio while these same faint voices whispered and shouted and raged. It's an eerie feeling, being suspended in the open space between Here and There, with nothing but angry ghosts for company.



Ever felt that? Felt that you'd driven right past the walls of the waking world, and into some vast flat nightmare?

If so, can you remember the feeling of urgent relief you experienced when you saw lights at last? Even the lights of a run-down gas station blazed like cathedral windows, because electric light meant you'd left the ghosts behind at last.

Enjoy, if you dare. And remember -- the ghosts are always out there haunting the empty in-betweens, even when we're not listening. Because that's what ghosts do...


Click here to join the ghosts! Late night Tesla radio...




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Scrivener or Word?

Tim Gatewood, Notary Public par excellence and a tireless supporter of all things science fiction and fantasy, posted an interesting question to me on Facebook yesterday.

Here's what Tim asked:

"Have you used Scrivener? If so, would you recommend it? What are the good and the bad features?

Is there a way to index the finished product (the book) in it?

If you don't use Scrivener for your writing, what program do you use? What are the good and bad features of it?

Do you use a free-standing indexing program?"

It's a good set of questions. I myself asked me of some writer friends not long ago, and I even downloaded and tried the 30-day free trial of Scrivener.

Before I offer my own experience, I suppose I should clarify a few things.

First of all, what the heck is Scrivener?

Scrivener is a word processor. In that it is performing the same functions as Word or Word Perfect or Open Office or any of the other text wrangling software packages out there. We writers pound away at our keyboards and Word or Scrivener or what-have-you patiently takes the words and wraps them in a format and spits out a perfectly formatted document which the writer then regards with deep disgust before starting all over.

Scrivener, in my opinion, takes things a step further than that. It was designed not as a generic document processor, but as a tool for novelists and authors.

Let me explain why I think that.

Scrivener lets you base your organization around chapters, not pages. Which may seem like a trivial feature at first, but most of the writers I know organize their books and outlines around chapters, not pages. There are characters and story arcs that takes place across chapters. By basing the package on that structure, Scrivener scored a major point with me.

Why? Because it builds an outline for you as you go. At the start of each new chapter, you enter a brief summary of the events and turning points that comprise the chapter. Then you dive in and start writing. Oh, you can also stick images and notes and clippings of any sort related to that chapter on a corkboard, as reminders or reference materials that you no longer have to scramble and hunt for.

Want to make a major change, and rearrange the events in the book?

No problem. Just use a simple control interface to move your chapters around. The notes and corkboards and internal outlines all adjust themselves automatically.

Can Scrivener's biggest competitor, Microsoft Word, do any of that?

Nope. Not that I know of, anyway. Word does let you start out by choosing from a bewildering and vast array of pre-formatted templates. You can write a novel or draft a will or print up flyers for a yard sale or an amateur performance of 'Othello.' But you aren't going to effortlessly build your novel around chapters.

Word can save documents in many formats -- as web pages, as pdf files, and raw text, you name it.

Scrivener can too, and it can even save your final product as a Word file.

Seems like from what I've said I'd be using Scrivener, right?

I'm not. And I don't see myself switching, for one reason -- for all its brilliant design, Scrivener's ability to create workable Word files is far from perfect.

The publishing industry is built on Word. Like it or not, that's a reality.

Here's how it works. I write a book and send the Word document off to my publisher. If the book is bought, my editor takes the Word doc and we begin the back-and-forth editing process. She makes comments using a Word feature. She makes changes that are highlighted for me to see and approve or reject using a Word feature. Then the FLE (first line editor) gets it and the process repeats until everyone is happy.

That's the process.

And none of it works with the so-called 'Word' file produced by Scrivener.

Now, there is an elaborate procedure to 'fix' the Scrivener files using various converters and so forth. I don't know the details, because I'm not going to go there. In my experience, what worked as a kludge fix just last February very well might not work this June, and I don't have time to fiddle with software in hopes of producing something that might or might not work.

Yes, there are some authors who use Scrivener, despite this. I can assure you they are authors who exceed my stature in the industry much like Godzilla towers over Bambi. Steven King could submit his books printed out in old dot-matrix on the backs of grocery store receipts.

But the rest of us had jolly well better submit nice clean usable Word files.

And I don't blame the editors, either. It's not part of anyone's job to fiddle with files until the basic functions are viable. Even trying makes me go a little grayer with each effort. No thanks.

So that's why, despite my appreciation for Scrivener, I buy up the latest version of Word as soon as it's available.

I do wish Microsoft would whip up a Word release aimed at writers.

Then I reflect upon how much we writers tend to make, and I get back to work.

But Frank, you say, in triumph. What if I plan to self-publish? Doesn't Scrivener have the ability to produce a very clean Kindle/Nook/Kobo ready e-book format?

I hear that it does. If you plan on self-publishing, Scrivener is probably a good choice.

But for now, for me, it's not an option.

Still curious? Here's the link for Scrivener...

SCRIVENER


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Building Mister Mug, Part 1: The Creeping Eye!


In last week's blog, I (perhaps foolishly) said I'd build an animated Mug, the enchanted houseplant from my Paths of Shadow series. Mug sports 29 eyes, each independently mobile and affixed to a moving stalk.

That's what I get for drinking shoe polish. Building a full-scale, completely functional Harrier jump-jet in my garage might actually be easier. But a project is a project, so I set about tackling the moving stalks that support each of Mug's eyes.

At first glance, the basic mobile eye-stalk doesn't seem all that difficult to build. I took a length of flexible plastic tubing (fuel line, I believe, available from any hardware store for about 30 cents a foot). That formed my flexible spine.

Here's a photo of the parts before assembly:




To move the spine, I needed something analogous to muscles. 30-pound monofilament line seemed to be a good fit for that. I added vertebrae to the spine by drilling four holes, equally spaced abut the outer perimeter, to ten hard nylon washers with a central hole that just happened to fit over my flexible-tubing spine.

A series of spacers cut from a slightly larger diameter fuel line kept the nylon washer vertebra apart.


Next, I wove the monofilament line through the holes in the nylon washers and tied off each at the 'eye' end.

It became obvious at this point that the thing wasn't going to work. When I pulled on any of the lines, the washers managed to rotate on the tubing so that whatever line I was pulling became the bottom. I had to fix each washer in place on the spine, preventing any rotation, so I drilled through each washer with a 1/16 inch bit and fixed it in place with a pin made out of straight steel wire.

That solved the rotation issue, and I could see that the 'stalk' responded well to being manipulated using the four control cables.

Next I added the eye -- a ping-pong ball hastily decorated with pupil and iris. That done, I mounted the whole works to a sturdy base, and tied each free end of the control cables to an improvised puppeteer's cross.

Well, Frank, did it work?

See for yourself. I posted a short video of the eye in operation, along with a few comments.



With all that in mind, what does the future hold for the Mug model?

Changes, obviously. I'm not giving up, just changing course a bit. Note to Self: Limit the number of organs and appendages of future characters to single digits, please. Or lay off the shoe polish, sheesh, you don't see Muppets with more than two eyes, do you? No? Think there might be a reason for that, chief?

Other News

Work continues on the new Mug and Meralda book, Every Wind of Change. I will drop this single hint -- Mug has his own weekly newspaper column in the Tirlin Times. His column is entitled 'Mr. Mug's Musings,' and I include them between chapters, much as I did the excerpts from his private journal in All the Turns of Light. They've been lots of fun to write.


I'm not forgetting Markhat and Darla, either! Speaking of which, they'd appreciate a quick review on Amazon, if you read the latest book and enjoyed it. A helpful link is below.


The Darker Carnival at Amazon! <Doffs battered newsboy hat and shuffles nervously> Just a quick review, eh, Guv? Nothing to fancy, a few stars, a kind word 'er two, thankee very much Guv!

And with that bit of shameless begging, I drop the mic, grab my eye-stalk, and exit stage left...


Sunday, May 3, 2015

CosPlaying Meralda


As soon as I finished the steampunk ghostbuster's backpack I built to wear to MidSouthCon 33, I decided I'd take a break from building props.



It's a time consuming hobby. Often a frustrating one as well, when your clever ideas fail to translate easily into the rough-and-tumble real world.

My resolution to put aside the Dremel and let my propane torch lay idle lasted a full month.

Now I'm ready to take a stab at something new.

I have two projects in mind, both taken from Meralda's world. I thought I'd put both ideas out there and let you guys chime in, and I also decided to sweeten the pot by offering the completed prop item to anyone willing to use it in a cosplay of Meralda at a con or other fantasy-related event.

I'd d the cosplay myself, but as you might have noticed, I bear no resemblance to Meralda, I'm not female, and all my skirts are too short anyway.

But before we get into that, here are the choices for the prop item.

OPTION ONE: THE DELIGHTER

If you've read All the Turns of Light, you know that a certain hidden weapon pops up toward the end of the book. It's a directed lightning gun, made hundreds of years before Meralda's time and then disassembled and hidden by its creator, to await that fateful day when the risk of introducing such a fearsome weapon was justified by some new threat.

In the book, I describe the Delighter thusly:

Excerpt from All the Turns of Light:

Meralda recognized the peculiar shuffle of Modwap’s Helpful Automaton before it emerged from the Shelves, an unfamiliar bulk cradled in its four spindly arms.

“My cursory investigation suggests it is a means to direct and then instigate extremely powerful electrical discharges,” said Tower. “I believe Amorp called it the Delighter. The observable spellwork indicates the device was built to be used only by persons with Second Sight.”

Meralda turned in her chair as the Automaton bore Amorp’s hidden device to her.

The beams of her eye-lights fell upon the contrivance, illuminating it in a flash of crimson. It was thick, composed of short fat tubes, all banded by copper and fitted with hoses and coils and intricate protrusions of quartz.

At one end the tubes opened, each terminated by a series of silver rings. At the other, a stock, like that of a crossbow, was fitted to the tubes. The dark wood stock was decorated with a Tirlish flag, inlaid in silver.

“Just how powerful are these discharges?” asked Meralda, as the pounding in her chest began to subside.

“At least four orders of magnitude more energetic than the most powerful single lightning discharge which has struck me in the last seven centuries,” replied Tower. “There appears to be a mechanism which controls the release intensity. It is set to low by default. The energy output of the highest setting is incalculable.”

So. A wooden stock, fat copper tubes, silver rings, hoses, lots of copper. To save time, I'd omit the internal mechanisms that actually cause lightning to leap from the maw of the weapon. I would probably do some internal lighting, maybe add a sound effect or two.

Probable completion time: 3 or 4 months. This is a very basic project, but the result would be sweet.

OPTION TWO: MISTER MUG

Yep. That's right. Take a big sturdy birdcage. Put a flower pot in it, add a lush artificial plant, and you've got Mug, Meralda's wise-cracking sidekick -- 

What's that? Mug's eyes? All 29 of them? 

Wow, that certainly complicated things. But okay. I like a challenge now and then. I'll add the eyes.

In fact, I'll do one better -- I'll animate Mug, with motors hidden in the flower pot, which move the eyes about.

 

That's Mug. Put him in the birdcage, animate his eyes -- that would be an awesome cosplay prop.

Going as Meralda would be simple.Anything Victorian would be fine -- a long skirt, with a high neck-blouse. Meralda isn't one of your barely-there 'skintight armor that somehow manages to expose all the vital organs' kind of chick.  In fact, she's furious when Tirlish newspapers depict her with her skirts flying up about her knees.

So what do you lot think? Build the Delighter, or an animated Mug? Keep in mind I stand by my offer to provide the completed prop to anyone willing to actually cosplay with it.

Why? Because I'm simply that generous. Really. And if you are at a Con and someones asks you 'Hey, who are you cosplaying?' I'd also give you a stack of handy cards to give out. Self-promotion? No, I operate, as always, from a deep-seated desire to help out. Heh. Heh heh heh.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Leave your comments below.

Oh, and buy the new Markhat book! If you have bought it and read it, a review on Amazon only takes a moment and really helps sell the book. Thanks!


Click here for The Darker Carnival!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Step Right Up -- THE DARKER CARNIVAL is on sale!


The Darker Carnival, Markhat's new adventure, is out!

Due to the magic of ARCs (Advance Review Copies), you can see what's been said about the book. Without giving away too much, this reviewer gave it four stars out of five, which I'll take all day any day.

to see the review at Forevermore, click your clicky little finger below:

Link to review of The Darker Carnival at Forevermore.

Here's a partial text from the review.


So that's one thumbs up already. Like any author, I'm thrilled at seeing that many stars.

For a look at the complete series, click here to go to my publisher's website. They carry books in every format -- Amazon, B&N Nook, Kobo, pdf, you name it.

Or click my Amazon page, which gives you all my Amazon titles.

Finally, here's a direct link to the book itself -- The Darker Carnival.

I'd like to close with a single brief excerpt from the Forevermore review.

"One of the things I enjoy about the series is the playfulness of the writing. To integrate humor and yet achieve the edges of fear and horror, such as when Markhat deals with the Dark Carnival, is one of the reasons I keep reading this series."
-- Forevermore review of The Darker Carnival