Moving over

Just a quick message for those following this blog – I’m migrating everything here over to my revamped www.steverzasa.com website. Old blog posts will follow, eventually, and most importantly, all my books will no longer be listed here. Feel free to follow my new site.

Thanks to everybody who’s visited! This process of shifting to a new site is exhausting, but I appreciate your patience.

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‘Man Behind the Wheel’ hits the road

Bumanbehindwheel_ebookckle up.

Man Behind the Wheel is officially published, and that’s no joke. (Couldn’t resist, this being April 1 and all.) Hold on tight for a fast read set in a future where you do not have the right to drive – and Pursuit Specialist Roman Jasko chases those who break that law.

Man Behind the Wheel is available in all kinds of e-book formats, including:

AmazonApple iBooksKobo

Barnes & NobleGoogle Play

You can, of course, get a paperback copy, too. The listing should show on Amazon soon, if not already, and it can also be ordered directly from CreateSpace if that’s your preference.

Special thanks to all those who pre-ordered the book in the run-up to the official release! You’ll beat everyone else to the finish line.

Superheroes arrive

TCA Anthology V3 Ad PT (Post)Airfoil: Hotspots is officially published, with the debut of the Crossover Alliance Anthology Vol. 3: Superheroes.

Peter Younghusband has an excellent collection of interviews at Reviews by Peter about all the contributors, including yours truly. It’s a very interesting read.

And now, only three days until Man Behind the Wheel releases! Don’t forget, the preorder price of $0.99 is still valid until April 1.

Very excited about this one. I’ve had excellent local response from my book signings done of the pre-release copies.

Also, here’s the pitch for the newest novel I’m writing:

Dominic Zein makes a deal with his doppleganger that has dangerous consequences for his life and the world.

The goal is to have it done in June.

Here goes!

Writing abounds!

Wow, these past couple of weeks have been busy. Now that I have a breath, it’s time for manbehindwheel_ebooksome updates.

Preorders

Two big things here. First off, Man Behind the Wheel is available to preorder from a variety of sources. Until April 1, you can get the ebook for $0.99 from any of the following:

AmazonApple iBooksKoboBarnes & NobleGoogle Play

The Google Play option doesn’t show on the MBTW page produced by Pronoun yet, but it is there! I checked my phone.

TCA Anthology V3 Kindle Cover (938x1500)Don’t miss this chance to get a head start on this near future sci-fi story, before the price goes to its normal $2.99.

Speaking of preorders, my short story Airfoil: Hotspots will be released in the Crossover Alliance Anthology Vol. 3: Superheroes on March 28. You can preorder the anthology for $2.99 until that date, when the price goes up to $3.99.

Works in Progress

I finished The Lightningfall! It clocks in at around 109,000 words, making it about a quarter longer than its predecessor, The Bloodheart. I don’t yet have an ETA for when it’ll be published, but my goal is by my 40th birthday – Dec. 29, 2017 – at the absolute latest.

There’s also a sequel to Empire’s Rift, the draft for which is done and under review by my Takamo Universe cohorts.

I’ve also got some short stories pending and, if all goes well, I will release an anthology of my short works this summer. Thus far I have 9 included, for a roughly 180 page collection.

That’s all for now. Stayed tuned for more news in the coming week!

 

Bringing ‘The Bloodheart’ to life

Money burns a hole in your pocket. I don’t care how much money, it just does – especially when it’s a present.

I had the last $5.34 from a gift certificate to an art store in Casper, Wyoming, begging to be spent, so our last trip to the “big city” – 111 miles away with 55,000 people – found me prowling the isles in search of just the right thing.

As some of you may have seen, I located a pack of postcards.

These were thick, textured watercolor paper, perfect not only for painting but for sketching and inking. My pens didn’t bleed through at all.

So, what to create?

With the end of my first draft of The Lightningfall a couple days away, I wanted to revisit its predecessor, The BloodheartI started off with – naturally – Bowen Cord, the hero and main character. From there, I amassed quite the collection of drawings over the past few weeks.

bowen-cord
Captain Bowen Cord
niall-phelan
Niall Phelan
ariya-stormquill
Ariya Stormquill

father-evan-tyrz

benath
Benath
luc
Luc
strathern
Strathern

These are quick sketches, not as detailed as some of the character portraits I’ve done in the past two years. Part of the reason is the size – when you’re dealing with 4 x 6 postcard, there’s very little room to work with, especially for someone like me who’s used to larger drawing spaces.

Doing these sketches helped focus my writing over the past few weeks as I honed in on the finale of The Lightningfall. In some ways, it’s a very familiar book and sequel to The Bloodheart, yet is also quite different in terms of the journey the old and new characters take.

Enjoy this glimpse into a fantasy world.

Start your engines

Man Behind the Wheel is available everywhere on April 1, in ebook and paperback form, however, if you’re in Buffalo, Wyoming on March 17-18 I’ll have a pre-release batch at the Small Business Expo. That’s right, locals get their copy first!

Once again, cover artist Kirk DouPonce has worked his magic. Here’s the front for Man Behind the Wheel, my newest science-fiction novel:

manbehindwheel_ebook

The world of Man Behind the Wheel is new ground for me, taking place 50 years from now. All my previous works have either been set in the distant future (The Face of the Deep series), an alternate present (For Us Humans), or fantasy realms (The Bloodheart and the Sark brothers tales). It gave me room to play around with technologies that are either under development or purely hypothetical, yet within our reach.

It all started with one question: what if self-driving cars got so good, it became illegal for the vast majority of Americans to drive?

That immediately led to the following thought: Some people would break the law, so you’d need a select few who could drive, and drive well, to arrest the criminals.

That’s where Roman Jasko and his partner Aldrich Burns come in:

You do not have the right to drive.

Roman Jasko patrols the automated highways of 2067 America, watchful for illegal cars. He’s put on a robbery case that leads to a band of sophisticated thieves armed with stolen military technology.

Things take a turn for the worse when he discovers a personal connection to the thefts, and finds himself in the middle of a vicious attack. Suddenly, he’s stuck on the wrong side of the laws he upholds.

Rome will have to use all his skills to avoid every obstacle in his path, and determine the quickest route to the truth.

 

Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt Stop # 7

Welcome to the Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt where we are helping the Kinsman people find a new home. If you’ve just found us, be sure to start the adventure at Stop #1, which is Jill Williamson’s blog.
 
Collect all the clue words in order so you can enter to win the Kindle. If you want to enter to win the second Kindle, you’ll have to take a quiz at the end, so take your time and read each post carefully. The main prizes in the hunt are open to international entries. Individual author contests, however, might have different rules, so please read the parameters on each site. You have until Sunday night, February 19, at midnight, Pacific time to finish.
 
If you need help, or get lost along the way, click here for assistance.
7 Steve LostatSeaMapGraphic.jpg 

Wilek, Trevn, and their party were thankful to get out of PacNorth. While they had seen places in this strange land that they had never dreamed possible, so far they were feeling quite discouraged in their search for a new home. They trekked over a vast area of farmlands, desert, and mountains. The land looked good, but it was too populated and filled with modern vehicles and lights like in Redmond, WA and PacNorth. They eventually reached yet another city in Stop #7, Denver, CO, from Steve Rzasa’s novel For Us Humans.

Steve Rzasa is the author of seven novels, including three space operas, two steampunk tales, and one sci-fi murder mystery. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University, and worked for eight years at newspapers in Maine and Wyoming. He is currently the technical services librarian in Buffalo, Wyoming, where he lives with his wife and two boys. Steve’s a fan of all things science-fiction and superhero, and is also a student of history.  Visit him online at www.steverzasa.com
 
forushumans2-388x600Here’s a closer look at Steve’s novel For Us Humans.
 
“Hey. My name’s Caz Fortel. I’m thirty, good-looking, and a great liar. In fact, that’s my job: to lie to people who steal works of art, and get the goods back.
“Then one day I get the big call from the FBI: a million bucks, to recover a stolen statue with huge cultural value. Downside: the partner they assign me has an unhealthy interest in Jesus, an interest I’ve tried really hard to erase from my life. Also, that partner is an alien with four arms and a tremendous sense of smell.”
“Welcome to 2016. See, the Panstellar Consociation is the boss now, of all the Earth and everything that goes on in the solar system. Aliens showed up fifteen years ago and made us a deal: join us as a protectorate and we’ll swap you tech secrets, pay you real well. All so they could set up a warp tunnel in orbit.”
“It’s their statue. They want the whole job kept quiet. Or Earth could be in very, very big trouble.”
 
Building an Alternate Earth
 
 Creating the story world of For Us Humans was a lot of fun because I had to figure out a way to make Earth utterly recognizable, and yet changed from what we experience today. How would our planet be different if aliens lived among us for 15 years?
Mostly, it came down to politics, economics, and technology.
The aliens in For Us Humans teach mankind how to harness fusion power, and several advances are also part of the background: increased fuel efficiency for cars due to alternate power sources; advances in computing and holographic displays; and better aeronautical tech. Drones and tablets are about as ubiquitous as they are today, however, there’s a spaceport for private space flight next to Boston’s Logan airport and there is a giant landing field for the Ghiqasu aliens outside Denver International. Human spaceflight has improved drastically, though this is not shown until the end of the novel, so I won’t give any spoilers.
o-sky-whale-facebookAs a specific tech example, Caz Fortel takes his trip out west to Denver on an airplane referred to as a Sky Whale. It’s a concept aircraft I’m pretty sure can’t be built even now, but with bits of alien-influenced tech appearing in the alternate 2010s, who knows how soon it could be available?
Fun fact: the alien image on the scavenger hunt map is the one I designed as the equivalent of the stick man and woman on a restroom sign. Like this:signs-final
Needless to say, in the alternate 2016 Earth, signs like this will be the most in-your-face proof that life is forever changed. After all, how badly will we all grumble when the best parking spaces are given to our alien guests?
 
You can order For Us Humans on Amazon!
CLUE! Write down this clue: glory
The next stop on our map is Stop #8, Schturming, on K. M. Weiland’s blog.
 
Before you move on, I am giving away a copy of For Us Humans to one lucky winner. To enter, sign up to get my email newsletter and like my social media pages (@SteveRzasa on Twitter and Steve Rzasa, Author, on Facebook. Enjoy the rest of the scavenger hunt!

For Us Humans – Giveaway!

‘The Barn’: A superhero’s home

Saturday I gave a preview of Drake City, where my superhero Airfoil (aka Brandon Tusk) hangs his helmet.

(Note the word choice. He doesn’t have a cape, for obvious reasons.)

When I was planning his story, I knew he needed something else vital to a superhero’s existence: a base of operations.

I don’t recall how I found out about East Mountain, which lies north of Granby, Vermont, but once I saw the photos it was clear this was the perfect location for a superhero’s hidden base.

CIMG9726.JPG

Special thanks to The Happy Hiker, who blogged about this five years ago. He visited East Mountain and took lots of excellent photos, which made it into my descriptions of The Barn.

According to an article in The Vermonter, East Mountain is home to the remains of what was first called the North Concord Radar Station (Air Force) in 1956. Later renamed the Lyndonville AFS, it operated until the Air Force closed it in 1963. Apparently it recorded some kind of UFO sighting in 1961.

More impressive its ghostly appearance these days. Both The Happy Hiker and a July 2016 article in The Bangor Daily News provide some amazing images.

 

It’s perfect. And since I already had a mountain right outside Drake City called Mount Stafford, it was a simple matter to stick a replica of this abandoned radar installation on its peak.

While The Barn does not appear in the upcoming Airfoil: Hotspots  short story, it does feature prominently in the yet-unpublished novel Airfoil: Origins.

Just goes to show that often the best solutions to a fictional character’s needs are sitting right in front of you in the real world.

A hero needs his city

airfoil-origins-cover-1
This cover is a total fake. But it’s how I picture the hero, thanks to a quick sketch and Photoshop.

A bit of news first: I penned a short story this summer called Airfoil: Hotspots, based in the same story universe as my as-yet-unpublished novel Airfoil: Origins. Since then, it’s been accepted for publication by The Crossover Alliance, a publisher of stories by Christian writers that doesn’t shy away from PG-13 and R frameworks. Keep an eye out for Superheroes: The Crossover Alliance Anthology Volume 3, due out March 28

Back to the matter at hand.

When I dreamed up Airfoil three years ago, I knew he needed a city. Seriously, what superhero doesn’t? Arrow has Star(ling) City. Flash as Central City. Batman has Gotham City. Superman, his Metropolis. That’s a DC heavy list, but Marvel’s no stranger – except they focus a lot on New York. I’m looking at you, Spider-man, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc.

I spent a lot of time perusing maps of superhero cities for inspiration, until I realized that I didn’t want to just draw a bunch of cool-looking lines on paper – though, I did. It just wasn’t the primary motivation.

What I wanted was a major character.

The city is as much a starring role as the hero himself. It needs a history, neighborhoods that vary in terms of culture, economics, and age – not just of the buildings, but the people.

0203171405-844x1500
Drake City, circa 2014

At some point in mid-2014, I sat down at my drawing pad over a period of several days and produced Drake City.

As I invested my imagination in its creation, neighborhoods sprang to life: the run-down and diverse Hull district; the gritty, industrial Newport; the upscale Rittenhouse Island; and the small  and primarily residential Nine Square.

Eventually I scanned this fictional New England city into my computer, fired up Photoshop, and added some cleaner lines and a nice blue harbor. Then I had some more fund. What good was a map, I reasoned, if I couldn’t have a big one in my hands?

So, I exported it as a PDF, then instructed a printer to spit it out full scale. Meaning, make it take up eight sheets of 11 by 17 paper.

The result makes me grin every time I unfold it.

0203171353 (1500x844).jpg

I tell you what. If you’re ever interested in finding a Christmas or birthday present for a guy like me, get someone to turn this thing into an actual road map, just like the ones you pick up at the Chamber of Commerce or the gas station.

What’s the big deal? Well, like with most of the major characters in all my books, I finally had a face to go with the name.

You’ll get to meet him soon enough.

Man with a vision

This weekend was a busy one. Church takes up a good and valuable portion of Sunday, and there were youth activities to tend to, plus I got started on the short story contest I recently entered. The few moments of inactivity yesterday afternoon were set aside to finish reading George Lucas: A Life, by Brian Jay Jones.unnamed

I’m not much for biographies, but this was too much to pass up. Star Wars developed from an independent film supported by a major studio into a worldwide cultural phenomenon unparalleled in popular entertainment history. Reading about the man behind the myth was fascinating, to borrow a phrase from the rival Star Trek fandom.

While I enjoyed learning about Lucas’s early life, and the events that influenced his future career as a filmmaker, what really sparked my interest was his passion for his projects. Lucas repeatedly ignored film critics and naysayers to create what he wanted, his way. Sure, many of them were commercial flops, but it didn’t matter to him one whit.

Now, it’s all well and good to have that kind of confidence when you have gobs of money at your disposal. There’s no denying the success of Star Wars – and especially its attendant marketing tsunami – provided Lucas with the capital necessary to bankroll his artistic vision. And, lack of commercial appeal does often mean that his films were missing something. That said, it’s still amazing he had the fortitude and courage to say, “No, this is my vision, and I’m doing it this way.” Few people possess the guts.

It’s encouraging to anyone who picks up a pen or paintbrush, or toils over a keyboard or a musical instrument. Yes, there is a craft any artist must learn before embarking on a project. The foundation must be established before the piece of art can be built atop it. But does that mean something you created is no good because it doesn’t sell well? Lucas didn’t think so. He was happy with his films because they turned out the way he envisioned.

I highly recommend this book. It was slow at times, and of course, it’s an unofficial biography, but the insights from family, friends, and colleagues are well worth the read.