Download “Clockwork Dragons” Anthology FREE for the Next Five Days!

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Announcement graphic from Zombie Pirate Press

You don’t want to miss this promotion. Zombie Pirate Publishing is offering the kindle edition of their anthology CLOCKWORK DRAGONS: A Fantasypunk Anthology as an absolutely free download from Amazon for the next five days.

You can’t beat the price.

Features my steam/fantasypunk short story The Mechanical Dragon:

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Clockwork Dragons is Now Available!

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Promotional image for the Zombie Pirates Publishing anthology “Clockwork Dragons”

Today’s the day. My short story “The Mechanical Dragon” is featured in this Zombie Pirate Publishing anthology.

I have a hard time not offending anyone. When I write horror, some of my friends are unhappy with me, and while I consider my “Dragon” story to be pretty benign, I know that anything to do with magic and dragons rubs some folks the wrong way.

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My Short Story “The Mechanical Dragon” to be Published in “Clockwork Dragons: A Fantasypunk Anthology”

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Announcement graphic from Zombie Pirate Press

I’ve been waiting a few days to be able to brag about this one.

About a month ago, I had hit a dry spell, and decided to “loosen up” by participating in a writing challenge, not something I do a lot of these days. I was considering writing a story for an open submission, but I didn’t know how to approach it.

So I crafted the 150 word tale The Clockwork Dragon.

That got things moving and I was able to forge ahead with the actual story. A few days ago, it was accepted for publication by Adam and Sam at Zombie Pirate Publishing for their upcoming anthology Clockwork Dragons: A Fantasypunk Anthology.

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The Clockwork Dragon

Image of the Trans-Mongolian Railway station found at towardsrisingsun.com

“Bored, bored, bored.” Atlan manipulated the energy projecting into the boiler, cooling the steam. His partner Narangerel stood behind him in the locomotive’s cabin dilating time and slowing matter as they approached Sükhbaatar’s Trans-Mongolian station.

The eighteen-year-old girl looked at the back of her lover’s head. “You always say that, Atlan, but we are still apprentice elemental guides learning our craft.”

“I know.” The water cooled, he turned to her. “I’d just like a little excitement.”

As Narangerel released time and fixed the wheels of the stopped train, she looked out and up. “Atlan!”

From over the Russian border it appeared in the air, lit by the first rays of the sun. It was a man on a dragon, but the wings were made from massive brass rods and gears.

Atlan stared over Narangerel’s shoulder as the gleaming clockwork dragon and the dead engineer began the greatest adventure of their lives.

It wrote this wee missive for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to use the photograph/location presented by the Pegman as the prompt for crafting a tale no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Sükhbaatar, Mongolia.

I admit that it’s been a long time since I participated in one of these challenges. Truth to tell, the steam has run out of me. I’ve encountered a number of personal and professional reverses and it’s left me tired and bored.

It’s true that so far in 2019, eleven of my short stories have been chosen for publication, but as the deadline looms for several more, I feel empty.

The story above is set in the universe I’d like to write my next story in (though it never occurred to me to set it in Mongolia) where people can naturally manipulate the elements as that world’s form of technology. The “clockwork dragon” and his dead (resurrected) rider, the engineer, are actually the beginning of the story, but I don’t have the heart to dive in.

So I created my 150 word introduction, if you will, as an attempt to jump start my creativity. So far it’s not working.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.

The Latest From the Rejection Files

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from “The Hobbit” (2012)

I’ve received three story rejections within a relatively short space of time recently, which is disheartening. The first one was a long shot I sent to Uncanny Magazine. I wasn’t surprised when they sent a very speedy rejection email back to me, but I figured “worth a shot.” Of course that means the short SciFi story has been rejected three times so far.

However, the other two I actually thought had a chance. Here are excerpts from them both:

Strange Pawns

NOTE: The one requirement for this anthology was that both dragons and vampires had to be included. I set my tale in alternate versions of World War Two just for giggles:

Hodhas and Meldaborne personally led the 2nd Airborne Wing of Dragons on their fourth night of successive attacks against Berlin, supported by scores of RAF Mosquitoes. The city suffered from round the clock bombing runs, with the American Army Air Force assailing the capital by day.

The RAF insignia was proudly displayed by the dragons, each wearing a large sash that encircled their torsos. Jagi, however, had hers painted directly on her scales.

“Maintain formation in the dive, my cohorts,” ordered Hodhas, who seemed all but invisible against the ebony sky. “Our plunge to the Reichstag is coming up in moments.” Each of the dragons tilted their wings in acknowledgement, deftly avoiding flak from anti-aircraft guns on the ground, or those few that were left after the last twenty-four hours of perpetual bombardment.

“On my mark…dive!” The obsidian mother dragon curved her body downward, folding her wings back like a falcon, and in unison, 58 other dragons, one of six remaining attack forces, followed, screaming out of the ether like enormous birds of prey.

“I see something ahead. Too small to be aircraft, and we know the Luftwaffe has been destroyed…” Hodhas never finished her sentence as hundreds, perhaps thousands of bats surged upward from the city under cover of darkness, each with a wingspan of six feet or more. Their cries were maddening, and both fang and claw pierced the armor of the dragons, causing blood to be drawn from a dozen wounds in a matter of seconds.

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Special Offer for the Kindle Edition of “Magical Reality”

Promotional image for the anthology “Magical Reality”

For a limited time only, the Kindle edition of the Pixie Forest Publishing fantasy anthology Magical Reality, featuring my short story “The Dragon’s Family” is available for $2.99 USD or free with Kindle Unlimited. Don’t miss out.

Signal Boost for “Magical Reality”

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Created at the imgflip meme generator

The fine folks at Superversive SF have honored me with a Signal Boost of the Pixie Forest Publishing anthology Magical Reality which features my short story “The Dragon’s Family.” According to Urban Dictionary, a Signal Boost is:

Posting to a community forum (mailing list, social networking site, discussion board) in hopes of getting more attention for an event or cause. This is not the primary or first announcement, but rather one of many auxiliary posts or cross-posts to communities with individuals who are likely to take interest.

This will hopefully be the first of many since no one can read your stories unless they know where to find them.

Click the LINK and please pass it along.

Oh and yes, L. Jagi Lamplight Wright, who wrote the signal boost, was the teacher of the online writing class I took last November.

“Magical Reality” In My Hand

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© James Pyles

Yes, it arrived in the mail yesterday. I’ve been out of town with my wife visiting my Mom about an eight-hour drive away. Even though we got back a day early, we were occupied all day yesterday and into the evening with grandchildren/family, so I haven’t been online much. It was a real pleasure to finally see a story of mine in physical print. I’ve been a published author of information technology textbooks and self-study guides for about fifteen years, but this is the first fiction story I’ve been able to see and touch. Hope this is just the beginning.

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© James Pyles

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© James Pyles

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© James Pyles

First Review of “Magical Reality” Anthology

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Screenshot of goodreads review

My short story “The Dragon’s family” is featured in the Pixie Forest Publishing anthology Magical Reality and guess what? It got its first review, both on Amazon and on goodreads. Yes, five-star review praising ALL of the stories within its pages, which includes mine. Yes, I’m thrilled.

Keep ’em coming, readers.

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Screenshot of the “Magical Reality” page at Amazon

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Screenshot of Amazon’s “Magical Reality” page including author’s list and review details