Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cindy Koepp Guest Blog

Flying a Mech

Ella Font (EF): (smiling) Good evening. Welcome to Interdimensional News Network. My name is Ella Font. With me this evening is Major Kirsten Abbott from the Coalition’s Third Fleet. How are you this evening, Major.

Kirsten Abbott (KA): Hello, Ms. Font. I’m fine, thanks.

EF: So, I understand you are a very accomplished pilot. How long have you been flying?

KA: I’ve flying since I graduated high school and entered the military. I started out as a Broadsword tail gunner then transferred to pilot a Pulsar.

EF: What about League Mechanized Armor? How familiar are you with those?

KA: Fighting them? I’ve sent more than a few mechs to the scrap heap.

EF: I meant as a pilot. How do you do flying them? Isn’t that part of Coalition pilot training?

KA: I’ve flown Dervishes and Samurai in sims, and Dervishes in real life. They were remarkably challenging at first, but once I got the hang of it, they weren’t so bad. Have you ever been up close to a League mech?

EF: (Smile turns a little tight) No, I prefer to keep them at the distance. They’re mentally controlled aren’t they?

KA: Yes. The Dervish uses what’s called a “brain wave helm.” That’s sort of like a hat that has sensors to read and interpret brainwaves so the computer can tell the mech what to do.

EF: Sounds complicated.

KA: It is, but not complicated enough. The Samurai are trickier. Much more involved hardware means more detailed software. The Dervish system isn’t robust enough. Samurai pilots have a data jack on their heads here. (Turns and points to spot on the back of her skull). That more direct connection provides the computer with a more accurate reading of the pilot’s thoughts.

EF: You don’t have that jack in your skull, so how did you fly a Samurai.

KA: I’ve only flown the sim of a Samurai. That’s much less complex than an actual Sam, so the brain wave helm can handle the task.

EF: So, simple thoughts control the mechs.

KA: I wouldn’t call it simple. Movements have to coordinate with actions. If I want to launch, I have to jump.

EF: Inside the cockpit?

KA: Yes, but it doesn’t have to go for an Olympic jump record. Just a bit of a hop coordinated with a thought will get the thing moving. Lots of commands combine some manner of physical action with a specific thought or word to make the command execute.

EF: Which do you prefer flying? Pulsars or mechs?

KA: I feel more competent in my Pulsar, but the mechs are powerful in their own right. Otherwise, the Coalition would have wiped out the League long ago.

EF: What are some of the things mechs can do better than fighter craft?

KA: I’m not at liberty to answer that aside from saying that each is good at things specific to their design.

EF: Well, thank you for joining us, Major.

KA: I appreciate the opportunity, Ms. Font.

EF: This is Ella Font with the Interdimensional News Network. Back to Bob Frapples in the newsroom. Bob?

About the author:  Originally from Michigan, Cindy Koepp has a degree in Wildlife Sciences and teaching certification in Elementary Education from rival universities. After teaching for fourteen years, she pursued a master’s degree in Adult Learning with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Cindy has five published science fiction and fantasy novels, a serial published online, short stories in five anthologies, and a few self-published teacher resource books. When she isn’t reading or writing, Cindy spends time whistling with a crazy African Grey. Cindy is currently working as an optician in Iowa and as an editor with PDMI Publishing and Barking Rain Press.
Book Synopsis for Remnant in the Stars:   Two hundred years ago, the Aolanian home world exploded and a remnant of survivors escaped. As their convoy combed the galaxy looking for a new world to colonize, they discovered Earth and were given permission to establish a temporary base while they continued their search for a new home world. When an Aolanian exploration vessel goes missing after transmitting a garbled distress call, the uneasy alliance between the humans and the Aolanians is put to the test as two anti-Aolanian groups jockey to use this opportunity to press their own agendas by foiling the rescue mission.
Because his daughter was onboard the Kesha when it vanished, Calonti Sora reluctantly signs on as an astrogator with the Gyrfalcon, one of the ships in the search party. There he meets up with an old human friend, Kirsten Abbott. Together, they work to overcome prejudice and political plots as they race toward an enemy no one could expect.

Book Synopsis for The Loudest Actions:
First contact missions are hard enough, but they get even tougher when the negotiator has an ego the size of a gas giant.
Burke Zacharias, a first contact researcher, is chosen to spearhead humanity’s first official contact with Montans, an insect race that has already had a run-in with less friendly humans. Although his words and overtures toward the Montans are cordial enough, the Montans are put off by how he treats the crew of the scout ship that brought him to the world.

With other, less friendly forces trying to establish a foothold on the world, the negotiation must succeed in spite of Burke, or the Montans could be facing extinction.

Author Links:

Twitter:   @CCKoepp

 Tour Schedule and Activities
11/7      Beauty in Ruins                         Guest Post
11/7      The Seventh Star                      Interview
11/8      MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape         Interview
11/9      Jordan Hirsch                            Review
11/10    Magic of Books                         Guest Post
11/10    3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!     Top Ten's List
11/11    Sheila's Guests and Reviews     Guest Post
11/11    Novel-ties                                 Review
11/12                          Top-Tens List (Blogger Picks Topic)
11/13    Darkling Delights                       Guest Post
11/14    Enchanted Alley                        Guest Post
11/15    Bee's Knees Reviews                Review
11/15    The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn          Guest Post
11/16    Jorie Loves a Story                     Review
11/16    The Word Nerds                          Guest Post
11/17    SpecMusicMuse                          Review
11/18    Jorie Loves a Story                      Q and A
11/18    Sapphyria's Book Reviews           Guest Post
11/19     Deal Sharing Aunt                       Interview
11/20    Jorie Loves a Story                      Review
11/20    D.L. Gardner Blog                        Guest Post
11/21    The Swill Blog                              Review
11/21    Willow Star Serenity                     Review

Amazon Link for Remnant in the Stars
Kindle Version

Amazon Links for The Loudest Actions
Kindle Version

Monday, September 26, 2016

Final Curtain Update

First Place Trophy
Been a bit remiss about posting on this blog. I think it's because I'm posting more on Facebook. Not that I'm completely giving up this blog. Social media changes, and one finds what one needs to get one's message across. I still have plans for Darkling Delights, and I'm still accepting guest posts from authors who write in the speculative fiction genre.

Anyway, something cool happened this summer. My feature-length screenplay, Final Curtain, won first place in the crime drama category at the Indie Gathering Int'l Film Festival. It's also a finalist at the Imaginarium Convention. I've entered it in a few more screenplay contests. Curious to see how it'll do.

I even had the chance to have my screenplay work-shopped at Indie Gathering, with actors playing the characters. Just a short scene, mind you. Audience and actors shared in giving feedback. Some interesting observations for us writers who were featured. And some interesting
Work Shop. Photo by Missy Goodman
screenplays. :-)

Final Curtain is my first crime drama screenplay. It's gone through several incarnations, including the former title Dress Up. College theatre students are turning up dead, and widowed homicide detective Abel Black determines to stop the killer before his daughter Poly is the next victim. Helping him deal with the case, and his recalcitrant son, Brad, is Japanese-American homicide detective Seiichiro Toshihiro.

Seiichiro was a fun character to write. Partly named for Seiichiro Tatsumi from one of my favorite manga, Descendants of Darkness, Seiichiro is a retrocognitive who's trying to solve the mystery of his father's murder. Born in Osaka to a Japanese mother and an American father stationed in the Army, his father's mysterious murder was the catalyst that inspired him to become a homicide detective.

Abel Blackmore was named after Blackmore's Night because I liked their song "Under a Violet Moon." A recent widower, he's torn between guilt for not being at Lisa's bedside when she passed away and revealing the truth to his children that he went to get a sandwich. While Poly understands and empathizes with him, Brad refuses to be placated and blames Abel for keeping him and his sister from saying goodbye to their mother.

I hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes post. Next time, I'll be sharing some tidbits from the newly re-released The Ripper's Daughter.

Monday, August 8, 2016

TCM Blog Tour Author Guest Post: L. Andrew Cooper

9/11 Changed the Rules for Writing Horrors
L. Andrew Cooper

In October 2001 I drafted “Lachrymosa,” one of the horror stories in the collection Leaping at Thorns. A couple who might be having the fight that ends their relationship drives into a suburban neighborhood where a scene of unfathomable violence is drawing an audience. During the six weeks prior to writing, like everyone else in America, I’d watched the same scene over and over, airplanes crashing into buildings. I wanted to write about the dehumanizing lure of tragedy. The result was a story that’s grotesque, upsetting, and really hard to explain.

Post-9/11 horror is an established phenomenon: books, conferences, and courses on the topic have popped up across the U.S. and elsewhere. Sooner or later, the distinction between “post-9/11” and “21st-century” will be pretty meaningless. People emphasize conspiracy and paranoia as key features of the phenomenon. One of three sections in Leaping at Thorns is titled “Conspiracy,” and while all my work is arguably paranoid, stories in Peritoneum such as “Leer Reel” and “The Road Thief” are super-paranoid. I’m on board with conspiracy and paranoia, but so was The X-Files in the 1990s.

Maybe post-9/11 horror is about nihilism, brutality, and hopelessness in the face of a world bent on destruction. That fits my work as well. I’ve had no complaints about the softness of “Charlie Mirren and His Mother” and “Prologue: The Family Pet,” the first stories in Leaping at Thorns and Peritoneum. We are traumatized by 9/11, so post-9/11 horror is obsessed with traumatic experience. But wait: have you seen Texas Chain Saw Massacre? There was this national trauma called Vietnam that produced repetitive gruesome imagery in mass media, divided the country, and inspired a very successful wave of nihilistic, brutal, and hopeless art. The 70s gave rise to the great masters we still celebrate. Before Stephen King discovered the healing power of psychic kids, his stuff was really mean.

Did America re-experience Carrie’s night at the prom on 9/11 and in its aftermath? Not in the way that matters. Sure, America might feel a little like Carrie—unjustly hated and splattered with blood, how could she do anything but unleash awesome power? Then again, America might be the popular kids, facing the wrath of religious zealots who’ve come across power they’re too backward to control. A lot of horror might fit present-day circumstances, but to me, it doesn’t feel “post-9/11.” The traits I’ve associated with post-9/11 all qualify, but they don’t add up to the main thing I feel about the tragedy, the main thing I think a lot of people feel about the tragedy. No matter your views on American imperialism, mass murder is senseless. The senselessness is indivisible from the horror.

Most horror contains a kernel of the unexplained, like Carrie’s psychokinesis, but psychokinesis has a foundation in quasi-scientific inquiry going back more than a century. King bases most of the novel in well-explained psychology, whereas, for most Americans, terrorist psychology is alien. Explaining it with certainty would miss its horror. Inscrutable motivation is horrific. So is uncertain perception. Even the events of 9/11, played and replayed, remain mysterious. In relation to Vietnam, the first televised war, extreme close-ups on Sally’s eyes in Texas Chain Saw emphasize the harsh truth of mad spectacle, and Tom Savini got famous for bringing his war experiences home to realistic gore makeup. In relation to post-9/11, seeing is no longer believing; who did what and why is still being debated by candidates for national office. The slashers of the 70s and 80s were odd fish, but we pretty much knew what they were up to. Post-9/11, the WTF factor is high. 

I think I got better at scary WTFs for the stories in Peritoneum. I still like pre-9/11 horror, but I get annoyed when horror writers spoon out the same old advice about audiences needing various types of explanation. I don’t suggest abandoning sense altogether; others before us have exterminated rational thought. However, post-9/11, our security as a nation depends on the strategic withholding of information! Writers, don’t explain everything to your readers! Keep them alert by keeping the threat level high! Fear comes from ignorance! Keep them afraid!

After all, you know the world doesn’t make sense. Horror that explains itself is lying.

Book Synopsis for Leaping at Thorns: Leaping at Thorns arranges eighteen of L. Andrew Cooper’s experimental short horror stories into a triptych of themes–complicity, entrapment, and conspiracy–elements that run throughout the collection. The stories span from the emotionally-centered to the unthinkably horrific; from psychosexual grossness to absurd violence; from dark extremes to brain-and-tongue twister. These standalone stories add important details to the fictional world and grand scheme of Dr. Allen Fincher, who also lurks in the background of Cooper’s novels Burning the Middle Ground and Descending Lines.

Book Synopsis for Peritoneum:  Snaking through history–from the early-1900s cannibal axe-murderer of “Blood and Feathers,” to the monster hunting on the 1943 Pacific front in “Year of the Wolf,” through the files of J. Edgar Hoover for an “Interview with ‘Oscar,'” and into “The Broom Closet Where Everything Dies” for a finale in the year 2050–Peritoneum winds up your guts to assault your brain. Hallucinatory experiences redefine nightmare in “Patrick’s Luck” and “The Eternal Recurrence of Suburban Abortion.” Strange visions of colors and insects spill through the basements of hospitals and houses, especially the basement that provides the title for “TR4B,” which causes visitors to suffer from “Door Poison.” Settings, characters, and details recur not only in these tales but throughout Peritoneum, connecting all its stories in oblique but organic ways. Freud, borrowing from Virgil, promised to unlock dreams not by bending higher powers but by moving infernal regions. Welcome to a vivisection. Come dream with the insides.

About the author:    L. Andrew Cooper scribbles horror: novels Burning the Middle Ground and Descending Lines as well as anthologies of experimental shorts Leaping at Thorns (2014 /2016) and Peritoneum (2016). He also co-edited the anthology Imagination Reimagined (2014). His book Dario Argento (2012) examines the maestro’s movies from the 70s to the present. Cooper’s other works on horror include his non-fiction study Gothic Realities (2010), a co-edited textbook, Monsters (2012), and recent essays that discuss 2012’s Cabin in the Woods (2014) and 2010’s A Serbian Film (2015). His B.A. is from Harvard, Ph.D. from Princeton. Louisville locals might recognize him from his year-long stint as WDRB-TV’s “movie guy.” Find him at,, and

Author Links:

Twitter:  @Landrew42

Tour Schedule and Activities
8/8      MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape    Interview
8/8      SpecMusicMuse   Guest Post
8/8      Darkling Delights   Guest Post
8/8      Beauty in Ruins  Guest Post
8/9      Jordan Hirsch  Review
8/10    The Seventh Star   Interview
8/10    Vampires, Witches, Me Oh My  Top Ten List
8/11   Guest Post
8/12    Reviews Coming at YA  Guest Post
8/13    I Smell Sheep   Top Ten List
8/13    Bee's Knees Reviews   Review
8/14    Sheila's Guests and Reviews  Guest Post

Amazon Links for Peritoneum
Print Version

Kindle Version

Barnes and Noble Link for Peritoneum

Amazon Links for Leaping at Thorns
Print Version

Kindle Version

Monday, April 4, 2016

Illusions of a Quiet Cul-de-Sac

Usually, on this blog, I write about my publishing and writing experiences. But something happened on March 25 that put our cul-de-sac in our subdivision in the local news, and not for a good reason.

I never heard the gunshot(s). And the presence of police cruisers and an ambulance in our cul-de-sac normally didn't raise any undue concern.

But the yellow crime scene tape promised a different story, one that would involve someone I knew.

The ambulance slipped away, sans siren.

For the first time, a murder had occurred on our street. Supposedly, a young man had shot and killed his girlfriend. (I'm only saying this because although there's been an arrest, the suspect's preliminary hearing isn't until tomorrow.)

My husband knew the suspect, and we both knew another man who also lived in the house where the shooting took place a few doors down from us. This is the closest I've been to knowing someone who's been directly or indirectly involved in a murder.

The police had put crime scene tape up at the end of our street. That's where the reporters had set up cameras and interviewed neighbors, including a woman who claimed the suspect had sped through the stop sign. I can believe it.

Our driveway wasn't blocked, but police had put up crime scene tape across the street close to the crime scene, using mail boxes to tie the tape around. I counted four or five police cruisers on our end of the cul-de-sac, with one cruiser at the end of our street. Occasionally, another cruiser joined the latter, effectively cutting off access to our street.

We'd experienced the same thing last summer when the SWAT team had been summoned the next street over.

Quiet neighborhood? Yeah, right. Since I've lived here, besides the SWAT incident, we've had a field set on fire, a break-in next door, a break-in in a local church, and a self-inflicted gun shooting. Before that? My husband told me a fire had broken out in the woods nearby, and a bullet had nearly hit his daughter during deer hunting season.

But this was the first time we'd experienced a murder.

That day was the first time I met a homicide detective working a case. We gave him some information we had, but I'll say no more here. If it helps the investigation, so much the better.

Now I know what the back interior of a CSU vehicle looks like (at least here), and I watched crime scene investigators, homicide detectives, and the deputy coroner work the crime scene inasmuch as I could.

Eight hours later, they took down the yellow tape.

Crime scene investigation fascinates me, but I prefer to watch it on a station like the Justice Network. Because when it hits close to home, it has a profound effect, not only on the victim and suspect and their friends and family, but also on those who live in the area.

Before the murder, I wondered how many people even knew this street existed. Now we do, in infamy. Yes, the memory will fade as people resume their lives. But for those of us involved in some way, however small, the memory will linger much longer.