A Disaster of Temperance

Hello, valued patron.

That is how I greeted folks entering my part of the haunted house this year. I have just completed my seventh season at Sloss Fright Furnace. I wrote an article about my work as an actor there that covers the first five years. {The Chapped Cheeks of Temperance} This article is to catch up the last two years.

Last year, I built a huge, elaborate pallet maze. It had a central room with eight passages and a catwalk above so that I could stroll about and serenade the patrons with my scary cowboy songs. People would come in and search every passage for a way out but I would not let folks out until they asked for help. At that time, I would get them to sing me a song, and then I would have my assistant open a hidden door for release. It was a difficult thing to run. Groups would over-run each other and I would have too many at one time. If that happened, I would get them all to the central room and get them to sing for me collectively. One of my favorite things to do at that time would be to get all the girls in the middle, and then say, ‘I like big butts’. All the girls would take their cue and burst into the Sir Mixalot pop tune. Unlike most haunt actors, I am not a gore-hound. I do not even like being scary. I wear rodeo clown cowboy make-up and run a funny gimmick. Some of the patrons and I do not get along, but 99% of the folks coming through have a great time. Singing, joking, and having fun interactions with the fans, especially for a lengthy amount of time is unheard of in this industry. Most scenes at a haunted house only last a few seconds. An actor rarely gets more than a passing moment with the patrons. That maze last year had people trapped for ten or fifteen minutes sometimes. Every group that came in was a challenge. Every time, as a group was coming in, I would be thinking, how am I going to get them out. I had a great time doing it, but it was hard work. Singing in a loud voice for hours on end ain’t easy. Making that crazy pallet maze dynamic work was difficult. I loved the gimmick, but after two years in a row, I decided it was time to move on. I took many of the pallets home and built furniture out of them.

Not to mention how difficult it was to build a pallet maze in the unrelenting August sun. Uhg.

Our theme for this next season was post-apocalyptic. I knew what I wanted to do. We have a small strip of woods running alongside Sloss furnace where we have a second trail. I dug out a bunch of dirt bike trails, alongside the patrons trail. I bought a dirt-bike and mounted a functional plasma blaster cannon on the front. With these, I could terrorize my patrons all the way up and down the trail. I came up with a great costume. A sleeveless Luftwaffe jacket emblazoned with colours of my own design, ‘Sloss Inglorious Blastards’, {Sloss is a blast furnace} Gynormous dirt-bike boots, red pants with painted stripes up the sides, and some mondo knee-pads, constructed of knobby motocross tyres. One drawback in the plan was that I only had a small window of opportunity to purchase the motorcycle before we opened, where I would be in a position to throw a little cheddar towards the scooter. Unfortunately, the selection in my price range was severely limited. I was up against it and had to buy what I could. I picked up a 2002 Kawasaki klx 110. A kids dirt-bike. I’m not a big guy, and I know that many adults ride these little ‘pit’ bikes. That little sucker is sketchy! Note: I have not been on a motorcycle in thirty-five years, and never on a dirt-bike. Opening night got here the last weekend of September. This was my first time wearing the boots and knee-pads while trying to operate that little bike. It did not work. I could operate it relatively well without the gear, but with it, I was getting my knees stuck under the handle bars. I was engaging the shifter and brake foot pedal unintentionally. The woods were too dark too see. When I hit the field, I was blinded by the low-slung lights. I went down one time, and a couple of monster actors had to come over and pick me and the bike up. My over-sized boots and knee-pads caused me to tear the shifter pedal loose. I still had my plasma blaster mounted on the front, so I pushed the bike to a spot at the head of the trail and blasted people for the rest of the night.

I went to my supervisor the next day and told him about the disaster that was my scary house dirt-bike assault, and if he wanted to do something else, it would not hurt my feelings. As it turned out, though, the owner of the promotion had already talked with him and said that he wanted to bring back the pallet maze. That made me feel good. When people came through that opening night, they were disappointed that the naked cowboy and his infernal pallet maze was not there. My gimmick was back by popular demand; literally.

Opening night was a Friday, my conversation with my supervisor was Saturday afternoon. The plan was to build the pallet maze next week. I went into that Saturday night knowing I would have the most easy and fun nights of my career. I parked the bike at the front of the trail, and right up on the trail, but hidden in shadows. As patrons would enter the woods I would interrupt my singing and welcome them saying ‘Hello valued patrons, come on in, I’m not going to shoot you.’ That would get about half of the groups attention. Then I would call out again, in a more stern voice, ‘I’m not going to shoot you’. Now I had the entire groups attention. I then fired a tremendous plasma blast, super loud and just over their heads and then yell, ‘The Hell I ain’t!’ I usually got a good reaction. If there were any Blood Passes, I would run out behind them and say ‘I’m not going to tickle you, either’ as I tickled them. It was hilarious.

I get away with stuff that most folks can’t. People can tell I am harmless and just having fun.

I designed a much smaller, and easier maze this year. It was just a loop, that led back to the entrance. The exit door is hidden and guarded. Folks do not get out until I give the go-ahead. Patrons exiting the woods would see the maze from about a hundred feet away. I would just be a silhouette on top, playing an upbeat cowboy riff. Patrons did not know what to think. When they got close enough, I would start in with ‘Hello valued patrons, come on in, don’t be skay-yerd, it’s all right, ,,, THERE ain’t no scary monsters in hee-yer. ‘There’ would almost drop them to their knees.

The amount of time I kept them would depend on how busy we were, Usually, I would get them through pretty quick. My goal this year was to minimize people getting mad at me and try to make sure everyone had fun. I would play a funny song for them until they got to the back of the maze. I would stop them and say ‘This maze is actually a trap, but if you say the magic word, I will release you. The cow says:’ and hopefully, they would respond with ‘moo’! If not, then I would walk away, and start singing again, and they would realize that they had just made an error. When I was happy with them, I would signal my monster assistant to open the gate and then sing a victory song for them as they exited the maze.

Many patrons regretted getting smart with me. Often, a group might have to wander through the maze several times if they kept misbehaving. I was not always hard on them. Many times if the group would say ‘moo’, but some smarty-pants would say ‘oink’, or ‘cows can’t talk’, I would say something along the lines of, ‘ Awww, y’all some sweet little moo-moo’s, I’ll let you out of here if you take that dumb-ass with you’. Everyone would get a laugh at their expense and since I then go into my parting victory song, which is of an overwhelming volume, I have the last word. One time instead of dumb-ass, it was ‘mouthy mee-maw’. She didn’t mind being called mouthy, but she did not like ‘mee-maw’. I have called many women mouthy. They never get mad. Their husbands do not get mad. It is a left-handed compliment. Often they will reply with ‘Damn right I’m a mouthy woman’.

One time early in the season, some teenagers came through with one calling out, ‘Play Freebird’. I replied ‘Will you sing along?’ They said yes. I played it and we all sang it together. The timing was perfect. As we came around the second time, we were going into the big finish and I opened the gate to let them out. It was epic. Someone asked for it again the next night. I said okay if you sing along. They said okay, but they did not know the words. Someone else asked again the next night and I replied, ‘Sing the first verse’. He sang ‘I’m as free, as a bird now’. I said ‘You a dumb-ass!’ {The first verse is ‘If I stay here with you, girl} It never failed. Every night, some smart-ass would come in and call for ‘Freebird’. I’d reply ‘Sing the first verse’. They could not do it. It was pitiful. I shamed those would-be smarty-pants.

I had a group get smart with me, so I walked away from them. I went and worked the next group coming in. I stopped them on the opposite side of the wall as the first group. I warned them that they did not want to get stuck like those dumb-asses over there. Everyone laughed but what do you know, they did not want to say ‘moo’. I walked away and sang ‘Clementine’ { I know all ten verses}. They began to realize that the pallet maze is my domain, and they needed to cooperate. I came back and changed the exit requirement a bit. ‘If you’re a cow and you know it say…’ ‘Moo’. ‘If you’re a cow and you know it say…’ ‘Moo’. ‘If you’;re a cow and you know it, and you really want to show it, if you’re a cow and you know it say,…’ ‘Moo’. Those little moo-moo’s were in full compliance by that time. I played a victory song for them and they loved it. It was an absolutely masterful moment. I had hundreds of such moments. For most of the season, it was one hilarious group after another.

I like to put people over when I can. If there were small children in the group, I would get the kids to sing ‘Baby Shark’.

A couple ran ahead of their group and were standing in the entrance to the maze. They did not see me nor know that someone was up above them. I said ‘Hello valued patrons’; their knees buckled and they hit, or they nearly hit the ground. I said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.’ It was hilarious.

I think young girls like haunted houses more than young boys. Every year there are groups of early teen girls coming through. They sure do like the naked cowboy. I reckon it’s the fringe on my chaps, sort of like Bobby Sherman. Anywho, one group of twelve year old girls came through accompanied by their Dads. Sweater Vest Dads. I think there were two or three S.V. Dads in front, two or three S.V. Dads in the rear, and about ten girls between them. I tried to stop them to work my ‘moo’ gimmick, but lead S.V. Dad did not want to stop. He led the group around and back out the front. I was trying to tell them to try again, but four Dads and three girls went out the front entrance. The remaining members of the group wanted to listen to me. I asked them, ‘Y’all want to listen to me and try again don’t you?’ they indicated yes, so we went through, did the little ‘moo’ gimmick and they were on their way. The Sweater Vest Dads were still just standing in the entrance. They wanted to see a manager or something. I don’t know. Other groups were coming so I worked them. I went back to the front, and they were still there. I laughed and laughed. I have never laughed at a patron so hard. Those poor little girls that were stuck with the stick in the mud S.V.D.’s were pleading with them to go in. I asked, ‘Are y’all waiting for an adult to come hold your hand?’ They did not know what to say or do. I said, ‘You know, the rest of your group got through with no problem.’ They reluctantly acknowledged this and I got them through.

There is no fighting it. The Naked Cowboy of Sloss Fright Furnace is a hit. I reckon I’ll be working that gimmick again next year. Sigh. Learn a lesson from this, y’all; be careful what you get good at.

Happy Trails!

~Icky 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

With a Pallet of Temperance

 

Howdy folks, this is a little post about what I’ve been up to lately. I was hoping to write about my blooming acting career, but alas, it is still in the bud.

Instead, I am going to write about my pallet obsession!

I work at a scary house production for five months of the year. We like to dismantle pallets and use the old wood. They are constructed of hardwood, are usually weather-worn and look good. My supervisor, Bloody Bobby, used the wood to build torture chamber racks, and I used parts to build sliding, pocket doors for my pallet maze. When I had enough trick doors, I built an over-sized bench to put on top. Pallets are built of ribs and slats. We were using the slats. There were lots of left over center ribs, so I built an over-built table exclusively of ribs. It probably weighs a hundred pounds.

This year, at the end of the season, I brought some pallets home with me. I have recently dismantled a few and built some furniture. Here is the original bench and rib table.

 

 

 

Then, a couple of benches, a coffee table, and a few bookshelves.

  

 

The last bookshelf features attempted representations of our fur-babies, Jesse, Kitka, and Sam. I hope to produce more stuff like this.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

The Chapped Cheeks of Temperance

The Chapped Cheeks of Temperance

I have recently completed my fifth year as an actor and fourth year as a production hand at a haunted house attraction here in Birmingham Alabama. The venue is a real-life haunted iron blast furnace known as ‘Sloss Furnaces’. There is a lot to tell about Sloss Furnace itself, or the ghosts, but I want to speak about the acting aspect at this time.

My first year, I was a zombie girl, and the second, a zombie soldier. These were really fun roles to play. Though I was working a scene by myself, I had lots of running around space. We had two, large plastic pipes on hand, and my body language would indicate that I was dangerous, and that the safe route past me was through the pipes. As soon as they ducked in, I would jump in behind them, scaring them half to death, while their friends laughed. I do not like to be mean, and being mean is a big part of being a haunted house actor. I prefer to get a laugh along with my scares. The haunt is big enough that they can afford to have a scene with a comedic aspect.

The third year, I was asked to portray a mean preacher in a woodsy church. I would admonish the patrons in a funny way, calling for a ‘hand check’, in which case all the teenagers would throw their hands up in the air to show that they were behaving. I was the distraction, while my partner jumped out and scared them. I would yell, ‘Devilboy, bite that hussy on the butt!’ and everyone would laugh as Devilboy would chase the girlies around.

The fourth year, though, I requested my acting position. I wanted to be the ‘Gatekeeper’; the first person you meet as you begin our trail. This is a rather illustrious position to fill. My role was that of the furnace foreman. Patrons would pass through a house that we had built. As the gate opened, and patrons were let in, I would be on the front porch to verbally pick on them, but in a funny way. It was hot last season, and many men wore shorts. This gave me an easy target: ‘Go home, son, and get your man pants. Those little sissy britches ain’t gonna get it’. For couples, it would be something like: ‘Hold his hand, honey, Bless his heart, he’s skay-yerrrrd’. Or if a woman was the first through the gate, I would get them with: ‘What kind of a man lets a woman lead the way into a haunted house?’ Everyone laughed having a great time. It set a nice tone for the rest of the haunt. If patrons buy a ‘Blood Pass’, it means that we can touch them, and that they want a more extreme scare. As they passed my position I would tickle and spank the Blood Passes. A most formidable actress scene-mate would capture the BPs. We would hold them down and pretend to regurgitate food into their mouths. This was known as ‘Momma Bird’. Nobody got mad.

The foreman role was fantastic, but I asked myself at the end of the season, if there was anything that could have made it better. The only thing I could think of would be if I were able to sing. I tried to come up with a role for myself, somewhere on site, that singing might be appropriate. We build with whatever material we can come up with, and we had access to lots of pallets, so we built a pallet maze. After we built it, we realized that it was similar to being in a cow stockade. The high, wooden walls were like a cattle chute. The scene, though, was not played well. I thought that would be a place that I could bring a lot of energy. I could be a singing cowboy! I knew then, that I would need to learn some rudimentary guitar, and make up some scary cowboy songs. I kept it in mind, and in May, I began to put my plan into action. I wrote a couple of songs, and while driving a truck on a long highway trip by myself, I practiced singing these songs at the top of my lungs. The last week of May, I went to a local music store and bought a beginner guitar. I looked up learning the guitar on the interwebs, and came up with: to make a chord, press three strings on the neck. If it sounds good, you have a chord. I could not figure out how to change chording while playing, so I would just make up a chord that sounded about right, and stay with it the whole song. I figured that if I strum properly, I could fake my way through.

Production work began the first week of August. In a warehouse, a small crew of us build and paint sets through the month in preparation for loading in to the site. At this time, I designed my maze. Included are hinged doors to change the path, sliding doors to block passages, and secret rooms. This maze was going to be ten times in size as the previous maze. I knew I wanted to be able to walk around on top, but I was not sure if that was going to be feasible.

The second week of September, with an increase in crew size, we began our load in to the site and the build itself. We only had three weeks to build our haunt. This was a daunting task, but it is that way every year. The pallet maze was just one of many things that I needed to build. It was very labor intensive. When my supervisor pulled me off that task, I would come in early to sneak in some extra work on it.

We are a tight crew. We had our own grill on site and during the entire pre-production, we cooked our own meals on site. Opening week, we were behind and struggling. On opening day, we were so busy, that we never made arrangements to eat lunch. We tried to make some kind of a food thing happen, but it did not. I had been busting my rear end without stop, all day. No food nor rest but one bottle of water. The time came when I had to quit working on production, and get into my costume. As I was going to be up on top of the pallet maze on a pallet catwalk, I did not want to wear cowboy boots. I wanted to wear my regular work boots, so to cover the boots, I got some black, fringed, cowboy chaps. This was the last week of September, and in Alabama, it is still hot. I had planned on wearing a black tee shirt, a long coat/duster, guitar and cowboy hat. While putting on my rodeo clown make-up, I realized that I was going to be too hot, so I took off the tee shirt. Now I am wearing no shirt under the duster. I get to my scene and we start. I am up on top of the pallet maze, playing and singing. I have a monster actor manning the exit door, and another actor monster with a chainsaw, inside the maze. I am soon drenched in sweat. The singing and playing requires more exertion than I had expected. I had no food that day, and had worked extremely hard. I had just sweated away what little water I had in my system. I knew that there was a good possibility that I was going to fall out and die, so I took off the duster. Now I am up on this pallet maze catwalk, following patrons around playing, singing, and teasing, wearing chaps, no shirt, a cowboy hat and guitar. The exit for the maze was hidden. People would come in, wander, and finally realize they were trapped. The maze was so big, that I had to put in three fire exits. Patrons would try to use these. I would severely chastise them. I also had the assistance of monsters on the outside of the maze that would keep the patrons corralled. We would make people sing us a song and say ‘moo’, before we would let them out. As opposed to previous roles, the cowboy is nice and friendly. I am only mean to the patrons that need being mean. It was so much fun! The patrons had a real sense of accomplishment when they finally escaped. At the end of the night, all the actors reconvene to call roll. An actress and actor of the night are selected. The actor coordinator, called me forward as actor of the night, opening night. He said he overheard several patrons comment ‘I like that naked cowboy’. So that was it. For the rest of the run, even when it got cold, I was the naked, singing cowboy.

Here are a couple of my songs:

I’m a carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

I’m a carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

I paints my smile, upside down.

I’ll give your skull a ‘thunk’, while I’ve got your neck bound.

I’m a carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

These wooden walls, prove you made the grade.

Welcome to, my human cattle stockade.

Kids and calves, foals and fawn,

Gobble you up ’til you’re all gone.

I’m a carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

I’m a carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

I’m a carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

How’s a pound of ground round sound?

I found it bound on the ground outside of town.

I’m a carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

From your fingertips, to the toes of your feet.

Waste not, want not, eat every ounce of that meat.

Steaks and stews and barbecues,

Gonna gobble up every ounce of you.

Carnivorous cannibal carnival cowboy clown.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You get a line, I’ll get a pole, Honey.

You get a line, I’ll get a pole, Babe!

You get a line, I’ll get a pole,

We’ll go down Sloss Furnace hole.

Honey, Baby, mine.

It’s tooth for tooth, eye for an eye, Honey.

Tooth for a tooth, eye for an eye, Babe!

Tooth for a tooth, eye for an eye,

But I’ll take me a slice of your pie.

Honey, Baby, mine.

If they have no bread, let them eat cake.

If they have no bread, let them eat cake.

If they have no bread let them eat cake,

But I’ll have me a human steak.

Honey, Baby, mine.

I got a girl, down inn a hole, Honey.

I got a girl, down in a hole, Babe!

I got a girl, down in a hole.

It puts the lotion on its skin, when it’s told.

Honey, Baby, mine.

You’re Grade A Prime, you’ll make the cut.

You’re Grade A Prime, you’ll make the cut.

You’re Grade A Prime you’ll make the cut,

Gonna bite that hussy, on the butt!

Honey, Baby, mine.

Gonna fatten up, my little herd.

Gonna fatten up, my little herd.

Gonna fatten up my little herd,

Gonna get a meal from Mamma Bird!

Honey, Baby, mine.

This is the only photograph of me as this role in existence. It is on one of two very cold nights in which I am still shirtless but with a pulled back duster.

Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

To Speak with Temperance

 

Dig it, y’all!

This is a re-blog of a guest post on writing that I did for writing guru Ari Meghlen’s blog ‘Eternal Scribbler’.

 

To Speak with Temperance

by Icky

“Eek! Dig it, Miss Plumtartt! We are guest hosts on Ari Meghlen’s highly touted writing blog, ‘Eternal Scribbler’!

“Quite so, Mr. Temperance. Miss Meghlen is very kind. Is there a purpose for our being here?”

“Oh, yes Ma’am! Miss Ari wants me to share some writing advice!”

“ . . .

I beg your pardon, sir, but did you say that you were consulted for writing wisdom? Tell me, why did you not explain your lack of understanding on the subject and make your apologies, eh hem?”

“I started to, what with my being so nearly illiterate and uneducated, but then I thought, ah, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot.”

“One sees. Tell us, of what on Earth will you speak?”

“A problem I saw in my own writing, and one that I see in others, is allowing the action to slip into the past tense. I like it better when things are in the present, but keeping it there ain’t easy.”

“Indeed, Mr. Temperance, and what is your solution to this ‘tense’ situation?”

“I found that whenever I wrote in exposition, the action and descriptions would come out in a past tense, but when the action happened through dialogue, it would pull the reader into the moment. My first few books were not that way, but my style quickly turned in that direction. Now, I write in complete dialogue! There ain’t even no identifiers nor nothing!”

“You can’t be serious.”

Persephone

Miss Persephone Plumtartt

“Oh yes, Ma’am, I surely am.”

“Your books are filled with action and gore-free monster fighting. You are often engaged in battles, brawls, and bruising ballyhoo. Surely, you must indulge in a momentary exposition, whilst immersed in combat, eh hem?”

“Oh, you know how it is, Ma’am. If there is a fight going on, there is always someone around egging it on, or commentating and whatnot. It is a ridiculous way to write, but as my books are silly…”

“Eh hem, let us use the term, ‘whimsical’.”

“Yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am. So, since my books are ‘whimsical’ in nature, I reckon I can get away with it well enough. Most reviewers say it takes a minute to get used to, but then you hardly notice at all.”

“Much as one is struck by the unfortunate smell when one first visits the primate house at the zoo, but after a few moments, one hardly takes notice at all.”

“Yes, Ma’am! Just like that!”

“I am sure Miss Meghlen will be thrilled to share this sordid little literary observation and assistance on her otherwise beneficial blog.”

“Gee, I sure do hope so, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am.”

“Oh yes, One is compelled to share another warning, er, that is, another, feature, of your scribbling attempts. This would be your habit of bringing rhythm and song into the novels. Your first five only have traces of music here and there, but with the sixth book and through the tenth, there is singing throughout. Perhaps you would share a bit of song for Miss Meghlen’s audience.”

“Um, the last novel was a mash up of two Robert Louis Stevenson books; ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ and ‘Treasure Island’. Here’s a little something:

My pirates get to sing!

I let their voices ring!

It might be wrong, to write in song,

but I don’t give a ring-a-ding!

“Very good, Mr. Temperance, now say thank you to Miss Meghlen and let us take our leave.”

“Yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am. Thank you for allowing us to be guests on your lovely blog, Miss Meghlen, Ma’am! I hope I have not given out any bad advice! Happy Writing everybody! Your pals, Icky and Persephone.”

See the original post:

Guest Post on Ari Meghlen’s “Eternal Scribbler” Blog

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Of Fury and Temperance

Hi folks. This blog post is prompted by Cait, of the aptly named writing blog, Paper Fury. Cait is a phenomenal writer and an amazing blogger with some of the most clever themes on the web.

The article is intended for current ‘works in progress’ {WIP}, but I do not really have enough material to speak about. I would rather speak about a book I wrote this past summer.

Cait has a 3-part questionaire:

Part One – Introduction:

1- What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I like to write stories with particular themes and thought a Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde story would be fun. I read the Robert Louis Stevenson book but did not care for it. I loved his book, ‘Treasure Island,’ when I was a kid. I read it again, and loved it even more. Now I knew what to do with the story. On the surface, it is the story of Jeckyl and Hyde, but beneath the surface, it is the story of ‘Treasure Island’. I bounced ideas around with Miss Plumtatrt for a few weeks and then dove in.

2- Describe what your novel is about!

Our protagonist is tricked into helping construct a device of great destructive capabilities. Unbeknownst to our hero, he has also been targeted for a dangerous experiment that transforms the naive chap from mouse to monster. Murder is at our every turn and Victorian London reels from the terror that has descended upon it.

3- What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

I try to write steampunk paranormal stories, but they keep coming out as humorous. I am painfully shy of violence, yet there is action and amazing fight scenes all along the way. In an effort to keep the action active and in the present tense, I tend to write almost exclusively in dialogue. I am told that this is unusual and that I am taking a risk by writing this way, yet this is how my heart tells me to write. I also feel that this is how I can develop an individual way to write. I would like to think all of the music, singing, and rhythm would be my branding, but I think it is the dialogue-centric style that a reader may take to be my literary fingerprint.

4- Introduce us to each of your characters!

Ichabod Temperance

I am a gifted tinker from rural Alabama. Where I am, it is the year 1877. I have invented a trans-universe-temporal-scriptograph to facilitate this comunication.

I used to think that I was the hero in my stories, but I have recently come to the startling conclusion that in actuality, Miss Plumtartt is the real hero, and that I am the bungling sidekick. :-/ In this story, I have been tricked by differing factions that have taken advantage of my trusting nature.

Miss Persephone Plumartt

Miss Plumtartt is the smartest, most beautiful, and bravest girl in the whole wide world! She is the product of Europe’s finest schools and is a jewel among Britain’s aristocracy. Somehow, against all odds and reason, she has become really fond of me. Alas, this has caused her to endure many frustrating hardships in our latest adventure.

Nichodimus Cobblechunk

Big Nick is a shining example of British strength and vitality. His tremendous size is matched by his determination to rid London of the evil, fiendish monster that plagues the Great City.

Dipsy Jigglemire

Ace reporter in the competitve London newspaper world, Dipsy is a big, strong and determined girl. She is relentless and resourceful in tracking down a story. Her constant laughter and good cheer keep her Scotland Yard Detective boyfriend Nichodimus in good spirts.

Professor Christopher Diddlefudde

In an effort to develop a serum capable of changing the very nature of a man, this gifted, though ruthless scientist has no qualms about taking advantage of any test specimen he can find.The self-absorbed and inconsiderate Professor easily dupes our dimwitted hero with catastrophic results.

Bobby, Louie, and Steven’s son

Three singing newsboys whose names are similar to Dr. Jeckyl’s author name, Robert Louis Stevenson.

5- How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

No outline, I am a seat of the pants author. A few cups of coffee is all that is needed to get the ball rolling.

6- What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Rhythm and song! I was shy about including music at first, but now, I love having fun, interactive material for the reader to indulge.

7- List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

– It is set in the year 1877, as opposed to when you live, in 2000-whatever.

– We get to visit London! It’s like a dream come true!

– The world we live in has been visited by a strange comet. The Earth, after having passed through its tail, is wondrously changed. Inventiveness abounds, with astounding spring, steam, or electricity based motivation. However, there has been an alarming increase in varied supernatural occurences as well. Miss Plumtartt and I are often caught up in happenstance concerning world-gobbling monsters.

8- What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Our hero has a need to do what is right and good. Unfortunately, said hero is rather dense and in the attempt to do good, brings an avalanche of ruin upon his head.

9- How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

He must come to grips with the duplicity of others and find it in himself to overcome enemies from within and without to do the right thing.

10- What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

A theme of honesty versus duplicity runs throughout the book. I am a ‘Happily Ever After’ sort of writer, so I want the reader to be warmly tickled with the ending. I think that starting my stories is my weakest attribute, but I always manage to come up with a humdinger of a happy ending each time!

Part Two – Update:

1:Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

Geat! This was a fun book to write! I thought I had a few weeks before a job began for me, and I started the book thinking that I would not have any interruptions, however, the job started early. To write the book, I needed to go to bed early, so that I could wake up early and write. This worked out perfectly, as I had no distractions in the early morning hours.

2:What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Let every face look upon us

in worshipful joy!”

We go now to greet

our newly appropriated subjects.”

“Stop, Miss! This is Westminster Palace; you can’t come in here dressed like…”

~Bip!~

“Westminster Guard down! Eek! I am being assaulted by a beautiful monst…Augh!”

~Bop!~

“Guards, guards! Westminster is under attack! All guards to the central lobby!”

3:Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Miss Plumtartt is fantastic! She is all that these dastardly pirates can handle!

4:What do you love about your novel so far?

My pirates get to sing!

They let their voices ring!

It might be wrong, to write in song,

But I don’t give a ring-a-ding!

5:Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

I make no mistakes, typos nor otherwise, and the hilarity is totally on porpoise!

6:What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Beginning – Hate it.

Middle – Oh, yeah, I’m in the rocking chair, y’all.

End – This is my fave, because I actually made it! Ohh, but it is bittersweet, as well, because it has come to a close.

7:What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music?

I like to write in one big deluge, as I snack on cookies and coffee while not being distracted by music or anything else. I have to turn the internet and emails off, too.

8:What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Here is my writing space (and my supervisor, Kitka):

Icky and Kitka. *Please note: Ichabod is the human, and author of the books, in spite of the fact that it is Kitka looking into the camera.

Icky and Kitka.
*Please note: Ichabod is the human, and author of the books, in spite of the fact that it is Kitka looking into the camera.

I am a morning person. I get sluggish in the afternoon.

9:How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I like to bounce ideas around with Miss Plumtartt. She reads along as I write and helps to edit and catch typos.

10:What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

I don’t try to push it. I don’t want it to be forced. When it is time to write, it will just pour out. That method probably does not work for everyone, but it is what works for me.

11:What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Don’t be scared. Just give it a go. I did not give it a try until I was a geezer. Now, I love it!

Part Three. – 2017 writing Goals:

1:What were your writing achievements last year?

I wrote and published my Fantasy saga of epic proportions! The charming dragons steal the show. I also wrote and self-pubbed the focus of this article, ‘The Two Faces of Temperance’, or, ‘The Curious Case of Dr. Icky and Mr. Temperance’.

2:What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

Write another book.

3:Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

It will be fun and silly.

4:How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

I am not sure. Do you remember your post on writing advice, and how for every bit of writing advice, there is an equal and opposite suggestion? People tell me all sorts of things to change and become better, but I want to stay true to the way I want to write.

5:Describe your general editing process.

With each book, I improve as both a writer and as an editor. I have a better concept of what I want to put out. My balance and pacing has improved. As the books get better, they are easier to edit. I am getting closer to where I want to be as a writer.

6:On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

Personally, I rank it high. I have been told, however, that it may be difficult for a reader, especially one that is unaccustomed to my zany manner.

7:What aspect of your draft needs the most work?

Getting the book off to a good start is always my greatest challenge.

8:What do you like the most about your draft?

I love all the singing, the mad tumble of one calamity after another, and all of the charming characters, but I love how I always manage to include a tear-jerker along the way, also. I do not kill off characters, and hurt the reader’s feelings; rather, I try to include something touching, that will invoke sympathy in a difficult moment.

9:What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

I have no sense and no patience. As quick as Miss Plumtartt gives it her okay, we hit the self-pubber button.

10:What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Would that I had some good advice to impart, but I am not particularly clever in that way. All I can do is wish everyone that has a drop of inspiration to put down in story-form and share it with the world.

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

December, 2016 – New Release: The Two Faces of Temperance

two_faces_kindle

Back Cover:

“Oh, my Goodness, Miss Plumtartt, there is a fiendish monster at loose in London!”

“Quite so, Mr. Temperance. I say, the villain has the Great City in an uproar, sir.”

“Yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am, there is murder at our elbow, wherever we turn.”

“The machinations of intrigue threaten to crush us in their merciless gears, eh hem? Yes, One suspects that this adventure may come to be known as ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Icky and Mr. Temperance.”

* A Request by the Author:
Dear Reader, if, perchance, you should come across some drunken rogues in song whilst reading this book, you are strongly encouraged to sing these passages aloud.
Your cooperation in this matter is sincerely appreciated.
~Icky.

 

The Two Faces of Temperance for Kindle only $0.99 at Amazon!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Guest of Temperance – Guest Post by Daniel Ottalini

The Wonderful World Of Romanpunk

by Daniel Ottalini

Salve! Let me be the first to welcome you into my world, the world of Romanpunk (Or my Alternate History and Steampunk World). I’m Daniel Ottalini, your guide, host, author, whatever you wish to call me. I’m a teacher, an amateur historian, and an avid reader of the same type of books over and over again. My series – the Steam Empire Chronicles – is a five novel arc that covers the adventures of several heroic, intriguing, and devious characters in a world where Rome never fell.

So why Romans? I’ve always enjoyed their story – the rise to power, fighting small wars and big, conquering, then the fall – growing too large, trying desperately to hold onto power as their armies fell and their borders collapsed. Even there, the story isn’t over. The rise of the Eastern Empire, the copy-cat actions of the “Holy Roman” (Of which there was nothing Holy nor Roman about it), the Russian Empire, and the Ottomans. Roman history and ideals give you so much to explore and use as fantastic background material.

Why Steampunk? In reality, steampunk fit the story – Steampunk is actually more about the conflict between groups, not just the fantastic machines. The history of the Roman Empire is littered with conflict between different segments of the population. This is the key to Steampunk. Although personally I consider the story more Alternate History with a side of Steampunk. The Romans definitely like their fantastic machines in my world – Ostrichines, Mechaniphants, steam paddle-wheel aircraft carriers and airships!

I encourage you to check out my first novel – Brass Legionnaire. It’s an award winning action-adventure novel that introduces the world of Romanpunk through the trials and tribulations of our two main protagonists – Julius and Constantine. My most recent novel, Steel Praetorian, the fourth in the series, is due to be released on December 1st, and is available for pre-order now.

You can also follow me on my blog, on twitter, or like me on Facebook! I’m always doing crazy things here and there! Special thanks to Icky for hosting me, it’s always a fun time working with you!

Posted in Guest Posts | Leave a comment

A Home of Temperance

Hello my friends.
A young lady in France by the name of Marie has a reading blog named ‘Drizzle and Hurricane Books’. I am happy to be participating in her ‘Souvenirs from Across the World’ project. Marie’s friends are invited to describe their hometowns and share local souvenirs. As I am an author of steampunk books, I thought I would point out a few local points of steampunk relevance.
I live in Irondale, Alabama, USA. This community lies directly against the Eastern border of Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city and the place of my birth.

IMG_20160620_095300 IMG_20160620_101248 IMG_20160620_095232

Birmingham has an unusual symbol of the city: a cast-iron statue of the Roman God, Vulcan. It was built for the 1904 World’s Fair in Louisville, Kentucky. Standing 56 feet high and weighing in at over 100,00 pounds, he must have been pretty impressive, first hand. Poor guy, had a tough time after that. He was dismantled, shipped back to Birmingham and dumped alongside the tracks. In the twenties, he was reassembled at the fair grounds, but they put his arms on incorrectly. :-/
In the thirties, the city built a pedestal for him atop Red Mountain, overlooking the city. That is where he stands today, a magnificent statue. In fact, he is one of the largest statues in the United States. He proudly inspects a spear point he has just crafted at his anvil, as he looks out over the city. His apron leaves his bare bum facing the community of Homewood, on the other side of the mountain. 🙂

IMG_20160620_103253
Something I find interesting is the base of a tower on top of an old, downtown building. I think I had always supposed this to be the base of a water tower, but I have recently learned that this is the base of a dirigible docking tower. There are very few such creations remaining, anywhere.

IMG_20160620_105953
The third and last point of interest I would like to show is Sloss Furnace. This complex was built in the 1880’s. This is an iron producing facility. Iron is a primary component of the steel industry. It takes an  uncanny amount of heat to separate the iron from the ore. One method is the ‘blast’ furnace. Super-heated air is forced beneath the melting furnace. ‘Blast’ refers to the forced air. Sloss Furnace is home to the largest steam engine on earth. Eight titanic pistons force a blast of super-heated air. It is a crazy facility. It is considered one of the most haunted places in the United States. It was such a Hellish and dangerous place to work and many workmen died there. I have been all over this facility many times, and it is endlessly fascinating. I always find things there I have not seen before.

IMG_20160620_111230 IMG_20160620_111320
Thank you, my friends!
Your pal,
~Icky. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

March, 2016 – New Release! A Journey of Temperance

journeykindle

“I say, this fantastic craft you have built has transported us to a new world, Mr. Temperance, eh hem?”
“Yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am! Gosh, we find ourselves among many mythological beasts of outrageous legend. It would take three of me to make just one of the dwarves that live around here.”
“Yes, quite, and I find that there is no shortage of troll, gremlin, or magical creature to assail us in our destined quest.”
“You sure are right about that, Ma’am. In fact, I think we have gotten embroiled in a sweeping, high fantasy saga of epic proportions!”

 

New on Amazon: A Journey of Temperance for only $0.99

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

New Release! The Title of Temperance

NEW!

Volume Eight: The Title of Temperance

 

title20160311

 

Ohhh, my noggin. What has happened? I took a whallop upside the head and woke up in a place far from my time and home. Instead of it being the modern era of 1877 like it ought to be, I am in the distant past of England’s Dark Ages! There are mighty warriors in gleaming armour, and beautiful ladies wearing colourful gowns with taffeta secured dunce caps.

This is the castle Camelot! I am in the company of King Arthur and his majestic Knights!

Golly, can you imagine? Me, Ichabod Temperance, an Alabama tinker in King Arthur’s Camelot!

Oh, Goodness, it ain’t took too long before I already have trouble up to my hat’s brim what with Mr. Merlin, Miss Morgana, and a big mean knight in black armour getting bristly with me. Gee whiz, if I ain’t careful, I might end up wrecking there ever having been a Western Civilization!

 

The Title of Temperance at Amazon for Kindle for only $0.99!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment