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Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie Osborn

Guest Author Stephanie Osborn: Why I Like Writing Sherlock Holmes

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Folks, it is my great privilege today to welcome back author Stephanie Osborn to the Elfyverse.

Stephanie and I have known each other for several years, and she’s been a strong supporter of my writing from the get-go. But that’s not the main reason why I’m so happy to have her back today.

Nope.

Instead, it’s because she has a great new novel out called SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE MUMMY’S CURSE. (Yes, when Shiny Book Review gets back up and running, I definitely plan to review her novel soonest.) And I asked her if she wanted to stop by and discuss her novel, and anything else she felt like talking about…thus this post, about why she adores writing about one of the world’s most beloved characters, Sherlock Holmes himself.

Take it away, Stephanie! (And do go buy her book.)

——————————————————————————————————————-

Why I Like Writing Sherlock Holmes

By Stephanie Osborn

I like Sherlock Holmes. Pretty much have, from the time I was a kid – though my first encounter with him was nearly my last.

See, someone gave me a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles for my birthday, when I was all of maybe 8 years old. I loved Holmes, but think about it: An 8-year-old kid with a vivid imagination, who dreams in color, and who has what would later be diagnosed as anxiety disorder, reading about a spectral cu sidhe that goes around killing members of an aristocratic family? Yeaaaaaah, no. It was years before I FINISHED the book, let alone picked up another Sherlock Holmes story.

But when I did, I kinda went nuts. I discovered that big ol’ compendium – you know the one, with the mustard and rust colored dust jacket – in my high school library, and I checked it out and kept it until I read the whole thing, cover to cover. Twice. And then I wrote my first ever pastiche.

It was a short story. I don’t even remember now what it was about; this was well before the days of personal computers, and I had to get Mom to type it up on the electric typewriter. (Yeah, so I’m old. Sue me.) And I submitted it to the school literary magazine…

…Which threw it out. First ever rejection notice and I wasn’t even out of high school. And it was a HIGH SCHOOL PUBLICATION. Problem was, the submissions were blind-judged – nobody knew who’d written anything – and the English Lit teacher, in her “superior knowledge,” decreed it was a direct, word-for-word plagiarism of one of Doyle’s actual stories. (No, she didn’t even try to check that big ol’ mustard-and-rust compendium.) At the end of the year, she discovered that I was the one who wrote it and she knew, straight-laced kid that I was, that I would never have plagiarized it. She also knew that I had the ability to write something like that.

I don’t think the story was that great, to be honest. I didn’t at the time. In fact, today I don’t remember the name of the story, or even the plot. See, I was still learning how to put stuff like that together, and I knew there were some plot holes when I wrote it, though I disguised ‘em well. But it was still pretty good for a kid that age, if I do say so. I think the whole episode might say more about the teacher than about my story, but hey.

And I watched the various and sundry films. I would have liked the Rathbone films better, I think, if Nigel Bruce hadn’t played Watson as a bumbling oaf; I simply couldn’t stomach that characterization, and it spoiled the films for me. Some years later, I discovered Jeremy Brett’s Holmes…and Holmes came to life for me. But I never tried my hand at another Holmes story.

Until I was already in the whole writing/publishing milieu. I picked up an anthology of Holmes science fiction and loved it. I thought it was something I’d probably adore writing. But it was all Victorian, and I tended (at that time) to feel a bit limited by Victorian science. It’s pre-relativity, pre-quantum mechanics, pre-everything that makes modern science and science fiction so very…out there. And after all, I AM a scientist.

Long story short, I worked out a way to bring a version of Holmes to the modern day from an alternate reality’s Victorian era, and The Displaced Detective series was born.

Enter this guy named Tommy Hancock. Tommy happens to be the co-publisher and editor in chief of Pro Se Press, one of the movers and shakers in the New Pulp movement. Turns out he’s a fan of the Displaced Detective. So he approached me at a science fiction convention, and asked me to write Holmes for him – only he wanted a more traditional, Holmes and Watson in Victorian Britain, kind of story. So we sat down and talked. We decided what we’d do would be to create a prequel series to the Displaced Detective, so that alternate-reality version of Holmes would have chronicles of his past, with “his” Watson in his original continuum. And so the Gentleman Aegis series was born.

Mummys curse 300Book 1 of that series was just released: Sherlock Holmes and the Mummy’s Curse. So what is it about?

Holmes and Watson. Two names forever linked by mystery and danger from the beginning.

Within the first year of their friendship and while both are young men, Holmes and Watson are still finding their way in the world, with all the troubles that such young men usually have: Financial straits, troubles of the female persuasion, hazings, misunderstandings between friends, and more. Watson’s Afghan wounds are still tender, his health not yet fully recovered, and there can be no consideration of his beginning a new practice as yet. Holmes, in his turn, is still struggling to found the new profession of consulting detective. Not yet truly established in London, let alone with the reputations they will one day possess, they are between cases and at loose ends when Holmes’ old professor of archaeology contacts him.

Professor Willingham Whitesell makes an appeal to Holmes’ unusual skill set and a request. Holmes is to bring Watson to serve as the dig team’s physician and come to Egypt at once to translate hieroglyphics for his prestigious archaeological dig. There in the wilds of the Egyptian desert, plagued by heat, dust, drought and cobras, the team hopes to find the very first Pharaoh. Instead, they find something very different…

I do hope you like it. I certainly had a great time writing it.

~~~

Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a 20+-year space program veteran, with degrees in astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, “fluent” in others, including geology and anatomy. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to some two dozen books, including celebrated Burnout and the Displaced Detective and Gentleman Aegis series.

~~~

Purchase links for Mummy’s Curse:

Amazon print: http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Mummys-Curse-Gentleman/dp/1518883125/ref=sr_1_3_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446569718&sr=8-3&keywords=sherlock+holmes+and+the+mummy%27s+curse

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Sherlock-Holmes-Mummys-Stephanie-Osborn-ebook/dp/B017IX33NW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446593931&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=sherlock+holmes+and+the+mummy%27s+curse%C2%94+stephanie+osborn

Smashwords electronic (epub/mobi/pdf): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/590130

Pro Se Press: http://prose-press.com/blog/2015/11/3/author-stephanie-osborn-debuts-new-holmes-series-sherlock-holmes-and-the-mummys-curse-debuts

~~~

Displaced Detective book 1: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Arrival/dp/1606191896/

Displaced Detective Omnibus: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Displaced-Detective-Omnibus-ebook/dp/B00FOR5LJ4/

Displaced Detective book 5: http://www.amazon.com/Case-Spontaneous-Combustion-Displaced-Detective-ebook/dp/B00K98AI6Y/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51RvnSdsIVL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR104%2C160_&refRID=1AB9HXZQEH5DP0H06Z7W

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 9, 2015 at 3:29 am

A Quick, Drive-by Excerpt…

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I wasn’t sure what to name this little blog-let, so I let my creativity be my guide. (Bad creativity! Bad!)

Anyway, Christine Amsden, author of the popular Cassie Scot urban fantasy series, graciously shared a guest slot with me over at her site, featuring an excerpt from my novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE.

Note that if you read my blog a few days ago, the one that pointed you to Stephanie Osborn’s Comet Tales, you have already seen this excerpt. So you certainly do not have to go take another look if you don’t want to.

Still, it’s wonderful to get as many eyeballs on it as possible, and Christine Amsden has many more people reading her blog than I do. So it is possible that more people will realize that my book exists, and that is no bad thing.

In fact, you could see it as an early Xmas present, if you’re so inclined. (And to think that I haven’t yet managed to get Mrs. Osborn or Ms. Amsden anything…for shame!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 6, 2014 at 12:35 am

Want to Read A Free Excerpt From “An Elfy On The Loose?”

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Folks, we’re coming up on the holiday gift-giving season. Because of this, Stephanie Osborn got together with a number of writers and asked them all to give her blogs and/or excerpts from their novels in an attempt to interest people who knew next to nothing about us.

Because what’s a better gift than a book?

Anyway, the upshot of all of this holiday gift-giving stuff is that she posted an authorized excerpt from my novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, on her blog Comet Tales. Here’s just a wee bit from that (a snippet from a snippet):

But he still had no idea where he was. He didn’t recognize anything, except green grass, yet he had the oddest feeling. He wasn’t sure, but he thought they somehow had made it back to the Elfy Realm after all, and the not-knowing made him dizzy.

Sarah had stopped and appeared to be weaving on her feet. Bruno jogged the equivalent of three city blocks to get to her, hoping she’d not fall before he made it.

“Bruno, I feel…sick,” she gasped when he was only a few steps away. He sprinted toward her and turned her around; her greenish-white face was alarming. He told her to let the packs fall, then gently helped Sarah lay down on the ground…

Lost on a sea of too-green grass, with no way out in sight.

Please go take a look at the excerpt from AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, and then, if you wish to see more, you can do any or all of the following four things:

And thanks for being willing to read any — or all — of my work.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 4, 2014 at 1:30 am

New, Wide-Ranging Author Interview (Mine) is Up at the MFRW Authors’ Blog!

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Folks, I’m very pleased to report that I have a new interview up over at MFRW Authors’ busy and well-read blog that was posted earlier today.

I hope you will all check out this interview, as it’s the most wide-ranging one I’ve done to date . . . some of the questions asked were about why I wrote AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Barnes and Noble link is here), whether or not I think love scenes in romances are a good idea (I definitely do, but when you write young adult novels, you have to be careful and I said so), and much, much more.

My most important part of the interview, though, touched on the people who have been the most important and influential in my life. My late husband, Michael, who died nearly ten years ago, but whose presence is still felt. (I’d go much more into this, but the anniversary of Michael’s passing is in two days and I have a special blog post planned for that occasion.) My late best friend, Jeff Wilson, who died nearly three years ago, but again . . . I remember what he said, and why, and it helps. And my three living writing mentors — Rosemary Edghill, Stephanie Osborn, and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel — who are all wonderful writers and editors, and I’ve learned so very much from them . . . any mistakes I continue to make are, of course, my own.

But I could’ve listed even more people. For example:

  • I’ve written book reviews for Jason Cordova over at Shiny Book Review since 2010. Jason gave me some good advice back then to keep sending my novel out; he liked it, he gave me a quote for the novel then known as ELFY, and I appreciated that. His career is starting to take off due to a series of popular Kaiju novels, and it couldn’t happen to a better person.
  • Early on, Kate Paulk was invaluable in discussing the art and craft of writing (besides, her impressions on the oddities of contemporary American life were not to be missed).
  • Author Dave Freer, a wonderful funny fantasist, had some good advice for me back in the day, too.
  • Ditto for Eric Flint, who gave a talk Michael and I attended back in Chicago of 2002 (a Baen Barfly gathering) that helped Michael and I figure out how to write together. (Without the two of us hearing that talk, my career would’ve turned out to be rather short-lived, methinks.)
  • And I had numerous friends and allies over at Ye Olde Baen’s Bar website (which still exists, but I’m mostly absent due to other concerns), such as the late author Ric Locke and author Loren K. Jones — of course, I’m still in sporadic communication with Loren, though Real Life (TM) has interfered in many ways.
  • And, of course, there’s my publisher, Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, and my fellow authors at TTB who’ve been so supportive and helpful — Aaron Lazar, Maria DeVivo, Dina von Lowenkraft, Scott Eder and Heather McLaren among them . . .
  • And the very kind folks at Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW.org on Twitter, for short), who have in a very short time impressed upon me the need for two things in the writing business: patience and persistence. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who has written a romance or has any romance whatsoever in their books should check out Marketing For Romance Writers post-haste.

Anyway, it does take a village to make an author. But it also takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and energy on the part of said author in order to write, re-write, listen to your mentors, write some more, listen some more, listen to your editor(s), re-write, etc.

Without my husband Michael’s expertise and encouragement, without the pair of us hearing Eric Flint early on, and without Rosemary Edghill’s support, I wouldn’t have dared to finish the novel I then knew as ELFY, much less continued to keep after it after Michael died. Without Jeff Wilson’s faith in me, I don’t think I’d have been as likely to keep going. And without Stephanie Osborn reading and loving ELFY back in 2012, I’d not have finally found Lida Quillen at Twilight Times Books . . . without Katharine Kimbriel and all that she’s taught me about writing and editing (much less life in general), I doubt I’d be quite as sanguine about the whole Writer’s Life (TM) thing.

Because make no mistake about it: I am not well-known. My book has not yet found its audience.

But I believe that it will.

And because I believe that it will, I will keep doing whatever I can to get the word out that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE exists. And that the people who believed in me most — Michael, Jeff, Rosemary, Stephanie, and Katharine — were and are right to believe in me.

New Guest Blog Is Up…

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Folks, the inestimable Stephanie Osborn has once again featured a guest blog from yours truly, this time in her ELEMENTS OF STORYTELLING: CHARACTERIZATION series.

Now, why did I write this particular blog? Simple. Characters are everything to a story — and without them, you don’t have much at all.

Here’s a bit from my newest guest blog:

Without characters, you don’t have a story.

I mean, think about it: Who’d remember the Harry Potter series if Harry Potter wasn’t there? Or his buddy Ron Weasley? Or his other buddy, Hermione Granger? And that’s just the good characters.

What about the enigmatic Severus Snape, the villainous Voldemort, or Harry’s own uncle and aunt? Without them factoring into the equation, how would the seven books about Harry Potter interest anyone?

No, books are built on characters. It can’t be any other way.

In this blog, I also talk about several stories in the Bible, Ernest Hemingway’s OLD MAN AND THE SEA, and (just for kicks) Geoffrey Chaucer’s CANTERBURY TALES. So do check it out, along with all the other blogs in Stephanie’s ELEMENTS OF STORYTELLING series.

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm

New Guest Blog about Bruno the Elfy and Characterization in AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is Up at Stephanie Osborn’s “Comet Tales”

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Folks, my newest guest blog — which is about my favorite Elfy, Bruno, hero of my novel AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE — is up and available over at Stephanie Osborn’s blog Comet Tales right now.

Now, why did I write this particular blog? Two reasons. First, I’ve participated from the start in Stephanie’s “Elements of Modern Storytelling” blog series, and Stephanie’s enjoyed what I’ve had to say thus far. And second, because she’s transitioning from romance as an element of storytelling to characterization, she figured me talking about my favorite character Bruno from my novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, would be a good bridge under the circumstances.

If you’ve followed along with my blog or my writing for any length of time, you’re probably aware that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is relentlessly cross-genre. It’s a young adult comic urban fantasy/mystery/romance that also has paranormal elements and Shakespearean allusions. (Say that five times fast.) And as such, without a strong central character, the book just wouldn’t work.

Fortunately for me, Bruno the Elfy is as strong of a central character as anyone could wish for. As I said in the guest blog:

But none of (the plot) – not one blessed thing – would work without Bruno. He is a fully realized, multidimensional character with likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and seems like someone you might just know…that is, if he weren’t so short. And it’s because of this that you can buy into his adventures, you can buy into his romance, and you can buy into the fact that this young Elfy just might be able to save everyone if he just can figure it out in time.

In other words, this particular guest blog discusses what AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is all about after the fact. And it all starts and ends with Bruno. He’s a guy from another dimension; his ways are strange to us, and ours to him. And crazy things happen to him that he must get past . . . or he has no chance whatsoever to save his mentor, much less make his nascent romance with Sarah work.

Mind, I didn’t know that Stephanie saw some parallels between my character Bruno the Elfy and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins before I read her endnotes to this guest blog — that’s some high praise right there. (And I have to admit that I don’t see it. But I’m glad she does.)

Anyway, please do check out today’s guest blog. Then, if you haven’t taken a gander at AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE yet, what’s stopping you? (Here’s a link to the five sample chapters to whet your interest.)

Just Reviewed Stephanie Osborn’s “A Case of Spontaneous Combustion” at SBR

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Folks, it’s Romance Saturday. And long-time readers of my blog know what that means . . .

Yes, it’s true. I reviewed another romance again at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always). This time, I reviewed Stephanie Osborn’s A CASE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION, book 5 in her Displaced Detective series.

A quick after-action report for y’all:

I enjoyed Stephanie’s latest very, very much. I thought the romance was stellar, and I agreed that something like this could very easily happen (though I have to admit that I took all the high-tech devices for metaphors).

Why?

Well, without giving too much of the plot away, a miscommunication between newlyweds Sherlock Holmes and Skye Chadwick-Holmes has caused major trouble in both their personal and professional lives. And while the failure of high-tech devices to work as operated is part of it (though there is an operator behind this failure; further reviewer sayeth not), the biggest problem between them is one that any newlywed couple can have.

“What’s that?” you ask.

Simple: it’s the problem of expectations.

While Sherlock Holmes is a fictional example (in both Arthur Conan Doyle’s version and Stephanie Osborn’s), the fact of the matter is that most newlyweds don’t see one another as real, live human beings with real, live failings. Someone like Sherlock or Skye has fewer failings than the average person, but both of them still have failings.

Instead, most newlyweds wear rose-colored glasses and want to believe their spouses are the absolute best person who ever walked the face of the Earth (save, perhaps, for Jesus Christ Himself, or Gautama Buddha, or maybe Confucius).

This is both a strength and a weakness, and it can be exploited by someone malicious, as Sherlock and Skye found . . . but if you can get past this, and see your partner as a human being with flaws and challenges, just like every other human being, it deepens and broadens your love considerably.

Look. My husband Michael was the most wonderful person I have ever met, bar none. But he was still a human being. He had flaws. (Not many, but he had a few.)

Did we have a newlywed blow-up? Not one as bad as Skye’s and Sherlock’s, no. But we did have a couple of misunderstandings, mostly because we were learning how to live with one another, and sometimes even with the best of intentions, you’re not going to be able to communicate with one another.

(Yes. Even two writers cannot always communicate with each other. Go figure.)

We worked around that. We found what worked for us. And that’s why our marriage worked.

In short, we met each other as real, live human beings with real, live failings. So we entered into our marriage with a more realistic expectation — granted, it wasn’t a first marriage for either one of us, so that possibly made a difference as well. (I’d say “probably,” but who knows? Not me.)

That doesn’t mean you don’t think the other person is wonderful. Believe you me, I did — and I still do.

But it means you see him as human and mortal. Not as a demigod. And that allows you to meet him on a field of equality, where you both have something to bring to the table.

Anyway, that’s why I enjoyed A CASE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION so much as a romance. (I already discussed the mystery and hard SF elements in-depth in my review, but figured the actual romantic elements warranted a wee bit more discussion.)

You will, too, if you love honest romance with heart between two intelligent, passionate, hard-working individuals; if you love Sherlock Holmes stories (as brought to the modern-day); if you love hard SF along with your romantic mysteries; or if you love just-plain-good writing.

Just Reviewed Stephanie Osborn’s “Endings and Beginnings” at SBR

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Folks, I’m glad to pass along a teensy bit of good news tonight, as I was able to review Stephanie Osborn’s THE CASE OF THE COSMOLOGICAL KILLER: ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS (otherwise known as book four of her Displaced Detective series featuring Sherlock Holmes as brought to the modern-day via the World of Myth hypothesis) tonight over at Shiny Book Review (SBR).

Why?

Well, sometimes it’s refreshing to read a romance, especially when it’s about two unabashedly smart, talented, thoughtful individuals. Much less two romances.

You see, there’s a romance going on between our universe’s Sherlock and Skye Chadwick-Holmes (Skye being the hyperspatial physicist who brought Sherlock to our world in the first place, natch). They’ve recently married, are on their honeymoon, and are also investigating a crime (as that’s what they do).

But the other romance between the secondary universe’s other-Sherlock and other-Holmes isn’t going nearly so well.

And our Sherlock and Skye know this and want to fix things between their counterparts. Which is something you see all the time in romance, but you only rarely see in science fiction . . . but as well as this works, I wish we saw more of it.

To see a couple in deep distress (in this case, other-Sherlock and other-Skye) figure out a way to rectify their distress and fix their relationship is the hallmark of a great romance. Which is why I’m urging you to go read Stephanie Osborn’s ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS just as soon as you can if you love Sherlock Holmes (as brought to the modern-day), if you love intelligent romances, and/or you love intelligent science right along with your intelligent romance.

You won’t regret it.

An Excerpt From Stephanie Osborn’s Newest Novel, “A Case of Spontaneous Combustion”

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Folks, I’ve been without the Internet for most of the past five days. Because of this, I wasn’t able to take part in Stephanie Osborn’s online book release party for her latest novel, A CASE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION. This book is the fifth in her Displaced Detective series featuring Sherlock Holmes as brought to the modern day, and is a must-read for lovers of intelligent fiction.

So what follows is the blog I’d hoped to put up last weekend, to help celebrate Stephanie’s newest release. It’s a book excerpt, with a bit of set-up to help get you up to speed . . . at any rate, take it away, Stephanie!

* * * * *

A Case of Spontaneous Combustion: An Excerpt

By Stephanie Osborn

I am pleased to announce the release of book 5 of the Displaced Detective Series, entitled A Case of Spontaneous Combustion!

This book continues the science fiction/mystery adventures of Sherlock Holmes, who has been yanked from an alternate reality in the which he exists, into our modern day reality by Dr. Skye Chadwick, chief scientist of Project: Tesseract. Unable to return to his own place and time, Holmes is forced to adapt, learn, and grow. With Skye’s help, he succeeds admirably.

But when an entire village on the Salisbury Plain is wiped out in an apparent case of mass spontaneous combustion, Her Majesty’s Secret Service contacts The Holmes Agency to investigate. Unfortunately Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Dr. Skye Chadwick-Holmes, have just had their first serious fight, over her abilities and attitudes as an investigator. To make matters worse, he is summoned to England in the middle of the night, and she is not — and due to the invocation of the National Security Act in the summons, he cannot even wake her and tell her.

Once in London, Holmes looks into the horror that is now Stonegrange. His investigations take him into a dangerous undercover assignment in search of a possible terror ring, though he cannot determine how a human agency could have caused the disaster. There, he works hard to pass as a recent immigrant and manual laborer from a certain rogue Mideastern nation as he attempts to uncover signs of the terrorists.

Meanwhile, alone in Colorado, Skye battles raging wildfires and tames a wild mustang stallion, all while believing her husband has abandoned her.

Who ― or what — caused the horror in Stonegrange? Will Holmes find his way safely through the metaphorical minefield that is modern Middle Eastern politics? Will Skye subdue Smoky before she is seriously hurt? Will this predicament seriously damage ― even destroy — the couple’s relationship? And can Holmes stop the terrorists before they unleash their outré weapon again?

~~~Excerpt~~~

 Prologue — Changes in Routine

 

Stonegrange was a little old English hamlet in the County of Wiltshire in the Salisbury Plain of England, much like any other such ancient British village: a tiny central square in the midst of which crouched a hoary, venerated church, surrounded by a few small shops, and residences on the outskirts tapering off into the surrounding farmlands. On Sundays the church was full, and on Thursdays the outlying farmers brought their produce in to market. The occasional lorry carried in other supplies, and the Post Office ran every day but Sunday. So small was the village that the constable wasn’t even full time.

Still and all, it wasn’t very far from a main thoroughfare, the A338, that ran through Salisbury and on down to Bournemouth and Poole, and it wasn’t uncommon for lorry drivers to stop for a bite in the local pub, or even park their rigs in an empty lot just off the square for a good, safe night’s rest. Sometimes they even used the lot to hand off cargo from one freight company to another.

So no one thought twice when a flat-bed trailer showed up overnight in the lot, a large wooden crate lashed firmly to its middle. The locals figured it was either a hand-off, or someone’s tractor rig had broken down and been hauled off for repair, while leaving the cargo in a safe place.

* * *

Dr. Skye Chadwick-Holmes, horse trainer, detective, and one of the foremost hyperspatial physicists on the planet, answered the phone at the ranch near Florissant, Colorado.

“Holmes residence,” she murmured. “Skye speaking.”

“Hi there, Skye, Hank Jones here,” Colonel Henry Jones, head of security for Schriever Air Force Base, greeted the lady of the house from the other end of the line. “If you don’t mind, grab Holmes and then hit the speaker phone.”

“Oh, hi, Hank,” Skye replied warmly. “Good to hear from you, but I’m afraid I can’t oblige. Sherlock’s not here right now. Billy Williams called him down to the Springs to update him on some new MI-5 HazMat techniques; I completed my certification last month, but Sherlock had a nasty little cold and missed out.”

“Oh,” Jones said blankly. “Well, are YOU available?”

“Um, I guess so, for whatever that’s worth,” a hesitant Skye said. “Depends. Whatcha got?”

“Murder in the residential quarters at Peterson,” Jones noted, grim. “Suspects and victim were all Schriever personnel, though, so I get to have fun with it. Joy, joy.”

“And you could use a bit of help?”

“‘Fraid so,” Jones sighed. “As usual, I’m short-handed right now. The Pentagon never seems to get the fact that ‘Security’ means ‘document control,’ ‘police force,’ ‘guard duty,’ ‘investigation,’ and half a million other different jobs all rolled together, on a base like this.” He sighed again. “Listen, is there any chance you could meet me down there in about an hour or so, have a look around the crime scene yourself, then call your husband in when he’s available if you need to? As a favor to me? I need to get rolling on it A.S.A.P.”

“Um, okay,” Skye agreed after a moment’s thought. “Yeah, I can at least get started on it, and collect the initial data for Sherlock. Maybe even come to some basic conclusions and formulate a theory for us to work on. Gimme the address and I’ll buzz on down…”

* * *

The trailer remained where it was, off Stonegrange’s central square, for two days, and still no one thought to question. After all, tractors had mechanical difficulties just like the residents’ own autos and lorries, and sometimes those difficulties took a few days to repair. So no inquiries were made. The trailer was ignored.

Until, at precisely 11:02 p.m. three nights after its arrival, the crate emitted a soft, reverberating hum. No one was near enough to hear it, however—at least, no one curious enough to bother checking it out. Exactly five minutes later, a loud zap! sounded from the box.

Stonegrange was as silent as the tomb the rest of the night.

The next morning, the flat-bed trailer was gone.

~~~End Excerpt~~~

Again, folks, if you want to read the rest of Stephanie’s newest novel A CASE OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION, please go here and take a gander.

All I know is, I plan to review both her fourth book in the Displaced Detective series, ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS, and her newest very soon over at Shiny Book Review . . . so do stay tuned for that.

A Guest Blog from Stephanie Osborn: The Differences in Writing British and American English (and How to Write Both)

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Folks, Stephanie Osborn is no stranger to the Elfyverse (or my blog, either, though sometimes they seem to be one and the same). She’s previously written a few guest blogs (here and here), and as her latest book in her popular Displaced Detective series featuring Sherlock Holmes and his wife, hyperspatial physicist Skye Chadwick, has finally arrived — this being A CASE OF SPONTANTEOUS COMBUSTION, it seemed like a good time for Stephanie to write another one.

So without further ado, please welcome writer extraordinaire Stephanie Osborn back to the Elfyverse!

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A note from Stephanie Osborn:  It is my great pleasure to make another guest appearance in the Elfyverse. Barb is an amazing writer and editor, and I am so happy to have made her acquaintance through her review of several of my novels; she has become a special friend. We’ve been able to help lift each other up at times when things were down, and that’s so much better than trying to haul oneself up by one’s own bootstraps! I hope you enjoy my little cameo.

 

American English and British English, and Learning to Write Both

By Stephanie Osborn

 

I’m sure you’ve all seen it.

We in America would say, “I don’t recognize this caller ID on my cellphone; I thought this app specialized in emphasizing identification. Could you wake me up at seven in the morning? Everything has been taken care of, but I have to run over and see Mom before the announcement is publicly known.”

But a Brit would say the same thing like this: “I don’t recognise this caller ID on my mobile; I thought this app specialised in emphasising identification. Would you knock me up at seven in the morning? It’s all sorted, but I have to pop over and see me Mum before the announcement is publically known.”

It’s the difference between the American version of English, and the British version of the same language. Sometimes people who travel back and forth between the two countries — the US and the UK — have been known to remark, “We speak the same language, but we don’t.”

And the difference encompasses terminology, slang, and even spelling.

Did you know that J.K. Rowling was made to change the name of the very first book in the Harry Potter series before it could be published in the USA? The original title, the title you’ll find on bookstore shelves in London, is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But publishers felt that Americans might not recognize the alchemical reference, and so it was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And you may, or may not, be familiar with the use of “trainers” to mean athletic shoes, or “jumper” to refer to a pullover sweater. Cell phones are “mobiles” and refrigerators, regardless of brand, are “Frigidaires.” (I suppose this is analogous to our referring to all disposable facial tissues as “Kleenex” and cotton swabs as “Q-Tips.”)

Americans may call it a plow, but Britons call it a plough — that was even a major clue that Holmes found in one of the original adventures, denoting the suspect wasn’t British as he claimed. There is, it seems, and has been for something like a century and a half at the least, a tendency for Americans to eliminate so-called silent letters and spell more phonetically than our British counterparts. But at least Sir Arthur Conan Doyle only had to write in one version thereof.

When I started writing the Displaced Detective series, which has been described as, “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files,” I made a deliberate decision: If the speaker was American, dialogue (and later, thoughts and even scenes from that character’s point of view) would be written in American English. If the speaker (thinker, observer) was from the United Kingdom, dialogue etc. would be written in British English. This has held true right down to the book currently being released, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, book 5 in the series (with at least 3 more in work, and more in the planning stages).

The series itself traces the exploits of Sherlock Holmes — or one version of Holmes, at least — when he is inadvertently yanked from an alternate reality in which he exists in Victorian Europe, into modern, 21st Century America. Because in his particular alternate reality, he and Professor Moriarty were BOTH supposed to die at Reichenbach, if he is returned, he must die. So he wisely opts to stay put and come up to speed on the modern world. Working with Dr. Skye Chadwick, her continuum’s equivalent to Holmes and the Chief Scientist of Project Tesseract (the program responsible for his accidental transition), Holmes ends up being asked to investigate unusual and occasionally outré situations.

In his latest foray, after an entire English village is wiped out in an apparent case of mass spontaneous combustion, London contacts The Holmes Agency to investigate. Holmes goes undercover to find a terror ring. In Colorado, Skye battles raging wildfires and mustangs, believing Holmes has abandoned her. Holmes must discover what caused the horror in Stonegrange and try to stop the terrorists before they unleash their bizarre weapon again, all the while wondering if he still has a home in Colorado.

And the cast of characters includes an American FBI agent, several members of the US military, two entire units of MI-5, and more. All of whom have to be rendered in their appropriate version of English.

Simple, you say? Just set Word to use the British English dictionary.

Right. Except then Skye, Agent Smith, Colonel Jones, and the other Americans would then be speaking Brit.

“So set both dictionaries operational,” you suggest.

Great idea. I’d love to. But Word doesn’t have that option — the two dictionaries would conflict. And even if it could use both, how would it know whether an American or an Englishman were speaking? More, one of those characters — Holmes himself — actually uses a somewhat archaic form of British English, in that he is a man of the Victorian era, and speaks in such fashion. So I am really using three different forms of English.

Well, the end result is simply that I have to make sure I read back through the manuscript very carefully, looking for places where either I’ve slipped up, or autocorrect replaced the British with the American equivalent (which it does every chance it gets). I’m also pleased that my publisher has assigned me a regular editor who is quite familiar with the British version of English, to include the euphemisms, exclamations, and general slang. She’s been amazingly helpful, and I do my best to stay up to speed on the latest version of slang in both the US and the UK.

So what has been the response?

Well, I’ve had one or two Amazon reviews refer to “misspellings,” and there’s one venerated author (of whom I like to refer as one of the “Grand Old Men of Science Fiction”) who is currently reading the first couple of books in the series and is amazed that I even attempted to pull such a thing off, let alone that I’m doing it.

But other than that, it’s rather strange; not one reader has volunteered the observation that I am writing in two different forms of the English language. Yet the sense among fans of the series is that I have captured Doyle’s tone and style, despite the fact that I do not use a first-person Watson narrative, despite the fact that we see what Holmes is thinking, at least to a point.

I believe the reason is because, subconsciously, readers are picking up on the fact that Holmes speaks, thinks, and observes in proper, Victorian, British English. And even when referring to more modern conveniences, maintains a solid British presence. Consistently. Throughout.

And that’s precisely what I intended, from the very beginning.

I love it when a plan comes together.

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And that concludes Stephanie Osborn’s latest guest blog! (Insert another hearty round of applause here.) Thank you again, Stephanie . . . as always, I enjoyed your guest blog heartily.

For the rest of you, please do yourselves a favor, and go check out Stephanie’s  intelligent novels of Sherlock Holmes as brought to the modern-day by hyperspatial physicist Skye Chadwick — and who later marries him, becoming akin to Dr. Watson in the process. They are truly SF novels, contain solid science and world building and characterization, and yet even with all this somewhat “heavy” subject matter are gripping and full of suspense.

That’s tough to pull off. But if you’re like me, you won’t recognize this in the heat of finding out just how Sherlock and Skye are going to solve the case this time . . .