Over a year ago, I decided to challenge myself. The challenge centered around my awareness of the fabulous website called Wattpad, where budding writers spin tales in every genre. Short stories, novels, sagas, etc. I found it amazing, still do, and have since read great stories, talked with great writers and made new friends.
But the challenge! Having just completed my first novel, a steampunk diddy called An Unsubstantiated Chamber on Createspace, I wanted to break out into other ~punk sub-genres. But how? Well, I do have other books slowly cooking, but Wattpad called to me. More to the point, it asked a question…
…can you write a chapter every two weeks, with little editing, make it interesting and keep it up?
The brain couldn’t rest. I had to do it. Now more than a year later, many delays and twists and turns, I’m still at it, and happy as a lark.
But if you’ve never read it, what’s it about? How did I pick this story over any other ideas? Wellllll…
One– Dieselpunk HQ. Awesome admins run this Facebook group. I joined just around the time I began reading on Wattpad. The display images, interactive discussion, advice, room for punk writers…wow! Inspiration made me immediately say, “yeah. I’m shifting into diesel for this story.” And, making up so many imaginary worlds, I wanted something closer to home. Salem, where I live in South Jersey (once called Down Jersey way back when) had its heyday in World War II. That war isn’t my interest (the Great War is), but for this tale I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. Their fervor for airplanes, tanks, history and more made me get into the Second World War. Andrew, Giles, Stuart, Holly, John and every greasy guru of DPHQ, rock on.
Two- Scribblers Den. Previous blogs have praised Jack Tyler’s help and stupendous group at thesteampunkempire.com. And I will continue to do so! Just reading the posts of my fellow Denizens gets me over my writing fears, and last year, talk of submissions and highs and lows made me determined to do Wattpad (the old self doubt had crept in again. Eww). I didn’t voice it then, but Jack, David, Steve, Bryce, Karen, Alice, Lady N, Emiline, Neale, Maxwell, P, Icky, CW, C William and everyone in the Den, a toast to you! Whenever I doubt the words, I check the Den. Got over the flash fiction willies, the tooth pain dramas of ’15, current angsts, et. al with their support. Inspired. Boom.
Three- Salem, NJ. Having grown up in towns that were great long before I was born, I didn’t want an ode to what was. This burg is still great. Quiet, less people, abandoned homes, but it’s my home. When things fall, it’s easy to put it down. Crime. Poverty. No jobs. I’ve lived in it and dealt with it all. I want to give readers the town at its height, have it go through the problems of now (desolation, abandonment, uncertainty), then…is it still worth it?
I say yes. Getting there is half the fun.
Okay. I ran off enough about how I got here. I have 18 published chapters out there of DJD to date, and a lot more to go. It all begins in the late end of 1944. An older man from the last war is absconded by a young lady of incredible mechanical skill (driving a special Chevy, cuz Chevy rules) to join in on defending New Jersey from an invasion. I’ll give you the low-down on these two…
CRANK- youthful, short, pretty, goofy, smart as a whip. Crank is a proto-Goth, a pale version of metal band Lacuna Coil’s singer Christina Scabbia (Google). She’s fully invested in the war from a dark way, and eager to prover herself in Man’s World. Nothing is easy for Crank, that’s why she’s a hero. She never quits.
BENNY HASKINS- big and strong, a young face on an aged soul, a vet from the Great War, Benny was a pilot in the air war. Imagine a more handsome William Bendix (Google) sporting a buzzcut. Now, he farms poultry, and loves the boredom. Right? Well, he makes due. You’d think getting in another war would be insanity, but Benny wants to be somebody too. Who doesn’t? Will he want it when he gets it? Stick around.
SALEM, NJ- hey a town is a character? On and off, yes! Ask any writer. Founded in 1675 by John Fenwick (Quaker), Salem was once a huge port city for its size, and is the seat of rural Salem County. Contrary to popular opinion that all of Jersey is a toxic freeway, Salem COUNTY is farmland, salt marsh, horses and a place where annual muskrat diners are still a thing. Situated between the Salem River, Fenwick Creek and the Delaware River, she’s a historically passive gal in a pastoral setting. A war is coming to break her spirit. Will Salem endure?
WARNING- if you have a phobia to the following things: imagination, fun, tragedy, life, invention and adventure…get over it and read. Seriously, I put a good deal of heart and locality and 40s jive in DJD. Let me know what you think.
Of course, this is dieselpunk, so altered history is a must! Salem isn’t getting invaded by Nazis, that’s for sure. Her enemy is not human, not caring, and much more dangerous.
So, in need of a read? I’ve got one, off the beaten path but as familiar as small town America. Get a chance, come on over the bridge to Salem, and join the war effort. It might make a soldier out if you. And if you hit up @WilliamJJackson while you’re there, catch my short stories taking place in the universe with that first novel I spoke of earlier.