A Beautiful Backlog of Steampunk Goodies Coming your Way

Like many writers, I keep several active notebooks. There’s something bittersweet about scribbling on that final page and declaring the book full. But I closed the cover on my Steampunk convention notebook after a fantastic visit to Steampunk World’s Fair 2017. Then I flipped back through the pages, reminiscing about all of the wonderful seminars and workshops I attended, and I suddenly realized there is a gigantic backlog of material. Almost half an inch of  notes about talks about things from sword fights to the French Revolution are languishing within these pages, but not for long!

Eventually, all of this fabulous content will be posted either on this site or Steampunk Journal. But if you want to get everything I write in one place and before anyone else, become a patron. $1/month gets you “behind the curtain,” and a free ebook of No Rest for the Wicked before it is released July 1. You can also read full chapters before the final ebook is published, 5 chapters are already available! Find out more.

No Rest for the Wicked – Chapter 6 Teaser

The clock struck twelve.

Vi was alone when the scraggly form of Salty swung open the front door and let in the scuffle of people from outside. Two of the wizened little prune’s burly “business associates” followed him in, six-shooters hanging from their gun belts. Despite the burning sun outside, the interior of the saloon was cool. Later, the glow of the foot lights and the happy warmth of lanterns would light the room, but at the moment all was cool and calm inside its walls.

The bottle of whiskey sat open and inviting in the center of the table, an empty glass waiting in front of an open stool.

She motioned to the vacant seat. “Come sit a spell, Salty.”

“That’s very kind of you, Miss Viola,” he said with an oily grin. “But I’m afraid I have an appointment.”

“Interesting.” Vi poured herself another drink and held the bottle out. “It isn’t the sort of appointment I told you couldn’t happen here anymore, is it? Where you use my place of business to hustle people?”

Salty glanced over his shoulder and licked his lips; a nervous tic she’d noticed the first time they’d met. He jerked his chin at the bar. “Give us a moment, boys.”

No Rest for the Wicked – Chapter 5 teaser

An oil lamp by the door burned low and threw soft black shadows around the stock room. A rustling in the corner grabbed Vi’s attention and she stood rooted to the spot. The occasional rat was to be expected, but this sounded much bigger. She reached out and turned the screw on the lamp to feed it more wick and flame blazed to life. The rustling grew frantic, accompanied by a yelp and the unmistakable thud of a human skull meeting wood.

Vi’s heartbeat dropped back to normal and she kicked the crate nearest to her. “God dammit, you two! You scared me half to death.”
The round face ringed and mussed yellow curls a serving girl called Caroline peeked out from behind a wooden carton. “It’s just me, Miss Viola. Just…um…looking for some rum!” She grabbed one of the bottles in front of her and tried to look innocent.

“Uh-huh. So what you’re telling me is that when I go through that door, I’m going to find my bartender behind the bar, right where he belongs?”

“Well, see,” the waitress sputtered, “Jimmy went out a couple of minutes ago to—”

Vi sighed. “Jimmy?”

“Yes, Miss Viola?” squeaked a male voice from somewhere behind the stack of boxes.

“I want you back behind that bar in five minutes.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Caroline had the good sense to look guilty when Vi shifted her gaze to include her. “But then this never happens again during working hours. Understood?”

“Yes ma’am,” the couple chimed in unison.

Vi reached to take the bottle from the blond woman. “Also, this is bourbon. I trust you can tell the difference when you’re serving the customers.” She winked and leaned in for a conspiratorial whisper. “Five minutes. Make them count.”

“Yes ma’am!” Caroline giggled and disappeared behind the crates again.

With a shrug, Vi turned down the lamp before leaving the stockroom as she’d found it. “Newlyweds.” She sighed and looked at the whiskey in her hand. A little hair of the dog might be just what the doctor ordered.

Read the full Chapter 1 and learn more about reading the full book early as a Patreon supporter.

No Rest for the Wicked – Chapter 3 Teaser

Read Full Chapters before the No Rest for the Wicked is released July 1 by joining my journey on Patreon.

“What did you find out?” Vi stood and beat her hat against her leg a few times to free it of grass.

“There’s a dozen men, maybe more.”

“You could have mentioned this when you enlisted me,” she said, scowling.

“That’s twice as many as when I got jumped. I had no idea there’d be so many! Or that they’d be here.

“I guess that explains how they found you.” Vi pulled her hat back on and peered at him with laughing eyes. “You camped right next door.”

“I think we’ve established that I was the one who fouled everything up, thank you. May I go on?” Hands on hips, he tapped his foot impatiently. She gave him a by your leave gesture and leaned against the boulder. “As I was saying, there are a dozen men. But, there are also at least a dozen empty bottles around the camp as well. Kindred spirits, eh?”

“It’s not like I was expecting anyone when you showed up,” she said with a grimace. “But, dead to the world. That’s good.”

“Unfortunately—”

“I was afraid there was going to be an ‘unfortunately.’”

“I was afraid there was going to be an ‘unfortunately.’”

“—there’s no way for you to go around. There’s too many bushes and such on the hillsides. You’re going to have to skirt right alongside the camp in order to get to the gold.”

“I don’t think you’re paying me enough for this,” Vi said, pushing off from the rock and marching toward her horse.

“You don’t know how much I’m paying you,” Tobias reminded her. “And the only way to find out is to dig up the gold.”

“You’re getting better at this. But I could still walk away,” she countered, a sly smile on her face. “Just forget this whole thing. Or maybe I come back later after they’ve moved on and keep all the gold for myself.”

The glowing vapor of his form suddenly darkened and his edges became harder, his body something like a liquid rather than a vapor. “If you back out now,” he replied, his voice an uncharacteristic growl, “and anything happens to Bonnie, I swear I will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

The moments stretched as she met him glower for glower. Finally, she snarled, “Ask me again why I have a problem with ghosts.”

There's Still Time to Sign Up for the Collaborative Writing Challenge! Begins Dec. 30

I learned a lot of things from participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo- Pre-writing is a godsend, I need to stop deluding myself into thinking I can write after 5pm, and I can write over 3000 words a day for a week straight if I have to.

But I also got a real taste of how very lonely being a writer can be.

Which makes me even more excited for the novel I will be coordinating with the Collaborative Writing Challenge! This is a chance to build up a really cool community of writers that I hope will go above and beyond this individual project.

The deadline for possible first chapter submissions is today, and so far we’ve got 7 submissions. I’ll be reading those submissions and talking over the potential for growth with the rest of the CWC over the next few weeks to narrow it down to three, then it will be time for people to vote on their favorite.

Didn’t write a starter chapter? No problem! I think writing the parts in the middle are the most fun, personally, because you wield so much power over the rest of the story. I’ll be starting my try for Project, 6, Esyld’s Awakening, Chapter 16 this week. It’s been 10 chapters since I saw the story last and I am really excited to see where it has gone when I wasn’t looking. Wish me luck!

cwc-announcement

Here’s a quick reminder of how the whole project works.

  • Writers sign up for a chapter try by December 30. (We’ve reached our minimum number of authors to get the project going, but the more the merrier!) Sign up by filling out the form here
  • 3-5 Writers attempt each chapter, one week at a time. You’d have access to the following:
    • The chapter immediately before the one you attempt
    • detailed chapter summaries of any chapter that came before
    • detailed notes about characters, places, and any special objects or magic schema that may be at work
    • prompts and questions from the coordinator to help you decide which direction to take
  • The coordinator (me!) chooses the chapter(s) that moves the story along the best (and/or is my favorite for whatever reason. Sometimes we also combine multiple chapter attempts).
  • At the end, we have a 30-chapter book with at least 30 contributing authors who all get to put another book on their resume
    • 10% of proceeds go to charity!

These pins are available through my Kickstarter campaign!

And don’t forget, if your chapter is chosen at any point during the challenge, you’ll also receive a United we Steampunk, Divided we Fall pin by yours truly.

Collaborative Steampunk Novel Update and a Few Thoughts about NaNoWriMo

Collaborative Steampunk Novel Update

When I announced that I would be coordinating Project 7 for the Collaborative Writing Challenge starting in Dec. I admit I was a little worried about recruiting people. Steampunk has become a lot better known in recent years, but there are still plenty of people who don’t really know what’s it about, or at least aren’t comfortable enough with the genre to feel like they can contribute.

On the one hand, I complete understand and obviously I’m not going to push and say someone should do it if it doesn’t interest them. On the other hand, I see Steampunk as less of a genre with distinct borders and rules, and more of an overlay that can be added to a mystery, romance, or any other sort of story.

It looks like there are a lot of people who feel the same way! 70 slots have been filled so far by 30 writers, and there’s still over a month before the project begins. Each project has a minimum of three authors in each slot, and up to five, so there is plenty of space if you haven’t signed up yet. Just don’t wait too long!

Remember, the project starts in December but runs until August, so even the prospect of starting a project after the bustle of the impending holidays has you seriously considering if a string of lights is sturdy enough to hang a person by, just keep in mind you could sign up for a chapter way out in March when you’ll just be twiddling your thumbs.

NaNoWriMo Update

A typical science fiction or fantasy novel for adults comes in around 100k words (~350 pages depending on the size of the book). YA books tend to be closer to 70k, but even that word count is higher than the goal for the National Novel Writing Month of 50k. So why the discrepancy?

Writing a book is at least 80% revising.

Let’s face it, the first pass is going to be bad. Some people’s bad is a lot worse than others, but generally speaking there are going to be plenty of issues to fix on even the structural level, not to mention at the specific word choice level. Personally, I am finding it incredibly difficult *not* to be doing revisions as I go, which has been my pattern in the past. I know that what I wrote yesterday is rubbish and I want to make it at least refined enough to be just regular or old ‘bad’ before I move on, but that won’t help me reach my word count goal. Grrrrr.

revising-memeSo rather than be annoyed, I decided to change my mindset and embrace the utter craptitude of the firstest, roughest draft. I am writing whole scenes of dialog with just the words the characters say but with no dialog or action tags. I am leaving myself notes and giving myself permission to move on from problem passages to press on to things I know for sure. And I am not reading over things I wrote a week ago and painstakingly looking to see if I used “she” to begin too many sentence. (Though old habits die hard and I know many would already say I pay way too much attention to that sort of thing when I should just be writing.)

I am also doing a ton of pre-writing exercises to help me get really focused when it comes time to sit down and write. Pre-writing can mean anything from answering character and world-building questionnaires to writing a summary of what you want to accomplish in a chapter. But before I could wrap my head around that level of detail I made a spreadsheet with a separate page for each of the 6 parts of my story that I used to outline down to the scene level and projected word count.

I’m about 1/3 of the way into this whole NaNo experiment, and I’ve written 14,369 words on Mistress of None so far this month, bringing the total words for Part 1 to over 25,000. This has been a very different way to approaching novel writing and I can’t say I like everything about it. On the other hand, I have also gained some invaluable new methods and most importantly, the confidence I’ve gained in myself.

All writers go through times where they feel like poseurs or like they can’t possibly succeed, and I was having one those dark periods in August after the dour advice and attitudes of the folks at the Writer’s Symposium at Gen Con. Now, I feel like I’ve proven to myself that I have the drive and the tools to make a real go of this.

Now I’ve just got to convince the rest of the world…