Catch me at “Hallowondrous” in Toledo OH October 14-15

After giving my “30 Years of Steampunk” talk at the International Steampunk Symposium, the fine folks behind OddMall approached me about making another appearance. This will be the first Halloween edition of an event described as “not your grandma’s craft fair,” and I am thrilled to be a part of it!

In addition to the exhibit and its accompanying lecture, I’ll be giving another talk on the things Victorians found frightening. This is different from the “Make it Supernatural” talk I’ve given before, and will focus on the urban legends of Victorian London such as the “Great Garroting Scare.” Jack the Ripper brought the idea of a serial killer into the popular imagination for the first time, and at a time when your reputation meant everything, a doppelganger could spell ruin.

So, come on out to the Seagate Convention Center in Toledo Oct 14-15 to see my talks, check out my merchandise, and enjoy the hallowondrous frivolity for the whole family.

Find out more about Hallowondrous

Would you like me to speak at your event? Check out my list of topics.

Don’t Miss the Deadline to have your Short Story included in Army of Brass

Army of brass is the Collaborative Writing Challenge’s seventh novel. For the past few projects, they have also included short stories in the same genre as the project.

The deadline for submissions is just two days away! Get your stories, 2500-3500 words, submitted by Aug. 31 to make sure you are considered for the contest. First and second place winners have their stories showcased on the CWC website. First place also has their story edited and published in the pages of Army of Brass this fall.

Visit the CWC website for the guidelines, and GOOD LUCK!

The Collaborative Writing Challenge’s Steampunk Project is Almost Finished…

With all the excitement surrounding No Rest for the Wicked, I’ve completely forgotten to post about Army of Brass. This fabulous collaboration started way back in December before I started this site, and has been simmering away on my back burner ever since.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Collaborative Writing Challenge, here’s the gist. Between 3-5 writers sign up to write a chapter each week. They get the full chapter that came before, as well as notes and summaries along the way. At the end of 30 chapters, we have a novel. As the story coordinator, it has been my job to select the chapter  to include in the book each week.

Unfortunately, the project has been plagued with a number of issues, including lack of follow through from writers. Even though the story should be wrapping up, there’s too much to do with the timeline for the original project. In consultation with the CWC, I’ve decided to change our approach to the collaboration in order to create a finale worthy of the hard work a few dedicated writers have put in over the past nine months. I have no doubt that my “advisory committee” and I will be able to bring the book to a thrilling conclusion by the end of the month.

The CWC is a volunteer-run organization. They recently announced they would be postponing the next collaboration. With six books finished and Army of Brass nearly complete, they want to take some time to regroup and make sure they are doing justice to the books that have already been published. Because of this, I really have no idea when to expect a release date for the finished book.

Also, a heads up for all of my fellow scribes! There is going to be a competition for a short story to include along with the book. You don’t need to have contributed to the novel, just write an awesome tale. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of the release, as well as the contest.

Have a whimsical day! And don’t forget, you always have a choice, so choose to be splendid.

No Rest for the Wicked – Chapter 10 Teaser

The temptation to reach out to taste the auras around her built as the feeling changed from a chilly tickle to an acidic burn.

Read from the beginning or check out the previous teaser

Despite her serpentine route, the sensation continued to grow, the same way it had when Tobias approached her the night before. The temptation to reach out to taste the auras around her built as the feeling changed from a chilly tickle to an acidic burn. But this time she refused to give in. Experience had shown the more she employed those abilities, the stronger they’d grow, and she’d somehow already gotten herself committed to helping Bonnie and Tobias settle whatever it was they needed settling.

When she reached the half-darkness of the alley behind the saloon, she slipped around the corner and put her back to the wall, taking comfort in its solid bulk against her body. People came and went, and she watched them for a few minutes from the safety of the passage. No one approached her or even paused as they bustled along.

The sting of paranoia receded as she forced deep, steady breaths in and out of her lungs and the more she thought about her panic the sillier she felt. The stranger’s vague description didn’t even necessarily apply to her; it wasn’t as if she were only woman with a black horse in all of Sacramento. In the face of something so trivial as a poor night’s sleep and an empty stomach, she’d almost lost control and relapsed, almost taken that next fatal step. Falling back into the old ways would be so easy, but she already knew that path had no peace to offer.

Read the next teaser

No Rest for the Wicked – Chapter 9 Teaser

“Someone was looking for you.”

Read from the beginning or check out the previous teaser

“Thank you ever so much!” she called after him, employing her best damsel voice. As soon as he turned the corner, her impatient glower returned and she leaned against the counter. Her stomach rumbled loudly and grew even more anxious. Bonnie would be coming back to the saloon any minute, and Vi wanted to make sure she beat the other woman back. Not that she needed to keep a trip to retrieve the post a secret, but old habits told her not to leave anyone in her apartment unattended for too long, and Peter’s strange behavior only served to strengthen the conviction.

“Never fear!” the clerk called. “Your friend Annabelle won’t have cause for any complaints.” He swept back into the room clutching a plain, tawny envelope in his wizened fingers.

“Really?” She couldn’t keep the incredulity out her voice as she straightened and stared dumbfounded at what he held in his hand. “Annabelle Sinclair” had been the last name on the list, the one she’d included even though she’d only ever used it for one job—the biggest one, and the last.

“Yes ma’am,” he replied and slid two letters through the slot. Vi snatched up the envelopes and checked the undisturbed seals. The smaller envelope bore Peter’s name as the sender, but the larger one came from an address she didn’t recognize. She caught a glimpse of the official-looking emblem in the glob of red wax as she turned it over.

“That little one came in with the load a day before yesterday. I filed it myself,” he continued. “The other one’s been here a while, maybe a few weeks? Got a batch going out tomorrow morning if your friend needs to send an answer. Otherwise, it’ll be a few more days before we collect enough for a run.”

“Day before yesterday, you say?” she asked distractedly. That would put the letter’s arrival around the same time Tobias died, and she still didn’t know the full story of the connection between Peter and the ghost. Time to ask good old Toby a few more questions.

The old man cleared his throat. “Pardon me, ma’am. But you don’t own a big, black horse, do you?”

She gave a murmur in the affirmative but couldn’t tear her eyes from the envelope from Peter in her hand. It felt oddly heavy and her searching fingertips found a strange lump as she ran them along the bottom.

“Someone was looking for you.”

Read the next teaser

No Rest for the Wicked – Chapter 8 Teaser

The book in the other room whispered, begging her to find out what message was so important that Peter had employed a messenger only she could see to deliver it.

Start from the beginning or read the previous teaser

Part of Vi longed to rush over to the bookshelf the moment the door clicked shut, but evidently that part wasn’t in charge of her feet. Instead, she left the sitting room and set about making herself presentable enough for the public eye. People could tolerate a woman owning her own saloon as long as she made sure to be pretty about it. It was an old game and she knew it well, but a little rouge and a fancy dress were hardly the worst of her deceptions. Besides, bustles suited her.

The book in the other room whispered, begging her to find out what message was so important that Peter had employed a messenger only she could see to deliver it. Yet she dragged her brush through her hair and pinned it up in a tumble of coils at the back of her head. She straightened the seams of her emerald dress in the long mirror and touched up her eyeliner while the weight of dread and the burn of curiosity tore at her insides. A final spritz of perfume and there was nothing left to do; she couldn’t stall anymore.

Read the next teaser

No Rest for the Wicked – Chapter 5 teaser

Start from the beginning or read the previous 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 next teaser