I Can Scare You With 26 Words

For Halloween, I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite scary stories.  It's incredibly short and over a hundred years old, but it's good enough that it stuck in my head for years.  I had to Google it until I found out who wrote it and where it came from.

It's called "A Woman Alone With Her Soul," which is already creepy enough, written by Thomas Bailey Aldrich:

A woman is sitting alone in a house. She knows she is alone in the whole world: every other living thing is dead. The doorbell rings.

Gives me chills every time!  For more, even shorter horror stories that are variations on this one, here's an interesting discussion thread you can check out.

If you want a story about a more everyday kind of scary (struggling to accept yourself for who you are), you can download my short story, "Harlequin," for free through November 1.

Happy Halloween!


Why Should You Read Steampunk Carnival?

With the blog tour almost officially over, all that's left is to plug the ebook giveaway one last time and share some interview questions there wasn't room to post before.

Here's one more chance to get yourself (and 4 friends!) free ebooks of Steampunk Carnival:

And because some people are interested in why they should read my book, who I am, and where the Steam World series will go, here are the final 3 interview questions of the tour:

Why did you choose a carnival as the book's main setting?

The earliest idea I had for this book was of a carnival where the rides and attractions were powered by steam.  I didn’t have a clue what story could take place there. Around that same time, I developed the characters of Katya and Magdalene.  I knew I wanted them to be close friends despite their different personalities, and I pictured them standing back to back, ready to take on the world.  When I decided to mix the setting with the two young women, the story took off from there.

In the end, I’m glad I staged most of the action at a carnival.  Because of its size, I packed a lot of interesting people and thrilling rides into it.  But the rides and buildings also provide shadows, niches, and secrecy, where some of the darker moments of the book take place.  Especially for the scene where Katya and Maddox enjoy some of the carnival attractions, I relied on all the summers I spent on spinning rides and smaller coasters at Six Flags, Indiana Beach, and the La Porte County Fair.  Memories that were always a lot of fun became really useful.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Steampunk Carnival is great for adults who are young at heart or like a good mix of romance and mystery in the stories they read.  I wrote this book with one intent: to make the Victorian era as easy to relate to and understand as the world we’re used to now.  So you don’t have to be a history buff or a steampunk enthusiast to dive into my book and feel comfortable in Katya’s world.  It’s perfect for people intrigued by the story who are new to the genre and also for people looking for something new who already embrace it. 

As Steampunk Carnival is part of the Steam World series, will we see more of Katya and the Carnival?

Actually, no.  Katya and the success of the carnival set some things in motion for the rest of the series and get mentioned in other books, but I picked the title Steam World because that’s where the other books will take us.  Most of them will probably take place in the United States, but some will journey to other countries around the world.  I won’t spoil too much about book 2, but I will say the innovative technology powering the carnival inspires interesting leaps forward for air travel.  The heroine is Katya’s opposite in many ways, and her story centers around pulling off a heist instead of solving mysteries.

A huge thanks to anybody and everybody connected with my tour!  It was my first, and a pretty good one, and I'm excited to see what future tours will hold.  Join my mailing list on the right or from the Connect With Me page to stay updated on Steampunk Carnival (print version still to come!) and the rest of the Steam World books.


Ice's Review: “A Cute Little Gem” Plus Excerpts

Last two stops of the Steampunk Carnival blog tour.  A short, sweet promo on Lilac Reviews and a great, well-said review from Ice of Bit'N Tours.  She does a wonderful job of summing up the story, why Katya gets involved with the danger of what's happening, and includes some memorable excerpts from the book.  I couldn't have picked them better myself to show Katya's fiery side and her more devious nature.  So if you're still on the fence about Steampunk Carnival or want to enter the giveaway for 1 of 5 ebooks, hop on over to Bit'N and help yourself to the book buffet!


Love On a Roller Coaster

Day 9 of the blog tour!  Almost there - only 2 days left to win the free ebooks of Steampunk Carnival, and more entries get added every day.

Today, I'm being hosted by Moonbeams Over Atlanta, a book blog with an eye toward love, romance, and erotica.  You can read an excerpt of my book there - of Katya getting to know Maddox better while they ride the carnival together - as well as some interview questions I answered.  (What's the best comment a reader ever gave me?  Where do I like to write?  And what's the hardest thing I've ever done?)  My excerpt might focus on the growing romance between Katya and Maddox, but to find out where that goes (hint: a little closer to the erotica side), you'll have to read the book.

So get hooked on that excerpt and make sure to enter the giveaway!


How Immigrants Took Over the Steampunk Carnival

Good morning, steampunk fans!  It's day 8 of the tour.  Every day gathers more entries into my Steampunk Carnival ebook giveaway.

Today, my book is featured on Book Troll's Real Escape Book Blog and Creativity from Chaos.  Each stop shows a different graphic for my book, the last quote pics of the tour!  I already shared the one on Book Troll's here, so I'll post the other here:

I love this quote!  It's one of the most facetious lines in the whole book.  Mr. Warden is such a fun character to love-hate.  Of course, as the book goes on, Katya - and the reader - switch from one emotion to the other.  (Enter the giveaway for that free ebook and the chance to experience it for yourself.)

I'm also sharing a guest post I wrote for the tour that hasn't been put up.  It gives some more insight into why and how I wrote Steampunk Carnival beyond what I've already said.

The Inspiration Behind Steampunk Carnival

My husband, Josh, was the first person to mention steampunk to me. He thought it’d be a great fit.  I love anything that’s limitlessly creative, and the Victorian era has fascinated me for years.  The idea of mixing steam-powered gadgetry with the conventions and silhouettes of the 1800’s intrigued me, but it took me some time to delve into it since I was working on contemporary projects at the time.

Steampunk Carnival started with one simple idea: what if there was a carnival where the rides ran on steam instead of electricity and gas?  I knew I wanted to make it as realistic as possible even though a place like that holds a natural kind of magic in it.  (Magic along with plenty of grease, sweat, and dirt to keep it grounded.)

I based the coasters and rides on the ones I liked growing up.  My family spent numerous summer days at places like Six Flags, Indiana Beach, and the La Porte County Fair.  My brother and I loved anything that spun, so I made sure the Steampunk Carnival had one attraction specifically for that.

But my story needed more than a setting, and characters are my biggest passion.  Since I wanted to stay true to the Indianapolis of the 1880’s, I looked into what immigrant groups settled there at the time. This led to a wealth of inspiration for the book, which follows quite a few immigrants and first-generation Americans. The backgrounds, languages, and accents of my book were taken directly from that time and place: English, Russian, German, and Irish with a sprinkling of Italian and Danish. This research coincided with my digging into my own family history, which gave me a new appreciation for both.  My book characters came to life for me, and I gained a profound respect for my ancestors who traveled to the United States from Europe and the UK.  It was an honor and a pleasure to represent the city the way it might’ve been - not to mention a lot of fun.

I hope that Steampunk Carnival, with its many sources of heart-felt inspiration, will touch others.  Learn about your family.  Learn about the places you’ve called home or traveled to or only dreamed about.  Find the parts of history that make you dream, and share those dreams with other people.  Like the carnival, it’s physical, it’s intense, and it takes work.  But it also contains undeniable, inescapable magic.


Blog Tour and Giveaway: Weekend Edition

Sorry for not posting yesterday, but I needed a day off.  I've been working hard on the second book in the Steam World series, partly because of everyone's enthusiasm about book 1, Steampunk Carnival.  So let's see what's been on the menu for the blog tour this weekend, shall we?

Yesterday, my guest post about the ways steampunk inspires me went live on the Ink Of My Heart blog.  It also shared the 2nd graphic of the tour:

The murder of Mr. Lieber scares and haunts Katya for a good part of the book.  As head of carnival security and a brusque, hotheaded German, he's pretty intimidating.  It would take someone big and strong to kill him, right?  (You'll just have to read the book and see.  Enter the giveaway to win one of the 5 ecopies I'm giving away!)

Today, I'm spreading the love by being in two places at once.  I have a brief interview posted on The Invisible Child.  What was the hardest part of writing my book?  What did I learn from it?  And what's my advice for other writers?  Find out at The Invisible Child.

If you'd rather just see a nice, short promo of my book on the dark background of a multi-genre book blog, check out Ashley's Paranormal Book Blog.


Hellvis' Review: “I Absolutely Loved Steampunk Carnival”

Have I mentioned how much I love it when readers connect with my work?  Because I totally do!

It's day 5 of my blog tour for Steampunk Carnival, and the mysterious, bewitching force that is Hellvis has graced my book with its second great review of the tour.  She talks about the mystery, the characters, the way I use steampunk elements.  I won't spoil it all - she's amazingly entertaining and gutsy in everything she does, so head right over to The Hellvis Compendium and read her amusing take on my book.

As always, enter the giveaway for a free ecopy - especially since you'll know other people enjoyed it, right?


The Good, the Bad, the Fun, and the Beautiful

My character biographies for Steampunk Carnival are on the menu for my blog tour today!  Along with a fabulous graphic created by Ice at Bit'N Tours.

Visit the Sunshine Book Promotions blog to find out who's working against whom and of course enter the giveaway for a free ebook.

The graphic shared there is from one of the more tense moments of the story:


History and Alternate History Through a Woman's Eyes

Day 3 of the blog tour, and we're still racing around the internet talking about writing and books.

Today, Steampunk Carnival is being featured at a pretty cool blog called History from a Woman's Perspective.  It's got all the usual fun stuff of the tour - the trailer, the giveaway, the soundtrack - but I'm especially proud of the guest post I wrote for it.

It's my first official guest post, letting me open up about my writing process, why Steampunk Carnival turned into such a personal project, and what I hope the book will inspire others to do.

Hop on over to History from a Woman's Perspective.  Find out what history and steampunk can do for you, then enter the giveaway to win a free ebook - only 8 days left!

History From a Woma's Perspective.com


Steampunk Sparrow Loves Steampunk Carnival

I'll admit it.  As an author, I've gotten some mixed reviews in my day.  Some people love my books - others don't get my style.

I was a bit nervous to read Steampunk Sparrow's review of Steampunk Carnival, but it was better than I could've hoped for.  She really understood what I was trying to do with the story and its characters.  To find out what she loved so much, visit her blog here.

To go directly to the giveaway for 5 free ecopies of Steampunk Carnival, go here.  Only 9 days left for you and 4 friends to grab them all up!

Here's a graphic with one of my favorite quotes from the book to keep you toasty until then:


Tons of Goodies Kick off Blog Tour

The official Steampunk Carnival blog tour is up and running!  Check out our first stop at the La La Land of Books.

What's there?  A book excerpt from the beginning of the story to get you started, a short interview with me about writing, the Steampunk Carnival book trailer, and a playlist of songs from the book's soundtrack.  You can enter the 5 ebook giveaway at the bottom of the post or go straight to it here.

Share this with your friends - plenty of ebooks to go around!


Free Books, Reviews, and Interviews - Oh, my!


It's official!  For 10 whole days starting tomorrow, you can choose your own fun ways to participate in the Steampunk Carnival blog tour hosted by the amazing Bit'N Book Tours.

I'll be featured on a different blog each day, and every host will have something different to share about my book.  I've answered their most pressing interview questions, written a few guest posts, and shared some of the songs I think describe the story.  Ice, Bit'N's graphic designer, even turned some of my favorite book quotes into cool pics.  (Pinterest lovers, get your Pin It buttons ready!)

Most of all, what every blog will have in common is the chance to win 1 of 5 ebook copies I'm giving away of Steampunk Carnival.  So make sure you enter and let your friends know so they can enter, too.

I'll be starting out at The La La Land of Books tomorrow with an interview and book excerpt.  Enjoy the ride!


Spotlight on One of my Favorite Steampunk Etsy Shops

Back in September, I hosted a list of my top 5 favorite steampunk-related shops on Etsy.  (I'll link to the post later in case you missed it, but first I want you to check this one out.)

Alison of Velvet Mechanism has very graciously given me some of her time to answer questions about her shop and our common obsession with steampunk.  Without further ado, here's a well-timed throwback to Steampunk Summer:

The Shop: Velvet Mechanism
What Will Wow You:  Jewelry, accessories, cufflinks, corsets, and harnesses

Alison had some amazing insight into her love of the genre:  "One of the things I find most inspiring about steampunk are the fine details that you see in the costuming and jewelry - there's often a lot of layering, and complex mechanisms with very intricate parts. I also really enjoy the creativity that you see in the scene. Right now it feels like there's a lot of energy going into exploring the bounds of what can be done with the genre, mixing and matching various time periods and geographic regions. It's really inspiring!"

Photo courtesy of Velvet Mechanism
When I asked Alison if she had a favorite item in her shop, she answered like most passionate artists would: "Honestly, this is going to be difficult for me. I end up keeping for myself a number of pieces that I make, because I like them so much! I really enjoy taking non-working vintage materials and giving them a new life - a new chance to be seen and appreciated. Necklaces, as a category, are some of my favorite creations in my store, but I don't think I can narrow it down to just one favorite style, so I'm going to go in a completely different direction and choose a pair of cufflinks for my answer. In particular, this pair (pictured).

"I really like how this pair turned out! Finding perfectly matched vintage watches is a difficult feat - you have to go through so many watches in order to find even a vague match. I enjoy encouraging more men to wear cufflinks. They look so stylish and sophisticated. My husband owns, and wears, several pairs of my cufflinks. I have a range of cufflink styles and prices in my store."

Consider me sold on cufflinks and pretty much everything else in Velvet Mechanism (a perfect name for the store, by the way).  The wide selection of necklaces covers art nouveau, filigree, sea monsters, gothic, and other gorgeous themes.

A huge thanks to Alison for her participation in this project!  The rest of my top 5 shops are featured here.  Stay tuned for more steampunk adventures - I'll post details about the Steampunk Carnival blog tour and giveaway by Sunday.