A Second Childhood

Today, my wife is celebrating a milestone birthday. She’s declared it to be the beginning of her second childhood. We’re having a party and those guests who bring presents are encouraged to bring toys. There’ll be a barbeque and our daughters are baking the cake. It should be a fun time!

David and Kumie

Kumie likes to point out that although this is the beginning of her second childhood, she’s never really grown up, so the second childhood is starting just as the first one ends!

In fact, Kumie and I have always tried to keep a sense of fun and adventure in our lives. We’ve both collected toys, read books, and watched movies that appealed not only to our children but our own inner children as well. This isn’t to say that life has been all fun and games. There have been plenty of difficult times, too, and hopefully we haven’t behaved too childishly during those, but often its a sense of hope and optimism that sees us through.

I find it interesting that this particular milestone occurs as our oldest daughter prepares to embark on her college career. She’s had a lot of questions about why we made the choices we did as she sets about making her own life choices. When I was her age, I was interested in both writing and astronomy. I decided to pursue the latter, even though I arguably found math and science more challenging at the time. That said, I saw more opportunities to write with a physics degree than there were opportunities to explore space with an English degree. Since that time, technology and the arts have come together in many fascinating ways and my daughter hopes to explore that combination. I find myself wondering what choices I’d make if the choices open to her now had been open to me then.

Despite my musings, I can’t say I set myself on a terrible path. I do get to explore the universe in my “day” job at Kitt Peak. I get to play pretend as a writer. Although “free time” sometimes seems a rare luxury, both avocations do afford me a measure of fun. Here’s hoping you’re having fun, whether you’re on a first or second childhood, or somewhere in between!

Spring Fever

The last few days in Southern New Mexico, we’ve had blue skies, pleasantly warm temperatures, and little wind. It makes me want to spend time outdoors, but I do have a lot of work to do this spring. Two major projects did take a step forward a little over a week ago. I received the edits for the new edition of Owl Dance, which will be coming soon from Sky Warrior Publication. Those looked good, I approved them and sent them back. Also, I turned in a new draft of the sequel, Lightning Wolves. I’m waiting to hear back from the editor.

Much of this past week has been split between two projects. I’ve been working on my horror novel The Astronomer’s Crypt which is due at Lachesis Publishing in about a month. This one’s kind of a new type of project for me in that it’s set during the present day at a place very much like where I work. It’s not science fictional, nor is it set during an alternate past. The towns in the novel are either ones I live in or like ones I’ve lived in. The actual observatory of the novel is fictional, though inspired by real life places I’ve worked. Still, there are ghosts and monsters. They’re not real… I hope!

Tales of the Talisman 9-4

I’ve also been laying out the spring issue of Tales of the Talisman. The basic layout is now complete. Now I just need to proofread it, then make a few tweaks to make it look as nice as I possibly can, then send it to the printer. The nice part is, proofreading the issue does give me an excuse to spend sometime outside on these nice days enjoying the sunshine. Hope spring is bringing nice weather wherever you are and you’re getting to spend a little time outdoors as well!

New Orleans

My daughter has almost graduated from high school and is scouting out colleges. One of her finalists is Tulane University in New Orleans. With a rich literary heritage that includes such diverse writers as Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Anne Rice, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit the city with her.

French Quarter New Orleans

Because we only had a short time, our visit was essentially confined to the French Quarter and Tulane University itself. I gather neither area was especially hard hit by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, but it still struck me how vibrant the city was in spite of the disaster that hit it less than a decade ago.

For our time in the French Quarter, we basically just took time to absorb the ambiance of the place. We listened to several excellent groups of street musicians, wandered through everything from toy stores to voodoo shops and even the Boutique du Vampyre. Of course, we had to visit a couple of restaurants. We stopped for beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. Later in the day, we had a fine supper at The Gumbo Shop, near the St. Louis Cathedral.

St Louis Cemetery

Of course, while we were in the French Quarter, we had to stop by the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 with its above-ground tombs and the final resting place of famed voodoo queen Marie Laveau.

Both my daughter and I were impressed with the college tour the next day. Tulane University is clearly a fine institution and it remains high on my daughter’s choice of schools. It’s hard to say what writing inspiration I’ll take from my visit to New Orleans. Like many things in my life, it’s an experience that I can draw from for future projects. Of course, if my daughter does ultimately decide to attend Tulane, I may have more opportunities to visit in the next four years or so.

Of course, with a daughter about to head off to college, I’m happy for any financial assistance I can get! One of the best ways you could help out is drop by my book page and see if there’s a book you’d like to try!

Science, Magic, and Music in the Old West

Earlier this month, I was honored to be one of the author guests at the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention held at Old Tucson Studios. Many classic western films were shot at Old Tucson, so it’s a great place to immerse oneself in the whole steampunk experience. The weather was beautiful for the event and, for the most part, my panels and events were standing room only.

Wild Wild West Con 3

On Friday of the convention, I spoke about how Mars became a place in people’s imaginations during the Victorian age. Of course, there is a strong wild west side to this story. Percival Lowell looked for clear, high dry skies to observe Mars and he established an observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. He then went on to document the planet’s non-existent canals. Nicola Tesla came out west to Colorado to establish a laboratory and thought he detected radio signals from the red planet. All of it helped people see Mars as a place, even if those scientists didn’t interpret their observations correctly.

Martian Presentation

Friday night, I attended a wonderful show featuring the bellydance performance troupe Osiris, the magician Dyno Staats, and the Nathaniel Johnstone Band. The bellydancers captivated my daughter and Dyno’s magic was fun. Although Dyno and I know each other, his assistant hadn’t met me and I was pulled up for one of the tricks, which was a delight. Several of the Nathaniel Johnstone Band’s songs were inspired by folktales and mythology, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Nathaniel Johnstone Band

On Saturday, I participated in two different writer’s panels. The first was Drake and McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing, in which two writers and two audience members created stories on the fly from prompts provided by writers Erasmus Drake and Sparky McTrowell. Later that day, I was on a writing panel with Dashing David Grasse, and Muffy Morrigan. While all of this was going on, my daughter in a fit of mad genius constructed her very own automaton.

Verity and Friend

On Sunday, I wrapped things up with Dyno Staats on the Victorian Magic and Science panel, where we discussed how science and magic influenced and changed each other through the nineteenth century. We’ve given this presentation at a few different conventions now and I always learn new things.

David and Dyno

In addition to the panels I participated in, there were plenty of other events. David Grasse taught participants how to play faro. There was lots of tea dueling. There were many workshops where people made items to take with them. There were lots of vendors selling everything from steampunk crafts, to clothes, to books. All in all, there was a little something for everyone who either was already a fan of steampunk or was looking to learn more about it.

Revolution of Air and Rust

As it turns out, I sold out of the first edition of my novel Owl Dance at Wild Wild West Con, but the new edition is on its way. I’ll be sure to post details when I have them. In the meantime, be sure to check out my steampunk novella Revolution of Air and Rust in which Pancho Villa falls into a parallel universe while fighting against forces from the United States and finds a new weapon. The novella is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

The Scarlet Order Vampires at Lachesis

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Lachesis Publishing has unveiled a brand new website. In addition to publishing my Old Star/New Earth science fiction series, they also publish my Scarlet Order vampire novels. For better or worse, vampire and paranormal romance novels seem to be everywhere these days. While it’s true the Scarlet Order vampire novels have their share of romance along with beautiful and dangerous vampires, I believe they offer something a little more. The Scarlet Order is a band of vampire mercenaries. They use their speed, agility, and strength to aid the world’s countries. What’s more, I find it interesting to look at the modern world through the eyes of creatures who have seen the world grow and change. Without further ado, here are the novels in the Scarlet Order series.

The Scarlet Order Vampire Series

Dragons Fall

Three vampyrs. Three lives. Three intertwining stories.

Bearing the guilt of destroying the holiest of books after becoming a vampyr, the Dragon, Lord Desmond searches the world for lost knowledge, but instead, discovers truth in love.

Born a slave in Ancient Greece, Alexandra craves freedom above all else, until a vampyr sets her free, and then, she must pay the highest price of all … her human soul.

An assassin who lives in the shadows, Roquelaure is cloaked even from himself, until he discovers the power of friendship and loyalty.

Three vampyrs, traveling the world by moonlight—one woman and two men who forge a bond made in love and blood. Together they form a band of mercenaries called the Scarlet Order, and recruit others who are like them. Their mission is to protect kings and emperors against marauders, invaders, and rogue vampyrs until their closest friend, Vlad the Impaler, proves to be their ultimate nemesis.

Click here to learn more about Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order at Lachesis Publishing.

Vampires of the Scarlet Order

Vampires of the Scarlet Order is an action-adventure novel about an elite cadre of vampire mercenaries who have worked throughout history as pinpoint assassins. Under the command of Desmond, Lord Draco, the Scarlet Order was involved in wars with the Ottoman Empire, The French Revolution and even the conquest of the Americas. Now, at the dawn of the 21st century, vampires are too expensive, too untrustworthy, and frankly, too passé for governments to employ any longer. Nanotechnology can be employed to engineer more reliable super soldiers. What’s a vampire to do?

Click here to learn more about Vampires of the Scarlet Order at Lachesis Publishing.

If these novels intrigue you, I invite you to drop by my other on-line journal, The Scarlet Order, where I regularly discuss horror writing, vampires, and other matters of interest to night creatures.

Lachesis Has a New Website

Lachesis Publishing, publisher of my Old Star/New Earth series and the Scarlet Order Vampire series recently unveiled their new website. I think it looks great! This week, I’ll tell you a little about each book in the Old Star/New Earth series and provide the updated link where you can buy either a print book or an ebook. All of these books are on sale and The Pirates of Sufiro is free! Next week, I’ll do the same for the Scarlet Order Vampire novels.

Old Star/New Earth Series

The Solar Sea

Late in the twenty-first century, humans had settled the Moon and satellites orbiting the Earth were a common sight, but with the abolition of NASA, humans had no desire to go further and space exploration died. Then, a technician from the Very Large Array, a radio telescope in New Mexico, discovered powerful particles orbiting Saturn’s moon, Titan, which could be a new energy source. Strangely enough, following the discovery’s announcement, whales around the Earth changed their songs overnight.

As scion of the powerful Quinn Corporation, Thomas Quinn builds a solar sail to find the source of these particles in Titan’s orbit. He gathers the best and brightest team to pilot his craft: Jonathan Jefferson, an aging astronaut known as the last man on Mars; Natalie Freeman, a distinguished Navy captain; Myra Lee, a biologist specializing in whale communication; and John O’Connell, the technician who first discovered the particles. All together they make a grand tour of the solar system and discover not only wonders but dangers beyond their imagination.

The Solar Sea is a prequel to the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see The Solar Sea at Lachesis Publishing.

The Pirates of Sufiro

The Pirates of Sufiro is the story of a planet and its people—of Ellison Firebrandt the pirate captain living in exile; of Espedie Raton, the con-man looking to make a fresh start for himself and his wife on a new world; of Peter Stone, the ruthless bank executive who discovers a fortune and will do anything to keep it; and of the lawman, Edmund Ray Swan who travels to Sufiro seeking the quiet life but finds a dark secret. It is the story of privateers, farmers, miners, entrepreneurs, and soldiers—all caught up in dramatic events and violent conflicts that will shape the destiny of our galaxy.

The Pirates of Sufiro is Book 1 of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see The Pirates of Sufiro at Lachesis Publishing.

Children of the Old Stars

The Cluster is a vast alien machine that destroys starships indiscriminately in its quest for something or someone. Commander John Mark Ellis, disgraced and booted out of the service when he fails to save a merchant ship, believes the key to stopping the Cluster is communication. His mother, Suki Firebrandt Ellis is a historian who believes the very leaders of the galaxy are withholding information about the Cluster. Clyde McClintlock believes the Cluster is God incarnate, seeking retribution. G’Liat is an alien warrior whose own starship was destroyed by the Cluster. All together, they set out to solve the mystery of the Cluster before it finds the object of its quest.

Children of the Old Stars is book 2 of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see Children of the Old Stars at Lachesis Publishing.

Heirs of the New Earth

The Earth has gone silent. John Mark Ellis and the crew of the Sanson are sent to investigate. When they arrive, they find vast alien machines known as Clusters in orbit. Fearing the worst, they land and discover that the once overcrowded, polluted Earth has become a paradise of sorts. The problem is over half the population is dead or missing and the planet’s leaders don’t seem to care. As Ellis works to unravel the mystery, sudden gravitational shifts from the galaxy’s center indicate something even worse is in the offing. Can Ellis save the galaxy from the heirs of the new Earth?

Heirs of the New Earth is book 3 of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy.

Click here to see Heirs of the New Earth at Lachesis Publishing.

The Dragoon Mountains

Lightning Wolves

Today I’m at Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios, just outside Tucson, Arizona. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll drop by. This is a fun convention! Aside from getting ready for the convention this past week, I’ve been hard at work revising my wild west steampunk adventure novel Lightning Wolves based on my editor’s notes. The new revision is almost finished and about ready to turn in. In some cases I’ve slapped my head when my editor pointed out something I forgot. In other cases, I’ve grumbled and complained to myself, made a revision, and grudgingly admitted I liked it better. No matter what, though, I have learned a lot from my editor on this book and I’m grateful for her thorough job.

Part of the action in Lightning Wolves is set in the Dragoon Mountains of Southern Arizona. As it turns out, I drive through the Dragoons just about every week on my commute to and from work. A little over a week ago, I took some time and wandered through the area, reminding myself of some of the settings from the novel.

Dragoons 1

The Dragoons are very dramatic and rocky mountains. They were also the source of real-life wild west drama. The Apache Warrior Cochise defeated a company of Confederate dragoons there in 1862 and stole their cattle. Hence the name of the mountains. The Confederates and the Apaches clashed again just a few days later and the soldiers reclaimed their livestock. Twenty years later, during Wyatt Earp’s famous Vendetta Ride, Earp’s posse captured and killed “Indian Charlie” Cruz in the Dragoons.

Dragoons 2

Lightning Wolves is set between these two historical events. In the novel, many of the soldiers who would normally have been in the area have been called to fight a Russian invasion in the Pacific Northwest and the Apache Warrior Geronimo has set up a stronghold in the Dragoons. Needless to say, this makes some of the remaining settlers, such as Newman Clanton and his sons very nervous. In the middle of all this is exiled Mexican inventor M.K. Maravilla and the bounty hunter Larissa Crimson, who appear on the book’s cover. What happens makes the Gunfight at OK Corral look like a petty squabble. I really am looking forward to sharing this novel with you!