Holiday Book Sale

Today, I’m signing copies of my books at Bookmans on Speedway in Tucson, Arizona from noon until 2pm along with a number of other great, local authors. If you’re in Tucson, I hope you’ll drop by and shop a great collection of books from local authors.

Lachesis Black Friday ad

If you’re not local to Tucson, you can still take advantage of some great deals on my books. Lachesis Publishing, who publishes my space opera and my vampire novels has put all the ebook editions on sale for 99 cents through Monday, November 30. Click the banner to get to a search page for all my books at Lachesis, or follow the links to specific novels below. If you already have all of these books, I have have two new novels coming soon. I’m making the final proofreading pass on my horror novel, The Astronomer’s Crypt, and will be sending it back to my editor, Joanna D’Angelo, at Lachesis Publishing within the next two weeks. My steampunk novel, The Brazen Shark, is in the queue for publication at Sky Warrior Books. I hope to have more news about that soon.


Old Star/New Earth Series

The Scarlet Order Vampires


One of my favorite elements of the holidays is sharing good food with friends and family. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have produced a fun cookbook full of food for parties which includes information about how the recipes relate to the authors and their work. The cookbook features recipes by such folks as Larry Niven, Gail Carriger, David Brin, Connie Willis, John Scalzi, Vonda N. McIntyre, and many, many more. I’m honored that my recipe for Caldo de Pollo, which appears in Lightning Wolves is included. You can learn more about this fun cookbook and order a copy at:

Working on the Holidays

There has been a lot of backlash lately against retailers being open on Thanksgiving in the United States, and I’ll admit, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Scrooge-like corporate executives who fear making a little less profit because they’ve given their employees some time with family. However, even if every retailer remained closed on Thanksgiving, there are a lot of people who would have to work, and I’m truly grateful for them. Some of those folks are pretty obvious, such as the doctors and nurses who work in the Emergency Room, fire crews, and utility workers. Will you be watching one of the big Thanksgiving ball games or perhaps the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Marathon? If so, be grateful for the people running the television stations and keeping the Internet up and running. Speaking of those games, there are the people who keep the stadiums clean, run the concessions, and sell tickets.


As it turns out, Kitt Peak National Observatory does not close down for Thanksgiving either. The universe doesn’t take the day off, and neither do the astronomers who study it. This year, I lucked out and my schedule gave me the entire Thanksgiving weekend off work, which is a nice change of pace. I’ve had plenty of years where I’ve had to work all of the weekend or part of it. The photo above is from Thanksgiving 2013, when my daughter kept me company in the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope’s control room. The observer, Dr. Louise Edwards, was working remotely from Yale University taking spectra using the computer. Dr. Edwards communicated with us using Skype and it actually provided a neat opportunity for my daughter to interact with a woman who not only works in the sciences, but was featured on a Canadian postage stamp.

This brings me to one last group—those who work on the holidays simply because they enjoy it. I may have the weekend off from the observatory, but I’m in the home stretch of working through edits on The Astronomer’s Crypt and I have an exciting story idea that brings members of the Clockwork Legion and the Scarlet Order together that’s clamoring for me to write. Yeah, I’ll be making some quality time to hang out with family and friends, but you can bet that I’ll also spend some time working on these projects because, darn it, they’re fun. In fact, not getting a chance to work on these projects would almost feel like a punishment.

Another thing I enjoy is getting out to meet all of you. Because of that, I plan to be in Tucson on Saturday, November 28 at Bookmans on Speedway Boulevard from noon until 2pm for Tucson Writes. November is Shop Local-Give Local Month and Bookmans is celebrating by bringing in a number of local authors to sell and autograph their books. This is a great way to do some shopping for the holidays and get to know many local authors. I’ll have copies of all my novels there. If you’re in Tucson next weekend, I hope I’ll see you there!

Remembering the Dead and Celebrating Life

My last shift at the observatory finished the night before the Tucson Steampunk Society was scheduled to meet at Antigone Books and discuss Eric Brown’s novel Jani and the Greater Game. I thought that sounded like a great excuse to spend some time with friends and maybe grab a bite to eat before driving home. I had purchased the book the week before and read it during my shift at the observatory. The novel tells the story of a young woman named Jani who is on her way home to India from England, when her airship is shot down by Russians. Jani soon learns that England gained its power in the world by exploiting a creature from another world. The stakes increase when Jani must work with that alien to help thwart an invasion. The book was a delight and I had the opportunity to share some updates about my forthcoming novel The Brazen Shark with the book society.

Once I finished dinner and walked around to my car, I discovered I’d inadvertently parked in the staging area for the Tucson All Souls’ Day Procession. Skeleton Crew It actually gave me the excuse to stay around and watch as the parade got ready to start. All Souls’ Day is a celebration remembering those who have departed, as well as a celebration of life itself. I stopped off at one of the vendors and had a sugar cookie shaped like a skull and crossbones and admired the costumes, floats and puppets assembled for the procession. It seemed a fitting transition into this week. Now that The Brazen Shark is turned in, I’m hard at work on The Astronomer’s Crypt.

What’s more, on the last night of my shift, we had some new observers at the telescope. One of them went down to the restroom and got lost on the way back to the control room. Fortunately, he called and we were able to direct him back. It turns out this almost exactly mirrored the incident that kicks off the action in the second part of The Astronomer’s Crypt. Fortunately, the power didn’t then go out and we didn’t have strange monsters and ghosts roaming the hall…at least that I know of!

Anyway, I mentioned the novel to the observers and they readily chimed in with what a spooky place the telescope is at night. One of them imagined a scenario of riding up in the elevator only to see an open door and someone standing outside the cage doors holding a severed head. That incident doesn’t happen in the novel, but it does go to show the kinds of things that go through your mind when working in a spooky, dark building!

Speaking of weird and wonderful things, I was a guest at Nicole Givens Kurtz’s blog this past week. Be sure to read my post entitled “Discovering the West, Weird and Real.” I discuss how living in the southwest and my love of anime has informed my steampunk writing. Also, be sure to drop by The Steampunk Journal, where you can read chapter one of Owl Dance in its entirety.

Music-Evoked Imagery

This past week my editor handed The Brazen Shark off to the publisher for final formatting. This puts book three of the Clockwork Legion series one step closer to publication and I hope to have a release date soon. What’s more, I’ve seen a really cool cover concept from artist Laura Givens, so I’m hoping I’ll get to do a reveal soon.

In other posts, I’ve mentioned that when I write, I’m an outliner. However, I’ve noted that being an outliner doesn’t mean that I don’t find myself writing by the seat of my pants some times. A great example of how that works happened while writing The Brazen Shark. At one point, the outline had the wonderfully helpful phrase, “Fatemeh and Imagawa have a chance to discuss Imagawa’s future.” Fatemeh is one of the protagonists of the Clockwork Legion series. She’s a healer from Persia who immigrated to America where she met a Sheriff named Ramon Morales. The two married at the end of book two and book three tells the story of their honeymoon. Imagawa is a samurai warrior who stole a Russian airship as part of her conflict with Japan’s Meiji government.

By the time I reached that line in my outline it had become crystal clear that this scene was not a “discussion.” This scene was a confrontation that would resolve one of the novel’s central conflicts. The problem was, I had no idea how that conflict would play out until I heard this song, which was performed by Kokia for the end credits of a few episodes of the series Space Battleship Yamato 2199.

I was driving home from work when the song cycled around on my mp3 player and chills went up my arm. I “saw” the climactic scene form in almost synesthetic clarity. As soon as I got home, I sat down and wrote the scene. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how it actually plays out without giving spoilers. What I can say is that Fatemeh was pushed to an extreme I didn’t expect and Imagawa demonstrates what makes her the kind of villain you can’t help but respect. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the scene when it’s released.

By the way, you can find a translation of the lyrics at the Sound of Harmony website. Those who listen closely may notice the word Hoshi, which means stars, but is also the name of the samurai character introduced in Lightning Wolves.

Denizens of Steam

Now, I can’t drop big hints about my forthcoming novel without giving you something for your trouble. Halloween weekend saw the release of the flash-fiction anthology Denizens of Steam which is completely free over on Smashwords. Just click the link to get a copy. My story in the antho jumps past The Brazen Shark and gives you a sneak peak at book four, Owl Riders. I can’t promise the scene in Denizens of Steam will appear unchanged in the upcoming novel, but it will give you an idea of what I have planned for Ramon and Fatemeh. What’s more, you’ll get splendiferous flash fiction from people like Bryce Raffle, Karen J. Carlisle, William J. Jackson, C.L. Zeitstruck, and Steve Moore. The anthology was created to commemorate the one year anniversary of The Scribbler’s Den group at The Steampunk Empire. It has been one of the most engaging writing discussion forums I’ve encountered on the web. If you’re interested in discussing steampunk writing, please come by and join us!

For those who have no idea who Ramon and Fatemeh are, you can grab Owl Dance and Lightning Wolves which are books one and two of the Clockwork Legion series while you’re over at Smashwords!

Gun Frontier

First off, Happy Halloween! I’m in Tucson, Arizona at the TusCon Science Fiction convention this weekend. There are lots of great panels and good people. If you’re in town and free, I hope you’ll drop by. There are details at the link above.

Gun Frontier

This month, I’ve been watching Leiji Matsumoto’s anime series Gun Frontier. It may not seem your usual Halloween fare, but it’s been an interesting way to wind down after days of working on my steampunk novel, The Brazen Shark, which is now back with the editor. I’ll have to admit, the first time I watched an episode of Gun Frontier, I wasn’t impressed. I came across the series in an article about Matsumoto’s famous Space Pirate Captain Harlock. Matsumoto is famous for recycling his characters into different situations to create new shows. In this case, he told a story about Harlock and his best friend, Tochiro, in the old west. This sounded like it would be right up my alley. What I got was a show, that to be honest, was rather crude with offensive humor and nonsensical situations.

So, why did I go back? I realized that Matsumoto was actually doing something in Gun Frontier very similar to what I’m doing in The Brazen Shark. In my novel, I imagine my characters from the western United States visiting Meiji-era Japan. In Gun Frontier, Tochiro is a samurai who has come to the western United States looking for settlers from Japan along with his long lost sister. I had the chance to see what it was like to view the Wild West of my ancestors through the lens of a Japanese writer and artist.

What I found after I watched several episodes was a rather interesting example of an acid western. The term “acid western” was coined fairly recently by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum to describe the Johnny Depp western Dead Man. Acid westerns are said to have a hallucinogenic quality with aspects derived from 1960s counterculture, which often includes a more contemporary score. In the traditional western, the west is often viewed as an optimistic place. In the acid western, the west is often seen as an almost nightmarish place. Other examples of acid westerns include Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo and Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Gun Frontier shows us a bizarre west. In one town, everyone can do what they want, no matter the consequences. This includes one gentleman perched on a toilet in the middle of the street. In another episode, the town has imposed a limit on the height of the people who can enter. Each of our primary characters has a superpower of sorts. This Harlock is a former sea captain, good with his guns. Tochiro can’t see worth a darn, but he’s an amazing swordsman. They travel with a woman named Sinonora, who uses her sex appeal like a weapon and wastes little time getting out of her clothes in many episodes. The score is Japanese pop, similar to many other anime series of the early 2000s.

I gather the Gun Frontier manga was actually the first time the characters of Harlock and Tochiro appeared in print. It was published in 1972, six years before we would meet Harlock as a space pirate, but only two years after the release of El Topo and a year before the release of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. It was prime time for the acid western.

What kept the series together and kept me watching was the ongoing quest and the hope that Tochiro would be reunited with his sister. Also, the Harlock and Tochiro of this series are still fundamentally the same characters as their space pirate counterparts and there are some nice scenes where they imagine themselves traveling the stars. Because I enjoyed the characters, I found Gun Frontier more enjoyable than its contemporary acid westerns. I also found it fascinating to see Matsumoto’s portrayal of the west, which looked more like Sergio Leone’s than John Ford’s.

Gun Frontier is crude, nonsensical, sometimes homophobic, but interesting. It’s clearly not a western for everyone but fans of acid westerns and Matsumoto will likely be transported back in time, if not to the old west, at least to the west as it was envisioned in the 1970s.

TusCon 42


This weekend, I’m in Denver, Colorado at MileHiCon. Next weekend, I’ll be in Tucson, Arizona at TusCon 42. The convention will be held at the Hotel Tucson City Center InnSuites Conference Suite Resort from October 30th through November 1. Spanning Halloween weekend, there’s sure to be lots of fun cosplay and treats. The author guest of honor will be Seanan McGuire and the artist guest of honor will be Bridget E. Wilde. Special guests include Geoff Notkin and Autumn Ivy. Ed Bryant returns as Toastmaster. My schedule is as follows:

Friday, October 30

  • 5-6pm – Is it wrong to be nostalgic about retro? – St. Augustine. Everything old is new again, but is that idea old enough to be new again? On the panel with me will be Paul E. Clinco, Eric Hanson, and Gloria McMillan.
  • 7-8pm – Meet the Guests – Copper Ballroom. Cash bar, bellydancing, buffet food, and stories from toastmaster Ed Bryant, plus a chance to meet the cool people who participate in TusCon.

Saturday, October 31

  • 4-5pm – Mass Autographing – Copper Ballroom. Come get your wares autographed by all the cool TusCon authors.
  • 5-6pm – How to stretch the reader’s mind without breaking the suspension of disbelief – St. Augustine. Where is the line between being crazy and unbelievable? Just how much strange stuff can you throw at your audience before they check out? Is there real stuff that’s so far out you can’t actually put it in a story? On the panel with me are Jill Knowles, Rick Cook, J.L. Doty, and T.M. Williams.
  • 7:30pm-11pm – Marty and Dave’s Birthday/Halloween Party – TBA. Marty Massoglia and David Lee Summers celebrate their respective birthdays a couple of weeks early at their annual room party. Stop by for snacks and good conversation. If I haven’t announced it here, look for Marty or me at the convention and we’ll be able to tell you what room we’ll be in!

Sunday, November 1

  • 10-11am – What happened to our 21st Century? – Copper Ballroom. We were going to have flying cars, and rocket planes, and colonies and all this cool stuff. Unless you were into cyberpunk in which case we were going to have mass homelessness, rebreather and computers in our eye. So why are we living like none of the above? On the panel with me are Earl Billick, Codi Dolenac, and Eric Flint.
  • 1-2pm – Fen as Family – St. Augustine. How do chronically anti-social loners gain geek friends that stay with them for life, or is that just a myth? Do we really pull together in times of trouble? Has this dynamic changed since we took over pop culture and are no longer the insular group we used to be? On the panel with me are Gloria McMillan, Wolf Forrest, Bruce Wiley, and Liz Danforth.

MileHiCon 47


From October 23-25, I will be at MileHiCon 47 in Denver, Colorado. The convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center at 7800 E. Tufts Avenue. The author guests of honor are Kevin Hearne and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The artist guest of honor is Ursula Vernon and the Toastmaster is James Van Pelt. My schedule is as follows:

Friday, October 23

  • 8-9pm – Autograph Alley – Atrium. Presuming I make it to Denver in time, I will be available at autograph alley along with my books! You’ll also find many of the other authors represented. Be sure to drop by and learn about their books!

Saturday, October 24

  • Noon-1pm – 19th Century Martians – Wind River A. Join David B. Riley and me as we discuss discoveries made about Mars in the nineteenth century and why people expected to find intelligent life there.
  • 2-3pm – MHC Poetry Reading – Mesa Verde A. Join Gail Barton, Stace Jonson, Deena Larson, Aaron Michael Ritchey, Angela Roquet, and me as we explore the worlds of science fictional, fantastic, and horror poetry.
  • 4-5pm – Where’s the Punk in Steampunk – Mesa Verde C. Why are most steampunk stories written around upper class characters, and how can we bring the “punk” into steampunk? I’ll be moderating this panel featuring David Boop, Jason Heller, Kronda Seibert, and Carrie Vaughn.

Sunday, October 25

  • 10-11am – Autograph Table – Atrium. In case you missed me, or I was delayed getting to MileHiCon on Friday, I do have an autograph session scheduled in the Atrium on Sunday. Who Else Books in the dealer’s room will have a selection of my books, and I’ll have a few as well, if they run out!
  • Noon-1pm – Reimagining Anime – Mesa Verde C. Classic anime such as Space Battleship Yamato, Gatchaman, Rurouni Kenshin and Space Pirate Captain Harlock have all had recent live action or CGI animated movies. How successful were they, and what anime would you like to see reimagined either as live action or rebooted for a modern audience? On the panel with me are Mike Clarke, B Edumunds, Ross Watson, and Corie Weaver.
  • 1-2pm – Flash Fiction Discussion and Reading – Wind River B. Join Lou J. Berger, David Boop, U. Vernon, and me for some flash fiction tales.
  • 2-3pm – That’s a Laugh: Why Do We Crave Humor in Fiction – Mesa Verde A. What does humor accomplish, and why do readers want it? Panelists will also share great examples of humorous writing/authors. On the panel with me are Carol Hightshoe, Betsy Dornbusch, Patrick Hester, and John E. Stith.