After Punk

I had a great signing yesterday at Boutique du Vampyre in New Orleans. For those who missed the event, I left behind some signed books which can be bought through their website. Tonight, in Baltimore, eSpec Books will be unveiling a cool new anthology that features my story “The Sun Worshiper.” Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend, but I would encourage anyone in the Baltimore area to go check out the release party tonight at Balticon. Click the link for more information about the convention. Meanwhile, allow me to tell you more about After Punk and my story.

While mankind can scarce hope to pierce the Veil without crossing it, a few intrepid souls will ever bend their will against the aether, combining artifice and the arcane to uncover its secrets.

From voodoo death cults to the Day of the Dead, mummy parties, the wheel of reincarnation, the practice of death portraits, and so much more, these tales leave no gravestone unturned.

Be it heaven or hell or the limbo in between, the hereafter is about to get ‘Punked.

With stories by Jody Lynn Nye, David Sherman, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, James Chambers, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jeffrey Lyman, Bernie Mojzes, Travis I. Sivart, Jeff Young, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and yours truly.

My story, “The Sun Worshiper,” is about a spiritualist named Dinela Stanton who is invited to a mummy unwrapping party in London hosted by a prominent scientist. When she arrives, she finds all her fellow guests are scientists who have denounced her as a fraud. To make matters worse, it would appear that the scientist who invited Dinela is attempting to perpetrate a deception of his own.

The story was born from two sources. When I was in elementary school, I had the opportunity to see the Tutankhamen exhibit as it toured the United States. I was captivated, as were many, with all the wealth and beautifully preserved items found in the king’s tomb. Of course, as a young boy, I was both creeped out and fascinated by things like canopic jars and mummified cats.

I’m also intrigued by the Victorian obsession with séances and attempting to contact the spirit world. While studying the paranormal and the scientific method in college, I learned how many spiritualists managed to fool people. Despite that, I sometimes find myself wondering what would happen if a real spiritualist would come along and demonstrate real ability to the most ardent skeptics. To my mind, a true spiritualist wouldn’t help but be captivated by the idea of contacting the spirit of an ancient Egyptian mummy, and might even stick around in the face of her detractors.

After Punk is available in paperback and ebook at:

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Meeting Old Friends for the First Time

This weekend, I’m sorry I’m missing Phoenix Comicon, an event I’ve enjoyed attending as an author for the last few years. My schedule at the observatory just didn’t allow it to happen. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to return next year. However, I am grateful my schedule allowed me to attend Balticon 50 in Baltimore, Maryland last weekend. Balticon was special for me because I’d worked with several of the attending authors and editors over the years, but this was the first opportunity I’d had to meet them face to face!

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Ostensibly, the reason I went to Balticon was for the release of the anthology Gaslight and Grimm edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine. Indeed, just about the first thing that happened upon my arrival at Balticon was a wonderful, warm welcome from Danielle, promptly followed by instructions to sit down and sign 150 copies of the anthology. Dani’s husband Mike and author Chris Hiles helped by pulling out boxes and handing them to me one by one until we got the job done. It was a fun way to start the convention and made me grateful for my arthritis being in remission!

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My first official event was a pirate reading on Saturday night. I joined Jack Campbell, Laura Nicole and Misty Massey to read selections from our pirate stories. I shared the story “Calamari Rodeo” which features Captain Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy. The story is scheduled to appear in the Hadrosaur Productions anthology Kepler’s Cowboys. Writers can read the guidelines to learn how to submit. Readers can stay up to date about the anthology by following this blog or by signing up for my mailing list. Of course, you can read about Captain Firebrandt’s later adventures in The Pirates of Sufiro, available for free from my publisher. Not only were there fine readings, but there were prizes and even rum! These little touches made for a memorable evening.

The next day, I was on a panel discussing mistakes beginning writers make. On the panel with me were Mike McPhail, Chris Hiles, and Michael Ventralla. Among the mistakes we discussed included being paranoid about editors stealing your idea, falling for writing scams (remember money flows to the writer not from the writer!), and standing out to editors in bad ways. Examples of that last include sending your submission in such a way that it forces the editor to stand in a long post office line to pick it up, sending it on perfumed paper, or emailing it in a format the editor can’t work with.

As I mentioned at the outset, a real thrill of Balticon was getting to meet people I’ve worked with over the years. This includes Danielle Ackley-McPhail who I published in Space Pirates, Space Horrors, and Tales of the Talisman. I also got to meet Christine Norris, whose Talisman of Zandria I edited for LBF Books and Patrick Thomas who appeared in Space Horrors and whose “Dear Cthulhu” column ran in Tales of the Talisman. Patrick also recommended me for the anthology Apocalypse 13. All of these were people I’d only really worked with via email or in internet chat sessions, so it was wonderful to finally meet them in person and not only better cement our business relationship, but now honestly think of them as friends.

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Of course, the reason I was invited to Baltimore was to be on hand for the release of Gaslight and Grimm. Here you see with me with most the authors of eSpec books at the release party. I’m wearing a very nice clockwork dragon scarf my wife knitted for me. The party was great with good food, a raffle for great prizes and good conversation. At the party, I got to meet another Tales of the Talisman contributor, Vonnie Winslow Crist, which was a real treat.

Although I didn’t have any events scheduled on Monday of the convention, I did stay around and spent time in the dealer’s room. I had pleasant conversations with Ian Randal Strock of Fantastic Books, who published Uncle River’s collection The Mogollon News, which features a photograph I took on the cover.

Before I wrap things up, I have to give a shout-out to two friends I knew before attending Balticon. I met Missy Gunnels Katano through my friends Marsheila Rockwell and Gini Koch. Missy graciously met me at the airport and took me to the convention. Nicki Fatherly, who once lived down the hall from me in college, kindly shuttled me around during the convention. They did a lot to make my first Balticon all the more fun by keeping it very stress free.

I hope I’ll get a chance to return to Baltimore before too many more years go by. In the meantime, I look forward to keeping you posted about the ongoing collaborations with many of the fine folks I finally met in person at Balticon.

Balticon 50

This weekend I’m at Balticon 50, which is being held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. This is especially exciting, since it’s my first convention on the East Coast and I’ll finally get the opportunity to meet several people I’ve corresponded and worked with over the years including Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Christine Norris, and Patrick Thomas. As the name implies, this marks Balticon’s 50th anniversary and the guest of honor is none other than George R.R. Martin. Not only that, many past guests of honor will be attending including Jody Lynn Nye, Kaja and Phil Foglio, John Varley, Larry Niven and more. You can learn more by visiting the Balticon 50 Website.

Here’s my schedule:

Saturday, May 28

8:30-9:50pm – Tortuga Readings – Pride of Baltimore. Authors will present their short stories of the high seas and those daring opportunists that call the ocean blue their home. Costumes are encouraged for a special prize from the authors. I’ll be sharing a reading from my Captain Firebrandt adventures. Reading with me are: Laura Nicole, Alan Spencer, Jack Campbell, and Misty Massey.

Sunday, May 29

9:30-10:20am – Finding Balance (Tentative) – Pride of Baltimore. Do you wear more than one literary hat? Having trouble divvying your time between your editing duties and your need to write? The Pros share their tips on how to do it all. I’ve labeled this as “Tentative” because I’m listed on this panel on one schedule, but not on the other. Since I don’t have any apparent conflicts, I’m planning to at least be in the audience, so it’ll be a place you can find me.

11:00-11:50am – The Biggest Mistakes by Beginning Writers – Parlor 9059. The panel will discuss (from a reader’s point of view) not only writing mistakes but also promotional mistakes: How writers have screwed themselves over and killed their chances of making it in the publishing world after doing easily preventable things! On the panel with me are Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Michael Ventrella, David Wood, and Christine Rake.

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7:00-9:00pm – Gaslight and Grimm Launch Party – MD Salon B. Help us celebrate the launch of Gaslight and Grimm. Kirkus Reviews says, “in this tasty short fiction anthology, the editors have combined two appealing genres into something greater than the sum of its parts.” Most of the contributors to the anthology will be on hand including Jody Lynn Nye, Gail Z. Martin, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Christine Norris, Jean Marie Ward, Jeff Young and more. Come hang out with the authors and editors, eat great food (and my mouth has been watering watching the planned items on Facebook!), and win awesome door prizes, including one of my wife’s hand-crocheted airships!

Just a note, the official convention schedule shows me at an autographing from 1:30pm to 2:20pm on Saturday. Unfortunately, my plane isn’t scheduled to land until 3:05pm That said, when I’m not on a panel, there’s a very good chance you can find me in the dealer’s room at the eSpec Books table. They’re the publishers of Gaslight and Grimm and many of my novels will be available for sale there. I’ll be more than happy to sign for you anytime you see me. Looking forward to making lots of new friends in Baltimore!

Forgotten Tales of the Weird West

Next weekend, I’ll be at Balticon 50 in Baltimore for the release of Gaslight and Grimm! I’m looking forward to that. As of this writing, I haven’t yet seen my full schedule, but for those in Baltimore, the release party will be Sunday, May 29 from 7pm to 9pm.

This week marks the release of another book featuring a steampunk story. The book is Lost Trails 2: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West and includes a story where members of the Clockwork Legion encounter a Lovecraftian horror from another world. Here’s the blurb for the book:

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    If you’ve gained your knowledge of the Wild West from Hollywood and history textbooks, your mage of the Western frontier is simple and clear: White men winning the West and saving helpless white future wives from outlaws or hostile Indians or Mexican bandidos.

    You won’t find that here.

    Here you’ll find: U.S. Marshal Frederick Douglass fighting invaders from outer space. A Navajo girl who must thwart the god who threatens all she holds dear. A Hasidic high planes drifter who faces New World bandits and Old Testament demons. A Catholic priest who contends with a magic-wielding half-breed—or is she an indigenous spirit?—as the fate of the Canadian Métis province of Assiniboia hangs in the balance. Outcast women who enter the Southwestern desert to die…or win their lady loves and great mecha steeds. A lost gunman who may find himself in a Chinese gold miner’s maze of mist and magic. Roving spirits and Civil War survivors and runaway factory slaves losing or finding family or love in uncanny new guises. Hoboes robbing a train of myth and dream. An Eastern city slicker who may outsmart only himself in a contest with Old West magic. A black homesteader who fights fae in defense of land and family. A werewolf-hunting frontier shapeshifter shattering every expectation. Steampunk airships that may unite West and East—or leave them forever apart. The ascendant Aztec facing endless destruction if the god of war triumphs. The South rising again at the Alamo—if it can gain eerie otherworldly assistance.

    This anthology, like its predecessor, Lost Trails: Volume One, exists to recognize and celebrate the diverse realities of the historical West with excellent and entertaining Weird West stories.

    Welcome to the Weird West more realistic than many a mundane Western!

The anthology features stories by: Rie Sheridan Rose, Tobias S. Buckell, Ken Liu, Don Webb, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Rebecca McFarland Kyle, Gemma Files, Ernest Hogan, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Aliette de Bodard and many more.

In my story, Marshal Larissa Seaton, Professor Maravilla, and Billy McCarty travel to San Antonio to track down the inventor of the lightning gun who has teamed up with a Confederate Major who wants the South to rise again and will seek the help of frightening forces from other worlds to make it happen! I actually wrote the first version of this story several years ago. When I went to the World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio in 2013, I finally had the opportunity to visit the Alamo. I was pleased to see I got the details of the location right for my story, but I did do a rewrite and of course editor Cynthia Ward did an amazing job helping me to polish the story to a true shine.

Lost Trails 2: Forgotten Trails of the Weird West is available at:

Note: Although this is volume 2, the stories stand on their own and volume 1 is not required reading, however it is recommended just because it also has good stories. Volume 1 is also available at Amazon and Smashwords.