Astronomer’s Crypt Giveaway

I’m giving away two paperback copies of my latest novel The Astronomer’s Crypt on Goodreads. If you have an account, you can sign up for the giveaway at: If you don’t have an account, all you need to do is sign up for one—they’re free—then follow the link to enter the giveaway. You can enter the giveaway until May 1, at which point, Goodreads will pick the winners and I’ll send out the books.

The back of the book warns, “If you scare easily, don’t read this book. If you dare to read it, you’ve been warned.”

In this novel, gangsters, scientists, ghosts, and a monster from the beginning of time collide on a mountaintop during a raging storm. As you can likely tell, from this, May Day is an appropriate day to hold the drawing for this book. Wishing all those who enter the best of luck!

If you’d like to learn more about the novel, I discuss it and even share an excerpt at a brand new interview by Fiona Mcvie, which was just posted this week:

In case you missed it, the novel’s protagonist, telescope operator Mike Teter was interviewed at the Lisa Burton Radio Show Blog:

This week I had my first glimpse at the interior pages of the forthcoming anthology Straight Outta Tombstone, due for release at the beginning of July. This was my chance to review the proofs for my story, a responsibility I take seriously. I’m pleased to say that I saw no typos in my story. Of course, this doesn’t mean an eagle-eyed reader won’t spot something I missed, but it does look quite good. I did request a change to one line for clarification.

It’s exciting to be in a book alongside so many people whose work I’ve admired for years, including Jim Butcher, Kevin J. Anderson, Jody Lynn Nye, and Phil Foglio. What’s more, there are a few veterans from my anthologies and magazines on these pages including Robert E. Vardeman and Nicole Givens Kurtz. My story in the anthology pits the Scarlet Order Vampires against members of the Clockwork Legion during the historical Albert Fountain disappearance. Learn more about the anthology and pre-order it here:

Imagining a Haunted Observatory

I’m excited to have a new book out as we go into the holidays at the end of 2016. I thought it would be fun to revisit a couple of posts I wrote at the Scarlet Order Journal when I was writing The Astronomer’s Crypt that discuss the inspirations for the novel. Also, I’m giving away a Kindle copy of the novel. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to find out how to enter! The novel takes much of its inspiration from my work at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Southern Arizona. One of the telescopes I operate is the observatory’s flagship telescope, the Mayall 4-meter shown here.


Since I wrote my original post, I have heard stories that chairs in the old lounge on the so-called Utility floor could sometimes be seen to be rocking by themselves, as though occupied by ghostly inhabitants. Also, one night back in the 1990s, I once could have sworn I saw a flashlight beam from the catwalk. When I called the telescope operator on the radio though, I was assured no one was outside.

Even without these scary stories, the Mayall is eighteen stories tall. On a typical night, only three or four people inhabit the building. It’s a big space that literally moans in the wind. One night, the power went out and I had to climb the staircase in the dark, accompanied by nothing but the sound of creaking vents and the thudding of my own heart.


When it was built, the plan was for astronomers to stay in the building. Later, it was found that heating the rooms made for poor images at the telescope. So, the rooms were abandoned. They still exist, and are used for storage, but it can be a little unnerving to walk down an empty hallway that curves around the building, frozen in time from the early 1970s.


Large as the building is, there are also some rather cavernous spaces. Again, some of these spaces are used for storage. You can find computers from the 70s, 80s and 90s, plus parts from outdated instrumentation. When you walk into a space like this, is it so hard to imagine something lurking in the shadows?


The 4-meter telescope is a large, sophisticated machine. A lot of power is needed to run it, and pipes carry such fluids as water, glycol, and even oil throughout the building. There are numerous service facilities throughout the structure. Some of the spaces remind me of something from a science fiction film. What could be lurking around the corner in this photo?


The Mayall 4-meter is an amazing facility. It’s the place where the observations that led to the discovery of dark matter were made. It’s about to undergo a refit that will put it on the forefront of dark energy research. Personally, I’ve seen everything from asteroids to distant supernovae to gravitational lenses at the telescope in this building. However, on some dark and stormy nights, I’ve walked down some of these corridors and wondered if I really was alone!


The Astronomer’s Crypt is now available as an ebook at the following retailers:

In honor of the season, I’m giving away a copy of The Astronomer’s Crypt for Kindle. Click the following link to see if you’re an instant winner: .

The giveaway ends on January 6, 2017.

Favorite Heroines Giveaway Hop

Welcome to this special edition post that’s part of the Favorite Heroines Giveaway Blog Hop. I am giving away an ebook copy of my novel Lightning Wolves. Keep reading for details!

favorite heroines

My favorite heroine is Larissa Crimson, a character in my wild west steampunk novel Lightning Wolves. When we first met Larissa in the novel Owl Dance, she was a bounty hunter because in 1876, people didn’t hire women to be sheriffs or marshals and she wants to bring justice to the western frontier. The healer Fatemeh Karimi recruits her to help stop the Russian invasion of Denver. In that battle, Larissa meets an expatriate Mexican professor who calls himself Maravilla. Professor Maravilla has built owl-shaped flying machines capable of combating the Russian airships.


Although she’s good with a gun, Larissa’s real strength is her intelligence. After the Battle of Denver, she teams up with Professor Maravilla to see if science, rather than the gun could be a more effective tool for justice. When the United States Army returns to ask for Professor Maravilla’s aid again, it’s Larissa who goes with them to build the lightning wolves of the novel’s title.


As I mentioned at the top of the post, I’m giving away an ebook copy of Lightning Wolves. Don’t worry if you haven’t read Owl Dance. Lightning Wolves is designed to stand alone. In the novel, Russians have invaded the Pacific Northwest and are advancing into California. New weapons have proven ineffective or dangerously unstable and the one man who can help has disappeared into Apache Country, hunting ghosts. A healer and a former sheriff lead a band into the heart of the invasion to determine what makes the Russian forces so unstoppable while a young inventor attempts to unleash the power of the lightning wolves.

To find out why Larissa is my favorite heroine, click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. I will draw a winner first thing on June 25. Good luck!

Click the button to continue on and see other stops on the blog hop. Remember, there’s a giveaway at each stop:

Gender Identity

This week has marked the tenth anniversary of the publication of Vampires of the Scarlet Order. Vampires of the Scarlet Order I’m giving away up to five books. Be sure to visit the Scarlet Order Vampires Page for details about the Rafflecopter Giveaway. One of the things I love about the novel is that I tell the story in the voices of men and women from several different cultures. I love the interplay and diversity the novel represents.

Also, this past week, I had an interesting discussion with my college-age daughter. She pointed out that there’s a lot of peer pressure on her campus to settle on a gender and sexual identity. I’m not really surprised by this given how much these issues have been in the news lately. What I found interesting was how quantized her peers view gender and sexual identity. In short, I gather there’s a strong expectation that a person of a particular gender and sexual identity will follow a particular, strictly codified set of behaviors.

At some level, this makes perfect sense. We have certain social expectations for people based on how they identify themselves. On the other hand, it seems just a little disturbing. In my experience, there’s a complex mix of genetics, upbringing, and life experience that go into who each of us are. The result is that I have a difficult time seeing the sexual spectrum as a discrete set of identities. Rather, optical spectra blend from one color to another. I suspect there’s a similar blending and blurring between the lines in gender and sexual identification as well.

Stepping back a bit, a friend of mine raising a toddler has been dealing with the issues of boy toys and girl toys. The toy store is clearly delineated into these two sections forcing a whole lot of expectations on what makes a girl and what makes a boy. In some ways, this strict quantization of gender and sexual identity feels like a limited version of what I’m discussing. It’s just that instead of two, you now have several discrete choices. A gay male will follow one strict set of social guidelines, a heterosexual female will follow another strict set of guidelines, and so on.

Where this comes into play personally is when I hear some people talk about the expected gender roles for a heterosexual, cisgendered male. For example, I’ve read articles and heard stories that say boys like sports, rough and tumble play, and that they’re hard wired to compete and win. Thing is, I never really was into sports or rough and tumble play. I can be competitive, but it’s actually something I have to work at. I much preferred to read and make up stories as a kid. Despite all that, I think I would be dishonest if I described myself as anything but a heterosexual, cisgendered male.

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek once said we’ll be ready to go to the stars when we move beyond merely tolerating people for their differences but actually celebrating people for what makes them unique and different. Next time you meet a stranger, try not to classify them. Try to get to know what makes them unique and interesting.


Goodreads embodies one of my favorite ideas for a social network—a place to hang out on line and share books with friends and potential readers. They have a lot of nice tools to allow readers to interact with each other and for authors to interact with readers and share information about their projects.

That said, the part I find the most challenging is site’s reliance on the five-star rating system. In particular, there are many books where I’m hard pressed to apply one “grade” to the entire book. Perhaps the book embodies beautiful prose, but has flat characters. Perhaps it’s a diamond in the rough that I thoroughly enjoyed despite some grammar and spelling problems. As with any social situation, I face awkward questions of going against the norm. What if I hated a book everyone loved or even loved a book everyone hated?

I’ve finally decided the standard I’m going to use to give books ratings on Goodreads is simply my enjoyment of the book. If I had a good time or felt enriched from reading it, I’ll likely give it five stars. If the book tempted me to throw it across the room in frustration, I’ll likely give it one or two. This may seem an extremely simple approach and you may wonder why it too me so long to come to this conclusion, but it goes back to that whole awkward social interaction thing. It’s easy to get caught up in questions of what people think of your opinions. In this case, I’ve simply found a standard that allows me to explain why I’ve given a book a particular rating—and it’s a standard that’s fun for me.


Of course another daunting element of all this is that I get to see what ratings people give my books. I do my best to adopt an attitude I first heard articulated by my friend Janni Lee Simner. I avoid trolling Goodreads for reviews and hope readers see it as a place where they can freely rate and discuss my books as they choose. I do look at the reviews from time to time and consider the comments good and bad, but I’ve also learned not to obsess over them. In fact, I’ve learned that most of my favorite authors have an average rating of about 3.5 give or take. Some readers love them, some hate them, a few are kind of neutral.


This month, I’m giving away two of my books on Goodreads. I’m giving away five copies of my wild west steampunk adventure novel Lightning Wolves at and I’m giving away five copies of my novel of vampire mercenaries, Dragon’s Fall at If you’re a Goodreads member, I hope you’ll enter to win! If you do win, I hope you’ll take time to review the book. Whether you liked it or hated it, a review shows you cared about the book and in the end, that’s what really matters.

The Clockwork Legion Rides Forth

Over the course of the novel Owl Dance, a group of people come together to solve a crisis. There’s Ramon Morales, former sheriff of Socorro with his sharp eye and fast draw. There’s Fatemeh Karimi, a healer who seems to have the uncanny ability to talk to owls. There’s the inventor, M.K. Maravilla, who uses his clockwork creations to understand the natural world. There’s the engineer turned pirate, Onofre Cisneros, and the bounty hunter, Larissa Crimson. I’ve come to think of these people collectively as the Clockwork Legion.

When I wrote Owl Dance, I envisioned it as a standalone novel. Even so, there are threads that could be followed for more stories in this world. To me, this isn’t sequel baiting, it’s just the way life is. Episodes in life don’t always come to a nice, neat close. Aspects have a way of coming back in new and different ways. It’s one of the things I really enjoy about life.

Although open to a sequel, I wasn’t really prepared for something that happened at MileHiCon in Denver. My friend Maggie Bonham, who owns Skywarrior Publishing, picked up a copy of Owl Dance. (OK, I led her over to the dealer’s table where they were selling it and practically begged her to buy a copy…) The next day, after reading a portion of the book, she came up to me and told me how good she thought it was. Moreover, she asked if I’d considered writing a series of books in this world. I told her it wasn’t out of the question.

Fast forward to the weekend before Halloween. A contract arrives in my email for three books in the Clockwork Legion series. After some emails and some time on the phone, it looks like we have ourselves a deal and a series of books featuring the Clockwork Legion will be forthcoming. I have a rough plan and will be outlining like mad in the coming weeks. That’ll be followed by a busy year of writing in 2012.

In the meantime, there’s still plenty of time to read Owl Dance and learn about the Clockwork Legion for yourself. You can find a list of retailers on the book page of my website at Also, I’m giving away a copy of Owl Dance on Goodreads. The winner will be selected on November 15. You can enter to win at:

What’s more, while I was on the phone with Maggie, my wife handed me an envelope. Inside was a signed contract from Cemetery Dance magazine for my story “The Vrykolakas and the Cobbler’s Wife.” Last I’d spoken to Brian Freeman, the story was scheduled for issue 66 of the magazine. From the Cemetery Dance website, I see they’re just about to release issue 65, so it sounds promising that my story should be in the next issue out of the chute.