Peering Into Distorted Mirrors

The first time I encountered the idea of parallel worlds — where you might encounter familiar faces existing in an altered reality — was the classic Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror,” written by Jerome Bixby. The episode imagines Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura entering an alternate version of their world where a totalitarian Imperial Earth controls the galaxy instead of a benevolent Federation of Planets. Crewmembers move up in rank by assassinating superior officers and starships are sent to dominate worlds. To me, and I believe many other fans as well, it stands out as one of the more memorable episodes. Despite that, Star Trek would not revisit the “mirror universe” again until Deep Space Nine. At that time, we learn that Spock of the mirror universe attempted to affect changes to the Earth Empire, which, in turn, made the empire weak and allowed the Klingons and Cardassians to take over much of the galaxy. Of course, one wonders what the Mirror Universe equivalents of Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D were doing during this time.

Mirror Universe Collection

IDW Comics decided to explore this idea in a set of comic book miniseries which have been collected in the graphic novel Star Trek: The Next Generation, Mirror Universe Collection. The graphic novel contains three complete story arcs. The first, “Mirror Broken,” tells the story of how the mirror universe Jean-Luc Picard took command of his version of the Enterprise. This story features beautiful painted artwork by J.M. Woodward and is possibly the best artwork I’ve seen in a Star Trek comic. The story by David & Scott Tipton does a nice job of weaving a Next Generation story out of our glimpses of the mirror universe from the TV series. The second arc is “Through the Mirror” which imagines the mirror universe Picard and his crew finding a way into our universe to plunder technology and resources. Of course the Picard of our universe must do what he can to thwart the mirror Picard. The final story arc is “Terra Incognita” in which the mirror universe engineer Reginald Barclay is stranded in our universe and must find a way to blend in. This proved to be my favorite story since it focused on one character, how he was the same and different from his counterpart in “our” universe and how he had to learn to fit in to survive and thrive.

The graphic novel also contains two one-shot stories: “Origin of Data” and “Ripe for Plunder.” Both stories were interesting. The latter involves the mirror universe Data seeking out the deposed Emperor Spock in exile. The idea was interesting, but I thought the tale deserved more nuance than a one-shot story allowed.

To me, the appeal of parallel universe stories is that they allow us to explore “the road not traveled.” We can look back at history and ask what if historical figures made different choices than they did in the history we know? This is what I do in my Clockwork Legion novels. Such alternate universes don’t have to be “dark” universes like the one presented in Star Trek’s mirror universe. They can be an exploration of human drives under different conditions. They can provide for a fun character study. Although I have issues with Star Trek: Into Darkness, I still love the idea of exploring the Enterprise’s encounter with Khan Noonien Singh under different circumstances than we knew in the original series.

In an interesting piece of real-world alternate history, I gather Jerome Bixby and his son Emerson wrote a sequel to “Mirror, Mirror” called “Broken Mirror” for Star Trek: The Next Generation. This version was written before Deep Space Nine’s creation and imagined Spock from the mirror universe discovering a problem which developed when Captain Kirk and his landing party returned to their home universe many years before. Apparently matter from the two universes would have been leaking into one another creating a disaster about to happen, which required crews from both universes to work together. I would love to see this story adapted or even a published version of the screenplay.

Dark alternate universes provide an interesting approach to the cautionary tale. “Mirror, Mirror” and its sequels give us a look at what our future might be like if we give into our darker, more totalitarian natures. After all, there’s no guarantee the Star Trek universe is ours. We could be living inside the mirror.

You can explore my alternate version of the late 1800s by reading the Clockwork Legion series, which is available at: http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion

Celebrating Moms

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the moms who appear in my fiction. In a very real way, I owe my start as a novelist to my mom. In 1993, I read The Magic Journey by John Nichols. One of the characters was a woman who grew up in a small New Mexico town, but left to make her own life elsewhere. Elements of the story reminded me of the stories my mom told about growing up on a homestead near Raton, New Mexico and moving out to California with her cousin in the 1940s. The confluence of ideas made me think I could tell a generational story set on an alien world. That story became The Pirates of Sufiro.

The Pirates of Sufiro

As it turns out, there are several moms throughout the Space Pirates’ Legacy series. Suki Mori’s mom appears in Firebrandt’s Legacy and storms off to Epsilon Indi 2 to rescue her daughter from a crime boss. The Pirates of Sufiro opens with Ellison Firebrandt’s mother appearing for the first time in years. She’s on a quest to end piracy and while she could have taken him off to trial and possible prison time, she chooses to maroon him in space with just enough fuel to reach an uninhabited planet where he can make a home. Once they reach Sufiro, Suki becomes a mom. Her arc echoes my grandmother’s story. Like my grandmother, Suki was portrayed as a strong woman who helped build a homestead, but sadly died far too young. Despite that, Suki’s daughter Fire grows up to become a historian and also raises a son. Fire continues as an integral character in Children of the Old Stars and Heirs of the New Earth. You can learn more about the Space Pirates’ Legacy books at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#pirate_legacy

Vampires of the Scarlet Order

As a parent, one of the scariest things to imagine is harm coming to one of our children. For most of us, the last thing we can imagine is deliberately hurting one of our children. This is one reason the legend of La Llorona here in the Southwestern United States is so terrifying. It tells the story of a mother who drowns her own children, then immediately regrets it and drowns herself. The legend inspired the vampire Mercy in my Scarlet Order vampire novels. In this case, Mercy fed on her children when she became a vampire. In an attempt to make peace with her conscience, she becomes a mentor to two younger vampires. I’m planning to explore Mercy’s character more in the third Scarlet Order novel, which I’ve been working on. You can learn more about the Scarlet Order vampire novels at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order

Owl Dance

Three moms make prominent appearances in the Clockwork Legion novels. The first is Ramon’s mom, Sofia Morales who appears at the end of Owl Dance and the beginning of Lightning Wolves. Ramon inherits his wisdom and compassion from her. Later, in Owl Riders, once Fatemeh Karimi has married Ramon, she becomes mom to a precocious daughter named Alethea. Among other things, Fatemeh passes along her ability to listen to owls and understand what their verbal and nonverbal communications mean. In the final act of Owl Riders, we meet Fatemeh’s mom in Persia and learn where Fatemeh gained many of her healing gifts. I’m in the process of proofreading the new edition of Owl Riders and have been enjoying spending time with Fatemeh and her family again. You can learn more about the Clockwork Legion novels at http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion

The Astronomer’s Crypt

Even my horror novel, The Astronomer’s Crypt has a mom. Astronomer Dr. Bethany Teter is a mom-to-be. She’ll do everything she can to protect her unborn child, which is a challenge when the storm of the century blows up on the mountain where she’s observing, drug traffickers arrive, and a monster from the dawn of time appears. She does a good job looking out for herself, but she also has allies in her husband and a friendly ghost who watches out for the mountain’s astronomers. You can learn more about the novel and watch a short film based on the novel at: http://davidleesummers.com/Astronomers-Crypt.html

Since this is the day before Mother’s Day, I suspect you already have any gifts for the moms in your life. However, I’m sure many moms out there would love more ebooks on their readers. Following the links will tell you how to find them. I hope you’re able to celebrate Mother’s Day with a special mom. I’ll be celebrating with my wife and remembering my mom.

El Paso Comic Con 2022

This weekend, April 22-24, I will be a participant and a vendor at El Paso Comic Con. This year, El Paso Comic Con is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Featured guests at the convention include William Shatner, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, and anime voice actors Mike McFarland, Monica Rial, and Austin Tindle. Comic book artists Renee Witterstaetter, Michael Golden and Sam de la Rosa will also be on hand. The convention will be held at the El Paso Convention Center in downtown El Paso, Texas. You can get all the details at https://www.elpasocomiccon.com

I will be exhibiting the books I’ve written, edited, or have stories in at booth A15 in the exhibitor hall. Author Tamsin Silver will be joining me at my booth. I have two new books I was proud to edit and publish since last fall’s El Paso Comic Con. One is The Way-Out Wild West by Lyn McConchie. The other is Hybrid: Forced Vengeance by Greg Ballan. I also have the new editions of my first three Clockwork Legion novels Owl Dance, Lightning Wolves, and The Brazen Shark. Of course, since this is a comic con, I will have plenty of copies of my comic Guinevere and the Stranger on hand. I’m always happy to sign books you buy from me.

Tamsin and I will also be presenting some panels discussing our writing experiences at the convention. It’s possible we’ll add some other attending authors to our panel lineup as well. Here’s our schedule:

Saturday, April 23

1:00-1:45pm in the El Paso Panel Room. Researching Your Fiction. Fiction is making stuff up, but it still involves knowledge of the tools the characters use, the settings they visit, and the types of people they’ll meet in those settings. Tamsin and I will discuss how to do the research that makes your fiction feel realistic to readers.

3:00-3:45pm in the El Paso Panel Room. Getting to Know the Characters in Your Head. Tamsin and I will discuss how to breathe life into characters you’re writing no matter how far from your own experience they may be.

Sunday, April 24

4:00-4:45pm in the El Paso Panel Room. From Weird Westerns to Space Opera. Tamsin and I talk about their experience writing westerns, horror, science fiction and fantasy and how they’re the same and different.

A Master of Djinn

I have been a steampunk fan since before I knew the subgenre existed. For that matter, I’ve been writing in the subgenre before I knew it existed. My first steampunk story, “The Slayers,” was published in Realms of Fantasy Magazine in 2001 and I didn’t really become aware of the genre until the release of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker in 2009. My love of steampunk stems from looking at history and asking “what if” questions. When I was growing up, it seemed like the only fantasy stories available were set in a world that felt like medieval Europe. So I loved the idea of fantasy and alternate historical science fiction that opened up the time periods where these stories could be set. There seems an expectation that “steampunk” must be associated with Victorian England, but again because I came at these kinds of stories from sources like The Wild Wild West and Jules Verne’s Voyages extraordinaires, I never really saw England as a necessary component. I’m always delighted when a steampunk or fantasy tale takes me someplace I’ve never been.

A Master of Djinn

Over the last few years, I’ve been delighted by the novellas of P. Djèlí Clark. The first I read was The Black God’s Drums set in post-Civil War New Orleans about a young woman who wants to escape the streets by earning the trust of an airship pirate crew. She thinks the key might be some information she’s gained about a Haitian scientist. Fortunately, the young woman, Creeper, can also manipulate the weather. As far as I’m concerned Clark told another amazing tale in The Haunting of Tram Car 015, which is set in 1912 Cairo. In the story, agents Hamed Nasr and Onsi Youssef of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities are tasked with removing a malevolent supernatural entity from an aerial tram car.

I was delighted to see that Professor Clark returned to his alternate Cairo in a full length novel, A Master of Djinn. Although Hamed and Onsi appear in the novel, they aren’t the point of view characters. This time, we meet Fatma el-Sha’arawi, a woman working for the same ministry. The novel is basically murder mystery. Someone has killed every member of a brotherhood dedicated to al-Jahiz, who opened the veil to the magical realm allowing djinn to return to our world. The murderer claims to be al-Jahiz returned and he threatens to start a popular uprising. Agent Fatma must get to the bottom of who this person is before he disrupts an important peace conference being set up in Cairo.

A Master of Djinn proved a fun, fast-paced tale with some fascinating glimpses at North African, Islamic culture. Tucked in the narrative is a little background on the 1001 Arabian Nights, which I enjoyed, especially after some of my own research for a story I wrote called “Horse Feathers,” which I hope to say more about soon. While waiting for that, you can explore my steampunk world, which starts in the American West of 1877 and finds its way to Mexico, Japan, Russia, and Iran. You can get more details about the Clockwork Legion series at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion

Wrangling Brazen Sharks

The Brazen Shark

Last year, I announced that I’m updating and releasing new editions of my Clockwork Legion novels. Today, I’m proud to announce the release of the second edition of book three: The Brazen Shark. This novel picks up right where book two left off. Ramon and Fatemeh have just married and their friend, a one-time pirate captain Onofre Cisneros, has swept them off for a romantic honeymoon in the South Pacific. However, once they reach Hawaii, a British agent makes Cisneros an offer he can’t refuse and the captain must travel to Japan. Wanting to see more of the world, Ramon and Fatemeh ask to accompany the captain only to find themselves embroiled in a plot by samurai who steal a Russian airship, hoping to overthrow the Japanese emperor.

Of all the Clockwork Legion novels, this was arguably the most challenging one to write. Whereas the first two novels were set in locations I know well, this one is set largely in Japan and Russia. I had to do quite a bit of research to make sure the culture and settings felt right. I had several beta readers who knew the novel’s places and cultures. They helped me check my research and my assumptions. In the end, I was pleased with the result. Robert E. Vardeman, a Hugo-nominated author and recipient of the Western Fictioneer’s Lifetime Achievement Award wrote the following: “Airships battling! Samurai fomenting war with Russia! Historical characters and powerfully drawn fictional ones mixing it up with political intrigues make David Lee Summers’ The Brazen Shark a steampunk novel not to be missed. Put it at the top of your reading list. Now!”

Although this is book three in the series, I did strive to write this so it could stand alone. In fact, Robert E. Vardeman wrote his review blurb based on this book alone. He hadn’t read any of the earlier novels. So, if a story about a one-time New Mexico sheriff and a Persian healer teaming up with one history’s greatest chemists to combat samurai air pirates sounds like a fun ride, you can jump right in. That said, you can learn more about the series at: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion

The chemist of the story is Dmitri Mendeleev, best known for his work developing the Periodic Table of the Elements. Historically, Mendeleev did dabble in airship design and, in fact, went up in a hot air balloon to observe the solar eclipse of 1887. In the Clockwork Legion series, he’s responsible for designing the Russian airships. Other historical figures who appear in the novel include Katsu Kaishu and Okubo Toshimichi who were important figures in Japan’s Meiji restoration. What’s more Katsu Kaishu was a naval engineer, so the novel’s steampunked alternate history allowed me to imagine him unleashing an array of innovations on the world, including the mechanical man on the novel’s cover.

The Brazen Shark is available as follows:

When Steampunks Discover Black

“Steampunks are Goths who discovered brown,” is a quote attributed to author Jess Nevins that was popularized by Cherie Priest. The quote holds at least a little truth from my personal perspective. I started writing short vampire fiction in 2000 and then published my first vampire novel in 2005. Although I wrote and published my first steampunk story in 2001, I really didn’t really appreciate it as a subgenre separate from historical fantasy until I was introduced to Cherie Priest’s novel Boneshaker in 2009. I was delighted to meet Ms. Priest at the very first Wild Wild West Con in 2011 just before my first steampunk novel Owl Dance was published.

Bloodshot by Cherie Priest

Although Cherie Priest is well known for her steampunk work, I knew she’d also written Gothic fiction, including vampire fiction. Her novel Bloodshot was published in 2011, the same year I met her at Wild Wild West Con. Given my interest in returning to my Scarlet Order vampire series and given that this week, I’ve been proofreading the new edition of my steampunk novel The Brazen Shark, I thought it would be fun to take a look at Bloodshot.

Bloodshot is a mystery thriller that tells the story of a vampire thief named Raylene Pendle who is hired by a blind vampire named Ian Stott to find and steal records that should help a doctor restore some, if not all, of his sight. The military had captured Ian and experimented on him and other vampires to find ways to develop biotechnologies that could improve the fighting skills of soldiers. Right after her first meeting with Ian, someone breaks into Raylene’s warehouse in Seattle where she keeps the stolen goods which didn’t find a home. Soon after that, she manages to open some top secret documents, which trigger the government to come hunt her down.

Raylene makes her way to a facility in Minnesota where records are literally put on ice. She breaks in and gets a lead that sends her to Atlanta, but not before she attracts even more unwelcome attention from the government. Soon, she’s working with a drag queen whose sister was a vampire in the program with Ian and wants to get to the bottom of who ran the program so he can shut them down. There’s a lot of great action along the way. Raylene is the story’s narrator and she presents herself as a loner, but reveals herself to be a little lonely and someone who cares for the other people in her life, including the homeless kids Pepper and Domino who have made a home in her warehouse.

I’ve often found it interesting how two different authors can develop similar ideas in parallel without being aware of the others’ work. Clearly Cherie Priest and I share a number of common interests and I think it’s interesting that we both wrote about a government program existing to investigate and adapt vampire abilities to soldiers. We also both explore the idea of a vampire thief. Still, there are distinct differences. In Bloodshot, it’s not clear the program actually accomplished much through its experiments. In Vampires of the Scarlet Order, the government did create a kind of vampiric soldier to horrific results. Cherie Priest told her story in first person. I used an epistolary narrative, which allowed me to retain first person intimacy, but explore multiple points of view. Bloodshot and Vampires of the Scarlet Order are by no means copies of one another, but it’s interesting that our related interests led us to explore a few similar ideas in our own unique ways. So now, I need to move on and read Bloodshot’s sequel, Hellbent.

You can learn about my Scarlet Order vampire novels at http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order. If you’d like to get some sneak peeks at the new book as it develops, if you just like this blog and appreciate its ad-free experience, or if you’d like the ebook of The Brazen Shark as a bonus when it’s finished, please consider supporting my Patreon at: https://www.patreon.com/davidleesummers

The Tyrant of Mongo

Today, I’m at Wild Wild West Con in Tucson, Arizona. At 3pm today, I’ll be on the “Authors of Steampunk” panel and at 11am tomorrow, I’ll be discussing the Oz novels of L. Frank Baum and related media in a panel called “Oz: A Literary Perspective.” When I’m not at those panels, you’ll be able to find me at my dealer’s table in the vendor hall. If you’re around the convention at all this weekend, please make sure to stop by and say “hello.” It seems fitting to have a post about the original Flash Gordon comics during Wild Wild West Con since I met Sam J. Jones who played Flash in the 1980 movie at the convention five years ago and I still love these comics as a wonderful piece of retrofuturism, which is one of the things Steampunk represents.

Flash Gordon: The Tyrant of Mongo

Back in January, when taking my youngest child back to college for the spring semester, we went shopping for supplies at a nearby big box store. I happened to notice two lovely action figures. One was Flash Gordon and the other was Ming the Merciless, both modeled on the characters as they appeared in the 1979 animated series produced by Filmation. As an action figure fan, I was tempted to add these to my collection, but the price tag was enough to give me pause. I thought about it and decided that what I wanted more than a couple of action figures was to read more of Alex Raymond’s original comic strips from the 1930s and 1940s. Unfortunately, I discovered that the earliest volumes of Titan Books’ wonderful Flash Gordon series had gone out of print. After searching a few online bookstores, I finally found the second volume for a price that wasn’t much more than the cover price.

As I expected, the book was a lot of fun. The original Flash Gordon comics appeared in Sunday newspapers and this second volume collects strips from 1937 through 1941. It did give me pause to realize there had been less time between the original publication to my birth than from my birth to today! The comics open with Flash at the residence of Prince Barin of Arborea. The prince has recently married Princess Aura, daughter of Ming the Merciless. A traitor in the Prince’s house tries to steal Aura and Barin’s newborn son, which leads Flash and Barin onto a harrowing rescue mission. Flash’s adventures take him to Mongo’s frozen north where he’s captured by Queen Fria of Friggia and finally into the bowels of Ming’s capital city. All the way, Flash battles giant monsters and slimy traitors while finding friends and no shortage of women who find him irresistible, all to the irritation of Gordon’s companion, Dale Arden.

What I found most interesting reading this book after reading other comics in recent months was the lack of word balloons. They occasionally appear, but most of the time, the story is told in narration panels and dialogue is narrated as it would be in prose. The upshot was that my wife and I had fun sharing the comic because I could simply read it to her while she worked on her crochet. As with volume 1, “On the Planet Mongo,” the real highlight is Alex Raymond’s highly detailed and beautiful artwork. In a very real way, Flash Gordon is less a space story and more an adventure in an exotic foreign land, where people just happen to use ray guns, talk to each other on video phones and occasionally use rocket ships to get around. One thing I liked was that although Dale Arden sometimes falls into the trope of being a femme fatale, she often shows strong will and a lot of competence. She builds things, provides first aid, rescues people, and fires weapons right alongside a lot of the men in the strip. As a writer, perhaps the most interesting thing to see was how well Raymond handled the weekly cliffhanger. When I reached the end of one strip, he made me want to keep going, even though these were meant to be read with a week between each strip.

I loved Titan Comics’ presentation of these strips. The colors are crisp and they were printed at an easy-to-read size. If you can’t find a used copy of this edition, Checker Books also collected the early comics and they seem to be a little more readily available.


If you enjoy my posts, please take a moment to learn about my novels at http://www.davidleesummers.com or consider supporting me on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/davidleesummers so that I can maintain an ad-free experience here at the Web Journal. When supporting me at Patreon, you’ll also get a behind-the-scenes look at my creative process.

War of the Worlds: Infestation

While reading and enjoying Caliber’s Oz comics a few days ago, an ad for another comic series from Caliber caught my eye. This new comic book appeared to be inspired by the H.G. Wells novel, The War of the Worlds. I was especially captivated by the cover, shown here, which depicted Martian tripods in the Mississippi, near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. A quick online search revealed this to be War of the Worlds: Infestation written by Randy Zimmerman, with art by Horus Odenthal. Given that Tucson’s Wild Wild West Con is fast approaching, and that War of the Worlds is one of my favorite Victorian-era science fiction novels, I thought this comic might be just the thing to help me get into the mindset for the event.

Looking up the comic online, I discovered the Infestation comic is intended to be something of a sequel to the original version of The War of the Worlds. The Martians returned for a second invasion in 1997. The comic opens five years after that in 2003. At this point, the Martians have made great strides toward world conquest. The action is set primarily in Kansas City, Missouri and a small Kansas town called Haven, which is between Hutchison and Witchita. Given that my daughter lives in Kansas City and my wife’s aunt lives in Hutchison, I felt like this was an interesting setting and I was further intrigued to check out the comic, even though it eschewed the Victorian setting of the original.

War of the Worlds: Infestation only lasted for five issues and the issues are all collected in a single graphic novel, which is available both in print and digitally. Because the story starts very much in media res, we don’t get much background about the new invasion. Presumably the Martians found a way to fight off Earth bacteria and have slowly and steadily begun to march across the world. Most of the Martians use the familiar tripod war machines. A nice, original idea is that the Martians can combine damaged war machines to make a even larger, more formidable six-legged varieties. The comic shows a good familiarity with the novel. Not only do the Martians drive their tripod machines and fire heat rays, but they lay down thick, deadly clouds of gas, go through conquered cities and harvest humans for food, and all the while, the strange red Martian weed is growing.

The comic opens with a woman driving from Kansas City to Haven. Quite sick, she drives through a patch of the red weed, but is able to continue on until she reaches Haven, where she passes out at an outlying watch station. The woman in charge of the watch station goes into town to get help. Unfortunately, the van the woman drove picked up spores from the red weed and it begins to devour the watch station and threaten the watch station manager’s daughter. Fortunately, the watch station manager returns and is able to rescue her daughter. Along the way, the station manager realizes the van may hold some clues about how to stop the new Martian invasion. Meanwhile, we also see the story of some resistance fighters who are trying to hold the line in Kansas City after the Martian machines destroyed St. Louis, as depicted on the graphic novel’s cover.

Overall, the comic told an enjoyable story and had some good characters and thrilling action. I appreciated a cast that featured women and people of color in several prominent roles. I did feel the comic could have done with a little stronger script editing. There were some confusing lines and moments I think were meant to be humorous that felt either weird or just fell flat for me. Like Caliber’s Oz series, all the art is black and white, which again suits the grim tone. Horus did a great job visualizing the Martian machines and even imagines a truly surreal Martian structure in Kansas City. I felt like the digital edition of the graphic novel purchased through Amazon was a fair value and provided an enjoyable read, which reminded me of several compelling aspects of the original Wells novel.


If you enjoy my posts, please take a moment to learn about my novels at http://www.davidleesummers.com or consider supporting me on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/davidleesummers so that I can maintain an ad-free experience here at the Web Journal and get a behind-the-scenes look at my creative process.

Wild Wild West Con X

The tenth Wild Wild West Con is less than a week away. This is the first time the convention has been slated to be held in person since March 2020. This year’s theme is “Over the Rainbow” and the convention will be held from Thursday, March 3 though Sunday, March 6 at the Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Arizona. This is a new venue for Wild Wild West Con since Old Tucson Studios closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among this year’s notable guests will be Gail Carriger, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Diesel Jester, Madame Askew and the Grand Arbiter, Poplock Holmes and many more. Among the activities available through the weekend are live music & entertainment, panels all weekend, workshops, a film festival, a gaming room, a fashion show, steampunk vehicles, and absinthe tasting. You can find more information about the event and purchase convention passes at https://www.wildwestcon.com

My company, Hadrosaur Productions, will be sharing a space in the vendor hall with Diesel Jester. I’ll be featuring Hadrosaur’s newest story collection, The Way-Out Wild West by Lyn McConchie, which has a wonderful mix of steampunk and weird western tales. Of course, I’ll have copies of my steampunk novels as well. Diesel Jester will have his steamy adult romance books set in a steam-powered world. Be sure to stop by our table and talk to us about our novels. We’ll also be on panels throughout the weekend. I will be on the following panels:

Friday, March 4

3 to 4pm – Palm Room – Beyond the Gears and Onto the Page. In this panel, Madame Askew, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Laura Folmer and I will be discussing our favorite steampunk reads with an emphasis on small press books that can be a challenge to find.

Saturday, March 5

11 to 11:45am – Mesa Room – Drake & McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. Sparky McTrowell and Erasmus L. Drake will lead Ashley Moore, me, and the audience in a madcap improvisational writing game show reminiscent of their signature “Hot Potato” team writing style. Two audience members will each team up with the guest authors into writing teams. The audience will select plot elements from a list provided by Drake and McTrowell. The two teams will then take turns writing the beginning, middle and end of the story with “hot potatoes” thrown in for additional thrills. It’s both instructive and fun and includes lots of audience participation.

3 to 3:45pm – Sonoran Rooftop – Authors of Steampunk. This panel will include as many of the Wild Wild West Con authors that can be rounded up at one time. This panel will include most of the Wild Wild West Con authors. Gail Carriger, Ashley Moore, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, Diesel Jester, Aprilynne Pike, Beth Dolgner, Erasmus L. Drake and Sparky McTrowell and I should all be on hand. This will be your chance to ask questions about steampunk writing, how to get published, what are the challenges of finding readers and much more.

Sunday, March 6

11 to 11:45am – Cholla Room – Oz a Literary Perspective. This panel celebrates the convention’s theme by looking at the original Oz novels of L. Frank Baum and other books and comics inspired by the Oz series. What are some of the cool things you’ll find if you go beyond the rainbow and explore the world Oz beyond Judy Garland and the Yellow Brick Road? Diesel Jester and Chief Inspector Erasmus L. Drake will be joining me for this whirlwind of a trip to faraway lands.

Hadrosaur’s New Payment Buttons

About a year ago, I received an email announcing that PayPal had deployed new payment buttons. I set it aside, knowing I needed to look into it as soon as I could clear some time. An upgrade like this typically means that older code, like that I used for my original PayPal buttons, will be deprecated and not maintained. Still, a quick look at PayPal’s development site told me I’d need to do some coding and testing, plus the old buttons still worked, so it was easy to convince myself to put it off.

One thing I liked about the old PayPal buttons was that when clicked, they would detect the buyer’s location and charge a suitable shipping rate for their address and the amount they purchased. As time went on, I came to realize I needed to update my shipping rates. Domestic postal rates had increased from the time I’d set up the rates and I knew I needed to take that into account. Also, because I can now drop ship from a vendor with locations in much of the world instead of exclusively from my local post office, some of my international shipping rates were too high. I recently went into to PayPal to see if those changes could be made and discovered I could no longer access the area where I used to set those numbers. So, it was time to upgrade to the new buttons PayPal had told me about a year ago.

New look for book pages at Hadrosaur.com

The new PayPal payment buttons basically come in three flavors. There’s a “plug-and-play” option where you enter some options and then you’re given a link to insert into into your code. Pretty much this will work if you have exactly one specific item you’re selling, but it’s not suitable for a bookstore where the books have different prices. The second option provides a set of “buy now” buttons as I have. It requires some basic knowledge of JavaScript but allows you to place buttons that charge different amounts on different pages. The third option allows for more customization so you can add items to a shopping cart and add the kind of location detection I had with the old buttons, but much of this needs to be coded through your own website or through any tools provided by your webhost and isn’t automated through PayPal like it used to be. In other words, they provide the tools so you can do these things yourself.

So far, my experience is that most people drop by Hadrosaur.com to buy a single book per visit, which does make the “buy now” style buttons I have an appropriate choice. Also, I have a pretty good idea of a “typical” shipping price, whether I ship from my local post office or drop ship an item. It’s possible I may need to adjust this, but it can now be adjusted directly on my site without having to rely on access through PayPal’s site. Plus, the new PayPal buttons are called from the site and they promise to keep them secure and up-to-date. If you do drop by my site and would like to buy several items at one time, the best option is to let me know through the website’s contact form and I can invoice you for the items plus the shipping cost for those items. Often combined shipping will be less per-item than it would be if you simply ordered each item individually.

So, please go visit https://hadrosaur.com right now. If you’re a fan of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, or horror, I’m betting you’ll find a tempting book, audio book or even comic book. And, if you buy one of my books, the “Thank you” message at checkout will even tell you how to get it signed and personalized!