With two days to go to my cover reveal, let me introduce my artist!

Though The Unraveling is geared to a new adult audience, it doesn’t fit what readers currently expect from the genre–contemporary set, steamy college stories. I wasn’t even going to try to copy those covers with a story set in Victorian England, heavy on fantasy, with steampunk and romance competing for a reader’s attention, plus a few shapeshifters thrown in for fun. My story is firmly in the category NA Alley calls speculative new adult.

So I went the opposite direction of most NA covers and looked at fantasy covers. I looked at a lot of covers. I saved them on Pinterest (See my board!) and then looked at my friends’ collections of book covers. And in those covers I found my cover artist.

Did you notice on my Thursday post I had my thumb over part of the credits next to my new logo? I couldn’t reveal too much at once (!) and my thumb hid…

Art Credits 1

My cover artist is Craig Shields.

Craig Shields cover artist

Craig is the artist behind the stunning covers of Claudia Gray’s Firebird series: A Thousand Pieces of You and Ten Thousand Skies Above You. I love his vibrant use of color, particularly in this second:

Ten Thousand Skies Above You

No surprise it’s sitting in the #1 spot on the Goodreads list Most Beautiful YA Covers of 2015!

Craig has created the cover artwork for 30+ covers, and will soon be featuring his book cover art in the link on my cover. His book page isn’t live yet, but you can view his advertising, magazine and personal illustrations in his portfolio at www.craigshields.co.uk.

Magonia

When I contacted Craig, he was excited to work on a steampunk cover, and I was excited to work with such a talented artist to express my story. What was I looking for in a cover for The Unraveling? Color. A magical feeling. And steampunk…

I love what Craig came up with for my story and can’t wait to share it with you…in two days!

What is ‘A Steampunk Fantasy Romance’?

I’m using the tag ‘A Steampunk Fantasy Romance’ to describe The Unraveling, but my novel isn’t all about gears and steam.

gears on steam engine

Steampunk falls within the science fiction genre. Libraries and bookstores will categorize my novel as: Fiction/science fiction/steampunk

But that still doesn’t explain it. So, think Jules Verne. He lived and wrote in the 1800s, and is considered the founder of science fiction. Steampunk is a kind of revival of his style of stories: A Victorian setting–or at least Victorian sensibilities–with fantastical machinery, powered by steam, or aether, or…something! That’s the fun part, the part I made up, the ‘fantasy’ part. And just to make it even more fun, I tossed in shapeshifters. And a romance, or two…I cannot imagine a story without a happily ever after.

Best Fantasy Books has the best explanation of steampunk fantasy I’ve seen, complete with a reading list. I’ve read a number of their selections, but not all. Jules Verne’s 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine were two of my favorites as a teenager.

Here’s a list of my more recent favorites…heavily weighted in young adult, because I really do read YA.

Leviathan, plus 2 sequels, by Scott Westerfeld

Clockwork Angel, plus 2 sequels, by Cassandra Clare

Souless, numerous sequels, by Gail Carriger

The Golden Compass, plus 2 sequels, by Phillip Pullman

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

And a new release I mentioned a few weeks ago by one of my writing partners: The Rooftop Inventor by Nooce Miller

In case you’re still wondering, gears and steam do play a part in my novel…and they will be right there on the cover to assure you they’re in the story, too! Join me for my cover reveal in three days!

How about a teaser?

TU Teaser 3 (How can you draw)

My heroine Annmar is an artist with extra-special talent. Wait until she figures out what she can really do!

Five days to go until…

My cover reveal!

If I was a gif person you’d see me cheering, but instead I have still photo… of a tiny piece of the cover, because, you know, the cover reveal isn’t until May 26th. (!)

Sprouting Star Press / The Unraveling

What is that Sprouting Star, you ask? Well, that’s me. I wanted to do all I could to have my self-published print book look like a traditionally published paperback. I had planned to use a little logo my family used for a rubber stamp to do letterboxing while we traveled. (Sorry, I just probably generated another question: What’s letterboxing?) But when I asked my daughter to make a vector of it, she suggested I needed something more representative of my book themes–magic and people’s ties to the land– and to my tag–fantasy tuned to the magic of the land.

She was right, of course, since she is art-savvy and I am not. But the amazing thing was while talking, she sketched it out and said, “Here. Sprouting Star.”

So I became Sprouting Star Press, and I love the look my talented daughter devised!

Sprouting Star Press: The Unraveling

She even sent me one version in an amazing fake embossed look!

BTW, my Mary Behre has completed my cover pendant. I should have it before the cover reveal!

I have a cover!

Yes, The Unraveling has a cover! It’s bright and shiny and everything I wanted in a fantasy cover. So much so, I’m saving it for a cover reveal. That’ll be May 26th. In the meantime, I wanted to share a little thing some authors do when they really love their covers: They have jewelry made.

pendant

I saw this beauty for Unchained Memory when I went to my friend Donna Frelick’s launch and another writer friend gifted her this lovely pendant!

Author Mary Behre has been making cover jewelry for a few years now, starting back when several friends debuted with ebooks and didn’t have a physical book to hold. She told me, “I wanted them to have something tangible to celebrate the incredible accomplishment of getting published.”

Her side business took off from there. When Mary isn’t under the crunch of a deadline herself, she makes them for other authors…and herself!

Tidewater Pendants

These are titles from Mary’s Tidewater series.

If you might be interested, you can contact Mary through her website (http://marybehre.com/ ) or at authormarybehre AT gmail.com. She sells them for $20 plus shipping.

I’ve ordered mine! Depending on Mary’s schedule, I’ll post a photo at my cover reveal or hopefully by publishing…which will be June 23!

Cover Reveal for The Rooftop Inventor

I’m thrilled to reveal the debut cover for a steampunk YA written by one of my critique partners and fellow steampunk authors! Congratulations, Nooce!

The Rooftop Inventor

Beautiful! I love Theo’s magenta airship, and her undaunted stance. :)

Here’s what you can expect from this 19th century mid-western girl:

It’s 1879 and seventeen-year-old Theodocia Hews is out of control. Her inventor father Orin Hews tried to raise her to be a proper lady, but Theo says and does whatever she wants. Since girls aren’t supposed to be inventors, she’s secretly building her own airship up on the roof of their house. When her father is attacked and his valuable invention is stolen, she sets out in her untested airship to get her father’s contraption back. She’d better hurry. Her father’s contract with his buyer expires in three days and without it they’re ruined.

The airship lifts off but things get complicated when Theo finds an unintended passenger aboard. Henry Caracticus Thorne—the thief she’d spotted that morning making off with things in the market—is an altogether unsuitable companion. But he’s unlike anyone she’s ever met before, he’s willing to help, and he’s drop-dead gorgeous. As they soar through the sky in the close quarters of Theo’s airship, it’s not just the steam engine heating up.

Theo has a hunch who took her father’s invention. Will she manage to catch the culprit before it’s too late? What did that strange lightning storm do to Theo and Henry? And will Theo give in to her heart and act on her growing feelings for Henry?

The Adventures of Theodocia Hews is a humorous YA steampunk adventure and romance series set in 1879 Cincinnati in an alternate universe where the evil institution of slavery was abolished shortly after the United States was founded, the Civil War never happened, crazy inventions are commonplace, and steam power rules!

~~~

About the Author

Nooce+Miller

Nooce Miller writes fantasy, speculative fiction, and YA steampunk. Technical writer, lawyer, marketing communications editor, medical writer, she’s held a lot of jobs, but her current gig is the one she likes best—author. Her favorite music to write to is silence because the dialogue turns out better. She’s also fond of birdsong, thunder, and the sound of the wind in the trees. She sees herself as a visually creative person, though others might disagree once they’ve been exposed to the questionable quality of her drawings, paintings, and photography. She drinks a lot of hot Earl Grey tea, usually in the company of her dog Stinky—who never partakes.

She’s lived in six different states and one foreign country. Tiring of so much moving, she undertook to persuade her husband that they should settle down and enjoy the four glorious seasons of her beloved Midwest until their two sons were grown, and lo and behold, it worked.

~~~

Nooce and I met critiquing YA fantasy in an online writer’s forum, Critique Circle. It’s a fabulous–and free!–place to hone your craft and meet many ambitious authors. After a while, you get to know them IRL, too! Nooce blogs about history, writing and steampunk crafts. Visit her Website | Twitter | Pinterest

I’m looking forward to The Rooftop Inventor releasing May 1, 2015!

N is for Not Giving Up

My blog here looks woefully neglected. Yet I blog two places and in my Eastern Gray Squirrel alter-ego at The Squirrel Nutwork, I’ve entered a month of daily blog posts with the Blogging A to Z Challenge. (Visit the website for more alphabet details on how this works!)

A few days ago, the blogging letter was N. A to Z co-host S. L. Hennessy wrote a great post titled N is for Not Giving Up, and a tweet of it today reminded me my personal blog might appear that I have.

Oh, quite the contrary!

I am moving forward with the self-publishing of my first novel, The Unraveling. So the blog is out of date, the Facebook posts scant and the house a mess as I email the cover artist, make final copy edits and decide on formatting styles.

According to BW, this last part has taken over her territory, but hey, every novel is a reference for how a book should look!

What's with the books?I will have release news soon! If you follow me–or even if you don’t!–and blog and would be interested in joining in on a cover release, please contact me! You are invited to read a few chapters here.

Have a great day working to further your dreams!

Seeing Terry Pratchett

It’s the fall of 2007 and my daughter learns–probably the night before–that Terry Pratchett will be speaking at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.

Can we go?

I’d read a few of his books, but had no idea 1) she liked him so much and 2) there was a book festival with speakers on the National Mall. (I’ve come a long way since then.) She asked. We went.

As popular as he was, I insisted we go to the tent early and get a seat. To her embarrassment, I also made us move up several rows at a break between authors. Hey, we were here to see this guy talk, we were going to see him. And I planned to take pictures using a camera with no telephoto.

Terry Prachett, 2007

Lots of them.

Terry Prachett, 2007

I don’t know if I took notes, as I’ve now done on each other trip I’ve made to the National Book Festival, but I have photos, as you see.

Terry Prachett, 2007

I was very impressed he wore a shirt with a turtle on it, not knowing this was a Discworld theme. I did turtle rehabilitation, so anyone who likes turtles, I like.

Terry Prachett, 2007

The tent was indeed crowded. My daughter stood in line to ask a question, but I don’t believe she made it to the front.

2007 Book festival tent for Terry Prachett

A question someone else asked was, “How long do you spend on developing each of your characters? They’re so memorable.”

Not that long, Terry answered (I won’t quote him, because this is the gist of the answer.) I give each a trait or two that readers know from real life. Then that type of person is so familiar to you and you feel you already know my character.

Terry Prachett, 2007

We had brought my daughter’s books. The line for signing was horrendous. Hours long, I believe, because I only have photos of one other author. I asked my daughter to come up with a question. She couldn’t. Or didn’t.

T Prachett's signing line National Book Festival 2007

So I did. “Will you be writing more about Susan and Lobsang?”

Terry Prachett_Nat. Book Fest. 9:29:2007

What? (I think I flummoxed him.)

“Are they going to have a romance?”

I suppose so. Who else is there for her to be with?

Since 2007, I have read most of the Discworld novels. We own the books, few movies, posters and various other fan-stuff. Today, I’m very teary-eyed.

Family Values Poster

Rest in Peace, Sir Terry Pratchett.

Shout out!

Congratulations to my friend Donna S. Frelick on the release of her debut novel Unchained Memory!

D Frelick_ Book Launch Party 2

Donna and I met at RWA Nationals during a get-together of science fiction romance writers, but discovered we live fairly close, so I was able to attend her Book Launch Party.

D Frelick_reading 1

Readings,

D Frelick_signing 1

signings,

D Frelick_signing 5_w: L Wanrow

and of course, photo ops! Fun, fun, fun, and so well-deserved. Donna was an RWA® Golden Heart® Double Finalist in 2012 in the Paranormal category for the first two novels in her SFR Interstellar Rescue series.

Find Donna at http://donnasfrelick.com; blogging at http://spacefreighters.blogspot.com; and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DonnaSFrelickAuthor. Unchained Memory is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

This time, a dog story!

It’s been a week of edits, and not on a story with dogs in it, so it took a ‘like’ on my Facebook page–for the guinea pig excerpt–to remind me I promised to post a dog excerpt.

Irish WolfhoundHere we go with Quinn’s first meeting and rescue of the Irish Wolfhound in my novel Passages.

The last door opened into a dimly lit and mostly empty room. Two bowls sat inside, food and water. A box of dirt had been placed to one side. The surface of it was disturbed and the smell made its use obvious. The light of the hall shone almost to a mound in the back corner. It moved.

I pressed Eve aside, pulling the door to protect us.

She blocked it open. “I sense no hostility, aggression or opposition.”

The animal got slowly to its feet and stepped from the shadows. Eve’s fingers pinched into me, but the pain was nothing against the swirl of confusion surrounding the familiar animal. The big dog had been… I shut my eyes, reaching for the image.

Eve released me. I grappled to dismiss my churning memories, opening my eyes to the unbelievable sight of her stroking the wiry hair of the wolfhound’s head and unlatching the chain from his collar.

I rushed after her. “Be careful! We don’t know—”

I know. This is—” She eyed me in an odd way, then shook her head. “D’dair,” she swore. “He shouldn’t be locked in here.”

Dead Air—the unique curse they used on this planet. Her tone indicated something was seriously wrong. She ushered the stumbling dog toward the door of its prison. His gait was stiff and awkward, the poor beast, but he came directly to me and pressed his head against my thigh. Familiarity flooded me. Elusive threads of memory wove forward. This dog had a name, I was sure of it.

“Quinn? Help me rub his legs to get the circulation going. Once we’re back, Evangeline will take proper care of this boy.”

The barrage of images compromised my concentration. I shook them off and dropped to a squat on the other side of the dog. “Evangeline?” I repeated.

“Right, the Evangeline you met probably didn’t seem the type, but that wasn’t her true personality. Our Evangeline has a gift with animals. It took her no time at all to correct the husbandry problems on Zeffir.”

Zeffir. Where Eve worked. If I kept my focus on her and her conversation, I wouldn’t dissolve into my confusing past. “I did notice the agriculture on the island was top notch.”

Eve massaged the dog’s thigh. He was leaning into me as much as I was leaning back. He poked his nose to mine, making a soft rumbling sound. The prickly fur, the sloppy tongue, the intelligent eyes staring steadily at me. He seemed so familiar…but why?

“Humph. Why are you getting the thanks when I’m the one doing the work?” Eve grumbled, but she was watching closely. “Here, turn him.”

The sturdy canine frame shifted when she pulled him, but the dog danced around until his broad face was in mine again. He whined. Smoothing the gray hairs of his muzzle back to the black ones on the crown of his head, I stared deep into his dark orange eyes. A memory came…a desperate cross-leap, the dog pushed against me—no, leading me—with someone—was it Graen?—forcing me through the Conducer, but the dog—

Like in my memory, the wolfhound jerked forward, his ears perked. Footsteps sounded. Together Eve and I tripped to the threshold. I intended to close the door, but the wolfhound slipped through with a growl. “So much for hiding.” I peered around the doorjamb.

The dog cantered to meet the single guard, who dropped bowls similar to the ones at our feet. The man lowered his face guard and reach for his stun sword.

I bolted forward. “No!”

My appearance was enough to make him hesitate. The dog leaped. With well over a hundred pounds of force, those huge paws struck the man’s shoulders and down he went. The dog bounded on. At the top of the stairs he turned to stare, as if summoning us.

We ran. The guard rolled to gain his feet. I shoved him down again and raced past. The wolfhound yipped and descended the stairs. I followed with Eve just paces behind me.

Thud! Someone tripped and fell.

I whirled. Eve sprawled motionless on the tile. The guard lurched up, shoving the stun sword before him. “Unless you want the same, freeze!”

The first chapters of Passages, a science fiction romance, are available to read here. The novel isn’t published–yet–but three author friends have SFR novels coming out in February, updates, available on Spacefreighter’s Lounge. Sorry, not sure about their dog content.

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