Category Archives: YA Novels

Going to UtopYA?

We’re less than 24 hours from the start of UtopYA, an author-fan con a fellow steampunk author has raved about.


It’s four days of fun in Nashville, Tenn, an easy drive for me (who likes driving across country–really!) and the focus is on young adult and new adult supernatural and contemporary fiction–right up my alley! But sadly I’d already booked my summer with self-publishing and trying to squeeze in a bit of writing. LOL.

Instead, I’m going in spirit with my friend Nooce Miller. Nooce has spent weeks, not just getting her print book formatted to perfection for the Saturday night author signing, but creating an exciting raffle basket, giveaways and running down the best deal in the midwest for a beautiful banner.

Nooce Miller at UtopYADoesn’t Theo look lovely fullsize, wielding her geared shotgun to protect her airship! It’s Nooce’s first signing as a published author–I’m so excited for her! If you’re traveling to Nashville, pop into the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel and look for Theo’s magenta airship on Saturday, June 20th.

Have fun, Nooce! *waves* Totally enjoy your first signing. 🙂

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!

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 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!

Am I the only one who loved The Clockwork Princess Epilogue?

Yes, I loved the epilogue. LOVED IT! I wrote my thoughts on my GoodReads review a week ago(or so…NaNo, you know?) and THEN read others’ reviews. No one I ran across shared my view. My feelings—yes, this epilogue left me with the feels in a strong way—were not there to be shared and I had to wonder why.

Epilogue page The Clockwork Princess

Caveats here: I have only read the trilogy once. I read it spread out, because I have other IRL things going on (including writing a super—hopefully—Victorian-set trilogy of my own). And, perhaps the most applicable, I am old(er) than the average teen Infernal Devices fan. Yep, adults reading YA fantasy. I fit that description.

And maybe that’s why I liked the epilogue. I’m married. I have kids. No grandkids, but I’m old enough that losing someone special, as Tessa lost Will, has happened to my peers.

From the start of The Infernal Devices series, we learned Tessa is immortal. The Shadowhunters are not. Tessa loved both Will and Jem. She intended to…this is full of SPOILERS, if you haven’t figured that out yet!—marry Jem, but he died. Or so they thought. Any-who, Jem went somewhere else, became someone else. Not available. Tessa and Will acted on their love for each other, and they got together…got married…loved each other…had kids…loved each other…had adventures…had grandkids…loved each other…grew old together—


Back up. Only Will grew old. Tessa is immortal. And what does that mean? (I get this. If you are young(er) do you get this?) She is going to miss him when he dies. This is what Tessa takes on when she allows herself to fall in love.

Cassandra Clare got this. She portrayed it beautifully, IMHO.

Tessa cries her heart out—as did many readers, me included—when Will dies. She leaves her home and family so she doesn’t have to watch her children and grandchildren grow old and die. I get this in a huge way. This would be horrible. Stand by, Tess, there is nothing you can do to help those you love… Er, no, Tessa was smart. She sought out her other immortal friend, and Magnus tells her: “The first one is always the hardest.”

Tessa lived. She traveled. She experienced. She grew.

Then, when Jem appears on Blackfriars Bridge as JEM—out of the blue returned to the boy she loved, not the emotionless being he had to become to go on—Tessa realizes she is now ready to love again.

Excerpt The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

THAT is what is so SPECIAL about this epilogue! (I’m crying all over again reading and writing this.)

Jem has not been out in the world, sequestered as he was in the Silent Brother life. He has been suspended, in effect. And Tessa is still Tessa. Immortal.

But she has grown. She can go after what she wants—Jem—when Jem is uncertain what to go, still playing by the 1800s rules, and also having witnessed the great love Will and Tessa shared. Tessa still loves Jem.

“Come with me,” she said. “Stay with me. Be with me.”

That Tessa gets another chance to love, and that it is Jem, who has loved her as she loved him, is so incredibly special. I love seeing my favorite people(characters) love and be loved. For me, this was a delicately done and perfectly sensible next step in Tessa’s story. For me, it’s as if her life is beginning anew.

Stars to you, Cassandra Clare, romance writer extraordinaire!

And please, if you have a similar feels you shared in a review, or even a different review, of The Clockwork Princess, please share! Ping me on my GR page so I can read it!

The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Fangirl Moment and Cover Study

I’ll admit it. I didn’t get much writing done this weekend–only about 800 words on the WIP. I did get some studying in, a fangirl hour, and more studying as a result of being a fangirl. Always a good thing!

First the fangirl: I went to the start of Maggie Stiefvater’s book tour for Blue Lily, Lily Blue at One More Page, an independent book store in Arlington, VA.

Maggie Stiefvater Book signing 1

I got signatures.

Maggie Stiefvater book signing 2

She drew a horse in teen-neighbor-girl’s Scorpio Races.

Maggie Stiefvater book signing 3

I happily bought the book and the first because I had borrowed it and these booksellers had thought to order some in hardback. (Support them, they were not only smart, but very nice!) That prompted a study, because before the signing, I had attended a self-pub class on uploading a novel and the conversation had turned to covers.

I will have a series and if a planning-to-be-published author is researching covers, this credit becomes very important.

cover creditIf you are unknown, the cover is the first way to attract readers. Covers should be similar, but different. Maggie’s series covers do this.

The Raven Cycle

Same font, same location for the  elements, but different colors.

The Raven Cycle

Even the spines. (They look very nice on my bookshelf!) And if you didn’t pick up on the look, there is a symbol of intersecting lines as a background behind the titles which are now identified as being in The Raven Cycle.

The Raven Cycle

This cohesiveness was true of the original Shiver series covers, which I have always liked. (And that spot of creepy blood? Poignant, after you’ve read them.)

The Wolves of Mercy Falls

It even follows through to the back of the books where the back cover copy is blocked with short bold descriptors the same way on each.

Shiver series

An important note popped out when I realized this wording was at the top of The Raven Cycle books.

Maggie Stiefvater

Bestselling author of ‘Shiver‘. Hmm, how many readers remember this series was called the ‘Wolves of Mercy Falls’? Did that not stick? I know this, but I think of them and talk about them as the Shiver books. The first book of The Raven Cycle is called The Raven Boys. Ah, now readers won’t forget the name of the series.

I may have some more thinking to do. I’ve been playing with naming my series ‘Threads of Magic’. But because I know there will be more books set in the same world, I also want that world name to appear: The Blighted Basin Books. Searching the internet for these terms, I find Threads of Magic and Magic Threads all over due to video game elements. But Blighted Basin? Uh, no. My crit partners all commented on the name in some way, so I know it’s unusual. Because I started using it blogging with my WIPs, the search engines go to me and this blog. Yay! OK, that means it’s a good name to keep. But the titles all have something to do with threads…of magic…yeah, don’t want to give that away.

Does this matter? Is it easier for readers to remember the first title as the name of the series?

Clearly, more thinking must be done, but not now…got a book to write! And perhaps a signature to perfect; Maggie’s is quite nice.

Maggie Stiefvater signature

Six Sentence Sunday #15

Again this week I’m featuring my WIP, The Farm, for Six Sentence Sunday! Today my artist heroine Annmar meets another of Wellspring Collective’s farm workers—a girl who becomes her friend and confidant.

Once more Annmar shook hands and probably said the usual niceties, but her mind jumped to the hue of Mary Clare’s emerald eyes, her pale freckles and tiny little nose that would be fun to paint. And if Annmar made her ginger hair even longer than where it touched her shoulders, and loose from the ribbon binding it tightly back—it had to be curly with those puckering waves—she could draw twining flowers, or better yet, vines of some farm crop that would offset the canvas overalls and boots this girl wore. What a contrast the feminine and masculine elements would make—

“Are you well?” Mary Clare peered at her. “Miz Fertis, I think you better put her to bed as soon as possible.”

Visit other “sixers” here, or find us posting at #sixsunday. Thanks for stopping by!

Six Sentence Sunday #14


Thanks for stopping by for Six Sentence Sunday! Please join my heroine Annmar on her first look at one of her new fellow workers on Wellspring Farm, in my WIP The Farm. Rivka is one interesting fellow, in her city-reared opinion.

Below Annmar’s window, Wellspring’s manager joined several farmworkers under the spreading tree. A tall skinny boy—or young man, as she should think of him—seemed to be reporting while others listened. He waved his hands in an animated way, his tufts of short tawny hair glinting gold and auburn highlights as he fluttered in the low afternoon sun.

Fluttered? Annmar bent her head, trying for a better angle against the glass to make out the exact movements of his side-stepping feet and flipping elbows, but he wasn’t moving. Had it been a trick of the lighting, or—her hand flew to her mouth—a knacker?

The main Six Sentence Sunday website is here, or writers are posting at #sixsunday.

Six Sentence Sunday #13

Another week of edits on my WIP The Farm: When the farm owner leads the new artist through the outbuildings on a tour, Daeryn drops what he’s doing and follows along to meet her, instantly raising the hackles of his co-workers.

Jac flipped her hair over one shoulder. “Oh, please.  Just because you’re lead now, you think you can ditch your chores to meet the new girl?”

“I didn’t—”

The guys snickered.

Guess he had.

Thanks for joining me and other sixers!  The main Six Sentence Sunday website is here, or writers are posting at #sixsunday.

Six Sentence Sunday #12

In my WIP The Farm, a mystery pest is feeding on the fall crops that Daeryn and his team of nocturnal predators guard. They have run down one of the furry black animals, but lost it before getting a good look.

They all shifted and Jac led them a couple of hundred feet around a rock outcrop and down a dry ravine. To Daeryn’s nose, the burrow in the bank was exactly as she’d described: overwhelmingly rabbit, but a trace of the pest scent that lurked around the damaged crops and…something else.

Maraquin snorted the air from her nostrils, took another whiff, but shook her head. “I smell it, but have no idea.”

Zar backed from the small hole, looking the most puzzled. “This sounds stupid, but it reminds me of my old granny’s house.”

Thanks for stopping by! Please visit other writers and their Six Sentence Sunday offerings through the website, or via #sixsunday.

Six Sentence Sunday #11

I’m deep into edits of my WIP, The Farm, and thinking of little else, thus missed several Six Sentence Sundays. But my two machine excerpts have drawn the attention of the friend of a friend, who I understand is itching for more. Yes, I have more odd machines in the story! But first, I think it’s time to meet one of the guys—can’t say if he’s the hero!

Daeryn Darkcoat’s four tough paws carried him down a dirt road bisecting Wellspring Cooperative Farm. The moon, just past waxing, provided the bit of light his polecat eyes needed to see the acorn squash on the right and a late planting of bush beans on the left. Nothing amiss in the rows of plants his nocturnal sight discerned in sharp grays and blacks.

Flicking his round ears back and forth to the few stray calls above the rise and fall of the crickets, Dae trotted on. He reached an interior crossroad on a hummock and slowed, pacing a tight circle and finally stopping to peer westward up and down the treeline where only the autumn leaves stirred.

Where was that wolf bitch?

Other sixers are here: Click! Or if you’re tweeting: #sixsunday. Thanks for reading!

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