New Babbage steampunk stories!

A few years ago I ventured into the virtual world of Second Life, a free online world where you can wander anywhere and anywhen, taking up different avatars and accessories as you wanted to.

I landed in a steampunk sim called New Babbage – a quaint little town with a few little quirks. Not that I was without my own, becoming Sheryl Skytower, the Clockwork Dragon of New Babbage!

Recently the New Babbage Fiction Press put out their first work – Tales of New Babbage, The Steampunk City – Volume One.

I am happy to say that I helped out by writing some of the introductions to these fine tales – stories by and about the citizens of this virtual steampunk world.

If you’re looking for something different to add to your reading pile may I suggest this wonderful book – available now in print.

And if anyone wants to wander into Second Life – it’s free, VERY easy to learn, and a great way to make friends and visit other worlds from Victorian steampunk to reproductions of famous cities to art galleries to nightclubs and RPG sims.

Just be sure to drop your favorite clockwork dragon a note!


Well, it’s been a pretty good two weeks of promotion since the book came out. I’ve had a few SL chats with people and some I know have gone on to buy the book itself. And there’s more to come in Second Life, which suits me just fine.

The oddity I’m finding in SL is that there are a *lot* of self-pubbed authors who really are slamming the promotion route in SL and probably in RL as well- and I’d be curious as to what their success rate is. I’m pretty sure that it’s easier to sell an ebook in SL due to the fact that most SL users are already pretty tech-savvy, so it’s not a near-impossible thing to sell an ebook.

But, again, every sale is a good sale.

Waiting for the first edits on "Blaze of Glory" and hearing back on "Spring Cleaning" – which makes it hard to start on a new project. I’m sort of burnt out right now as it is, so reading some light fluff and enjoying the breathing space is also on my mind, since I know that when BOG comes back in we’re going to be slamming it all the way to the finish line. And if SC sells, well…


I’m also the moderator of the NaNoWriMo subforum over at a new website, Virtual Writers’ Inc – it’s a writing group primarily in SL, but have a new site up and going. Drop on by and enjoy the conversation – you don’t have to be in Second Life to participate!

Hope everyone’s doing well surviving the winter weather and that we all have a faboo New Year!



Once more unto the breach…

‘Cause, you know, I’m insane.

I’ve decided to toss my hat into the NaNoWriMo ring yet against this year for a variety of reasons – first, and mostly, being that I have sold my 2007 and 2008 NaNo novels – "What God and Cats Know" and "Blaze of Glory" respectively, and thus I’m trapped in the horror that is a streak, and to quote Kevin Costner in Bull Durham (THE best baseball movie ever!)  "a player on a streak has to respect the streak".

Now, you think, she just said that she was working on a steampunk novel. Shall she put it aside and start anew? Can she?

I say, nay!

What I *am* going to do is clock my wordcount at midnight on the 31st (probably after partying in SL) and then ADD 50,000 to it so that I play fair. Sure, I could start a new novel but I don’t think I want to – and to be brutally honest, with only 20,000 words on "Spring Cleaning" done, I need something to force me to get it done and at a decent length.

So… November will be another silly month of dragging the laptop into the den and writing while watching and giving support in Second Life to all the other NaNo writers and hoping that lightning strikes a third time.

It’d be nice.


a very busy week…

It’s been one heck of a busy week, as you can guess…

I’ve got a tentative release date of April, 2010 from Samhain Publishing for "Blaze of Glory" – it releases about the same time as the Romantic Times convention in Columbus, Ohio, so I’m debating if I should perhaps go to the convention and push it there. It’ll be the ebook release, with the paper version coming out in the early months of 2011, as per my contract. I’m anxious to see how a superhero romance book does, to tell you the truth – and I’m still in shock that I get to list Samhain as one of my publishers!

We dropped about three grand on the car for a "new" transmission – since Ford doesn’t have any current Taurus model that’s compatible with ours, we went with the dealership’s suggest and got one from their factory, refurbished or some such thing. Of course, now it’s acting up and we barely got it back. Probably going to get another "new" one installed while it’s still under the dealership warranty, but it’s a pain to deal with rental cars, etc. while getting the problem solved. Of course, they pointed out the Nice Shiny New Taurus on the lot for "only" $40,000, but that’s a wee bit beyond our reach right now.


Waiting for the next stage at Lyrical Press for "What God and Cats Know" – I believe now it’s off to the copy editor, who will probably find many errors that the editor and myself missed. There’s about seven stages a manuscript goes through at LP, so you can bet that by the time it goes to press it’s been picked over time and time again. Sure, some errors may still get through thanks to human nature, but it’s certainly not for lack of effort! And it’s a much better book than it started out to be, thanks to ND’s magnificent editing and suggestions. If anyone ever says that he/she doesn’t need editing, smack them in the side of the head.

Off to the doctor’s this weekend to see what’s up with my hip. I fear that old age is finally catching up with this old broad, since I can’t sit at the computer too long before pains go down one leg and it aches almost all the time. Of course, dislocating two joints in my spine in my misspent youth may have something to do with it… *sighs* But at least my broken finger is finally healed and it doesn’t hurt too much to type. Although the Catholic in me says something about pain being good for the soul or something… drat it!

And it’s time for the Autumn Writers Exhibition in Second Life!!! Each year the kind souls at the Written Word, Jilly Kidd and Hastings Bournemouth, arrange for a series of tents and stalls to be put out on land donated by Thinkerer Melville for writers to showcase their works and services, both in and out of Second Life. I participated last year, but frankly didn’t have much to put up. This year I’m tossing up links to Samhain and Lyrical, giving away some short stories, and pointing them to my virtual bookstore in SL where I provide links to Project Gutenberg books, highlighting the number of classics that are in the public domain! It’d be better if I actually had books to sell, but it’s definitely a chance to do some PR for the next year!

And… that’s about it. Other than to note that Zyngo is still my poison of choice in SL and camping at casinos my new hobby.


bibbles and dribbles…

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately while finishing up "Blaze of Glory" and starting to send it out. Received a nice rejection from the agent who requested a partial, but that’s fine – I don’t expect that in this economy with publishers pulling back from taking too many risks that a superhero novel is going to be a hot commodity… yet. I’m sure it’ll find a home soon enough!

Some of what I’ve read and enjoyed/not enjoyed:

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling – I figured that since I was hanging out in a steampunk sim in Second Life and enjoying it that I’d see what the original start to the craze was all about… but I wasn’t impressed. Maybe it’s because it was published over a decade ago and so many other books have come out since then, but it just didn’t work for me. Weak female characters, a few sex scenes that really didn’t do much for the book and a lot of confusion along the way and it was a rough read. But that’s just my take; obviously it’s become one of the staples of steampunk and I can see that when it was first published it would have been a shock to the system and generated a lot of imagination from other authors.

1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies – I picked this up on a whim after seeing a show on the History Channel about the Great Fleets of China that were sent out and mapped a whole lot more of the world than we first thought – and then were recalled to China and destroyed, along with many of their records as the country went back into seclusion for centuries afterwards. As you can guess from the title the proposal that many of the native people in the Americas have Chinese blood may be a heck of a leap, but you can’t really dismiss the evidence he gives for their navigation across the oceans long before those pesky Europeans got around to it. Given that the Chinese culture has lasted a heck of a lot longer than our own Western one, I don’t find it surprising that they may have done much more than we first thought. Still working through it but an interesting read if you want something VERY different from what you were taught in school.

Undead on Arrival by L.A. Banks – Part of her Shadow Wolf series, I’m snapping this up as soon as it gets on the shelves – it’s a great new series that puts a different spin on the usual werewolf storyline with excellent characters that you just fall in love with as soon as you open the book. I’m hoping she spins this into a long, long series ’cause I just can’t get enough of Sasha Trudeau and Hunter. Now if she could only do a crossover with Patricia Briggs…

Red Kiss by Deidre Knight – A sequel to her first Gods of Midnight book, Red Fire, this is a series that’s also on my hit list. Immortal Spartans? I’m SO there, baby! Add in some great writing, hot men and a lot of mythology and it’s an excellent read for those of you who are sick of the usual paranormal stuff.

As you can tell, I read a lot of genres.


And, thanks to my newest issue of Scifaikuest I’m looking into a new poetry form – the Threesome.

No, not THAT. Although I’ll put in a vote for ANY Lauren Dane book thanks to her ability to make me believe that threesomes can work… but I digress.

A Threesome is a new type of poetry form where you basically create a Sudoku puzzle with words. That makes sense. Think about it… I’m looking forward to trying to riddle this out!

And… that’s it for now!

blah, blah, blah… and Whitman!

Been recovering from both the Pennwriters Conference and the request for a partial from an agent, which meant that last week was mostly recovering from putting together the package and getting things back to normal. Well, sort of. For this household, that is.

Realised that I’d love to do a seminar for the next Conference on Second Life and what it can do for writers – NOT the usual "Oh, you go and PROMOTE yourself!" type of hype that you get, frankly, from everyone under the sun, but telling them what you can do in SL that’ll help you as a writer.

Such as?

How about:

Tonight I’m attending a poetry discussion of Walt Whitman’s "Leaves of Grass" in SL. Sunday I went to a lecture on Irish and Scottish Folklore. I’ve gone to poetry readings and author interviews with big-name authors who could take questions from the virtual audience filled with people from around the world. I’ve visited a replica of King Tut’s tomb and been able to zoom in on the ancient artifacts and studied them while a recorded voice gave me the history. I’ve gone to a Bhuddist Temple and meditated with other people. And I’ve gone to a Space Park and watched the stars fly by and orbited an asteroid with beautiful music in the background.

All of which I would find hard if not impossible to do without SL. Sure, I’ve seen the workshops for authors and I’ve attended a few meetings of critique groups and so forth in SL, but it really comes home to me when I visit places set up just for promoting books…

… and they’re empty.

Why? Because, as another blog pointed out to me, authors selling to authors is just plain boring. And nonproductive. Yes, you have to do that ‘orrible "networking" thang but you have to reach out beyond other authors and get into the public eye where they are. Which is not on another author’s blog or website or SL sim where everyone has a book for sale and you’re trying to sell to each other. Socializing outside of literary circles will, at least, give you a wider audience. So if you can’t get out of the house to hang out in a mall or a coffee shop or a library… why not do it in SL?

And… it’s good for the soul. As authors we tend to get too wrapped up in ourselves and not get OUT enough, either mentally or physically – thus the Wii Fit and the EA Active in our living room. Mentally it’s great to wander around New Babbage as a clockwork dragon and go to a lecture on Charles Babbage or visit a Victorian sim where everyone has excellent manners or go play in a casino to recharge those mental batteries… and then off to a virtual library to see the 3-D displays or hang out in a pub with other virtual people chatting about pianos and how the construction’s changed of these fine pieces over the centuries.

You can’t get that anywhere else. And it’s good for the soul to reach out and get new experiences even if it’s "only" in a virtual sense.

‘Nuff said.

bits and pieces…

Well, still hammering on "Blaze of Glory" to make sure it’s all polished up and special to go out in the mail this weekend… of course, I keep getting distracted by buying pretty baubles in Second Life for me avatar!


I attended the Walt Whitman discussion last night again, although lag problems had us relocate to Winterfell, a beautiful sim with a faboo library. The talk went well, though I got lost a few times in the finer points of "Song of Myself" when we jumped ahead and I was behind scribbling notes in my paperback copy purchased from Barnes & Noble for just that reason. However, still enjoying and looking forward to the next meeting in two weeks! The head librarian, Mr. Drinkwater, is always thoughtful enough to rez a small toadstool for yours truly to sit down on – being a tiny clockwork dragon is quite bothersome at times.

And I proved to myself that I do have at least ONE female fashion gene when I spent most of yesterday finding a nice outfit to wear and then tossing a fit when SL was lagging out and I thought they would cancel the meeting. NOT after I bought a new outfit, I say! NAY!

*rolls eyes*

And just now visited a virtual King Tut exhibit – more details here in a blog that has more details, but well worth the visit. I actually saw the original exhibit when it toured many, MANY years ago and visited Toronto, but didn’t really appreciate it at the time due to just being young and in a grumpy mood. The graphics are fantastic and if you go into Second Life for nothing else, visit this exhibit. The audio presentations alone make it worth it.

Meanwhile upgraded from the Wii Fit to the EA Active. We also purchased the Gold’s Gym Cardio workout, but the Wookie’s not as much into boxing as I am. The EA Active may or may not work for us; on my first try today it about killed me with the "easy" work out. I think I’ll spend more time creating custom workouts such as the boxing and the dance and keep away from the formatted one. The only major complaint I have about the game to this point is that there’s no way to "see" the workout until you start it…

And, after almost a year…

my broken left pinky finger seems to be finally able to type without pain. I still flex it a lot and I think it’ll be a prime candidate for arthritis in a few years, but at least I’m not wincing in pain every time I use it. Which is a lot.

Back to BoG!


Had a great time at the Pennwriters conference up here in Pittsburgh; did my moderator co-ordinator thang and ran around like a fool getting things done, but it was Good.

Good as in getting not one, but TWO surprise chances to pitch "Blaze of Glory" to agents that suddenly had a hole in their schedule. One requested the first three chapters and a synopsis; the other didn’t seem to "get" what I was talking about – but I put that down to my screwing up the delivery more than anything else. I have a knack for being able to get lucky when under panicky stress and then screwing up when I get a chance to prepare. Go figure.

Speakers were faboo, panels were faboo… especially the one by Susan Gable, who Knows Of What She Speaks and delivers good workshops. And don’t even ask about how mindblowing the food was at the hotel… urp…

So today is unpack, get said partial ready to be mailed off this weekend, get unpacked, get caught up on everything I didn’t do because of preparing for the conference, get unpacked… and getting my Second Life fix.

Totally sad.

But… fun!