Things That Make Me Smile No.138: Creativity with Metal

I’m taking a little break from the book posts so I thought I’d share a short film I ran across. It is about Alan William, a metal artist, and his creative process. Enjoy.

Posted in Art, Music, Crafts, etc., Smiles | Leave a comment

5 Interesting Links for 03-16-2018

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Blurbs (Publishing)

A quick video from BooksGoSocial of what to focus on when writing a book blurb to help your titles sell.

Recycling (Art)

A fantastical up-cycle of traditional pink flamingo lawn ornaments that are just wonderful.

Passive Marketing (Promotion)

A list of suggestions for passive marketing including how to refine them.

Migration (Anthropology)

The question of unusually shaped skulls in Bavarian graves finally has an answer thanks to DNA testing.

Film (Interesting People)

Enjoy this in-depth interview with documentary director Mariah Wilson and learn both how she got her start along with a little bit of her process and the people she works with.

These Vampires Don't Sparkle

Posted in Anthropology, Art, Music, Crafts, etc., Interesting Links, Interesting People, Marketing, Publishing | Leave a comment

Vulnerable by Patricia Loofbourrow

Vulnerable by Patricia LoofbourrowI have a soft spot for stories about people who are trying to live normal lives while the wealthy and well positioned go about rewriting the rules in their favor. Vulnerable is a short work set in the world of the Red Dog Conspiracy that does exactly that. The conspiracy novels are told from a position of wealth and security, even though it comes with its own problems and isn’t as secure as it might seem. Vulnerable, in contrast, talks about the price a good man paid to right just one of the many wrongs in this society and the consequences springing from that decision.

Eleonora faces impossible choices after she discovers her husband has killed himself because of being faced with a debt he’ll never be able to repay. This debt, incurred to free her from the life of a whore and save her children from the dangers of The Bridges, comes with an impossible interest rate. The catastrophe that destroyed Earth apparently did not do away with loan sharks.

Sure, she uses trickery and deceit, which might not make her likable in most situations, but she does so to protect her family when wits are all she has left. Help comes from unlikely quarters, though, and she admits the truth even knowing the price of her honesty could doom her whole family.

Luckily, her hero is a good man, and accepts her history rather than condemning her for it. He sees the injustice and his own part in it well enough to want to make a difference.

The story’s ending might feel a little convenient at first, but the pieces are laid much earlier. Vulnerable is, as the title implies, a statement against those who take advantage of people who lack wealth of their own. It also serves as a welcome reminder that good people may appear from any station even when you’ve lost hope.

I have been enjoying the Red Dog Conspiracy, and this story helps flesh out the bigger picture of what it means to live in such a place. Since I read the first three novels before this story, it served to remind me of characters I have met in the novels and offers insight into their greater experiences.

Posted in Reviews, Short Story Reviews | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Which metal man do you want to win a date with the cover of Steam and Shadows?

Work has begun on the cover concept for Steam and Shadows, Book 5 of The Steamship Chronicles, and I thought it might be fun to see what my readers thought.

This is the overall print cover art concept not cropped to the final size and only showing one of the possibilities for the metal man. Like Life and Law (Book 4), it needs to have a mechanical on the cover. Also in keeping with the pattern, the construct is significant for more than just cluing the reader into the genre.

In comparison, here is Life and Law‘s print cover art:

Life and Law full cover

There are many approaches to take with the metal man, and the collection below is a sampling of options. Feel free to weigh in on the two polls below and again in the comments or through Contact Me if you have more detailed thoughts. I’m willing to consider any and all feedback if not for this cover then for the ones still to come. You never know when you’ll spark an idea that builds into a story of its own.


  1. You can vote for up to 2 options on each.
  2. Voting is tracked based on your IP address (the signature of your network), so if multiple people want to vote in the same house, please vote together. Sorry about that. It’s a limitation of the plugin.

All dressed up and ready to go. How do you like your metal man?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

If eyes are the windows to the soul, which would you want to gaze into?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Thank you for your help.

For those who have not yet tried the series, it is an alt-history Victorian Era steampunk adventure broken out into two volumes so far. The first (Books 1-3) focused on a Natural who is compelled to help self-aware machinery achieve their dreams and a cabin boy with a bigger heart than ambition who wants to command his own steamship someday. You can meet Samantha (Sam) and Nathaniel (Nat) in the Focus on Characters series, and Secrets, Book 1, is free in eBook at all online shops. The second volume of The Steamship Chronicles focuses on Henry and Lily, the couple who raised Sam, as they follow a tangled path on their way to seek justice for all the Naturals. Their story begins in the prequel Safe Haven.

Posted in Cover Art, News, Publishing | Tagged | Leave a comment

5 Interesting Links for 03-09-2018

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Technique (Writing)

A look at common words and phrases that can bloat your writing. As usual, I feel there are reasons and a time for pretty much everything, but these are good tips to increase awareness so your choices are intentional, something the author mentions as well.

Website (Promotion)

A look at what is recommended in an author website and different ways to achieve those aims using an interview format.

Atoms (Science)

A student researcher manages to capture an image of one atom with a digital camera. This article explains how.

Psychology (Interesting People)

This is a compelling tale that has to be read to get the sense, but it’s about a child’s perspective of her strange life and then what happens when she discovers why as an adult.

Behavior (Insects)

A study has identified part of the natural algorithm allowing army ants to function as a collective despite the small abilities of the individual ant.

Posted in Interesting Links, Interesting People, Promoting, Research, Science, Writing | Leave a comment