The Ghost Machine Sale and Extras

Ghost Machine CoverHey, guys! If you haven’t read The Ghost Machine yet, it’s on sale for 99¢ this week as part of the promotion for Clockmaker‘s upcoming release. Grab the ebook off Amazon before it goes back up to $3.99 this weekend.

Also, I had so much fun making a Pinterest board for Clockmaker that I decided to make one for The Ghost Machine, too. Check it out to see pictures of beautiful Victorian Era gowns, steampunk robots, and spooky scenery.

Finally, here’s a bonus look at one of my early drafts of The Ghost Machine‘s first chapter. It’s not as drastically different as that early draft of Hero Status that I posted a while back, but there are still some interesting changes.

The Ghost Machine was originally an epistolary novel told entirely through diary entries and letters like Dracula or The Woman in White. When early beta feedback pointed out that format killed the tension, I changed it to a regular novel with letters and journal entries spaced throughout. Continue reading The Ghost Machine Sale and Extras

Clockmaker Sneak Peak

Two weeks until Clockmaker drops! Are you excited? I’m excited. As we count down to release day, here’s a sneak peak at the first chapter. I really enjoyed writing from Melek’s point of view, and I hope you like this little teaser.

Chapter 1

Clockmaker CoverI read the telegram one last time before crumpling the paper into a ball and tossing it to the floor. My stomach clenched, and I leaned back in my chair and stared at my desk—or rather the papers showing the airship’s accounts, which I had spread across the surface. The math wouldn’t change no matter how many times I checked it. Too many expenses and too little income; that was the hard, uncaring truth.

Despite being the captain’s quarters, my room was as small and cramped as the rest of the ship. The Sultana had been built to fly fast and strike hard, not indulge passengers with luxury. High shelves stuffed with records, books, and maps encroached menacingly on my desk. They lined every wall except the one I’d had constructed to separate my office from my bedchambers. That one displayed ornamental sabers and some beautiful blue İznik pottery that had belonged to my mother (strapped very securely to the shelf). If all else failed, I supposed I could sell the pottery for some extra funds. Turkish ceramics would fetch a decent price here in France.

Two sharp knocks at the door announced Emin, and I told him to enter.

“I beg your pardon, Captain.” My first mate, Emin, was a giant of a man with a thick mustache on a face that fell naturally into a gloomy glower. He wore an old Ottoman military coat over baggy navy pants, and a red fez topped his head at an angle. His thick belts held a sword, two pistols, and a knife, but those were only his visible weapons. He stepped on the crumpled telegram and glanced down. “Bad news from Monsieur Courtemanche?” Continue reading Clockmaker Sneak Peak

The Evolution of a Novel

Hero StatusHero Status sprang from my mind, fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus.

Lol, no. It was actually a painfully long first draft, followed by countless rewrites, beta feedback, and even more rewrites. Scenes were added, the structure tweaked, and the writing ironed out before it became the version you now read. But that’s pretty standard for most novels.

I’d almost forgotten about the bonkers early version I abandoned before going back and restarting the whole thing from scratch years later.

Way back in 2008, I started writing my first piece of superhero fiction for National Novel Writing Month in November. This was the precursor to Hero Status, though it’s pretty much unrecognizable. It starred not Dave but Elisa–or at least the character who would eventually become Elisa. She had a different name in this and a different origin, being an experiment of Dr. Sweet’s whom Dave rescued and adopted. The book was about her going off to college and dealing with Dr. Sweet’s attempts to recapture and brainwash her.

Looking back at the file, I made it about 24,000 words in before giving up. I moved on to other books, but something about the concept and characters of that old untitled novel kept calling to me. I began outlining a new version, changing Elisa’s character to being Dave and Val’s biological child and having her torn between her parents’ heroic and villainous legacies.

But I didn’t like that either.

Eventually it dawned on me: the daughter character wasn’t what made this idea interesting. It was her parents, the retired superhero and former supervillain, and the question of how two people with such conflicting morals and personalities could have such a stable, happy relationship.

Once I focused on Dave and Val, the idea for the plot followed, and Hero Status was born. But I still find that old version morbidly fascinating and thought you might, too. So here, in its unedited and awful glory, is the first chapter of the story that sparked The White Knight and Black Valentine Series: Continue reading The Evolution of a Novel

Almost Invincible Sneak Peak

We’re two weeks away from Almost Invincible‘s September 30th release date, so to celebrate, here’s an exclusive sneak peak at the first chapter. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Almost Invincible Banner

Chapter 1

Seven years ago…

 

My skull hit the pavement with a meaty crack, and my vision went blurry. As lightning pain shot through my head, it was all I could do to lie there wincing for several seconds. Eventually, I blinked and tried to refocus, my brain feeling like raw egg sloshing around inside my skull. But White Knight, said a voice in my head that sounded like a particularly annoying reporter who’d once interviewed me. You have super-strength. Surely, it couldn’t hurt that much. Yeah, I had super-strength, but that didn’t stop my nerve endings from sending pain signals to my brain, and right now, they were firing at a 110 percent.

I pushed myself up dizzily and found the pavement smashed into pieces where I’d fallen. Okay, maybe it was a good thing I had superpowers. Otherwise, my head would have burst like a piñata on impact. Noise assaulted my ears: shrieking police sirens and the steady whump-whump-whump of helicopters overhead. I hoped they belonged to the government and not a news channel recording this horror show. Union Square came into focus as my vision cleared, eerily deserted for mid afternoon except for the corpses of those who hadn’t escaped in time. They were scattered across the grass and walkways, blood pooling on the plaza. The closest to me was a leg. It had belonged to a woman wearing sandals and was ripped off from the knee down, toenails painted light pink and fair skin splattered with more blood. The coppery stench saturated the muggy summer air.

The Capitol Building stood proudly in the distance to my right, the turbid waters of the Capitol Reflecting Pool to my left, and twenty feet in front of me loomed the monster that had done this. Ten feet tall and composed of pale light that formed the shape of a man, he was difficult to see in the bright sunshine. That was problem number one. Problem number two was that nothing we’d done seemed to hurt him. Whatever he was, he’d shown up out of nowhere and hadn’t even made the traditional supervillain speech before destroying everything in his path. He moved fast for something so big, and he was currently advancing on a slender figure in a bright orange and blue uniform.

Julio. Continue reading Almost Invincible Sneak Peak

This Book is Full of Ghosts

Ghost Machine CoverGhost Machine is available on Amazon now–and already a bestseller in the young adult steampunk category. Woot! Check it out here. Not sure if it’s a book you’d like? Here’s some of the stuff you’ll find inside:

  • A creepy Victorian asylum full of ghosts
  • Airship battles
  • Mad science
  • A logical heroine and Byronic hero
  • Giant killer iron automatons

Still not sure? Then read the excerpt below:

Chapter 1

The door shut behind me with a deep thud followed by a clink as the nurse locked it from the other side. A jingle of keys, a rustle of skirts, and then the nurse’s footsteps trailed off down the hallway, leaving me alone in silence.

The meat pie I’d eaten for lunch tried to make its way back up my throat. I swallowed firmly.

My new room was small and simple. The only pieces of furniture were a bed with white blankets and a battered wooden nightstand. There was a washing basin, bucket latrine, and… well, that was all. Night was approaching fast, but they hadn’t even left me a candle. The walls were gray and bare, and metal pipes ran across the ceiling. The window had cheerful yellow curtains at least, but the effect was ruined by the iron bars outside the glass.

Bars… locks… My knees shook, and the room swam dizzily before my eyes.

No. I pressed my hand against the door to steady myself. I refused to faint, no matter how ladylike and appropriate it might be in these circumstances. Continue reading This Book is Full of Ghosts

Hero Status, Chapter 1

Hero Status is almost ready to be uploaded to Amazon! (That sound you hear is my excited squeal.) While I’m working on the final steps, check out this sample chapter.

Chapter 1

People like to debate where superpowers come from. What genetic mutation causes special abilities beyond what seems naturally possible? Experts theorize how the traits are inherited and what part the environment plays in affecting if and how they develop. I don’t have much to add to the discussion. Just because I have superpowers doesn’t mean I know how they work. Sometimes, though? I think they’re fueled by caffeine.

Lack of coffee was definitely my problem this morning. When the cook burst into the dining room with a shout, I should have calmly assessed the situation before reacting. Instead, I jumped and hit the table, jolting the silverware and knocking over my full cup of café con leche. Coffee drenched my wife’s favorite—and very expensive—white tablecloth and splattered onto the imported wood flooring. I winced and grabbed a napkin to sop up the spill.

Our cook was a big, burly man who’d gone to seed with age, the apron stretched across his beer gut reading, “Charred and Dangerous.” He tried to untie it, but his hands were still covered by oven mitts.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Feds outside.”

Before I could ask anything else, he rushed down the hallway, muttering something about hiding his guns. But I doubted federal agents had come all this way just for our cook’s illegal firearms.

“It’s probably nothing to worry about.” The maid smiled at me, ignoring the spill as she snatched a steak knife off the table. “They like to come around and ask questions every now and then.”

“This happened a lot in the old days?” I asked.

She shrugged and hurried off in the same direction as the cook. I stared stupidly after them for a moment, coffee still dripping onto the floor, then picked up my cane from where it rested against my chair. Standing up always made my knee twinge, but I ignored it and walked slowly into the kitchen. The room was wide, its floors and granite countertops so clean they reflected the light. The cook had left an omelet sizzling on the stove, and it filled the air with a smell that made my mouth water. I walked past it to the big window over the sink, and sure enough, two black SUVs were coming down the palm tree-lined driveway.

The omelet hissed and crackled angrily. I flipped it over, but the fluffy yellow egg mix was already crusted with black. I turned off the burner with a sigh. If I was going to have to deal with a government raid first thing in the morning, I’d like to do it on a full stomach, at least. Continue reading Hero Status, Chapter 1