An interview with no less than Tom Turner himself


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The Blackfriars Courant is a delightful bit of Victorian yellow journalism, at its very best.

Editor in Chief, Penelope Dreadfulle, snagged up some delightful comments for this interview.  It is possibly the most innovative “review” The Volcano Lady and The Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner has ever received.


Extra! Extra! Read All About It!!!


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In case you hadn’t heard, there is some exciting news to start off October.

First, the Audio version of The Yankee Must Die (the Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner #!) has been released.  You can now order this audio book, narrated by the brilliant and talented Patrick R. Golden, on,, and iTunes.

cover metafreeAlso, I will be lecturing this coming Saturday and Sunday (Oct 4-5) at Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium in Old Sacramento.  The schedule is being finalized but it looks to be marvelous fun!!

Bath or Bust!


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Really … I did have every intention of posting here while on my amazing trip to Bath and London in September.  I confess: I had little opportunity.  Why yes it was THAT much fun, but also I had dreadful connectivity issues while there.

On 9/11 I dared to board a flight for Heathrow from San Francisco.  A direct flight, which I must say makes all the difference in the world.  Though 10.5 hrs long, and while chasing the Moon, I couldn’t sleep.  I read some, cat napped, ate fairly good meals, and indulged in one of my current favorite movies: Cap Am 2 – The Winter Soldier.  I can stare at a long haired Sebastian Stan for hours, but that’s just me.  I made certain not to leave drool on my neighbors (its my karma to be stuck in middle seats; I have come to terms with this.)

Mrs. Charles TurnerThough no one really needs an excuse to go to England, I actually had one: the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.  Fourteen of us rented a restored Regency period house across from the Paragon and two blocks from the Assembly Rooms.  For the next 9 days we dressed in fashions of the 1790’s – 1810’s, and frolicked without a care along Milson Street, the Bath Abby, and the Roman Baths.  Tours were had to #1 Royal Crescent, the Fashion Museum, and a splendid night time Ghost Tour.  We even went astray to Lyme Regis to walk the Cobb as Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds in the 1995 movie Persuasion.

We had Tea, drank the waters (yikes!), attended concerts, held soirees, and danced at two balls.  It all sounds like a description of an average week in Bath as experienced by the divine Miss Austen herself.  Sadly, it was all too short a time.  The photo below is me, at Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, looking over her writing desk (a necessary photograph for any author.)

I’m sorry to report that while I was there I did not write a word for the upcoming Volcano Lady novel.  I was inspired and intrigued – and my research on England’s West Counties is greatly expanded, but alas, no novel writing.  This should not be taken to mean I did not write.  I did, penning (literally with a pen, seated at a 200 year old desk in the library) a start to a children’s book for adults called the Resident of Lower Catswold.  More on that later.

(Next: Off to the British Museum)

The Audio Book is On Its Way!


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Hold on tight – you asked for it and now it’s almost ready.

That’s right!  The Yankee Must Die (Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner #!) has been recorded and now only waits for a Q&A check (hey, that’s a good thing.)  I will post an announcement with links and all once the audio recording is ready.

cover metafreeAnd wow … can I just say wow!  How about WOW!!!!!

The narrator, Patrick R. Golden, is a master of reading with dramatic flair and exceptional voices.  This is no ordinary, average reading of a book -

it is a treat for the ears.  

Stand by for the announcement: anticipated release date is Friday, September 13.  Lucky Friday the 13th!  On,, and iTunes.


An Audio Book? Why, yes!


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Oh, I know.  It seems like forever since I last posted, but I promise I’ve had good excuses, such as the successful Clockwork Alchemy convention over Memorial Day weekend.  And now this …

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00009]

… a chance to have the Yankee Must Die dime novel in audio format.

Professional Producer, Musician, and Voice Artist Patrick R. Golden has partnered with me to produce the audio-book version of The Yankee Must Die – Huaka’i’ po. Patrick has an impressive background in accents, storytelling, and linguistics. If you want to see/hear some of his work, check out his website:

We’re anticipating a September release – but more on that later.

The Omnibus Edition of the Gaslight Adventures


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GATT advert

This large scale publication is ready now on  The Gaslight Adventures is a compilation of the Tom Turner Trilogy with more.  Historical notes, illustrations and photographs, personal notes from the author, and stories of a real life, Wild West inventor.  The Omnibus Edition brings all this together in one volume.

Kindle and Smashwords editions coming soon.

The Gaslight Adventures – Omnibus Edition

For Clockwork Alchemy convention attendees, you can get your copy signed by the author (that’s me!) for a special convention price.  I’ll be down in the Author’s Alley, Friday through Monday, and at the Book Release Party Friday night (5/23/2014.)

Clockwork Alchemy Appearance


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It’s that time again …

Clockwork Alchemy, the San Francisco Bay Area’s premiere Steampunk convention will be held at the D10277380_10153980956790012_6703535100348847755_nouble Tree Inn, San Jose CA, Memorial Day weekend.

Yours truly will be presenting or participating in the following panels:

Friday, 5/23, 4pm: Villains – The Worst of the Best

Harry T at CASaturday, 5/24, 12 Noon: Real Women in Victorian Times

Sunday, 5/26, 12 Noon: Avoiding Historical Mistakes – and I’m on the panel with the charming GOH Harry Turtledove.

More to come, as there will be a book release party on Friday evening and …


And … The brand new

Exclusive to Clockwork Alchemy members

The Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner: the Omnibus Edition

will be available for the first time!!

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Blog Tour!


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Many thanks to the marvelous Maggie Secara for the invitation to join the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour.


First things first: there are some questions I get to answer and then I get to introduce you to three lovely people and their blog sites.

What am I working on?

What aren’t I working on might be a better question.  I have two very specific projects moving ahead at full steam.  The Volcano Lady 3: The Great Earthquake Machine is shaping up nicely, though I confess that it won’t be released this spring.  My, wasn’t that wishful thinking on my part?  Yet, one should have reasonably-set goals, even for work that will be ready when it’s ready and not a moment before.

In the meantime, I am developing an Omnibus Edition of The Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner, complete with illustrations, maps, annotations, and a few extra bonuses.  This will be a lovely 8.5” x 11” compilation with a potential of sporting a hard cover.  Ohhhhhh!  That edition I anticipate will be ready for Clockwork Alchemy, May 23-26, 2014.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m trying my hand at a Western, a mystery, and some short stories.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Steampunk tends to focus on technology and adventure, and in this regard I am right in line with the genre.  Where I tend to veer from the norm is in my love for Victorian history, my attention to those details I look for in my own reading choices (such as manners, culture, and language,) and a blending of classical Western storytelling with old school melodrama.  I also try to take my characters out of England and Europe, showing other nations and cultures from the 19th Century.  That is not to say that I am the only author who does this, but that it is a variation on the generally followed Steampunk theme.

Why do I write what I do?

History!  Action and adventure!  I adore it.  That, and the drive to bring childhood fantasies to life.  I don’t recall any time that I wasn’t writing or drawing.  I grew up on Jules Verne, the Wild Wild West, and Victorian dime novels.  Every summer the family packed off to Cripple Creek, Colorado, to ride the steam train to Victor and watch a melodrama at the Butte Theater.  Steampunk, Westerns, and Historical Fantasy all inspire me to write more.  I can’t get enough of it.

How does my writing process work?

I’m not sure I have one process.  But things go a bit like this: I imagine a scene with something exciting.  It could be inspired by another story or freshly plucked from a memory of running around in the mountains of Colorado or the Gold Hills of California.  Is it for my Volcano Lady world or is it something distinct?  From there, I try to flesh out what came before and after.  How did it happen?  What were the causes and consequences?  Next, I start generally outlining, with a promise to myself that it may be written on paper but not in stone.  Things change.  Stories change.  On a far less grandiose scale, it is a bit like the Big Bang – it starts from little to nothing and expands.

cropped-kanaga.jpgThere are my four questions, which of course you are welcome to ask about via the comments section.  I’m happy to answer

More importantly, this tour is intended to introduce you to three authors.  I’ve deviated a little from the directions, yet kept the intent of the tour by choosing these amazing folks.  Each of these ladies will do the same next week (on or about March 3rd.)

Let me introduce you to Karen Krebser – Psychic, poet, writer, cartomancer, all-around creative!  Karen is not your average author: she is a poet and blogger.  Her ability to express her insights is extraordinary.  One need not write fiction to create a dynamic narrative.   And oh my yes … her poetry!

Her official profile: “Karen Krebser is a psychic medium and card reader, and also a poet and aspiring dramatist. She has been living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area all her life, and has been engaged in spiritual practices for about as long. She has been actively studying the Tarot for almost twenty years, and has been providing insightful and creative readings publicly for over ten years. Her Tarot and cartomancy studies are continuing, as are development activities and explorations in several different ancient spiritual traditions that have brought her into a closer relationship with her ancestral origins and her ancestors themselves. On the writing side, Karen has taken a Master’s Degree in English Literature from San Jose State University with an additional emphasis in Creative Writing, and she has been an avid and passionate fan of Elizabethan drama since childhood. In addition to her cartomancy readings and blog work via The Muse’s Darling web site, Karen is also currently working on her first graphic novel and several plays that explore the themes of identity, chaos, and vengeance.”

Her blog site:

Next up is a combo of two unique ladies who came together to create a Young Adult adventure, The Stolen Songbird, Dover Whitecliff and Vicki Rorke.  You should give their blogs a perusal: their process, both as individuals and as the team behind Stolen Songbird, is quite enlightening.

Dover’s Offical Profile: “Dover Whitecliff was born in the shadow of Fujiyama, raised in the shadow of Olomana, and lives where she can see the shadow of Mt. Shasta if she squints and it’s a really clear day. She is a wild and woolly wordsmith, a blogger, an analyst, and a jack-of-all-trades, but mostly a writer. She has been writing since the ripe old age of nine and won her first ten-speed as a fifth grader with a first place entry into Honolulu Advertiser’s “Why Hawaii Isn’t Big Enough For Litter” contest.

Dover currently spends her free time writing the stories inside her that are fighting to get out, and playing Rock Band with her husband, big brother, little brother, and consigliere, all of whom will graciously allow her to touch the instruments on occasion, but mostly just hand off the microphone so she can sing. She lives in Sacramento, California with her very patient and wonderful husband and several hundred bears.”

Her exceptional blog site and webpage:  Website: and Blog:  Storyboards for Dover’s writing projects and novels can be found at:

Vicki’s Official Profile: “As a young child, Vicki Rorke contemplated one of the great questions of life: Star Trek or Speed Racer?  Fortunately, her older brother controlled the TV and she became exposed to, and enthralled with, Star Trek. After attending many a convention, (when 50 attendees was considered a raging success! My, have times changed!) and reciting dialog by heart, it was only natural that she began creating her own worlds. Her first sci-fi short story was published at the tender age of fourteen.

Vicki currently has the great honor of abiding in the Sacramento, California, temple residence of the Pharaoh, Khufu, and Goddess, Isis, her two orange tabby cats. They rule the house, provide comfort and laughter, and yet never fail to let Vicki know who the real bosses are, especially at meal time. Khufu enjoys the creative writing process by lying on her laptop and infusing his ideas into her stories through osmosis. She is grateful for his insights and feedback. Isis provides purr-fueled massages after a long day at work. Life is good along the American River!!”

Vicki’s Blog and sites:  

Twitter:  Facebook:

Many thanks again to Maggie Secara for the invitation, and to Karen, Dover, and Vicki for participating.  Please check their blogs to see the exceptional variety of authorship out there!

Backstory, we don’t need no stinkin’ backstory


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cropped-cropped-kanaga1.jpgHola, fellow authors:

I was just reading an article about where to start your novel or short story.  The blogger insists that beginning in a character’s childhood is both boring and unnecessary.  In fact, she suggests that readers don’t really need to know about your character’s growing up into the adults they will be.

I disagree.  I think that a character’s early background (childhood if not young adult) can be essential – if handled right.  Here, the blogger and I agree.  And, of course I would approve of backstory prologues, as that is precisely how I started the Volcano Lady series.  Introducing characters by way of their daily routines or calm-quiet childhoods would indeed be boring, but you’re not going to do that, are you!

Starting a novel, especially your first novel or the first of a new series, can be difficult.  We want to tell the reader everything they need to know in order to make the story full and complex.  That’s not a bad idea.  But, be warned, it can backfire.  Even the bestselling authors can make this mistake.  I love Dan Brown novels but I can say that I find them initially tedious.  Too slow.  Too full of details, that while I will need to know them later, can just make you feel schooled.  I stay with the book because I know Brown will deliver in the end.  By mid-book, you’ll be hooked and going with the ever increasing pace.  For an unknown author, this can be the kiss of death.  Brown has earned his reputation for delivering a powerful story, but you and me?  Not yet.

Backstory is one of the trickier things an author works with.  Have I mastered it?  Depends on your tastes, but I don’t think I bored anyone.  Some readers adore backstory and research; others, not so much.  Yet, it is necessary, isn’t it?  Think about the Indiana Jones movies: do you think the stories would have worked if you didn’t know that Professor Jones had a difficult relationship with Marian or that he and his father didn’t quite get along?  The filmmakers brilliantly handle both backstories very differently.  For the story of Marian and Jones, you get little comments and eye glances, hinting that Jones is not comfortable meeting Marian after all those years.  Her reaction tells the rest of the story once they are in the same room.  In the third movie, you get the “early years” approach with young Jones recovering an historic item only to have his father’s indifference, obsession with the Holy Grail, and misunderstanding of his own son’s nature betray him into failure.  Two different approaches with two essential elements:

  1. Both stories show, they don’t tell.  Oh, I know, you hear it over and over again: show, don’t tell.  There are definitely times to tell, but those times are generally brief.  Showing is very effective because you can drag your reader along, letting them pick up clues for themselves along the way.  Isn’t that why we read a novel and not the Wikipedia or Cliff Notes of the story?
  2. Conflict and Drama.  We all have had our childhoods, and for the most part, they were probably pretty average – even a little dull.  In reality, that is a good thing, yes?  However, your book has to grab someone’s attention from sentence one – thus anything you present in your first chapter has to have purpose, conflict, drama, and flow.  It has to drag you in.  Purpose is extremely important as it needs to explain why the character is who they are – what is their obsession?  What makes them tick?

In the case of my first novel, A Fearful Storm Gathering, I break with the idea that we don’t want to read about a character’s younger years – that we want to see them in the book’s immediate here and now, doing what they will be doing for the rest of the story.  I chose to begin with a volcanic eruption and its impact on a child.  Lettie Gantry, my geologist and protagonist, witnessing an erupting volcano and the destruction it caused gave her the focus for the rest of her adult life: predicting volcanoes.  I could have simply said this or mentioned it later.  However, I thought that wouldn’t help the reader to like her early on, to see who she was and why she is the way she is, and to understand what it would take to cause a Victorian woman to toss all convention aside in reaching her goals.  I wanted to show you.  To put you in her shoes.  To see how horrible an eruption could be and how it would force a child into making a lifelong decision.  Drama, conflict, and danger.  Eruptions are fast, terrifying, and the reader gets to be there for her defining moment, scared right alongside her.

Whatever way you plan to give the reader a backstory, be sure it is dynamic, dramatic, and full of pertinent conflict.  Show them why your characters are the way they are.  Otherwise, they are empty and incomplete.  Readers won’t care about someone if there is nothing for them to link to or to like.  And if your readers don’t care about your characters, then they won’t finish your book.  Plain and simple.

2013 in review – Happy New Year!


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Happy New Year everyone. WordPress has this lovely feature I want to share with you – and to set up the perfect opportunity to say “Thank you” to all of you. 2013 was a terrific year of chances to talk and share with you. I’d like to do more in 2014. Tell me what sort of articles or discussion topics you want. Just comment right here.

May your New Year be marvelous.
Thank you so much!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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