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Dead Magic Sniplet #1

dead magic

So, I promised in my last blog entry that I would post a bit of Dead Magic. What you’re about to read is the very beginning of the book.


Dead Magic

Chapter One

Flesh and Bone

 

 

On balmy summer nights, Highgate Cemetery lay as still and silent as its residents, but not on this night. Footfalls echoed across the rows of vine-covered graves, their names impossible to read in the moonlight peeking through the trees. Crickets fell silent as the young man passed and the grasses on either side of the well-worn path rustled with life just beneath the surface. Reaching for the shuttered lantern at his side, Cecil Hale stopped and listened for any sign of his compatriots. He had been told not to open the lantern until he reached the Egyptian Avenue, but the graveyard was harder to navigate in the dark than he had imagined. The dizzying rows of cockeyed graves seemed to go on forever, all nearly identical to the next.

Closing his eyes, Cecil drew in a long breath. A wave of energy passed over him as the warm wind whipped a russet curl across his forehead. In the darkness beyond the curve of trees, he felt a faint pulse of power. So they had ventured into the vault without him. He reached for the pocket watch ticking against his side but let his hand drop. As he rounded the bend, his heart quickened at the sight of the obelisk and lotus-columned entrance to the Egyptian Avenue. Leafy boughs and Jurassic ferns spilled over the top of the mausoleum’s entrance, drowning out the tang of death with the scent of summer. The iron gate whined beneath his hand, and he paused, waiting for the light of a night watchman he knew would not appear. A smirk crossed his lips. No one thought to worry about the dead.

Cecil’s gaze swept over the faceless row of doors on either side of him until it came to rest on the wavering radiance of an oil lamp drifting behind the threshold. Pulling the door open, he shut his eyes against the harsh brightness of the lanterns.

“Did they not teach you how to tell time at boarding school, Lord Hale?”

Cecil Hale stiffened. If it had been anyone else, he would have cut them down to size for not only insulting a viscount but for daring to question the standing of the youngest magister in the third order, but when his hazel eyes adjusted, he found Lady Rose glaring at him.

“Do forgive my tardiness, Lady Rose, but it wasn’t easy to find my way here in the dark. Not all of us frequent graveyards,” he replied before he could stop himself.

A low chuckle emanated from where she stood, but Cecil swore he hadn’t seen her lips or chest move. Against the dusty grey of the mausoleum, her polished bronze hair and pale green eyes took on such an unnatural hue that he dared not question what he heard. Of all the practitioners he knew, she was the only one he feared. If he stared too long, he thought he could see shadows writhing and slithering around her, pulling at the flames positioned in a circle around her and the coffin at her feet. It was her power he felt when he cleared his mind’s eye.

As Cecil pulled the crypt door shut, a lanky, white-haired figure emerged from the neighboring chamber. He was accustomed to seeing Lord Sumner at the third order meetings, but seeing him standing in the mausoleum didn’t sit well. It felt wrong, like seeing one’s grandfather walk out of a Piccadilly brothel. He couldn’t imagine him with his carefully trimmed beard and Savile Row suit anywhere near a charnel house. The man had a lineage as distinguished as any king on the continent, so what could be so important that he would risk being found prowling around a graveyard with the likes of Lady Rose instead of sending an emissary? Maybe he didn’t trust her either.

“Will it only be us this evening?” Cecil asked, his voice reverberating against the vaulted stone as he looked into the darkened chamber.

Without looking up from the coffin edge, Lady Rose replied, “If you’re worried about discovery, my man is keeping watch outside, but the ritual only needs one. His lordship is merely here to supervise.”

“Let’s hope the ritual won’t be necessary.”

“Oh? Are you having second thoughts, Lord Sumner?”

“I think all of us would prefer to avoid such vulgarity. We can only hope his family thought it best to bury the damned book with him.”

“So resurrectionists like us could find it? I doubt it,” she said, running her bare fingers over the lid as if feeling for something.

“Did anyone check his estate and town home?” Cecil asked.

Lady Rose and Lord Sumner exchanged an incredulous look before turning their attention back to the casket. Her fingers slid over the decorative molding and around the brass bars affixed to either side, probing every cranny for hidden springs, but found nothing.

Resting back on her heels, she motioned for Cecil to come to her side with a curl of her finger. “Lord Hale, would you do the honors?”

For a moment, he wished they had left the door open to the crypt. The stale air pressed in as he drew in a breath and held it. Cecil steeled himself, ready to avert his gaze when the lid cracked opened, but when he tried to yank it loose, a bolt of pain shot into his wrists and up his arms. Howling, he staggered back, nearly kicking over Sumner’s lamp.

“The bloody thing’s hexed!” he cried, rubbing his burning, twitching hands.

“The duke’s underlings are smarter than I thought,” Lord Sumner murmured under his breath.

Grabbing a handful of dust from the floor, Lady Rose cast it across the casket top. A series of rings, lines, and scribbles appeared through the detritus. Cecil leaned in to get a closer look. He had never seen a sigil that actually worked. They were out of fashion and the order didn’t support the use of such an arcane technique, so there was no reason for him to learn about them. At the pulsing throb of his hand, he wished he had. Before he could finish tracing the twisting line with his gaze, Lady Rose pulled out a handkerchief from her reticule and scrubbed at the sigil. Cecil watched with wide eyes as she gritted her teeth and continued even as the arcane symbols crackled and arced with electricity beneath her palm.

She released a labored breath and wiped at her forehead with the back of her hand. “Open it.”


 

Stay tuned for more sniplets and updates of Dead Magic. If you would like to get a preview of the book first or news on sales and forthcoming works, please sign up for my newsletter by clicking here.

Catch up on the rest of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series before Dead Magic releases:

The Earl of Brass (Book #1)

The Winter Garden (Book #2)

“An Oxford Holiday” (A Companion Short Story)

The Earl and the Artificer (Book #3)

Let me know what you thought of sniplet #1!

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One Week Until…

eata final cover

In one week, the Earl and the Artificer is released! One more week to pre-order it at 99 cents.

I can’t believe the release day is nearly here.

While waiting for the release of book three, I have been hard at work formatting the paperback and doing a little updating of The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden. I know that when I formatted The Earl of Brass two years ago, I have no idea what I was doing, so I decided to reformat the paperback version and tidy it up. The new version should be on Amazon now ready to go. Not much has changed, but as the author, the places I screwed up are glaring to me and have been since I finished book two.

proofproof1

 

The same day, the proof of The Earl and the Artificer came in the mail and looks fantastic! I was so afraid it wouldn’t get here before the blizzard that’s supposed to hit today. The paperback should be available on Amazon in a few days, so stay tuned for more updates on The Earl and the Artificer.

 


 

If you’re trapped in the house from the blizzard or just want a new series to lose yourself in, try out the Ingenious Mechanical Devices.

The Earl of Brass

The Winter Garden

“An Oxford Holiday”

The Earl and the Artificer (pre-order, out January 30th)

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18 More Days!

18 more days until The Earl and the Artificer comes out! *screams internally*

Now that I am done editing and formatting my ebook, I am super excited for everyone to read it. Thus far, I’ve posted the blurb and the first chapter, but what is The Earl and the Artificer really about?

Well, it’s the third book in my historical-fantasy series, The Ingenious Mechanical Devices. While none of my books are continuations and can be read as stand-alones, they all share the same characters, world, and atmosphere. The stories take place in the 1890s and follow the lives of characters who often want more than what their station and society allow. Because it’s historical-fantasy, there are often anachronistic devices, creatures or plants that seem otherworldly, and a world that changes when could have been, now is.

The Earl and the Artificer takes place a few months after The Winter Garden, following Eilian and Hadley’s wedding. You may remember them from The Earl of Brass. For their honeymoon, they journey to his family’s ancestral home, Brasshurst Hall, which has been abandoned for nearly thirty years. Eilian expects to find a typical Georgian, Austen-esque manor but soon finds Brasshurst is a strange mix of styles combined to create an asymmetrical monster complete with a steam-powered greenhouse jutting from its side. The strange house isn’t completely vacant. Within its walls lay plants of untold value and Randall Nash, a distant relative whose hobbies include making a nuisance of himself and collecting secrets. Nash’s brusque (and rather disrespectful) manner reminds Eilian and Hadley of their outsider status.

This outsider status is something I wanted to explore in The Earl and the Artificer. You know when your high school or university teacher mentioned themes running through a work? Well, being an outsider and whether we should try to live up to expectations are ideas that run throughout the work.

Eilian is adjusting to his new titles of earl and husband, neither of which come easily. After spending his whole life avoiding being nobility, should he embrace it to make others happy? Can he even balance the archaeologist with the earl? Hadley is going through a similar identity crisis. She’s now a countess. Imagine going from being middle class and doing labor-intensive work meant for men to being treated as a lady and being expected to act as such. For some it sounds like a dream: servants, money, a big house, anything you could ever want. What it really comes with: infinitely more rules and regulations, a learning gap, parties, expectations, people calling you an upstart since you climbed the social ladder.

Several other characters in the story deal with their own versions of being an outsider including a budding young writer spending his holiday in Dorset, his cousin who is dealing with choices that have been forced upon her, and a downtrodden maid forced to do her master’s bidding. I won’t say more, so I don’t give anything away.

Is there anything you would like to know about The Earl and the Artificer?


 

If you’re interested in pre-ordering The Earl and the Artificer, you can do so here for 99 cents. Book 3 releases January 30th! Paperback information is coming soon.

eata final cover

 

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Chapter Preview- The Earl and the Artificer

It’s less than a month until The Earl and the Artificer is released in ebook and paperback. Between now and January 30th, I will be posting about The Earl and the Artificer as well as the process I’ve gone through while getting it ready for publication.

If you would like to pre-order The Earl and the Artificer, you can here for 99 cents.

eata final cover

As promised, here is the first chapter of The Earl and the Artificer, coming January 30th:

 

Chapter One:

The Ninth Earl

 

Elbow-deep in steamer engine innards and covered in grease was not how Hadley Sorrell expected her honeymoon to begin. The wedding and journey to Dorset had been surprisingly smooth, but their luck never lasted. She should have expected the steamer to pop and belch smoke in the middle of the road. Glancing over her shoulder, she watched her husband stare off, his grey eyes locked on the rolling waves as they lapped against the piebald coast in the distance.

“Hold my leg, so my dress doesn’t blow up,” she called. “Eilian!”

“Sorry!” He snapped to attention and held her billowing gown, his prosthetic hand resting behind her knee, as she looked into the hood. “Are you certain you don’t need help? I feel bad just watching.”

“It’s fine. I don’t think there is room in here for you, anyway.”

Leaning into the front of the cab, she brought her face close to the boiler as the heat of the kettle stung her cheeks. The metal coils of the heating element had melted into a blackened cake that smelled of burnt hair. Using the sides of the hood for leverage, she pivoted back until her satin boots met the road’s white gravel. Staring down at her cream dress, already streaked with soot and grease, she sighed and wiped her hands across it before smoothing a lock of henna hair behind her ear.

“I can’t fix it. It’s burned out.”

“We could take the bicycles into town. I don’t think it’s that far.”

“Let’s just wait for Patrick to come back. You know he won’t be long.”

As Hadley lingered in the road, reconnecting the pipes and organs from the disemboweled car, Eilian listened to the pastoral silence. Under the waves and the rustling trees, there was a faint noise he couldn’t identify and it was growing louder. Gravel hissed on the other side of the bend. By the time the steamer broke from the tree-line, it was barreling down the narrow lane. Eilian waved his arms to catch the driver’s attention, but he never slowed. Wrapping his arm around Hadley’s waist, he darted and turned, falling back onto the grass in time to watch the car hurtle past in a blur of steel and wood.

“Good Lord, he nearly ran you down!”

Hadley sat in her husband’s lap, arms and legs wrapped around him. As she tried to uncurl her legs from his lap, the muscles of her thighs locked and shook. Resting her head against his collar, she inhaled the sweet, earthy scent of sandalwood that lingered on his skin and let him hold her a little longer. If he had been slower— She shook away the thought.

“It’s no different from London. They would sooner run you over than look at you. Help me up, and I’ll finish before someone else comes.”

“No, let me do it. I’m already part metal. What’s one more limb?” he replied, kissing the top of her head and carefully disentangling himself from her skirts.

Watching Eilian from the grass, Hadley smiled to herself. The mechanized fingers of his right hand flexed at a thought, reattaching the engine’s cords and tubes with ease. It had been a year since they met, when she came knocking on his door with a tape measure and an idea for an electric prosthesis. They had shared a tent in the dusty lunar gorges of Palestine while she was disguised as a man, but there would be no more charades or mutterings from his mother about scandal or imagined impropriety. Now, they could finally be together. A thrill laced through her breast at the thought of such liberty.

“Incoming!” she called as a steamer chugged down the lane, slowing to a stop a few yards away.

Eilian stepped out of the way, his eyes trailing to the black-haired woman in the driver’s seat and beside her, his butler clamoring out the door. Patrick burst from the cab, sputtering apologies and half-formed phrases.

“Pat, slow down. I can’t understand a word you’re saying,” Eilian said as he joined him at the steamer’s hood.

Taking a deep breath, Patrick pushed his glasses up his nose and collected his thoughts. “Sorry, sir. She’s willing to take you and Lady Dorset up to Brasshurst Hall. I’ll stay behind and wait for the mechanic.”

The woman with the full features of a Caravaggian saint climbed out of her cab, her voluminous skirts rustling with each step. Her dark eyes ran between the young man with the wayward hair to the woman in the stained dress at his side. “Sorry to intrude, but your valet said you were headed for Folkesbury? I am headed that way now if you would care to join me.”

“That is very kind of you, Miss—?”

“Mrs. Rhodes,” she replied, walking back toward her steamer while the butler dithered between the trunks and bicycles tethered to the back of the hissing steamer.

Eilian held the passenger door open for Hadley to slide in. “I hope we aren’t inconveniencing you.”

“Not at all, I was heading back home. Brasshurst Hall is on the way.”

A pang of guilt rang in the pit of Eilian’s stomach as he watched Patrick grow smaller behind them.

“I was surprised to hear you were headed for Brasshurst. No one has been up there in ages. I almost didn’t believe Argus—my husband—when he told me the earl’s servants were coming up from London to clean the house. Are you his guests?”

Hadley’s lips twitched into a grin, and she shot her husband a knowing look. “He is the earl.”

“Oh.” Mrs. Rhodes’s eyes left the road long enough to search the nobleman’s face for any sign of offense while her own cheeks burned. “I beg your pardon, Lord and Lady Dorset. I— I was expecting someone… older.”

“No harm done, Mrs. Rhodes. You were probably thinking of my father. I have only been the earl for a few months, and I— Is that the house?”

Over the tops of the closely clumped elms and oaks, the spire of a tower rose. As they cut through the brush, Eilian’s eyes widened. Knowing his father, he had expected a conservative Georgian brick manor with a square roof and a smooth face, but the house was like none he had ever seen.

Brasshurst Hall was an asymmetrical monster. It had a Gothic portal and face on the front, a Palladian annex shooting off the side complete with columns and pediments. Straining his eyes, he could make out the latticed windows of a sultan’s harem floating above another layer of cathedral spires and pointed arches. The weathered grey-brown cloister stone was half-covered with ivy and wisteria. Following the gravel drive across an old stone bridge, the orangery appeared. The greenhouse’s glass and metal body bulged from the side of the manor like a verdurous boil. No wonder his father chose to move them to London.

When the steamer slid to a stop, Mrs. Rhodes swallowed hard, looking between her passengers. “I do hope you will call on us while you are in Folkesbury, Lady Dorset. My cousin is staying with us, and he has been eagerly awaiting your arrival. He lives in London, too, near Bloomsbury. You may have heard of him. Nadir Talbot, the novelist.”

“Yes, I think my brother read his last book, the one about Cleopatra. He enjoyed it very much.” When the woman’s eyes lit up, Hadley continued, “Thank you so much for giving us a lift, Mrs. Rhodes. I will most certainly pay you a visit once we are settled.”

Watching the steamer roll away, Hadley sighed as the grin fell from her cheeks. She would have to pay calls in a few days, drifting from house to house pretending she was the Countess of Dorset and not Hadley Fenice of Fenice Brothers Prosthetics. It was hard enough to pretend she was an aristocrat for a few hours at their wedding. How was she supposed to keep it up the entire time they were in Dorset? At least her etiquette books were packed in her trunk and Folkesbury seemed like a small town. Maybe no one would notice that she wasn’t a born aristocrat.

Eilian’s metal hand pressed against her palm. “So, what do you make of it?”

“It’s… different,” Hadley replied, her gaze running over the bright blue brace and ledge door set into the deep rings of the Gothic façade.

“I’m beginning to wonder if insanity runs in my family.” Eilian opened the door and turned to her with open arms. “Well, shall we?”

“You’re going to pick me up? Are you sure you can carry me?”

“I have before.”

Slipping his arms around her shoulders and behind her knees, he hoisted Hadley against his chest. She wrapped her arms around his neck and braced herself in case his prosthesis couldn’t bear her weight. Whenever he picked her up or held her close, part of her still wanted to look around to ensure no one was watching, yet she didn’t want him to stop.

“This is a silly tradition, Eilian. You don’t have to do this.”

“I want to; it’s good luck.” He kissed her cheek and pushed the door with his back. “The Romans believed carrying a bride over the threshold would protect her from evil spirits…”

Eilian froze in the doorway. The tunneled hall was dark, looming over them and pressing close to his head. While the floor had been swept and the old rug laid out, the ribbed arches were webbed with spider’s silk. As the dust motes danced and surged around them, he tightened his grip on her. Turning toward the sun’s rays, he reached to close the door but left it for fear of the shadows rushing in or what might lie beyond the threshold.

“I think we are a little late if we want to beat the evil spirits.” Hadley’s eyes roamed over the clots of long dead insects and debris spun into the grooves of the stone ceiling as he set her down. “I thought the maids were supposed to come and clean up.”

“They were. Maybe I didn’t send them early enough. There are only three of them, and I had no idea the house would be this large… or filthy.”

Taking Eilian’s hand, Hadley stepped into the great hall. The house groaned and yawned somewhere deep within. Hadley raised her eyes to the high Gothic windows and skylights she had seen on the drive up, but they were so choked with ivy they barely emitted enough light for her to make out the family coat of arms carved into the hearth on the other side of the room. A pile of furniture covered with once white sheets stood in the corner, blocking off the entrance to the dining room. The wood-paneled walls were caked in grime while the pointed arches in the upper arcade were cloaked in curtains of cobwebs as opaque as silk screens.

Rubbing her arms, Hadley stared into the mouth of the massive hearth. A granite lion’s head snarled back at her, a spider skittering from his drawn lips to his meager mane. She pulled a handkerchief from her purse and stood on tiptoe to wipe the crest above his head. An otter and a fox stood on either side of a shield surrounded by acorns and leaves. In the fox’s paw was a key while the otter clutched a scallop. Between them an oak sprouted, and a banner stretched across its roots. With her finger wrapped in the linen square, she scrubbed at the stone until the thin letters peaked through. It all had significance. If only she knew what.

“Eilian, what does it say?”

The earl squinted, tracing the letters with his fingertip as he pronounced the familiar phrase. “Salus in Arduis. A refuge in difficulties. Maybe in better days. Come on, let’s see if we can find the library or the orangery.”

Walking into the windowless hall, Eilian felt along the wall for the gas lamps’ switch but found only the dusty edge of a picture frame. He reached behind it, but when something in the shadows brushed against his hand, he lurched back, bumping into his wife. Raising his eyes, he met the face of a man in a powdered wig as the lamps lit with a gurgling sigh. The third earl stared down at him from the wall, the grey irises beneath the cocked brows and the signet ring on his finger were all that tied them together, and he still hadn’t been able to wear his father’s ring yet. He swallowed hard. So these were his ancestors. These were the men he had to live up to.

Eilian took a step forward but stopped, moving back with his eyes locked on the painting.

“What are you doing?”

“His eyes follow you.” He shuddered and tried it with the fourth earl’s portrait further down the hall. “Do we really have to stay here? Can’t we just go to Greece instead?”

Hadley rolled her eyes, avoiding the women hanging in a row on the opposite wall. Why look at them when she knew what she would see? They were a line of noblewomen, born and bred to be the wives of aristocrats, all perfected in oil and exuding a hauteur she couldn’t hope to emulate. She dreaded the day when she and Eilian would sit for their portraits, when their faces would be placed beside his ancestors and everyone would see the glaring deficiencies in the ninth Earl and Countess of Dorset. Reaching the end of the hall, she tugged at the pocket door. With each inch it slid, the thrumming hum of an engine grew louder, but on the other side stood the library. Eilian drifted in behind her, his eyes wide as they followed the bookcases up the wall where they melded with the coffered ceiling.

All of the houses prior eccentricities and sins were forgiven at the sight of the library, which rivaled his back in Greenwich. He ran his hand over the edge of the cabinet before turning the key and pulling it open. Books by Pliny, Archimedes, Al Jazari, and the Banū Mūsā brothers stared back at him. Carefully pulling the last tome from the shelf, Eilian cradled it against his chest with his prosthetic arm and turned the fragile vellum pages with the tips of his fingers. His gaze darted over the tight lines of Arabic and intricate schematics as he settled in at the divan under the window. He wondered who else had cared about ancient engineers.

Hadley’s cream gown floated at the edge of his vision until she knelt on the chair beside him and wiped at the window. She swatted at his shoulder, but his attention never wavered from the page.

“Eilian.”

He had never been able to find a pristine copy in Arabic, even in Cairo and Constantinople. His friends at the Oriental Club would be envious if they knew of his find.

Hadley gripped his shoulder and squeezed. “Eilian, look!”

Glancing up, he met her wide blue eyes, the freckles across her nose stark against her sudden pallor. She motioned for him to peer through the hole in the dust. Between the trees and dense foliage of the greenhouse, a figure sat in a wingback chair beside the algal pool.

“Someone’s in there.”


 

Like what you read? You can pre-order The Earl and the Artificer (IMD#3) here (out January 30th) or you can share this post on social media using the buttons below. Exposure is one of the best ways you can help a writer or artist out.

Stay tuned for more previews in the coming weeks!

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Teaser Tuesday: The Earl and the Artificer

Hey, everyone! I have been holding off for quite a while now with posting a teaser from The Earl and the Artificer, aka book 3. I wanted to get closer to completion before putting anything online because I feared I would post half the book in my excitement. The book is still being written and edited, but I couldn’t wait any longer and had to give you a little glimpse.

In book 3, Eilian and Hadley journey to Brasshurst Hall, the ancestral home of the Earls of Dorset. Below you will find there is an uninvited guest at Brasshurst.


She put a finger to her lips and backed away from the window, her eyes locked on the head swaying above the chair’s back. As Eilian crossed the room and grasped the rough fireplace poker, he frowned at the hearth. The ash had been swept from the firebox and the mantle cleaned of debris and cobwebs recently enough that dust hadn’t settled over them again. Inching toward the double doors at the far end of the library, Eilian listened to the chug of an engine on the other side. Hadley followed close behind, fishing through her clutch. When had she started carrying that instead of her carpet bag? Her face brightened as she pulled out a snub-nosed gun the length of her palm.

“You brought your derringer?”

“It’s been useful thus far.” She checked the chambers before snapping it shut. “You didn’t think I would let you go in there alone, did you?”

Holding Hadley’s gaze, he counted off with his fingers. He drew in a deep breath and threw open the door to the orangery. A puff of hot breath hit them as they stepped into the artificial jungle. Massive palms and bushy camphor trees blocked the sun, casting the greenhouse in a balmy haze. The stench of fetid water was overwhelmed by the scent of plants. Everywhere was the smell of earth and the things that belonged to it, concentrated and bottled under the glass dome.

Eilian pushed back a Jurassic fern and followed the cobbled path toward the pool. Sweat collected under the leather brace around his upper arm, but he ignored the urge to wipe it and swept his eyes through the brush. With firecracker flowers and orchids of every shade and strange conformation crowding the path, he expected to hear the caw or flutter of a parrot, but the air was quiet, rolling and bubbling with the river and fog. As they rounded the corner, the man in the armchair came into sight. The hammer of Hadley’s derringer clicked in Eilian’s ear. He tightened his grip on the poker and watched the man turn. His sharp eyes never left his assailants as he stood and stepped around the chair. His dark suit was impeccably pressed and the fabric even from a distance was fine, better than Eilian’s. Something in his aquiline features was strangely familiar.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” Eilian called, feeling Hadley tense beside him.

“Is that any way to greet your cousin, Lord Dorset?”

“Cousin?”

“Put down the gun, Lady Dorset, before you hurt yourself.”

Hadley’s jaw clenched as she kept the muzzle pointed at the grey-haired man at the edge of the pool. Catching her eye, Eilian nodded, and she exhaled, dropping her arm but keeping the gun at her side. Eilian lowered the poker as the man approached with measured steps.

The man’s lined, silver eyes fell on Hadley’s simple coiffure before lingering on her breasts and waist a moment too long. The new dress, while of good quality, was already dirty and the corset too loose, and though her features were pleasing, she was far from beautiful. The garter gun hung looped in her stained fingers. Where Lord Dorset had found such a creature, he could hazard a guess, but why would he marry it?

“I’m surprised your father never spoke of me.”

“We didn’t speak very often.”

“Apparently. Lord Dorset, the real Lord Dorset—Harland Sorrell—and I were cousins. We were raised in this house.”

When the man’s cutting gaze reached Eilian’s mechanical hand, the younger man tucked it out of sight. “How did you get in here? Did the maids let you in?”

His eyes narrowed as he straightened and cocked his head with a scoff. “I have a key, and even if I didn’t, I know this house better than my own body.”

“You still haven’t told us who you are,” Hadley said, resisting the urge to train the gun on him. There was something in his manner, the way all of his movement seemed to be in his eyes, that set her on edge. She had seen men like that in London— men who kept you busy with their eyes when you should have been watching their hands.

“Randall Nash, and you are Hadley Fenice, the illustrious toy heiress who has risen to countess.”

Hadley winced. The embellished wedding announcement had not been her idea. Her future mother-in-law had taken it upon herself to soften the blow of an inter-class marriage with money. Heiress had a better ring than craftswoman, even if it was false. At least the announcement brought in as many orders as their Christmas advertisement.

“Are you insinuating something, Mr. Nash?” Eilian asked, but before the man could reply, the butler’s harried voice rang through the walls. His voice grew fainter as he retreated through the gallery. “In the greenhouse, Pat!”

A crash resounded behind them, and when Eilian and Hadley turned back, Randall Nash was gone. Using the end of the poker, Eilian pushed back the plants around the edge of the pool but could find no trace of him. He stared down at the empty armchair. From the humidity of the orangery, the fabric had rippled and dampened, raising the varnish on the arms and legs. Beside it sat an open bottle of champagne, a chipped glass, and a book.


I hope you all enjoyed this little sneak peek of The Earl and the Artificer. There isn’t any pre-order info yet, but stay tuned! Also, if you join my newsletter, in a few weeks you will be getting another exclusive sneak peek of chapter one.

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Blurb Reveal: The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3)

the earl and the artificer titleHi everyone,

I have been working on and off on The Earl of the Artificer. Since the end of the semester a week ago, it’s been hard to get back into the swing of my summer schedule. I’m still in the transitional period, so hopefully by next week, I’ll be completely into full-time writing mode. In the meantime, I have [finally] composed the back of the book blurb for The Earl and the Artificer. Typically, I like to write these fairly early on, especially if I know where the story is going. It may change between now and when the book is released, but without further ado, here is the blurb for book three:

After an uneventful wedding, Hadley and Eilian Sorrell should have foreseen the trouble waiting for them at Brasshurst Hall. Eilian wants nothing more than to leave England, but at the insistence of his mother, he and Hadley travel to his abandoned ancestral home to meet his tenants. They soon find the house and the quaint neighboring village are not what they seem.

Behind a mask of good manners and gentle breeding lurks a darker side of Folkesbury. As Eilian and Hadley struggle to fit in with the village’s genteel society, they find everyone is at the mercy of Randall Nash, a mysterious man who knows every secret and seemingly appears out of thin air.

When the village blackmailer turns up dead, the Sorrells find themselves entangled in murder, theft, and intrigue with the manor at the heart of it all. Something long thought lost and buried within Brasshurst’s history has been found—something worth killing for.

I hope the blurb has piqued your interest. In a few weeks, I’ll put up a Goodreads page for book three even though the book won’t be coming out for quite a while (the current estimate is winter ’15 to spring ’16).


As a side note, I’ll be doing a reading at the Steampunk World’s Fair this Friday night, so prepare to see plenty of pics and a post about my experiences after. Please check out the schedule here, and if you are attending the SPWF on Friday, I hope to see you there!


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Projects, Projects, Projects

Hi everyone,

This will be a short blog post before I run up to the university for the night.

You may have noticed the new banner at the top of my page.  I decided to go to Fiverr and get a logo made for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, which hopefully will be used in the future for t-shirts or mugs at events and down the line a table banner for when I do author events. Honestly, I love it. I have been gushing over it for the past two days and am dying to go to Cafepress and make up a t-shirt or something.  I’m easily excitable at times.

The second point I would like to mention is: The Winter Garden is still doing well on Amazon! The ebook and paperback launched last Sunday, and the response has been quite good. I have 4 reviews thus far, all 5s or 4s, and if you are interested in reading it, please check it out here. I’ll do a post about the reviews after I get a few more, so in a week or two.

On to the next: I have finished my thesis proposal! It is done! All I need to do is finish the bibliography, which I’m just too lazy to compile because it’s time consuming and I’m waiting for two books to come in the mail.  In a few weeks, I will turn it in and wait for the committee to hopefully approve it. The project will be book #3 of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, but if you want a little hint as to what I am up to, you can check out the Pinterest board for it here. With school and miscellaneous projects, it has been a slow go, but in a month or two, my writing should pick up.

My final piece of mind vomit is, projects! I feel like as soon as I half-think of one project, another one pops up in my mind.  If you are a fan of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, I can already let you know that there will be a third book (Eilian and Hadley), a fourth book (Emmeline, Immanuel, Adam), and a book in between, which will contain two novellas (Adam and Immanuel and one focusing on Emmeline) and possibly a few short stories that will fall somewhere between books two and four.  Stay tuned for more news down the line.  I hope you all are as excited as I am.

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7 Days Until The Winter Garden Comes Out!

wg preorder banner 1The joy and fear that comes with a book release doesn’t decrease from book one to book two, and I am so glad it doesn’t.  Since there is only a week until The Winter Garden comes out, I wanted to post a small excerpt to give you another taste and teaser.  Here it is:

Miss Waters lingered in the stillness, listening to the wind lash against the windowpane. When she was certain she was the last one awake, she tiptoed to the dresser at the far end of the room and soundless slid open the bottom-most drawer. Shaking the lid off the box, she drew out its precious cargo of lace and silk. Her wedding dress had only arrived a few days before, but every time she was in the room, she found herself staring at it and lovingly stroking the fine fabric. Her mother would think her foolish for being so infatuated with something she wouldn’t wear for months, but she did love Alexander Rose. He would make her life better.

A steamer horn blared behind her, and she dropped the bridal gown as she flinched. Behind the bed curtains, the drapes danced in front of the open window. Katherine frowned as she tucked the dress back into its casket and crossed the vacant room. Staring out into the night, she saw nothing but the iron filigree of the decorative balcony rail just beyond her reach. She smiled to herself. Did she really expect to find a face glaring back at her? As she shut the window against the winter dampness, the murky tang of tobacco ash blew across her nose in a long puff. Her body froze before her eyes ever fell upon the massive figure obscured between the bed curtains and the window’s drapes. Katherine Waters hesitantly raised her gaze to meet the creature’s saffron eyes, which glowed in the shadows behind his molded leather mask.

Her throat tightened, refusing to form a sound, as she stepped back. The monster’s unnaturally long legs terminated in a metal, hoof-like pad, but as it stalked her, it moved with the controlled, rolling gait of a panther. The humanoid beast was nearly seven feet tall with elongated metal nails at the ends of its fingers, which caught the dying light of the fire as they flexed and reached as if to snatch her. His body was clothed in black but peeking from beneath his cloak were jutting brass ribs that covered empty yet opaline lungs. As her back collided with the oaken poster of her bed, Katherine stared into his face. While the mouth and chin were of a man, the top was that of a sharp-featured demon with curled horns. Had the devil finally come to collect her sullied soul?

“God, help me.”

“God has no business here, Kitty.”

If you have a Kindle, you can pre-order a copy for 99 cents here.  It will automatically be delivered to your Kindle on March 15th. If you prefer paperback, it will be out on the 15th for purchase.  I hope to make it available a day or two early, so it will ship closer to the release date.  Createspace really needs to make a pre-order feature for paperbacks.

If you are looking forward to The Winter Garden, I hope you will spread the word, and when you read it, please leave a review. Reviews are incredibly important to authors, not just for feedback but to show others that the book is worth reading, especially for an unknown like me.

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The Low-Down on The Winter Garden (IMD#2)

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen that the release date for The Winter Garden has moved from March 31st to March 15th.  When I arranged the pre-order for the story, I had left plenty of room in case I got busy with class and was unable to finish and edit it as quickly as I planned.  As it turns out, I have everything ready to go about a month ahead of schedule.  Part of me would love to release it today, but due to the way Amazon has the pre-order set up, I can’t move it up that far.  I decided to release it two weeks early, which will allow me to do one more proofing of the opening chapters, but both the ebook and paperback will be out by March 15th.  Let me tell you a little more about The Winter Garden in hopes that it will pique your interest. Continue reading

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The Winter Garden Proof Came!

Please forgive the narrow camera angle. I forgot that I should have turned my iphone sideways.  Lesson learned.

Anyway, my proof copy of The Winter Garden came Saturday! It looks fantastic, and all that’s left is for me to proof-read it.  It feels fantastic to be nearly done, especially now that I seem to be getting more work at my other job and in my classes.  I will be posting more later in the week about The Winter Garden and about some of the characters within it.

If you’re interested in a copy, you can pre-order it from Amazon UK or Amazon US (check out the “Buy Links” page) for 99 cents.  The ebook and paperback will be out March 31st.

wg proof 1wg proof 2wg proof 5wg proof 4

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