Saturday, December 30, 2017

Deadly Reasons

The steampunk world of the Blackburn Chronicles is a dangerous place. Its tales are those of dark heroes, fantastic devices, and unbreakable love.

When concieving the world of The Tremblers, I wanted the aesthetic of a steampunk world, but for me, there had to be practical reason for all of the gears and sprockets. Cogs and brass for fashion's sake only didn't match with my vision for the series.

There had to be a reason for someone to don mechanical devices and articulated lens goggles. So, I created The Great Calamity. A continent-wide disaster that set off a chain of earthqukes fracturing North America.  It is what changed the world of Charlotte Blackburn forever.  Her world no longer felt safe and the fashion and architecture of the post disaster era reflected that.

Deadly vapors from the burning chasms called for face masks or filters when leaving the safety of the Tesla Domes. From glass face plates to leather nose and mouth covers, the citizens of the new Peaceful Union were familiar with every kind of breathing apparatus.

Corsets now had gum rubber lining to minimize shocks from the static energy created by the massive electric Tesla Dome that caged a rebuilt Manhattan. The outer bodice of gowns bore the aluminum metal links of chainmail; another measure of protection against possible flying debris in the event of another quake.

In Outer City, the floating sky settlement, the wild boom town citizens wore leather lined with armour. Assistive devices like mechanical braces to strengthen injured arms, hands, and legs were common in the sky harbors. Being so high in the sky, the sun required the use of tinted goggles and additional filters. Many citizens bore hidden weapons tucked into the ribbon of a top hat or disguised as jewlery.  

One of my favorite wardrobe research pojects was the bedouin inspired wraps and tunics worn by the Wind Reaper clans. Exeedingly hot with poisonous sandstorms, the brutal conditions of the Wasteland called for a different kind of clothing. Reapers lived on humongous walking fortresses that roamed the constantly shifting dunes and required more ease of movement and protection from the airborn embers that smoldered on the winds.

The most classic treatment of clothes in The Blackburn Chronicles is the uniform of the those belonging to The Order of the Sword and Scroll. Crimson cloaks and armor breastplates worn by the knights harken back to the centuries old origin of the powerful society. Ashton Wells, spy for the Order, favors a knight's blade over the more modern tracer gun.  

Charlotte Blackburn, the heroin of the series goes through a tremendous transformation from debutante to dissenter and the Dark Wrath.  Her ice-blue ball gown signifies the wealth and priveledge she enjoyed before Ashton Wells enters her life. As she becomes Blackburn's Daughter leader of the rebel group, Defiance, she dons the leather and linen of the sky dwellers up in Outer City. And finally, as she comes into her own as a warrior, her dark cloak, arm guards, and electrified baton transform her into the weapon she had become.

The world of The Tremblers, the first book in my YA steampunk series, The Blackkburn Chronicles, was so much fun to write. I can't wait to share the epic story with you!

+raquel byrnes

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Radio Retrofuture Interview!

Come hang out with me over at Radio Retrofuture where we talk secret societies, global catastrophe, and air ship battles.

Don't forget to check out my Steampunk Thriller while its on pre-order sale...

Charlotte Blackburn—Beautiful, intelligent, a gifted tinkerer—lives in a cloistered world of wealth and privilege beneath the Electric Tesla Dome that shields survivors of The Great Calamity. But when her father is abducted, and a strange sickness starts transforming men into vicious monsters, she discovers that technology is no protection at all.

Ashton Wells has a dire mission: Secure Colonel Blackburn and deliver his research to The Order of the Sword and Scroll. But the plan goes awry, and he is left with nothing but the colonel's daughter who has a target on her back and is willing stop at nothing to rescue her father—including handing over to the enemy the only means to stop the monstrous plague.

Branded as traitors, Ashton and Charlotte brave the treacherous floating sky ports of Outer City to hunt down the elusive inventor, Nikola Tesla—the only person able to activate the strange device that harbors the secret to their salvation. 

With the government closing in, a rebellion brewing in the streets, and terrifying Tremblers attacking the innocent, the two must work together to stop their fragile world from crumbling once more into destruction.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Your Free Goodies Are Here!

I have some goodies for all of you!  The website for the entire Blackburn Chronicles series is now live! And to celebrate, I have FREE downloads available in anticipation of my upcoming release...

Free Downloads

Two Free Novellas - How did the mysterious spy Ashton rise from a beggar child on the streets to the most feared knight of the Order of the Sword and Scroll? What tragedy pushed docile nursemaid, Lizzie Frances to become the violent leader of the rebel group Defiance? What unfathomable secret drove the celebrated scientist Nikola Tesla to risk his life to destroy his own invention?

Of Books and Blades
In this prequel to The Tremblers, we learn of the shadowy Order of the Sword and Scroll, and one boy who will do anything to keep from returning to a life of hunger and fear on the streets.
This Perilous Path
In the years leading up to The Tremblers, the life of those in service was brutal. When the one bright spot in her otherwise dreary existence is unexpectedly and viciously extinguished, it sets Lizzie Frances on a path straight to the heart of the rebellion.

And don't forget to check out The Tremblers on pre-order now.

Charlotte Blackburn—Beautiful, intelligent, a gifted tinkerer—lives in a cloistered world of wealth and privilege beneath the Electric Tesla Dome that shields survivors of The Great Calamity. But when her father is abducted, and a strange sickness starts transforming men into vicious monsters, she discovers that technology is no protection at all.

Ashton Wells has a dire mission: Secure Colonel Blackburn and deliver his research to The Order of the Sword and Scroll. But the plan goes awry, and he is left with nothing but the colonel's daughter who has a target on her back and is willing stop at nothing to rescue her father—including handing over to the enemy the only means to stop the monstrous plague.

Branded as traitors, Ashton and Charlotte brave the treacherous floating sky ports of Outer City to hunt down the elusive inventor, Nikola Tesla—the only person able to activate the strange device that harbors the secret to their salvation. 

With the government closing in, a rebellion brewing in the streets, and terrifying Tremblers attacking the innocent, the two must work together to stop their fragile world from crumbling once more into destruction.

I'm so excited about sharing Charlotte's world with all of you!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Unexpected Adventures

Got to FINALLY meet fellow COTT alumni and Tosca Lee at SCCWC

I was in the midst of a very hot, very busy summer of writing and editing. I cannot believe I survived it, quite frankly. I had no time for least, that is what I told myself.  

Deadlines loomed. Social media called to me. I had all but barricaded myself in my office to get my work done. However, in an attempt to keep the creative juices going, I went to the Southern California Christian Writer's Conference's inaugural event this past July. 

Held at the beautiful Biola University, I had an absolute blast!  I opted to stay in the dorms and eat in the cafeteria because, why wouldn't I? Not only did I get to chat with fellow book lovers, I had the pleasure of meeting some of my own favorite authors.  It was a total out-of-the-blue opportunity and I was so glad I took it.

The best part was the workshop on Writing Fight Scenes in which we acted out specific fist fights with each other while a Krav Maga guy encouraged us how to 'be more aggressive.' I can't tell you how funny a room full of writers looks practicing assault. We are sort of an awkward group. An unexpected bit of adventure...and I loved it!

Book News!

I am so excited to announce that The Tremblers is on pre-order on Amazon! 

And speaking of unexpected fun...I have been working on a surprise for you guys...To celebrate the launch of the first book in the Blackburn Chronicles, my publisher is releasing Three Free Novellas!  I hope you enjoy them!

Of Books and Blades, Ashton's story of how he became a spy for The Order of the Sword and Scroll.

This Perilous Path, tells of Lizzie's rise from nursemaid to leader of the violent rebel group, Defiance.

A Dream of Darkness, Tesla's tale of the strange device that set in motion the dangerous events of The Tremblers.

Recommended Reads and Fun Stuff

This fall we see the release of so many hotly anticipated installments in quite a few of our favorite series. From Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare to Mari Lu's Warcross, the offerings this fall are amazing.

All I need at this point is a cozy cardigan, some coffee, and a quiet crevasse in which to binge read.

This October is the Gaslight Steampunk Expo in San Diego!  This is year they will be having an Escape Room, Grand Ball, and an Ice Cream Social.  Yes Please!

I am so close to buying a corset just so that I can go and take part in all the fun!  Wish me luck!

Until Next Time

I would love to hear about your summer or what you plan to do this fall. With school starting, holidays just around the corner, and work responsibilities nipping at our heels, what unexpected adventures do you see yourself taking? 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mental Mahem...Bring It

So the crazy NaNoWrimo2017 race in just a few days! I often wonder on December 1st what the heck I was thinking!?
For those who are unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately called, stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a 30 day writing sprint with the goal of getting 50K words written for a novel you are working on.
Now this sounds insane.  It IS insane. That's 1,666 words a day. EVERY DAY for 30 days. And mind you, your end result is going to be soooo crappy.
Why bother, you ask?
Well, you have to think of it as shoveling sand into a sandbox--knowing you will go back later to build castles.
One of the major complaints I get at workshops or classes I give is that although people have great ideas or have been mulling a story idea over for weeks, months, even years...they haven't actually started writing it.
Well, you can't edit a blank getting out is really a big step. 
Secondly...people get stuck in the first few chapters because they THINK TOO MUCH and never move on.  NaNoWriMo is such a sprint that you just have to keep going. Which is extremely freeing!
You can't go back and rework things, or obsess about a dialogue exchange, or tinker with the wording of a narrative...There's no time. And that is very effective for helping you just get the story out.
There are a lot of fun and encouraging things going on for those participating though...
  • Awesome Forums - everything from subgenre discussions to business tips
  • Regional Groups - you can join a Write-In and meet other NaNo writers at a coffee shop for a group write. Lots of fun.
  • Online Groups - there are online groups to connect with either by location or genre.
  • You can earn badges, buy swag, contribute to the program, etc.
  • Buddy Lists - I've made friends here that extend beyond NaNo that have led to guest posts, ect.
  • Help Desk - need info or research help? These guys are super helpful!
  • Writing Coaches - there are twitter chats, videos, camps to join. You need help and commraderie...they've got it.
I hope to see you guys on the forums and on my buddy list. I am under Raquel Byrnes if you'd like to add me. :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NaNoWriMo Prep -- Yay or Nay?

First of all...National Writing Month is not a sprint. Its a month-long marathon of pushing for the coveted 50, 000 words. 

Many have started...few finish...even fewer 'win' with the 50K prize grasped in their sweaty, most likely cramping, fingers. It CAN be done though. You just need to prepare for it.

I know there are a lot of  opinions as to whether it is 'pure' or not to organize your thoughts or even outline a story before the bell, but I'm all for it. Why? Because I think it will help you reach your goal. 

And that is the whole point, right? Jump start a book -- get your first draft started?

So if you do plan on prepping for NaNo, there are a few ways to go.  I'm a huge fan of Randy Ingermanson's Snow Flake Method.  Its very step-by-step and you end up with not only plot blocks, an outline, and a rough draft of your synopsis, but you can work your steps into a very nice proposal.

Another program I've tried with great results is Scrivener. You can get a trial version that is free and lasts for 30 days which is all you need for Nano anyway. But once you start...this program will be one of your go-to organizational tools. We're talking research articles, photos, audio and video, all kinds of stuff!

Something I use now and have found works wonderful for visual people is a simple Index Card app. They have them for Windows, iOS, even phones. You can move scenes around and even import the outline to your computer which is very helpful.

Mindly is a great brainstorming tool. It works like a cluster brainstorm exercise, but you can assign colors and sizes to the difference spheres. You can also choose how to extendor telescope your ideas deeper as well. I use it on my phone, print out the 'mind map' and use it in my writing.  Easy peasy-lemon squeezy!

My pantser (discovery writer) friend makes outlines a la high school. And she weaves incredibly detailed and intricate plots. She's more of a free spirit and loves to just let go and let her characters 'be' but she does do some preparation.

NaNoWriMo may be a great opportunity to get that story that's been scratching in your skull out and on to paper. But as I said before, writing at that pace, without a plan, may result in a meandering mess.

If you have some great organizational ideas, I'd love to hear them. As I get ready for the month of November, I could use all the help I can get.  If you'd like to connect on NaNoWriMo's site...I am under: Raquel Byrnes.  :)

(Portions of the post are from a previous article from 2012.)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Welcome To Disaster

So I've been playing around with gifs and ended up doing this fun collage about my upcoming YA Steampunk, The Tremblers over on my Tumblr. I have to was a lot of work, but such a blast!

I figured out how to add text to gifs so I put some of the quotes from my first book on various scenes that hint at the story...

Trying to capture the danger and awe of a world crumbling into disaster was challenging and really got my creative juices flowing!

What sort of non-writing creative outlets do you turn to when you're seeking that imagination pick-me-up?

Until next time...

Thursday, October 5, 2017


I am a total child when it comes to October. I love it. Like...LOVE it. You see, its the month with no pressure.  No big holiday meals to prepare or houses to clean for guests.  In fact all the guests stay right outside my, so nice.  

It is time when color combinations like orange and purple are not only acceptable, but encouraged.  I love bats and creepy "crystal" goblets and frothy black lace sleeves.  It is the month that brings joy to the Goth girl still hiding inside my head.

I totally ROCKED one of these!
I think is has to do with imagination. October is the month where whimsical and terrible play together. Pretty, pretty princess dresses hang next to the tattered shreds of a mummy suit. And the candy...THE CANDY!  

I love the creativity that comes out during this time of the year. I remember making costumes that were necessarily 'punny' because we could not afford real costumes.  So I was the "Freudian Slip"...aka the girl in the body suit and white dress slip with "Freud" cut out of construction paper.  It think I saw that in a movie and thought it was the height of sophistication...costume wise, anyway. 

ALAS, the night was misty and the black cut-out letters shriveled into dark clumps and people asked me if I was a girl snowman...?  Whatever, people. It was glorious in my living room.

All the good things are in October...
I was the "cactus" which was really a green sweat suit with glued on sponge wedges.  

It was awesome, I tell you.  AWESOME!

The one year I did buy a costume...I chose a bizarre inflatable, hat-like, goblin head. Why? Because it came with BOTH a cape AND face paint!  Whaaaa?!  I was in heaven.

October to me still means creativity and freedom from the expected. This time, however, I don't plan costumes. I plan books.  It is the month leading into NaNoWriMo. 

So I do all my outlining, planning, and preliminary research this month.  Last year it was for my final book in the Blackburn lots of cogs and gears...zombie flesh...and pretty, pretty dresses that happen to have hidden weapons.  I AM still a girl, after all.

This month, I am planning my next book...a creepy fantasy with monsters and daggers and...pretty, pretty magic cloaks!  Wish me luck!

What is your favorite part of the year? Is it the pastel springtime?  The balmy summer?  What about the crisp winter?   What about them makes you smile?

Until next time...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Speculative Fiction Radio Show

Anyone interested in talking books? Evan over at Writestream Radio is looking for authors for a couple of fall dates...

The Speculative Fiction Cantina: your weekly hypodermic injection of science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate history, steampunk, cyberpunk, and things weird and wonderful in the world of books and writers. We ask authors the hard questions. You'll hear from writers who bend the rules and drive the narrative.  Join S. Evan Townsend on this journey over the rainbow and through the looking glass. And remember to take the red pill.

The Speculative Fiction Cantina is an internet radio program on the Writestream Radio Network that airs every Friday at 6:00 P.M. Eastern.  It last approximately an hour. The format is I have two writers on to interview. Also, the writers are asked to do a 5-8 minute live reading out of one of their works. We look for speculative fiction writers (scifi, fantasy (and all its subgenres), horror, alt history, steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, etc.). It’s very conversational and, I hope, fun.

Evan can be contacted through this page:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Feelings and Frappuccinos

Here's the truth of it. I am happy alone in the dark with my keyboard and some coffee. That is my comfort zone. I live mostly in my head with my characters and that's alright. My hubby gets it. He entices me with Frappuccinos and we work it out.

However, as an author, I paradoxically long to connect with others through what I'm reading or writing or watching. Talking about books or movies...that is so energizing for me!  I wish I could just have a monthly coffee house meeting with all of you! 
Alas, you are all spread throughout our little blue marble. So its a struggle to really reach out and connect with other lovers of books, avid wordsmiths, book dragons...if you will.                                                                           

Recently, I finished a steampunk, zombie, romance trilogy. Yes...I said that right. It seemed like such a natural transition after writing my Gothic romance books.  There is a lot of crossover between the two genres on an emotional level.

It occurred to me that some of you might have experienced an unexpected crossover into a genre you might not normally read.  Did a friend get so jazzed about a book you just had to read it?  What led to your little reading digression...and did it stick?

I used to be just romantic suspense and then I saw The Woman In Black, a movie of the Gothic mystery persuasion.  I loved it so much that I sought out similar movies and books...totally addicted now. Sound familiar or are you a die hard fan of your chosen flavor of storytelling?  

Writing steampunk this time around was so exciting for me!  The alternative history crowd is such a great community of artists, inventors, seamstresses, and of course, authors.  The TeslaCon and other conferences are definitely a draw. Who doesn't love cool weapons and luxurious materials? 

The journey from concept to completion for these novels continues to be a wild ride!
Click to learn more...
I'd love to share with you the raucous ride our heroine, Charlotte Blackburn takes in the series. From debutante to dissenter, some heroes are born ladies.  I will be hosting some launch parties and what not when the first book releases in January BUT...

I will have some free goodies for all of you in a few weeks!  I've written three novellas to introduce book one of The Blackburn Chronicles, The Tremblers! They will be available for download soon. Ill keep you posted!


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Time in Pages

I've been asked to write a few novellas to accompany the release of my YA Steampunk series next year.

They can be any character or event in the series. So...yay! Between 2500-5000 words long.  Whoa...what?! 

At first I was concerned at the time frame. I have until summer, but they want a few and thats a tight timeline for all the different ones I have in mind. 

Then I started writing...OMG this is hard!  I don't have enough time/pages to do what I want with the little vignettes and backstory.

There's so much more to the characters and the world. I know, I spent years creating and fine tuning them both. 

BUT...I can DO this...right? *sigh*

So the average novella is 20 pages which is around 5,000 words. Thats a lot, right? I handwrote out a story beginning. I thought I was being brief but I'm at page 11 already so I have to slash, slash, slash!

I guess it feels like time measured out in pages is a bit constraining. I have to cut out extraneous things like too much setting description, etc. And that's sort of difficult if your world is a steampunk post apocalyptic version of New we're talking major world building needed here.

I'm hoping it works out.  I have in mind 5-8 novellas so hopefully I will get the process down pretty soon. 

Never realized how challenging this would be. Hats off to the other authors out there whose free novellas I gobbled up and guys rock!

+Raquel Byrnes 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG, Reading Changed Me

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

This month's Insecure Writers Support Group topic is:
How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

The truth is...A LOT

I was always a voracious reader. I was the kid in school reading as she walked to class, totally oblivious of people saying hello my utter dismay, opening doors. I chewed through tomes in just a couple of days always on the prowl for a new series to swoon over. Often quoting characters and expecting others to understand my nerdy references. Yeah...that kid.

Now I am an adult version of that kid. I still read like its going out of style. I still tend to get lost in a book even in a crowded room.

BUT...reading took a little of an unexpected turn for me. It became a learning experience on how to write. 

As an author, I can appreciate what an author is doing in terms of technique. When I read, I notice things like dialogue, world-building, character development, story arc...and I learn a ton from each author.

Reading helps me identify what works and what doesn't. What I like and why I like it.  And hopefully, improve my own writing.

I figure the more I take in great writing...better writing...than my own...the more I learn.

Because of this, my choices in books has changed to reflect my taste for higher quality products. The YA genre in particular is pumping out some amazing series...I am truly excited as a reader and fan!

So now, happily, I have an actual professional reason for my book hoarding! Yay me!

Please take a look at some of the other insightful posts by the Insecure Writers Support never know where inspiration might strike.

+Raquel Byrnes