Monday, December 10, 2018

Writing When You're Running Out of Steam

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
One of the hardest things to do as an author is to write when I don't feel like it. It happens more often than you think. Putting my behind in the chair and my hands on the keys despite not really having any idea how to move forward is so important. I believe it is a major skill in writing professionally.  Not quitting just because its hard is something we all struggle with so I thought I'd share a few ways I encourage myself to tough it out. Hopefully these tips can get you through the holidays without pulling your hair out.
Write or Die is an online program designed to get you through writer's block by providing and timer and stimulus as an incentive during word sprints. There are a few modes...alarms if you fall behind your wordcount, flashing lights, or the softer more pleasant reward mode that gives you pictures of puppies for achieving your goal.  That one is my favorite. You can even get an app for your phone or computer.
Do something creative that has a side connection to writing. For instance, I like to bullet journal. So I find doodling while listening to my book's soundtrack or a writing podcast helps me to think about my story in another way. I almost always works.
Last, but not least, I saw this on Twitter during NaNoWriMo. A woman wrapped some fun gifts for herself in nice paper and labeled them with word counts. So at 5K she got a box of chocolates, at 10K she got a new coffee mug, etc.  I am not above this at all. I can totally be bribed and cheaply, too.
Finally, know yourself and when you write best. Optimize your success by choosing times that work best for you.  Are you a night owl like me? Then set time aside and guard it like a dragon with their horde of coins.  Don't slip something else in you 'should' be doing instead. Your writing time is important and for others to treat it that way you need to as well.

Hopefully you will find one or more of these suggestions helpful. If you have any tried and true tricks to get back on track then feel free to share them in the comments.  Until next time...happy writing!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Remembering with Celebration

I lost my mother a few years ago. It wasn't sudden. She'd been sick for a while, but it was devastating nonetheless  and I think of her every day.  So much so that I often avoid even talking about her because of the immediate ache in my throat.

This year, her birthday fell on Dia de los Muertos and I thought that maybe going to the festival with my family would help me to think of her in a different light. Not one of loss or sadness, but with happiness and hope. I hadn't celebrated this way since I was a very young child and visiting my Nana (grandma) in Texas.

The idea came to me because I've been working on a new series and the main character is Mexican like me. She works with her entire family, cousins and all, on a daily basis. So all of the craziness, fighting, eating and celebrating  is very personal to me. It is what I grew up with and what I reach back to for comfort. 

My community is in southern California and so there is a huge Dia de los Muertos festival near me. There are processions with people dressed as Aztec warriors or as the calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls) dressed in formal wear, as well as various depictions of death.  All of it done in festive bright colors with flowers and smiles. 

Ofrenda note I left for my mother.
Lost loved ones are depicted as happy, dancing, and having fun. Often we make and eat their favorite meals, listen to their favorite songs, and talk about happy memories with each other as we remember those we lost.
My mother loved dancing cumbias or Columbian dances. So I was determined to get out on the dance floor and dance with my family. We had a blast.
The real emotional part was in the park. Away from the dancing, food, music, and laughter there is a path that leads into a dark park lit by hundreds of candles on tables.

Traditionally people will set out 'ofrendas' or offerings which are photographs, favorite objects, foods, and drink that remind them of those they lost. Some of the tables were amazing with strung lights, handmade tissue flowers, cutout banners, painted sugar skulls or candies, etc.

I do not do an altar or offerings. Its not part of my own family's tradition. But I did leave a note to my mother on the community offering table. I told her that I miss her and that we are all doing well.

This year I think that celebrating my mother's life and thinking about her surrounded by family and laughter was really what I needed. I came away from it all with a smile on my face and great times to remember with my own children.

I want to incorporate more of my family's traditions and customs into my writing.  I hope that it gives others a nudge to explore their own heritage with their family.

I think this will be a new family tradition for us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

WIPjoy Wrap Up - What I Learned

Day 15: Genre of Art That Best Describes Your WIP
As you all know, I took part in #WIPjoy this month. It is a Twitter event that celebrates your Work In Progress and helps authors to connect and encourage one another.
Aside from the social aspect, the part of the fun of the event is that I find most helpful is that it forces me to look at my story from angles I wouldn't necessarily see otherwise.  The amazing Bethany Jennings @simmeringmind  and S.D. Grimm at


did a flat out awesome job at coming up with the daily prompts.
Some of my favorite ones included other types of art that best describes your story. So for Veridian's main character, tech hunter, Elara Savoya, I used the future noir graphic arts.
Day 29: Fall, food, festivities, and family.

We were also asked to share our writing playlist which was a lot of fun. If you'd like to check it out, its on Spotify here: Veridian Playlist
But it was the more personal questions that really served to help me solidify my main character in my head. 
There was  a question about what my main character's loved about fall.
Or what childhood dreams she had that will never come true...that was a really hard one!
It made me think about her outside of the story...outside of the high stakes drama. What was she like at home?
Day 23: Elara dreamt of the stars.
She loves her family. They drive each other crazy because they work together in the tech recovery game.
I realized they may fight a lot...but they fight best together.
Graphics and playlists aside, I feel like I learned a lot more about my characters and story through this event. 
Overall I feel pretty excited to head into next month's craziness of NaNoWriMo. 
If you are taking part in the race to 50K add me as a buddy. I'm under Raquel Byrnes on the site.
As a reader, do you like to see more than the books? Do songs, art, and other fun stuff get you excited for the story? 
I'm off to plot for #NaNoWriMo. Wish me luck and see you soon!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

To 50K and BEYOND!

If you follow me on social media, you know that I have committed to undertaking the National Novel Writing Month challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. That was not a typo... fifty THOUSAND words in thirty DAYS.
I've done this before and it was painful and frustrating and exactly what I needed to kickstart myself into writing the trilogy I had been researching for literally months.
#WIPjoy Day 1 - Visual of your Work in Progress
So here we are again and I have spent a lot of time talking about, researching, plotting, and agonizing over my current book.  Its a work in progress (WIP)  in that I have been working on it...just not writing it. That is something I hope to remedy with #NaNoWriMo this year.
I did an entire month of #WIPjoy which I love because it makes you think about and explain aspects of your characters and novel you may not have delved into otherwise. I find the quarterly Twitter event quite helpful and encourage you to take part in the winter. Its great fun and you meet a lot of other authors which is always a good thing.
I'm working on a scifi mystery. It takes place in the near future where Elara Savoya, a tech hunter is dragged into a high stakes international plot that will put the space race and ultimately man's place among the stars in jeopardy. So yes...I'm raring to go on this one.

One of the intimidating things about #NaNoWriMo is that it takes place during the holiday season. For those who take part in NaNoWriMo and who also live in the United States, that means Thanksgiving. A huge family dinner with tons of prep and cleanup and time spent socializing. Great for the soul...not so great for the word count.
As a fix, Christen E Krumm has proposed a BACKWARDS NaNoWriMo. This involves frontloading your wordcount per day so that as you start to inch towards the holidays, your required words per day to stay on target goes down.  
This method has you go gangbusters while you're still all excited and hyped up on Halloween candy and gives you a break as you head towards Christmas decorating, shopping, partying, etc.  Here's a helpful writing plan from Christen's site.
Backwards NaNoWriMo Plan
I think I'm going to give this a try. Anything to get my first draft done before the new year. I'm hoping to hit a few conferences and I'd love to have a working draft to pitch or talk to editors about. 
What about you? 
Are you thinking of doing #NaNoWriMo this year?  If so...add me on your buddy list (Raquel Byrnes) and I'll do the same. Just leave your user name in the comments.  Happy writing!

Friday, October 5, 2018

#WIPjoy and Playlists

This month is #WIPjoy! Its a Twitter event that happens every season, so four times a year, that brings together authors to share their Work In Progress and encourage one another. I love this event and look forward to it every year. The amazing Bethany A. Jennings @ SimmeringMind and S.D. Grimm @SDGrimmAuthor make WIPjoy both fun and uplifting. 

Veridian Playlist on Spotify
We are currently on Day 5: Tunes for Your WIP.
Whenever I start a new book I also start a playlist. I've always used music to help me not only get in the right mind-set for a give scene, but it really helps me to organize my story in a way that a visual chart doesn't quite touch.

I get a better sense of the pace with music. Too many fast, exciting songs and I realize I need a lull scene to give the reader a moment to catch their breath.  On the flip side, if my song list consists of too many slow pieces, I write in something that picks up the pace.

The playlist for my sci-fi thriller, Veridian, is coming along nicely. Since its a future-noir, I get to have some moody jazz, great old big band pieces, soulful love songs, and awesome space themed soundtracks.

A playlist is never complete until the book is finished, but its certainly fun to see what other authors use for inspiration.

#WIPjoy is such a fun way to connect with authors, see what they're working on, and to get sneak peeks at upcoming books.  I highly recommend checking it out.

These are the last few days of the All Hallows Read Giveaway

"A perfect blend of suspense, intrigue, and creepiness will draw you into this dark world..." ~ Nights and Weekends Review
f you like exploring strange noises in the walls, secret passages, and rumors of ghost. Then join the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Gothic Mystery, Whispers on Shadow Bay. The GIVEAWAY ends on October 7th.

Monday, October 1, 2018

All Hallows Read Giveaway!

I'm so excited to participate in All Hallows Read this year! Its a completely made-up holiday to celebrate reading and books. The idea is to give someone a scary book this month...Thats it!
Reading free books? Yes, please!
The yearly celebration was started by Neil Gaiman and I think the video of him explaining it is so funny because the people in the background are hilariously trying to create mayhem...

Its not only for individuals to gift someone they love with a truly breathtaking tale. Libraries, books stores, book clubs, and coffee shops all get into the tradition.  For more information check out the All Hallows Read website. They have downloadable posters, recommended reads for all ages, and bookmarks!
Some of my favorite reads are Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe.
To give you more ideas Goodreads has an All Hallows Read List
So if you like spooky books and there are people around, you can join in!  Pick up some scary stories to hand out from a library book sale, the thrift shop, or even me!
I am celebrating by giving away 3 Kindle copies of my spooky Gothic mystery, Whispers on Shadow Bay! The GIVEAWAY last from October 1-7th.
All you have to do is enter the giveaway below and the winners will have their books in time to join in on the fun!
Don't forget to check out the #AllHallowsRead hashtag on twitter and Instagram for inspiration on what to read this Halloween.

Enter for a chance to win one of 3 copies  in time for 
All Hallows Read!
Click To Enter GIVEAWAY

Friday, September 21, 2018

Ripping Apart Your Own Work

Two weeks ago I finally finished the first draft of my outline for Veridian. This week I am trying to stitch it back together. This always happens. I finally get the outline done and then I talk it through with my husband who is my sounding board.  He inevitably asks questions that lead to more questions that lead to a meltdown because my plot has holes I didn't see before and now everything is ruined! Or something to that effect.

This time I was going over the technology predictions and political map of my scifi thriller and he pointed out some things I could do better...and some things that I could do without. Needless to say I was both excited to make the changes and frustrated to be back at square-one after finally finishing an outline that was truly a struggle to wrangle into completion in the first place. Blerg!

But a fellow author friend of mine who gives me the best encouragement sent me the graphic above. Its great advice that I promised to keep in mind. What I am doing now is just the beginning. I don't know why I forget this EVERY time I start another book.

Maybe its the dreamer in me that wishes to show you with perfect detail the amazing sights I have in mind. Whatever the reason...I will remind myself that first drafts suck as a rule. I can't very well edit something that isn't there.

So as I head into the weekend I plan on getting a ton done on this outline. We'll see!  Hope you all have a wonderful time recuperating from this busy week!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Giveaway and Skywatch Musings

July and August are my favorite months of the year because the sky has to offer so much to skywatchers like myself. From aphelion to Mars in opposition, its summers should be.

However, as we slide into September, big changes are on their way. Venus sinks deeper towards the horizon and gets brighter. The gas giants will dominate the southern view of the sky. And all of it points towards the autumn equinox on the 22nd.

I find skywatching both relaxing and exciting. If there is a thing. I anticipate the beauty and fun with my family. We often have viewing parties and we blow up an inflatable mattress, haul out the hot coco, and snuggle in soft blankets with our faces towards the heavens. But after the kids have grown fidgety and gone to bed and hubby wanders off to grade papers, I relax and wait for the moon rise or the fleeting streak of a comet.

I am trying to keep this attitude with my current WIP. Right now there is the anticipation that research and daydreaming and plotting brings. The want of what will come. But I am not enjoying the rest and enjoy part of it. I need to change that.

So today I broke out the watercolors and messed around with adding some creativity other than writing to my daily life. I am not good at painting. Terrible really. Which is freeing somehow because I can do it with the goal of having fun as opposed to making it perfect.

I keep trying to remind myself that the first draft is the sand. I'm shoveling it into the sandbox so that I can make castles later. Thank you, Shannon Hale, for that awesome reminder that first drafts are supposed to suck. 

I have some great news to share with all of you! This month until September 20th The Tremblers will be .99!  Its to celebrate this HUGE giveaway and contest going on over at My Book Cave. There's prizes up to $400 and tons of gifts.

So if you'd like to check it out, head on over to My Book Cave's Pelican Book Group Extravaganza! And check out The Tremblers a steampunk thriller for only 99 cents!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Wax Seals and Penny Dreadfuls: A Writer's Tools

One of the things I love most about the writing life is that I allows me to connect with other people. Some from far, far away whom I might never have met otherwise.  So when I send out signed copies for prizes or what not, I always try to include a special letter to my fellow book lovers.
The one I wrote for the Blackburn series is especially dear to me because it talks about how the heroine, Charlotte, helped me to process memories of some difficult times.  I hope her story inspires you like it did me.
Plus...I get to play with fancy quills and wax seals. Also a major writerly perk.
To keep from going mad with all the deadlines and writing goals, I have resolved to work more reading time into my schedule. I'm currently reading a lovely Penny Dreadful compilation I picked up a while ago. It begins with the estimable Mary Shelly. I haven't read Frankenstein in over a decade.  
It even has The Mummy's Curse by Louisa May Alcott. I've not had the pleasure of reading anything of hers other than Little Women so this should be a treat. I hear it is a creepy little tale involving hapless Egyptologists and ancient curses.
I'm currently working on a near future scifi thriller. So I get to do a lot of research on mega structures and neurotechnology. Not to mention wade through the space elevator arguments. There are apparently wildly differing opinions on the feasibility of such a thing.
It is great fun to imagine what might be. And creating the moody atmosphere of Veridian with all its neon and smooth, cold glass is something of a challenge. Its amazing how much I want to juxtaposition lush fabrics and vivid colors to that sterile world. Working on the wardrobe aesthetic of my main gal, Elara. Beauty, brains, and a bad temper.  I think some blood red lips might do. 

Photos by: m-ban, eden acrchives, and art of soulburn.  

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Love Restored + Giveaway!

Today, guest author, Kelly Goshorn is here to talk about her amazing new novel, A love Restored!
To celebrate, she is giving away one of these amazing book charms and an Amazon gift card for your book binging pleasure! We'll choose one random commenter to receive this fun giveaway!

About the book~
She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.
With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.
When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

Purchase on Amazon US, Amazon UK and Barnes & Noble 

Author Chat~
What is the first book that made you cry?
Where the Red Fern Grows. My seventh-grade math teacher read it to us for a few minutes every day after lunch. When Old Dan and Little Ann died I broke down and sobbed.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
The blank page. Ugh. Sometimes it is a real slugfest to fill up that empty page and get the draft written. I much prefer the editing process. Taking those rough words and polishing them until they shine is the part I enjoy the most.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes. I wanted to use my maiden name, Kelly Criste. I thought it sounded “writerly.” When I told my husband, the disappointment in his eyes made me think better of the idea. Between you and me, I still think it sounds better than Goshorn.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Hmmm, that’s tricky. So many things from craft books, to attending conferences and joining critique groups have all played a pivotal role in my growth as a writer. But if I must choose one, then I think the money I spent on entering contests was very beneficial to me. Not only did I get feedback from published authors and industry insiders, but I was blessed to final in four contests. I even managed to win one, The Cott Olympia. When I pitched A Love Restored to agents and editors in 2015, I was able to reference the recognition the story had received. Although I usually mentioned this toward the end of my pitch, one editor told me I should’ve led with that information.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What a great question! I think I’d have to say a turtle. I think I’m the slowest writer to ever grace the planet earth. But like the turtle, I keep plodding along “slow and steady” until I type “The End.” Team turtle for the win!

About Kelly ~
Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.
You can connect with Kelly on:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Summertime Means Overdrive!

Back to the Grind Coffee House-Riverside, CA

I usually don't write during the daytime from August to June because I am a homeschool mom and my kids take up all day.  But once summer rolls around, all bets are off.

I love summer because it is my most productive time as a writer. We  live in the dessert so going out during the day is not a fun experience anyway. As a result we tend to live like vampires out here in the Inland Empire. Its common to see parks empty until the sun starts to dip below the horizon. It gets over 100 degrees here so we adjust.

So I switch from a night owl to a day worker for three months out of the year. The advantage to this is I tend to have coffee houses to myself as they tend to get busy after people get off of work. I recently discovered one that I really like. It has that old coffee house feel that I so missed from my college days.

My husband I used to go and study at one in Oceanside that was so supportive of local talent that you really felt connected to the community.  Artists, musicians, poets, and yes...even authors were the bulk of the clientele and it was fabulous.

There's a coffee house I visited recently in a nearby city that reminded me of those beloved beginnings. I was running errands at the courthouse and wanted to grab a bite to eat. Problem is that not a lot of places serve vegan fair and so I wasn't hopeful. Still, I found a little place and was pleasantly surprised!

Back to the Grind Coffee House was such a throwback to my old writing days that I just had to share
it. They have a cute loft for open mic nights, a basement where a writing group meets, and tons of original art around. There are vintage typewriters and tons of books...everywhere.  Not to mention a disco ball, which, given the décor, was not out of place at all.

I hope to make it out there to write quite often this summer. The mellow beats, awesome food (its not all plant based), and the creative atmosphere really drew me in.

Where do you find you are most creative? Do you write at the beach? In a tiny hidey hole in your own home? Wherever you can?  I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Feature Friday Futures

Today I am over at Erik Klein's blog for a Feature Friday Futures interview! A technology geek and an author, Erik's questions were so much fun to answer. We explored the interesting treasures research for my steampunk thriller, The Tremblers, unearthed. No pun intended!

Take a peek at the interview where we get into military history and Victorian ingenuity. What was surprising to learn about and what everyday item has a cool twist in my steampunk series, The Blackburn Chronicles.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Dim Zone - How Far Is Too Far?

Today I am featuring a science fiction novel by Chris Turner with a bonus free Booktrack!

The Dim Zone

How far is too far?

Mercenary Yul Vrean is hired by billionaire CEO Mathias of Cybercore to bring back alien samples from a remote planet in the Dim Zone. It’s a region rife with murderous space pirates and slavers, the warlike Zikri and Mentera.

This alien technothriller is full of deadly space battles, extreme action, bio-mechanical fusion, killer aliens, a touch of the bizarre and fantastic… it will certainly intrigue fans of Alien, Predator and The Matrix.

In a race for mechnobot technology, genius Sigmund Hresh has engineered a prototype for what may be the holy grail of AI. The uses of such technology vary from the sinister to the saintly. Yul and his space thugs may be the only link preventing the next galactic war and saving the human colonies from hostile aliens.

The Making of The Dim Zone...

The booktrack audio component was based on many space classics with similar textures to Alien Covenant and Life. I created composite alien effects from mixes of digital samples and animals, using pitch effects and warping. All in all, an eerie backdrop to the alien planet Xeses, and later, the corridors inside the starship Orb of the Zikri hunters.

Enjoy The Dim Zone, the next book in The Timelost series:

Booktrack (free)

Find The Dim Zone on Amazon

Follow the author on Twitter

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Submersibles, Zombie Knights, and Free Reads

Today I am over at Pamela Thibodeaux's Wild Rose blog to talk about the third book in my steampunk thriller series, The Blackburn Chronicles.

Chasm Walkers is the culmination of a series that spans nations, seas, and the sky. Long brewing wars and unexpected betrayals drive Charlotte's story towards an excited finale!

From strange submersible machines to unexplained mechanica controlling the heroin, there are plot twists and harrowing adventures that bring this series to an explosive end. 

I hope you check out Charlottes journey from debutante to dissenter to the most dangerous woman in a war for survival.

The Chasm Walkers will definitely satisfy your fix for thrills.

To celebrate the release of the series, I have three #FreeReads available to download. Have a taste of the strange and chaotic world of The Blackburn Chronicles with these novellas...

Click to Download Free Novellas

Monday, May 21, 2018

Lady Villains Need Love Too

Available Now
Lady villains sometimes get the fuzzy end of the lollipop in terms of motivation. Jealousy over a lost love or anger at being rejected are all fine reasons to go to crazy town, but there are so many other more compelling reasons that are so much more interesting.

Fury at your family's mistreatment for one, is a pretty driving reason and it is one I tried to explore in writing my female characters in the second book of my series. 

In the Wind Reapers, Ajala is an incredibly strong, loving, and therefore shockingly ruthless character. Some might argue that she is the villain of the book, but I disagree. I think that her goals just happen to be diametrically opposed to the protagonists (Charlotte Blackburn's) but that they are not, in their purest form...diabolical or bad.

She is a woman fighting for the survival of her family and extended clan. Those vicious Reapers everyone fears came from somewhere. They weren't born on those massive walking machines that troll the Wasteland. And now, as conditions get worse and her people start dying, she has to act in the only way she knows how.

Ajala is a leader, a mother, a warrior, and a formidable negotiator. She is valiant for her own cause and it is why she was one of the most interesting characters to write...

Now, as I headed to speak with Ajala, the clank and clatter of the Wind Reaper’s legs kept time with the sway of the vast vessel. With the sun going down and hiding our location, we moved using the thermal winds to fill the craft’s massive sails. Most of the debris cleared, the fire scorched deck still showed the scars of our battle. 

Yet as I peered at the patchwork material mounted on the reconstructed masts I couldn’t help but be impressed by the speed with which the people recovered from the sky marauder attack.  Ascending the ladder to the outlook tower, I pushed through the heavy hatch.

Ajala started speaking before I pulled off my gas mask. “Beautiful, this horrible place, is it not?” She leaned, arms crossed, looking out of the cracked windows. The gold discs woven to the ends of her scarf reflected the dimming light. “All angry and red and steaming.”

“It is the stuff of nightmares.” I walked over, leaned on the opposite side. My hand twitched, wanting to scratch at the slice in my neck, but I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. “But then again…”

“Yes, I know, you aren’t a Reaper.  We find beauty in this wasteland.”

A jagged seam glowed in the dark landscape and then flared with ignited gas that burned a dozen stories high.

Ajala’s eyes narrowed with the flash of brilliant orange and blue fire. “Myself, my people, we all were chambermaids, plantation slaves, and factory workers.”

“Before the quakes.”

She nodded. “Scratching for our piece of freedom before the hand of God smote us all.”

“And so you forged a life out here in damnation.” I let my gaze travel the ink swirls at the corners of her eyes and thought them strangely beautiful. Like the henna designs on the hands of women in India from my books. “Why…why did you leave the Texas-Louisiana Dome?”

“Texiana,” she snorted, a derisive sound that flashed heat into her eyes. “An atrocity for both states. And I did not leave voluntarily, in any case.”

Find out how Ajala's story turns out and what part she plays in the thrilling steampunk series, The Blackburn Chronicles. And don't forget to check out the #FreeReads as well!