Tag Archive for Fire on Iron

Cover for Hellfire and Damnation

Hellfire and Damnation - High Resolution

This is the cover for my upcoming book, Hellfire and Damnation: the August Micholson Chronicles, Book 2, coming out from MonstraCity Press in August, 2014. And here is the “teaser” for that book:

The second book in the thrilling Civil War steampunk supernatural suspense series begun with Fire on Iron. In this installment in the series, August Micholson must clear his name — he is accused of being a traitor to the Union and a sabateur and faces a court martial. He escapes his prison in an observation balloon, but then he is faced with monumental twin challenges — restoring the mental health of his “madness plague”-striken wife Elizabeth, and figuring out a way to halt General Robert E. Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania!
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Here’s a gallery of the work that James of the Humble Nations: the Book Covers, Musings, & Fiction of ‘Cheap Literature’ Smith’ has done for me thus far:

James has hundreds and hundreds of pre-made covers available for writers to purchase for $35 apiece, and he often offers specials on them. If none of his pre-made covers work for you, he also does what he calls “Commission Rapide,” which is where you pick out a few images from ShutterStock and give him your title and instructions, and “Full Commission,” where you let him do all the work and he presents you with three different alternatives. He is very easy to work with and very friendly, and his prices are some of the best out there. As you can see from the gallery above, the quality of his work is quite high (the book covers are all “Commissions Rapide,” and the logo was a complete original that he put together for Dara and me for MonstraCity Press). He does ebook covers and for a small additional charge turns an ebook cover into a full, wrap-around cover for a CreateSpace or Lightning Source/IngramSpark trade paperback. I highly recommend him!

Precursor to the USS James B. Eads of Fire on Iron: USS Cairo

Famous photo of the USS Cairo, taken before her sinking by submerged "torpedo"

Famous photo of the USS Cairo, taken before her sinking by submerged “torpedo”

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Readers of my steampunk supernatural suspense novel Fire on Iron know that most of the novel is set aboard a fictional City-class ironclad river gunboat, the USS James B. Eads. What some readers may not be aware of is that one of the James B. Eads‘ “sister ships,” the USS Cairo, is on display at the Vicksburg National Historical Park, located in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Cairo was sunk on December 12, 1862 by a submerged Confederate “torpedo,” or what we would call today a mine. Almost a hundred years later, in 1956, historian Edwin C. Bearss, employed by the Vicksburg National Historical Park, located the wreck, buried in the mud of the Mississippi River.

In 1960, Bearss succeeded in raising various pieces of the wreck, including the Cairo’s armor-plated pilothouse. Four years later, he had succeeded in securing additional funding from the State of Mississippi, and an attempt was made to raise the entire wreck in one piece. However, the three-inch thick cables which were being used to raise the wreck sliced through the ironclad’s wooden hull (Cairo was built of wood and partially plated with 2.5″ thick railroad iron and sections of boiler plate). So the decision was made to allow the cables to slice the gunboat into three sections, each of which was raised separately.

In 1965, the various sections and chunks of the wreck were placed on barges and first towed to Vicksburg, then towed again to a shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where the engines were disassembled, cleaned of rust and mud, and reassembled, and the various other parts of the ironclad were put together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The wooden parts were continuously sprayed with water to keep them from cracking. It took many years for Congress to raise the necessary funds, but in 1977 the wreck, now partially restored, was towed back to the Vicksburg National Historical Park and put on display on a concrete base, next to a small museum, which displayed small artifacts recovered from the wreck (personal belongings of the ironclad’s sailors), and a gift ship which sold Cairo-related books and models. Since then, the old ironclad has been more fully restored and now rests under a protective awning.

I first visited the Cairo back in 1994, when I was writing my first draft of Fire on Iron. While I still lived in New Orleans, I made several pilgrimages to the Vicksburg National Historical Park to visit the only surviving US Navy river gunboat of the Civil War period.

I hope you enjoy the slideshow below of the Cairo in her original glory, being salvaged from the bottom of the Yazoo River, and how she looks today on display.

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New MonstraCity Press Website Debuts!

Monstracity Press Logo

I’m very proud to announce the debut of the new MonstraCity Press website! The website includes all of MonstraCity Press’ publishing plans through August of 2016, including the continuations of the Fat White Vampire series and the August Micholson Chronicles (the series that begins with Fire on Iron).

Here are the upcoming Fat White Vampire titles:
Fat White Vampire Otaku, (Jules Duchon #3), May, 2014
Hunt the Fat White Vampire, (Jules Duchon #4), February, 2015
Ghost of the Fat White Vampire, (Jules Duchon #5), November, 2015
Fat White Vampire Rehab, (Jules Duchon #6), May, 2016

Here’s a tie-in book that takes place in Jules Duchon’s New Orleans contemporaneously with the catastrophic events of Fat White Vampire Otaku and which explains the origin of Hurricane Antonia (the fictional counterpart of Hurricane Katrina):
The Bad Luck Spirits’ Social Aid and Pleasure Club, November, 2014

Here are the upcoming August Micholson Chronicles titles:
Hellfire and Damnation, (August Micholson #2), August, 2014
Fire on the Waters, (August Micholson #3), May, 2015
Home Fires, (August Micholson #4), February, 2016

Here are a pair of stand-alone novels:
No Direction Home, (near-future science fiction), August, 2015
The End of Daze, (satirical eschatological fantasy), August, 2016

Dara Fox, my lovely wife, is serving as Managing Editor and Co-Publisher, and I have granted myself the title of Co-Publisher, too.

Please visit the website of MonstraCity Press often!

Fire on Iron Now Available in Paperback!

Fire On Iron

For those of you who prefer to read your books in print, rather than in pixels, my newest book, Fire on Iron, is now available in trade paperback format for the price of $15.95.

And of course, Fire on Iron remains available in the following ebook formats for the bargain price of $2.99:

Smashwords

Nook

Apple iTunes

And if you are a diehard Kindle fan, the Kindle version is available for the price of $5.99.

I’m currently working on the last few chapters of the second book in my series which began with Fire on Iron, Midnight’s Inferno: the August Micholson Chronicles. The new book will be called Hellfire and Damnation. Now’s your chance to get in on the ground floor of a brand-new, exciting Civil War steampunk suspense series!

One more time, here’s the back cover blurb:

“What price redemption? Is martial honor worth the cost of one’s soul?

“Lieutenant Commander August Micholson lost his first ship, the wooden frigate USS Northport, in reckless battle against the rebel ironclad ram CSS Virginia. However, Flag Officer Andrew Foote offers the disgraced young Micholson a chance to redeem himself: he can take the ironclad gunboat USS James B. Eads on an undercover mission to destroy a hidden rebel boat yard, where a fleet of powerful ironclads is being constructed which will allow the Confederate Navy to dominate the Mississippi.

“But dangers far more sinister than rebel ironclads await Micholson and his crew. On the dark waters of the Yazoo River, deep within rebel territory, they become entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle devils both internal and external to save the lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy. Ultimately, Micholson is faced with a terrible choice — he can risk the lives of every inhabitant of America, both Union and Confederate, or destroy himself by merging with a demon and forever melding his own soul with that of his greatest enemy.”

Introducing Ayo, MonstraCity Press’s Mascot!

Monstracity Press Logo

For those of you who haven’t seen him yet, I’d like to introduce Ayo, the official mascot of MonstraCity Press (and the star of our official logo)!

Ayo was the work of a very talented graphic artist, James, who can be reached at this email address (remove the asterisks from between the letters; trying to foul up spammers):

*h*u*m*b*l*e*n*a*t*i*o*n*s@*g*m*a*i*l.com

Fire On Iron

James has also been serving as our cover design artist. Many of you have seen the cover he did for Fire on Iron. He’s also created covers for two of our next three projects, Fat White Vampire Otaku and The Bad Luck Spirits’ Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Very soon, I’ll be having him start work on the cover for the second book in my new series, Midnight’s Inferno: the August Micholson Chronicles, which started with Fire on Iron and which will continue with a second volume called Hellfire and Damnation (which I am typing busily away upon on a near-daily basis, to get it ready for August, 2014 distribution).

I hope everyone likes Ayo. Let Dara and me know what you think of him and of our MonstraCity Press logo.

Also, keep watching this space for more MonstraCity Press info, coming very soon!

Fire on Iron Available for $2.99 in New Formats

Fire On Iron

My newest book, Fire on Iron, is now available in the following new ebook formats:

Smashwords

Nook

Apple iTunes

And the REALLY BIG DEAL is that Fire on Iron is available in these three new formats for the bargain price of only $2.99!

That’s HALF the price you will currently pay for a Kindle copy!

Dara and I are in the process of lowering the Kindle price to match the Nook, Smashwords, and iTunes price, but we’ve been just a wee bit distracted by all the chaos in our household these past few months (as anyone who has been following this blog is aware). We’ll get it done… just can’t say exactly when.

Also, yes, the trade paperback version from CreateSpace will be available very soon… also a victim of household chaos, but it shouldn’t be too much longer, so keep watching this space for an announcement.

And if you’d like to sample some of the early readers’ reviews, Fire on Iron currently has a 4.4 STARS rating on Amazon. So check it out!

Asking My Friends for Help with Fire on Iron

Fire On Iron

Okay, my dear friends… this is me, your somewhat distressed author, acting like a mangy dog with a lame leg who is lying on his back, begging for a belly rub. I must warn you, what I am about to request is viewed in some quarters as unethical, if not illegal. Should news of my request spread, I could be censured in the next issue of the SFWA Bulletin (whenever that comes out… and I LOVE you, Barry N. Malzberg, now and forever, no matter what the radical feminists say!).

I will admit that, as a Person Who Suffers From Depression, I am somewhat of a Dopamine addict. Now there are good ways and bad ways for me to get my fix. A bad way is to continuously bid on vintage laptops on eBay, constantly raising my minimum bid until I come out on top. This is bad because I spend all my money and add more stuff to a house which is already too small for all the stuff I already have. Good ways to get my fix include bicycling or fast walking (either of which could be hazardous, considering how off-balance and shaky the Klonopin is making me feel right now), writing posts on this website (Yay!), seeing “hits” on my latest posts, getting positive, supportive comments (Yay!)… and also selling more copies of my first and only Kindle self-published book from MonstraCity Press, Fire on Iron. One way for me to sell more copies is to get the word out that this brand-new Civil War steampunk supernatural adventure novel is available. One way to get the word out is to advertise on Internet sites which promote ebooks. However, these sites have minimum standards for submissions: most commonly a minimum of 20 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4 stars. I recently checked my Amazon site. Fire on Iron, bless the hearts of those who have already read it, now has 9 reviews with an average rating of 4.25 stars. Pretty close to what I need. But I need more, unfortunately! Please see the offer below for a FREE, NO STRINGS ATTACHED .pdf copy of Fire on Iron. Well, the only “string attached” is that you agree to leave a review, negative or positive, on Amazon. Please feel free to hit me with your best shot and your honest appraisal… but (of course) try to be judicious, my friends.

Just knowing that some of you are asking Dara (see instructions below) for a FREE .pdf copy will send a surge of Dopamine straight into my cerebral cortex. What an easy way to help assist an ailing author’s recovery! I have admitted to my dear friend Maury Feinsilber that it is very difficult to continue to believe in the ongoing presence of God’s saving grace while I am depressed and pessimistic. Maury suggested that I pray for optimism. Good suggestion! Also, the old saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.” So by being possibly unethical and begging like a mangy dog for positive reviews on Amazon, what I am doing is HELPING MYSELF to receive jolts of Dopamine and gain optimism, and thus an ability to believe fully in the presence of the saving grace of God. It is a virtuous circle! (If you leave out the slightly unethical parts.) So, again, here are the details:

Any one out there in InternetLand interested in a FREE .pdf copy of my newest book, Civil War steampunk supernatural suspense novel Fire on Iron?

If you are, just send me your email address, either by leaving a comment to this post or by using the Contact Me feature. I’ll have Dara send you a .pdf copy, along with instructions for how to access it on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop. You may also email Dara directly, to this (slightly altered to avoid robots) email address (just remove the asterisks): d*a*r*a*l*f*o*x@g*m*a*i*l.c*o*m .

As I say above, I ask but one favor in return — please post a review to Amazon after you’ve read the book. Hit me with your best shot; I’m confident in how much you’ll enjoy the book. Dara and I would like to do some advertising on sites which promote ebooks, but they generally have requirments that books which are advertised must have a minimum of twenty Amazon reviews. We’re trying to get there, and you can be a huge help (along with getting a free book to read, the first in a new series!).

Here’s the back cover copy, to whet your appetite:

In 1862, Lieutenant Commander August Micholson, captain of the Union ironclad U.S.S. James B. Eads, leads his crew on a hazardous undercover mission. Their task? To destroy a hidden Confederate boat yard, where a fleet of rebel ironclads is being constructed which will allow the Confederate Navy to dominate the Mississippi and bombard Northern river cities into submission.

This is Micholson’s last chance for redemption. Weeks earlier, he lost his frigate, his best friend, and over a hundred members of his crew during a disastrous battle against the Confederate ironclad ram C.S.S. Virginia. Flag Officer Foote, commander of the Western Flotilla, believes Micholson’s ordeal and his terrible memories of the power of a rebel ironclad will give him the psychological edge he needs to prevail. Micholson’s crew, however, only knowing their new captain from scuttlebutt and scathing newspaper reports, fear he will lead them all to their deaths.

Micholson leads his crew on a false flag operation, pretending to be a turncoat who has switched to the rebel cause following his censure in the North. On the dark, muddy backwaters of the Yazoo River, the Eads becomes entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his rebel master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle demons both internal and external to save the lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy. The Union men manage to prevail again and again against overwhelming enemy forces. Yet the machinations of the African sorcerer M’Lundowi, who hates the people of the Union and the Confederacy equally, threaten to undo all of their victories.

Ultimately, Micholson is faced with a terrible choice — imperiling the lives of every inhabitant of North America, or taking a demon into his body and melding his soul with that of his greatest enemy.

FYI: I am nearly half-way through the first draft of the second book in the series, Hellfire and Damnation. Lieutenant Commander Micholson finds himself transformed into a steampunk superhero — a cross between Dr. Strange and the Human Torch! Can you get anything cooler than that? By increasing my Dopamine levels, you will enable me to return to writing it as soon as possible, perhaps as early as January (or whenever I feel myself capable of listening to my characters’ voices in my head, over the clamor of all the other anxious voices there). So again, writing an Amazon review is a win-win — you get a FREE .pdf copy of the first book, and the second book gets written!

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If you’d prefer to read the novel on your Kindle, here’s a link to the Kindle version:

Buy Fire on Iron for the Kindle

More electronic formats and paperback version coming very soon! The CreateSpace paperback is being proofed by my very dear and wonderful sister-in-law, Tracy Hirshfeld.

Thanks so much for any consideration and reading time you can spare, my friends! Signing off, Your distressed author, the mangy dog who needs his belly rubbed

FREE .PDF Copy of Fire on Iron

Fire On Iron

Any one out there in InternetLand interested in a FREE .pdf copy of my newest book, Civil War steampunk supernatural suspense novel Fire on Iron?

If you are, just send me your email address, either by leaving a comment to this post or by using the Contact Me feature. I’ll have Dara send you a .pdf copy, along with instructions for how to access it on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop.

I ask but one favor in return — please post a review to Amazon after you’ve read the book. Hit me with your best shot; I want honest reviews. I’m confident in how much you’ll enjoy the book. Dara and I would like to do some advertising on sites which promote ebooks, but they generally have requirments that books which are advertised must have a minimum of twenty Amazon reviews. We’re trying to get there, and you can be a huge help (along with getting a free book to read, the first in a new series!).

Here’s the back cover copy, to whet your appetite:

In 1862, Lieutenant Commander August Micholson, captain of the Union ironclad U.S.S. James B. Eads, leads his crew on a hazardous undercover mission. Their task? To destroy a hidden Confederate boat yard, where a fleet of rebel ironclads is being constructed which will allow the Confederate Navy to dominate the Mississippi and bombard Northern river cities into submission.

This is Micholson’s last chance for redemption. Weeks earlier, he lost his frigate, his best friend, and over a hundred members of his crew during a disastrous battle against the Confederate ironclad ram C.S.S. Virginia. Flag Officer Foote, commander of the Western Flotilla, believes Micholson’s ordeal and his terrible memories of the power of a rebel ironclad will give him the psychological edge he needs to prevail. Micholson’s crew, however, only knowing their new captain from scuttlebutt and scathing newspaper reports, fear he will lead them all to their deaths.

Micholson leads his crew on a false flag operation, pretending to be a turncoat who has switched to the rebel cause following his censure in the North. On the dark, muddy backwaters of the Yazoo River, the Eads becomes entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his rebel master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle demons both internal and external to save the lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy. The Union men manage to prevail again and again against overwhelming enemy forces. Yet the machinations of the African sorcerer M’Lundowi, who hates the people of the Union and the Confederacy equally, threaten to undo all of their victories.

Ultimately, Micholson is faced with a terrible choice — imperiling the lives of every inhabitant of North America, or taking a demon into his body and melding his soul with that of his greatest enemy.

*********************************************************************

If you’d prefer to read the novel on your Kindle, here’s a link to the Kindle version:

Buy Fire on Iron for the Kindle

More electronic formats and paperback version coming very soon!

Heading to Capclave in Maryland This Weekend

Capclave Dodo: "Where reading is not extinct"

Capclave Dodo: “Where reading is not extinct”

This is where I’ll be hanging my hat this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…

Capclave 2013: Where Reading is Not Extinct

Location: Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg,
620 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877

At the Door Rates:
Friday: $25
Saturday: $50 ($20 for students, active military, and active military dependents)
Sunday: $20
(A special whole-weekend rate of $30 is available for Active Military, dependants of Active Military, and Students; or $20 for Saturday alone)

Here’s my schedule of activities:

Friday, October 11

Are Prose Superheroes Still Novel?
7:00 pm – 7:55 pm
Panelists: Day Al-Mohamed, Matt Betts, Andrew Fox, James Maxey (M), Sherin Nicole
Although more frequent now, why are there so few costumed superheroes in prose? Do fancy costumes just work better in visual media? Or does urban fantasy featuring people with paranormal abilities satisfy the need?

(This panel sounds pretty darned interesting; I haven’t seen this subject come up as a discussion topic before. One of my favorite novels is Robert Meyer’s wonderful Superfolks, the book which helped to inspire Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and all the revisionist superhero stories of the 1980s through today.)

Perishing Publishers
8:00 pm – 8:55 pm
Panelists: Jennifer Barnes, Andrew Fox, James Maxey, Ian Randal Strock (M), K. Ceres Wright
Do authors still need publishers in the kickstarter/ebook age? What are the success rates of these projects? Are publishers consolidating themselves to irrelevancy? Is there still a stigma to self-published novels?

(I’m scheduled for several panels discussing author-publishing/self-publishing/independent publishing during Capclave. Given that Dara and I have just gotten MonstraCity Press off the ground, it’s a timely subject for me… although I don’t have much in the way of extensive experience to share just yet.)

Saturday, October 12

Writer’s Workshop
11:00 am – 1:55 pm
Panelists: David Bartell, Andrew Fox, Allen Wold (M), Darcy Wold
Allen Wold will lead a panel of authors in a hands on workshop. Learn many skills as you work on a short story. All you need is a pen and paper.
Session will be for 3 hours on Saturday from 11am to 2pm and for those interested, a 1 hour follow-up on Sunday at 9am.

(Alan’s writing workshops are wonderful. This’ll be the second time I’m helping to facilitate one. A good time is had by all, and much learning takes place.)

Blood in Southern Waters
6:00 pm – 6:55 pm
Panelists: Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Andrew Fox (M), Sherin Nicole, Betsy A. Riley
Is it something in the water, but why are there so many vampires in the South? From Anne Rice to Charlaine Harris to L.J. Smith it seems all vampires that don’t sparkle live in the South. Why?

(If there’s one panel I’m scheduled into at almost every con I attend, it’s this one. But having just finished my third Fat White Vampire book, Fat White Vampire Otaku, I’ve got something new to share.)

Mass Signing

7:30 pm – 8:25 pm
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Catherine Asaro, Eric Bakutis, Philippa Ballantine, Matt Betts, Matt Bishop, Neil Clarke, Tom Doyle, Andrew Fox, Charles E. Gannon, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Laura Anne Gilman, John G. Hemry, Alma Katsu, Annette Klause, John Edward Lawson, Dina Leacock, Edward M. Lerner, Marianne Mancusi, George R.R. Martin, James Maxey, Heidi Ruby Miller, Jason Jack Miller,James Morrow, Diana Peterfreund, Patrick Scaffido, Lawrence M. Schoen, Jon Skovron, Alan Smale,Michelle D. Sonnier, Bud Sparhawk, Janine Spendlove, Michael Swanwick, Michael A. Ventrella, Jean Marie Ward, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Steven H. Wilson, Leona Wisoker, K. Ceres Wright
The Saturday evening mass autographing session.

Name Drop and Quote Panel
10:00 pm – 10:55 pm
Panelists: Scott Edelman, Andrew Fox (M), Steve Stiles, Ian Randal Strock, Michael Swanwick
Nothing but bragging rights here as the panelists drop names and share quotes as they discuss the best experiences, novels, stories, and conventions they have ever seen. Or not.

(My best convention experience ever was ConDFW III in February, 2004, when I had coffee with Robert Sheckley and got to meet my dear friend and childhood idol, Barry Malzberg, for the first time.)

Sunday, October 13

Writer’s Workshop Follow-up

9:00 am – 9:55 am
Panelists: David Bartell, Andrew Fox, Allen Wold, Darcy Wold
Allen Wold will lead a panel of authors in a hands on workshop. Learn many skills as you work on a short story. All you need is a pen and paper.
Session will be for 3 hours on Saturday from 11am to 2pm and for those interested, a 1 hour follow-up on Sunday at 9am.

Self Publishing and You / DIY Publishing
12:00 pm – 12:55 pm
Panelists: Jennifer Barnes, Andrew Fox (M), Jason Jack Miller, Betsy A. Riley, Steven H. Wilson
Self publishing offers authors new opportunities, but also pitfalls. Is self publishing right for you? Should readers consider self-published books? Do genre and author experience matter?

Reading: Andrew Fox
1:30 pm – 1:55 pm
Panelists: Andrew Fox
I’ll be reading a selection from my newest book from MonstraCity Press, the steampunk Civil War suspense novel, Fire on Iron.

Hope to see some of you there!

Fire on Iron Now Available for Kindle!

Fire On Iron

Kudos to my lovely (and hardworking) wife, Dara, on reaching her first milestone with MonstraCity Press: publishing my steampunk supernatural suspense novel, Fire on Iron, to the Kindle platform! Dara opted to go the “extra mile” with publishing to Kindle, not relying on one of the automatic conversion utilities to convert the book from a Word document to the Kindle format. Instead, she spent a couple of months learning HTML code so she could ensure a uniform reading experience for all Kindle customers, no matter their hardware. It was a steep learning curve, but she made it to the first plateau. Now, onwards and upwards to CreateSpace, Nook, and Smashwords!

Fire on Iron is Book One of Midnight’s Inferno: the August Micholson Chronicles. This is a brand-new series, a steampunk supernatural suspense adventure set during the American Civil War. Here is the description:

“What price redemption? Is martial honor worth the cost of one’s soul?

“Lieutenant Commander August Micholson lost his first ship, the wooden frigate USS Northport, in reckless battle against the rebel ironclad ram CSS Virginia. However, Flag Officer Andrew Foote offers the disgraced young Micholson a chance to redeem himself: he can take the ironclad gunboat USS James B. Eads on an undercover mission to destroy a hidden rebel boat yard, where a fleet of powerful ironclads is being constructed which will allow the Confederate Navy to dominate the Mississippi.

“But dangers far more sinister than rebel ironclads await Micholson and his crew. On the dark waters of the Yazoo River, deep within rebel territory, they become entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle devils both internal and external to save the lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy. Ultimately, Micholson is faced with a terrible choice — he can risk the lives of every inhabitant of America, both Union and Confederate, or destroy himself by merging with a demon and forever melding his own soul with that of his greatest enemy.”

I have many intriguing twists and turns in store for my beleaguered protagonist, August Micholson – he begins his adventures as a Lieutenant Commander in the Union Navy, assigned to an extremely hazardous undercover mission behind Confederate lines. By the end of the first book, he is on his way to becoming a steampunk amalgam of Dr. Strange and the Human Torch, with the added hang-up of having to deal with sharing his skull with two very unwelcome “guests.”

Dara and I plan to make Fire on Iron available in all the popular e-formats within a few weeks, as well as available as a trade paperback. So please watch this space for more announcements.

I’m already at work on Book Two of Midnight’s Inferno: the August Micholson Chronicles, which will be entitled Hellfire and Damnation. Look for that one in the summer of 2014!

Fire on Iron Coming in October!

I am very, VERY pleased to announce that the first book to be published by MonstraCity Press will be my steampunk supernatural suspense novel, Fire on Iron. It will be available in all the popular ebook formats and as a trade paperback this October. The first of many projects to come from MonstraCity Press!

Here is the back cover copy:

“What price redemption? Is martial honor worth the cost of one’s soul?

“Lieutenant Commander August Micholson lost his first ship, the wooden frigate USS Northport, in reckless battle against the rebel ironclad ram CSS Virginia. However, Flag Officer Andrew Foote offers the disgraced young Micholson a chance to redeem himself: he can take the ironclad gunboat USS James B. Eads on an undercover mission to destroy a hidden rebel boat yard, where a fleet of powerful ironclads is being constructed which will allow the Confederate Navy to dominate the Mississippi.

“But dangers far more sinister than rebel ironclads await Micholson and his crew. On the dark waters of the Yazoo River, deep within rebel territory, they become entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle devils both internal and external to save the lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy. Ultimately, Micholson is faced with a terrible choice — he can risk the lives of every inhabitant of America, both Union and Confederate, or destroy himself by merging with a demon and forever melding his own soul with that of his greatest enemy.

“Book 1 of Midnight’s Inferno: the August Micholson Chronicles

I believe my protagonist August Micholson will be rather unique – a steampunk amalgam of Dr. Strange and the Human Torch, with a great deal of multiple-personality complications mixed in. My next project will be the second book in the Midnight’s Inferno series.

More news to come, both regarding the Midnight’s Inferno books and other exciting projects from MonstraCity Press – so watch this space!

Coming Soon: MonstraCity Press!

This is me jumping the gun just a bit… I wanted to hold this announcement until we had our logo designed and our first couple of covers ready to share. But given all the eyeballs this blog has been attracting over the past weekend (thanks to a controversy which I much, much would prefer had never happened, given reputations which have been unfairly maligned, but at least the other side is now getting a hearing), I want to go ahead and be a big blabbermouth and spill the beans before I’m ready.

My wonderful wife Dara and I are launching a new business together, a small press imprint called MonstraCity Press. MonstraCity will issue both ebooks (in all the popular formats) and Print On Demand trade paperbacks, which, thanks to very recent changes in the book distribution industry, can now be ordered by bookstores from major distributors (like Baker and Taylor) in the same fashion as they can order books from one of the Big Five (formerly Big Six) publishers.

U.S.S. Cairo, near sister of U.S.S. James B. Eads

Our first book project will be my steampunk suspense novel set aboard ironclad gunboats in the Civil War, Fire on Iron. Years ago, I had hoped this novel would be the first in a series starring August Micholson, Union gunboat captain who is saddled with the bizarre destiny of being transformed into a steampunk superhero in the midst of his country’s greatest crisis. But I was never able to find an editor for whom the book was just right (some liked the Civil War elements but felt the dark fantasy parts negated the commercially necessary steampunk label; others liked the antagonist of the novel much more than the protagonist and insisted that he should be the hero… a wish which kinda/sorta comes true at the very end of the book, by the way). So I never wrote additional books in the series. But now, thanks to the wonderment of do-it-yourself publishing, I may surrender to my selfish, self-indulgent desires and continue the series, if it finds an appreciative readership.

You can find a little teaser synopsis of the book here. It has plenty of Civil War naval action, combined with sorcery and the dark fantastic. I’ve been a Civil War naval buff since I was in elementary school, so this book combines a couple of my passions. And I believe the passion comes through in the writing.

Watch this space for more news! Lots, lots more to come!

Juggling Projects: Books in the Air!

Here’s an update of where my various projects stand (I’m putting this to pixel as much as an aid to me, a roadmap of where the heck I am at this point, as I am to provide you guys with info nuggets).

The Monster Trucks of Mount MonstraCity: This is the second book in my planned middle grades adventure/horror series. I’ve completed my plot outline and have this one waiting on the starting line. I’ll probably start working on the first draft in about three weeks, after I’m done with my current round of revisions on No Direction Home.

The Runaways of Mount MonstraCity: The first book in my planned middle grades adventure/horror series. I turned this in to Peter, my agent, a few weeks back and am waiting for his initial response, then expect to do some revisions before he begins submitting it around.

The Velveteen Ebook: This is a short, novella-length children’s novel that should appeal to adults nostalgic for technologically simpler times. It’s being considered at a handful of houses that specialize in gift books.

No Direction Home: I had turned this adult SF novel in to Peter for his review around the beginning of the year. I got it back from him a couple of weeks ago and am working on revisions prior to him beginning the submissions process.

The End of Daze: My friends at Tachyon Publications decided this eschatological satire didn’t fit in with their line. Another friend, David Myers of Commentary Magazine, suggested an editor at a small house who has a fondness for Jewish-themed fiction. Peter submitted it there, and it is also being looked at by an editor at one of the big SF imprints. If neither of these possibilities pan out, Dara and I will put out the book ourselves.

Ghostlands: This adult SF novel is still being looked at by a number of genre editors. Peter began submitting it around about a year and a half ago.

The Bad Luck Spirits’ Social Aid and Pleasure Club: I did a major editing job on this urban fantasy novel the second half of last year (after having been working on it, on and off, since 2006, in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina). The latest version is being considered at Tachyon and at one of the big SF imprints.

Fire on Iron: My Civil War-set steampunk horror-adventure novel has nearly reached the end of its submissions journey. It is being considered at one final SF/fantasy imprint. Should they give it a pass, it will become Dara’s and my first independent publishing project. The roots of this book go all the way back to 1994, just before I joined George Alec Effinger’s writing critique group in New Orleans.

So, my friends, that is where things stand at the moment. Like any writer, I wish matters could move along more quickly. But it appears that, no matter how things break with the professional editors, Dara and I will be working on one of my projects this fall, after our youngest son, Judah, begins attending kindergarten. So I should have something “new” to peddle by the beginning of 2013.

My Civil War Sesquicentennial

Confederate emcampment on the grounds of the Manassas Historical Museum

This past weekend marked the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas, known as the First Battle of Bull Run to all you Yankees out there.  First Manassas was the earliest major land engagement of the Civil War following the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter.  My new hometown of Manassas celebrated its history in a big way, with a reenactment of the battle, two huge living history encampments, a parade of soldier-reenactors through Old Town Manassas, and a recreation of the 1911 Peace Jubilee headlined by President Taft (I would’ve liked to have seen who the local organizers found to portray the 300 pound-plus president, but the event conflicted with work for me).

field kitchen and wood pile

lanterns and paring knife

Several of the afternoon events had to be cancelled due to temperatures in the low triple digits.  Sweltering July temperatures in this region aren’t just a recent phenomenon, however.  Nearly a century ago, at the Great Reunion of Civil War veterans held at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania from June 29 to July 6, 1913, temperatures also soared into the hundreds. More than 53,000 Union and Confederate veterans attended the event, all of whom camped out in tents on the battlefield. Three hundred and nineteen of those vets were admitted to local hospitals for heat exhaustion. Considering that most of the vets present were between 65 and 75 years old, and only half of one percent suffered heat exhaustion, I’d say that was a pretty hardy collection of old men.

Confederate soldiers and Union civilians


I brought my boys on Saturday to the Generals’ Row set up on the big lawn in front of the Manassas Historical Museum, across Prince William Street from the Manassas train station. Actually, Generals’ Row was two rows of tents, one for Union commanders and the other for Confederate commanders. I had previously stopped by the Union side on Friday morning, prior to boarding my commuter train into Washington, DC. The reenactors hadn’t yet donned their heavy woolen uniforms or cumbersome hoop skirts; they were hanging out on chairs in front of their tents, drinking their morning coffee. I spoke with a man from Charleston, West Virginia named Barry. I told him my mother’s family had come from Charleston. I experienced a touch of cognitive dissonance, listening to his thick Southern accent and registering that he would be portraying a Union officer; but then I reminded myself that West Virginia had seceded, not from the Union, but from the rest of the State of Virginia so that its people could remain within the Union. We chatted for a while, mostly about how polluted Charleston used to be back in the late 1960s and about Carol Channing (my Grandpa Frank from West Virginia had managed Broadway road shows during the 1950s and 1960s). I told Barry I’d try to bring my boys by to meet him over the weekend.

Levi and Asher with friend

learning a new old game, the graces


On Saturday, with the high temperature climbing to about 102 Fahrenheit, I waited until almost 6 P.M. before bringing the boys out. Barry was still in uniform, but nearly all the crowds had fled. That was fine by me. My three kids were delighted with a collection of 1860s toys and games in front of one of the Union tents. A very obliging young lady named Hannah explained to them about each of the toys, and then she demonstrated how to play a game with sticks and a hoop called the graces, originally meant to help teach young women proper posture. My boys don’t care a fig about good posture, but they enjoyed flinging the hoop around.

We wandered over to the Confederate side, where I noticed the men tended to have a gnarlier mien than the reenactors had displayed over on the Union side. Asher, my middle son, thought one reenactor had “creepy eyes;” the man was definitely well grounded in his part, and his facial hair wouldn’t have been out of place on a wild goat. He noticed Asher giving him the wall-eye, then made him laugh with fright by chasing him down the row of tents with a mean-looking pistol, saying he looked “too much like a Yankee.”

a Johnnie Reb in green (with a horse's ass)


I was impressed that the man had that much energy, given the heat and his wool uniform. Another reenactor pointed out what he called the “emergency tent,” an air-conditioned tent with medical supplies, ready to receive any reenactor on the edge of heat exhaustion. He said he’d been drinking gallons of Gatorade all weekend. The danger sign, he told me, was when you stopped sweating. Then you knew you had to park yourself in that air-conditioned tent.

Union fighting men


I told him about the Great Reunion of 1913. It had been just as hot then, but not even the hospitals had had air-conditioning.

I had wanted to see the parade through Old Town Manassas or the reenactment of the battle, but it had just been too darned hot to stand around outside without shade. At least I can console myself that this weekend was merely the beginning of four years of sesquicentennial Civil War observances to come. Next year we’ll have the 150th anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run #2). Maybe the weather will be a little more moderate then?

Say, with all this interest about the Civil War, you wouldn’t think some author would happen to have a steampunk adventure novel set aboard Union and Confederate ironclads lying around on his computer’s hard drive? Any possibility of that? Nawww

New Upcoming Project Pages Added

images of Krampus, bad luck spirit

I’ve updated my Upcoming Projects page, adding more information on three novels I hope will see print or pixel in the not so distant future — Fire on Iron, The Bad Luck Spirits’ Social Aid and Pleasure Club, and Ghostlands. I found a gorgeous, haunting image of the Washington Monument partially obscured by snow to illustrate my capsule summary of Ghostlands. Take a look!

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