Category Archives: Clockwork Heart 2

Working title: Obstruction Currents

Podcast Available

clockworkliessmallThe podcast of my half-hour interview with Sherri Rabinowitz this morning is now available at Chatting with Sherri. This was my first radio interview — a little scary! But Sherri’s a fantastic host and made me feel right at home. :-)

Podcast: Chatting with Sherri

clockworkliessmallI’ll be participating in a live talk about Clockwork Heart and Iron Wind with Sherri Rabinowitz at Chatting with Sherri tomorrow — Tuesday, April 15, 10:30 a.m. PCT. We’ll be giving away a couple books if you listen live and call in to win!

Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind

photoMy author’s editions of Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind have arrived! The book will be available for purchase on March 15:

Love and duty collide when Taya is appointed attaché to Ondinium’s first exalted ambassador and is soon plunged into a sinister world of secrets and lies. After the diplomatic contingent’s hasty withdrawal from Mareaux to avoid an international incident, Taya’s faith is shaken by a disastrous crash and a tragic murder, which reveals just how much she has to lose. Now, if she’s going to fulfill her duty to her nation, she must risk everything she cares about. As the winds of war whip around Ondinium’s borders, Taya’s metal wings must bear her through storms, gunfire, and explosions as she fights to save them not only from their enemies, but also from their own government — a government that regards them as nothing more than clockwork cogs in a ruthless political machine.

I also just received copies of the original Clockwork Heart CD-ROM audio set from BrillianceAudio! Very cool; they’re doing the audio for Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind, as well.


Brilliance Audio/Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind

978-1-4418-6373-7So, Brilliance Audio has been working on the audiobook version of Iron Wind — Earlier this month I had to send them an mp3 of pronunciations for some of the names and terms in the novel, which felt very strange  (“Oh, no, am I pronouncing that right? Wait, it’s my word; of course I am! But…!”). I see that they’ve posted the cover image,  so presumably I can’t get into any trouble by reposting it here, right? ;-) Anyway, enjoy! It’s another absolutely gorgeous cover by Timothy Lantz!

Clockwork Heart Trilogy to be Published 2013-2014

This is the ad for the Clockwork Heart trilogy, which appeared in the Conjecture/ConChord 2012 program today — and today the official trilogy announcement appeared in the Publisher’s Marketplace.  The Clockwork Heart trilogy will be published by EDGEClockwork Heart will be republished in March 2013, the second book in September 2013, and the third in March 2014.

I’ve been told that Timothy Lantz, who did the gorgeous cover art for Clockwork Heart, will also being doing the covers for the two sequels. I hope it happens — I’d consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have more of his spectacular work on my books’ covers! …A detail I think most people miss when they look at the cover, because the title runs over it, is the mechanistic cityscape below Taya. I love that image; it captures the  spirit of Ondinium and its Great Engine perfectly. In the next two books, Taya will be learning more about how other countries view Ondinium, and not everything she learns will be pleasant….!



Corsets & Clockwork

I just finished a mad writing spree to finish up a short story for Corsets & Clockwork, which I set in an alternative Venice because I’ve been so immersed in preparation for next semester’s Imagining Venice art/communication course. It was a lot of fun developing an alternative city that Napoleon hadn’t conquered, and I did a ton of research to find correct street names and paintings that depicted the piazza and the islands before Napoleon and the Austrians made all their changes.

And then I ended up 4,000+ words over the top limit. Almost all of that lovely history and description was left on the cutting-room floor. Oh, the agony! But thank heavens for my two fantastic beta readers, who helped me make the cuts and strengthen the story — I couldn’t have done it by myself.

So now I’m tackling the edits on The Harrow Press‘s Day Terrors, which was in abeyance while I finished the C&C story — sorry! But I’m back on it now.

And I’m also contemplating participation in National Novel Writing Month. I missed it the last two years because I was working on other projects (a novel, Boys’ Love Manga), but other than DT, I have no pressing projects at the moment. So … maybe Clockwork Heart 3? I kick-started CH and its sequel during NaNoWriMo, and An Agreement with Hell. I find it a great way to get started on a novel. But it’s more stress and deadline pressure again. Hmmm…..

Editing On Paper

Editing CH 2I can revise a novel over and over and over again on-screen, and it never makes any difference. When I finally print it out, around revision two or three, and go over it on paper, I invariably see dozens of places on each page where I can tighten prose, fix dialog, and clarify points. I’m not sure what it is that’s different about reading on paper, but …

This is the Clockwork Heart sequel in the paper edit; chapter one. It’s going to take me the rest of the week to finish the editing process, I suspect, unless I can really power through on one of the days I don’t have to teach.

My newswriting students get their articles back looking like this and freak out. They don’t realize I’m just as strict with myself!

First Draft of Sequel Complete

Laptop showing end of CH sequelWhew! After what has essentially been a week glued in front of my laptop, I have finally finished the first draft of a Clockwork Heart sequel. I still have plenty of work to do on it, of course. Right now the story is lumpy and awkward and dangling some loose ends, but the hardest part is over.

So there it is — THE END — along with scribbled notes all over my chalkboard desk. The other side of the computer has sketches on it from my trying to figure out what certain objects needed to look like, but that photo would provide spoilers if I published it, so I’ll keep it off the blog for now….

If anyone knows a respectable, fantasy-steampunk-loving agent, let me know!

Rail Gauge Changers & Information Overload

I managed to convey my characters to their destination yesterday, thanks to the wonders of the web, although they’ve yet to slip out to look around. Honestly, how did writers manage before all the information in the world was at their fingertips? A little research on variable-gauge axles and rail gauge changing facilities gave me what I want. The technology wasn’t around in the quasi-Victorian time period of steampunk, but it seems like it could have been, perhaps in a more primitive form, had the need for it been perceived by a clever, engineering-minded society like Ondinium.

Yesterday I visited the library, promising myself that I’d only check out a few novels for the weekend, and ended up carrying home an armful, of course. This week my theme is “thinking,” with Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph T. Hallinan, How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, and Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions by Zachary Shore. I’ve read the first and am halfway through the second. The information in these first two books draws to a great extent on the same body of research, the same research I’ve read about in other books, like Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational — but I figure that re-reading that research will help embed it in my memory, and each book takes a slightly different slant on it.

What does this have to do with rail gauge changers?

One of the lessons in these books is that more information does not necessarily lead to better decision-making. In fact, a few pertinent data points lead to as good, if not better, decisions and predictions than a plethora of data. For example, Lehrer reports on stock investment experiments in which subjects who could only see share prices rise and fall made better investing decisions than subjects who could review all the financial information to which they could gain access; and on college counselors whose predictions of incoming students’ freshman grades were more accurate knowing only the students’ high-school GPAs and scores on one standardized test than college counselors who had access to student’s high-school transcripts, test scores, application essays, personality and vocational test scores, and personal interviews.

As Lehrer notes, quoting Herbert Simon: “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention” (p. 159).

I love the fact that I have the vast resources of the internet at my fingertips, and it’s a rush to find a real-life solution to my story problems, like the existence of rail gauge changers. However, sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t have come up with that answer faster if I hadn’t stopped to research it. I spend an awful lot of time trying to find information online — how a Victorian-era airgun would work, how long it takes for steam engines to refuel, what doctors do about heavy blood loss when transfusions aren’t readily available — when it might be better for me just to write forward, making guesses or inventing things out of whole cloth, and save the fact-checking process for the second draft. After all, the first lesson in writing is to put words on the page.

Ah, well.  Now that my characters are where they need to be, I have a whole new area of research to conduct….

Hitting the Realism Barrier

Facebook Comments on Steam EnginesLast weekend I managed to put in another 10K on my Clockwork Heart sequel, although some of it was hard-won. I was having trouble with the fact that locomotives need to stop periodically to replenish their coal and water — and a stop was going to give my characters a very good chance of escaping, which wasn’t going to suit the plot at all.

So I grumbled about it on Facebook, and a number of friends replied.  I appreciated the help; several sent me facts about steam engines, several suggested fantastic methods of fueling-on-the-run, and several reminded me that it’s my story, and steam engines should refuel just as often as the story requires, and no more.  :-)

I gotta admit, sometimes I hit that realism barrier and forget that I can walk around it, if I really must.  Writers strive for a certain level of realism in their stories, even in fantasy. Doesn’t matter if your book is full of magic and monsters; you’ll probably still take the time to mention watering the horses or gathering wood for the fire, or any other little detail of day-to-day life that will make your world seem real, even though it’s purely imaginative. Those little realistic details help the reader accept the more outrageously fantastic parts of your story — “okay, other than the magic and the monsters, this world works pretty much the same as mine. Got it.”

I’ve been especially concerned with realism in Ondinium, because there isn’t any magic. Well, all right, lighter-than-air metal is technically “magical,” because it defies all the known laws of physics, but as far as the characters are concerned, it’s just another wondrous curiosity of nature to be exploited in the name of industrial development. And, other than that, I’ve tried to keep technology in the range of the possible for the late 19th and early 20th century.

Besides, I have a father who counts the bullets expended in movies and books and is quick to critique those amazing “infinity clips” so many heroes carry — I understand that readers who are experts in a field will be quick to comment if an author gets the details wrong!

However, my steam engine must travel without stopping, so even though I’m not sure how long an engine can go without refueling/rewatering in reality, it’s going to succeed in Ondinium. Chalk it up to superior manufacturing, if you must….

So now I’ve got my characters one last transfer away from their destination, but I’ve been momentarily stumped by difference in rail gauge between Ondinium and the surrounding countries, an important defense strategy that I set up earlier in the novel and now need to resolve within the necessities of the story. Doh! Trapped by my own precedent!