After last year’s insane run of write-publish-repeat, this year’s pace has seemed positively sedate. After all, I’ve mostly been re-releasing books, after a thorough professional edit. Although in some cases, I’ve expanded the books by 1000-10,000 words. So I’m still doing a ton of writing, in case you thought I’ve been slacking over here in the Grey Cottage. I’m not. Really.
However, this week, 3 Fates Press will be debuting Circuits & Steam, an anthology of steampunk and cyberpunk stories. It includes my first brand-new story of 2014, a retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin” called “Spinning Secrets.” I’m really excited about this new book. Aside from mine, it has six other amazing stories either set in the alternate past or a dystopian possible future.
I’ve read all the stories and they are so, so good. They include two stories from the mother-daughter writing team of Marian Allen (the SAGE trilogy) and Sara Marian (The Life and Death, but Mostly the Death, of Erica Flynn). Marian takes the steampunk story, and Sara goes cyberpunk. I could keep gushing, but instead, I’m just going to hit you with the cover, the blurb, and a little excerpt of my story.
Circuits & Steam is an anthology featuring bold tales of man meets machine. Encounter eight exciting stories from authors K.A. DaVur, Sara Marian, Brick Marlin, Thomas Lamkin, Jr., Marian Allen, Katina French, James W. Peercy and Dani J. Caile, told in a cyberpunk or steampunk style.
What makes you human? In the dystopian near-future, a desperate young woman makes a stunning decision, a cybernetically-enhanced waitress discovers her true nature, a white collar worker learns the real cost of her latest technological enhancement and a streetwise urchin makes desperate a bid for freedom.
What defines your destiny? We journey to a 19th century that never was for a humorous tale of airship adventure, a town under attack by mechanical monsters, a case of alchemy and mistaken identity, and a gritty adventurer faced with a telling choice.
Cyberpunk and steampunk explore our often toxic relationship with technology. Do our gadgets make us more than human, or just more human? Step inside our time machine and find out…
excerpt: Spinning Secrets
Morning light poured through Pru’s bedroom window like a mountain stream through a gold-panner’s sieve. Her head throbbed.
“Ugh,” she moaned. “That’s the last time I drink champagne at one of these high society shindigs.”
She’d accepted the fluted glass to be polite, and also thinking it might help settle her nerves. Or possibly calm her embarrassment at Daddy’s shenanigans. Instead, it had mostly unsettled her stomach. Now she felt worse than the time she’d snuck some of Old Man Beasley’s whiskey back in Redemption Falls.
A shrill scream from downstairs lanced her eardrums, and then ricocheted around inside her aching skull.
Good Lord! Is someone skinning the housekeeper alive?
She tumbled out of the oversized four poster bed, snatching up her dressing gown and shoving her feet into her slippers. She stomped down the stairs, determined to get to the bottom of the awful caterwauling. She may not have inherited her father’s rough-hewn looks, but she got a double dose of his impatience and temper.
The scene that waited for her in the foyer caused her to nearly stumble back up the stairs in surprise.
The front door was closed. Her father was unconscious. He slumped in a heap at the foot of a rococo clock she suspected he’d only bought because he liked saying the word “rococo.” A small, fletched dart stuck out just above his shirt collar.
Gearsworth, their automaton butler, leaned against the corner. His kill switch had been thrown.
The housekeeper, Mrs. Honeycutt, was squealing at the top of her lungs in the arched doorway to the dining room. The woman’s lung capacity was astounding. Pru wondered if she’d left a promising career in the opera.
Two strange men stood in the middle of the foyer. The shorter, darker one approached Honeycutt. The woman looked terrified, frozen to the spot. A second, taller man with sandy blond hair held what looked like a tiny, ornate crossbow. Both wore black suits, with a crimson rose pinned to the lapel.
The blond man appeared to be reloading the crossbow with a dart that looked suspiciously similar to the one sticking out of Papa’s neck.
“I told you, we should have gone with the aerosol formulae. We could have piped it in the chimney and had the whole bunch of them sleeping like the dead before we ever came in the door!” The blond man grumbled.
“And then what? Be seen breaking in through the front door? Attempting to climb in a window or bust through the root cellar? Just get that thing loaded and we’ll be fine.” The shorter man had a slight Spanish accent, like many of the people she’d known in the California republic.
By this time, the shorter man had clapped one black-gloved hand over Honeycutt’s mouth. Pru couldn’t help but be a bit grateful, since it stopped the screaming. He’d wrapped his other arm around the woman’s broad waist as if to restrain her, although she still appeared to be in too much shock to struggle. In fact, she slumped against him, passing out in a dead faint.
He grunted, then slid her carefully to the ground.
“Well. That saves a dart, at least.”
At that moment, it dawned on Prudence that she’d prefer to be anywhere, other than on the landing in clear view of two men who’d just incapacitated her father, a mechanical butler, and the sole other human occupant of the house.