Once again, I have been blessed by the cover gods for this. I began this book by naming the file “steampunk Sherlock,” and it morphed and became something that’s more. A homage to my love of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, yes, but also my own tale of adventures and love in a world where the creation of mage coal has led to a steam-powered technological revolution.

Caught in the middle of magic and murder is Jewish seamstress Joan Krieger, who life and livelihood are at stake in resolving the mystery. The consulting detective is one Gregor Sherringford, half-Indian scion and black sheep of a noble house.

Fun story about the dress–it wasn’t originally in the book but my editor and I received the cover while in the midst of edits. So I added in the dress and the gun. There’s one thing you can’t see on the top image that I wanted to point out:

steampunk, Sherlock Holmes, historical romance

Coming April 22

Joan’s sewing needle and thread, which plays a part in the mystery, both literally and figuratively.

I’m working on the final edits now and it’s a BLAST.

Can’t wait for you all to read this.

I’ve returned refreshed, revitalized and freakin’ inspired by the energy at Geek Girl Con in Seattle last weekend.

To all of you who attended my “Romance is a Feminist Genre” panel on Sunday morning that also featured Barb Ferrer, Karen Harbaugh, Kat, fandom representative extraordinaire, and moderator Suzete Chan, thank you so very much.

I had no idea we’d have such a receptive audience.

And to the person who asked about LGBT romance, thank you! We don’t have as much of it as we should, and there has been some pushback in the romance writing community about it from some quarters but thankfully, we also have people like Heidi Cullinan, who founded Rainbow Romance Writers.

After the panel, a number of people asked about where they might start in romance. I talked about a few at the panel but it seemed a good idea to have these down for posterity.

First, of course, I’d recommend Karen and Barb’s books, which are awesome, and Kat’s fan fiction is certainly a fun read. And you could amble over to my books page here and check out what I have and see if that interests you…

And then it depends on genre.

Science Fiction/Fantasy.
Linnea Sinclair. As far as I’m concerned, she’s the place to start for most geek girls who want to crossover as she’d working in the familiar galactic-style world, she writes fast-paced, layered, fascinating books with awesome characters from the leads to the supporting characters.

My favorite is Hope’s Folly. But Gabriel’s Ghost in the first book in her Dock Five series. She also has a number of unconnected stories. My favorite is Finder’s Keepers but, hey, the Kel-Patan fandom love in many quarters compels me to point out Games of Command.

Lois McMaster Bujold.
There are some writers whose books just fill your soul. Bujold’s books are like that for me. Ignore the dumb cover and the supposed similarity to David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. You want Cordelia’s Honor.

This is shelved in SF, not romance, and there’s so much going on around our leads, including galactic and civil war but it’s all the lovely characters that keep me coming back, from Cordelia to Aral to Bothari and later Miles and Mark, and Count Pierre, and Illyan and….I love these people.

Go. Read.

Contemporary: Jennifer Crusie.

Crusie was my gateway drug into romance. Hey, I like stuff blowing up and fights and murder, right, I don’t want a contemporary book but okay I’ll take a look and…what? This is FUNNY. This is interesting. I love these characters. I love their flaws, I love the way they interact, I love their ideas about how some men are muffins and some are donuts, I love the Krispy Kreme sex, and I love the Wonder Woman underoos.

Where to start? Bet Me is always a good place, and Welcome To Temptation starts with two sisters coming to their hometown to film a soft-porn movie (they’re directors, not the actors), and Don’t Look Down, written with Bob Mayer, is fast-paced action and a Wonder Woman theme.

Historicals:  Amanda Quick

Amanda Quick is the historical alter ego of contemporary writer Jayne Ann Krentz. Both her selves write books that are like crack, meaning once you start, you can’t put them down. I love the way her historicals layer in the setting, with heroines who are botanists and photographers, and fortune tellers and not just your average lord or lady. The heroes, too, aren’t necessarily heirs to great fortune, though some are, but they’re smart, resourceful and dangerous to their enemies.

These aren’t comedies of manners, like Austen or Heyer, but that’s okay because instead they’re thrill rides with mad scientist villains and obsessed magicians.

I’m not sure where to put the J.D. Robb series, which stars a homicide detective in a futuristic New York City and has elements of the police procedural, a touch of Bladerunner-style world building, and a hot romance, but start with Naked in Death. To me, this series is all about Eve Dallas, the most compassionate, bitchiest, haunted, relentless and intelligent woman in romance. I could build shrines to Eve Dallas.

And for more? Check out the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout Group on Goodreads run by Bonnie Burton and Felicia Day.

Because even if you don’t find titles, you’ll still be able to click and watch drunken Bonnie Burton and Felicia Day talk about romance books.



Early Friday morning, I’m headed out of Boston for a cross-country trip to Geek Girl Con in Seattle.

I’m part of three panels, Home Geek Home with an incredible lineup that includes Bonnie Burton and fellow Geekmoms Kelly Know and Jenn Fujikawa on Saturday;  Romance is a Feminist Genre, my own brainchild, which will talk about why the romance genre is so awesome and positive for women on Sunday at 10 a.m.; and Women in Comics: What’s Left To Do, a panel featuring members of the pioneering feminist webzine, Sequential Tart.

I’ll also be signing copies of GeekMom: Projects, Tips and Adventures for Moms and Their 21st Century Families at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

I’m so excited about Geek Girl Con, which is now in it’s third year. Check out this mission statement:

GeekGirlCon is dedicated to celebrating female involvement in all fields of math, the sciences, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, fiction, gaming, and more.

As Kelly Knox pointed out in her preview post on GeekMom for GGC, this is a con that has nearly *everything* geeky. I’m not going to find a DIY science zone for all ages at NYCC or in San Diego or at Boston Comic Con, which was very superhero focused.

GGC promises to be a shorter version of a Maker Faire combined with feminism combined with geeky pop culture.

And it’s in Seattle. Where I’ve never been before.

It’s sorta like someone reached into my brain and made a Con just for me. If you find me there (and I encourage you to go, the price is incredibly reasonable–$45 for two days–and there’s fun stuff for everyone), I just might have some ARCs of the print copy of Phoenix Legacy there.

Hit me up! :)


Jim Gordon by Ming Doyle. She went above and beyond with this commission!

Romans, Vikings, alternate history, ancient North American, Native Americans


This is the book that began with the idea of Romans and  Vikings in North America, a pagan fertility ritual, and a heroine named after Black Canary. :)

It starts 9:45 a.m. EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


My favorite pin.

No, not pitching myself. I have my talented agent, Eric Ruben, and no new stories to work into a pitch. But the CT RWA chapter is holding a pitch fest as part of their monthly meeting and that kind of workshop always helps me focus my stories.

Plus, it’s a chance to wear my new t-shirt with the logo: “ACT III: They All Die.”

Which isn’t quite appropriate for a romance writer but definitely fits my mood everytime I hit Act II and get stuck. That’s when I remember my favorite pin and keep going.

Gregor Sherringford by Fabian Cobos

In my excitement over selling The Curse of the Brimstone Contract yesterday, I neglected to mention there is a short prequel that’s going to be published first, a four-page comic tale in Greyhaven Comic’s all-steampunk issue.

Last night, I received character concept sketches from the artist on the story, Fabian Cobos, and he’s done a marvelous job. He even inked this portrait and sent it to me.


I will never get tired of seeing art of my characters. :)


It seemed a good idea to give a sneak preview of the book. Yes, I end on a cliffhanger. Because..evil?


Joan Krieger had never liked going in the side door. It was necessary, of course. Certainly no mere seamstress would be greeted at the main entrance and receive the courtesies due a lord or lady.

“Chin up, be ready to charm the client, dear,” her mother said. “The happier we are about how the clothing looks on her, the happier she will be. You know how much rests on this.”

Her mother did not need to say it out loud. All rested on today’s efforts, both the future of their shop and her dreams of moving beyond their small business to a much higher level. (more…)

I’m pleased to announce the sale of The Curse of the Brimstone Contract to Samhain Publishing.

This novel my first foray into steampunk romance and I’m thrilled to have the contract. It will be published sometime in the first half of 2014.

What drew me to writing steampunk? First, it was the idea of writing a Sherlock Holmes-inspired story. Holmes was one of my first literary crushes, and I have both annotated versions of the Canon, though my William S. Baring-Gould edition is much more well-worn than the recent one published by Barnes & Noble.

I have these volumes, two of my most cherished books

Aside from being able to write a detective inspired by Holmes for the first time, I also wanted to explore how technological advances affect people emotionally. And then there were the class and gender issues in Victorian society. It seemed a really ripe and complicated (i.e. fun for the writer) setting and storyverse. So complicated, in fact, that my attempt at making this only a novella failed. This story was novel-sized.

While the explorers and lords of the Victorian world are fun, I wanted to come at it from the point of view of the working people of London. Thus, my heroine became Joan Krieger, a Jewish seamstress with a long and honorable family history, who has visions of changing society’s fashions and perhaps change the role of women in society as well.

My hero is Gregor Sherringford, consulting detective.

If you’re an intense Sherlockian, you might recognize the origin of Gregor’s last name. But Gregor isn’t quite a Holmes-analogue. Rather, he’s more Holmes-inspired. He’s an inventor and investigator, but he’s also the youngest son of a powerful ducal family. He’s in semi-exile from that family because he’s the son of the previous Duke and  a woman of no means from India who the late Duke rescued from the streets of Calcutta and raised to the heights of English society.

Why would a powerful Duke marry an woman from a different race and class?


In my storyverse, the steam revolution has been fueled by mage coal, a type of stone that is created when a mage wields their magic. Mage coal is far more precious than gold. It lasts much longer than regular coal, burns more evenly, and burns hotter.

Those who possess mage coal, possess enormous wealth. And those who possess the magical abilities to produce mage coal are highly prized, such as Gregor’s mother. The upper classes like to believe they are the only ones gifted with natural magical abilities. They want to hold onto power.

They’re about to learn that denying the existence of lower and middle-class mages will cost them dearly.

Especially since Joan, aside from being a ‘radical’ in the field of fashion, is a highly gifted but untrained mage, though she’s unaware of this at first. Gregor is willing to throw off the rules of his father’s class and train her. They find more in common than ever expected, though I have to admit, it took me an entire novel to get them to the point of, well, you know. :)

So I have a Jewish seamstress with the natural ability to take on the ruling class, a consulting detective who’s half-caste and somewhat estranged from his older brothers, and, together, they solve the mystery of magical murders committed by a foe of unknown but vast abilities.

Thus, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, or as it says in the introduction, “the first of the adventures of Joan Krieger, radical seamstress and Lord Gregor Sherringford, consulting detective for special problems.”


Heather Massey of the Galaxy Express site has an excellent overview of the different subgenres of Science Fiction Romance at The Serious Reader.

And, yes, it was great to see Phoenix Rising as one of the recommended reads, as I’m in pretty incredible company, with Linnea Sinclair, Marcella Burnard, and even Catherine Asaro.

Take a look, as even I didn’t realize the sheer variety of stories for those of us who want the relationships as well done in our reading as the science fiction.


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