New Steampunk Release: The Engine Woman's Light by Laurel Anne Hill

Tuesday, August 15, 2017



Spirits watch over Juanita. But who is she? A mystic in love who holds life sacred? Or a ghost-possessed railroad saboteur?

A mystical vision of an airship appears to fifteen-year-old Juanita. The long-dead captain commands her to prevent California’s thrown-away people—including young children—from boarding trains to an asylum. That institution’s director plots murder to reduce the inmate population. Yet to save innocent lives Juanita must take lives of the corrupt. How can she reconcile her assignment with her belief in the sacredness of all human life? And will she survive to marry her betrothed?
Juanita sets out despite inner trepidation to sabotage the railroad. Her ancestor Billy, the ghost of a steam locomotive engineer, guides her. Then bit by bit, she discovers the gut-wrenching truths all of her ancestors neglected to reveal.
Come visit Juanita’s world—an alternate nineteenth-century California—where spirits meet steampunk, where both love and anger emanate from beyond the grave.


**

Steampunk as it should be, with mysticism and adventure, an alternate history that warns about what could happen and a coming of age story that should appeal to teens and adults alike.
— Irene Radford
    Author of the Merlin’s Descendants Series

Veteran author, Laurel Anne Hill, adeptly empowers her heroine, Juanita, to go to hell and back in a compelling coming of age story. She’ll surprise the reader with uncharted territory delving into the shamanic mysticism of Native American and Mexican cultures. Get ready to barrel down the tracks in this alternate history, “habanero” steampunk adventure.
— Elizabeth Crowens, author of Silent Meridian,
     Finalist for the Chanticleer Review’s Cygnus and
     Goethe Awards
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New Release: Curiouser and Curiouser: Steampunk Alice in Wonderland in the Dominion Rising Box Set

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

via GIPHY


Today is the big day! Dominion Rising releases after months of planning. I'm really excited for everyone to get a look at my new novel, Curiouser and Curiouser: Steampunk Alice in Wonderland. This book is part of my steampunk fairy tales series. Ice and Embers, my steampunk snow queen, is my first release in this series. Look for a Beauty and the Beast and a Snow White retelling coming up next!

Curiouser and Curiouser will be available exclusively in the Dominion Rising box set until the beginning of next year. Y'all need to just go on ahead and pick up the set. It's brilliant. I've read Erin Hayes's Touching Infinity and the price is worth it for her book alone.

We are hoping to hit the NY Times list with this box set, so wish us luck! All sales are super appreciated.

The beautiful paperback of this book will be available next week, and the amazingly talented Lesley Parkin (who did the audio for my Celtic Blood Series) has started work on the audiobook. I'm very excited to see what this year holds for Alice!



Sneak Peek of Curiouser and Curiouser


Chapter 1: The Pocket Watch


“Curious.” I strained to look out the window of the carriage at the crowd thronging toward Hyde Park. A man on a Daedalus steam-powered buggy motored past. The well-dressed ladies in the back seat, their parasols shading them from the late afternoon sun, laughed wildly as they sped by. “Where are they all going?”
“The Crystal Palace,” Lord Dodgson pronounced grandly. “The Great Exhibition opened this week. I was planning to have a look myself,” he said, snapping the paper he was trying to read in an effort to straighten it, a motion he’d made ten times already since we’d left Hungerford Market. It was starting to get on my nerves.
“Her Majesty already opened the exhibit?” I asked, trying to hide the disappointment in my voice.
Lord Dodgson laughed. “Don’t you keep up on the local gossip, Alice? The whole town is talking about the Crystal Palace’s opening. A whole building made of glass and filled with mechanical inventions and wonders from the world afar…what a sight. I heard the opening was grand. Crowded but grand.”
I frowned. I’d thought the opening was next week. The park was located close to Lord Dodgson’s London home. I’d hoped to catch a glimpse of Queen Victoria but had missed my chance once again.
Half hanging out the carriage window, I strained to get a look at the festivities. The revelers had cleared a path and stood to watch as a man led a clockwork horse, its steel and copper body glinting in the sunlight, into the park. I could just make out tents sitting in Hyde Park’s green space. “Then I guess that means the airship races have started,” I said. In fact, the Great Exhibition’s opening had been timed to the British Airship Qualifying races.
“I didn’t fancy you a fan of the aether sports,” Lord Dodgson said.
“I’m not. But I have a friend who adores them.”
Adores, of course, was the wrong word. I tried to calm the uneasy feeling that rocked my stomach. It was Friday. If the races had opened on Monday, then Henry might already be in trouble. Had I seen him that morning? Had he gone to the shop? I tried to think back but couldn’t remember. Last race season he’d gambled away everything he owned down to the clothes on his back. Even his favorite top hat had gone to some bloody airship pirate. Race season always equaled trouble for my dear friend who couldn’t help but try to hedge his bets. His reasons for trying were honorable. His methods, however, were suspect.
“I’m not for any of that nonsense either,” Lord Dodgson proclaimed. “Racing around the sky like we were meant to have wings. No, no. My carriage will do just fine. It gets us where we need to go, doesn’t it, Alice?”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
Lord Dodgson laughed. “When you use formal address, you sound trite.”
I grinned. “What an odd thing to say. Shouldn’t one try to adopt manners?”
“Perhaps. But perhaps not when they are completely contradictory to that person’s general nature.”
“But aren’t manners completely contradictory to all of mankind’s nature? If, in essence, we are little more than creatures who are brutish and sinful, then manners are merely a mask for the base matter that lives within us all. And if that’s the case, we’d be wise to drop them entirely, if we wanted to be more honest. Or should we all lie and adopt the best of manners, thus go around being false? At least we’d all be equally false.”
Lord Dodgson laughed again then removed his monocle and looked at me. “Alice Lewis, you might be the brightest girl I’ve ever met.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment, mister,” I replied with a wink.
“Now, there’s the scruffy guttersnipe I hired,” he said then snapped his paper once more. “Is there another way to take that comment as anything but a compliment?”
“At least five. Possibly more.”
“Alice,” he said, shaking his head. He looked back at his reading.
Well, it was true. Did he mean to imply he’d met only a few women of intelligence, or that most women were unintelligent, or that he thought he would meet wittier girls in the future, or when he said I might be bright did that mean he was uncertain, and how did he define bright anyway? Was he referring to my hair? Or maybe my eyes? Or did he just mean he found me intelligent? Thinking about it gave me a headache, and I was already a mess of nerves worrying that Henry had already gambled away every shilling he had. Come to think of it, Bess said he hadn’t been by for dinner last night.
The carriage rolled to a stop outside Lord Dodgson’s home. I smoothed my white apron and grabbed the packages sitting on the seat beside me.
“Your Grace,” the footman said, opening the door.
Lord Dodgson sighed heavily, folded his paper under his arm, and grabbed his cane. His bad knee would be aching after his walk through the market, but I guessed he wouldn’t complain. He’d had too much fun shopping for his niece’s birthday. The parcels I juggled were proof of that. I don’t think there was an item left at the market suitable for a girl around the age of six. What would other six-year-old girls receive for their birthday now that His Grace had purchased the lot? Of course, when I was six, I’d been at the workhouse laboring on a machine until I’d found different employment in the city. It’s amazing how quickly little fingers can learn to do very evil deeds. But young Charlotte Dodgson, the lord’s niece, would never have to worry about learning how to pick a pocket. A better life was reserved for her, and I didn’t begrudge her for it.
“Your Grace,” the footman called, his voice full of alarm.
A moment later, Lord Dodgson cried out in pain.
I emerged from the carriage to see that he’d slipped on the cobblestone, landing on his bad knee.
I dropped the packages, cringing when I heard the telltale clatter of broken glass, then rushed to help him up.
“Steady him,” I told the footman. “Easy, Your Grace. We’ve got you.”
“Son of a bitch,” Lord Dodgson muttered.
“Manners, Your Grace,” I said as I gently lifted him.
Despite himself, Lord Dodgson laughed. “Ow,” he said, then laughed again. “Ow…oh, Alice.”
Steadying him, the footman and I helped our master stand up.
A moment later, I heard feet rushing quickly down the cobblestone toward us. The sound of it set my nerves on edge, and my old instincts kicked in. The runner didn’t slow as the footsteps approached. I moved to grab the knife hidden out of sight under my apron, but my hands were all tied up with Lord Dodgson. If I let go, he would fall.
“Watch yourself, boy. What? Hey,” the footman called.
A boy with a mop of striking white hair, wearing an expensive but oversized waistcoat, slipped between us and was gone again in a flash.
“My pocket watch! My grandfather’s pocket watch,” Lord Dodgson cried, clutching his vest where he always kept his pocket watch. “Stop that boy. He stole my pocket watch. Alice!”
I glanced up the street to see the boy dangle the pocket watch teasingly before us.
“Rabbit,” I hissed.
“Your Grace…I need to—”
“Go, Alice. Go.”
The footman held tightly onto Lord Dodgson so I could let go. I turned and faced the boy. Rabbit, the little albino street rat, was grinning at me. Sneaky little pickpocket. What was he doing in my part of town? He’d grabbed the watch so deftly. Not bad. Some people said he was almost as good as I used to be.
Almost.


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New Release: End of Days Dystopian Collection & New Series Prequel!

Sunday, August 6, 2017


I'm super excited to share that I have a new novella available in the End of Days box set! My novella, Scorched: Sun Extinction is the prequel of a new series that will release this fall, The Burnt Earth Series. Take a look at the awesome cover for End of Days.


Collection Description


Dictators. Devices. Destruction.

With worlds fallen and tyrants rising in their wake, can these heroes and heroines survive the End of Days?

Uncover secrets and flirt with death when you immerse yourself in these 16 all-new, exclusive stories of economic collapse, war, disease, and disaster from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and award-winning authors.

Readers who love everything from The Maze Runner to The Handmaid's Tale will revel in the tension of sixteen underdogs fighting to beat the odds in their own gritty worlds.

Get your 1984 fix in this scorched earth dystopian collection sprinkled with romance and heavy with turmoil when you One Click today!




Scorched: Sun Extinction


My contribution to the collection is a prequel to my upcoming novel Scorched: The Last Nomads. This series is set in a future where civilization is devastated in the wake of a massive solar storm. Here is the cover for my novella included exclusively in End of Days.


Description of Scorched: Sun Extinction


To save her sister, Ash must travel across the sunburnt earth through Hell’s Passage to learn the fate of the Low Tide outpost.


One hundred and sixty-seven years ago, a solar coronal mass ejection devastated civilization. In the blink of an eye, technology died. Destroying the grid might not have brought about our end, but the solar superstorm blighted the land and sickened mankind. In the wake of the crisis, lawlessness ruled, and societies fell.

Now, The Park, one of the last communities, teeters on the brink of extinction.

When the annual shipment of supplies from Low Tide outpost fails to arrive, The Park’s survival is threatened. Ash and her friends must trek across the sunburnt earth through Hell’s Passage, the ruins of an abandoned city, to find out what went wrong.

But the wasteland itself isn’t their biggest problem. Her group must survive the night when the wailers, creatures born in the CME’s wake, stalk their prey. But it’s worth the risk. Ash would do anything in order to ensure her sister, Keyes, stays alive, even if it costs Ash her life.

Scorched: Sun Extinction is a prequel to The Burnt Earth Series.


Chapter 1 Sneak Peek

Chapter 1

Leaning against the doorframe, I stared out at the yard. A stiff breeze blew, carrying the dust with it. I winced when the grime gusted into my eyes. Even though the sun had just come up, it was already burning hot. I swallowed hard, my mouth dry, and looked back at my sister, who lay sleeping on her cot. She slept with both arms above her head.
“Dancing with angels,” my mother used to say when she saw her sleeping like that.
I remembered the line well because the last time she’d said it, my sister was only two, and our father had just died of solar sickness.
“There are no angels left,” I’d said. “The sun scorched their wings off.” I was angry, and I thought I had a right to be. But I didn’t have the right to hurt her.
My mother didn’t reply, merely gazed down at my little sister, but I’d seen her dash the tears off her cheeks. What a horrible thing for a daughter to say to her mother.
Carrington, my mother’s friend and one of our community elders, was right about me. “You’re all mouth, impatience, and bravery. Think first, Ash. Always think first.”
I sighed and looked back out across the compound. Somewhere in the distance, a piece of metal slapped against a pole. Its banging kept time with my thoughts.
One: The number of times the delivery from Low Tide had ever been late. Ever. And even that time, they’d arrived the next day.
Two: The number of public conversations the elders had held about what to do about the late delivery. The decision? Wait. Do nothing. Just wait.
Two was also the number of weeks the current delivery was late.
Three: The number of days since the elders had last addressed the community.
Four: The number of times Faraday, Lordes, Nasir, and I had talked about what we thought should be done.
Five: The number of minutes before we went to speak to the elders. The time for waiting was done.
I headed back inside and knelt beside my sister’s bed. She sighed in her sleep, winced, and then relaxed again. I listened to her steady breathing. She looked beautiful when she slept. Her red hair framed her face. Her brow, perpetually scrunched in concentration when she was awake, was relaxed and smooth. While asleep, she looked younger than sixteen. In her teenaged face, I saw the shadow of the little baby she once was. I also saw my family. Her eyebrows arched just like Mom’s used to. She had Dad’s perfectly shaped lips. And her eyes, hidden behind those long lashes, were exactly the same kaleidoscope of colors as mine: a storm of green, brown, gray, and gold. We were more alike than either of us cared to admit. And right now, we were all each other had.
And if the supplies from Low Tide never arrived, we’d both be dead within the year.
That was the reality.
I needed to do something.
“Ash?” someone whispered.
Nasir’s silhouette reflected against the door.
Time to go.
I rose and set my sister’s canteen on top of the table beside her bed. Leaning over, I kissed her lightly on the forehead. She stirred but didn’t wake. She’d probably be mad if she knew I’d done that. At sixteen, my sister was young enough to be willfully independent and not yet old enough to be sentimental. At twenty-five, having seen a quarter of the people in our community die, I knew the value of sentiment.
I grabbed my bag and headed outside, closing the door behind me.
Nasir, Lordes, and Faraday were waiting.
Nasir looked over my shoulder. “Where’s Keyes?” he asked.
“Sleeping.”
He nodded then motioned to all of us to follow him as we headed toward Park Building.
“Think they’ll listen?” Lordes asked as she yanked her long hair into a tight braid.
“Listen, yes,” Nasir said. “Agree? No.”
“Then we need to make them agree,” I said.
The others nodded but said nothing else.
Faraday held the door open as we entered Park Building. The cracked marble floor and old reception area were covered in dust. A faded sigil on the wall, half broken, read National Park Ser—the rest had fractured apart long ago. The little image at the center depicted a lush green tree and a river. Like always, I paused to study the image carefully.
“Ash?” Nasir called.
He and the others waited at the door to the stairs.
I turned and joined them.
Faraday and Lordes went ahead.
“Something wrong?” Nasir asked.
I shook my head. “No, it’s just…the tree,” I said, looking back over my shoulder.
“The tree?”
“On the image on the wall.”
Nasir looked behind me. His eyes got a faraway look, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. I understood his expression. It was mourning for something we never had, something that felt like one of the old fairy tales Mrs. Lowe used to tell until the solar sickness took her too.
“Let’s go,” Nasir said, reaching for my hand.
His hand was warm and strong. His calloused fingers, dry and damaged from hard labor, slipped between mine. I gave him a soft smile. We bypassed the second floor where the infirmary and school were housed and made our way to the third-floor landing. Before we reached the others, Nasir kissed my hand quickly then let me go. I tried not to be distracted by the flip my stomach did in response.
Faraday and Lordes waited for us. When we arrived, Lordes reached for the door handle, but paused, her hand resting on the lever.
“Don’t worry. They’ll agree,” I reassured her and the others.
“They have too or else…” Lordes said, trailing off.
She didn’t have to finish. We all knew the costs. The supplies from Low Tide were essential to life.
Lordes pushed the door open.
We walked down the long hallway. Here, on the third floor, we kept the last remnants of civilization safe, sacred. This floor was reserved for the books people had managed to scavenge, stores of medicine and weapons, both of which were kept under lock and key, and other pieces of the lost world. I looked into the library. Behind the door, shelf after shelf was lined with books. The room was empty, and no doubt it would stay like that until Keyes got there.
I followed the others as we approached the double wooden doors at the end of the hallway. It had been one hundred and sixty-seven years since the solar superstorm, one hundred and sixty-seven years since a coronal mass ejection—ten times bigger than any in recorded history—had erupted from the sun and forever changed our world. While it had started with the sun, years of decay, disease, and death followed. When I was a kid, I would sit among the books and read all day long about trees, and oceans, and cars, and cities, and movies, and ice cream. The world described in the pages of those books sat in ruins around me. Eventually, I stopped reading. What was the use?
Lordes knocked on the door.
“Come,” a voice called.
As I entered the meeting room, I wondered what people had once discussed there. What important issues had they debated? Had they sat there doing nothing as the sun warned them that she was about to undo our world? Had they sat there doing nothing when the riots began? What did they do to stop it when diseases ran rampant, unimpeded by modern medicines? And when it became evident that the solar ejection had done more than knock out our electronics, that it had brought a disease along with it that devoured mankind from the inside, what had they done?
The answer was clear.
Nothing.
What we knew about what had happened came to us through people’s memories. The sun had orbed bright. The sky all around the globe had illuminated in a swirl of colors: green, indigo, violet, and yellow. Then, planes fell out of the sky. Cars crashed. The lights went out. The planet went silent. People’s ears buzzed and rang for weeks. Those who’d been outside at the moment of the solar ejection got sick and died within a matter of days. And then, mankind fell apart.
I sighed. The past didn’t matter. What mattered now was the future. And without the supplies from Low Tide, there was no future. Getting my thoughts in check, I followed the others into the room.
The elders sat on the old furniture looking out into the distance. Ramsey and Carrington sat on a wooden bench, Gutierrez on an old leather-covered chair, its material cracked and faded.
Ramsey looked up at us from under his bushy white eyebrows. His hands folded in his lap, he looked like he was ready to say no. But the dark spots on his cheek looked bigger than they had last time I’d seen him, and he was thinner than I remembered. I realized then that he had not addressed the community in months. Only Carrington and Gutierrez had shared the elders’ decisions. Now I knew why. Ramsey had the solar sickness.
Carrington, who’d been close to my mother, lifted her gaze to me and gave me a reassuring smile.
Gutierrez motioned to some wooden chairs. “Sit, if you like,” he said.
I shook my head. “No. Thank you. What we have to ask won’t take long.”
Gutierrez nodded.
“Out with it then,” Ramsey said in a gruff voice.
I took a deep breath. “We want to travel to Low Tide. Something’s wrong. Their shipment is never this late. The midsummer window is the best chance we have. If the delivery never comes, we all know what that means—”
“It means we’ll have to innovate,” Gutierrez said. “We’ll have to make do.”
“Make do?” Nasir asked, his voice thick with frustration. “There is not a single person in this community who doesn’t know what Low Tide’s absence means. We need their supplies. They need ours. If they didn’t make the trip through Hell’s Passage, either something went wrong in their community or—” he said then broke off, unable to speak the unthinkable.
“Or the wailers overtook them,” I finished for him. The wailers. No one knew for sure if they were man or animal, but what we did know was that they were monsters. Twisted creatures born of radiation, disease, and starvation, they lived beyond our walls in the wastelands and only came out at night. They had not existed in the world that once was. They’d been born out of its death.
 “And if they are simply late?” Carrington asked.
“Then we’ll know. If there is a problem with the trade, we need to know. If they’re just late, we’ll bring the supplies back with us,” Lordes said.
“We depend on them. Maybe they got sick. Maybe someone attacked them. We need to find out,” Faraday added.
“You make it sound so easy,” Ramsey said, stretching out the words with disdain as he spoke. “Just a quick run between communities. And what about the wailers? Night comes without fail.”
“That’s why we must go now,” I said. “The days are longest now. We need to go before midsummer passes. We can make it to the lighthouse on the first day and to Low Tide by the second, but only if we go now.”
“I’ve been to the lighthouse and back before,” Faraday said. “I didn’t go as far as Low Tide, but I know at least part of the way. I know how to get into the lighthouse and secure it for the night. The others here are fast, smart, and capable,” he said, motioning to us. “We can make the trip. We’ll take the land ships part of the way. Ronan and Keyes have two of them in working order.”
Gutierrez nodded in agreement then looked at Ramsey.
“And what happens if the ships break down? Or you have an accident? Or something goes wrong?” Ramsey asked, frowning.
“Then we’ll make the trip by foot. It’s a risk we are all willing to take,” I replied.
The others nodded.
Carrington shook her head. “And if something goes wrong, how will you survive the night?”
“The Dead Troupe survives the night,” Lordes said, referring to the last nomads who traveled between the districts. Half warriors, half-entertainers, the Dead Troupe came to our community once a year. They were the only people who knew how to make it in the wasteland after the sun went down. And they were the only ones, besides Low Tide, we ever saw. All the other communities were too far away.
“You are not the Dead Troupe,” Carrington said. “You are our community members, and your safety is in our hands.”
“Yes, but if we don’t go, you risk the safety of everyone here,” Nasir said.
Ramsey frowned. Without his approval, we’d never be able to go.
“Mister Ramsey,” I said softly. “Please forgive me for mentioning it, sir. I can see you are not well. If we don’t get the shipment from Low Tide, we won’t be able to make the medicine you need—you and all the others with the solar sickness. For your sake, and for the sake of all the others, please.”
I watched Ramsey’s expression as I spoke. He went from rage to embarrassment to acceptance. He knew I was right. We had two months’ worth, maybe less, of the supplies Low Tide harvested from the sea floor. We needed them to make medicine. Without them, we were in trouble.
Gutierrez and Carrington looked at him.
Ramsey stared out the window.
I followed his gaze across the yard, beyond the wall, and across the wasteland we called Hell’s Passage. Broken buildings, metal, and glass gleamed in the distance. Beyond that, where the land and sea met, was the community of Low Tide.
“When do you want to leave?” Ramsey finally asked.
“Tomorrow at dawn,” Lordes answered.
Ramsey exhaled slowly and deeply. “Take what you need.”
Nasir smiled at me.
“Thank you, sir,” I said to Mister Ramsey who nodded. “Thank you all,” I said, turning to Carrington and Gutierrez.
With a nod, Lordes motioned for us to go.
Carrington rose and followed us to the door. When the others exited, she took me gently by the arm.
“Ash, are you sure? If something happens to you, Keyes will—”
“I’m going to be all right. And I have to go. If I don’t, none of us will survive the coming months…including Keyes.”
“Let the others go,” she said, jerking her chin toward Nasir and the others. Her eyes pleaded with mine.
I shook my head. “I can’t. They need me.”
“And Keyes?”
“She’ll understand.”
Carrington smirked. “You sure about that?”
I definitely was not sure about that. And if I knew my sister, more than being mad, she’d want to come, and that couldn’t happen.
“Well…”
Carrington nodded. “Just think about it,” she said then let me go.
I turned and joined the others. We headed down the hallway.
“I’ll go to the well house, see what can be spared,” Lordes said.
Nasir nodded. “Faraday and I will find Daniel, get the key to the armory.”
I exhaled deeply. “I’ll go get Keyes out of bed. When we’re done arguing, we’ll see about the land ships.”
“Sure you’ll be ready by tomorrow then?” Lordes asked.
Despite the tension, we all chuckled.
When we reached the lobby, everyone headed back outside. I paused once again as I passed the sigil.
“See you later,” I called to the others.
Nasir looked back.
I gave him a soft smile which he returned.
He nodded then headed outside.
I turned back to the image. How peaceful it looked. The thick green leaves seemed to wave in the breeze, the blue brook tumbling over the rocks. Everything looked so alive. So fresh. I closed my eyes and imagined the place. I could envision the people dancing like angels, their bare toes on the soft green grass, moisture on their lips. I tried to inhale the freshness of the image, but only dust, grime, and dry air filled my nostrils, choking me as I took a breath. The solar storm had forever damaged our planet. Now it was hot, and dry, and barren. The damp green earth was long gone, just like the angels.
I turned away from the image and headed back outside.



I hope you've enjoyed a look at Scorched: Sun Extinction. I'm really excited to start rolling out this series this fall! Until then, it's the end of the world as we know it--again!
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