Jo’s Diary

I will be sharing all sorts of things here. Including asking for your help in the near future, as we have three kittens that desperately need  names, and I will let you help me choose! But not until I have finished chronicling the third in our series of adventures — The Incredibly Irritating Irishman!

I am a terrible Blogger…

I hope to be better next year. At least I was better this year than the one before, I think. We improve by baby steps. 😉

The reason I have been so negligent is because I have been hard at work on The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, revising it from very rough first draft to something I can live with. I am not sure if I am quite through tweaking yet, but we are definitely on track to be out by ConDFW.

Of course, if you have been to the page you will have seen the gorgeous cover, but I am going to put it here too, because I just can’t stop looking at it.

I am so pleased to welcome Brad Fraunfelter back to the job of cover artist, because I didn’t do The Nearly Notorious Nun nearly as much justice as he would have.

I’ve also been toying with an idea for something new and exciting (to me at least) for younger readers. I will let you know what happens. For now, Happy Holidays from all of us at the Conn-Mann Chronicles!



November is a Terrible Month for Timely Updates…

…Here it is, another three weeks with no update. However, it has been a decent NaNoWriMo. A little behind, but catching up on the missed days as I go. I can’t wait for people to see this one! There is a lot of good stuff happening…and a lot of not so good. Characters reuniting. Characters torn asunder.

I anticipate a happy ending, but it isn’t coming without some tears…

I am starting to weave in threads from the short stories. That has been fun. Hopefully, the weaving is strong enough that if you haven’t read the short story it is okay.

I have also been posting the Dime Novel over on my Patreon page for my patrons. It may be a long time before other people get to see it–since this is the book AFTER the next one. If you want to see it before it is published, come sign up. For only $1 a month, you can be a Patreon, and get lots of special content. 🙂


Sorry About This…

…but sometimes the book refuses to do what you wanted it to.

I will not be calling it The Peculiar Prodigal Parents, but instead, The Fiercely Formidable Fugitive.

There is still a reunion with Jo’s mother–who she thought had died in the cholera epidemic of 1854, But there is another reunion looming, and it will not be as pleasant.

On the other hand…well, that is a surprise. 😉

Stats so far: 12880 words. I should be at 15000, but with the show on Saturday and a crisis of thought on Sunday put me behind.

The show was the First Annual Steampunk Variety Show and Faire put on by the Wimberley Steampunk Flood Gauges. It was a lot of fun, and a decently profitable show. I tried some new things with the set up this time. Some worked, some didn’t.


November 5 set up

I placed the dolls up out of the way, and I think that was a mistake. However, if I have room, I think the bookcase worked well as an alternative to the racks I usually use. I worked on some of my fixtures to make them more “Steampunk” as well — the box for the tea samples; the chalkboard to write my drawing message on; the pepperbox decanter up on the shelf. I think those things worked well. I will continue to edge toward the Steam for now, as my books get to be more and more in that category…but I won’t forget the fantasies, because I have new projects in that genre as well. 😉

Popping in to say Hello…

…and dismayed to see how long ago the last post was! Yikes.

However, I have not been neglecting the Chronicles as badly. As mentioned in my last post, Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires has been released. I absolutely love this cover:


And I am referencing my Conn-Mann story it contains in Book Four of the Chronicles, The Peculiar Prodigal Parents, which is this year’s NaNoWriMo project. It is a book very much about family…though I have to make sure some action gets in there somewhere…

I am also doing a show this weekend which will allow me to showcase the Chronicles to an entirely different crowd than usual.

Plus, I am beginning the rewrites of The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, and negotiating for a BIG surprise on that front.

Irishman needs a lot of work, but I still hope to unveil it for ConDFW in February. Lets all cross fingers!


Shivering in Anticipation!

And for once, that isn’t referring to The Rocky Horror Picture Show — though I am looking forward to seeing the new version on October 20th. It stars the very talented Laverne Cox as Frankie, with Tim Curry as the Criminologist.

What I am all excited about is the release of Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires coming on the 27th from Mocha Memoirs Press.

We have a wonderful trailer to whet your interest. This was created by Terry Phillips. Why is this important to The Conn-Mann Chronicles? Because it contains the very first Conn-Mann story written from Alistair’s point-of-view, “Restless Spirit”. It’s a third person ghost story that I really hope you enjoy. For now, here’s the trailer:


Closing in on November. Got some great feedback yesterday from a beta-reader on The Incredibly Irritating Irishman that will help greatly in the re-write. But one thing troubled me. I want further input…

She said that she didn’t feel any affection from Jo towards Alistair. I admit, I have been keeping it rather subtle, but I have tried to show their relationship blossoming and growing. Do you see it? If not, what more would you suggest I do before I get too far in the re-writing? 😉

FenCon Was Delightful, As Always

I was driving home last Monday, so didn’t get a post made. Sorry about that. The rest of the week was recouping and preparing for a speech contest that didn’t happen, but that’s another story…

The most important thing about FenCon, of course, was the debut of The Nearly Notorious Nun. I had ordered 20 copies, and came home with nine, I think. That includes one trade and one to a beta-reader, but still, not too shabby.

It was also the first outing for my newest doll:

Ella Grey

Meet Ella Grey. She is a prominent figure in the book. 🙂

So, now that Book Two is done, and several people are beta-reading Book Three, it is time to begin Book Four. I know I had said we’d have The Atrocious Automaton Army next, but I think that I will postpone that a bit. Why? Because I really want to have fun with a real life historical incident that occurred in November of 1874, The Central Park Menagerie Hoax. There wouldn’t be time for the incidents of Army to occur before November. So, I am going to tell a story that has been hinted at here and there. The story of what happened to Jo’s parents. It should be an interesting adventure for all of us. 😉

But there is one problem…I haven’t been able to think of a really great title for this one. Which of the choices below do you like better? Or add one of your own. Be advised that I am TRYING, at least for now, to avoid using the same initial letter again, so M, N, I, and A words are out. There is also a pattern to the way the titles are constructed Adverb, Adjective, Noun. So, if you want to propose your own title, it must fit those parameters.

I can’t figure out a good way to do a poll…anyone have a favored plugin that will add a poll to a post?

Here are the choices (leave a comment with your favorite)

  1. The Really Remarkable Reunion
  2. The Peculiar Prodigal Parents
  3. The Fairly Fractured Family
  4. The _____________ ___________________ _________________


Let’s dialog! I really do need your help in this decision.

It’s FenCon Weekend!

Looking forward with great anticipation to another great FenCon weekend. I always love the con, and this year the Guest of Honor is Jim C. Hines, who I truly enjoy talking to–even if he is kicking my butt at Words With Friends.

But most importantly–what has got me biting my nails, and checking the front porch obsessively–is that The Nearly Notorious Nun will make its print debut. Good Lord willing and the books arrive as promised by Wednesday. I’ve seen a print proof, and it looks gorgeous. I hope I didn’t miss any typos or kitten additions (he tried desperately to add words–or at least characters–to the file several times.) If you find a problem in a print edition, let me know. 😉

AND I got word that Gears, Ghosts, and Grimoires, with the Conn-Mann story “Restless Spirit” officially launches on October 27th. More on that later.

PLUS, the eSpec Books flash anthology that has “Chance Encounter” will also be out soon.

It’s been a busy year for Jo and Alistair, and it isn’t over yet. I am currently considering the end of The Incredibly Irritating Irishman, and if I will leave it as is with them starting off to Ireland aboard a ship…change it to be heading off on an airship, because that would be quicker, and I’ve established that mode of travel is available…or scrap Ireland for the moment and do another book before The Atrocious Automaton Army, because I really want to feature this in a story, as it sounds like something Jo would definitely take notice of–but it might do better as a short. There wouldn’t be time to get to Ireland and back by November in a ship…but by air? I’d love to hear some opinions as to what you want to see happen!

My intrepid editor:


Writing the Dime Novels

I wanted to take a minute to talk about the reason that I use the Dime Novels at the beginning of each chapter in the Conn-Mann books. It is an interesting challenge to me–and I hope that the readers find it fun as well.

The stories in the Dime Novels are intended to have some reference to the plot of the actual novel, but not mirror them entirely. Sometimes, it is very difficult to strike this balance.

The importance of Calico Kate and the River of Gold was to show an independent heroine taking care of herself against a villain trying to take something from her. As I say, subtle mirroring, but not total matching of the story.

The Dime Novel in The Nearly Notorious Nun, Analytical Amy and the Case of the Covetous Cad, was actually the third try to come up with the perfect story to complement the action. When the first edition came out, the excerpts were from Straitlaced Sue and the House of Ill-Repute. The story was a romance set in a brothel. It was okay, but it wasn’t a good fit for the purpose. I never felt good about it. So, I wanted to make sure it was rewritten for the new edition. I originally had the Dime Novel telling the story of a woman who found a baby in the woods and needed to find its parents. This was closer to the plot of the story, but not quite there. And then, it hit me. Jo spends most of the book playing detective–so I wrote a Dime Novel about a society girl who fills her spare time solving problems for her friends. It was a lot of fun to write. It was fitting to the story. It adds a spark to the plot. This is what makes one of the Dime Novels work.

The Dime Novel for The Incredibly Irritating Irishman was actually written before Analytical Amy. It was another one that came quickly and easily. That’s how I know it works. 😉 If you want to read Practical Polly and the Village of Doom before the third book comes out, it is posted on the Facebook page for the series. It was posted daily last November, so don’t forget to go down to the beginning and read backwards. 😉

Do the Dime Novels add anything to the books? I honestly don’t know. I like to think that they do. They are supposed to be the stories that Jo is reading in her spare time. They are where she gets her inspiration. Just an extra added layer on top of the actual plot. It isn’t easy sometimes to keep the conceit going, but I think it is worth it. What do you think? If you have read one of the books, let me know what you think of the Dime Novels and if I should continue them. If you haven’t read one of the books…you always can remedy that and let me know. 😉

The Marvelous Mechanical Man can be purchased here, and The Nearly Notorious Nun is available for Kindle here. It will be in print in the next couple of weeks. I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment!

Now We Get On to Book Three!

First there was One: The Marvelous Mechanical Man

Mechanical Man Final COVER ONLY

Then there were Two: The Nearly Notorious Nun



So excited that the second book is done! Can’t wait to get started polishing Book Three: The Incredibly Irritating Irishman! The first draft is written, and I want to try and get it polished before starting Book Four in November. But I have promised a friend to edit a book for them, so it may not happen. Still, the series is getting its legs beneath it. 😉


All the Beta Reads Are In!

I will have a little more work to do on The Nearly Notorious Nun to integrate some really valid points but I am still on track for my personal time-table, and hope to have it submitted to Amazon by Monday. Cross your fingers! That will be plenty of time to get copies by FenCon.


So, that is all I can do on the series for the moment, but I wanted to share some photos I took at Bull Shoals Caverns last Friday. Doesn’t this look like it could be Kate’s caverns from Calico Kate and the River of Gold?

20160826_151227 20160826_151701 20160826_153920         20160826_153851 20160826_152652        20160826_152406 20160826_151320         20160826_151256

Not too bad for a cell phone camera with no flash…

The caves were so cool! And I could imagine Kate and her friends exploring with bits of candle.

There was also a Mountain Village with buildings from 1830 to 1890. Very useful research. 😉

This little house was built in 1874:


I would love to go back sometime when it is in season so we could go on the village tour. This time I had to settle for just looking at the outsides…

And we also picked up a new kitten…someone might get their description changed…