A Special Treat is Coming Your Way

Audiobook Editing Stream Sessions

As I may (or may not, since I have been scatter-brained lately) have mentioned, an Audible version of The Marvelous Mechanical Man is in the works, and about to go into edits.

If you have ever wondered what this process entails, or just want to support the process with your presence and comments, come and join us in September as my narrator works on finalizing the process.

I am looking forward to hearing Jo come to life, and I hope you are too!

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Jo Received a Most Intriguing Letter Today

A letter for Jo

It appears to be from an acquaintance in California, and the contents were just as intriguing.

Sounds like another young lady cut from the same cloth as Jo and Fred. She does seem to attract them.

This reference to shenanigans under the sea is quite alarming! I wonder what that is all about…

Shout out to Wyndie Deaver for making sure it got to us. We may have to look into this matter further!

If anyone else would like to send Jo (or any of the clan) a similar message, feel free. You can send it care of myself to 7405 Pusch Ridge Loop, Austin TX 78749. We’ll see if we can sort it for you.

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Been Staring at this Page All Day…

I still don’t know what to say.

You know when that friend you love stops talking to you, or moves away? When you lose touch and can’t seem to get back in contact?

That’s how I feel about the Chronicles right now. Jo is MIA, and the only one talking to me is Priss. And she talks a lot! Elf is more than making up for the lack of attention from the others, but it just doesn’t help that much.

So, for now, there is no news on the Conn-Mann front. I REALLY hope that changes soon…I miss the gang.

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Where Do We Stand With the Chronicles?

It’s been a couple of months since the last update, and I am still waiting on some of my feedback for Fred’s book. We were watching an episode of New Girl where Nick is looking for feedback on his manuscript and not getting any notes from anyone. I could relate.

But…last night, in my dreams, I felt the first stirrings of Jo’s presence in a LONG time. She may be ready to resume work on The Grieving Groom’s Gambit. I know I am. I am missing the little minx. She’s been silent way too long.

(Does anyone else talk about their favorite characters as if they really exist, or is that just me…?)

Ordered some more convention furniture and a few new books for the table this week. I am hoping we get to use them soon. I’ve had my first dose of vaccine. How about you?

The takeaway from this post is–don’t give up hope. The Chronicles are not dead, merely resting, and the nap may be nearly over!

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Sending Jo Into the Dragon’s Lair…

Well, maybe not literally.

I’ve been given an opportunity to have the Chronicles for sale in a lovely little indie bookstore in Canada, Dragon’s Lair Artist Emporium. I just mailed off copies today for her to look at, and hopefully they will be onboard soon. (And I didn’t forget to send along tins of the teas to see if she’s interested in pairing those too, Tea Punk Teas.)

It will mean exposing a whole new market to Jo and friends, and I am quite excited about it. We’ll see how it goes.

Aside from that, things are still stalled here as we try to get Fred’s book whipped into shape. Don’t give up on us, though! You know Jo–you can’t keep her down forever!

Here’s a poetical venture from our heroine herself–

*If you ask me where I’m going
I might tell you where I’ve been
‘Cause my life’s so topsy-turvy
that my head is in a Spin!

I’m Josephine Mann
and I do what I can
to take care of myself
and my cat.

When all hope was gone,
I met Alistair Conn
and things turned around
just like that!

With a good deal of pluck
and a fair bit of luck
We manage to get
through the day…

On land or in air
We make quite a pair,
though he swears I will turn
his hair gray!

(Someday, I hope to make it her theme song…)

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All’s Quiet on the Conn-Mann Front

.

Whether Alistair is too busy in his workshop or Jo decided they would have the rest of their Honeymoon Progress alone, I haven’t had any ideas for them in ages.

I even tried to write short stories for NaNoWriMo this year to prime the pump and get things going again. No luck.

I am still working on Fred’s book. Finally getting some specific feedback, and there appears to be a HUGE hole in the plot, so it’s still got a ways to go. It will be done…eventually. After all, it has a Brad Fraunfelter cover already done!

Still, I haven’t given up hope for more adventures in my favorite universe. There are plans. I just need Jo to cooperate!

In the meantime, here is the ONE piece I got finished in November. It is a look at that fateful first meeting from Alistair’s POV. Enjoy.

The Other Side of the Equation

“Is that you, Perfessor?”

“Yes, Ma. Sorry, I didn’t let you know, but I’ve already had something for lunch.”

“Oh?”

“Yes…it was the most peculiar thing. I believe I have hired a research assistant.”

“Good fer you! You work far too hard. It will do ya good t’ have someone to share the work.”

“I suppose so. I’m just not sure how it happened.”

“Well, sit down and tell me all about it. I am sure ya have room fer a spot of tea and a piece of pie.”

Alistair Conn pulled out his chair at the boarding house table and sank into it with a sigh. “Thank you, Ma.  It has been a most unusual day.”

Ma Stark set a steaming cup of tea and a large slab of pie before him and then pulled out a chair across from him and sat down. “Tell me about it, dear.”

“I’ve been planning to hire someone for some time now, but I still hadn’t taken any steps to pursue it. Aunt Emily has been nudging me to get on with it, so I promised her to go to the newspaper and place an advertisement this morning.” Needing to collect his thoughts, Alistair took a large bite of the pie. It was his favorite–cherry. Ma spoiled her tenants so…

“Is the young gentleman going to need a place to stay?”

He swallowed hastily. “That’s just it…it isn’t a young gentleman. I seem to have hired a young lady for the position. She rather steamrolled me into it, but she seems to have a sharp wit and pleasant manner. I’m sure it will be fine.”

“A young lady? Alistair Conn–I didn’t know you had it in ya.”

He could feel the tips of his ears growing hot. “It isn’t anything like that at all, Ma. She just happened to be in the right place at the right time to intercept my advertisement. I don’t even know if she will prove satisfactory to the job. But she is most persuasive, I will give her that.”

“Well, tell me about her. What’s her name?”

“Josephine Mann. She’s a little thing…her head doesn’t quite reach my shoulder, and she’s got the most incredible hair–red as fire and tumbling down in a mass of curls…”

Ma cocked her head. “Interestin’ thing to notice.”

“Well, it is her most recognizable feature. And you might have occasion to see her going in and out of the place.”  

“How did ya meet, exactly?”

“Well, I was stepping into Mr. Greenstreet’s office at the newspaper when she barreled into me, promptly landing herself on her posterior.”

“Oh my!”

“I was afraid she had hurt herself, but it soon became clear that wasn’t the case. I attempted to complete my business with Mr. Greenstreet, but she convinced me she would be a reasonable candidate for the position, so I agreed to give her a trial period.”

“When do you expect her?”

“Tomorrow morning, actually. I suppose I should do a bit of tidying up before she presents herself.”

“Do you think it is proper t’ have a young female around your premises unchaperoned? I know ya, but not everyone does.”

“It’s too late to do anything about it now. If she doesn’t suit, I am sure I can find some pretext for dismissing her.”

“Don’t you dare! At least not until ya give her a decent chance.”

“I promise to run the experiment to a natural conclusion, Ma. But I make no guarantees that I will continue to employ her past the week.”

“Just be patient. Don’t be hasty. It sounds like she really needs th’ job, and you really need someone to clear up some of that magpie’s nest of yours. I don’t see how ya find a thing in that mess.”

“You do have a point, Ma.” He finished the pie, washing it down with the tea. “Thank you for the refreshments. The pie was lovely. As I say, I expect her bright and early tomorrow.” He rose to his feet. “I gave her the address before we parted.”

“Did you tell her to look for you downstairs?”

He blinked in consternation. “No. I’m so used to dealing with people who know me that I completely forgot to mention it.”

“I’ll keep an ear out for the door in th’ morning and set her straight. Now, go on with ya. You’ve got a lot of work to do before morning. I’ve seen your laboratory.”

Alistair gave her a quick hug. “Yes, ma’am.”

Bounding down the front steps of the boarding house and those leading to his apartment below street level, he entered the laboratory with a light heart. Tomorrow would be the start of something very interesting. He was sure of it.

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Looking to the Future…

This year has been a bust for me in so many ways. Not getting to conventions and getting the burst of inspiration and aspiration that comes from meeting new people and talking to fans has really been weighing me down. But we can’t just stay in stasis forever.

It’s time to move forward.

In anticipation that conventions (or at least some sort of show…) will return in some form, I have ordered things for my table next year. A new chair…some promo items for the new series that will hopefully be debuting…appropriate masks…

Miss Priss even approved them.

This year has been like one long vacation as my husband worked from home…but I am ready to get back to work!

How about you? Are you looking forward to seeing Fred and Kevin’s book come out? (My final run-thru edits in process…)

And hopefully, Jo has gotten bored of her vacation too! November is coming…

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Fashion in the Conn-Mann Chronicles

Fashion in the 1870’s was in a state of flux. (Isn’t fashion always changing?) Skirts were narrowing and the fabric was moving to the back of the skirt instead of the sides.

A fashionable lady–like Leonora or Aunt Emily–would be up on the most current styles, and dress accordingly.

Jo and Fred would not. They are not up on the current styles. They go for comfort. Jo is not one for stays. Fred is much more practical too. They are more likely to be found in a simple bodice and skirt.

Alistair is seldom dressed for the board room either–though, as a professor, he is sure to wear a jacket and tie in classes. In the warehouse, he’s in shirt-sleeves and a lab coat.

Kevin is much more likely to be in a suit, as he is in a professional position. As a detective, he would not be in a uniform, but Sergeant Doyle would be.

For more information on the fashion of the time, here’s a good blog post, and here is another.

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The Next Coming Thing

It was a busy day, so this will be short. I just thought I would talk a minute about a common thread in many Steampunk properties. In fact, it is what makes some of the media “Steampunk” in the first place–and that is the search for the “next new/coming thing.”

One of the things that makes The Adventures of Brisco County so charming is Brisco’s eager search for the technology just over the horizon. Wickwire’s inventions fascinate him for this reason.

On The Murdoch Mysteries–just now out of the Victorian era and into Edwardian–there is a similar wonder about the next technology on the horizon, though Detective Murdoch is more of a “hands-on” sort, having already invented a stop-action security camera, gears for his bicycle, an ultraviolet light for crime scene investigation and at least a dozen other gadgets. Again, the whimsical wonder as to what will be the next big idea adds a charm and fun to the show.

It’s easier to “show” this mindset on video than “tell” it in the pages of a book, but Jo has referenced Alistair should make some sort of communications device (telephone) and Seamus has a recording mechanism built into one of his mechanicals. So, I do try to get a bit of it in.

What is your favorite example of this trope? Share in the comments! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

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Guest Post: Captain Nemo—the First Undersea Pirate

20KLeagues_Front Cover

Thank you, Rie, for the opportunity to steam into your blog. I’ll try to leave the place looking as shipshape as I found it.

I know Rie and her fans love pirates, so allow me to brag about a new anthology featuring the first man to conduct his piracy underwater. About a year ago, I realized Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea would turn 150 years old in June 2020. I decided to commemorate that sesquicentennial by creating an anthology of stories paying tribute to Jules Verne’s proto-steampunk classic.

Along with Kelly A. Harmon of Pole to Pole Publishing, I co-edited 20,000 Leagues Remembered, which contains 16 stories by modern authors, each written in honor of the first submarine novel. Here’s a taste of what you’ll read:

  • Author Stephen R. Wilk merges Twenty Thousand Leagues with another Verne novel, The Blockade Runners, in his lively ship chase, “A Game of Hare and Hounds.”

  • If you pit Nemo’s Nautilus against Mark Twain, an ironclad, and an airship, you get submariner M. W. Kelly’s rollicking story, “Farragut’s Gambit.”

  • What if John Strock, Verne’s American detective in Master of the World, was assigned to investigate strange maritime reports from Baltimore? Find out what happens in J. Woolston Carr’s “The Ghost of Captain Nemo.”

  • In Eric Choi’s riveting adventure tale “Raise the Nautilus,” British salvagers attempt to recover the Nautilus and its technology, but they may not be the only interested party.

  • Older English translations of Verne’s novel were horrible, and in “The Silent Agenda” by Mike Adamson, you’ll find one fascinating explanation why.

  • Suppose Professor Aronnax were to meet Cyrus Smith, the leader of the castaways in Verne’s The Mysterious Island, years later. Read “An Evening at the World’s Edge” by Alfred D. Byrd to discover how both their lives change forever.

  • Maya Chhabra explores Captain Nemo’s origin in Bundelkhand, India and how it affected his interactions with Pierre Aronnax in her thought-provoking story, “The Maelstrom.”

  • Nemo assembled his loyal crew somehow, and must have found a way to replenish their depleted numbers by some secret method. In Andrew Gudgel’s “Recruiter,” you’ll read how that might have happened.

  • What if the Nautilus existed today, and contained mysteries that could alter us and our planet forever? Enjoy “Nemo’s World” by James J.C. Kelly and uncover Nemo’s long-hidden secrets.

  • Nikoline Kaiser wrote a poignant coming-of-age story we couldn’t resist, a tale set in Greenland, of all places. “Last Year’s Water” explores a young girl’s grieving process.

  • If a diving mishap left you trapped inside an extinct volcano, could you escape? Read “Homework Help from No One” by Captain Demetri Capetanopoulos to discover a particularly Vernian solution to that problem.

  • 150 years can seem like nothing, if you ride in the right kind of vehicle. The protagonist of Corrie Garrett’s “A Concurrent Process” might wish she’d not spent her time investigating that strange UFO over Chicago.

  • What happened just after the Nautilus entered the maelstrom at the end of Verne’s novel? Thanks to Jason J. McCuiston, you can find out what bizarre sights Nemo and one unusual crewman encounter “At Strange Depths.”

  • Could a band of misfit criminal oddballs hope to steal the gold and treasures rumored to be aboard the Nautilus? Author Allison Tebo will leave you laughing out loud when “Fools Rush In.”

  • Nemo described sperm whales (cachalots in French) as nothing but “mouth and teeth.” To know what a sperm whale might think of the Nautilus, you’ll have to read “Leviathan” by Michael D. Winkle.

  • Twenty thousand leagues in outer space? We travel there, too, in Gregory L. Norris’s tender story “Water Whispers.”

20,000 Leagues Remembered is available in ebook form at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, and several other distributors. The paperback is available at Amazon as well, and check Pole to Pole Publishing for news about the other outlets.

Thanks again, Rie, for the chance to surface my sub in the waters of your blog. I’m leaving now. Cast off all lines! Dive! Dive!

Steven R. Southard

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