Tag Archives: Alison DeLuca

#amreading: Night Watchman Express by Alison DeLuca

Alison DeLuca HeadshotOne of my dear friends is author Alison DeLuca, who is the main driving force behind Myrddin Publishing.  Alison is the idea woman, and has the follow-though needed to successfully run the equivalent of a small publishing house these days.

Alison is a superwoman. Not only does she guide 25 authors through the wild west of indie publishing, she is the mother of an active pre-teen, a working author and blogger, and is one of the finest editors I know.

My husband and I share 5 children, and so we have “a passel” of grandkids, as my grandma would have said. While I generally write books more geared for adult readers, Alison has written a young adult Steampunk collection of books, the Crown Phoenix series.

She has written several other novels, and numerous short stories more geared for mature readers, and if there is one thing I can say about Alison, everything she writes is classy and well-crafted.

I am always looking for good, challenging books for my grandkids to read, ones that will keep their interest and stretch their minds, so I was thrilled when I met Alison and discovered her young adult work.

night watchman expressThe first book of hers that I ever read was the Night Watchman’s Express. I loved this book. The story never stops moving until the last page. Miriam, an unhappy young girl is orphaned when her wealthy industrialist father dies. With no other family, her father’s business partners, the Marchpanes, become her guardians. The Marchpanes immediately move into Miriam’s house, and take over her father’s rooms. (Mrs. Marchpane is deliciously evil.) They make their attempt to gain full control of Miriam’s money and her father’s company.

Gradually, Miriam begins to find common ground with the Marchpane’s son and their other young ‘guest’ when a nanny, who is both wise and skilled in certain magics, is hired. Mana is a woman who is of a race of people, who are considered to be second-class citizens, and contrary to the Marchpane’s hopes, she turns out to be exactly what both Miriam and the two boys needed.

There is a reluctant camaraderie that develops between Miriam and the two boys. The three of them do a certain amount of exploring the grounds of the estate, and discover a strange machine that her father has constructed. Another interesting thread is also Miriam’s strange emotional attachment to her father’s typewriter-like machine, which she has claimed for her own since his death, and keeps hidden in her room.

This book was so good for a rainy-weekend read that I read it twice. And guess what? It’s currently a free download for your Kindle, but if you are into paper, it also available in that format for $12.99.

This month, Alison is participating in The #BigBookGiveaway, which starts today, July 1st. For avid book lovers, this is an awesome deal! Sponsored by Girl Who Reads, two boxes of books donated by multiple authors and publishers will be given away through Rafflecopter, and the link to enter that contest is here: #BigBookGiveAway via RafflecopterJust click on that link and it will take you to the contest page, and you too could end up with a large box of books to while away your summer with, and Alison DeLuca’s Night Watchman Express is only one of them.

Christmas O'clock 2013Girl Who Reads is a great resource for avid readers like me, as it’s a website where you can find balanced book reviews, many of them indie books. Books are being offered in this giveaway by many wonderful authors, several with larger publishers, such as Penguin Books and Random House. Alison is also including a copy of Myrddin Publishings children’s’ anthology, Christmas O’Clock.

I did pen one of the stories in that collection, a little thing called A Christmas Tail.  I loved writing that tale—I was in a Toad Hall mood apparently, and Ratsy’s adventures with his friends are reminiscent of that wonderful series of tales.

Alison is one of the easiest people to work with I’ve ever known. We began this publishing adventure in the summer of 2012 as refugees from a bad publishing situation, and while it was rocky in the beginning, we have never regretted our decision to go indie. Our publishing cooperative began with a great group of authors who were all as committed to the indie way as we are, and every year we have gained new authors who bring new ideas and new fire to our collective. Alison is the glue that binds us together.

You can find Alison and more of her work here:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alison.deluca.author

OR http://on.fb.me/TNWEfb

Twitter – http://twitter.com/ – !/AlisonDeLuca

Google + http://bit.ly/ADGoogle

Amazon Author Central:  http://amzn.to/ADeLucaAuthorCentral

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/alisondeluca/


Filed under Books, Fantasy, Literature, Self Publishing, writer, writing

Into the Woods, a fantasy anthology

MyrddinAnthologyECoverWe at Myrddin Publishing Group are starting the new year with the launch of our anthology, Into the Woods. We’re even having an all-weekend-long Facebook party, with Myrddin Authors dropping in and out over the course of the next few days. There will be gifts, and prizes and just fun and games with the Myrddin crew. The online Facebook Party starts here, so stop on by and and hang out with us!

This collection of amazing tales came about almost by accident.

One day last summer I was looking through stock images I’d found for a cover I was designing for another author. I came across a wonderful image of a lonely house set in the woods. I’m not sure why, but suddenly, like the proverbial dog after a squirrel, I was off looking at images of houses in the woods–like that was going to get any work done.

Of course, my brain is hardwired to write stories, so I found myself imagining all sorts of scenarios and plots to go with these amazing images. Then, it occurred to me that if I was inspired to write by these images, my fellow authors here at Myrddin Publishing would also be.

I threw out a challenge to the group: Write a short story about a house in the woods. The only caveat was the tale had to fall under the genre of fantasy, and the theme was “a house in the woods.”

And wow! What a response– I received nine wildly different tales, ranging from humor to ghostly, to romantic, to horror. These ten tales are some of the best I have read.

In the first tale, “A Peculiar Symbiosis,” Alison DeLuca gives us a moving story of a man who discovers he loves his wife–but only after she is dead.

“The Forest House” is my own take on the Tam Lin tale. Tam Lin is a character in a legendary ballad originating from the Scottish Borders as collected by Francis Child, but there are many tales from all over northern Europe featuring variations on his name, and the story will have slight variations. It is also associated with a reel of the same name, also known as Glasgow Reel. I had always wondered if Tam Lin and the Faerie Queen had a child, and if they had, what would have happened to it when Janet rescued Tam?

In “A House in the Woods,” Stephen M. Swartz takes us back to the 1960s with this dark fantasy. Two boys playing in the woods come across an abandoned house, and discover a true ghost story.

Irene Roth Luvaul takes us deep into the forest in “The Guardian.” A woman discovers her family’s history, and the terrible secret a cabinet once held.

Ross M. Kitson offers up a A Matter of Faith.” In this dark prequel to Kitson’s epic Prism series, an uptight paladin must find a way to work with a free-thinking druid, if he is to be successful in finding and killing a demon.

In “If I Have to Spell it Out” Austin musician and author Marilyn Rucker lightens things up with her hilarious take on two cousins quarreling over the tenancy of their family home, via letters.

“A Haunted Castle” by Lisa Zhang Wharton shows us that a house can can also be a haunted castle in the Bavarian Forest, in her hilarious, hallucinogenic tale of ghosts, rottweilers, and a costume party.

Myrddin Publishing Group’s own master of horror, Shaun Allan, swings us back to the dark side with a horrifying twist on the Hansel and Gretel tale, with “Rose.” Told with his usual flair for words and style, this is a chilling story of demonic magic. Definitely not your mama’s Hansel and Gretel!

In “Hidden,” Carlie M.A. Cullen takes us deep into the woods, where two young women take shelter from a storm in an abandoned house, with terrible consequences.

For the final tale in this treasury, fantasy author Lee French presents us with a post-Civil War tale of star-crossed love, in her magical tale, “Forever.” Tara and Marcus share a forbidden love–and only one place is safe for them.

I am continually amazed and awed by the talent of the wonderful authors I am privileged to work with at Myrddin Publishing Group. You can purchase this wonderful collection of short stories at Amazon by clicking on the buy button below:

Into the Woods: a fantasy anthology

Amazon Buy Button PNG

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Literature, writing

#amwriting: Who are you? 4 steps toward building your brand

Who are youI have written a great many reviews for Best in Fantasy over the past two years. For each post on that site, I always try to include links to the author’s website. If I am unable to locate a website for them, I link it to their Amazon Author Page, or their Goodreads Author Page.

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when I am unable to find a website to link to their review. It’s even worse when I find that their author page at Amazon is a blank canvas, and they haven’t bothered with Goodreads. I want to promote their work, but they are making it impossible.

Goodreads and Amazon offer you a central place to put both your author name and links to your work– where a prospective reader can locate it all in once place. If you do nothing else, you need to take advantage of that.

First: Lets start with your author bio–after all, each and every professional site you will want to connect with will want your official bio. For your own website you can go into as much detail as you want, but for most other sites you will want to keep it short, keep it simple, and make it intriguing. This is author Alison DeLuca’s short bio::

Hunted Heart by Alison DeLucaAlison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

In real life Alison is an author, an editor, a founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group, a teacher, the mother of  a pre-teen, the wife of a rocket scientist, chef–but her bio focuses on her writing.

This is author Shaun Allan’s bio:

Dark Places Front Large (1)Shaun Allan is the creator of many prize winning short stories and poems. A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming. Shaun lives with his one partner, two daughters, three cats and four fish!  Oh, and a dog.

Shaun also has a job, a family, a business, and a private life–but his bio focuses on his writing. Take a cue from these two authors and keep it simple, a little fun, and keep it short. Focus on your writing.

Wm Shakespeare author central portraitSecond: You will want to select an author photo to go with that bio. Choose one you like, and stick with it. You only have to update it every five years or so, if that often. Some authors never update it. This is William Shakespeare’s author photo on Amazon. He can get away with a cartoon, because, as a true renaissance man, he was never photographed.

(Medieval humor).

Third:  If you are a published author, create an Amazon Author Page. Log into Amazon’s Author Central. The following instructions are quoted from Amazon’s Author Central help page:

  1. Go to https://authorcentral.amazon.com/ and click Join Now.
  2. Set up your Author Central account if you haven’t already done so.
  3. In Author Central, click the Profile tab. You’ll see sections for adding or changing your biography, photos, videos, speaking or other events, and blog feeds.
  4. Click the add or edit link next to a section. Instructions appear, along with space to add information.

If you don’t add information to a section, that section does not appear on the Author Page. Sections are always available in Author Central so you can add or change the information later. By doing this, all your books will show up in one place, and you will have ONE link to showcase ALL your work, and it includes buy buttons.

Fourth: Create a Goodreads Author Page using the same bio and photo you used at Amazon. The following instructions are quoted from the Goodreads Author Program help page:

  1. If you are already a Goodreads member, make sure you are signed in. If not, sign up for an account.
  2. Search for yourself and click on your published author name. The author name is listed below the title of your book in the search results. If you are a writer but have not yet published a book, you may want to check out the writing section of your profile where you can post your writing for others to read and review.
  3. Clicking on your name takes you to your basic author profile page. This page has your name at the top and “author profile” to the right of your name. This page is part of our database of books and authors and is separate from your member profile page (which lists your bookshelves and friends).
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click “Is this you?” to send a request to join the Author Program. Please give us a few days to process your request. You will receive email confirmation when we successfully upgrade your user account to an author account. Joining the program merges your author page with your member page. The email will also contain further instructions for managing your author profile.

Connie Jasperson 2013

I have two bios-one long and one short. They focus on my writing life.  You need both long and short, because some sites will ask for more and some will ask for less. The following is my expanded bio:

Connie J. Jasperson lives in Olympia, Washington.  A vegan, she and her husband share five children, a love of good food and great music. She is active in local writing groups, an editor for Myrddin Publishing Group, and is a writing coach. She is an active member of the both the Northwest Independent Writers Association and Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and is a founding member of Myrddin Publishing Group.  Music and food dominate her waking moments. When not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly. You can find her blogging on her writing life at: https://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com.

For my short bio, I use this: Connie J. Jasperson lives in Olympia, Washington.  A vegan, she and her husband share five children, a love of good food and great music. When not writing or blogging she can be found with her Kindle, reading avidly.

We have to make it convenient for our prospective readers to find our work. Remember,  your author name is your brand and your bio is your calling card. Your author photo, your bio, and your Goodreads and Amazon profiles are what will show up when your author name is googled, but only if you put them out there.

Getting your name out there is your job, whether you are an indie or traditionally published. Also, YOU must make sure your bio, author photo are updated more than once every five years.

These are small ways for you to connect with your readers, they take very little time, and unlike a blog, you only have to do them once and then just update them once in a while.


Filed under Publishing, Self Publishing, writing

Hunted Heart, by Alison Deluca

Most avid readers of the fantasy genre are fans of the old fairytales as told by the Brothers Grimm and I am no exception. In fact it was my love of fairytales that inspired me to write in the first place. I am always interested in reading other authors’ takes on these fairy tales. It is amazing how differently two authors will tell what began as the same story.

Today my good friend, Alison DeLuca, author of  the steampunk Crown Phoenix Series, has consented to answer a few questions for us, and allow me to share the wonderful cover of her new book, Hunted Heart. It is a standalone book, and is a true fairytale, the premise of which had really intrigued me.

CJJ: Alison, tell us a little of early life and how you began writing:

AD: I always loved reading. My early favorites were Alice in Wonderland, the Odyssey, Arabian Nights, and fairytales of all kinds.

CJJ: Tell us about your most recent book.

AD: Hunted Heart is an adult version of Snow White. Prince Kas is the one threatened by the wicked queen, and the huntress, Tali, is given the job of taking him to the forest to cut out his heart. They end up falling for each other, but not without a great deal of adventure along the way. Yes, there is a wicked queen and my version of a poisoned apple. And we mustn’t forget True Love’s Kiss…

CJJ: How did you come to write this novel?

AD: Someone I met online prompted me and begged me to write the story – she is the J.R. in my dedication. I loved her idea of making the hunter a strong female and ran with it.

CJJ: Do you have a specific ‘Creative Process’ that you follow, such as outlining or do you ‘wing it’?

AD: This book was an exercise in winging! The Snow White structure supported my story, and I was able to take off from there. Writing a fairytale redux is completely addictive – I might have to do a few others.

CJJ: How does your work differ from others of its genre?

AD: It is genderbent, and I’ve set the story in a mythical Norse country. I couldn’t resist including Freja, Iduna, and a few others from Norse tales. It’s also quite adult, with violence and some sexy scenes, and a charity project: Tali, my main character, suffers from some terrible abuse as a child, and so 100% of the royalties go to HelptheChildren.org.

CJJ: Why do you write what you do?

AD: Honestly, because I can’t help it. When I get an idea it needles me until I pin it down on paper. It’s like giving birth, to be honest.

CJJ: I so know that feeling! I know why I chose the indie route for my work, but I’m curious as to why you’ve chosen this path.

AD: I love the freedom indie publishing gives me. I’m able to write what I like and donate the proceedings when I do a charity project like this.

CJJ: What advice would you offer an author trying to decide whether to go indie or take the traditional path?

AD: Both have their merits and challenges. Being an indie does give you freedom but also relies on individual marketing. Traditional publishing gives more support but gives the author little choice on things like covers and presentation. Both are good in their way – each author must decide for herself how she would like to proceed!

 CJJ: Alison–I love the answers you gave my stock questions!  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to get the word out about your charity, HelptheChildren.org.

AD: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Connie. This was a lot of fun!

And without further discussion, here is that amazing, most intriguing book cover:

HuntedHeart cover final


I confess I am blown away by this one, and I have become quite a fan of Alison’s graphic designer.

Alison DeLuca HeadshotAlison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

You can find Alison here:

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/alison.deluca.author

OR http://on.fb.me/TNWEfb

Twitter – http://twitter.com/ – !/AlisonDeLuca

Google + http://bit.ly/ADGoogle

Author Central: http://amzn.to/ADeLucaAuthorCentral

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/alisondeluca/

I have long been a fan of all of Alison’s work and have been fortunate enough to have some of my own work  included included along side of hers in a charitable anthology, Christmas O’Clock,  a book of wonderful short stories for children that is available in both paperback and for the kindle. (All proceeds for Christmas O’Clock go to Water Is Life to help children and families in an international effort.)






Filed under Adventure, Battles, blogging, Books, charity, Fairies, Fantasy, Humor, mythology, Romance, Self Publishing, Steampunk, WordPress, writer, writing

My Writing Process Blog Tour

extra small caricature of connie  by street artist Stacey Denton

Today I am embarking on the  “My Writing Process” blog tour! In this blog relay, each author discusses his or her writing process and then passes the baton to three other authors. Last week, my good friend Lisa Koosis, passed the baton to me. Lisa is amazingly creative, as you will see when you click on the link to her blog, Writing on Thin Ice.  Please, do visit her blog, where you can read more about her exciting projects and her own writing process.

So, here goes…

1. What am I working on?

I am working on the third and final book in the TOWER OF BONES series, winding up Edwin’s story. This book has been very tough to write, because it keeps spawning new books! I can frequently be heard shouting, “NO! We must finish this book before we embark on a new one!”

I really do want Edwin Farmer’s story to be a 3-book trilogy.

*cough* Robert Jordan…Wheel of Time …fifteen books in the trilogy*cough*

There will be more books set in this world, I feel certain of it, but I intend to make each a stand alone book.  I love each of the characters so much in this tale, it’s hard to keep on task—but my self-imposed deadline is to have it ready for the editor by August. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Why do I write what I do?

First of all, I write from the point of view of a gamer—I am a freak for the great Final Fantasy PS2 and PS3 console games—Final Fantasy VII, VII, X/X2 and XII are among the great classics in gaming. I haven’t invested in a PS4, and I may not, as I haven’t had much time to play lately, and wasn’t impressed with 2010’s FFXIII.

I know what I love about those games, and want to inject that into my books. I want the action, the romance, and the drama of a full throttle action/adventure and I want it set in a sweeping landscape, with my characters beset by nearly insurmountable challenges. Magic must have limits and no character can have unlimited power. Those limitations are what drive the action, because the characters have to struggle to overcome them. The power of the story is in the struggle. The final redemption must be worth the struggle!

3. How does my writing process work? 

That’s where I went off the rails on this final installment in this particular series—I didn’t stick to my usual process, which was clearly outlined. But I had so many sudden brainstorms, I went way off track. Normally, when I first have the idea to write a book, I visualize it as the walkthrough for an RPG game.

I spend days writing down the ideas as they come to me, obsessively building the outline, the shell of the story. I make personnel files, descriptions of environments, designing the political and religious systems, creating the rules for magic, and drawing maps. Each world is unique, and I want to know what I am writing about.

I write the beginning and the end, and key action vignettes, fitting them into the framework of my outline.

Once I have that all done, I start at the beginning, and write, connecting the dots between the vignettes. When all the dots are connected, I have a book—albeit a raw rough draft of a book. I set it aside, as it is in desperate need of a complete rewrite, but I can’t do that until I can see it through unbiased eyes.

The second draft goes to Irene Roth Luvaul, who helps me shape it into a submission-ready manuscript. Then it will go to Carlie M.A. Cullen at Eagle Eye Editors. My work is linear, with a specific goal or “quest” and many obstacles in the way of achieving those goals. Some will live, and some will fall by the way—my task is to make it an emotionally gripping journey for the reader.



Stay tuned for the next part of the relay as I pass the baton to three talented writers, who I have the good fortune of working with at Myrddin Publishing Group. Next Monday (May 12) they will answer the same set of questions, so please stop by their blogs to read more about their projects and their own writing processes.


Dark Places Front Large (1)Shaun Allan, Author of Sin and Dark Places


A creator of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming.

Shaun lives with his one partner, two daughters, three cats and four fish!  Oh and a dog.


1 CP Night Watchman coverAllison Deluca, Author of The Crown Phoenix Series


Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.





Swartz_After Ilium_FrontCvr_200dpi_3inStephen Swartz, Author of After Illium, The Dream Land Trilogy, and A Beautiful Chill


Stephen Swartz grew up in Kansas City where he was an avid reader of science-fiction and quickly began emulating his favorite authors. Since then, Stephen studied music in college and, like many writers, worked at a wide range of jobs: from French fry guy to soldier, to IRS clerk to TV station writer, before heading to Japan for several years of teaching English. Now Stephen is a Professor of English at a university in Oklahoma, where he teaches many kinds of writing. He still can be found obsessively writing his latest manuscript, usually late at night. He has only robot cats.




Filed under Adventure, blogging, Fantasy, Final Fantasy, Literature, Publishing, Self Publishing, Uncategorized, writing

HUW the BARD Launch

HTB New Front Cover with gold frameToday is the official launch of HUW THE BARD, a novel set in the alternate medieval world of Waldeyn.

I am doing something quite unique, for me–I am hosting a Virtual Launch Party via Facebook, complete with virtual canapes, champagne, and caviar. The link for this event is here: Huw The Bard Launch Party. Any and all are welcome to stop by and share in the revelry.

This is the hard part of going the indie route–I wrote, had it edited, got it published, and now I have to sell it. There is an art to this, I ‘m sure! Some people with moderately good books are quite successful, and others with truly great books, not so much.  Even Charles Dickens had trouble selling his work, back in the early days of publishing. In fact, most of the early authors of books we now consider classics were unheard of in their own time, except by a few intrepid readers.

So now, in this modern era of social media, I am trying to let the world know I wrote a book. I want folks who might be interested in it to be able to find it.

But I want to do this in such a way that I am not spamming my Facebook friends — because they get enough of that already without me adding to it. Hence, my launch party, open to the public and of course, my friends. How this will go, I don’t know, but I have been looking at other avenues of exposure, and now begins the (tasteful) twitter campaign. Also, many of my friends are supporting me by posting reviews, excerpts and cover reveals on their blogs, which is a huge help.

Carlie M.A. Cullen posted a lovely review.

Maria V.A. Johnson also posted a great review.

Fresh Pot of Tea, Alison DeLuca hosted the cover reveal, and posted an excerpt of the book.

So if you are available, feel free to stop on by  the Launch Party, have a virtual canape and swap a joke or two with me and my friends. I will be posting medieval music that I have come across on YouTube, and of course, we will talk about the book.

HUW THE BARD on Amazon.com

YouTube video book trailer featuring the music of Tom Cusack


Lute onBlack Background




Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, Dragons, Fantasy, History, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Romance, Uncategorized, writing

Cover Reveal: The South Sea Bubble, by Alison Deluca

Alison DeLuca TNWE myrddinAs I have mentioned before, I am in love with fabulous art, and I totally adore beautiful book covers.  I have been working on covers for my own books,and was thrilled to find some of the best art in the world in the public domain, free and with a creative commons license allowing it to be remixed and used in anyway.  While my books have always had great graphics, thanks to the awesome Ceri Clark, prior to Tales from the Dreamtime, the art I have found for her to work with  wasn’t what I really wanted, and I wasn’t sure how to achieve what I wanted to see on my book covers. Beginning this year ALL my books will have much more appropriate art, eye-candy (in my opinion.)

Selecting art to cover your book is apparently a common problem, as I have seen some fairly awful book covers sold under the auspices of major publishing houses, so I don’t feel too badly in regard to my own sad efforts.

Alison DeLuca HeadshotToday my dear friend and fellow co-founder of Myrddin Publishing Group, Alison Deluca is revealing the cover to her new book, The South Sea Bubble, the 4th and final installment in her wonderful steampunk series, The Crown Phoenix Series. The book is due to be released on November 5th, 2013.

Alison’s bio doesn’t do her any justice:

“Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.”

This woman is so much more than those few words tell! She is a rock to those of us who rely on her wisdom and sharp humor to get us through the twists and turns of the publishing world.  Today, she has agreed to let me give you all a sneak peak at The South Sea Bubble and the beautifully conceived and put together cover cover!

But first–the Blurb:

An Edwardian hospital hides many secrets:

A mysterious patient lurks in the cellar…

A secret passage leads to danger…

Coded messages reveal new riddles..

Visions of danger haunt the people of Grimstead Manor…

Lizzie and Miriam find horror, adventure, and romance surrounding the strange vessel known as The South Sea Bubble.

“Compulsive reading!”

“Addictive steampunk.”

BUT  wait…. I’ve read the first three books in the series and I’m DYING to read this book.  Let’s have just a teensy look inside:

Oh, stop the dramatics,” Simon groaned. “What on earth are you talking about? Of course I’m not leaving until we sort all of this out and you tell me what – is – going – on!” His voice rose in volume on each successive word.

Miriam looked at him. Her eyes were dark and very direct. “No, Simon.” Her lower lip trembled, but she took a deep breath and seemed to recover. “I will not.”

“Oh, is that so?” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “And I suppose you think I’m just going to waltz off and forget all about you, Lampala, and last summer.” He raised one finger and stabbed the air in her direction. “I’m not going to, my girl, and don’t you forget it. I will not give up on you, although apparently you have given up on me.”

Okay. They’re grownups now…. having a bit of a tiff…. This book intrigues me already. I’m all about it!

I pressed Alison to talk to me about how she and her cover designer worked together to come up with the cover.

My cover artist throughout the Crown Phoenix series is Lisa Daly, my best friend from high school. We continued the theme of showcasing main characters on the front, although this one shows Simon, the first male cover.

Lisa and I chose the model because not only does he embody Simon’s physical characteristics (good looks, blond hair) but also his strong-willed, hot-tempered personality. No wonder Miriam found herself dreaming about him at night.

We got permission from Joachim Muller, a German photographer, to use his image of the lovely octopus in the lower left corner. Also, the bathysphere, which is the South Sea Bubble, frames Simon – a theme within the story.

Thank you so much for allowing me to showcase this on your blog, Connie!

And here, my friends, is the gorgeous cover, revealed at last:
The south sea bubble Alison Deluca
Due to be released November 5, 2013

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Redemption and the Wayward Pen

619px-Lord_Byron_1804-6_CropI started my day today by reading Alison DeLuca’s great blog, Fresh Pot of Tea this morning, and her topic is Redemption.  She has written an awesome post on villains and redemption, and I suggest you pay a visit to her blog and read the post.

Redemption in your villains is a topic that interests me, because in the Tower of Bones series I have a nasty villain, Baron Stefyn D’Mal, who is, in many ways modeled on the original Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know man, Lord Byron (if he were wholly devoted to the God of Darkness and was crazy on steroids.)

In the first book, Tower of Bones, we discover some of D’Mal’s history, and there is some reason to feel bad for the child he once was, but he is in no way a good guy.

In Forbidden Road, Stefyn D’Mal interacts with the protagonists somewhat less directly, but his  influence is no less profound on the outcome of the tale, and his evil God has him firmly in hand.

Why are we attracted to tales of Redemption? Is it because we are aware of our own frailties and when we are immersed in the redemption of the fictional evil genius, whom we have secretly admired, we are some how redeemed ourselves? I think for me there is a secret relief in the notion that by one selfless act of heroism a person can counter a lifetime of misdeeds.

I’ve had a novel on the back burner since 1998 that will probably never be published, because it is terribly flawed and pretty outdated now. But I love the characters. In this tale there is one character who is not really a central character but her stubbornness causes no end of trouble for her family. But in the end, she jumps between the shooter and her niece because the desire to protect those you love is sometimes stronger than common sense.

I think that having a really great villain makes a story compelling.  Great villains are why we read Harry Potter, and the Lord of the RingsThe Wheel of Time has great villains–a LOT of them– which is what drives the plot(s).  When I read a book with villains that really frighten me I return to it later and analyze what it is about that character that inspired such an emotional reaction in me.  I’ve spent a lot of time looking at what Robert Jordan did with the Forsaken. Lanfear and Asmodean were frequently pleasant, engaging people and one could feel a certain sympathy for them despite the knowledge that they were evil.  Even Demandred had a certain cachet that one could relate to.

This makes writing your villains complicated. They are bad, or they wouldn’t be villains, they’d be the heroes.  But it is a rare person who is completely consumed by evil, and so when we see the softer side of the devil we grudgingly like him.

Who knew Satan was a cat-lady?


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Alison DeLuca – A Sharp Left Turn

Alison DeLuca is the well-known author of the Steampunk series, ‘The Crown Phoenix’. This series has captured my imagination since I first read ‘The Night Watchman Express’, and she has just published the third book in the series, ‘Lamplighter’s Special’.  My review of the series is posted on my book review blog, Best In Fantasy.

Alison is a master of character development.  I love each and every one of her characters, feeling as if they were my dearest friends (or in some cases enemies). The premise of the series is extremely creative, involving all the finest elements of the Steampunk genre – magic, machines and the eternal battle with dark-forces.  She manages to do this magnificently and neatly avoids devolving into formulaic kitsch as some rather popular pulp-novels have done.

Because I love her characters and their depth so much, I asked her to discuss the most unlikely and intriguing pair, Riki and Neil. Two people less like to make a romantic connection never lived, and yet their story has been one of my favorite threads in the saga.


A Sharp Left Turn

In my first book, Crown Phoenix: Night Watchman Express, the action changes in the middle of the book. I leave Miriam and Simon on the Night Watchman train, kidnapped and heading to a sinister, unknown destination.

Simon’s friend, Neil, heads off to the mythical island of Lampala. When I wrote the book, I based the geography on the country of Madeira. Beyond that, I wanted to completely avoid any trace of colonialism in my plot. The Lampalans had to be well-off with a thriving industry and their own government.

Neil reaches the island, thanks to the mechanics of the Crown Phoenix, a quantum typewriter. He is rescued by Riki, a girl who is very thin, energetic, and quite a pain in the behind.

Her parents are well-to-do, but they cannot control Riki. She is just one of those kids who was born yelling her head off, and she hasn’t stopped since. She gets bored easily, which probably means she is very intelligent. Furthermore, she is extremely loyal. Once Riki is your friend, she will stick by you through anything.

She can hardly believe, however, that Neil doesn’t immediately fall for her:

“Well, don’t worry. When you and I get married, you’ll be rich.”

Neil shot to his feet and dropped his sandwich onto the beach below, where it was picked up by a triumphant gull. “When we what?” he repeated in a strangled voice.

“When you marry me.” Riki smiled at him and swallowed the last of her sweet roll.

He huffed, catching his breath, and finally managed to say, “Oh, no, I’m not marrying you. No-ho. Mhp-hm.”

She looked up at him in astonishment. “You mean, you don’t want to marry me? Why not?”

“Because,” he responded, “you are, without a doubt, the rudest, most ill-mannered girl I have ever met in my entire life.”

She considered this. Her eyes turned into slits. “Well,” she finally retorted, “I’ve been nice to you today.

“Maybe. However, I’m not going to marry someone whose best claim to decent behavior is that they’ve ‘been nice today’. If I ever get married at all, that is.”

Both Riki and Neil run into Kyoge, one of the King’s Guards. I based Kyoge on a painting called, “The Moorish Chief.” He is tall and strong – a superbly athletic man. His physical prowess is matched by his shrewd wits. He, like Riki, is also very loyal. When he realizes that the true ruler of Lampala is alive and hidden on the island, he risks everything to help.

When I took that Sharp Left Turn, I knew it was a risk. Instead of following the plot and main character of the first section, I followed a new train of thought and a different set of people. Why did I do it? Not to torture my readers, but instead to increase the excitement of what followed. In that, I borrowed a page from one of my favorite children’s authors, Joan Aiken. She would reach the most exciting part of a scene and go to another set of characters. It kept me reading, agog, well past my bedtime, when I was ten years old.

I’m no Joan Aiken, but I do hope that readers enjoy my side trip to Lampala. I love the island, and I adored writing the story that happened there.


Alison DeLuca grew up on an organic farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Her parents were British, so in the summers she went to stay with her grandparents near Dublin.

There was no stereo or TV there, so Alison, her sister, and her cousins spent the summer inventing stories and plays for each other.  “This gave me the ability to entertain myself with my own imagination in any situation,” she says. “We used to be taken to tea with great-aunts, and we were expected to sit on an uncomfortable couch and not move or say a word.  It was possible to endure it because I was watching my own little stories play out in my mind.”

After graduating from West Chester University, Alison became a teacher of English and Spanish, teaching students from kindergarten up to college level. She loved teaching, and it was with reluctance that she left the classroom to be a fulltime mom when her daughter was born.

While she was teaching and raising her daughter, Alison took every free minute she had to write.  The Crown Phoenix Series was the result.

She is currently working on the final book in the series, as well as several other projects.

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