Chapter 15 of Beauty In The Bones: A Crossing Of Paths

Chapter 15 of BITB is live! The first day of class is challenging. Silas reunites with a captivating friend. Another dire vision disturbs the night, prompting an uncomfortable explanation to Gerald. Read it here, or on Wattpad:

Chapter 14 of BITB is up!

Chapter 14, “The Worlds Await”, is now live! Silas travels to Earth to attend finishing school. An unexpected encounter with Uncle Holten brings new knowledge, yet also raises more questions. Gerald becomes a roommate through a surprise maneuver, and the previous interlude with Imogen causes amusement. Read on Wattpad, or on the site:

New Twitter pitch for Ruby Descent

I’ve just recently discovered the exciting pitch events on Twitter 🙂 My goal is to have Ruby Descent ready by September, then get to tweeting this baby to agents and publishers.  I’ve got the pitch narrowed to this right now:

As flappers dance and chromed rockets soar, the concierge of a space elevator joins a struggle between two powerful brothers.

Chapter 13 of Beauty In The Bones is up!

Chapter 13, “Thresholds”, is now live. Richard Blane and Silas undertake a mining expedition, as Richard’s political aspirations take root. Lovejoy-Prynne becomes the leader in off-world ice excavation. An outing with Mother and the Forsyths takes a foreboding turn. Silas’s first kiss brings uncertainty in the presence of death. Read on Wattpad, or here on the website:

The Love/Hate Challenge

Got tagged in the Love/Hate challenge by CW! Here’s my list of Loves and Hates. Now gotta tag some friends 😉


1: Family and friends: I’m blessed with the most awesome and loving people in my life. I’m an introvert and not too keen on large crowds, but spending time with a few of my closest companions is my greatest joy in life.

2: Nature and the outdoors. I’d rather be barefoot in the dirt than stuck in my windowless office all day. Unfortunately I have to endure the latter to pay the bills right now. If I ever make enough off of my writing to retire, I’ll build a writing space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a beautiful veranda to pace on when I’m brainstorming.

3: Beer: One of the few vices I still have. I’m not one for much liquor, but I love beer…both drinking it and brewing it. Pilseners and ales are my favorite, though I love me a good stout or porter on a cold afternoon as well.

4: Coffee: Another addiction that I don’t regret having. Java is my best friend on those long lonely overnight shifts at work, and the first thing I make in the morning.

5: Writing: I’ve been stringing words together and listening to the voices of the people in my head since I was old enough to hold a pencil.

6: Reading: I’m always happier when my nose is buried in a great book. Another passion I developed at an early age.

7: Music: I love music and dancing. There are very few types of music that I don’t like, though I have to be in a mood to listen to some. Most pop music drives me up the wall. I prefer style and substance over bubble-gum beats.

8: Travel: I’m a nomad, much happier on the move seeing the world than stuck for long in one place. On my bucket list of places to see someday: Japan, italy, Ireland, Africa, and China

9: Art: I’m both a visual artist and an admirer of art. My specialty is pencil and ink, though I also dabble in watercolors, oils, and acrylics when I feel the urge.

10: History: I’ve always been fascinated by the past. Favorite time periods/cultures include: ancient Egypt, feudal China, Celtic, Viking, Tudor England, Edwardian era, 1920s Jazz Age, classic Hollywood, and the American West.


1: War: Fighting violence with violence is like pouring gasoline to put out a fire. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Sometimes military action is necessary, but should only be used as a last resort, and with integrity and a policy of non-violence. War always escalates into conflict for its own sake, eventually losing all semblance of higher purpose. I’ve long been a supporter of the peace movement.

2: Bigotry: People who insist the entire world should believe as they do, and force their opinions down my throat. Mind your own business, and stop worrying about what others are doing. As a pagan, my creed is: do what you will, so long as you cause no harm. If it’s between consenting adults, not hurting anyone or anything, I’m cool with it. And I expect the same treatment in return. Judgmental people can go preach to themselves in a corner for all I care. I won’t be listening.

3: Poverty: The unbalanced distribution of wealth is a concern of mine. No one working a full time job should be living below the poverty line. I’ve been called a socialist for this viewpoint. If that’s what it classifies me as, so be it.

4: World hunger: If I had three wishes, abolishing world hunger would be at the top of my list. I’ve lived in this state before. No money, fridge and cupboards bare. Nothing is more heartbreaking or appalling than a child crying because they’re hungry, or anyone for that matter.

5: Spiders: The one animal that makes my list of hates. Yes, I know they serve a viable purpose in controlling bad bugs like mosquitoes and flies, and sometimes their webs are pretty. But I’ve had far too many creepy-crawlies dive toward my head on their swingy strings. As long as they stay outside, I leave them alone. The minute I find a spider in my house, it’s a kamikaze seek-and-destroy mission.

6: Ignorance and illiteracy: Education is so important. Everyone should learn to read and be able to receive a basic education.

7: Large crowds: If there’s too many people around me, I feel the urge to retreat to quieter locales. Not a big fan. I’m always the one hugging the outskirts in crowded theaters and parks.

8: Hot weather: When it’s hotter than 80 degrees F, I hate it. I lived in the Central Valley of California until I was in my late thirties, and endured those months of three digit temps for far too long. Give me a crisp fall afternoon and an ideal temperature of 65 degrees, and I’m in heaven. I love the climate where I live now, in Spokane, Washington State. The summer heat is usually short-lived, and the rest of the year is awesome.

9: Drama queens and gossip: I hate people who smear their troubles all over the world, involving others who have nothing to do with it. Keep your bullshit to yourself, thank you. Also, spreading gossip about others is deplorable. I wish people like that would just keep their trash mouths shut.

10: Hypocrites and backstabbers:  I’d rather deal with someone who is ruthlessly honest, than a fake. if you don’t like me, that’s fine. But don’t pretend to, and then turn against me behind my back. Anyone who does this will earn my enmity…and getting back into my good graces once you’re on that list of traitors is nigh to impossible. Once bitten, ten times shy.

My Interpretation Of “Decopunk”

Dieselpunk is a subgenre of science fiction, with two widely accepted definitions of style: Piecraftian, and Ottensian. The two are described as follows on Wikipedia:

“A feature that was first identified by the online magazine The Flying Fortress is that dieselpunk can be divided into two primary themes or styles: Ottensian and Piecraftian.[16] The dividing line between the two themes is commonly acknowledged as the start of World War II.[17]

One theme, named “Piecraftian” after its proponent author “Piecraft“, focuses on the aesthetics of the world wars and speculates on how human culture could theoretically cease to evolve due to constant, widespread warfare.[3][16] According to Ottens and Piecraft this theme continues the aesthetics of the diesel era into later periods of history by describing a world where survival (largely based on a reliance on diesel power) is placed above aesthetical evolution (as seen in such dystopian movies as Mad Max[18]).

A second theme, named “Ottensian” after its proponent author Nick Ottens,[13] focuses on a setting where the decadent aesthetics and utopian philosophies of the American “Roaring Twenties” continued to evolve unhindered by war or economic collapse. Ottensian dieselpunk fiction is primarily concerned with a positive vision of technology, where the utopian ideals predicted by the World’s Fairs of the times came to light.[19] As a result Ottensian dieselpunk incorporates “an enthusiasm for the predictions about the future,”[20] and often shares elements with retro-futurism.[2

I’ve leaned toward the Ottensian side in my retrofuture series in the works, “The Family Of Earth”. While researching the genre, I also discovered a more specialized ‘punk’ concept…’decopunk’. I’m a huge fan of art deco style and the relative historical periods, so I was naturally drawn to the idea. I’ve encountered mixed feedback and perspectives on its usage, and what it means. Some think it draws away from the emerging dieselpunk culture in general, in creating yet another unnecessary division. I tend to disagree, as ‘decopunk’ has become something unique unto itself the more I’ve played with the concept.

Do I consider decopunk to be a part of dieselpunk in general? Of course. The two are inseparably related. However, can decopunk be classified as a style unto itself? My attitude is yes, and why not? Formulas are boring. As an artist, I constantly seek to discover and imagine new territory. Repeating what’s already been done has its purpose, but it makes for remarkably dull art most of the time.

Decopunk currently seems to be explained like Ottensian dieselpunk–a more ‘positve, utopian perspective, shiny chrome and upbeat hopes for a bright tomorrow.’ That’s a great view, but I decided to get a little more specific. To me, for something to be specifically called decopunk, it needed to focus on just that.  Art deco. The time period alone isn’t enough for me. It’s just dieselpunk without it. Art deco is a fascinating and very specific style of architecture, fashion, and culture. Many of the works I’ve seen labeled as decopunk barely hint at art deco, and show just a flavor of the time. I decided to take that a step further in my universe, and make the deco side an important element in setting and character appearance.

I first touched on this idea in my novel, “Perfect World Somewhere”. The art deco style is mostly found among the more elite echelons of society, especially in the largely affluent off-world colonies. When Lily Fairpoole and her family first arrive at the orbital habitat known as the Vestal Coil, I described the art deco style in several scenes. Here’s a brief description of the trade commission building, where they land after their harrowing escape from the ration camps of the Kaezer:

“They landed atop a high building, a cylindrical spire that glowed in the sun. Its central tower stood about thirty stories, with six smaller ones rising along the sides. They blossomed into white and silver terraces at the base, and the contrasting colors formed arched curls and chevron patterns across the ground.”

I merely experimented with the deco imagery in “Perfect World Somewhere”. When I started the second novel in the series, “Beauty In The Bones”, I decided to explore my interpretation of decopunk to the extreme. BITB is the story of Silas Blane, the antagonist of my upcoming novel, “Ruby Descent”. Silas dwells among the most affluent reaches of society, where art deco is literally dripping from every wall and textile. In an attempt to expand the concept, I’ve gone overkill on the descriptions of architecture and fashion, incorporating the bold patterns, colors, and symmetry every chance I get. Silas is a man who values appearances very highly, and he’s incredibly observant of detail. Thus his descriptions get much more involved than the other characters in the series.

Here’s a snippet describing the office of Silas’s father, Richard Blane.

“All of the heavy velvet curtains were tethered aside to let in the fresh air and sun. A stepped and fluted relief decorated the windows and door frames, hewn from solid black stone, and edged with glinting chrome accents. One entire side of the gently curved room rose in striated shelves, containing the collected volumes of Father’s cherished library.

His lacquered wooden desk dominated the center, a monumental fixture carved with geometric patterns, arcing in a sunburst along the front and sides. Two abstract bronze statues stood at either end, resembling nude young women with impossibly narrow and linear hips, their figures broadening at the shoulders, arms outstretched in a wide oval toward the ceiling. A lamp embellished with stained glass and parallel lines of brass molding dangled between their blunt, ridged fingers, casting a muted amber glow against the sunlight.”

Some of the most decopunk fashions in the story are worn by Silas’s mother, the haughty and manipulative Octavia Blane. I often use the exotic imagery of the famous designer Erte to create Mrs. Blane’s daring outifts. Here’s one of her more formal ensembles:

“A floor-length gown of pleated black satin spilled from the small of her back, secured there with a thin band of silver and rhinestones. Her sleeves trailed down the sides, ending in tasseled points. A panel of luminous white accented the front, with an archaic meander motif embroidered along the hem. Stockings and garters flashed as she walked to the car, revealed through the plunging slit at the front of the skirt. Three spritely black plumes curled from the rippled waves of her hair, which was set into a glossy roll at the nape of her neck. She pulled her fur-trimmed evening wrap around her shoulders as Crawford shut the door behind us.”

My goal is to break beyond the mere definitions of Ottensian dieselpunk, and present decopunk as something truly its own. I especially aim to emphasize the ‘punk’ element. To me, punk is a term that denotes rebellion, something contrary to the accepted norm, and provokes disapproval among the more stiff and stolid types who only follow convention. Punk attitude is a major driving point in “Beauty In The Bones”, as Silas overturns every social nicety and pursues his own desires for power and acclaim. If “Downton Abbey” and “Dynasty” had a love-child, and then added a gothic/punk soundtrack and atmosphere, the result would be BITB. I listen to goth, industrial, futurepop, and darkwave music by artists like Skinny Puppy, Phosphor, In Strict Confidence, and others while I write this decopunk drama, to help capture the edgy atmosphere I want. Darker styles like this were present in the early twentieth century. German expressionism, noir, cabaret culture, burlesque, silent cinema, and the in-your-face attitude of flappers and their gents all display the punk themes I’m trying to expand upon. I also include many elements of cyberpunk: high technology mixed with street culture, hackers, and wearable devices are all included in the fun.

I started an inspiration board on Pinterest several months ago, to help me narrow in on what decopunk fashion really could be. It’s become a fun obsession now, Check it out at: Decodence

Here’s the actual playlist I listen to for inspiration on “Beauty In The Bones”