Saturday, August 31, 2013


On Monday I'll have an update on the watercolor journal, which I've finally finished, along with details on how I dealt with the cover and what materials I used.

For world-building this Wednesday we'll be discussing story keywords, and how they can help you stretch your imagination, create options and solve specific writing problems.

On Friday I'll have some details on a special project I'm working on for the winter holidays, along with some sneak peeks of what will be included.

Until then, have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Clockwork Wolf Excerpt

To go to the first excerpt from The Clockwork Wolf just click on the cover art.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

World Books

Building a world and maintaining it requires a storyteller to collect a great many construction materials, and to keep these tidy and always ready for use it's good to create a world-building notebook. This can be in hard copy or virtual form, and doesn't necessary have to be in notebook format; you may choose to go at it via individual documents and electronic folders, or some sort of notes organization program, or even your own private wiki. In all things world-building, do what works for you.

I'm a traditional type, and I've worked out of physical, largely handwritten notebooks for so long that they're still the most comfortable fit for me, so that's my approach. I keep notebooks on individual books, bibles on ongoing series and (most recently) notebooks devoted strictly to the world-building itself. Once I thought as I got older I might do less in the way of notebooks, but I'm finding I'm doing more. My notebooks aren't just reference sources for my work, they've become my story journals and my construct workbooks; with them I can actively tinker on my world-building as well as chronicle my processes.

This is the current world-building notebook for Disenchanted & Co. It's morphed quite a few times over the last four years, but this most recent incarnation deals with eight primary topics: Architecture, Characters, Cover Art, Ephemera, Magic, Setting, Visuals and World-Specific. To give you an idea of how this sort of notebook can change over time, my World-Specific section used to be titled Language. Maintaining a glossary for my invented American-British slang was the original purpose of that section. By the time I finished writing The Clockwork Wolf, however, I had compiled so many other details of my own invention (social customs, mechanical oddities etc.) that I needed to shift those into the Language section and retitle it.

Here's a spread from the Architecture section on a hanging gas lamp:

The lamp was one I spotted at a local restaurant and photographed as a possible model for a counterpart in my world. Once I studied the image and thought about it, I began making notes. I liked the distinctive shape of the flame, the outside copper housing and the little front access door, so I played with those ideas as to how they might work in my universe. I could see these being used in cramped, narrow public spaces where a standing gaslamp might not be convenient, and I could imagine vagrants or street urchins taking advantage of the ready access to the flames by standing on a crate, opening the door and toasting hunks of cheese or other foods on sticks over the flame.

In my Ephemera section I keep all the maddening miscellaneous details that don't quite fit anywhere else. Here's a page with three assorted images:

The scram pendant, which is an actual piece I purchased from Etsy seller Sparrow Salvage, will probably play a significant role in a future story; the bone fetish is a mock-up I put together for my editor, and the blue cape is an early incarnation of a feature of one character's dress (the final version is in the character section.)

In the Setting section I keep all the details of my story locations, including specific furnishings, like Gladys here:

Gladys is Docket's hardware cabinet, and she's yet to be introduced so I still might tinker on her a bit. I saw her at a steampunk show and immediately knew she belonged to Docket. On her page I wrote a physical description, along with a list of what I thought Docket might keep in her, and even where her name came from. She's not flashy, our Gladys, but she's interesting and fits beautifully into that corner of my universe.

One thing I've also gotten into the habit of doing with all my notebooks is to use dividers with pockets. Here's why:

These are some cabinet cards I've used as inspiration for characters in the series, as I mentioned in this post. I don't want to punch holes in them, so the pocketed divider comes in very handy for that sort of material. Also works great to store note-sized pieces of paper or other bits too small for the binder's rings.

What material I do add to my world-building notebook depends on a couple of things:

1. Is it something I need to adapt, tinker on or otherwise spend more time working into my universe? Keeping details in progress all together saves me from having to hunt them down and prevents me from forgetting about them (a common form of amnesia among series writers.)

2. Will I need to reference this material again in the future? It's a good idea to have on central repository of anything (i.e. language, settings, character quirks) that is not only specific to your world but that is likely to be repeated in future stories.

3. Will it help take me back to Toriana? That sounds a bit odd, I know, but another of the world-building notebook's purposes for me is universe re-immersion. While I love Disenchanted & Co., I live in this world, and I don't think about Toriana 24/7. Before I begin working on a new novel I will go through my world-building notebook, not only to refresh my memory on specific details but to remind myself of the language and characters and general look and feel of my universe.

Your world-building notebook should be customized to your own preferences, too. If you'd rather focus your notebook on characters, plot, timelines or any other story aspect, you should. Your notebook serves you, not the other way around, so dn't think you have to follow my example pages -- set it up the way you want it to work.

One final fun aspect of creating a world-building notebook is the portability of it; you can take it with you to the library, when you travel or just when you want to do your writing elsewhere. For those of you who are considering joining in National Novel Writing Month this November, a world-building notebook can be a quick and easy way to keep track of all the details you'll need to follow-up on once you've reached 50K, too.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Crazy Needlebook

During the Victorian era ladies did a lot of hand-sewing and embroidery, and keeping track of their sewing needles was a daily necessity. Needles were expensive, so it was also important to keep them from rusting or disappearing into a pincushion. For these reasons women used various types of cases to store their needles. They also made their own, often to show off their embroidery skills.

Today I'm going to show you how you can make your own crazy-quilt style needlebook. This design, which I adapted from a pattern Ena Flynn published in the premiere issue of Quilting Arts, is a small project that takes only a couple of hours to make; it's also a great way to use up scraps of pretty fabric you might otherwise throw away. You can also customize the size of the needlebook to suit your needs.

For the project you'll need:

1. A piece of thin muslin or cotton to serve as your foundation. Folded in half it should equal the size of your needlebook + 1/2", so if you want to make a 5" square needlebook your foundation piece should measure 5-1/2" X 10-1/2"
2. A piece of white or black felt for the lining, cut to the same size as your foundation
3. Various scraps of pretty fabric in the colors of your choice
4. Various scraps of lace and ribbon
5. Beads (optional)
6. Embroidery floss (optional)
7. A sewing machine or needle and thread
8. Scissors or rotary cutter
9. A marking pencil, pen or tailor's chalk
10. An old flat pendant (optional)
11. Iron
12. Ironing board or ironing-safe surface
13. Ruler
14. Cutter mat (optional, will need if you use a rotary cutter)

I have example photos of each step, and if you want to see a larger version, click on the photo. What we'll make first is the "cover" of your needlebook, and this piece is worked all at once on both sides, using the flip and sew method on both sides, so keep in mind that the right side is your front cover, and the left side is your back cover, and you'll be patching them at the same time.

Mark your foundation fabric with a 1/4" seam allowance and a center fold line. None of these lines will show once your needlebook is finished so you can use permanent marker if you like.

Turn over your foundation so the lines you've drawn face down, and pin a 5-sided patch to the center of each side (and the reason I use a 5-sided patch is that the patchwork will be more visually interesting, but if you want less patchwork you can use a square or triangle for your center patch.)

Now put two patches of different fabric (can be any shape) right side down on top of your two center patches, matching one side of the seams of both patches and pin into place.

Sew your second patches to your center patches along the matched seam. Allow a 1/4" seam allowance for all your patchwork.

Fold out your second patches so that they faces right side up and press flat with your iron.

Place your third patches right side down on top of your center and second patches, pin down and sew along the matched seam.

Fold out your third patches face-up, press flat with your iron. If your patches collide, as mine did in this pic, you can clip them back or fold one over the other. Repeat this patching method counter-clockwise until your foundation piece is covered completely on both sides.

Now we're ready to trim your patchwork. Flip your piece over so your foundation fabric is facing up.

Using scissors (or your rotary cutter, ruler and cutter mat) trim your patchwork to be even with all four sides of your foundation fabric.

When you're finished, your piece should look like this.

Patch any voids where your foundation fabric shows through. This is also a good time to run a stabilizing stitch around the edges of the piece if you don't want the patchwork to flop around; I stitch mine between the edge and the 1/4" allowance seam line.

Add pieces of ribbon and lace to your piece, running them along various seams, pin, and baste or sew into place (I always do my lace and ribbon embellishment first because sometimes you have to weave them over and under each other.)

Once all your lace and ribbons are secure, trim them as you did your patchwork to be even with the edges of your foundation fabric. Now add any embroidery stitches to your piece.

Once you're finished with your embroidery stitches, add any beading you might want to do. Stop your beading at least 1/2" away from all of the edges of your piece, You can also add the old flat pendant as a center piece for the right side/front cover of your needlebook.

Place your piece of felt on top of your "cover" with the patchwork facing right-side up, pin into place (if you want to add ribbons or a closure loop to the sides, now would be the time to put them in place.)

Sew your felt to your patchwork as shown, leaving a 3" gap for turning. Clip your corners and turn the piece inside out, and sewing shut your turning gap. If needed, iron to flatten from the felt side of the piece.

The finished needlebook ~ place your needles and pins inside, and you're ready to sew.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Winner & Forthcoming

We have a winner for the Steampunking Jeff Somers giveaway, and that is:

B.C. Matthews

B.C., when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to address to so I can get this box out to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in.

Next week on Disenchanted & Co.:

On Monday I'll (finally) have the post up with the art project I promised, including directions and lots of demonstration pics so you can make your own.

For Wednesday world-building I have some ideas on how to easily create (and maintain) a world-building bible that will include a few peeks inside the one I use for Disenchanted & Co.

Finally on Friday I'll have the first excerpt from The Clockwork Wolf to post so you can sample my February release in the series.

Enjoy your weekend, and see you then.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I apologize to you all for not posting the art project I promised for today; we've had some terrible thunderstorms here and the lightning and power outtages they've produced have been bouncing me offline for most of the week. This in turn made my work schedule go boom.

I do actally have everything done for the project, but I've yet to write up the project directions, upload the demonstration pics, etc. I'll get to that this weekend, and have it all ready to post on Monday, 8/26. Again, sorry about the snafu.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Steampunking Jeff Somers

If you've watched the Disenchanted & Co. book trailer, then you know something of the wicked marvel that is author Jeff Somers (because he produced it.) I've described Jeff as being like Steinbeck with an attitude problem, but on the page he's much more hands-on and in your face than old John. In fact I don't think I've ever read a more darkly humorous or mercilessly skilled writer of urban fantasy noire.

Whether he's writing about a grim post-Apocalyptic SF near future or a seedy underworld of magic grifters or any of his other unapologetic universes, Jeff Somers knows how to grab a reader and hang onto their imagination. And while he's not an author I recommend to the timid of heart, or those who only wish to visit Fictional Villages of Clean, Virtuous Happy People Who Always Do Nice Things, I think his stories offer something very rare. In the midst of the worst nightmares, under the most impossible circumstances, even when you're convinced it's utterly hopeless, Jeff reminds us that there is still hope. It might not be pretty, or packaged perfectly, but hope persists.

I persuaded Mr. Somers to be our next author to steampunk, and he delivered with his usual hilarious panache:

1. If you could replace one piece of current technology with a steam-powered equivalent, what would you swap out, and what would you call it?

The coffee maker. My coffee maker right now is basically Star Trek: It uses those little pods and it’s like you insert this obscure plastic thingamabob and then coffee is dispensed. For all I know the plastic pods are the currency of aliens who accept my sacrifice and give me coffee in return.

What would be awesome is if I had to turn cranks and pull levers and put on special goggles every time I made coffee, and this would allow me the opportunity to shout things through an old-fashioned tube-based communication system like The Beatles do on Yellow Submarine. Maybe also donning a lead-lined apron when I do. And all sorts of steam would fill the kitchen and pressure gauges would jump into the red zone and I’d get to scream She’s gonna blow! and the house would shake and neighbors would call the police and steam would start leaking out of the windows and the chimney and the fire department would be dispatched and first-responders would take axes to my doors and smash in my windows and teams of burly men with ridiculous waxed mustaches would rush in and grab me and rush me out of the house football-style.

And then, a small shot of coffee would be dispensed. THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.

2. The Psychic Powers Fairy has picked your numbers for a one-wish lottery. What power do you wish for, and why?

I could get all meta on you and ask for the power to make modern-day gadgets steam-powered, but that seems mean.

So: I could ask for the power to mind control people. I mean, I’m assuming here I can’t get like sweeping demi-god style Akira-type powers, right, you know where I could destroy cities and warp space/time with just my thoughts. I’m assuming. If I’m wrong, say the word and that is what I wish for.

Otherwise, the power to mind control people. I mean that would also result in the end of the world as we know it, it would just take a bit longer, e.g.:

STEP ONE: Acquire Mind Control Powers acquired via watery tart throwing a sword at me or some such.

STEP TWO: A series of poorly-thought out decisions.

STEP THREE: Cities in ruins, roaches suddenly evolving superintelligence to take over.

So, instead, perhaps telekinesis so I could stop all this laborious walking.

3. If you could live in any other time period prior to 1913, which would you choose, where would you live, and what would you do for a living?

Can I answer this with a DO NOT WANT? I like living in the 21st Century. The past was, by and large, a horrible place. Plus, have you ever seen those posts where people dig up like 8th-grade exams from a hundred years ago and challenge you to pass them? I would not pass. If I found myself suddenly in 1900, or 1655, or 1000 I’d be surrounded by intellectual giants who would be declining Latin in their spare time and devising new ways to measure velocity or something like that – OR surrounded by terrified ignorant peasants who would decide to burn me alive because my accent was odd or because I didn’t speak Old Norse or something.

If I had no choice, I’d select the year 1912 and I would naturally wish to be President of the United States and my first act would be to suspend the Constitution and launch terrifying warfare across the globe.

4. You stumble through the Writer Way-Back machine, which means you can spend a day hanging out in any time period with any author of your choice. Who do you go see, and how do you spend the day?

Hunter S. Thompson. We spend the day exactly the way he always did:

3:00 pm rise
3:05 Chivas Regal with the morning papers, Dunhills
3:45 cocaine
3:50 another glass of Chivas, Dunhill
4:05 first cup of coffee, Dunhill
4:15 cocaine
4:16 orange juice, Dunhill
4:30 cocaine
4:54 cocaine
5:05 cocaine
5:11 coffee, Dunhills
5:30 more ice in the Chivas
5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.
6:00 grass to take the edge off the day
7:05 Woody Creek Tavern for lunch-Heineken, two margaritas, coleslaw, a taco salad, a double order of fried onion rings, carrot cake, ice cream, a bean fritter, Dunhills, another Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shredded ice over which is poured three or four jig¬gers of Chivas)
9:00 starts snorting cocaine seriously
10:00 drops acid
11:00 Chartreuse, cocaine, grass
11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.
12:00 midnight, Hunter S. Thompson is ready to write
12:05-6:00 am Chartreuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, coffee, Heineken, clove cigarettes, grapefruit, Dunhills, orange juice, gin, continuous pornographic movies.
6:00 the hot tub-champagne, Dove Bars, fettuccine Alfredo
8:00 Halcyon
8:20 sleep

5. I noticed you have a nice list of free short stories on your web site. If you could pick for me, which story would you want me to read first?

“In This Slowly Rising City, So Bereft of Company” ( Written in the late 1990s and published in the zine The Whirligig back in 2002, this is still one of my favorite stories. I just like the pragmatic way everyone accepts what’s happening, and the sad tone of it all, if I do say so myself.

Thank you, Jeff, for making me laugh so hard I had to recode this post four times (and I want to mention that Jeff's latest release, Chum, is hitting the shelves on September 18th. While we're waiting on that, I have a giveaway of Jeff's books and some fun geeky-themed prizes to go along with them:

The winner of the giveaway will receive:

-- Unsigned paperback copies of Jeff's complete Avery Cates series along with Trickster, the first book in his new series
-- The Writer's Lab by Sexton Burke
-- Writing the Paranormal Novel by Steven Harper
-- How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You
-- The Geek edition of Magnetic Poetry
-- A typewriter-shaped notepad
-- The Predict-a-Pen
-- Handy bookmarks
-- A brand-new black and denim O'Neill backpack

And to give you a look at the prizes, here they are heaped on my office chair:

If you'd like a chance to own all this stuff, in comments to this post name the author (living or gone) with whom you'd most like to spend a day by midnight EST on Friday, August 23, 2013. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the whole pile. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, so please join in.

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Look

Here is the first look at the cover art for The Clockwork Wolf, due out in late February 2014. There's a lot to be happy about with this one; for me the stunners were the lighter color theme (we don't see that too often in urban fantasy or steampunk) and all the lovely little details, like Kit's gloves.

So what do you think? Let us know in comments.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Winner and Forthcoming

Singing in the rain was the correct solution for the August mystery, and since everyone guessed it, by random draw the winner of the giveaway is:

Gail Leinweber

Gail, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to address to so I can get your prize out to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in.

Next week on Disenchanted & Co.:

On Monday I'll have some new cover art to show you, and hang onto your hats because it's gorgeous.

For our Wednesday world-building we'll be steampunking one of my new favorite urban fantasy writers with an interview and a very cool giveaway, too.

Finally on Friday I'll have another art project to share with you, and this one is just a little bit crazy.

Until then, have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Open Q&A

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been out there spreading the word about the release of Her Ladyship's Curse. As series go, Disenchanted & Co. has been a dream to work on, thanks to Adam Wilson, my splendid editor, and the fantastic team at Pocket Star. Once all the work is done, however, it's really up to the readers to decide what happens to the books. And from what I've been seeing this past week, you've gone above and beyond everything I hoped for. Thank you so much for your support.

Today I'm actually working on The Clockwork Wolf, so I'll be at my desk all day and checking in regularly. If you have any questions about Her Ladyship's Curse, the Disenchanted & Co. series, or anything writing-related, post them in comments and I'll answer them as best I can.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Monthly Mystery

I have a special edition of the monthly mystery this month that involves a rebus, which the dictionary defines as "a representation of words in the form of pictures or symbols, often presented as a puzzle." If you've ever seen letters and pictures used to spell out a phrase (i.e. H + the picture of an ear = hear), that's one form of a rebus. Some rebuses use only words and letters, like this one:

Queen a a a a day = Queen for a day

Now here is the rebus to solve for August's mystery:


Solve the rebus and put your answer in comments to this post by midnight EST on Friday, August 16th, 2013. I'll choose one name at random from everyone who posts the correct solution and send the winner a lovely prize from Victorian Trading Co. This contest is open to everyone on the planet, so please join in.

Graphic credit: © Yellowj |

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

1821 Monthly Magazine Online

As I promised back when I first talked about it, I've scanned, coverted to .pdf and uploaded my copy of the 1821 Monthly Magazine to share with you all (and to keep the file sizes manageable for Google Docs I've split the magazine into 18 files.) These files are also free for you to download, print out and share with others, should you know someone who might be interested in an early 19th century periodical.

To go directly to the page files, click on the links below:

Front Page
Pages 494-495*
Pages 496-497
Pages 498-499
Pages 500-501
Pages 502-507
Pages 508-515
Pages 516-523
Pages 524-531
Pages 532-539
Pages 542, 541, 542, 543-547 (Note: the scans in this file have these wonky page numbers as the publisher messed up the numbering sequence. I've scanned them in order as they appear in the magazine.)
Pages 548-555 (Note: the page number on 558 is printed backward ~ 855)
Pages 556-563
Pages 564-571
Pages 572-579
Pages 580-581
Pages 582-583
Pages 584-587, Back Page

I was also invited by editor and colleague Maria Zannini to contribute an article to the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (OWW) monthly newsletter for August about how I build characters, which you can read online here.

*Please note that the page numbers in the magazine begin with 494; my guess is the publisher likely began with page 1 in the January issue and numbered pages of the following issues in sequence.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Winner & Elsewhere

The winner of Her Ladyship's secret giveaway, which was available only to my newsletter subscribers, is:


Terlee, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to address to so I can send your prize out to you.

Today I'm over visiting The Good, the Bad and the Unread to talk about my secret life (not the one related to the bat cave; the other secret life.) Stop in if you get a chance and enter to win this giveaway tote filled with signed galley copies of Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed along with some other lovely goodies.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kit Arrives

Today is the release day for Her Ladyship's Curse, the first book in my new Disenchanted & Co. steampunk urban fantasy series for Pocket Star. Which will not be a surprise to most of you, as you've been with me since I began this blog back in January.

I wrote this over on my writing blog, but I want to say it again here: my family and friends have always been there to help me along with way, as have my publishers and editors, but it's really all of you who are my steadfast, loyal readers who made this day possible. Every one of you have done something to bring me here; you've talked about my books, shared them with friends, blogged about them, recommended them to your readers and spread the word about my work in countless other ways. I would never have reached this landmark without your generosity, support and encouragement. I'm also especially grateful to my readers at this blog because you have all been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic from Day One. Thank you so much.

To launch my new series and my 50th published book I've been working for months on a very special giveaway. To learn more about it and enter for a chance to win, head over to Paperback Writer.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fame! (of sorts)

USA Today's Happily Ever After blog has a three-authors/three-things piece running today, and Her Ladyship's Curse and I are featured with trio of things about me that may (or may not) surprise you.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Due to some unexpected personal troubles the host of Paranormal & Urban Fantasy Review asked me to rescheduled the appearance I had planned for today (and of course I agreed) so that giveaway and guest post will be on hold until she can sort things out. Please send her some good thoughts and prayers if you would, too.

Next week I'll be launching the new series, so I have a lot planned:

Kit arrives with the release of Her Ladyship's Curse, my 50th published novel, on Monday, which I'll be celebrating here and at my writing blog (and those of you who subscribe to the newsletter should really read the last issue for some special insider info.)

On Tuesday I'll be elsewhere to talk about my secret Victorian life, and give away this awesome tote of goodies.

For our Wednesday world-building session I'll have something special that all of you can have -- for free, too (and if you want another hint, it's something I promised you the last time I talked about it.)

This Thursday we'll have the August mystery to solve, with a release-week prize you won't want to miss.

Finally on Friday I'll have an open, all-day Q&A about Her Ladyship's Curse, the new series, or anything else writing-related that you'd like to discuss.

Until then, have a lovely weekend.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vintage Posts

It's been a little over seven months since I first created the Disenchanted & Co. blog. At times it seemed like it would take forever to get to the first release date, but now it's only a few days away. For me the entire journey has taken even longer; it's been almost four years since I had this wild idea for a story and decided to run with it.

I hope you've had as much fun here as I have since January. As I expect an influx of new visitors next week I thought it would be an excellent time to do a best-of post; not only so they can find the all the good stuff on the blog but so I can find out what you've liked best about Disenchanted & Co.

To start, I've picked seven of my favorite posts since I began the blog:

January: In the Beginning ~ how it all started with NaNoWriMo back in 2009

February: From the Toriana Sketchbook ~ a peek at my original sketch of the BrewsMaid.

March: Looking for Toriana ~ how one trip to a county quilt show helped inspire my writing

April: Listening for Kit ~ characterization through music

May: Market Bag ~ my favorite how-to sewing project on the blog

June: Let Them Eat Icing ~ the recipe for my strawberry and cream tea cake

July: Steampunking Barbara Samuel ~ an interview with our first guest author

Visitor Favorites:

Darlene Ryan: Mind Your Manners

bluebamboo: Sachet on Over Here

Terlee: Gadgetry and Print from the Past

Theo: Wednesdays, which are now devoted to World-building

Now it's your turn: do you have any favorite posts on the blog? Share them in comments, and I'll add them to the list.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Secret Building

I love discovering something hidden away inside something else. I often find previous owners' bookmarks, postcards and other emphemera tucked in the pages of old books. As a quilt restorer I specialize in uncovering "hidden quilts" which are quilts with much older, worn-out quilts sandwiched inside them (an early form of Victorian-American recycling.) One of my favorite discoveries was a lovely old fountain pen I found that had slipped under the lining of an antique purse I bought at a church sale; to my delight once I cleaned and refilled the pen, it still worked.

Rarely do I expect to find hidden treasures in newer objects. For example, at the county quilt show this Spring I bought this pair of gorgeous quilted satin pillow covers:

The vivid colors and precise stitching attracted me, as did the very reasonable price. After I brought them home I put them in the spare bedroom, intending to use them to recover two old throw pillows I had in there when I had some spare time. Needless to say I didn't get a chance to do that until this past week.

The quilter who made the pillow covers had inserted zippers in the back, and as soon as I unzipped the first cover I saw something completely unexpected inside: gorgeous floral embroidery used as lining to cover the underside of the stitching. I checked the other cover, which also had embroidery on the inside, and then turned both covers inside out to get a better look:

The embroidery was definitely made by machine as it's perfect and meticulous, but it's too good to be anything other than custom-made. What I don't understand is why the quilter would use two such gorgeous panels as lining material. I can't see any mistakes in the embroidery; between the two there isn't a single botched stitch or pulled thread. So why hide them away like this? It's a neat mystery that I'll probably never solve, but I am tempted to remove the both inside panels and make them into some mini-quilts. I don't want to harm the quilter's work, but they're just too lovely to leave hidden away like this.

As a writer I can relate to the quilter's hidden gems, as I often weave details into my worlds that are personal metaphors or that connect directly to something in my own life. Occasionally these are subsconscious additions (Docket being named for my guy's to-do list is a good example of this) but more often these details are deliberately written into the story. Primarily hiding such Easter eggs in any novel is simply for the fun of it, but it also strengthens my emotional ties to the work. Incorporating little secret bits and pieces from my life also provides unshakable creative provenance for my work. I regularly layer my secrets into a story to create multi-level metaphors so that there is a second, subtle meaning and sometimes even a third, secret meaning that only I know. Anyone who tries to help themselves to my fiction won't know where inspiration for certain aspects of it came from, while I definitely do -- which is one of the best methods of protecting the work.

Names are an excellent place to start when working on your own secret world-building; you can use important people or places in your life as namesakes (and if you don't want to use such names openly, you can anagram them into a new arrangement.) Plot lines are likewise easy to customize with hidden meaning; particularly if you base the events on real-world counterparts. Symbols or symbolic items also leave your unseen brand on a story; things that have great personal meaning to you can always be used as a private metaphor for the same or something similar in your story. Mythology, which has been the basis of innumerable aspects of world-building, is an endless well of secret inspiration, too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Elsewhere Speaking the English

Today I'm visiting Under the Covers to talk about the different ways we speak English on both sides of the pond. Please stop in when you get a chance, join in the discussion and enter to win this giveaway, which includes among other things a vintage tote handmade by Yours Truly, signed print galley copies of Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed, and a gorgeous crystal Make a Wish pendant from Victorian Trading Co.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Winner & Forthcoming & Elsewshere

I'm glad everyone is looking forward to the arrival of Fall; while Summer has always been my favorite season I think I'm ready to usher in some cooler weather and celebrate harvest time, too. As for the winner of the Kit in the Box giveaway, that is:

Clairecherven, who wrote I'm looking forward to picking apples and pumpkins. We have a "Harvest Home" celebration at a local church where I start my Christmas gift search.

Clairecherven, when you have a chance please send your full name and ship-to information to, and I'll get your package out to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in.

Next week on Disenchanted & Co.:

On Monday I'll be elsewhere talking about the differences between American English and British English, and my host will be giving away another handmade Victorian tote filled with signed galleys and some other goodies.

Secrets are what we'll discuss for the Wednesday world-building post, along with how you can use some of your own to enhance your storytelling.

On Friday I'll be taking a look back over the last seven months here at Disenchanted & Co. to wax nostalgic over a few posts. Stop by if you have a chance to help me put together a best-of links list for our newest visitors.

Also, today I'm visiting All Things Urban Fantasy to talk about world-building Toriana and why the corsets had to go. Stop in if you have a chance and enter to win this giveaway of a handmade quilted silk Victorian tote, signed galley copies of Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed, along with some other goodies.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kit in the Box

Since August has finally arrived I'd like to begin Her Ladyship's release month with a look in the Hat Box -- and no surprise, there are bound print galleys of Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed, just waiting to be signed and sent to one of you (the cute little kitten is another of my mascots, however, so she stays with me.)

If you'd like to win the pair, in comments to this post let us know what you're looking forward to this fall by midnight EST tonight, August 2, 2013. I'll choose one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner both print galleys. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, so please join in.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Elsewhere with Her Ladyship

Today I'm over at That's What I'm Talking About blog to share what happened when I told my Mom about selling my new Disenchanted & Co. novel series. If you get a chance stop by, join in and enter to win the giveaway, which includes bound and signed print galley copies of Her Ladyship's Curse and His Lordship Possessed and my positively medieval handmade Toriana crazy apple tote.