Release Day for STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY + Giveaway!

Note: Stay tuned to the end for a giveaway!

To all outward appearances today, as I put out my second full-length novel, this is me at the start of this GIF, trying to be all cool and stuff, and then at the end, that’s me on the inside! This poor story had a rough start and I’m so excited to be able to finally share it.

Journey to Publication

I originally wrote it in May of 2012, all excited about the steampunk world I was imagining in Mobile, Alabama in 1890 and was eagerly revising it when I signed with my agent, who quickly shot it down, saying steampunk was dead. When New Adult started gaining in popularity, I tried to tell her this was New Adult, but it didn’t grok until a year later and then she wanted to see it right then, and I’d stupidly set it down and never revised it, so it wasn’t at all ready for my agent to see it. I delved into revisions and sent it out to Betas, but when I got them back I was also getting burned out and took a break from writing, so when I finally picked it up again last year, my agent wasn’t as keen to see it, which served me right. And then we amicably parted ways.

I had it in my head, even after I decided to self-pub Must Love Breeches, that I would seek new representation for Steam, but then luckily a lightbulb went off when I realized I didn’t have to shop it first. I looked at it objectively–did I love the story and hope others would too? Yes. But was it something that was sooooo commercially appealing NY would want it? No. I’d missed the boat on steampunk and according to what I was hearing from my agent and others, New Adult (from a NY perspective) wasn’t interested in NA that wasn’t contemporary, and after coming off of several years of waiting to see if they’d pick up Breeches, I just didn’t want to wait on something I knew they wouldn’t want. This doesn’t mean I won’t pursue a traditional deal, and I do have a project that’s in revisions that I think might stand a chance, but there was no sense putting Steam in the long queue for the inevitable rejection. This isn’t meant to be negative or sour grapes. On the contrary, I found it rather freeing, as it gave me options, which I love, and I think if one is to be successful, one has to look at one’s work in an objective, business-like matter. That’s what’s so great about indie publishing, as we’re able to fill a need for books of our flavors, but which aren’t in high enough demand to make it a viable business proposition for NY to take a chance on–NY can’t make a living catering to niches, whereas indies can.

So Steam got more revisions and Beta rounds and it went off to a developmental editor, who had fantastic feedback and made it much better (Thanks Jessa Slade!). Then it was off to my copyeditor, who I was really excited about bringing it to the next level. But luckily, I gave a launch date to Amazon that was a month later than I anticipated having it ready, because several days after it was due back to me, and I’m wondering what’s happening, I learn she’d been struck down by the flu, poor thing! So it was a mad scramble to find a replacement that could give it a good edit during that first week in December and Julie Glover did me a solid, thank you!

So what’s the deal with Steam?

  • it’s set in the Deep South, in a world where Lincoln doesn’t get shot
  • it’s got an armored pet monkey
  • it’s got a hot, well-intentioned, but bumbling hero
  • it’s got a Jack-the-Ripper style murderer terrorizing the good folk of Mobile
  • and a heroine who finds that less terrifying than marriage

I forgot to do a blog reveal of the trailer I made a week or so ago, so here’s the visual for ya:

Here’s the blurbage:

Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying?

In an alternate Deep South in 1890, society reporter Adele de la Pointe wants to make her own way in the world, despite her family’s pressure to become a society wife. Hoping to ruin herself as a matrimonial prospect, she seizes the opportunity to cover the recent Jack the Ripper-style murders for the newspaper, but her father’s dashing new intern suggests a more terrifying headline—marriage.

Dr. Phillip Rawley’s most daring exploit has been arriving at his new home in America in a hot air balloon. A tolerable sacrifice, if it means he can secure the hand of his new employer’s daughter in a marriage of convenience. But Adele works, she’s spirited, and she has an armored pet monkey running her errands. Not only does she not match his notions of a proper lady, she stirs up feelings he’d rather keep in tight control.

With Adele hunting down a headline and Dr. Rawley trying to protect and pursue her, a serial killer is spreading panic throughout Mobile, Alabama. Can Adele and Rawley find the murderer, face their fears, and discover true love?

I’m trying something new with this launch, and that’s pricing it at 99 cents for release week, so if you’re at all interested, pick it up before Monday, as it will go on it’s normal price of $3.99. Have no idea if this will help get it more exposure and find its audience, but I figured it was worth a try.

I’ve made some image quotes, which you’re free to pin or share:

SMUR_Quote3 SMUR_Quote4

Here’s some tweets, if you’re so inclined. Just click on the image or the text and it will prefill it for you:

Tweet: It's release day! Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying? STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY Tweet: It’s release day! Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying? STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY

Tweet: STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY releases today, a #steampunk #romance at the release price of #99cents until 1/19 Tweet: STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY releases today, a #steampunk #romance at the release price of #99cents until 1/19


Over 20 blogs are part of my release day blitz tour hosted by Twinsie Talk Book Reviews (thank you, Angie!) and some will be doing reviews, if all goes well. Also, there will be a 3 chances to win an ecopy of both Breeches and Steam over on! Here’s the tour participants:


TwinsieTalk Book ReviewsStephanie’s Book Reports | Eyes on Books’ Next Favorite ReadLittle Shop of Readers

Blitz participants:

Rough Draft Book Blog  | Literary Treasure Chest | Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog | The Shadow Portal | Indies Steal Our Heart | Reading by the Book | Pinky’s Favorite Reads | Eskimo Princess Book Reviews | A Pair of Okies | author sandra love  | Writing Between Corsets and Bustiers… | D&S Book Blog | Musings by Mandy | Sweets Books  | Evocativebookreviews | Becca the Bibliophile | A Dirty Book Affair | Spreading The Word With Denise & Donna  | Imaginative Dreams | Verna Loves Books | Not Your Average Book Blog

Thank you!

Thank you bloggers participating in the blitz, and thank you to all who’ve followed me on here over the years and have supported me–the online writing community is truly amazing! This is me poking my head against the internets and saying:

Thank you


I set this all up last night so it’d be ready to publish when I woke up, and I forgot the buy links!

United States
 btn_kobo_48 btn_ibooks_48 btn_google_48 btn_bnnook_48
Amazon International

Book Monday: SHRAPNEL by Stephanie Lawton – Excerpt

by Stephanie Lawton
Publisher: Evernight TEEN (January 17, 2013)

I’m so excited to host my friend Stephanie for her blog tour of her new YA release, SHRAPNEL. I don’t know if she remembers this, but we first “met” on Twitter over this book in the fall of 2011. I’d just joined Twitter and scoured it for local writers and others to follow and found her, among others. She soon tweeted asking for something quick that could be flammable during the Civil War era. I replied with some suggestions and we struck up a convo. She then invited me to the Mobile Writer’s Guild and we’ve since gotten to know each other. Turns out that tweet was for a scene in this book 🙂 This past fall I Beta read an earlier version of it, and oh boy did I love it! It’s just dripping with voice, y’all, and so deliciously atmospheric. (tweet this) I was on the edge of my seat. Seriously!

Anyway, this is a long-winded explanation about why I’m so pleased to have her on my blog today for Book Monday! First lets give you the blurb, so you know what’s going on:

It’s been six years since Dylanie and her family visited a Civil War site and the place came alive with cannon fire. Problem was, no one could hear it but her.

Now she’s sixteen, her dad’s moved out, her mom’s come out of the closet and Dylan’s got a spot on Paranormal Teen, a reality TV show filming at historic Oakleigh Mansion. She’ll spend a weekend with two other psychic teens—Jake and Ashley—learning how to control her abilities.

None of them realized how much their emotional baggage would put them at the mercy of Oakleigh’s resident spirits, or that they’d find themselves pawns in the 150-year-old battle for the South’s legendary Confederate gold. Each must conquer their personal ghosts to face down Jackson, a seductive spirit who will do anything to protect the gold’s current location and avenge a heinous attack that destroyed his family.

Intrigued yet? I’m now turning it over to Stephanie for more SHRAPNEL!


Angela and I have many things in common, which is part of why I’m so excited to be on her blog today. Not only do we live in the same city, but we’re on the board of our local writers guild together. We both write quirky, strong heroines, and we both love a bit of humor mixed in with our steamy stuff.

Below is an excerpt from Shrapnel, my upper-YA mutt of a novel set at Oakleigh Mansion in Mobile, Alabama. Dylanie is a foul-mouthed tomboy, but making an attempt at being girlie. Her helper is a smarmy Civil War-era ghost named Jackson. Here, she’s seeing her new look for the first time.

I’m not prepared for what I see. Standing in front of me is … a girl. A noise makes me turn. My Army bag has fallen over and the contents are spread out on the bed, almost like someone rifled through them. Closest to me are my brush and the make-up bag Mom doesn’t know I own. She’d probably break into song and dance if she did.

“Okay, Jackson, I get the hint.” He doesn’t appear, but he’s here somewhere. Ten minutes later my hair’s under control, I’ve managed to smudge on some color without looking like a clown, and I have to admit, I look a little bad-ass. Like a girl, but in a don’t-screw-with-me kind of way. I reach for my red Converses. Just as I’m about to tug on the first one, the door on the right side of the ugly wardrobe swings open on a squeaky hinge. I chuckle when I see what’s inside.

“Are you kidding me? What are the odds that they’re my size? They’ll probably crumble into dust if I even touch them.”

“You doubt me?” Jackson’s sudden appearance sends me stumbling backward.

“You can’t just do that! You scared the shit out of me.”

“I wouldn’t have to appear if you were a good girl and did as you were told.”

I grit my teeth while weighing my options. My earlier urge to injure him loses to my need to say, I told you so.

“Fine.” I march over to the wardrobe and yank out the musty, old boots, ignoring Jackson’s lazy grin that sends my stomach into a tailspin. Except … the boots aren’t musty. Yeah, they look old, but they’re in perfect condition. The leather is supple and shiny, and the laces have been replaced with smooth, black ribbons. I don’t know whether to wear them or worship them.

Jackson makes up my mind for me when he scoots me onto the bed and lifts my foot onto his knee. I chuckle, thinking of the old man with a bad comb-over at the children’s shoe store close to our house. He used to kneel and place our feet on his knee, too, when fitting us for a new pair. I’d stare at the top of his shiny head and the greasy strips of hair carefully gelled into place.



“Hmmm.” Jackson loosens the laces then tips the boot so I can slip in my toes. He maneuvers it until my foot and calve are perfectly encased in black leather. His fingers linger at the back of my knee.

“Seems like you’ve done this before.”

“Perhaps,” he says as he tugs the ribbons tight. “Other foot.”

He repeats the process, but this time he doesn’t release my leg when he finishes. “Lovely,” he breathes, then shakes his head as if to clear it. “Are you ready to go downstairs?”

I shrug.

“Give them a try.” Jackson takes my hand and pulls me off the bed so I’m standing on two-inch heels, a far cry from the flat Chucks I’m used to. The boots are surprisingly comfortable. “Stand up straight, shoulders back.”

“You sound like my mom.”

He smirks. “Now walk.” I feel like a horse being led around a ring as Jackson keeps me steady. “Don’t lock your knees. Use them to help you walk naturally, heel to toe.”

After a few adjustments, I’ve got the hang of it. “Like this?”

“Mmm, excellent.” I swear his dead eyes just got warmer. Is that possible? Something tells me that isn’t the kind of thing I can ask Riley. His raises my hand to his lips and leaves a small kiss that sends tingles all the way up my bare arm and beyond. “I think you’re ready, sweetheart. Do not forget to pay attention to what you learn today. I’ll be nearby.”

“Yeah? That’s pretty damn creepy, you know.” My heart begins pumping out a cocktail of Oh, crap when he crosses his arms and stares at me. Guess that was the wrong thing to say. As the seconds stretch out, I count my blinks. After six, he still hasn’t broken eye contact. My toes wiggle inside my boots. Then my leg starts bouncing. “Okay, maybe not creepy. Maybe protective is more like it. Or concerned. Or, I don’t know, sweet? You know it was just a joke, right? I always say stupid, sarcastic stuff.”

Still, he doesn’t answer.

“Are you mad at me?”

Jackson takes a deep, unnecessary breath. “Is that how I appear to you, creepy?”

“Well, you are dead.” He nods. “And you can appear and disappear whenever you want.” He nods again, so I keep prodding. “And you can … um, touch me. Even though you’re not real. So yeah, that qualifies as creepy.”

I watch, mesmerized, as a crooked grin slowly softens his face. “And yet you’re not running for the door, pulling out your hair and screaming like a hysterical schoolgirl.”

“No, um, that would be—” I point in the direction of Ashley’s room.

Jackson rewards me with a genuine laugh. “And that is why I chose you, not her. I can’t promise I won’t be creepy, but hopefully I can be a number of other things to you, as well.” He takes a step toward me, while I take a step back. “Intriguing, perhaps? Helpful?” He eyes my boots and takes another step closer. “Educational, even?”

His eyes land on my lips, and even a novice like me can tell where this is headed.


photo 3After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.

A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.

Where To Find Stephanie:

Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Where to get your paws on SHRAPNEL:

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (paperback) | Barnes and Noble (paperback) | Evernight Teen | All Romance ebooks (digital) | CreateSpace (paperback)

It’s Carnival Time!

Unless you’ve had reason to be in Mobile at some point in your life, or have ever met a Mobilian, you probably don’t know that Mobile is home to the original Mardi Gras celebration in America, fifteen years before New Orleans was even a twinkle in some founder’s eye.

You see, we were the first capital of French Louisiana and we also still retain some of our French heritage. In fact, I’m a descendant of an old Creole family.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, mainly to let you know that I will not be posting a Weekend Grab Bag on Saturday, or a Monday Hunk Who Reads. I will, however, be posting my Six Sentence Sunday (got it queued and tweet scheduled) but I might not be able to return comments until after Tuesday, cuz, you know, IT’S CARNIVAL TIME!

Some differences compared to New Orleans

  • Our parading and ball societies are not called Krewes, but Mystic Societies
  • Our colors are purple and gold, not purple, green and gold. However, since New Orleans eclipses ours, it’s hard to find decorations to buy that don’t have green in it.
  • Our king is King Felix III, not King Rex. Last year I was at the coronation of the Queen, and for the first time, an emissary from King Rex came and paid obeisance to our king, acknowledging (finally) that our Mardi Gras is older.
  • No flashing of boobies for beads (yay!)
  • We keep the MoonPie makers in Tennessee in business, as that’s one of our traditional throws, unique to Mobile. I remember being at my first Mardi Gras in high school (we’d come to Mobile for a visit) and everyone around me screaming “MoonPie!MoonPie!MoonPie!” as the floats rolled by.
  • And like any folkway, we have different traditions that have evolved, just like they have. Here we have Joe Cain Day on Sunday, and his Merry Widows (all twenty!) hand out black roses. The oldest parading society here, OOMs, have as their emblem float Folly chasing Death around a broken column (picture at top of blog post), and many other customs.

New Orleans also incorporates their debutante season into Carnival season, but not sure if it’s as extended as ours. The official start of The Season here is the Camellia Ball after Thanksgiving, then the debutantes and their escorts attend parties from that time forward (just like you read in Regency romances!) until they are presented in elaborate court dress on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday to the King and Queen.


Are a lot of fun, though this will be the first year since I moved here in 2009, that I will not be attending one (I don’t think– have received last minute invites before. I’ve learned to get dressed in floor-length ball gowns in 15 minutes!) There are only a few for which you can purchase tickets, the rest are invitation only. Many have their own King and Queen and they put on elaborate tableaus before the dancing starts.

Women must wear full-length gowns and men white tie and black tails, known as costume de rigueur. My heroine in MUST LOVE BREECHES, was a debutante in Mobile and so I do have some flashbacks chronicling this little bit of Mobile history.

Here’s some pictures of me during past pre-ball parties:

So, laissez les bon temps rouler! See ya on the flip side…

New Southern cookbook by Eugene Walter now on sale!


Eugene Walter was a true Mobilian, zany and infused with joie de vivre. He passed away in 1998 and so we thought there wouldn’t be another Eugene offering. But today, his new book goes on sale nationwide, The Happy Table of Eugene Walter: Southern Spirits in Food and Drink.

Local author Franklin Daugherty, in his review, said it best:

There is nothing quite like Eugene Walter’s love of food and masterful style. Imagine Truman Capote or Flannery O’Connor writing cookbooks, but with a Mozartian wit and lightness. This is not just a cookbook but also a guide to life and a vision of convivial happiness, in which the cook as well as the projected reader are constantly surrounded by friends, guests and family while telling stories, gossiping, joking, celebrating, toasting, hosting and entertaining. And that, dear reader, is exactly how Eugene lived.

Is it possible you’re showing when you should be telling?

Last night I shared a couple beers and an awesome burger (best burgers in town, can I get an Amen?) at a local watering hole in Mobile, Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, with a fellow emerging writer.  Above the sound of a local music duo, we talked about the ol’ show vs. tell rule. My friend was so sick of hearing of this rule and thought it was about time it should be thrown out. I’m not there yet, but I do see where she’s coming from. Sometimes it is better to tell than show, no doubt. And new writers might have a hard time distinguishing when that time is.

The operative word there, though, is sometimes. I think most helpful articles about this do mention that there are times to tell, but point out that with new writers the big mistake is telling when they should show. I think this is true. Most often when you’re telling it doesn’t help your story so it is best to change it into a richer experience for the reader.

But when should you tell? I’m not sure I’m there yet as a writer and so am trying to eliminate instances of telling whenever I find them. However, I think one comfortable caveat is when you’re transitioning your character from one place to another. A simple statement that they got into the car or carriage is all that’s needed. If nothing happens along the way that helps further your plot, then there’s no need to convert that one sentence of showing to a blow-by-blow of everything that person saw and did. Does this sound obvious? Well, I read a published mystery a couple of years ago where the author had obviously had this rule pounded into their head because we were treated multiple times with scenes just like this (actually the character was walking to work). Because it was a murder mystery, I kept thinking that something was going to happen during those scenes, and nothing did! It was extremely annoying.

One of my favorite links to pass on to folks when critiquing is Shirley Jump’s article Show Not Tell: What the Heck is that Anyway? Her last two points at the bottom I think sum this up well:

  • Don’t pad it too much. Don’t overwhelm the reader with description either. You’re not writing a travelogue, you’re writing a story. Add enough details to give them a picture, then move on to the meat of your story. If you have several paragraphs in a row of description, chances are you’ve gone overboard. Try to work the description in with the dialogue and action instead so you can maintain your pacing and reader interest.
  • Don’t be afraid of telling sometimes, too. A mix of both showing and telling is a good idea. You don’t have to show every single thing in your book. Sometimes, a quick telling helps get through a slow part or provides a quick recap. The goal is to make the MAJORITY of your writing vivid and strong (i.e., showing) and keep the telling to a minimum.

That mystery book was padded with scenes that served no purpose plot or character-wise, IMO, and only served to create false suspense.

So what do you think? When is it okay to tell? Do you think this rule should die a horrible and miserable death?