Author Archives: Kirsten Weiss

A Peek Behind the Curtain: How We Come Up with Book Covers

by Kirsten Weiss

While cover design is certainly not the most stressful part of the book publishing process, it has its quirks. A good cover doesn’t tell the story, but it does need to do three things:

  • Grab the reader’s attention and make them curious about the story

    Bound cover

    Thumbnail size on Amazon

  • Tell the reader what type of story they’re buying – funny mystery, spooky suspense, lighthearted romance.
  • This information needs to be easy to identify when the reader is looking at a thumbnail sized image.

That said, I’ve made my share of cover mistakes.

Exhibit A: What Type of Story is This?

The image on the left, below, is the original cover for the first book in my steampunk series, Steam and Sensibility. I was pleased with it. Corset. Gears. Fog. It’s San Francisco steampunk! I thought the font was a little too much, but that was what the cover designer came up with, so I went for it, thinking all was well.steampunk covers

Except when I attended a steampunk convention, a lot of people asked me if the novel was erotica. Ooops!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against erotica. But that definitely wasn’t what the book was about. So I switched to the cover on the right – also clearly steampunk, but with a magical flare.

Exhibit B: Contrast Issues and Originality

Another miss, but for a different reason, was the first cover (below left) for The Metaphysical Detective, the first book in my Riga Hayworth series of supernatural mystery.Riga covers

The contrast is low (which is not such a good thing when people are squinting at a tiny icon on Amazon), but it looks suitably gloomy and mysterious.

Except…

Since there are seven books in this series, I wanted original artwork that had more of a “series” feeling. Hence the new cover on the right. It’s got slightly higher contrast, and it’s original art. I’m not entirely satisfied with it, but I haven’t gotten around to changing it.

Exhibit C: Try, try, again…

hoodoo detective coversEven when you’ve got a great cover designer, there are typically several iterations before the cover is just right. In fairness, cover designers don’t know what’s in the author’s head. You have to provide them with samples of what you want, and even then, things can get tricky.

And for The Hoodoo Detective (book 6 in the Riga Hayworth series), above is proof that my cover designer has the patience of a saint.

(I ended up with the cover on the bottom right).

Exhibit D: Just right!

And then, sometimes, the cover designer nails it right away…

At Wit's End coverThe cover to the right is for a cozy mystery coming out in June, 2017.

What does this cover say to you? And what do you think makes a great book cover?

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa, and South-east Asia.  Her experiences abroad sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending steampunk suspense, urban fantasy, and mystery, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.

Sign up for her newsletter to get free updates on her latest work.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Binge Reading – No, It’s Not What You Think

by Kirsten Weiss

Call it the age of Netflix.

It’s spoiled us for the wait – no longer do we have to hang on an aching seven days to find out what comes next on our favorite TV show. With shows produced by Netflix, we can now binge watch the entire season over a weekend. (And yes, I’m guilty of this – Longmire! Stranger Things!).

So when I heard about “binge reading,” I decided to take the plunge with my new Doyle Witch cozy mystery series. Fortunately, my patient editors at misterio press were willing to take this journey with me, because a lot ended up happening in a short span of time.

Witches of DoyleThe concept is simple – launch all the books in the series at once.

As a reader, binge reading was nothing new to me. How many weekends had I spent curled up with a good book, closing one cover only to open and devour the next in the series?

My Kindle made the process easier. I didn’t have to go to a bookstore or wait for a book to arrive in the mail. Instant gratification! Push a button, and it arrives on my screen.

Now some people may not care for binge reading. They may prefer to savor a story a bit after finishing it, before plunging on in the series.

One of my editors at misterio reminded me about this old commercial:

 

But my witch cozy mystery trilogy seemed to fit the binge model well. Each novel in the Doyle Witch cozy mystery series is a self-contained murder mystery (and romance). But there’s a paranormal mystery too, which arcs across all three books, making the trilogy akin to a TV “season.”

(And if you’re one who likes “anticipation,” by all means spread out the reading of these stories. But they’ll all be there waiting for you when you’re ready.)

As a writer, the process of launching everything at once was more stressful than I’d expected. I was never one for keeping my powder dry. Having to sit on the first two books while waiting for the third to be completed was… irritating.

It also made the stakes higher. Many more months of work were riding on a single launch date. The only feedback I got on the books was from my editors – champions, to be sure. But what if readers didn’t like the series I’d spent so much time writing? (No pressure there.)

kitchen witch courseMy launches are usually chaotic, but having the materials prepped for the first two books well in advance made this one smoother. I had teasers. I had quotes. I had covers.

But I also ended up spending so much time thinking about the launch, that I made more work for myself. A friend suggested putting spells at the back of the books (instead of the ubiquitous recipes).

I squeezed out a 5-day free Kitchen Witch course to promote the series.

I developed a supplementary novella that fits between books 1 and 2. I even wrote a companion book of poetry, Tales of the Rose Rabbit. This did not get launched with the other books because of a last-minute brainstorm to add illustrations, and is due out some time in December.

 

The complete package

That said, I’m happy I did it all – I’m thrilled with the total package of books and supplementary materials.

What about you? Are you into binge-watching/reading or do you prefer to anticipate and savor?

Here’s a bit about the books themselves:

Bound: Book 1 in the Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery Series

Bound cover

Bound by magic, bound by love, bound by murder…

The Bonheim triplets live seemingly ordinary lives, hiding their magic from the neighbors in the small, mountain town of Doyle, California. But when a body is found in big sister Jayce’s coffee shop, Karin, the practical one, is determined to prove Jayce innocent.

A murder isn’t the only bizarre event in Doyle. Why are hikers vanishing in the nearby woods? Why are some people cursed with bad luck and others with good? And why is Karin’s magic the weakest of the three sisters’?

As Karin digs deep to uncover the truth and regain her magic, her family is thrown into peril. Will her power return too late to save the people she loves the most, or will it be the cause of disaster?

Spells included at the back of the book!

ISBN: 1-944767-15-0  ~  Available at:    Amazon    Kobo    Barnes & Noble

Ground: Book 2 in the Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery Series

Ground cover

Her magic flows from the earth…

Jayce Bonheim is on the sheriff’s radar and not in a good way.

Always the reckless one of her triplet sisters, Jayce is trying to turn over a new leaf. No more wild partying. No more one night stands. But when someone leaves a dead body in her pickup truck, her resolve to become the sensible sister is sorely tested.

Caught in a web of love, murder, and magic, Jayce must clear her name and discover who is behind the curse that holds her family and town in thrall.

Spells included at the back of the book!

ISBN: 1-944767-18-5 ~ Available at:    Amazon    Kobo    Barnes & Noble

Down coverDown: Book 3 in the Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery Series

The answers lie below…

A shamanic witch and a poet, Lenore Bonheim hides in the world of books to escape reality, which for her includes seeing ghosts and forecasting death. But when her employer and friend dies under suspicious circumstances, she must use all her skills – magical and mundane – to find the killer and save her two sisters and her town.

As the three sisters pull together to stave off a growing menace, Lenore must discover what it means to be in this world and of it.

Spells included at the back of the book!

ISBN: 1-944767-20-7 ~ Available on:    Amazon    Kobo    Barnes & Noble

Spirit on Fire, A Doyle Witch Mystery Companion novella

Spirit on Fire coverWhat happens when a fictional character writes a romantic novella about a shaman and a fire demon? All hell breaks loose.

When fledgling witch, Karin Bonheim, began writing her paranormal romance, she never could’ve anticipated the world she created would bleed into her own…or the danger it would bring.

A companion novella of romantic suspense to the Witches of Doyle trilogy, this novella takes place between books 1 and 2 of the Doyle Witch cozy mystery series.

ISBN: 1-944767-21-5 ~ Available on:

Rose Rabbit cover

Amazon    Kobo    Barnes & Noble

And coming in December:

Tales of the Rose Rabbit (Poems)

~ preorder on Amazon now ~

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten worked for fourteen years in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. She is the author of the Riga Hayworth Metaphysical Detective urban fantasy/mystery series, the Sensibility Grey steampunk mysteries, the Rocky Bridges mysteries and the Witches of Doyle cozy mystery trilogy.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

The Global Security Consultant Biz (and a New Release)

by Kirsten Weiss

When I worked in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, I got to know many security consultants. And there were a lot of… characters.

But the consultant who stood out the most in my mind was a woman. British, with freckles and curly hair, she looked more barmaid than badass, though she’d worked in personal protection (that’s what they call “bodyguarding” in the biz) and helped companies develop security strategies.

She gave us an unforgettable training on security in warzones. I learned just how much damage an automatic weapon can do and to look people in the eye when in a hostile crowd.

And FYI, landmines only explode when you step off them when they’re made in Hollywood. In real life (well sort of real life), this is what happens:

I got a lot of great and sometimes unbelievable stories from the security consultants I met while overseas. (Sorry I can’t share them with you now; I’m going to use them in future novels. 🙂 )

Note: Do not believe anyone who tells you they’re the hostage negotiator the film Proof of Life was based on.  I’ve heard that from at least five guys. In the global security consultant biz, it’s a thing.

Bottom line? It’s a crazy business. People go into it from all sorts of backgrounds and for all sorts of reasons. And they get thrown into hostile situations on a regular basis.

The idea of a female global security consultant as a fictional heroine stuck with me. It took me a while to develop it, but eventually, Rocky (short for Raquelle) Bridges was born.

When we meet Rocky, in The Mannequin Offensive, she is seriously considering getting out of the biz after losing a client in a hotel bombing overseas… but life is what happens while we’re making other plans.

The ebook version of The Mannequin Offensive is going to be on sale for 99 cents for one day only – launch day, July 1st. You can pre-order it now at the discounted rate, or buy it July 1st. So give Rocky a chance!

Here’s a bit about the book:

book coverAfter an overseas assignment goes bad, all Rocky Bridges wants is out of the global security business. No more personal protection gigs. No more jaunts to third world countries. No more managing wayward contractors. But when her business partner is killed, Rocky must investigate her own company and clients.

Rocky’s no PI, but she’s always trusted her instincts. Knife-wielding mobsters, sexy insurance investigators, and a Russian-model turned business partner are all in a day’s work. But her inner voice has developed a mind of its own, and she finds herself questioning her sanity as well as reality as she knows it. Rocky can’t trust those around her. Can she trust herself?

The Mannequin Offensive is a fast-paced novel of mystery and suspense with a hint of magic.

Pre-order it here, only 99 cents until July 1st:    AMAZON     KOBO

S&J cover

 

(Also Vinnie Hansen has a giveaway going over at Goodreads. Three copies of her new release, Squeezed and Juiced. Check it out!)

 

Kirsten Weiss worked overseas for nearly twenty years in the fringes of the former USSR, Africa, and South-east Asia.  Her experiences abroad sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending steampunk suspense, urban fantasy, and mystery, mixing her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. Sign up for her newsletter to get free updates on her latest work at: http://kirstenweiss.com

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

It’s in the Aether

by Kirsten Weiss

In the wacky world of Victorian science fiction, aka steampunk, machines are typically powered by steam. But the fictional Victorians discovered an alternate power source: aether.

Because seriously, powering a ray gun with steam is just ridiculous. 😀

But what exactly is aether? It depends on who you ask.

~ Ask an ancient philosopher, and he’ll tell you the matter of the universe is divided into four elements (much like this post): earth, wind, air and fire. Everything in creation was composed of different combinations of these elements.

Plato (public domain)

Plato, from The School of Athens fresco by Raphael, in the Vatican (public domain)

The concept of the elements as building blocks for matter really got going in the 3rd century, when Plato proposed a fifth element: aether. He considered it the material filling the region of the further reaches of the cosmos.

Aether as an “in between” element was used to explain several natural phenomena, such as gravity and the movement of light.

~ Ask an alchemist, and they’ll tell you that aether is the substance which pervades all matter – sort of an animating spirit, the anima mundi. This fifth element is an incorruptible substance that activates the other four.

For example, the Philosopher’s stone, of Harry Potter fame, is a magical substance which can transform lead into gold and is composed of aether.

Mice and Mechanicals Square~ Ask a Victorian-era scientist, and he’ll theorize that aether is a hidden, dark energy in space. So empty space isn’t actually empty – there’s an energy within it that, according to the Victorians, can’t be detect yet.

~ Ask a modern physicist, and she’ll tell you that in the 20th century, scientists discovered the universe was expanding. This expansion must be driven by some sort of energy.

Could it be… aether?

We also know that atoms aren’t “solid” per se – there is space in between them. Is it aether?

Which of these theories about aether makes the most sense to you?

Aether plays a major role in my new pre-Steampunk novel of suspense, OF MICE AND MECHANICALS, now available for pre-order on Amazon and Kobo.

book cover Mechanicals, Mayhem, and Murder.

All Sensibility Grey wants is to tinker in her new laboratory in boomtown San Francisco. A stranger in a strange land, she is finally making a life for herself as a purveyor of mechanicals to eager miners. But a pair of government agents have other things in mind.

Loves and loyalties fracture, and mysterious forces threaten to destroy Sensibility and her clockwork secrets. Tangling with occultists, aether gone wrong, and a local vigilante group, Sensibility must decide where her allegiances lie, and whom she can trust.

OF MICE AND MECHANICALS is book two in the Sensibility Grey series of pre-steampunk, paranormal suspense set in the wild west of the California gold rush.

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten has worked overseas, on the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. These experiences gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature and sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem. Kirsten is the author of the pre-Steampunk novels, Steam and Sensibility and Of Mice and Mechanicals, and the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries/urban fantasy.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

The Most Haunted House in New Orleans

by Kirsten Weiss

We’re hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway to celebrate the Halloween release of my new book, The Hoodoo Detective! The prize? An ARC of the novel!

But first, a bit about the most haunted house in New Orleans…

In The Hoodoo Detective, Riga Hayworth travels to New Orleans for her paranormal reality TV show. The book opens mid-way through shooting, and Riga has found little to get excited about in the haunted houses they’ve filmed so far.

What would have happened if they’d filmed at the Lalaurie House, considered the most haunted in New Orleans?

The stucco-over-brick mansion, on Royal Street in the French Quarter,  was built in 1832, and an invite to the fashionable Lalauries’ abode was considered a hot ticket.

On the afternoon of April 10, 1834, a fire started in the kitchen while the Lalauries were away.  Neighbors rushed inside, dousing the fire, and found hapless slaves chained in their quarters, near death from starvation.

The newspapers reported – and it’s suspected they exaggerated – the wretched conditions the slaves had been discovered in, and authored follow-up stories of gory torture and degradation, including one about a slave girl who Madame Lalaurie chased with a whip until the terrified slave jumped to her death from the roof. Today it’s believed the Lalauries may have been one of America’s early victims of yellow journalism. But they kept human beings chained and whatever else happened, that in itself is enough. (It’s a surprise more southern mansions aren’t haunted).

The paper’s tales of the torture, dismemberment, and abuse of the Lalaurie slaves inflamed New Orleans’s sensibilities. An angry mob ran the Lalauries out of town and ripped the mansion apart. The couple escaped and eventually made their way to France.

The apparitions of tormented slaves and of Madame Lalaurie have been reported in the house, as well as  moans and weeping.  Ghostly re-enactments of the fire have also been reported. People have heard shouting, doors slamming, and even the servants begging for help with putting out the flames. Furniture has moved of its own accord, and visitors to the mansion have reported feelings of oppression.

Adding to the general spookiness, some say Madame Lalaurie was an amateur occultist and a friend of the voodoo queen, Marie Leveau. The mansion was reputedly even too haunted for one of its more recent owners, the actor Nicholas Cage. You can watch him discuss his rationale for buying the home on his interview on Letterman, along with the possibility of whether he’s a vampire. (Nicholas Cage denied the vampirism).

Today’s Lalaurie house doesn’t look much like the original, and the most recent owner hired an upscale designer who played off the haunted theme. (She says she wore holy water whenever she visited the house).

The Hoodoo Detective will be released on Halloween! If you’d like to win an advance review copy, click on the link before the blurb to enter the raffle.

Hoodoo Detective collage of cover and excerpts.Hoodoo, Haunts, and Horror.

Riga Hayworth just wants to wrap up her supernatural TV series exploring the magic of New Orleans. When she stumbles across a corpse, she becomes a police consultant on a series of occult murders, murders that become all too personal.

The Hoodoo Detective is book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels.

 

Click here for: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you ever been inside a house that was truly haunted? I’d love to hear about it.

Posted by Kirsten Weiss.  Kirsten is the author of The Hoodoo Detective, book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasies, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She’s also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

10 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Mystery Writers (and fans of all things creepy and mysterious)

by Kirsten Weiss

Pinterest is a visual way for people to document their likes and dislikes, post what inspires them, or just hoard recipes for squash casseroles. For writers, who spend a lot of time in the world of words, it can be a refreshing change from other social media sites.

Lately, I’ve been turning more and more to Pinterest – both for inspiration and for world building. These Pinterest boards were chosen based on quality (admittedly subjective) and quantity, but here are my top 10 mystery writing faves, in no particular order.

1)  Faerytaleish: For fae-lovers and mystery writers whose mysteries take a paranormal bent? (Check out the steampunk cat!)

Photo Credit: country_boy_shane via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: country_boy_shane via Compfight cc

2) Crime History: Real crimes. Real criminals. Real creepy.

3)  Neo Noir: Tough girls, odd girls, surreal girls. If you’re looking for inspiration for a noir heroine, this might be the spot.

4)  Noir: Haunting, mostly black and white images.

5)  For My Inspiration: Edgy and imaginative, these images and quotes provoke laughter and intrigue.

6)  Gothic: A board for mystery writers (and other Gothic fans) who favor the creepy classics.

7)  Writers and Writing: A wheel of emotions, inspiration from successful writers, and other writerly goodies.

8)  Writing: A board of writing prompts, tips, and inspiration.

9)  Writing Prompts: Just the prompts, ma’am.

10)  Writing Quotes and Inspiration: Because sometimes, we need a pithy quote to get us writing again!

Kirsten Weiss is the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense, and the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She uses Pinterest for research and world building.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

In Houston? Missing This Museum Would Be a Fatal Error

by Kirsten Weiss

The hearse is a work of art.

Its high, wooden sides gleam, hand-carved into the shape of folded drapes. But it’s an automobile, and not of the Victorian period I’m looking for as I research my next steampunk suspense novel. So I continue past the rows and rows of hearses and end up in front of a replica of an Egyptian mummy. Ah yes, the museum’s embalming section. [Tweet this!]

IMG_1192 early 20th century hearse

An early 20th century hearse (photo by Kirsten Weiss).

The National Museum of Funeral History may not be a Houston, TX institution, but it’s certainly one of its more unusual tourist attractions. Founded in 1992, it holds over 35,500 square feet of exhibition space, and is connected to a mortuary school.

As for the embalming exhibit, I learn that embalming fell into disuse after the ancient Egyptians and didn’t really get going again until Victorian days. Who knew? In America, the Civil War brought the embalming process to the masses. And in an early case of crony capitalism, an embalmer “persuaded” Congress to make his company the sole embalmer to Union Troops (predictably, the price of his embalming soon rose).

Relieved to have landed in my Victorian research period, I snap photos of mourning wear and mourning art, then circle back to the hearse room. And finally, I find hearse carriages from my research period, and even a horse-drawn sleigh.

IMG_1195 18th century hearses

Hearses from the Victorian era. Men were drawn in black carriages, women and children in white carriages.

But I’m soon distracted by the electronic “guess the epitaph” game in the celebrity funeral section, aptly named the “Thanks For the Memories” exhibit. I’m terrible at guessing the epitaphs of movie stars. Weirdly, I ace the TV star epitaph quiz.

Planning to be in Houston,Texas anytime soon? Then check out the National Museum of Funeral History. Their trademarked tagline is one to live by: “Any day above ground is a good one.” (TM)

What’s your favorite oddball tourist attraction?

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten is the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense set in Victorian-era America, and the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Are You A Secret Steampunker?

by Kassandra Lamb and Kirsten Weiss

We are delighted to announce that a new sub-genre has been added to the misterio press stable of mysteries: Steampunk suspense!

Have you wondered what this thing called Steampunk is all about? I certainly have.

Kirsten Weiss has just released her first Steampunk suspense story and she’s here today to explain the whole phenomenon for us. Maybe you’ll discover that you are really a Steampunker. Take it away, Kirsten.

5 Hints You May Be a Secret Steampunker:

The joke goes that Steampunk is simply Goth wearing brown.

But since Steampunk is much more than fashion, as jokes go, this one isn’t terribly accurate. Steampunk is a sub-genre of historical fantasy set in the Victorian era. Usually featuring steam-powered machinery, over-the-top characters, and a touch of magic, Steampunk is finally starting to break into the mainstream.

Here are some hints Steampunk might be right up your fog-shrouded alley.

1) You’ve got a yen for adventure. [Tweet this!] Ever fantasized about being in one of those old British explorers’ clubs? The kind with leather armchairs, and where the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are broken only by a fireplace and ancient maps on the walls? Steampunk is all about exploits and escapades.

steampunker in corset on stilts

Speaking of over-the-top characters! LOL

2) You secretly lust for corsets. Too uncomfortable, you say? Stuff and nonsense! It’s fashion, m’dear. So if you’ve an eye for vintage, Steampunk may be for you. [Tweet this!]

3) Love a good period drama? I say! Steampunk is set in Victorian days. And though it’s usually set in Victorian England, with all the attendant aristocrats, it can cross the Atlantic to America for a Wild Wild West vibe.

4) You crack open a book for a fun escape and the more mayhem, the merrier. By jove, reality’s what you get when you roll out of bed. Who needs to read about it, dash it all!

5) You like Star Trek and aren’t ashamed to admit it. What do Star Trek and Steampunk have in common? Fab characters and crazy technology. Some folks call Steampunk a sub-genre of science fiction. But I disagree. Jules Verne-style steam technology is a building block of the Steampunk world, but Steampunk is set over a century in the past. Still, it has a certain wacky, techno-charm, particularly reminiscent of the old 60s Star Trek TV series. Top drawer, that!

So are you a secret Steampunker? What do you think of this genre?

Kirsten Weiss is the author of the Riga Hayworth urban fantasy/paranormal mystery novels, and a new Steampunk adventure, Steam and Sensibility, set in 1848 San Francisco.

Kass here again: This is the cover and blurb for Kirsten’s new book. I would not have thought of myself as a Steampunker, but I read this book and absolutely loved it!

Srteam and Sensibility coverSteam rising.

California Territory, 1848. Gold has been discovered, emptying the village of San Francisco of its male population. Steam-powered technology is still in its infancy.

At 19, Englishwoman Sensibility Grey has spent her life tinkering in her father’s laboratory and missing the finer points of proper British life. But when her father dies in penury, she’s shipped to San Francisco and to the protection of an uncle she’s never met.

The California Territory may hold more dangers than even the indomitable Miss Grey can manage. Pursued by government agents, a secret society, and the enigmatic Mr. Krieg Night, Sensibility must decipher the clockwork secrets in her father’s final journal, unaware she’ll change the world forever.

Magic, mayhem, and mechanicals. STEAM AND SENSIBILITY is a pre-Steampunk novel of paranormal suspense set in the wild west of the California gold rush. [Tweet this!]

Available now on AMAZONBarnes & Noble and Kobo.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Magic, Mysticism and the Paranormal

Magic, mysticism, and the paranormal. Figuring out what they are is confusing enough. But what’s the difference between the three?

As a paranormal mystery writer, these are questions I get to ask on a fairly regular basis. To smarten myself up, I’ve been taking a class on mysticism and modern psychology. And it’s getting me a bit closer to answering the above question.

So get ready to dazzle your friends at cocktail parties, because here we go:

1.    Magic is all about changing the world around you, ala Harry Potter. Well, maybe not quite so dramatically. But just check the Internet – people are buying magical assistance every day such as love charms, spells for wealth, etc. And at heart, the goal is to make something we want happen in the real world.

2.    Mysticism, on the other hand, is about changing our perception of the world. Mystics will try and change the way they experience reality. In turn, when we start seeing the world differently, we tend to start interacting with it differently.

And in case you’re wondering where the psychology comes in, this is it. In common with mysticism, psychology tries to change the way we interact with the world, perceive the world, and hold ourselves in the world. Like mysticism, psychology attempts to change our internal space.

3.    Paranormal abilities seem to almost combine magic and mysticism. Mystics believe that the mind transformed by mystical practice has different abilities than the ordinary mind, and this can grant them paranormal powers. But don’t call it magic. Mystical paranormal abilities are based on how the mystic has changed his or herself.

Of course, there’s another “magical” theory for paranormal abilities as well. Many modern day magical practitioners believe that amulets and spells and incantations are simply a method to… change the way they perceive and act in the world. And this in turn changes their world.

Because if you’re behaving differently, it’s a good bet that those around you are reacting differently.

I can’t get enough of this idea. In fact, it’s threaded through my Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels, including my latest, The Elemental Detective.

To sum it all up, magic and mysticism may simply be two sides of the same coin. What do you think?

If you haven’t already done so, check out Kassandra Lamb’s post over at The Dark Side of Love, on why some women are attracted to abusive men. Talk about needing to change something on the inside in order to change what is happening in the world!

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten works part-time as a writer and part-time as an international development consultant. She writes the Riga Hayworth urban fantasy/paranormal mystery novels. (Riga is a Metaphysical Detective.) Kirsten is currently working on Book 6, The Hoodoo Detective.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Iceland: The New Hot Spot for Mystery Novels

I recently returned from Iceland and was fascinated by the quality and depth of its bookstores. For a country of only 300,000 people, Iceland has a fertile written heritage, starting with its medieval Viking sagas and continuing to a rich collection of modern mystery novelists.

photo of Icelandic waterside town

A typical Icelandic fishing village.

Is their voracious reading habit because of the cold weather? Iceland’s recent economic crash? The BBC recently reported that Iceland has more writers, more books read, and more books published, per capita, than any other nation. It’s estimated that one out of ten Icelanders will publish a book. Unfortunately, only about three percent of Icelandic works are translated for the English market.

Iceland hasn’t yet developed the international reputation its Scandinavian neighbors have for mystery novels and thrillers. The English-language series I found most prominently displayed in the bookstores of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, (and also available on Amazon) was the Reykjavik Murder Mystery series by Arnaldur Indridason. His prose is as sparse and clean as Iceland in October, which happens to be when the first book in the series, Jar City, takes place.

The book is noir-ish, featuring Reykjavik Detective Erlendur. Like a good noir hero, he’s divorced and feeling his age. One of his children is a junkee, the other in rehab. Chapter one drops the reader into a murdered man’s apartment, while the Detective examines the body. It seems like a simple enough crime against an elderly male –and most likely random – except for one clue: a cryptic three-word message left beside the body. Tantalizingly, the author only gives the reader one of the three words, driving an otherwise prosaic scene forward.

photo of moss-covered lava field

A lava field in Iceland, covered in moss.

The Day Is Dark, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, is another currently “hot” Icelandic book, though it is largely set in Greenland. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, an attorney, departs Iceland for a snowbound outpost in Greenland, where Icelandic employees have disappeared. Malignant townsfolk and hints of danger in the woods ratchet up the tension in this book, which is part mystery and part thriller.

Looking for a real classic? The medieval Icelandic sagas are jam-packed with murder, mayhem, and magic. Ranking as one of the world’s most important literary works, the sagas take place around the beginning of the last millennium, and have preserved much of what modern scholars know about the daily life, religion, magical practices, and adventures of the early Norse men and women, including their astonishing journeys to America.

kirsten-1

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten works part-time as a writer and part-time as an international development consultant. She writes the Riga Hayworth paranormal mystery novels. Her fifth book in the series, The Elemental Detective, will be published in December, 2013.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)