BOOKS! They’re the Heart of the Wildwood.
After four books published by New York publishers, I’ve gone indie! I am now independently publishing under my new publishing imprint, Coedwig Books (that’s “COYD-wig” and it’s Welsh for Wildwood or forest…come on, it’s me–are you really surprised?)
I’m so excited to introduce to you my new series, the Alchemy Empire series. Here’s what you need to know:
- Young adult steampunk/fantasy series
- Set in a Victorian-esque theater–yep, we’ve got theater nerds in corsets and suspenders.
- Heroic characters who still feel real enough to be your best friends.
I’m releasing the books in e-book format first, but I’ll be offering print versions soon as well.
As each title is published, you’ll be able to find it at all major e-retailers (and some not-so-major ones as well!) If you haven’t read the Alchemy Empire series, you’ll want to start with book one, Chains of Silver, which you can find at your favorite e-retailer here!
You can also get to know the characters and story world, and even read an excerpt. Just click on the tabs!
If you want to know when each new book is available, sign up for my mailing list, Wildwood Missives.
But now, I’d like to introduce you to the…
…a Land of Contrasts Powered by STEAM–and Magic
Below, you’ll find information about each book in the Alchemy Empire series, including a summary, excerpt, and book cover.
Book 1: Chains of Silver
If all the world’s a stage, then I am utterly screwn…
In the high-stakes world of the theater, stage fright can seriously crank your career, so apprentice Minx Mellor hides her phobia, studying as a technomancer to create fantastic, steam-powered devices.
But when the mysterious serial killer known as The Peacock targets one of their own, Minx can hide no longer. To save the life of the woman she loves like a mother, she teams up with her sworn enemy and a dashing young director whose powerful magic wakes the nightmares she’s kept secret for years.
When disaster strikes, Minx must face the horrors of her past and find the courage to do what she vowed she’d never do again.
Even if it means risking her life as bait to trap a murderer.
From the shadows of cobblestoned alleys and the glittering steampunk world of an aristocracy gone mad for theater comes the first book in a brand new young adult fantasy series about love, the power of creativity, and the resiliency of the human spirit.
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Book 2: Claws of Brass
He saved her life…but at what cost to his own?
When Minx Mellor’s enigmatic theater director, Dietrich Wolff, rescued her from a serial killer, he never dreamed his own life would now be threatened. Dark magic is turning him into someone he doesn’t recognize, with memories that aren’t his own. From dank alleys to the Throne Room of Wynstanham Palace, Minx searches for a way to stop the magical disease. But no gadgets or dramatic performances will help this time. And the cure will bring her face to face once again with the monster that haunts her soul—
—if she can keep Dietrich alive long enough to succeed.
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Book 3: Mask of Gold
The power of an empire is hers—for the price of all she loves most…
No longer apprentices, Minx and her friends are the newest members of the Theatrical Guild. They’ve been invited to the empress’s summer palace in Hellenia to perform for the nobility and seek patrons and jobs. Minx becomes the favorite of the royal family, but her newfound power means turning her back on the people who need her most. And it could tear her apart from Dietrich, maybe forever.
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The Mercian Empire is nicknamed the Alchemy Empire for its success in turning magic into steam and mechanical technology. It’s no secret that the Empress Antonia aims to make Mercia the admiration and envy of the entire world. She has largely succeeded. But success comes at a cost.
Street children are sent into coal mines, and technomancers labor in cruel factories. Meanwhile, aristocrats and the upper classes flock to balls and the magically enhanced theatrical productions that are considered the empire’s greatest treasure. The people of the theater are socially inferior, but revered for their art. They’re treated as priceless playthings by the aristocracy and wealthy.
Seventeen year old Minx Mellor is only too familiar with what it’s like to live balanced precariously on the point between those two worlds. Once an orphan in a run-down foster house, she was given the chance of a lifetime as an apprentice with the Alchemy Empire Theater. Her happiness there was short-lived when she was kidnapped and held captive three years for her rare shapeshifting magic. She was rescued and returned to the theater, but the horrors she has suffered make her terrified of being on stage or performing, even though she has the potential to be one of the greatest actresses in the Empire. Instead, she channels her talent into creating fantastic mechanical devices and props for the theater.
The stable life she has formed for herself since her kidnapping is about to blow apart like an overheated steam engine. To protect the people she cares about and everything she believes in, she has to overcome the terrors of her past and open herself up to love, danger, and a magic within her greater than any she ever dreamed could exist.
Meet some of the main characters in the Alchemy Empire series:
Below are six of the main characters from the series. I’ll be adding others in the future. I’ll also be adding more character scrapbook pages as I get them done, so check back every so often.
Minx Mellor, Technical Directing Apprentice, Alchemy Empire Theater:
Age: 17 years old
Height: 5′ 2″
Appearance: Long, dark hair. Big blue eyes. Fair skin. Petite.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: ENTP
Favorite Music: If Minx visited our world, she would be totally in love with the high-tech nature of our music. You can check out her Pandora station here–it’s full of high-energy rock, trip-hop, and some darker, poignant songs that reflect her emotional wounds.
Things To Know:
- Given name is Claire, but prefers her nickname, Minx
- Invents like she breathes–has already created a corset-lacing machine and a fingerprint security monitor, as well as a wrist cuff communicator that uses a Morse-code type method to send messages to another cuff.
- Good at drawing and sketching, but she doesn’t usually do it as art for its own sake. She uses her artistic skills in pursuit of her inventions and designs.
- The best gift you could give her would be a library membership (she can’t get one because she’s not upper class)
- Don’t bother arguing with her. Just don’t. You’ll lose.
- Relentlessly clever, but comes across as cute and often flirtatious
- Don’t be fooled–while she’s batting her eyelashes at you, she’s about three steps ahead of you on whatever scheme she’s concocting.
She is not naturally shy or timid, but the three years of abuse at the hands of a cruel carnival master have left scars on her heart that are still healing. She uses technomancy for her duties as a technical director apprentice to design fabulous props and sets for the Alchemy Empire Theater–but all that’s about to change.
QUOTE: “If all the world’s a stage, then I am utterly screwn.”
Dietrich Wolff, Director of the Apprentice Company, Alchemy Empire Theater
Age: 20 years old
Appearance: Forest-green eyes. Dark brown hair, wavy, and always a bit tousled-looking. Lean, muscular, and clean-shaven.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: INFJ
Favorite Music: If Dietrich lived in our world, he would love mellow indie rock, rock with a darker emotional edge, as well as opera and tango. Check out his Pandora station here: Dietrich’s Station.
Things To Know:
- Half Prussian and half Cymric (that’s German and Welsh in our world), with a swoon-worthy Cymric accent
- A child prodigy when it comes to his “presul” magic
- Still struggles to manage headstrong apprentices only a couple years younger than him, though.
- Not a big crowds person. Likes deep relationships with a few trusted people.
- Subversive sense of humor. Just ask him about those thrunge plates–I dare you.
- Enjoys music and photography, in addition to reading.
- Appreciates beauty and high quality, a bit of a perfectionist. (All right–a LOT of a perfectionist.)
- Idealistic and has high standards for himself and others
Sometimes it seems like he can read your soul–he’s very insightful and almost always right. A true romantic at heart, Dietrich is usually very gentle and kind. But when he sees injustice or someone being mistreated, all bets are off. He’s not someone you’d want as an enemy, that’s for sure.
QUOTE: “Do you have any idea how awkward it was for me, Miss Mellor? Here I was, retired to my apartments for the evening, in my dressing gown, enjoying a new novel and a glass of Belle de Brillet. Only to be accosted by a frantic-looking Miss Wright and a very talkative Mrs. McCrone. And a box of what looked to me like rusted door hinges. I must have been badly mistaken about that because Miss Wright insisted these were the thrunge plates I was desperately needing. And of course, such an upstanding apprentice would never tell a falsehood.”
Delphine Birdwell, Acting Apprentice, Alchemy Empire Theater
Age: 17 years old
Height: 5′ 7″
Appearance: Slender and strikingly beautiful with thick auburn hair and gray-green eyes.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: ENTJ
Favorite Music: In our world, Delphine would favor rock and goth music with an angry edge. Check out her Pandora station here.
Things To Know:
- Delphine is a born leader. She’s the lead apprentice actress, and the head of the apprentice acting company.
- If you’re incompetent or you piss her off…well, it was nice knowing you.
- The word “diva” was invented for her. She’s extremely talented and she knows very well the power that brings her.
- But she’s more than a stereotype. The question to ask is WHY is she so darn bitchy? The answer may surprise you!
- Delphine may be cranky, but she’s brave too. Like…scary brave.
- She hates Minx. Utter. Loathing. There’s a specific reason for it, too, but you’ll have to figure it out on your own because she’s not telling.
Underneath Delphine’s nastiness and prickly nature, there’s a lot going on. Her attitude hides some very real fears and true desperation. Don’t underestimate her–there’s much more to Delphine Birdwell than what you see at first glance.
QUOTE: “You think a stupid little rumor was going to hurt me? I’ve dealt with much worse. I can play dirtier than you ever dreamed of. You messed with fire, and now I’m going to burn you down.”
Thea Wright, Stage Management Apprentice, Alchemy Empire Theater
Age: 18 years old
Height: 5′ 9″
Appearance: Lusciously curvaceous. Shimmering blond hair and blue-gray eyes. A smile with dimples.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: ENFJ
Favorite Music: If Thea could pick her favorite music from our world, it would be upbeat pop and rock, or any music with a heartfelt, unique sound. You can find her Pandora station here.
Things To Know:
- Minx’s best friend. And when that includes knowing how to bring Minx back from panic attacks and nightmares, it’s not always an easy job. True love, that. She spends more time than anyone realizes taking care of Minx.
- Thea is the friendly, cheerful person that everyone knows and generally likes.
- Social director par excellence. If you want a fun night out, get Thea to organize it for you.
- Throws a mean punch when motivated. Just sayin’.
- She’s so friendly and cheerful, people think they know her, but surprisingly, this can cause her to be overlooked because people take her for granted.
- Friendly, yes. Good-natured, yes. Angel? Not by a long shot. Don’t be fooled by the cute dimples.
Thea has psychic magic, but because that’s not a recognized magic type in the empire, she receives no training on how to use it. But between that and her natural empathy, there’s not much that gets past her. She notices everything, and understands far more than she lets on.
QUOTE: “The empress will fall in love with the King of Maya and have a dozen little Mayan-Mercian babies before I would ever be Newton Figg’s ‘woman.'”
Raymond Carrew, Playwright Apprentice, Alchemy Empire Theater
Age: 18 years old
Height: 5′ 11″
Appearance: Golden-red hair. Hazel eyes. Slim. Wears round glasses.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: INFP
Favorite Music: Raymond would love the jazz, blues, and big band of our world. You can check out his favorites here: Raymond’s Pandora station.
Things To Know:
- Best friends with Minx and Thea.
- The only boy Minx is not afraid of.
- Fascinated by zombies and odd cultural practices of other nations.
- Secret passion for philosophy–when he can find books on it. It’s not really an easy interest for a theater apprentice to pursue.
- A mystery to most people because he is so quiet and reserved.
- Intensely loyal and deeply affectionate.
- Loves books as much as Minx does.
- Not really a fan of parties, but goes to them to please Thea.
Raymond has a strong sense of justice, and he uses his fabulamancy (storytelling magic) to make people care about the causes closest to his heart. Don’t underestimate his quiet strength and power.
QUOTE: “I’ve got the power to make people live my stories. Make them see the world differently. I could set the entire empire on fire over whatever matters most to me. I don’t want to waste a gift like that by writing something safe.”
Dame Nadine Fairchild, Lead Actress, Alchemy Empire Theater
Age: 40 years old
Height: 5′ 5″ tall
Appearance: Youthful, seemingly ageless. Beautiful dark brown hair and eyes. Slender with curves. Graceful and poised, she makes the ideal theater star.
Myers-Briggs Personality Type: ISFP
Favorite Music: Out of all the music in our world, Nadine’s favorite would be female singer-songwriters and Celtic-inspired rock and acoustic. Check out her Pandora station here.
Things To Know:
- Nadine is a mega-star, but you wouldn’t know it by how she acts–she’s quiet, graceful, and poised, never calling attention to herself.
- She just as famous as the empress herself, and a whole lot more loved.
- She enjoys mentoring apprentices like Delphine–who adores her.
- Her taste in fashion is impeccable and has a cult-like following. If she wears a certain hat in public, it will be all the rage in Aldwych by the next day.
- The gossip magazines worship her–in a creepy, stalkerish, waiting-for-her-to-do-something-scandalous sort of way.
- She is the mistress of Lord Deverey, and to Minx’s frustration, she doesn’t seem to mind it.
- She tends to stay plenty busy, but in her limited free time, she enjoys watercolor painting and drawing with oil pastels.
When Minx was kidnapped, Nadine spent her entire savings to find and rescue her. She is like a mother to Minx (and might actually BE her mother), with a mix of affectionate fretting, well-intentioned advice, and gentle wisdom. But she also has a close relationship with Delphine, whom she mentors. As gentle as she generally is, she has unshakable courage and determination, especially when it comes to people she loves.
QUOTE: “You are so passionate, so clever. But you see only from one perspective. Sometimes it’s not a matter of being blind to something, but of seeing much more than just the obvious.”
Wondering what “steampunk” is? Want to know more about the Alchemy Empire story world? Curious about some of the special terms and steampunk slang used in the books?
You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers…just click on a topic below!
What Is Steampunk?
What is Steampunk? The simplest answer is that it’s Victorian-styled science fiction. It’s a story world built on the idea that instead of the world growing into an electricity or digital/electronic based society, it stayed as a steam engine/mechanical/clockwork based society. So in a steampunk world, you might have lots of very modern-seeming technology but it all supposedly runs on various types of mechanical or steam power. In addition, most steampunk worlds have a culture that is based to some extent on the culture of Victorian England.
The “punk” part refers to how steampunk worlds have an edge of rebellion to them. It’s not just tea and corsets, goggles and funky gadgets. A lot of steampunk books are about rebels or fighters or explorers. Ladies and gentlemen who are…extraordinary.
You can find steampunk in lots of places, not just books: art, novels, movies, music, fashion, gadgets, jewelry. It started as a counter-cultural underground thing, but it’s becoming more and more popular as people discover it. A lot of the gadgets and fashion has a homemade feel to it. Steampunk is all about creativity, innovation, and seeing hidden possibilities in ordinary things. It’s a rebellion against mass-produced, impersonal stuff. You can find out more about steampunk here. And to get a taste of steampunk-styled music, listen to my Steampunk Pandora station.
What I enjoy about steampunk is the fashion–most of it is a very cool mix of Victorian-styled elements with a modern edge–and the steampunk “mods”–things like turning a computer into a steampunk-looking machine or converting a bluetooth earpiece into an amazing steampunk communication device. Etsy is probably the absolute BEST place online to check out what steampunk artists and designers are up to.
In my Alchemy Empire series, the steampunk elements are combined with magic. Technomancers can channel their magic into steam-powered and mechanical devices to make them do things that ordinary machines wouldn’t be able to do. But the real focus is on the cultural and aesthetic parts of steampunk–the clothing, the manners, the gadgets. Those are the things that I enjoy, so I put them into the series in a big way.
What Is the Mercian Empire?
The Mercian Empire (nicknamed the Alchemy Empire) is an alternative history British-esque empire. It includes the British isles, France, Germany, eastern Europe, Greece, Italy, the Mediterranean, parts of Africa, India, Australia, some Pacific islands, and just a bit of southern Asia.
Basically, the premise is that Mercia in ancient Britain rose up and took over the failing Roman empire, and instead of plunging into a Dark Age, it unified it and expanded it over the next 1500 years.
It failed in its efforts to conquer the new world, which was instead maintained and unified by the Mayans—and is now known as South Maya and North Maya, and is a federation of tribal states with fierce loyalty and alliance to each other and very against the Mercian Empire.
It had only nominal success reaching into Asia, which is still closed off for the most part and mysterious to the rest of the world. India is its big “get,” and there is constant tension because the other Asian countries resent the Empire’s intrusion and invasion of one of their own.
The African countries are formed along ancient tribal lines. Those that remained independent of the Empire formed into an alliance called the African Federation. They tend to view the Empire as a useful trading partner and sometimes ally, as long as no further attempts to colonize them are made.
Scandinavia is still its own independent region, and so is Russia and most of the Middle East.
Mercia’s capital is Aldwych (real world London). Mercia is ruled by an emperor or empress. No attempts at democracy are made—since there was never a Magna Carta, unfettered monarchy is still the system. The empress appoints regional governors, who appoint local magistrates. There is a council system by which local officials come together to advise and petition the regional governor. In turn, the regional governors come together to petition and advise the empress. There are also courts and military, but they are all at the appointment ultimately of the empress.
Mercia is nicknamed the “Alchemy Empire” because it has figured out how to fuse magic and metal-based technology to create machines that couldn’t be made with steam technology alone. But in a twist, technomancers (people who have magic abilities to work with metal and machines) are not highly valued. Instead, the empire practically worships the performing arts: theater, opera, ballet, and music. Those form a diamond shape called the “Jewel of Society.” The empress believes that the goal of technology should be to take care of the mundane aspects of life so that people can focus on “higher” pursuits like the arts. Of course, this only really works for wealthy people, because even with technology, someone has to be making machines and using machines to make other stuff. The income gap between rich and poor is huge, and that will spell big problems for the empire down the road.
An Alchemy Empire Glossary
Aether: In ancient Greek philosophy, it was the 5th element that the heavens were made of. In most steampunk, it’s a mystical energy that surrounds planets and the atmosphere. In my novel, this energy is nearly magical and can be harnessed in a variety of ways.
Airship: It’s like a blimp or a gas-filled balloon with a boat-like compartment attached. It’s the steampunk equivalent to an airplane or boat. See examples.
Arachnicab: a taxi cab shaped vaguely like a very large spider. It crawls down the street on mechanical legs, and the body holds passengers and the driver, with a luggage compartment in the “belly.”
Beau: a boyfriend or girlfriend
Brass: 1) brass metal, 2) slang–cool, awesome 3) slang–bravery or courage, bad-assery
Busk: the front part of a corset that unhooks to allow a woman to remove it. See example.
Cheese it/Stow it: Shut up, get over it, drop it
Chav: refers to a male who is either 1) smarmy, 2) a player, 3) untrustworthy, 4) ungentlemanly, or 5) just an all around jerk.
Comagica: magic that requires partners in order to work, such as shape-shifting
Cove: a guy, man
Cog: 1) A small mechanical piece, like a gear. 2) Slang–a stupid person, idiot. Verb form: Cogged, coggled–to act like a cog. Other forms: Cogocity: the quality of being a cog. Cog-headed or coggled-headed, cog-brained: idiotic or stupid-head.
Corset: a fitted support garment for women that cinches in their waists. It can stop just below the bust or it can go over the bust. In steampunk culture, a corset can be worn under a blouse or gown, or it can be worn on the outside of the outfit. It has a flexible steel frame inside, called “boning” or “stays” and laces up the back. See examples.
Crank gears: as in “what cranked your gears?” Slang–“What made you upset?” also rust gears
Cravat: similar to a necktie, it’s a long strip of starched cloth that is wrapped around a man’s shirt collar and elaborately tied and tucked into his vest or waistcoat. See examples.
Dollymop: slang–equivalent to “slut”
Fabulamancy: story-telling magic, has the ability to make the listener or reader believe the story is actually happening
Gammy: lying, undependable, hostile
Gent: a man, a guy, a gentleman
Gloak: a man, but with the negative connotation of being an oaf or henchman
Haybag: slang–equivalent to “bitch”
Kracken: a giant squid big enough to destroy ocean ships. See example.
Morning coat: a type of suit jacket for a man, formal but appropriate for day wear. See example.
Penny-gaff: a low-class theater that caters mainly to the working class
Petticoats: layered underskirts that fill out a woman’s skirt and provide shape. See example.
Presul: a person who has the ability to channel and direct another person’s magic. Most often used in the theater as directors who work with vicimorph actors
Psychic magic: not officially recognized by the empire, this is magic that allows a person to read another’s thoughts. Other abilities also exist in psychic magic but because it’s not a recognized power, it is poorly understood and a user of psychic magic must teach themselves how to use it.
Sack suit: a more casual suit for a man. See example.
Schol: a geek, a smart person (from “scholar”), Adjective: Scholly: geeky
Screwn: equivalent to screwed, as in “if I don’t get my homework done tonight, I’m utterly screwn.”
Smoking jacket: an informal jacket for a man to be worn in the privacy of his own home in the evenings, usually made of a fine material such as velvet or brocade. See example.
Steamy: 1) full of steam, 2) Slang–sexy
Steam engine: 1) an engine powered by steam, 2) Slang–a sexy person. Also “Regular steam engine”–a VERY sexy person.
Technomancer: a person who can channel magic into metal, allowing them to shape metal without heating it and create machines and devices that function beyond what science says is possible.
Theater Sub-Rosa: “under the rose theater” This type of theater is unregistered, making it illegal. It’s popular among the lower and middle class because it is cheaper and it isn’t subject to the censorship and restrictions that legal theater is.
Toff: a stylish gentleman, a dandy
Thrunge plate: a mechanical part that doesn’t actually exist but everyone assumes it does because it sounds like it should be real
Trousers: pants, worn by men or women
Underbust Harness: usually made of thick canvas or leather, it’s a piece of women’s clothing worn over a blouse. Think of a bra-shape, with an extra-wide band and no cups. Harnesses can be used as utility belts of sorts to hold tools and other devices. See example.
Vicimorph: a person with shape-shifting magic. Requires partnering with a presul to work this kind of magic. Two kinds: 1) vicicordis–“change of heart”: shape-shifting a soul. Very believable, but it’s not a physical shape-shift. 2) vicicorpus–“change of body”: full physical and soul shape-shifting. Extremely rare.
Waistcoat: similar to a man’s vest. See example.