I’ve always wanted to be famous. Maybe not mobbed-by-paparazzi famous. Definitely get-a-good-table-at-a-swank-restaurant famous. Walk-in-a-bar-and-get-recognized famous. Okay, I already have that, but it has more to do with my drinking habits than fame.
The plans for fame have taken many forms over the years. Stand-up comic, actor, writer, serial killer. I scratched that last one off the list when I realized how super organized you have to be. Too much work. As my love of fashion developed, fame looked like being the head editor of a glossy magazine with a high rise office.
I’m a grownup now, by many standards. I haven’t achieved fame yet, and I’m looking into notoriety as an alternative. BUT … I do have a high rise office. (Hey, the second floor is high!)
And I’m not head editor of a fashion magazine. BUT… (drum roll, please)
I am now CEO of a publishing house! (cue applause)
Naturally, I’m not doing this alone; I’m smarter than that. Rebekah Jonesy gets to be the COO one, and Julia Allen is our President. I’ve never met more talented women. We share a passion for creating books and sharing them with the world, and together, we’re doing just that.
Say hello to Three Furies Press as we ignite fires and inspire readers!
Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. It’s an age-old story so what could possibly go wrong. Well, this boy is an international terrorist and this girl is a Chinese spy with mad hacking skills. Her love blinds her to a plot to take down the entire electrical grid in the US and parts of Canada–a plot where she plays a key role. His desire for political change forces him to seek out a hacker–the cornerstone of their plot to neutralize the US.
When you think about no electricity, maybe you see it as an inconvenience that takes down your social media, television, and your A/C. Now, think about an electrical outage of 18 months or more. There’s no money, no gas, no water, nothing. The sick and elderly are the first to go as the respirators, heart monitors, and oxygen shut off. Next, go the young, who’s tiny bodies are the first to suffer dehydration.
Rioting and chaos ensue as the strong take necessities from the weak, at gunpoint, if necessary. The National Guard and law enforcement won’t be able to contain outbreaks of violence.
It’s a scary scenario, but one that’s all too plausible and possible if the FBI Counter Terrorism Unit, headed by John Boyd, and the Cyber Unit, run by Jacob Mainz, that supports him, can’t stop them. Can they stop the total blackout in time?
That’s the plot of The Grid, the newest addition to the Dark Web Series written by Angela Hausman. Other books in the series are: Buried Ladies, Scars of the Past, and Azure’s Revenge. Books involve some of the same characters you’ll learn to love, but can be read in any order without losing a thing.
Grab your copy, FREE on Kindle Unlimited, or get the first one, on sale for $.99 for a limited time.
Clairvoyant Viola Thorne wants to forget about her days of grifting and running errands for ghosts. The problem? Playing it safe is dull. So when a dead stranger begs for her help, Vi jumps at the chance to dust off her hustling skills. The unlikely companions are soon tangling with bandits, cheating at cards, and loving every minute.
It’s not often one gets to interview a fictional character, but I highly recommend it. Today I’m talking with Viola Thorn from No Rest for the Wicked by Phoebe Darqueling.
IM: Hey, baby, come here often? Vi: Just passing through.
IM: I understand you’ve traveled a lot. Is there a particular bar or saloon that has fond memories for you? Vi: Not to boast, but my own establishment in Sacramento comes to mind. It is not the fanciest, nor does it have the finest clientele, but it is mine. I bought it fair and square, and fixed it up with my own hands. (Well, ‘fair and square’ may be over-stating the matter a little… I did use stolen money to purchase it.) As soon as Sacramento became the capital, business started booming, so I can bring in the top shelf bottles for myself even if my average customer doesn’t appreciate it.
IM: If someone, me for example, were to craft a drink based on you, what elements would it have? Vi: I spent a lot of time after the Rebellion along the Mississippi and in New Orleans, which gave me a taste for absinthe. There’s something about the cool spiciness of the anise (not to mention it has the strength to knock even me for a loop) that I just love. So, that would definitely need to be an ingredient.
IM: Rumor has it that you’ve retired from ‘the life’. I am an aficionado of the craft myself. Any good stories you want to share? Vi: My biggest score, and what I thought was going to be my last, was a sham marriage. I was approached by an informant (which in my case, usually means someone dead with a score to settle) who was angry with her former husband. Once she told me what he’d done during the war, it was easy to see he needed to pay. She gave me all the dirt I needed to wheedle my way in, marry him, and leave with the deeds to most of his real estate holdings. (Plus his prize race horse, but that was a mission of mercy.)
IM: As a follow-up, what’s your favorite, sure-thing con? Vi: I love the feel of a deck of cards in my hands. Blackjack is a good one, but poker is my favorite. Sure, there’s some counting and probability involved, but I’d take my read of a man over the cards in his hand any day.
IM: If you and your author had a drink, what would you talk about? Vi: Though I have seen my fair share of the Americas, she has the benefit of spending extensive time on the continent. I am sure we’d have plenty of stories to swap about our time at home and abroad.
IM: If you could invite your 4 favorite people to a bar, who’s drinking what? Vi: I would love to have a chin wag with my favorite author, Charles Dickens. If he and his characters share the same taste in spirits, he’d probably order a gin punch. There’s always a place at the table for my valet, though as he is a boy of nine, he’d be enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. I’ve recently made a new friend, Bonnie, though what she sees in me is somewhat baffling. She’s not much of a drinker (though I’m going to see what I can do about that on our way South), so she would probably have lemonade. That’s it for the living, really. Any of the dead who would come to a bar wouldn’t be able to drink anyway, so I’d just order myself a double and let them hover over the vapors for a while.
IM: Are you a sipper or a shooter? Vi: If I am working a mark, I make sure to sip. It’s important to keep a clearer head than the one you are trying to bunko. When I’m alone, I tend to swig right from the bottle. IM: Ah, yes. I’ve got a friend who follows that same rule about keeping a clear head.
IM: Now that you’re drunk, tell me about No Rest for the Wicked. Vi: I do not usually jaw about myself, but seeing as how you have been plying me with your top shelf whiskey, I suppose I could tell you a few details. The story starts a few years after my attempted retirement. I wanted to get out of the game for a few reasons, but most of all to get away from all the ghosts who wanted me to finish their unfinished business. Sometimes it could be lucrative, but mostly it was a nuisance. There was a something of an entanglement brewing with my partner, Peter, as well, but… actually no. You don’t need to know anything about that. All you need to know about him is that when he died, he came looking for me. There’s something happening back in New Orleans and some very bad people want to find me very badly. The smart thing to do would be to keep my head down, but I have never been the sharpest tool in the shed. Instead, I plan to get to the bottom of his murder and make them pay. But California is a long way from Louisiana, so who knows what kinds of mischief my companions and I will get up to along the way?
Phoebe Darqueling has graciously agreed to join me for a few drinks and a few questions as part of the blog tour for her newest release, Riftmaker.
IM: *slaps down napkin* Hey, baby, come here often?
Phoebe: There’s a first time for everything.
IM: Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” Do you have a drink of choice for when you sit down to write?
Phoebe: I drink a lot of coffee. I like it dark, strong, and sweet, which is not at all how people out here in Germany like it.
IM: That’s how Jules Brand takes it, too. According to him, coffee should be hot as Hell, black as the devil, and sweet as love.
Phoebe: However, on the alcoholic front, I’ve been quicker to embrace their [German] culture. Especially here in the southwestern corner of the country, they drink a lot of “schorles.” This is basically anything that is cut with sparkling water. Oftentimes it’s juice, but a nice weinschorle in the summer is an awesome way to beat the heat. Later in the evening when the writing is over, I sip a nice whiskey in the winter, and a gin and tonic the rest of the year.
IM: You visit a bar on the advice of a friend. The place has a good reputation for mixed drinks and you can see it’s well-stocked. What do you order and why?
Phoebe: I’m a special case because I am allergic to anything high in vitamin C. So that means anything with sour mix, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, and pineapple juice is out. So I usually order an Old Fashioned most of the time when I get the chance, or a gin and tonic is a good standby.
IM: If someone, me for example, were to craft a drink based on you, what elements would it have? How about one based on your main character?
Phoebe: Ooh, that’s a fun question! If you were going to design a drink for Buddy from Riftmaker, it would have to be bubbly and effervescent. His eternal optimism and zest for learning about his new world and new body is intoxicating.
Like me, Viola Thorne from No Rest for the Wicked is a whiskey drinker. Give us both something expensive, strong, and not too sweet and we’ll be happy.
IM: As an expat, is there a drink from home you miss? Have you discovered any new favorites living abroad?
Phoebe: The beer in Germany is mostly the same. They have these really strict laws about the ingredients you can use, and most of them are on the lighter side. I’m a porter or stout drinking myself, though I have found one local beer that is on the darker side that’s pretty good.
The drink that I order all the time and was new for me about a year ago is an Aperol Spritz. That’s Aperol, prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), and a splash of sparkling water. It’s usually served over ice in a wine glass, and is a delightful bright orange color. It’s a nice way to get around not being able to have orange juice things because Aperol is an orange liquor like Campari, but more bitter. I had my first one while visiting Italy last spring, but they are available most places now in this part of Europe.
IM: Aperol Spritz is featured in my book, too! We should get together for drink or six!
IM: Drinking, because no good story starts with a salad. Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share?
Phoebe: I was at a friend’s 30th birthday party at a beer hall. It was a German-style place, but this was years before I moved here. I’d had my fair share to drink, but I was doing okay. That is, until I was on my way to get a glass of water and an sprightly old man in lederhosen grabbed me for a polka. He spun me around and around the dance floor, and by the time he finally let me go, I was so dizzy I had to skip the water and go straight being sick.
My next time in a German beer hall was in Stuttgart for their annual Volkfest (folk festival). It’s the second largest Oktoberfest celebration in the country. A high school friend and I went to a beer hall and I think we were literally the only 2 people in the entire place not wearing traditional garb. People there of all ages would stand up on the benches to dance and toast, so I joined in the fun. However, the Germans were all doing in in big groups – whole tables or nothing. And then there was me, the only one at my whole table who wanted to do it. I have a background in musical theater, so it doesn’t take a lot of prodding to get me to sing and dance like an idiot. So I did my thing, much to the amusement of all the Germans. A couple very drunk men tried to talk to me later, and I am sure they thought I was wasted to do such a thing. But that’s just me!
IM: Personally, I’m far too vain to use a pen name. Let some other name take the credit? No way. But you use a pen name. Would you care to explain why?
Phoebe: In Steampunk circles, it’s fairly common to build a character and go by a different name at conventions, so I thought it would be fun to do it, too. Though Phoebe Darqueling, “roving reporter” never actually took shape as a fully fledged character, I gained enough of a following as a blogger using that name that it was too late to switch. “Darqueling” is a variation on “darkling,” which I took from a poem. In the world of Riftmaker, people’s names are usually determined either by the place they came from in our world, or the species they “resonate” as. The birds are the aristocrats, and “Phoebe” is a type of songbird.
IM: If you and your character had a drink, what would you talk about?
Phoebe: Buddy asks a lot of questions about the finer points of being a human, so I am sure I’d spend a lot of time helping him figure things out. But the funny thing about Buddy is that even though he seems naive, his outsider perspective often leads to unexpected epiphanies, so it wouldn’t all be one-sided.
IM: If you could invite your 4 favorite authors to a bar, who buys the appetizers?
Phoebe: Neil Gaiman would definitely be there, as well as Garth Nix. Appetizers would have to be on them because the other two in attendance would be Terry Pratchett and Kurt Vonnegut, and ghosts don’t carry much cash.
IM: Are you a sipper or a shooter?
Phoebe: It depends on the quality of the booze. Expensive whiskey? Sip. Shitty vodka? Shoot.
IM: You’re celebrating your book release. Do you:
Buy a round for the house
Open a bottle of bubbly
Plan a private celebration
Grab a funnel and a hose
Drink until the pants come off and table dancing starts?
Phoebe: When Riftmaker came out, it was also Valentine’s Day, so the Mister and I did open a bottle of bubbly. We celebrated with friends the following week and went to a shisha bar to drink spritzes and watch belly dancing. On March 23, I’m having a public book launch party in Ann Arbor, Michigan. People can find out the details here if they are in the area!
IM: Do you take your pants off before, or after you’re on the table dancing?
Phoebe: Safety first. If pants are coming off, definitely best to do it on the ground before getting onto the table.
IM: Now that you’re drunk, tell me about your latest book.
Phoebe: Riftmaker is a portal fantasy story about a dog who stumbles through a rift in time and space and finds himself in a human body and stranded in a clockwork city plagues by monsters. At first, all he wants to do is get home to his boy, but then Ethan follows him through the rift and it becomes Buddy’s doggone duty to save him. He makes some friends and enemies along the way, and together they have to figure out the mystery behind the monsters and the people who walk among them.
IM: Do you have plans for another? If so, will it be a sequel, or something new?
Phoebe: I’m writing another series that is basically historical fiction except ghosts are real. In No Rest for the Wicked, Viola Thorne is a retired con woman in the 1870s who can talk to the dead. The first book in that series comes out March 28, and I am currently working on the sequel.
When I first wrote Riftmaker back in 2015, I had thought about writing a trilogy. I had an unsavory encounter with a now defunct small press that really soured me on it for a long time, which is why I moved on to another series. But now that Riftmaker is out in the world, I’ve been toying with the idea of continuing the series as I had originally intended.
Everybody knows I love my cocktails. My home bar is the stuff of legends. Or gossip. Either way. Everybody also knows I love Sims Medieval. What would you say if I combined them?
When designing a character, you have to pick a Fatal Flaw. I usually pick Drunkard because it’s easiest to manage. Just get them a keg. A mug at breakfast and one after dinner, no problems! Just like real life!
I made myself as a Wizard and you guessed it– she’s a Drunkard. When I finally got around to doing the quest to change the Flaw, Wizard Isa was already level 10. And really, who did 10 levels of drunkenness hurt, hmm?
Right from the start, I knew it was going to be a wild ride.
The visions lead to discovering the Fountain of Legend, which can change those bad traits to good. Or in some cases, profitable.
Many fun adventures were had, including breaking someone out of the stocks and beating up a mugger. And then, at last, the perfect task.
You have to stay ‘Sloshed’ while traveling to the forest. The Wizard lives about as far away as possible, and the buff only lasts so long. Good thing Wizard Isa already learned a teleport spell! Too bad it didn’t keep her from getting lost in the forest. And then, a decision:
I considered taking the trait Dread Pirate. It’s super fun! You pick your teeth with a cutlass! Belch! Lead Pirate Raids! But I found a loophole, and chose Famous instead.
As some of you know, I’m the marketing director for OWS Ink. One of the books I’ve been marketing is a really cool steampunk portal fantasy, Riftmaker by Phoebe Darqueling. I’ll be interviewing the author in a couple weeks, so be sure to come back!
I dropped out of my gaming group this week. I’ve been playing TTRPGs with the same group for about 4 years. We started out with me running a Pathfinder campaign with a bunch of con artists and frauds. When that wrapped up, we decided to keep playing together. We created a really wacky world, populated with fashionista satyrs, imperial walruses, and goat paladins.
It was great fun and we all looked forward to our bi-weekly game nights at my house. But I felt the game had pretty much run its course, and with my current schedule, it was time to make a change. I hope the party goes on to have many more adventures, and lift a glass to Captain Versace now and then.
What’s next for me? I’m not sure. I know I’m going to be running some Leverage games as promotion for my upcoming book, A Kiss for Luck. And there’s always my favorite, Sims Medieval. Solo RPGs aren’t the same as tabletop, though. I know I will miss the interactions and the social aspects of gaming. It’s been a big part of my life for a long time, and I’m sure I won’t be gone from the scene for long.
When I started writing again after a mommyhood hiatus, it was because I wanted to chronicle the adventures of my World of Warcraft characters. Because I played on a roleplay realm, my characters were more than avatars. The whole point of this realm is to create backstories and personalities for our pixelated counterparts. People get their characters together and “chat” via text interface, essentially creating a live, if animated, dramatic performance.
Many of my characters started out this way. Jules Brand was created to play another MMO, Aion. His entire personality was developed through roleplaying with others. Sure, I had some broad strokes in mind when I started, but it was the need for instantaneous reaction that really filled in the details. I had to figure out what Brand would do confronted with various challenges. How he speaks, his gestures, all came from these interactions.
Arden Benedict, a mercenary humanitarian from a series I’m planning, was based on my original WoW character, by way of a stint in the tabletop roleplay game Pathfinder.
Currently, I’m playing Sims Medieval but I’m still using it to develop characters. I’ve populated my kingdom with Jules Brand and Mirella di Fiori from A Kiss for Luck; as well as Peter Kemp (a new friend for Brand); and two women, Paris and Sadie. The latter two are the ones I’m discussing here.
I knew I needed a character to drive a subplot for Keep the Mark Happy, and it didn’t take long to decide she knew Peter and was being conned. But who was she? I needed to know so I could plan the scheme she falls for.
To the character generator!
Meet Paris, in her first iteration. I made her a Blacksmith because that was the slot I had to fill. I gave her the traits listed, above right, and started to play. Bottom right shows a social interaction I’ve never seen before. When you choose Funny, you usually get three choices: Tell Joke, Do Impersonation and Perform Slight of Hand. The first time Paris tried to be funny, Tell a Good Joke came up. Hey, now we know more about her. Bottom right shows her choosing to stand in the corner to read, instead of sitting on the couch or chair Odd quirk, but okay.
By this time, I knew there were some things I wanted to change. I had chosen the Creative Cook trait because it gives a boost to mood. But it sparked an idea: what if she was a baker? I already knew an aspect of Peter Kemp’s character that would tie together with this nicely.
So now she’s a Merchant. This class makes the most money and it’s always fun to decorate their shop. She’s got an oven for baking, shelves full of pastries and fruit. And now her hair is pink, just for fun. I tweaked her traits, changing Fun Loving to Excitable. Not a major change, but being Excitable gives you a boost and watching Paris get so excited over the littlest things, like drawing water from the well, is endearing. I kept Insecure, mainly because it’s one of the easiest Fatal Flaws to manage.
And when this quest text came up, it became a part of her makeup.
Her active personality traits are starting to shape up nicely, but what about her history? One of her primary character concepts is that she’s gay and engaged. So she needs a fiancée.
When Sim-Paris was engaging in some shenanigans, she got arrested and thrown in the stocks. And now I knew how she met Sadie. They were both attending a protest and were arrested together.
And speaking of Sadie, here she is. This time, she’s the Blacksmith, for two reasons. The first is the proximity of the Smithy to the Merchant. It’s hard to have characters romantically involved if they don’t live near each other. Secondly, I had this idea that Sadie was really into steampunk. How better to craft your own gear than to be a blacksmith?
Sadie has grown into a BAMF character. In her very first quest, she was being harassed by some hunters. Here’s how she handled that.
So now I have this adorable couple. I know quite a few things about them. One of the fun parts of this game is just seeing how the characters interact without my involvement. After several flirty interactions, I left them alone to see what they’d do. It was Sadie who initiated most of the contact, but when flirting turned up the heat, it was Paris who leapt into Sadie’s arms.
You’ll have to wait until next year to see how these two turn out. Until then, you can read about Jules Brand starting in March. The first of a series of short stories will be released then, From Love to Hatred Turn’d. And then May 4th, A Kiss for Luck is released. This is the first full novel in the Jules Brand series Art of Lying.