Posts Tagged ‘Aether Chronicles’

An All Hallows Wager

Yes, I know Halloween was a few days ago. I wrote this as part of the Halloween Book Trail and now that it’s over, wanted to share this with all of you. Enjoy.  

An All Hallows Wager

An Aether Chronicles Story

© Suzanne Lazear 2014


Noli pulled her cape a little closer to her against the cold Los Angeles night as she and V walked down the street. Many houses were decorated with lanterns carved from gourds and pumpkins, walkways lined with candles, and other such things as costumes adults and children went to and fro attending parties and gatherings. Often more than one.


“Why do we have to do this?” Noli whined, waving around the paper list in her hand. She hated society parties. At least this one had games.


A flying car, a dragon model by the wings, swooped past. Noli waved out of habit. They honked in reply.


“I thought you wanted to play the game? At least we were paired up.” Steven Darrow, or V, as she called him, looked dashing as usual. He was dressed as a prince, complete with a sword. The green and brown velvet, heavy with gold embroidery brought out his green eyes. A thin, golden circlet rested on his messy, golden hair.


The funny thing was that V was actually a prince. Well, an exiled prince. An exiled prince of the earth court from the realm of faerie, or the Otherworld, as they called it.


“True.” There were worse things than being alone with V in the dark on a scavenger hunt. “Still, it’s cold. And I’m hungry.” In the light of the gas streetlamps she peered at the ten items on the list.


“We have five already,” a voice sneered. “How many do you have?”


Noli sighed and looked over at the taunting form approaching them. Missy Sassafras’ costume was blinding, covered in spangles and sparkles. She practically leaked feathers and beads. What was she supposed to be? Certainly, it wasn’t flattering. Missy was mousy and a bit round. Also, that shade of orange suited very few completions. Hers wasn’t one of them.


“Five? Good for you, Missy.” Noli pasted a fake smile on her face. She didn’t like Missy much. Certainly she wasn’t going to admit that they had none. First team to return won. What, she wasn’t sure.


How had Missy gotten so many so quickly? The game just started.


A spindly form skulked behind. One in a Gladiator costume, carrying a small sack. Will was Missy’s partner for the game.


“V,” he nodded, ignoring Noli.


“Will,” V nodded back. Ever the gentleman, V gave Missy a little bow. “Miss Sassafras.”


Missy gave a little giggle that sounded a bit like a pig being tortured. She waved her fan in front of her face.


“Mr. Darrow, your costume is exquisite.” She moved a little as if trying to show off her own costume, probably hoping for V to compliment her in turn. “But Noli I really have no idea what you’re supposed to be.” Her thin lips curved into a sneer.


“A princess, right?” Will said softly. “He’s the prince and you’re the princess. Clever.”


“You’re right, Will.” Noli smoothed the fabric. It was an Otherworld dress of dark green velvet, heavy with gold embroidery, smooth and flowing without the bustles and crinolines so popular in Los Angeles. Her crown was made of roses from her garden and green and gold ribbons. V’s little sister Elise had helped her with it.


“A princess?” Missy laughed so hard she held her sides. “Noli a princess, sure. The dress isn’t even fluffy. I’m not even sure why she gets invited to parties. It’s like inviting the help.”


Noli bit her tongue to keep herself from saying what she really thought. Missy was naught but a social climbing dollymop. However, new money or not, Missy, and her parents, weren’t people to aggravate, especially when Noli’s own social position was so precarious.


Still, ire rose within her and her hands fisted, the list crumpling.


V frowned. “Miss Sassafras, that doesn’t seem like a very nice thing to say.”


It wasn’t a very nice thing to say, but Missy didn’t have very nice manners.


“It’s true.” Missy waved it off with her hand, then sniffed. “I don’t know why you even bother associating with her.”


She said what?


“What do you know, Missy Sassafras?” Noli retorted, cheeks blazing as she took a step forward. “I’ll let you know that we’re going to win that scavenger hunt.”


“Care to wager?” Missy sneered.


“Sure,” Noli replied, even though she had no money to wager.


“Fine. If I win the game, Mr. Darrow escorts me to the next ball.” Missy shot her a triumphant look.


“Fine, and if you lose then you give me ten dollars,” Noli retorted. It was the first thing that popped into her head. There was quite a bit she could buy with that sort of money.


“Deal.” Missy held out her hand.


“Deal.” Noli shook it.


“Wait a moment.” V tried to separate them with his body. “Don’t I have a say in this?”

“No.” Missy shook her head. “See you soon. By the way, Mr. Darrow, I like posies.” She waggled her fingers and flounced off, leaving a trail of spangles.


“Girls are barking mad, I tell you.” Will sighed and gave V a sympathetic look, then trotted off.


“Noli, what did you do?” V’s green eyes went wide. “I don’t want to go any ball, let alone one with her.


“I know. Me and my big mouth.” Noli sighed. “What did I just do? But ten dollars! And she just makes me so mad.


“I know.” V looked at the list. “I have some of these, and so do you, but the problem is time, especially if they actually have five.”


“I don’t think they do.” Noli started to walk toward V’s house.


“We can’t risk that.” A resigned look crossed his face. “Come, now, we haven’t much time.” V’s arm linked hers and they ran down the street. They passed more people playing other games or simply out enjoying the evening. They waved as another neighbor drove passed in their steam-powered auto.


They stopped in front of an old oak tree in a nearby park. A ring of mushrooms encircled it and flowers grew around it. The twisted trunk thrummed with energy and magic.


But it was. Not only was this a “fairy tree”, but little wood faeries actually occupied it. As if summoned, tiny balls of light appeared. A yellow one landed on Noli’s shoulder. The light was actually a glowing tiny person with yellow wings.


“Hi there,” Noli greeted. She couldn’t understand them, but they could understand her.


“We need your help,” V told them. “We need all these things and we only have a few moments.”


Noli watched as V made assignments. He could talk to them just fine.


V grabbed her hand. “They’re meeting us at my house, let’s go.”


“We’re asking the faeries for help, isn’t that cheating?” Noli laughed as they ran. She didn’t care about cheating, as long as Missy didn’t win. However, V was usually a fussy old bodger about things like this.


He grimaced. “It is, and I don’t like it. But I’m not about to be her escort. Only you, Noli.”


Those three words held so many meanings, but he was right.


At least he wasn’t angry. She’d be angry if she’d been in his shoes. “I’m sorry, V. I shouldn’t have done that. Missy brings out the worst in me.”


He squeezed her hand. “It’s all right. I forgive you. She is a bit…much.”


They ran up the steps to his house, which was always so neat and orderly, even though there was no mother. Compared to her own house, which no matter how much work she and V did always looked worn and ramshackle compared to the others on their block.


“You get the items from the kitchen, I’ll get the book and what’s upstairs,” V told her as they went inside.


The house was empty, since his little sister Elise was at a children’s party. Noli wasn’t sure where James was. However, he liked parties even less than Noli. Also, Mr. Darrow didn’t approve of them courting. After all, one day V would take back his family’s court and restore his family’s good name.


No matter what, Noli was just the girl next door.


They gathered the items and ran out to the backyard. The fairies there, items in tow.


Noli put them in the sack as V checked everything off the list. A biscuit. A novel by dickens. A handbill for a moving picture. A clockwork bird. A stocking. She laughed as she put the very fancy stocking in the bag.


“Do I even want to know where you got this?” she teased the faeries.


A blue fairy said something to V and his cheeks pinked. “No, you don’t,” he replied, eyes on the floor.


She could imagine quite well. The rest of the items went into the bag. “All set.”


V gave the faeries a little bow. “I appreciate your help. I’ll leave your reward by the tree.”


Noli watched as they flew off. “What did we promise them?”




“That’s easy enough.” Noli slung the sack over her shoulder. “How are we on time, should we hoverboard back?”


“Do you think we could?” He looked torn. “They never said we couldn’t….”


That was good enough for her. “Let’s go.”


They grabbed his small, brown wooden hoverboard from the back porch. She held on to him tight, as she adjusted her position, trying to account for the weight of the sack. As they rose into the air, her loose hair whipped around her face and she wished she had goggles—and a cap.


They took off down the street and she craned her neck, hoping to spot Missy–and make sure they got there first.


Technically, hoverboards were one person conveyances. Also, the law forbid girls from hoverboarding. Once, Noli wouldn’t let it stop her, but now she was trying to stay on the right side of the law. So, she’d simply practiced until she could figure out how to properly balance so they could both fly on his hoverboard.

They landed in the backyard of the Vincent’s, who were hosting the party. Missy wasn’t in sight—and Hope Vincent, dressed as a Grecian goddess, still waited in the gazebo for the first team to come back.

“I didn’t know you could do that,” someone remarked.

“That’s not fair,” Missy’s voice screeched from across the yard.

Leaving the hoverboard on the grass, V and Noli took off for Hope, bag in hand. Must. Finish. First.

“Winner!”  Hope called just as V and Noli raced up the gazebo stairs.

Winner? Noli’s heart fell to the floor. She never should have opened her mouth. Do not engage. How many times had her mother told her that.

“Noooo.” Missy came up behind them, face flushed and crestfallen.

Wait. If Missy was behind them, who won?

James Darrow stood there triumphantly, in nothing but a bed sheet. He was the younger brother, though not by much, and looked older. A girl named Violet was at his side, dressed like a fairy, complete with fabric and wire wings. Noli used to take dance classes with her. Once. Back when she had the time and money for such things.

“James and Violent are the winners,” Hope declared. “V and Noli are second and Will and Missy are third, pending you all have the correct items.” She held out her hands for everyone’s sacks.

“Where did you come from?” Noli blurted. “I didn’t even know you were coming.”

James grinned, raking a large hand through his dark blonde girls. “I’m full of surprises.”

“Oh my,” Missy hissed. “Mr. Darrow the younger certainly has filled out.”

Hope looked though each sack. “The winners stand as stated. Here you go.”

She handed out the prizes. A cake shaped like a pumpkin for the winning team and candied apples for everyone else.

“You cheated.” Missy turned to Noli. “I’m not giving you ten dollars.”

“You don’t have to. I didn’t come in first. It was if I won, not if I beat you.” Noli shrugged, though part of her wanted to rub the candy apple in Missy’s hair. How did James win? She could really have used that ten dollars.

“Actually,” Will interjected, “you actually do owe her. The wording was that if you lost then you had to give her ten dollars.”

V nodded. “Actually, Will’s right.”

Missy’s face screwed up as if she’d eaten something bitter. She reached into her décolletage and pulled out a ten-dollar bill. “Here.”

Noli just stared at it. Ten dollars was a lot of money for someone their age to have on hand. Also, that was an odd place to keep money. Should she even touch it?

James yanked the money out of her hand, as if he didn’t care where it came from, which, he probably didn’t. “That was quite gracious of you. Here you are, Noli.”

Ten dollars. All hers.

She shook her head. “You…you can have it back, Missy.”

An eager look crossed her face.

“Missy, a wager is a wager, you should play fair,” Will scolded.

“Fine. You’re something, Noli Braddock.” Missy turned around in a huff and marched down the stairs of the gazebo.

Will just stood there. He shook his head. “Girls.”

James put a hand on Vs shoulder. “On to the next? I hear that Ginny’s party has a fortune teller.”

“I suppose. Though I need to grab a few sweets,” V told them.

“They can have my apple. I prefer caramel apples to candy,” Noli replied.

V nodded. “Very well then.”

“Here, take this.” James handed her the money.

Not sure what to do with it, she tucked it into her stocking. “That was unexpected.”

“That is what,” James agreed.

Violet rushed after them. “You’re not staying, James? Don’t you want half the cake?”

“Keep it.” James didn’t even turn around.

The three of them thanked Hope and walked down the street toward the park with the oak tree.

“How did you do it?” Noli asked. “I didn’t even think you came to the party.”

James grinned. “Cheaters never win, though I have to say, I was very tempted to help Missy just to see V take her to a ball.”

V’s face flushed. “You wouldn’t dare!”

“I can’t believe you would cheat. It’s so unlike you. She cheated too, you know. I got bored so I decided to join you and I saw her and Will cheat, then I heard you to, so I grabbed Violet and…” James shrugged. “We won. Clever, Noli, to word it like that so you got the money regardless. Not that I ever meant to begrudge you of that. I know you can use it.”

They entered the park.

“Then why bother then?” Noli frowned. Though the Darrow boys, not being human did have an odd sense of fun. “Also, I never meant to cheat her out of it.”

“I know.”

“I feel bad though. You’re right, cheaters don’t win. Even if they’re cheating a dollymop like Missy. But how did you win? It makes about as much sense as you trying to beat us, even though you gave the cake to Violet and I still won the money.” Noli placed her apple in front of the tree.

V put his down as well. “That’s what I’d like to know.”

James grinned and pulled a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts out of his bed sheet and placed them at the base of the tree. “That’s for me to know and you to find out.”

Noli looked to him and shook her head. She just didn’t get it. Boys. “Now, can we please go to a party with food? I’m hungry.”

The End

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series, where Noli, V, James and company have lots of adventures. Some of them include flying cars and faeries. Books 1-3 are out now.

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FRAGILE DESTINY, Book 3 of the Aether Chronicles Series releases in less than one month!!! That means it’s time for a pre-order giveaway!



Have you pre-ordered FRAGILE DESTINY? Email in your proof of purchase to aetherchroniclescontest@gmail  to receive a PDF of 4 free Aether Chronicles stories! One of which has never been seen before.

Everyone who pre-orders can get this! The pre-ordered copies can be paper or e-book and can be pre-ordered online or the store. Feel free to black out sensitive info, I just need to know you ordered it.

Thanks for helping to support the Aether Chronicles Series. Remember…Destiny is Coming!  8-8-14!

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now, FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14. Find out more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com

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In honor of the birthday of my character Noli Braddock, (which was October 25), I’d like to share this short story with you. I originally wrote it for the YA Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy. 

Happy Birthday Noli

An Aether Chronicles Story

© Suzanne Lazear 2013

This story takes place between INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE.

Steven Darrow woke before the sun. Today was Noli’s birthday—and he wanted it to be perfect. He dressed, grabbed her present, shoved the letter from Noli’s brother in his pocket, and went downstairs. Just as he’d asked, the milkman had delivered a few special things so he could make Noli breakfast.

Gabbing the basket, he darted out the back door, across his backyard, and through the loose board in the fence which separated their backyards. The fall air was chilly and he hadn’t brought a coat.

As always, the backdoor to her house was unlocked.

Quickly and quietly, he lit the stove and put the kettle on for tea. The kitchen was very dark and the Braddock’s didn’t use their gaslights, given the expense. Noli and her mother didn’t have much money since Mr. Braddock had disappeared, though they tried.

They were also very proud.

He looked around the sparse, but fairly tidy kitchen. One of Noli’s books and a wrench sat on the table, along with Mrs. Braddock’s sewing basket.


He took everything out of the baskets. This morning he was going to make all of Noli’s favorites–poached eggs and asparagus, fried potatoes, bacon, and tea. Later, he’d take her to the Otherworld and they’d have cake and presents with James and Charlotte.

Hopefully his brother had things handled on his part. It felt so strange that James wasn’t here in Los Angeles. Steven understood why he’d chosen to stay in the Otherworld with Charlotte, but that didn’t mean he missed him any less.

It also meant more of their father’s disapproval was focused on Steven. Between everything that had happened in the Otherworld and the fact he and Noli were courting, there was a lot of disapproval. Noli might not be mortal anymore, but his father still didn’t think she was fit for a prince.

Today, none of it mattered.

He frowned at the ingredients. How exactly did one poach an egg…or cook bacon? Steven didn’t know how to make anything more than tea and toast. Someone had always done the cooking for him.

It couldn’t be that hard. Poaching eggs involved water, right?

Trying to be quiet, he filled a pan with water, cracked two eggs, and let it boil. Then, he put some bacon on to fry. Yes, this would be easy.

The kettle whistled and he made tea and set the table, clearing off the wrench and other such things. What he’d really like to do was bring her breakfast in bed—but her mother might object.

Steven stood back and admired his handiwork. Her present sat at her seat. He should have brought roses for the table, since those were Noli’s favorite. Perhaps he could cut some from her backyard? A few were still blooming.

Yes, he’d do that. He ducked outside and cut a few roses. The smell of something burning caught his attention as he returned inside. The bacon!

Steven ran to the stove, flowers dropping to the floor. The eggs were boiling over—they also looked…well…not pretty.  The bacon was also burning. He reached out and grabbed the handle of the pan. Pain seared his hand and the pan dropped to the ground, grease and bacon flying everywhere.

Flying figs. He turned the burners off and ran his hand under cold water in the sink.

The bacon was ruined, so were the eggs. He hadn’t even gotten to the potatoes or the asparagus. There were a couple more eggs—and some more bacon.

But what if he ruined that as well?

There were footsteps on the back stairs. “Mama, is everything all right?”

Noli. Steven froze.

She came down, in only her nightdress. When she saw him, she froze, her steel eyes going wide. “V. What are you doing?”


Embarrassment consumed him. “I was trying to make you breakfast, but all I haven’t ruined so far is the tea.”

Who would have thought cooking could be so difficult?

“Oh.” Her gaze flickered from the tea on the table to the roses and bacon on the floor.

His stomach knotted. The sun was barely up and already he’d ruined her birthday.

“Would you like some help?” Her smile lit up her face.

Steven drooped. “It’s your birthday; it wouldn’t be fair to ask you to cook.”

Noli laughed, making the entire room come alive. “I’d say it was fair—you brought the food, I cook it. I’ll dress, you clean up.”

Without another word, she ran back up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

This wasn’t precisely what he’d hoped for, but he put the roses in a vase and set them on the table, then cleaned up the floor. Already the pain in his hand was lessening. Maybe everything would be all right after all.

Noli came back down, dressed for school in a blue skirt and a white blouse with a blue ascot. She dumped her schoolbooks on the table he’d just cleared, and tied an apron around her waist. Her chestnut hair was in a braid.

“Now, what are we making? I don’t suppose there’s more bacon?” she asked, hope on her face. Noli loved bacon.

“A little. I’m sorry I ruined it. I think I ruined the eggs, too.”

“There’s still more.” Noli kissed him. “I think it’s sweet that you even tried to cook.”

His heart sped with that kiss. “I just wanted to give you a nice birthday.”

“It’s already nice. You’re here. Here, let me show you how to poach an egg, just in case you ever need to know. But first, you should wear an apron.”

Steven let Noli tie a pink apron on him and watched as she showed him how to fry bacon and potatoes, cook asparagus, and poach an egg.

“What a feast. I really appreciate it.” She leaned in and gave him a lingering kiss.

The backdoor flew open and they jumped apart.

“Oh my, what do we have here?” Mrs. Braddock stood there, already in a blue work dress.

Unlike his father, Mrs. Braddock approved of them courting, but he still couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty being caught kissing in the kitchen.

His eyes fell to the market basket on her arm. Mrs. Braddock must have had the same idea he had. Hopefully he hadn’t ruined everything.

“I taught V how to make breakfast,” Noli told her, chest puffing up slightly with pride.

Mrs. Braddock’s eyes lingered on his pink apron and she put a hand to her lips, blue eyes shining. “I see. How lovely of you to bring Noli’s favorites.”

“I didn’t ruin anything, did I, Mrs. Braddock?” he stammered. “There’s enough for everyone.”

There he went, messing things up again. Often he felt like he couldn’t do anything right.

“Of course not.” She smiled, putting him at ease. “Unless you think you won’t have enough room for these delicious pastries.” Mrs. Braddock held up the basket. “They’re still warm.”

“Oh, Mama.” Noli gave her mother a hug. “Let’s eat everything!”

His stomach rumbled in agreement.

The three of them sat down to breakfast and sang to her.

He handed her his gift, which he’d wrapped himself.

“Hmmm, let me guess, it’s a book?” She tore open the paper.

“Yes, but which one?” he teased. They both loved to read—and talk about books.

Her mouth formed an “o” of surprise. “Nicomachean Ethics you silly old bodger, if anything I should buy you a copy.”

The copy he’d lent her had been ruined.

“I…I wanted you to have it.” It was one of his favorites. Perhaps he should have bought her another Dickens novel instead. There must be one she didn’t have yet.

“I love it.” She leaned in as if to kiss him, remembered her mother was there, and pulled back. But her eyes still glimmered and he relaxed a little.

It seemed that Noli liked the present—and breakfast. Good.

“Noli, let me get your present.” Mrs. Braddock went upstairs.

“I’m guessing it’s a dress.” Noli shoved a piece of bacon in her mouth.

“It probably will be,” he replied. Her mother was a very skilled dressmaker. “Oh, I have a birthday letter for you from Jeff.” Steven fished the letter out of his pocket. Her brother was an air pirate and she hadn’t seen him in ages, but they wrote back and forth.

Noli tore open the letter and bills floated out. “That’s quite the present.” Her eyes lit up. “I need a part for the steam-powered sewing machine—and there’s a book I’d like to buy.” She tucked the money in the pocket of her skirt and read the letter.

There were footsteps on the stairs and she tucked the letter away.

“Happy Birthday, Noli.” Mrs. Braddock presented Noli with a blue dress.

“It’s wonderful, Mama.” Noli gave her a hug and the three of them finished breakfast.

Afterward, Mrs. Braddock left for her dress shop.

Noli gave him and expectant look as they cleaned up the kitchen. “We’re not actually going to school today, are we?”

Steven laughed. “Not today. James and Charlotte are expecting us. Charlotte’s baking a cake. But you might want to hide your school books, so it looks like you went.”

“A day with you, Charlotte, and James instead of school? And cake, too? I can’t wait.” She grinned. Noli liked cake almost as much as she liked bacon. “This is the best birthday I’ve had in a long time.”

“I’m sorry I burned breakfast,” he apologized as he dried the dishes. “I wanted everything to be perfect.”

“There was still enough bacon for everyone,” she laughed.

His fingers grazed her jaw. Steven kissed her, long and sweet, glad they were alone.

They’d been friends for so long, and now they were more. Every day he thanked the Bight Lady for it, for her. Sure, not everything was perfect, but maybe they didn’t always have to be. One thing they had was time. Something he’d also learned not to take for granted.

“Happy Birthday, Noli.” He tangled his hand in her hair.

She gazed into his eyes. “Birthdays don’t need be perfect, as long as I have those I love. Now, let’s go eat some cake.”



Suzanne Lazear is  the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now, FRAGILE DESTINY releases in 2014. Find out more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com 

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Being published has led to the requisite notifying of former teachers — the ones who encouraged me to follow my childhood dream of being a writer, the ones who taught me to write, the ones who had a major impact on me as a person and who I grew up to be.

Now, I have *really* been tempted at times to send a former (mis)guidance counselor a copy of my book signed with “suck it”, but well, that would be a waste of a perfectly good  copy, right?

I can trace my goal of wanting to be a published author back to the third grade (though my mom says it goes back earlier.) I distinctly remember wanting to write books that you could buy in book stores. (Most specifically, Changing Hands Bookstore, the bookstore I literally spent most of my youth in.)

There was nothing quite like my third grade teacher coming to my book signing for INNOCENT DARKNESS in my hometown (yes, at Changing Hands bookstore. Talk about childhood dream fulfilment.)  He told me he always thought of me as a wordsmith, and that where his students had grown up to be many things, I was his first author.

Then…one of my high school English teachers came to another book event I did in my hometown several months later. I had three really amazing English teachers and was able to track down two of them. This particular one…well, he was probably the toughest teacher I had in high school. And the one I learned the most from (though I don’t think I realized it until graduate school). I had him for math, for Honors Sophomore English, then he “retired” from teaching to be the head library, and I was his TA my senior year. Talk about a Renaissance Man.

We talked, he bought my book, I very nervously signed it (To “Mr.” of course, I just can’t bring myself to call him by his first name), part of me hoping he never actually read it. Not only is there kissing in it (and who wants their high school English teacher to read that), but he was a tough grader. That inner-fifteen-year-old feared it wouldn’t be worthy of an “A.”

“This book is all your fault,” I told him, trying to get over my nervousness. Was everything grammatically correct? Had we found all the errors? Did I use parallel structure properly?

He looked at me, in that English teacher way. “How so?”

I told him.

It was sophomore year. I was reading a lot of romance novels, mostly because there wasn’t the YA selection when I was a teen that there is now.  I can’t quite remember what we were doing in English. I think we may have been reading Encounters with the Archdruid or perhaps it was Plutarch.  Either way, it wasn’t nearly as interesting as what I was reading. (I think it was a pirate romance novel.) So, I did what I’d done many, many times over the years, even though I knew it was wrong.

I read my book under my desk instead of paying attention.

This time, he took it away from me.  After class he told me that romance novels were “garbage.” If I was going to read garbage, then I should read good garbage. He gave me a Piers Anthony novel (I think it was Ogre, Ogre.)

I’d read fantasy before, but this started a period of about a decade where I only read good garbage Science Fiction and High Fantasy. I laughed at all the puns in the world of Xanth, went into space with Sassinak, flew dragons in Pern, wished I lived on Darkover, traveled with a space suit, and went to many, many far off places. I read books that later I’d learn were “Steampunk” and became obsessed with faeries and fairy tales. This binge of SciFi and Fantasy really impacted me as a person and a writer.

It also left me terrified of romance novels.

No, seriously.

In hindsight, I think he was joking, but as a young teen, I really took it to heart.

When I began writing seriously in 2007, it took me well over a year to work up the nerve to join my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. It took me longer to actually buy (and read) a romance novel without feeling like a traitor to the cause. It took me even longer to acknowledge the fact that I liked writing romance.  Romance mixed with Fantasy, SciFi, Paranormal, or all of the above.

In many ways, The Aether Chronicles series in a culmination of those events. There’s SciFi, Fantasy, and a dash of romance, (okay, maybe more than a dash), all rolled up in a YA book. I’m not sure I ever would have written that (or anything else I write), without that particular set of experiences. Experiences set into motion by my high school English teacher.

When I told my teacher, he nodded. “I’d totally forgotten about that.”

But he seemed to smile in a way that meant that perhaps he liked the idea of a book being his fault.

He didn’t make it to my signing for CHARMED VENGEANCE. But he did send me a very nice email, wishing he could come. He also told me that he’d really enjoyed INNOCENT DARKNESS and to let him know if I’d like to hear his thoughts.

Part of me went ‘Yes, please” wondering what he’d think of my strange little book.

Then I remembered what I tough grader he was.

Nevertheless, I’m glad he read it–and, where I’d been really mad that day in high school, now I’m glad he took that book. Otherwise, who knows what stories I’d be writing now.


Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles Series (YA Steampunk Faeries). Innocent Darkness and Charmed vengeance are out now. Learn more about the series on the series website.



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CHARMED VENGEANCE in the wild photo contest!

Send me your pictures of CV in the wild — you with your copy, in the bookstore, etc. There will be prizes for the most creative, silliest, most steampunky, and cutest. Use your imagination (but be kind if you’re in a public place and you should know the people in the pictures.) Email them to suzannelazear@yahoo.com with PHOTO CONTEST in the header. Contest ends August 30, 2013. If your under 18, please have your parent’s permission.

Come join us on August 13 at Coffee Time Romance for an online release party with prizes!

Have a great week everyone.


Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA steampunk fairytale series THE AETHER CHRONICLES. Book 1, INNOCENT DARKNESS and Book 2, CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now from Flux wherever books and ebooks are sold. For more information on the series please visit www.aetherchonicles.com

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I have an online class on writing the punk genres that starts today and runs until September 1.  You should check it out, it’s not too late to join.

I’m super excited because CHARMED VENGEANCE, book 2 in my Aether Chronicles series releases on Thursday — and the book will be available wherever you like to buy your books and ebooks. 

If you’re in SoCal, please drop by one of my signings!

Friday, August 9th — Vroman’s, Pasadena, CA 7 pm,
Wear your steampunk or faery best. There will be prizes, swag, and cake!

Saturday, August 10th–Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA 2 pm
Wear your steampunk or faery best. There will be prizes, swag, and cake!

Also, there’s a great CHARMED VENGEANCE giveaway at YA Book Central.

The Book 2 Blues

by Suzanne Lazear

CHARMED VENGEANCE is book 2 of my Aether Chronicles series. Writing a second book in a series is very different from writing the first book.

Charmed Vengeance 1Book 1 is new and shiny. The sky is the limit. You can do anything. Say anything. The endless possibilities are part of what makes a new book in a new series so appealing and exciting.

Book 2 is different.  Where book 1 is an empty canvas, book 2’s canvas is already started. You can take it in new and different directions, and do exciting things, but it still has to coordinate with what was started.

That’s where the challenge lies.

The world has already been established and what was an amazing idea or a throwaway line in book 1 could hinder book 2, causing you to rethink your plotline, since you can’t undo what has been written in a published story the way you can in a draft.

It can be hard to build on book 1 and expand on the previous world while leading up to book 3 while making it a story in itself, one that stands alone and is compelling and interesting in its own right. A story that’s even better than book 1.

That’s quite the challenge, right?

But wait, there’s more.

For me, book 1 was written at my own pace, in my own time, for my own amusement. I could take as long as I wanted to make it compelling, perfect.

For book 2 I didn’t have the luxury. Book 2 was on contract. I was writing it on a schedule, and I had to deliver, on time. This can be a challenge if you’ve never written on deadline, and even if you have, staying on task while writing an entire book can also be a challenge. Where I’m used to deadlines, I also can get distracted, not to mention I’m not a stay-at-home writer.

But for all the challenges, there’s something unique about writing a sequel because it’s harder.  It’s another accomplishment in the life of a writer. Finishing it is an exhilarating accomplishment in itself, just like finishing a jigsaw puzzle and it actually resembles the box.

Where book 1 is a discovery as you create new characters and new worlds, book 2 is a reunion with old friends.  You’re reunited with the old crew for a new advenute and that’s thrilling and exciting in itself.

Writing book 2 can be a challenge, but it can also be amazing, because it’s harder, because it’s a continuation and there are expectations. You have readers, people who want this story, who are invested in your characters.

You have a second book.  Tell the story that needs to be told.

I know personally, I love CHARMED VENGEANCE even more than INNOCENT DARKNESS.  I hope you love it, too.


Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA steampunk fairytale series THE AETHER CHRONICLES. Book 1, INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now and Book 2, CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13 from Flux. They’re available wherever books and ebooks are sold. For more information on the series please visit www.aetherchonicles.com

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I used Grammarly to grammar check this post so I’d have more time to bake cupcakes.

Adventures in Alternate History: Steampunking the Mormon Battalion

By Suzanne Lazear

One of the things I enjoy most about writing steampunk is the ability to play around with history. For me, it’s fun to find odd facts from the past, exploring the what-ifs and never-wases and moving things around in order to create a new history–and a good story.

Charmed Vengeance 1In CHARMED VENGEANCE I really got a chance to play with history because a bulk of the story takes place in the mortal realm–on an airship. One of my favorite creations is The MoBatts. 

I remember when it started. I was teaching my very first online class on writing steampunk.  Someone in the class was from Arizona, which was where I grew up.  We started talking about little known bits of history, which led to a discussion about the the Mormon Battalion and how it could be neat to steampunk it.

“I know where I can put that,” I told her. I wish I remembered which student she was, because I’d like to thank her for the idea.

The Mormon Battalion was the only the religiously based military unit and they served from 1846-1847 during the Mexican-American war. Their march secured much of the Southwest and opened a southern wagon route to California. From a purely historical POV it’s actually quite facinating.

CHARMED VENGEANCE book 2 of my Aether Chronicles series takes place in an alternate version of 1901, where there is advanced technology such as airships and hoverboards.

In my alternate reality after the war the Mormon Battalion eventually became the private security for Deseret territory.  In my world, Deseret, (a state that never was) is now an accepted territory, roughly the size and placement of Utah. (The original proposed state of Deseret was much bigger). I include Deseret, because it’s also an odd bit of history which pairs well with my MoBatts–after all, they need to protect something, right?

The MoBatts protect the skies of Desert, especially against air pirates. They are fierce and vigilant. The air pirates fear the MoBotts more than the air patrol.  For the most part, they try to avoid flying over Deseret. When they can’t they engage decoys — small, fast ships that draw the MoBatts away so the other ship can pass unharmed.

It was really fun researching both the Mormon Battalion and the state of Deseret so I could figure out how to mold and change things to suit my story. It was even more fun writing the scenes where my characters get chased by (and shot down by) MoBatts.

For my intents and purposes I left religion out of it (the MoBatts were a very small plot thread) and there really is no discussion as to how you become one, nor do we meet any. We don’t know much about Desert either other than it’s a territory, anyone can settle there, drinking and gambling are illegal, and they have little tolerance for air piracy.

Maybe one day I’ll write something where I can develop the MoBatts a little further. As exciting as being an air pirate is, I bet chasing down air pirates for a living is exciting as well, not to mention, as a writer it’s always interesting to create societies and organizations.

Would you rather chase air pirates or be one?

CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13 from Flux, and is available wherever books are sold and as an e-book.

Learn more about the Aether Chronicles on the series website. 


Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA fairytale steampunk series, the Aether Chronicles. Book One, INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now. Book Two, CHARMED VENGEANCE, releases 8-8-13.

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When I wrote INNOCENT DARKNESS I wanted to create my own fairytale, not Steampunk an existing one. So, I built my own.

Innocent_DarknessI took a few classic fairytale elements, ones we find in many, many classic fairytales such as wishes gone wrong, bad bargains, huntsman, and evil queens.

I added in faery lore, which is different from fiarytales. This is the lore of the faeries (I used mostly Irish faery lore). Things such as never thank a faery. Oaks are often faery trees. The types of flowers faeries like. Never eat faery food.

Then, I blended in Steampunk. Flying cars. Hoverboards. Air ships. Air pirates.

I also added a dash of litterary references and quite a bit of research on the Victorian era.

In this world I added my characters — Noli Braddock, James and Steven “V” Darrow, Queen Tiana, Kevighn. Then, I braided everything together to create INNOCENT DARKNESS and the upcoming sequel CHARMED VENGEANCE.

Charmed Vengeance 1INNOCENT DARKNESS takes place mostly in the Otherworld (faerie), where CHARMED VENGEANCE takes place mostly in the mortal realm and is filled with air ships and air pirates (Yes, we meet Jeff, Noli’s brother the air pirate, I hope you like him.)

Here’s a quick video I made on how I combined fairytale elements with faery lore and steampunk to form the world of the Aether Chronicles book. (Mostly, it’s on the fairytale parts).


I’m having a read-along of INNOCENT DARKNESS  to help you get ready for CHARMED VENGEANCE’s release. There are lots of prizes.

idreadalong (1)

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now. CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. Learn more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com

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The INNOCENT DARKNESS read-along starts today! Join in the fun!

Someone asked me to talk about the Steampunk fashion in INNOCENT DARKNESS. So, here it is.

Is there something you want to know about writing, steampunk, or the AETHER CHRONICLES books? Tell me on my facebook page!

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the AETHER CHRONICLES series. INNOCENT DARKNESS (book #1) is out now. CHARMED VENGEANCE (book #2) releases 8-8-13. Learn more about the Aether Chronicles on the series website.

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Since CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13, I’ve been trying to make more (awkward) videos. Here’s me talking about INNOCENT DARKNESS.

Also, there are copies of CHARMED VENGEANCE up for grabs on Goodreads. You should enter.

Haven’t read INNOCENT DARKNESS yet, or perhaps you’d like to read it again? Join the INNOCENT DARKNESS read-along! (There are prizes.)

Have a great week, everyone.

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA Fairytale Series The Aether Chronicles. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now. CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. Learn more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com

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Two months until CHARMED VENGEANCE (book two in my YA fairytale steampunk series THE AETHER CHRONICLES) releases! ~launches cupcake cannon~

Have you pre-ordered your copy yet? Seriously, I love this book even more than INNOCENT DARKNESS and I hope you love this book too. There are some new characters who I just adore. We also meet Noli’s brother, Jeff, the air pirate.

Unlike book 1, which takes place mostly in the Otherworld (faerie), book 2 takes place mostly in the mortal realm. This means MOAR STEAMPUNK. There are airships, air pirates, explosions, and cake. (No cake was harmed in the making of this book.)

Anyway, I made a short video with me reading an excerpt from Chapter One of CHARMED VENGEANCE. I hope you like it! (I’m pretty technologically awkward, so the video’s not fancy.)

I have all sorts of fun things in the works for Book 2’s release–giveaways, twitter chats, signings, a blog tour. There will even be a read-along of INNOCENT DARKNESS in July to get everyone ready for CV! I’ll keep you updated. (The AC facebook page or my author page are always good places for updates.) In the meanwhile, I have to get back to my book 3 edits…


Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA Fairytale Steampunk Series The Aether Chronicles. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now, CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and a menagerie of pillow-pets.

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Happy Christmas Eve. Here’s a special winter story I wrote about V, Noli, and James.



Snow Day

(An Aether Chronicles Story)

© 2012 Suzanne Lazear

 Author’s note: This takes place the December before INNOCENT DARKNESS.

Noli frowned as she dusted the parlor, which looked…tired no matter how much she cleaned, fluffed or polished.

Christmas decorations! That was what the house needed. Perhaps this year they weren’t having a house full of guests or going to Grandfather Montgomery’s in Boston, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t be festive.

Too bad her older brother Jeffrey wasn’t here to share it with them.

Or Father.

Father. A lump formed in her throat. Father had loved Christmas, getting down the decorations and putting them up himself instead of letting the servants do it. They’d even drive into the mountains to collect greenery and cut down a Christmas tree. The day would finish with a stop to play in the snow, building snowmen, and having snowball fights and a picnic with hot coco.

Yes, greenery. That would be perfect—and they’d need a tree, since many of the decorations were ornaments. Mama hadn’t mentioned a tree, but this was a busy time for her dress shop, making dresses for all the holiday balls and parties.

Dusting the picture on the wall of her father, she frowned. How would she get greenery? That could be another reason why her mother hadn’t mentioned it. The bit of money Noli had been saving was for a present for her mother and a proper—if tiny—Christmas dinner. This year she didn’t even have a present for her best friend V, other than a rose she was growing for him in the tiny greenhouse her father had built her long ago before he’d disappeared.

A plan formed in her mind. V’s father was still out of town and her mother was working in the dress shop until dark. Yes. It was time for a snow day.

She went upstairs and changed into her warmest clothes—flannel petticoats, a red wool day dress, winter boots, and a matching red cape and bonnet. They were getting snug; she’d grown since last winter.

In the rag-bag downstairs, she found an old scarf. In it she wrapped some large buttons from her mother’s sewing box and a carrot, and put it in a basket along with some rope and a burlap sack.

There wasn’t much in the cupboards for a picnic—some jam sandwiches and apples. They didn’t even have the makings for hot coco, but perhaps V did.

On the kitchen table she left a scribbled note for her mother that she was with V. Going out into her backyard, she added her goggles and aviator’s cap to her basket. If they were taking V’s father’s auto they she’d need that.


Opening her father’s battered toolbox, which she kept hidden in the back shed, she took out two small handsaws and put them in the basket as well. They’d need them to cut down the greenery and tree.

Noli climbed through the loose board in the fence and knocked on the back door.  When no one answered, she cracked open the door. Good, they were home.

“V? V are you home?” she called.

There was a patter of feet and Elise, V’s little sister looked up at her with big blue eyes, blonde hair in ringlets.

“Hi, Elise, is V home?” Noli came all the way into the Darrow’s warm kitchen. Her nose twitched. Someone had been baking, either the housekeeper who came during the day to cook and clean or Quinn, the Darrow children’s live-in tutor.

“Yes, he’s upstairs.” Elise looked Noli up and down. “Are you going on an adventure? May I go? Please? You never let me go.” Her lower lip jutted out in a pout. Crumbs covered the white pinafore of her pink ruffled dress.

No. Her going with them wasn’t an option. Their adventures often wound up with them getting in trouble. Mr. Darrow would be quite cross if their mischief caused any harm to little Elise.

Noli thought for a moment, trying to think of something to appease her. “What if I allow you to use my tree house while we’re gone? It’s a lovely day to play outside.”

Her father had helped her and V build a tree house in her backyard. She and V used it, though now for studying and inventing than playing.

“I can?” Elise’ pale face lit up. “Oh, I’ll have a tea party in your tree house with my dolls. Quinn made cookies today.”

So that’s what smelled so good—and covered Elise’s dress.

“Yes, that sounds perfect. I’ll go find V,” she replied. He was probably studying.

Just like she’d thought, Noli found her best friend, Steven Darrow, hunched over his desk in his bedroom, reading some archaic tome. His idea of a good time.

“Hi, V, let’s go on an adventure.” Noli leaned against the door. Where she liked books, on a beautiful Los Angeles December day they needed to be outdoors having fun, not reading.

V turned around to face her. Golden spectacles rimmed eyes green as oak leaves, his blond hair never quite lay flat.  “I’m studying.”

“Don’t be a fussy old bodger. It’s Saturday. Please? I can’t do this without you. I need you to drive,” she pleaded. V was a year older than her and possessed an operator’s license. Where she was an ace driver, not only did she not hold an operator’s license, or even a permit, she’d been expressly forbidden from driving Mr. Darrow’s auto.

“Where are we going?” He closed his book and stood.

Relief flooded her, good, he’d go. “Put on some warm clothes, because today we’re having a snow day.”


The roofless red and gold enameled steam-powered auto sitting in front of the Darrow residence was a few years old, but top of the line. V started up the engine and climbed in, little puffs of smoke curling from the hood.

Noli pulled out her aviators cap and some goggles from the picnic basket on her lap. She stuffed her wild chestnut curls into the cap so they wouldn’t get unruly on their drive. One set of brass goggles went over her head to keep the bugs from flying into her eyes, the other she handed to V.

“Thanks.” He pulled them on over his spectacles, which made for a comical effect.

“Wait for me!” James came running out the front door, a muffler and wooly gloves in his hand. The knit cap on his head clashed with his winter coat.

V looked to Noli. “Do you mind?”

“No.” She shook her head. “He has to sit in the back, though.” James, V’s brother, was about a year younger than her and often accompanied them on their adventures.

James hopped into the back and they took off.

“Where are we going?” James asked. “Why are we taking the auto and not our hoverboards?”

“We’re going to the mountains—you can’t bring back a Christmas tree on a hoverboard,” Noli replied. Hoverboard were tiny things, you couldn’t even carry two people without becoming unbalanced.

They made the drive into the mountains, which James made annoying by serenading them with dirty versions of holiday carols.

“James,” V scolded as he drove up the mountain road. “There’s a lady present.”

“Where? All I see is Noli?” James grinned.

Noli rolled his eyes. “If you don’t stop, I’m going to eat the picnic all by myself.”

Quinn had graciously added cookies, coco, and a number of other delicious things to their basket.

Finally, they arrived at their destination. It was hard to believe they were in California and not back east, everything white with a fresh dusting of snow, making it look like confection sugar had been sprinkled over the landscape.

If only the trees were made of colored marzipan. Her stomach rumbled at the thought.

Holding out her arms and spinning around in the snow, she tilted her head toward the sky and breathed in the scent of pine.

When she stopped, she looked at the buys, her vision swimming. “Should we get tree and greenery first and then have a picnic in the snow?”

A snowball hit her in the face, smearing everything not covered by her goggles with icy wetness.

“James Darrow, I’ll get you for that.” Noli formed a snowball and threw it at James, who ducked behind the auto, causing it to hit a tree instead.

She glanced at V, who nodded and pointed to a small arsenal of snowballs he’d already made.

“James?” Steven called, a grin playing on his lips. “Why don’t we have lunch first? Would you set out the blanket for me? It’s in the auto”

“Sure,” he replied. As soon as James emerged from his hiding spot, she and V pelted him with snowballs, one after the other.

James didn’t give up easily and soon all three of them were covered in snow, laughing so hard their sides hurt.

“Help me.” Noli rolled a ball of snow for the base of the snowman.

James and V helped and soon they had a small snowman with branches for arms, button eyes, a carrot nose, V’s red muffler, and James rather ugly kitted cap.

Noli stood back. “He’s missing something. Ah, I know.”

Taking the hat off the snowman, she put it back atop James’ dark blonde curls. She had to stand on her tiptoes, since even though he was younger, he stood taller than V.

She put her aviator‘s cap on the snowman’s head and her goggles on his face. “Perfect.”

“Hey, Noli.” James threw a snowball at her.

Noli fell backward into the snow to miss it and made a snow angel, moving her arms and legs to make the wings and dress.

V stood above her, all bundled up in a new winter coat, a smart dark wool cap pulled over his messy hair. “Noli, I’ve set out the blanket. But it’s it going to get wet in the snow.”

“I don’t see why that’s a problem?” Already her kidskin gloves were soaked from their fight, but who cared? It’s not as if they got to see snow often.

They sat down to their picnic. Since they hadn’t packed any cups or plates so they used their fingers and handkerchiefs and passed around the thermos of hot coco, which was now lukewarm, but tasty nevertheless.

As they ate and packed up, V gazed up at the grey sky then checked his pocket watch. “We should get going. It looks like it might snow, and either way, I don’t want to drive that mountain pass in the dark.”

“I can drive,” Noli replied. After all, the auto had lamps. “We still need to get greenery and a tree.”

“We have a tree,” James shrugged.

“I don’t.” Noli fished the rope and sack out of the basket. “I’ll gather the greenery, you two get the tree.”

James grabbed the sack from her hand. “I’ll get the greenery, you get the tree. I don’t suppose you brought shears or a saw.”

Shears. She knew she’d forgotten something. “Of course I have a saw, what sort of tinker do you take me for?”

James took one saw and the bag and went into the trees to find greenery. She and V set off to find a tree.

“This one,” Noli called as she stood in front of a majestic pine.

V came up beside her. “Noli, how are we going to tie a ten-foot tree to my father’s auto?”

She thought for a moment, tapping her chin with her finger. “We could saw it in half, then when I get home I could rig an aperture to put them back together.”

“What about this? Driving with this one tied to the auto will be challenge enough. Father’s auto was meant for show, not carrying things.” The pine V gestured to was much smaller, about as tall as Noli, but just as full and green as the other.

“I can drive if you want me to.” Noli surveyed the tree. It wasn’t as grand at their usual tree, but it would work.  “This will work.”

The cut down the tree, which took some work with such a small saw, carried it to the car, and tied it to the auto.

Taking a step back, V frowned. “It’ll be hard to see behind me.”

“I can drive,” she offered again. He was such a fussy old bodger sometimes.

“That’s all right. I’m going to make sure all the knots are tight. The last thing I want is for it to fall off while we’re driving. Why don’t you find James?” V bent over to check the knots.

Noli walked in the direction James had gone. “James? We’re getting ready to go, where are you?”

“Up here. Catch!”

Mistletoe fell out of the tree. Noli caught it and examined the plant in her hands. “What’s this for?”

“Your kissing bough.” James jumped down from the tree. “That’s why we’re here, right? So you can have the greenery to make one?”

A kissing bough was a sphere made of wire and greenery, festooned with ribbons, and hung with nuts, apples, and oranges. Ribbons attached mistletoe just below the sphere and the entire thing was hung from the ceiling. If you were caught standing under it, anyone could kiss you as forfeit.

Plenty of ladies—and men—tried to use it as a means to steal a kiss from someone they fancied.

Noli put the mistletoe in the burlap sack at the base of the tree and shoved it at James. “And who would I be wanting to kiss?”

Given her family’s status as “fallen gentry” she had no suitors.

Not that she cared. Her plan was to go to the university and become a botanist. Besides, other than V and James, society boys were boring.

James grinned, slinging the sack over his shoulder as if he were Saint Nicolas himself. “You could kiss V. I think that fussy old bodger needs shaken up.”

“And why would I do that?” It wasn’t that she was adverse to the idea of kissing V, but he had other girls to kiss—ones with money, beautiful gowns, and fine manners. Mr. Darrow might tolerate them being friends, but he’d never permit them to court.

Not that V was interested in courting anyone.

They loaded the sack into the car, took their things off their snowman, and drove back to Los Angeles, James singing more dirty carols.

It was dark by the time they pulled in front of her house. Even in the dark it looked more worn than the other houses. The windows were dark, but that didn’t mean someone wasn’t home. It was too expensive to run the gas lamps much.

The door flew open and her mother stormed out. “Magnolia Montgomery Braddock where have you been?”

V got out of the car. “My apologies for getting us home so late, Mrs. Braddock. May I carry this into your parlor?” He gestured to the tree tied to the back of the car.

Mama’s blue eyes widened, a pale, dainty hand going to her lips in surprise. “You got us a tree?”

“Surprise.” Noli held up a sack. “And greenery. We drove all the way to the mountains, too. Will you help us put it up? Maybe we can put carols on the musigraph?”

“I’d love to. Oh, your father…” Her eyes grew misty.

“I know, Mama, I know.” Just the thought made her wish he were here. Now he could wage a snowball war like nobody’s business.

Noli put her goggles atop her cap, and grabbed the picnic basket out of the auto. They all headed up the steps. Her mother carried the basket, she carried the sack, and James and V followed, carrying the tree.

“I’m afraid I don’t have anything to make hot coco, but Quinn just brought over a lovely pie. Shall I brew some tea and we can have tea and pie and decorate and listen to carols?” Mama’s face suddenly seemed less tired.

What had been a fun day just became perfect.

Noli grinned as they entered the house. “Thanks, Mama, I think after that drive we could all use a warm drink. James, you put the carols on the musigraph in the parlor, V and I will go get the ornaments.”

The End

Suzanne Lazear is author of the Aether Chronicles series, YA fairytale steampunk. INNOCENT DARKNESS, book 1, is out now from Flux. CHARMED VENGEANCE, book 2, will be out in 2013.







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INNOCENT DARKNESS is full of literary references. Also, V and Noli like to read and discuss books. In celebration of their love of books and INNOCENT DARKNESS’ upcoming release, we’re going to have a Literary Reference Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to seek out the books and poems on the list and take pictures of them.  Each eligible photo will win you one entry – so, the more books you find on the list, the more entries you can get. Also, we have some slightly harder bonus items. These earn you not only a regular entry, but an entry for a special prize.


Grand Prize: An annotated copy of INNOCENT DARKNESS and Noli’s leather bracelet (from the cover) and a pair of goggles

1st prize: A signed and doodled copy of INNOCENT DARKNESS and Noli’s necklace

2nd prize: A signed copy of INNOCENT DARKNESS and the brass key from the secret garden at Findlay house

3rd-5th places: Captain Jules’ Extraordinary Telescope ring (from Think Geek) + INNOCENT DARKNESS goodies


1)      Must be 13 or over to enter, if you’re under 18 please have your parent’s permission.

2)      Open Internationally, however, if the titles are not in English, please make sure I can see them in the picture so I can validate the entry.

3)      Limit one entry per person per book.

4)      Books can come from your home library, school library, book store, ect, – but please be courteous and if you’re in the book store, be very careful and you should probably buy a little something while you’re there.

5)      Books need to be paper copies, because as awesome as e-books are, they don’t exist in Noli’s world.

6)      People who work in bookstores and libraries are still eligible to enter, because you’re awesome.

7)      Each picture needs to have a book and a “marker” to be valid – this is very important because this makes your entry unique. Basically, something needs to be in the photo with the book. You could be the marker, it could be a stuffed animal, your hand (though it should be different from other hands – colored polish, a ring, etc), it could be a table or a vase of flowers or a funky hat, or a gear, whatever you want.  In fact, there will be a “Missy’s Choice” prize for most unique marker. You don’t have to have the same marker in every picture, feel free to shake it up.

8)      Email pictures to suzannelazear (@) yahoo with “scavenger hunt” in the subject. Please tell me your name as you’d want it announced if you win and make sure I have a valid email to contact you at. You can send the pictures one at a time or all together. If it’s for a bonus contest, please let me know. By sending me the pictures, you’re giving me the right to post my favorites.

9)      You don’t have to send me two pictures for the “oldest copy” contest, if you follow the instructions, you’ll be entered into the bonus contest and receive a regular entry.

10)  Contest ends July 24th, 2012 at 11:59 PM PST. Winners will be chosen at random from eligible entries unless otherwise stated.  Bonus prizes may not be awarded there are no eligible entries. Winners and awesome entries will be posted at http://www.suzannelazear.com

Book List:

Are you ready?  Remember, you don’t have to find them all, but the more you find the more chances you have to win:

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“Fairies in the Wood” by Mother Goose (poem)  “Fairies in the Wood” by Mother Goose (poem) (Also called “My Mother Said” and “Pixies in the Wood”)

“Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti (poem)

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

“The Hosting of the Sidhe” by William Butler Yeats (poem)

Household Tales by Brothers Grimm

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

“The Stolen Child” by William Butler Yeats (poem)

Stories of Hans Christian Andersen by Hans Christian Andersen

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Bonus Contests:

These are super hard, but you’ll be entered for a chance to win an additional awesome prize. Make sure you ask permission before handling or taking photos of really old books—especially if you’re in an antique bookstore or library archive. To be entered in the special bonus content, your picture must include the publication date (and I need to be able to read it, also you still need to have a “marker” in these pictures for it to be eligible).

1)      A copy of Harper’s Bazaar from 1901 or before (can be a reprint or reproduction) – this gets you entry to win a steampunk fascinator and a steampunk nail polish.

2)      A botany book originally published before 1895 (the book you’re taking a picture of can be a reprint, but it must have first been issued before 1895) – this gets you an entry to win a Steampunk Wrist Monocular from Think Geek.

3)      The oldest copy of “Goblin Market” will win will a pair of goggles.

4)      The oldest copy of Nicomachean Ethics will win an aviator cap.

Missy’s Choice award for best marker – Missy (my daughter) will choose her favorite marker from all the pictures and award a prize of her choosing. Everyone is automatically entered into this special contest.

Good luck! Have questions? Email me. Suzannelazear @ yahoo

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I’ve turned book 2 into my editor.  ~launches cupcake cannon~

Book 2 has been very interesting. I’m not sure if it was any harder to write than book 1, other than feeling like it *should* be harder because everyone told me book 2 is harder. (PS, there’s nothing wrong with you if it’s not harder).  Both book 1 and book 2 had their own unique challenges.  Really, the toughest part in Book 2 was consistency, making sure the characters still sounded like themselves, used the right slang, had the right eyes, and in one case, had the right name.  (oops).  Well, that and writing my airships…

I wasn’t on Twitter during book 1, and it’s interesting to see what effect social media and twitter had on book 2.  A random question spans a DM chat that births a subplot, a joke spans a character, a guest blog post also adds a subplot. 

I’ve been writing these characters since 2009 and I love when they surprise me.  In my final read through I learned something about a character that’s been there from the beginning, something I’d never known before which, while a surprise, will help me in book 3 (which I should probably write soon). 

Hopefully my editor will like it, and hopefully (when you read it in 2013) you will, too.  Until then, Book 1 is up on Netgalley and is everywhere for preorder.  (Pssst…it’s only $5 at B&N.)

ARCs and such for book 1 are going out…which is exciting and fearsome at the same time and a blog post in its own right.

Anyway, I’m going to go buy some chocolate.  I just got book 1 copyedits. 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.


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My apologies for the lateness of this post.

And the sequel adventures march onward…

I’ve spent the last week taking that completed draft and attempting to make it fit for human consumption. 

This included putting in the proper names for ship parts, adding a few literary quotes/references, adding in some proper Victorian terms, and fixing any errors I came across.

The draft is by no means perfect or finished, but off to the beta readers it goes.

Some of them were quite excited about it.  The day after I tweeted that I finished the draft I got an email from a beta going, “Saw it’s done, where is it?”  LOVE LOVE LOVE such enthusiasm.  I hope everyone likes it. 

The synopsis has also been written.  Often I’ll work off at the very least a skeleton of a synopsis, but this story has been so wonky in so many respects that I had to actually finish the draft because I *didn’t know how it ended*.

I’m still not sure if the first chapter works, we’ll have to see.  I listened to “Through Glass” by Stone Sour on endless loop through much of my December drafting (with a dash of Emilie Autumn for Steampunk-spiration) and I think it shows. 

Now, to get those first three chapters and the synopsis off to my editor….

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