Open Journal: Nocturne of the Soul

It used to be so easy, surfing that rush of creation.

Just write another novel. It would take her, what, a month?


That was before.

Before what?



She doesn’t even know what’s most to blame, anymore.

The burnout, that trauma, the crunch of adult life… what does it matter?


The result’s the same.

Her identity, sleeping.

She’s barely a writer, now.


But those magnets.

Two sets of two-hundred-plus.

Words at the ready, just waiting for something to say.


A spirit inside moves her outsides.

Allyn-a-Dale reaches with her hand.


They were bought for him, the magnets. Sets inspired

by music and Edgar another-Allan Poe.

Words to which the minstrel cannot but viscerally respond –


dark… dead… allegro…

lyrical… symphony… nevermore…


He plucks a sentence from the store, drawing it together, swift and sure,

as if he were Michelangelo and the phrase

a sculpture waiting in the stone.


Lovely, she thinks,

perhaps content to leave it.

But Allyn’s far from done.


Another sentence,

built more slowly, hunting

for the elements desired, feeling out

phonetic rhythm.


Words call as only song and the macabre can:

hole and soulstrange and shrouddawn and sky pull at his blood.

But there’s a story forming now in which these have no rightful place.

Another time. Another tale. Today, the song is his,

but played for her.


This is how you do it, he tells her

in his fingers’ silent dance.

This is how we breathe.


One word swapped, at a thought, for another.

One sentence shifted down, later lines taking its place.

The sculpture in full emerges from marble.

The artist steps back and shoves author forward

in time to ride the crest of the wave.


There! The rush. The writer’s high.

Only a breath of the air, but sweet as remembered.


Thank you, they tell each other,

and float together.


Magnet Poetry_Nocturne of the Soul

string every unknown mystery

into some sweet opus


face your nocturne of the soul

by singing melancholy moonlight


howl down a haunting sonata


love softly

& live loud


maestro death

conducts his orchestra


but I know my power

Go West, Steampunks!


Xchyler Publishing’s first collection of Steampunked classics mined inspiration from the literary treasures of Europe. Now another lineup of authorial talent is back for book two, this time looking across the Atlantic to find their muse.

Mechanized Masterpieces 2: An American Anthology” launches this weekend, and its blog tour is in full swing. Welcome to my stop, featuring both my review of the anthology and a fun Q&A with one of its authors, M. Irish Gardner!



Meet an MMAA Author!

M. Irish Gardner

A day-dreamer at heart, M. Irish Gardner has dabbled in imaginary worlds from Day One and developed an incurable addiction when she finally began recording her ideas. Her bachelor’s degree in recreation management does nothing for her writing, but she sure knows how to play. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two daughters, and all the characters in her head. Gardner’s first published work, “Reformation,” appeared in A Dash of Madness: A Thriller Anthology.

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Share how you came up with the concept for your story? 

This is actually the first time I’ve started a story without a full concept in mind. I found Emily Dickinson’s poem, “A Charm Invests a Face”, and decided to create a story around that. Cyborgs are popular in steampunk. And everyone loves a good gypsy character, so I rolled with it.

Any other published works? 

My only other work is “Reformation” in A Dash of Madness, released June 2013.

What is your preferred writing genre?

I have found that every story I write must have some element of romance in it!

And preferred reading genre?

I love stories that incorporate romance, adventure, suspense, and fantasy, all in one neat little (or big) bundle!


What are your top 3 favorite books?

The Count of Monte Cristo, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter series

Do you have any particular writing habits?

I like to use alliteration, if that’s what you mean. I also tend to mix up idioms…

Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?

Nope. I’ve learned that my words sound much better than they actually are when music is playing. I have to work in silence so I really “hear” the words.

Panster or plotter?

Short stories – pantser. Full-novels – plotter.

Advice for writers?

Read, then practice. Read, then practice. And don’t give up.

What’s up next for you?

I have a non-fiction piece I’m just wrapping up. It’s about a woman who became very ill while pregnant with her second child and spent three months in the hospital. When she left, she was a triple amputee and blind. She’s been wanting to write her story for six long years, so I was really happy that she asked me to help her. I’m hoping her book will be released in 2015, but we still haven’t finalized a publisher.

Who would you cast for your main characters and why?

Romain Duris

I actually don’t have a solid image in my head for my heroine, but my hero is totally Romain Duris. I was searching online for “French actors” to get an idea of what my character would look like, and as soon as I saw him, I said, “YEP! That’s him!” 😀 I’ve attached the picture I used for inspiration while writing. I think it would inspire anyone…

Author Favorite Things:

– Quote = “Falling flat on your face is still moving forward.”

– TV show = Oh, too hard to choose! I love The Musketeers, Firefly, Vikings, Alaska: The Last Frontier, Chuck, Dexter, Lost, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, New Girl, and many more. Maybe I should watch less and write more!

– Comic book character = I’ve always had a thing for Batman.

– Movie = The Last of the Mohicans

– Candy bar = Three Musketeers

– Junk food = I’m a total sucker for Starbucks hot chocolate and their slow roasted ham and Swiss!

– Place you visited = I was blown away by the Washington coast last summer, but I think Havasu Falls, AZ still beats them all!

– Restaurant = I love good comfort food, so I have many Italian, Mexican, and American favorite places to eat. I had fantastic Indian food last spring in California, though!

– Island = No man is a…?

Thanks, Ms. Gardner! And now, onto…


I had the pleasure of reading this book well in advance of its publication – and a genuine pleasure it was. The assembled authors rose to the creative challenge of turning classic works of American prose and poetry into steam-powered stories to stand on their own.

Of course, sometimes the nostalgia of a familiar premise worked in a tale’s favor; my enthusiasm for the recent TV adaptation of the Sleepy Hollow legend and fond feelings for the cozy cast of Louisa May Alcott’s best-known work further enhanced my enjoyment of Jay Barnson’s “The Van Tassel Legacy” and Neve Talbot’s “West End”, respectively. The fact that I’m a sucker for a charming con game made D. Lee Jortner’s “Payoff for Air-Pirate Pete” and M. K. Wiseman’s “The Silver Scam” a pair of easy wins for me. And if you like your adventure accompanied by automatons with personality, “A Princess of Jasoom” by J. Aurel Guay is the perfect anthology opener.

Whether you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe or Emily Dickenson, the sea beasts of Herman Melville and Jules Vernes or the sled dogs of Jack London, or just a reader who likes a good book with a bit of clockwork flavor, this second volume of Mechanized Masterpieces has the makings of a classic in its own right.


Preorder now, join the Release Party on Facebook this Saturday, and don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Tour Schedule:

February 22 – A Princess of Jasoom by J. Aurel Guay


February 23 – Winged Hope by Megan Oliphant


February 23 – The Van Tassel Legacy by Jay Barnson


February 24 – Invested Charm by M. Irish Gardner


February 25 – Payoff for Air Pirate Pete by D. Lee Jortner


February 26 – Rise of the House of Usher by J.R. Potter


February 26 – The Silver Scams by M. K. Wiseman


February 27 – Nautilus Redux by Scott E. Tarbet


February 27 – Mr. Thornton by Scott William Taylor


February 28 – West End by Neve Talbot