Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas thoughts

by Stephanie Osborn

(Reposted from Christmas 2012)

It's Christmas week, and my family and I will be celebrating it together, as we have ever since I can remember. Each Christmas Eve night, my father gets down his Bible and reads the Christmas passage from either Luke or Matthew. It's a tradition in my family, and a very special time. This is, after all, what Christmas means - the word derives from "Christ Mass." Yes, yes, I know that it's celebrated at the time of the winter solstice, and I know that many of our customs and traditions have their origins in pagan festivals of the season. I know that Jesus almost certainly wasn't born at this time of the year.

But it turns out that one theory may be able to place the arrival of the Magi at this season, during the Jewish celebration of Chanukah, no less. And one of the passages I mentioned provides data from that theory. And so I thought that I'd share my family custom with you by "reading" that passage with you.

* * *


Matthew 2

King James Version (KJV)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
* * *

To my family, my friends, and my fans, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, God Jul. Peace on Earth, and goodwill to men.

-Stephanie Osborn
(Christmas Day 2013)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Believe in the Magic

I'm a writer. Things in my head get set onto paper and made real for others. In possibly my most popular series, the Displaced Detective, I postulated that what is fiction to us is reality in other worlds, other spacetime continuums.

And maybe this is true. I can't say it is, but I can't say it isn't, either. I used science to create that science fiction.

However, today is Christmas Eve, the most wonderful, magical night of the year. A night commemorating when God came close to us. The night when that jolly man in the red suit defies the laws of physics with a bunch of reindeer. And, so the legends say, at midnight the animals talk. Today, anything is possible.

So tonight I tell you...believe.

(words & lyrics by Glen Ballard & Alan Silvestri,
performed by Josh Groban for Polar Express)

Children sleeping, snow is softly falling;
Dreams are calling like bells in the distance.
We were dreamers not so long ago,
But one by one we all had to grow up.
When it seems the magic's slipped away,
We find it all again on Christmas day.

Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing,
There's no time to waste,
There's so much to celebrate!
Believe in what you feel inside 
And give your dreams the wings to fly!
You have everything you need
If you just believe!

Trains move quickly to their journey's end,
Destinations are where we begin again.
Ships go sailing far across the sea,
Trusting starlight to get where they need to be.
When it seems that we have lost our way,
We find ourselves again on Christmas day.

Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing,
There's no time to waste,
There's so much to celebrate!
Believe in what you feel inside, 
And give your dreams the wings to fly!
You have everything you need,
If you just believe...
If you just believe...
If you just believe...
If you just believe...
Just believe...

Merry Christmas, my friends.

-Stephanie Osborn
Christmas Eve 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Children's Book Excerpt - StarSong

Here's another little treat for my fans! This is an excerpt from my first children's book, StarSong. It is intended for students from advanced 3rd grade to 7th grade. (But I've had adults telling me they liked it, too!) It's a fantasy, blending elements of Native American lore, European fairytales, and a hint of Tolkienian influence. It's available in Kindle and print, and purchase links can be found on my website, along with more information about the book.
-Stephanie Osborn

Chapter 1

In the Far West, in a cheerful little farming village in the midst of a broad, green plain of great and unknown size, lived a girl. She had long, beautiful dark hair, big, sparkling bright eyes, and a smile that made people happy just to see it. Her name was StarSong, because she loved to sing to the heavens at night, and her voice was, so the villagers said, as beautiful as the stars themselves.

As she grew older, however, she became aware of her beauty, for all the young men began to court her. And she knew she had a lovely voice, for everyone said so. Thus her thoughts turned inward. But where the mind goes, the gifts follow. Therefore, so, too, did her songs, which became all about herself. She became vain and self-centered. Her dresses always had to be colorful and adorned with embroidery, her hair elaborately braided, and her songs were always sung from the flat, patio rooftop of her home so that the entire village could hear.

"Creator has greatly blessed you," her father would tell her. "You should sing for Him."


"No," StarSong would reply defiantly. "I will sing what I please." And she did, singing every night of her own beauty and worth.

This had gone on for many years, since she became a teenager, and as she grew older, near the time of marrying, her worried parents despaired.

"StarSong’s vanity grows worse each day," her mother wept. "Now, none of the young men of our village are good enough for her, according to her. And they are all becoming tired of being spurned by her, and they are marrying other girls. The other girls scorn her, for she scorns them first. She will soon be left alone. And she has refused to learn the skills needed to fend for herself. She is ‘too good for such as that,’ she says."

"I know," said her father sadly.

"Now she is even saying that the village is beneath her," the mother cried. "She desires to go elsewhere, where the life is more exciting, and more befitting her gifts."

"I know," her father said again, even more sadly.

"What did we do wrong?" Starsong’s mother wailed with grief and guilt. "How could our lovely child become so self-centered and vain? What did we do?"

"Nothing, my dear," Starsong’s father said wisely, taking his wife into his arms and comforting her. "Every person must make choices, once they are old enough to understand them. Our young StarSong has chosen, and there is nothing that we could have done differently. We must pray that, someday, Creator teaches her different choices."

And so day followed day, each the same. StarSong sang her own melody, growing more and more self-absorbed, and her parents prayed.


Until one day, when a black speck appeared on the western horizon. It grew swiftly as it fast approached the little village, eating up the sky with darkness as it went. Soon the villagers started to run, screaming in terror.

For it was a giant, spinning windstorm, black and angry, such as none of them had ever seen before, and it overtook the little town in seconds. The villagers, their animals, even their houses, disappeared in the horrible storm, which tore the very grass from the earth. Terrified, poor StarSong stood, frozen to the ground, her normally beautiful voice raised in an ugly scream of fear, until the whirling storm was upon her, and she, too, was swept away.

I am going to die! the poor girl thought in horrified despair as she felt the ground disappear beneath her. I shall never have the chance to have my beauty looked upon, or my voice heard, by those who are worthy to enjoy them.

Far, far, over tree and stream, poor frightened StarSong was carried high in the air for a long, long time, expecting each moment to be her last. Finally the whirlwind beneath her began to weaken and fade.

 Oh, no, she thought in horror. Now I shall be dashed in pieces upon the ground, far below. She hadn’t thought it possible, but if anything, that thought left StarSong even more frightened than before.

But instead, she drifted down like a feather, floating along, until she landed gently atop a high, steep mountain with a flat top. StarSong sang in relief.

"I’m safe! Safe, safe, safe!

Down I shall climb,

Be home by bedtime,

And no longer be a waif!"

But her glad relief soon turned into worry, for StarSong could find no way down. The flat top of the mountain was small, and the mountain’s sides were sheer cliffs, made up of odd columns of rock, and there was no way for her to climb down. She was trapped atop the mountain.

As the sun went down in the west, and the stars came out, little StarSong — feeling very little, indeed — sat down on the ground. But instead of singing, she cried.


I hope you enjoyed it! I loved writing it! I think it would make a wonderful holiday gift for the kids in your life!

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Excerpt: The More Things Change

The More Things Change is another of my ebook shorts. This one might be termed a novelette. The promo blurb runs,

Griblich and his family are happily ensconced in the Village, a settlement of The People, who are offshoots of The Founders. Their lives are peaceful and pastoral as they hunt and gather and play beneath their lovely red sun and green skies, and love and sleep by the light of their moons. But as Griblich is fond of saying, "Wait awhile, and everything will change."

And it always does...

So sit back and enjoy.

-Stephanie Osborn


Chapter 1 ―The Beginning

Griblich was pleased. He watched as the children he had with his wife Bihune gamboled about the yard in the red of the sunshine, and saw how strong and lithe they were.

"Oh, for the energy of youth!" he told his wife with a half-smile quirking one corner of his mouth.

"Hush that," Bihune smacked him with one ofher front limbs, retracting her claws lest she hurt him. "Here, eat." She handed him a plate of greens. "Children, meal time!" she called, and their offspring galloped toward them, their stubby little eight legs taking them as fast as they could go. "Besides," she added to Griblich, "you know better, and I know better. You hardly lacked energy last night." She threw him a broad grin, all three lips parting wide to show her teeth as her multiply-faceted eyes sparkled. She waved her sensory bristles at him suggestively. He chuckled in return, and waved his own bristles right back at her.

"Well, I do have the most beautiful wife in the Village," he proclaimed as their six children gathered around to eat. He surveyed the lavish spread before them. "You did wellin gathering today, love. That looks delicious. Maybe tomorrow we can make a fresh kill together and have something to eat besides salad."

"Salad is good, Daddy," little Biblich murmured around a mouthful of food. "I like salad."

"There's my baby girl." Bihune smiled again. "But knowing Birglah, he wants meat."

"Well, salad is okay," Birglah decided, chewing thoughtfully. "But a nice fresh steak is better."

"You know Daddy's saying," Loblich interjected. "'If you just wait long enough, everything changes.'"

They all laughed.

* * *

And it did. Some days the hunt was good, and The People had steak with their salad, and fresh,
clean water from the nearby sacred Spring around which the Village was situated. Other days the hunt was less so, and fresh salad was the order of the day. But the plants along the Spring, near which Griblich's home was situated, were lush and plentiful and varied, and no one ever went hungry or became malnourished. And the children grew.

Until the rains stopped.
* * *

As the drought deepened, the temperatures rose. The normally pale green skies turned a hard orange and grew hazy as dust rose into the air. The herds that provided part of the Village's food migrated elsewhere. Unfortunately, no one knew where "elsewhere" was.

But worse, theSpring's output began to decrease, and as it did, the vegetation around it wilted, then turned brown and died. Finally the flow stopped altogether, and the pools and puddles left behind began to dry up.

"I'm hungry, Father," Biblich murmured. "No food today, either."

"Yeah," Burglah agreed. "I'd take a salad today, for sure."

"I'm sorry, children," Griblich told his brood with a heavy heart. "Your mother and I ranged even farther afield than you did, and could find nothing."

"Are we going to die?" Loblich,their youngest, wondered, afraid.

"No, no," Griblich protested, soothing his little one. "No fear of that. Wait long enough and everything changes. But I am beginning to think the Elders are right..." He waved his bristles in deep thought.

"Time to oversleep, you mean?" Bihune wondered, waving her own in sympathetic vibrations.

"Yes. Yes, I think so," Griblich decided. "Come, children. Let us go to the cave."

"Yes, Father..."
* * *

So, deep inside their shelter, in oversleep, neither Griblich's family, nor the rest of The People of the
Village ever knew when the wildfire swept through and obliterated what was left of the Village itself, taking their homes with it. The skies went from orange to black with smoke in its aftermath.

But when the rains began, and the water started to drip from the ceiling of their cave, the entire family awoke. Griblich stretched, then hobbled stiffly over to the cave entrance.

"Dear?" Bihune asked, as all the children looked on, bristles quivering in anxiety. Griblich took his time surveying their surroundings.

"There has been a fire," he noted calmly. "We shall likely have to rebuild. But things are greening up. The Spring is running again, and the herds have returned. Let's go," he declared.

They went out in search of their friends and neighbors, ravenously grabbing a bite here and there from edible plants along the way.


Thus ends Chapter 1 of The More Things Change. Currently it is only available for Kindle, but it can be purchased here.

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Excerpt: The Fetish

I thought I'd give my fans a taste of what I have available that they might not know about, for the next few weeks. The Fetish is a short story set in the same universe as Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. Those who have read that book may recall that Dr. Mike Anders purchased a little lapis spaceman fetish as a necklace at a Native American trading post; The Fetish is the story of how that object came to exist. I am also proud to say that it was an EPIC Award Finalist. There's a good deal of Native American lore in it, and some might consider it a fantasy, but it is indeed science fiction. Here's an excerpt; hope you enjoy it!

-Stephanie Osborn


The Zuni youth, barely in his teens, listened carefully to his medicine man ― a lone Zuni priest, something of a rarity for the Zuni ― as he prepared to set out upon his journey.

“This is the time,” James Running Horse told his pupil. “It is midsummer, when the Twins come to the mountaintops. Yes, the Twins,” he nodded, seeing young Vernon White Owl opening his mouth to speak. “The Beloved Two. If you are to continue being my apprentice, you must have their approval first. Only then will you truly become my son and heir, and all my secrets will be given to you.”

“But how will I know them?” Vernon asked, worried.

“You will know them,” James said, firm but gentle. “They are like none you have ever seen before.”


“Look.” James swept his arm across the vertical rock wall of the canyon in which they camped. “Study these drawings. The drawings of the Ancient Ones, the Anasazi. They have faded much in just the years I have known them; they must have been beautiful, detailed things when first they were made. But if you keep them in memory, you will know the Beloved Twins when you see them.”

Vernon stared at the ancient paintings, trying to affix their details in his memory. All were tall; some had broad bodies, others narrow. All had two protrusions, like insect antennae, or fox ears, or mushrooms, on the top of the head. They all had two prominent arms, but not all appeared to have feet. Some seemed to have tails like snakes instead. In their current condition, and to Vernon's untrained eye, it was impossible to tell whether they were coming or going, although none of them were painted in profile. He returned his attention to his teacher.

“What if they don't come?” he continued his anxious train of thought.

“...They will come.” But Vernon had caught the hesitation, the uncertainty in his master's voice.

“Will they both come?” Vernon wondered. “Ahaiyuta and Matsailema?”

“Not necessarily,” James murmured, as at last the hint of a smile came to his tanned, wizened face. “They are busy, and they often follow the starry entrails of Atahsaia across the sky, the grey, ugly demon who once ate our people, to ensure that he does not somehow regenerate. They protect us still.”

“From what?”

A full smile finally cracked the dark, weathered skin. “Ah, that is what you are here to find out!” James said. “Now, you have been through the preparation, a special medicine preparation I have made sure was as complete as possible, and tomorrow is what the white men call the solstice. It is an important time ― a time of vision. You have a few hours before sundown; just sufficient to climb to the peak yonder.” He pointed at the mountaintop at the head of the canyon. “You are as ready as you will ever be, and as ready as I can make you. Go. I will await you here, however long it takes. You will know when your quest is ended.”

Vernon nodded. He stripped to his skin, leaving his clothing and shoes behind with his mentor, and set off alone toward the peak. The only thing he carried was his whittling knife, on a thong around his
* * *

That night, Vernon was exceedingly glad that it was the summer solstice, for the wind on the mountain peak was chilly even so. He found the small cave, really little more than a notch in the peak, that the vision questers of his people had used for generations, and settled in for the night, although he had his doubts that he would be able to sleep. It had been a long walk, and the last hundred yards of the climb had been arduous; he was sweating profusely, and very tired. Nevertheless, he was growing cold as the sweat on his skin chilled in the breeze. He huddled near the back of the cave and tried to stay out of the wind, knowing he was going to be even more miserable very soon.

Eventually, in the arid air of the high desert, his bare skin dried, and he felt somewhat warmer, although, he decided, that was relative. The sky was crystal clear, a deep blue so dark that it was almost, but not quite, black, and millions of diamonds twinkled across it. But he knew that beautiful, clear skies meant colder nights. He curled himself into a tight ball against the rock, thankful for the daytime heat that still radiated from its rough, sandy surface, and waited.

Sooner or later, he knew, I will sleep, or I will have a vision. Or both.

* * *
But he didn't sleep that night. He was too miserably cold, and the stone was too rough, and he was still too energetic and excited, despite the rigorous preparation Running Horse had put him through.

Long, horrid hours later, the sun rose red over the reddish-orange sandstone rocks, making the whole world around him look like it had been bathed in blood. As soon as it did, the temperatures began to rise, and Vernon spent an hour or so in relative comfort ― except for his empty belly and dry throat. But before the sun was halfway up the sky, Vernon was beginning to sweat again. Somewhere in the distance, the call of a golden eagle echoed among the standing stones and canyons, and Vernon shielded his eyes with his hand and looked for it, finally spotting it far away, near the mouth of the canyon where he had been the day before, where his mentor, Running Horse, still camped in wait.

“That is good,” he decided. “We are guarded even here. The white men cannot find me and take me back to the boarding school.”


Thus begins The Fetish. If you are interested in reading more, The Fetish can be purchased here (for Kindle) or here (other formats).

Have fun reading!

-Stephanie Osborn

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The First Thanksgiving in America and its Establishment as a National Holiday

by Stephanie Osborn

Thanksgiving the First

"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."
~~William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, describing events of year 1621

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
~~Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation, describing events of year 1621

This was the first Thanksgiving held in the United States, by the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. 

Thanksgiving the Second

Two years later, however, they held another, and it was possibly more important and more poignant. You see, they had had a nearly disastrous drought which came close to destroying their crops. Bradford, the governor of the colony, ordered this Thanksgiving, about which he had this to say:

"And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving…
"By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had … pretty well … so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day."
~~William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, describing events of year 1623

Making It Permanent

Thanksgiving was observed by one group or another throughout the Colonies from that time on. In some, such as Pennsylvania, it had become an annual affair long before the Revolution. Under the Articles of Confederation, in 1782 U.S. President John Hanson set the date as the fourth Thursday of the month of November. But it was a few days after the ratification of the Constitution, in 1789, that President George Washington made it official. He said,

"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me 'to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'
"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
"And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
"Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."

However, Thanksgiving still remained an intermittent national holiday, issued by Presidential proclamation when desired; not at all during, for example, the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, but several times during the tenure of James Madison. Finally, in 1863, President Lincoln established an annual national holiday on the last Thursday of November:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
"Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."
"Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863."

Today may I offer my sincerest blessings of the season, and my heartfelt thanks for each of you reading my words. God bless you all. Happy Thanksgiving!

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Excerpt: The Bunker

The Bunker is a short story that was originally published in the very first volume of the immensely popular Dreams of Steam anthology series of steampunk fiction, published by Kerlak/Dark Oak Press. When the rights reverted back to me, I decided to pursue getting it published as a standalone ebook short, through Chromosphere Press. I also have it available on CD as an audiobook, and plan to get it up on Audible as an audio download. Here's the promo blurb:

We all know that, in the Victorian era, Earth was invaded by aliens from another world. We have details on what happened in Europe, especially Great Britain.

But what happened in the Western Hemisphere? What happened in the United States?

An elderly inventor tells his young apprentice this tale, the tale of what happened in The Bunker.

-Stephanie Osborn


“What’s that you have there, Henry?” the man asked, turning as his apprentice trundled in a large wooden crate on a hand truck.

“Delivery for you, sir,” Henry, a tall, lank youth, noted, easing the hand truck to the floor of the room. “This came with it.” He proffered a letter.

His master took the letter and opened it, scanning down through it. “Oh. My, my, my. Sooner than I would have thought. I’d forgotten all about this thing. Get a prybar, lad.”

Henry ran for the prybar on the tool rack, and came back. His teacher held out his hand, and Henry placed the bar into it, then watched as his senior eased the lid off the crate. The apprentice helped remove the kapok packing, then stared down at a wonder of brass, metal, and wood. “What is it?” he whispered, awed.

His mentor laughed. “No, you wouldn’t know about it,” he said. “Sit down by the fire, Henry, and let me tell you a little tale…”

They moved to the fireplace in the far corner of the room. There, a rocking chair sat on one side of the fire, a short three-legged stool on the other side. Henry took the stool as the teacher settled into the rocker. A light tap of the master’s toes set the chair in motion, and as he began his story, his voice was in counterpoint to the soft creak of wooden joints.

“Some years back,” the man said, “when I was a few years older than you are now, I was a telegrapher. A damn fine one, if I do say so. I was working in the Midwest that summer when an urgent message came in – for me. I was called immediately to… well, it wasn’t Washington, D.C. precisely. It was a town nearby in Virginia called White Sulphur Springs, and I was told to approach the front desk of The Grand Central Hotel and speak with the man who would be waiting there. Not only that, but my rail fare would be taken care of by the mere mention of my name.”

Henry gaped.

“Exactly,” his teacher chuckled. “I daresay my expression was much the same at the time. At any rate, I ran home, gathered my things, and set off, for the message came from a VERY high and reliable source, and brooked no delay.

“It was a long journey, and I can tell you, I was damned tired of the train by the time I reached my destination. I got directions and found my way from the station to the hotel, where I approached the desk clark and gave him my name. His eyes widened. ‘Yes sir,’ he said, ‘we’ve been waiting for you. Follow me, please sir.’ Sir. To me. A young whippersnapper of… mm, I think I might have been all of nineteen, if memory serves. And you’ll never guess what happened next.”

“I’m sure I shan’t,” Henry avowed.

“He led me into a back room and opened… a secret door, Henry! I followed him in, and we went down a set of spiral stairs. Down, and down, and down. At the bottom was a cave, for the hotel was built on the site of a sulphur spring, where people would take the waters. And in that cave was a fair beehive of people. I couldn’t begin to tell you everything that was going on there, even if I were permitted, which I am not… as yet. But this much I CAN say: I was brought there to coordinate, collate, send and receive the most urgent of telegraphy messages – for we were being invaded.”
“INVADED?! Sir!” Henry exclaimed, eyes wide.

“Yes, Henry, invaded. And not from Europe or Mexico or the like. No, these invaders… were from another planet.”  


So, it seems that the carnage might not have been limited to Great Britain. Interested in what happens next? Find out by reading The Bunker!

Amazon Kindle
Audio CD (bottom of page)

-Stephanie Osborn

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fantastic Blog Hop!

I'm joining the Fantastic Blog Hop! The Cereal Authors group is doing a blog hop, with events and giveaways on Facebook at the Fantastic Blog Party! The party runs today and tomorrow, and we're supposed to answer some trivia questions about ourselves, so hang on!

-Stephanie Osborn

Name a famous author you've met, nearly met or wish you'd met.
   I met Ray Bradbury briefly at the World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta in 1986. I had just bought a large plush stegosaurus in the dealer’s room and was carrying it under one arm through the room, when Mr. Bradbury, with his handler, came down the aisle from the other direction. He halted his handler in mid-sentence, left his side and made a beeline for me, when he started petting my stuffed dinosaur and discussing the creatures with me! Turns out he loved dinos. It was very cool.
   At that time, I wasn’t a writer. Since becoming a writer, I’ve met numerous authors, including New York Times bestsellers, like Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Larry Correia, Eric Flint, John Ringo, Travis S. Taylor, Sarah Hoyt, and more.

What are the weirdest things a character ever did in a book?
   Oh me. I suppose it depends on your definition of weird. I write science fiction; in the regular world, most of it would be weird!
   Falling in love with and marrying an alien, maybe? That happened several times in the Cresperian Saga
   Then there’s always deciding you’re going to infiltrate Area 51 while being a fugitive yourself, which happened in Burnout.

Who really wrote the book, you or your characters?
   Initially it was, more or less, the characters. It’s been said that I write very cinematically; well, that’s because I watch the events play out on this little screen inside my eyelids, and I just write down what I see, hear, and otherwise observe. But as I’ve gained more writing experience, I have gotten rather more control over the plot, at least. Now I tell the characters what I want them to do, and they tell me how they’d do it!

How many books have you started and how many have you finished?
   There isn’t a book that I’ve started that I haven’t finished, sooner or later. Some are currently in work; there’s 4 of those. There’s a couple of things that I wrote some years ago that are derivative works, and I’m dinking around with “filing off the serial numbers,” as Sarah Hoyt puts it, and making it fully my own original work. But I do that around working on other stuff, because I don’t know if it’ll work or not, so I don’t want to waste a bunch of time and energy on it, when I have other stuff I know I need to do.

What's the hardest part with writing: the writing of the story or the editing?
   Oh, the writing, by far. In general editing is fairly easy for me. I’ve done so much editing over the years – theses, government papers, reports, etc. – I actually free-lance as an editor and like it. I love writing too, but the creative energy that I have to pour into it renders it much harder than editing.

If one of your books could be made into a movie, which would you choose and who would you cast?
   Do I have to choose?
   Well, my first book, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, was a film in my head, no lie. And there have been numerous attempts to translate it to film, but so far it hasn’t gone through. We do keep trying.
   But when I first wrote it, I could see actors playing the roles. Tommy Lee Jones was Crash Murphy; Hugo Weaving was Dr. Michael Anders. Hugh Jackman was Steve Blake, Harrison Ford was Jet Jackson, James Cromwell a NASA manager…on and on. I had every major character cast in my head. It’d never get made like that; too many stars, too many schedules to coordinate, too much money. But in my head, that’s what they look like.

How many books have you written in total?
   Well, back when I was first trying to get published, I wrote an entire series that was intended to become a movie-to-novel franchise. Unfortunately I was never able to sell it due to the issue of rights being tied up. I currently have 22 books (some contributions to anthologies and the like) in print, with a 23rd coming soon. If I add in that unpublished series and a few other novella-to-novel-length stories I wrote but never published, I’ve probably written close to 40 books.

Where did the last one take place?
   The one that’s just gone under contract is Displaced Detective book 5, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion, and it takes place in London. The one I’m working on now, Displaced Detective number 6, is called Fear in the French Quarter and takes place in New Orleans.
   Then there’s the sequel to Burnout, called Escape Velocity. It, like its predecessor, roams over half the planet.
   And the fourth Cresperian Saga book, Heritage, takes place partly on Earth, partly in space, and partly in the Cresperian system.

Besides writing, what’s your favorite hobby?
   Oh um, that’s a hard one. I read – a LOT – and I like to shop. I like researching stuff – yeah, I really do. I can lose hours to the search for information, learning new stuff the whole time. But then, what does one expect of a scientist, I suppose. I used to do a good bit of live theatre, but that requires a bigger block of time than I have to give these days. Still, it’s how I met my husband: we both auditioned for and were cast in a play in college.

What is your genre?
   Well, I tend to cross genres a lot.  Science fiction mystery, for the most part, I’d say. I usually throw in some romance (because romance occurs in real life – people do fall in love, and I want my characters to be as realistic as possible), and a judicious dash of suspense/thriller.

What’s your Country of Origin?
   Born and reared in the good ol’ USA.

What are the names of your two leads?
   For which books?

   For Burnout, it’s “Crash” Murphy and Mike Anders. For the Point series, it’s Ray and Samantha Brady. For the Cresperian Saga, it changes from book to book. For the Displaced Detective series, it’s Sherlock Holmes and Skye Chadwick.

Don't forget to stop by The Fantastic Blog Party and enter to win a free book!

-Stephanie Osborn

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guest Post: Love is a Verb by Christine Amsden

This week, we're book-bombing Christine Amsden's Cassie Scot series, starting on November 19! That series includes: The Immortality Virus, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, and Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)! (A book bomb is where we ask all fans and readers to buy the book on that date or the next. It creates a lot of movement in the books' rankings, which in turn draws attention from other potential readers!)

From Publisher’s Weekly:

“In this entertaining series opener, Amsden (The Immortality Virus) introduces readers to the eponymous Cassie, a decidedly mundane member of a magical family. …Readers will enjoy Cassie’s fish-out-of-water struggles as she fights magical threats with little more than experience and bravado.”
Here are some of Christine's thoughts about her books, and why she did what she did!

-Stephanie Osborn

Love is a Verb
by Christine Amsden

From our earliest pre-teen days, chatting about boys and wondering over the mystery that is romance, we've tried to define love. We've asked our girlfriends (who didn't know any better than we did), and our parents (who may also not have known). We watched TV and we read books. But it seems to mean something a little different to everyone, so what exactly is it?

I won't pretend like I know the answer better than the rest of you, but I've spent the past few years of my life writing a romantic series with one idea in mind: Love is a verb. I know – it's not a definition, it's a part of speech – but that's the best I've got.

Love is something you do. It's the act of loving, and it's a little different for everyone because we're all a little different. We want and need different things.

Love is a choice you make, every day. It's thinking of someone else's needs before your own, and considering their feelings as at least as important as yours. It's making a big sacrifice because what he needs is more important than what you want. It's about making little sacrifices just because, well, you may not like kale but he does so every once in a while you make it for dinner.

Chemistry is great. Aside from feeling good, it makes the choice to love someone a little bit easier. Good thing, too, because loving can be a difficult thing to do.

A lot of people say the words, but actions speak louder. That's why I get frustrated with romance novels that hinge on the utterance of those three magic words – you know which ones I mean. :)

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective is the first book in a four-part fantasy series. Cassie is the only ungifted member of a magical family, trying to earn a living as a “normal” detective in a town where everyone knows her family's reputation. So of course, she's going to get pulled into a paranormal investigation.

Cassie is extremely attracted to powerful, sexy, and dangerous Evan Blackwood. Who wouldn't be? But will she choose to love him? After all, love is a verb.


Interested? I am! Want to buy?

Buy Links for Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective:

Buy Links for Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)


Go out there and enjoy!
-Stephanie Osborn

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Bomb for Christine Amsden's Cassie Scot Series!

by Stephanie Osborn

This week's post is a day early! That's because today, November 19, I am asking you to please purchase any of Christine Amsden's Cassie Scot books! They include The Immortality Virus (not really a part of the series, but Cassie is introduced there), Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective, and Secrets and Lies!

What's a book bomb? A book bomb is where we ask all fans and readers to buy the book on that date. It creates a lot of movement in the books' rankings, which in turn draws attention from other potential readers!

Tell you about 'em, you ask? Okay!


Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)

Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

“In this entertaining series opener, Amsden (The Immortality Virus) introduces readers to the eponymous Cassie, a decidedly mundane member of a magical family. …Readers will enjoy Cassie’s fish-out-of-water struggles as she fights magical threats with little more than experience and bravado.”

Kim Falconer, bestselling author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Series, had this to say:

“When sorcerers call the shots, what’s a girl without powers to do? Get ready for a ripper of a murder mystery full of romance and intrigue, where magic potions bubble, passions spark and vampires are definitely not your friend. Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective grabs you by the heart and won’t let go until the very last page. Well written, immersive and unputdownable. This is urban fantasy at its best. More please!”
"Christine Amsden unleashes her brilliant storytelling magic as the adventures of Cassie Scot escalate to the extreme. Rife with betrayal and a debt too deep for money to clear, Secrets and Lies plunges the reader into an utterly believable world where villains and heroes spring lifelike from the pages. Brace for a whirlwind ride of sorcery, romance and knife-edge peril. A truly original urban fantasy. Not to be missed!

Author Bio

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work.

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

Buy Links for Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective:

Buy Links for Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)

Go out there and enjoy!
-Stephanie Osborn