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Old Newsletter Archive (December 2016 – October 2023)

When TinyLetter announced it would be discontinued as of February 2024, I downloaded a spreadsheet containing my newsletter archive. I’m putting those all into one page here, in case it’s helpful for future reference. A caveat, though: Some of the dates seem off to me, but at this point it is what it is. Also, the graphics were not archivable, so those are missing. Most were just simple graphics that you can live without. If there’s one you’re simply dying to see, email me and I’ll see if I’ve got a copy of it.

Postcards From Industralia #1


Look! It’s the inaugural edition of Postcards From Industralia! I will be sending you a Postcard once a month, with occasional bonus messages if I have wonderful and timely news that just can’t wait for the next Postcard.

Sweet News!
Lofty Pursuits of Tallahassee Florida, (who employ the amusing motto, “Public Displays of Confection”) creates candy in the Victorian era traditions, using original equipment. Their vintage candy machine collection ranges from an 1859 Drop Roller to their ‘newest’ device, an 1895 Pillow Mint Machine. The candy store’s YouTube channel turned out to be a sweet discovery and quite inspiring to my writerbrain. My next kid’s adventure book will feature a candy store based on these hardworking, nearly immortal machines. Yummy!

A Liddle Nudge
If you haven’t yet read “A Life Invented“, I invite you to meet a little boy named Gerard Liddle. He has the heart of an inventor and the common sense of… wait, I’m not sure he has any. But he’s a genius, and that’s enough, right? What could possibly go wrong? This little volume features cover art by Serene Spence, and it’s lovely. She’s a talented artist, and this is her first book cover. I certainly hope it won’t be her last.

Have you read my free story written for International Octopus Day? It’s a short read, and I hope you find it enjoyable. The Steamkettle Kids and the Lucky Tentacles

Thanks for reading.  And please feel free to follow me in various Sociable Medias!

Until next time,
Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #2


“Tis the season to be sooty, falalalala!  A shiny new year is right around the corner, but first we’re going to enjoy the holidays. I’ll be spending the cosy winter evenings in December dreaming up a new kid’s adventure – and this time, I don’t yet know who our new starring character will be!  A ten year-old fangirl who loves The Flight To Brassbright has taken on my challenge to collaborate with me on a new story. She’s designing a character all by herself, and I’ll write a story around her creation. It’s going to be fun!

While my industrious collaborator works on character development (after her homework, of course), I’ll be taking a deep breath, having just finished a Nanowrimo challenge, and will get back on finishing and final editing of Down The Tubes, the next full-length novel in the Brassbright universe.

And finally, for those of you doing your holiday shopping, perhaps I can help out!

*A Suggested Holiday Shopping List*
(Perhaps slightly biased)For that thirteen year-old steampunk with high-flying dreams:
The Flight To BrassbrightFor that ten year-old that knows darn well that kids can be superheroes, too:
The Steamkettle Kids Save The DayFor a family storytelling hour with hot cocoa, while waiting for Midnight on December 31st:
The Legend of The Engineer: A New Year’s Holiday TaleFor cooks searching for new holiday recipes:
Steamed and Steamy: Recipes from the Steampunk World of IndustraliaFor that kid that can make anything out of a cardboard box and duct tape:
A Life Invented

Postcards From Industralia #3


Constance Speaks

Let’s start with the exciting news, otherwise I just might explode before I reach the end of this newsletter! The Flight To Brassbright is now an audio book, produced through Narrator Lea Popielinski has given a bright, engaging voice to our intrepid protagonist, Miss Constance Jessamine Whittlesey, as well as deftly handling all the folks she meets during her adventure. Take a peek at the book listing at, and listen to a sneak preview of the fun. Would you like a *free* copy of this audio book? You could win one of five free audiobook giveaways! Here’s how to enter the “Get Vocal With Constance” Facebook contest.
  • Post in your Facebook and tell your friends about the contest. Be sure to use the hashtag #ConstanceSpeaks. Encourage your friends to post and use the hashtag, too. I’d love it if you told them about The Brassbright Chronicles Facebook page too, if you are inclined.

Five winners will be chosen at random and announced at the end of January.

It’s Fun, it’s Free, and it’s Tentacled

When life gets too busy, take a break and let your inner grade-school kid grab the crayolas. There’s a free printable coloring page featuring Lucky the Octopus from my short story “The Steamkettle Kids and the Lucky Tentacles” at the Brassbright Chronicle website in the “Free Fun” section. The story that inspired the coloring page is also in that section, in case you haven’t yet read it.

If you are an over-achiever and want everyone to know it, you can scan your colorful octopus masterpiece and email it to me at I’d be delighted to share your talent with the world.

Happy New Year!

I have so many ideas for our literary friends in Industralia! My head is near to bursting with fun concepts for short stories, novellas, and novels. It’s really crowded inside my noggin.  At least some of these concepts will find their way into your hands in 2017, and others will make good progress. I’d like to say that I have a resolution to write and publish many stories, working fast and furious… but we all know how that sort of resolution goes. I DO promise to have lots of fun writing more adventures, and will hand them off to you as life allows. Good enough? I think so! I hope you do too. I’m very grateful for your support and friendship in the past, and wish you all the best and brightest of days as we step into a shiny new year together.

Postcards From Industralia #4


“Ah, February. The month that is spelled in a way that always makes me twitch! Anyway, moving on from my personal eccentricities… Your Intrepid Author is currently deep in the heart of a Michigan winter, having been betrayed by a groundhog just yesterday.

ut on the fun-front, I’m in the process of having my kid’s book, “A Life Invented” produced as an audiobook for I didn’t realize until recently that shorter stories could be produced by their service… but when I found out, I jumped at the opportunity! I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy hearing my written words brought to life as character voices. It’s fun! It’s addictive! (And for me, it’s easy! I’m just kicking back and directing the orchestra while the vocalfolk strut and fret their lines across the… microphone.) I’m going to toss the rest of my children’s books into the audio fray over the next few weeks, methinks. If you enjoy listening to stories, I hope you will enjoy these versions of mine.

Now, while we wait for that particular vocal magic to happen, what say I direct you towards some other stellar audio stories that I enjoy? All of these come with my hearty recommendation. Give your ears a treat, and tickle them with a story or two.

Gallery of Curiosities
a fiction podcast of weird, curious and horrible stories

Welcome To Night Vale
A twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.Turn on your radio and hide.

Tales of the Red Panda
In the tradition of the great mystery men of radio, pulp fiction and the golden age of comics comes The Red Panda, famed protector of 1930s Toronto! Hiding his true identity as one of the city’s wealthiest men behind a bright red domino mask, The Red Panda dispenses two-fisted pulp justice with strength, courage and eerie hypnotic powers. Joined in his quest by that Famed Fighting Female The Flying Squirrel, this Terrific Twosome holds high the lamp of justice in a dark time!

Black Jack Justice
All-new hardboiled mysteries in the pulp detective tradition! Tough-as-nails private eye Jack Justice and his long-suffering partner Trixie Dixon, girl detective do their part for law, order and thirty-five dollars a day. When it comes to detective work, Jack and Trixie agree on the facts. Clients cry, clients lie, clients dicker over the bill. But if they can cut to the happy ending without cutting each other’s throats, it’ll be a miracle!

Do please pass this newsletter along to any of your weird and wonderful friends, and encourage them to subscribe. 🙂

Postcards From Industralia #5


Your March postcard is about a week late, as your intrepid author has been moving. My internet service was interrupted, and the setting up of computers is still in the works.  But I do have a bit of news I wanted to share, so let’s go!

“A Life Invented” now has a voice! The audiobook contains five short stories for children, and can be listened to in just under an hour. Perhaps your kids would enjoy one story a night for a whole school week of bedtime stories. $3.95 is a mere snip of a price, or you can get it free when you sign up for a new Audible account. Gerard Liddle, my very young, slightly accident-prone inventor, has been brought to life by voice actor Kane Prestenback. Buy the book at

Today is International Women’s Day!
My very own mighty girls, Constance Jessamine Whittlesey and Paisley Pockets, along with all the other quirky, confident, resourceful women in my books hope to set an example for all the girls who will be women one day. What you dream of doing… you can do! You never know how high you can fly until you try. And they would like to recommend the following book.

Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world. Today only, all purchases at the Rebel Girls website are 20% OFF with promo code: CHEER4GIRLS

Postcards From Industralia #6


I’m noticing a trend. Last month’s Postcard was 8 days late, and this one is 10 days late! They say that time flies. Personally, I believe that time has its own time machine and routinely leaps ahead by a week or so, on a whim. Now that I’ve figured out the secret of time, let’s see if I can be ON time next month!

I have two author events scheduled for April, and both should be lots of fun. One is in a sports arena, and the other is in a virtual world.

On April 15th, Student Parents on a Mission (SPOM) presents their annual “takeover” of the Breslin Center in East Lansing, for a carnival and resource fair. The Breslin is Michigan State University’s large sports arena. Rumor has it that this year kids can get revenge on their math teachers – the chair of the Math Department will be in the seat over the dunk tank! They’ll also have a petting zoo, bounce houses, games, treats, karaoke, and who knows what else. And then there’s the vendor and resource tables, which is where I’ll be, signing books and saying hello to my neighbors and friends. Proceeds from the event will help provide scolarships to MSU’s student parents. Tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for kids under 12. If you are a local mid-Michigander, I’d love to see you there.

And then I am off to the virtual world of Second Life, for the Fantasy Faire’s Literature Festival, to benefit Relay for Life. The Literary Festival is something I look forward to each year. I’m happy to be a returning guest author on Sunday, April 23rd, from 7:00-8:00pm SLT (SLT is the same as West Coast time). And I think I’ve come up with the best title ever for my talk! Here it is:

Taters and Tots: From Kid’s Books to Cook Books
Join the discussion as a rambling author attempts to sort through her wandering path of publishing. After writing The Flight To Brassbright, author Lori Alden Holuta found she had somehow created quite a few fictional children who clamored to tell their stories. And as kids often are, this crowd of urchins is always hungry! After feeding them often during the telling of their tales, she decided to gather up all the favored foods in her books and created Steamed and Steamy: Recipes from the Steampunk World of Industralia. Bring your appetite for tasty literature!  Check the Literary Festival blog often for updated details and locations.

Enjoy the rest of April! And I’ll see you on the FIRST of May. Unless time figures out a new way to trip me up…


Brassbright on Facebook

Postcards From Industralia #7


It’s a busy time of year for your intrepid author, as her Day Job At University involves jettisoning over 50,000 students off to their future careers, or their summer vacations, depending on their status. We’ve entered finals week, so the din has subsided to a quiet weeping noise, ever present within our ivy plastered walls. Until the last student has flown the nest, I am afraid I don’t have much new author news for you. Although, I am starting up a new Audible project to give voice to The Legend Of The Engineer. You heard it here first.

But I would like to take the opportunity of this Postcard to remind you of something nearly every author on earth (and planets beyond) would hope you take as a superpower that every reader has. The power to immediately, directly and substantially promote an author.

Listen Closely! 
#1: Did you know that The Flight to Brassbright and A Life Invented are available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes as audio books?
#2: Do you like getting free audiobooks?
#3: Do you like writing book reviews?
#4: Do you like supporting independent authors? If you answered ‘yes’ to two or more questions, you’re in luck!  In exchange for your solemn vow (okay, it can be a humorous vow or a profound vow, or even a vow done in interpretive dance or song) to post a review at Amazon after listening to the book(s), I will give you a super seekret code that lets you snap it up from Audible for free. Not sure you know how to write a book review?  I’ll give you two examples, one from each end of Ye Olde Belle Curve.
#1 – A Simple Review
“I loved this book!”

#2 – A Delightfully Verbose Review
“My detailed analysis of this author’s work, along with my opinion of her character development and her anachronistic use of wrenches, with a side tangent into the validity of various means of story development is as follows. Please refer to the footnotes for more detailed information.”
[and on and on and on until the website crashes]

Guess which review helps out the author with book visibility and promotion? Both of them. EQUALLY. Really! In the wacky world of internet book promoting, the number of reviews counts more than the content.But even so, content is cool too. I’ve spent hours wallowing in intelligent and/or absurdly crazy reviews at Amazon. Like the almost 6,000 reviews for the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. (Be sure to read the Customer Questions and Answers too, as this is a manufacturer who knows how to play along!)

So then… if you want that FREE audiobook and are willing to post a review at Amazon, my email is at the bottom of this newsletter. Drop me a line and together we will make magic happen.

Until next month… <3!

(Every time a newsletter is forwarded to a friend, an angel gets its wings)

Postcards From Industralia #8


Let’s keep this announcement short and sweet, sorta like my Steamkettle Kids! (Okay, so they are short, but not always so sweet. Anyway.)  Narrated by the charming and versatile voice of  Lisa Hicks, The Steamkettle Kids Save The Day: A Steampunk Adventure for Kids is now on sale at Audible, iTunes and Amazon.

In a few days, Audible will send me a handful of promotional codes. If you are willing to post a review of the audiobook at Amazon and/or Audible, I’d be pleased to send you a code to snag a free book at Audible. In fact, I still have some leftover codes for the audio versions of The Flight To Brassbright and A Life Invented, and you can have one of those in exchange for a review, if you like. Doesn’t have to be a long review. You can even keep it short and sweet, just like my Steamkettle Kids!  Wait… we already talked about that. 🙂  Just drop me a line at ceejay.writer@gmail com if you’re interested.

Next month, news about my authorly activities at Motor City Steam Con in Detroit, the slow-but-sure progress of the next novel, Down The Tubes, and who knows what else?

May your steam always rise and your oil never be gritty,

Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #9


“It’s a busy month for your intrepid writerperson!

I’ve decided to tackle a novella re-write during the month of July, at Camp Nanowrimo.These July camps are fun, and if you need encouragement with a writing project, I’d recommend jumping on the next camp or take on the big 50,000 word novel challenge in November. I’m sharing a virtual cabin with 16 other writers. Some are old friends, and some are new. We’re enjoying getting to know each other and offer encouragements. It really is just like summer camp! Here’s a teaser about my project.


The world of BrightHope is filled with inventors, artists, dreamers, planners, builders… and secret keepers. What’s really going on just out of sight in Brassbright City? Three teenage friends really want to find out.

I’ll be re-tooling a story I’ve already written called “The Hidden Doors”, expanding its concept and cast of characters. I love mysteries, and have always wanted to write one.


“I am… I was, well, I was thinking how this door we’re looking for might be constructed. If it pushed inward, it would simply be a door, and you would be looking for some sort of doorknob. But if it was a pivot door, it would turn around and around on a center pivot point.”

Henry looked at Wilhelmina, his expression filled with surprise and admiration. “You really do read a lot, don’t you?”

She smiled shyly, then knelt down to inspect the sidewalk, tracing her fingers over cracks and lines. “See, if it was a center pivot point door, most likely there’d be a round bit under your feet that turned with you, else the door could be quite dangerous, shoving you around as it pleased.”

Henry nodded, thinking he understood the explanation, then crouched down beside her. “So, if that’s the case, we’d find the turning piece hidden in the sidewalk stones.”

Together they searched, but only found what seemed like natural aging cracks and straight seams between the stones. “Guess it’s not that sort of door,” Wilhelmina sighed, straightening up.

“Oh, I think it’s exactly that sort of door!” exclaimed Henry. “We’re just not seeing it right. Oh, this is brilliant.” Henry jumped to his feet and backed up ten paces. “It’s hiding in plain sight.”

Wilhelmina rushed to Henry’s side. “Show me!”

I’ll take a break from the rewrites July 14-16th for Motor City Steam Con in Detroit. I’m scheduled for a wacky panel discussion about Victorian era fads, and other creative events. You can see my schedule at my website. Are you coming? If so, give me a heads-up so I can look for you.

Full Steam Ahead!
Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #10


“I spent July in summer camp – Camp Nanowrimo, that is. You may have heard of the annual November Nanowrimo challenge (National Novel Writing Month: write 50,000 words in one month!), but Camp Nanowrimo is the lighter, more playful summer counterpart. You get to bunk up with cabin mates, which is great for support, encouragement and chatter. You can bring any sort of writing project to camp and set your own goals. It’s fun and a great way to make some progress. I was lucky enough this year to share a cabin with Shelley Adina and her friends. What a great time we had!  If you’ve never read Shelley’s books, you’re missing out on fantastic adventures. Visit her site and find your next summer read!

I dusted off a years-old manuscript and spent the month tweaking the plot and giving the characters more personality. It was a lot of fun getting reacquainted with my story. Eventually, you’ll be able to read it too. The Hidden Doors is a light mystery romp set in Brassbright City, starring Priscilla, Wilhelmina and Henry—three adventurous teenagers you haven’t met before.

And editing continues with Down The Tubes as time allows. I appreciate everyone’s patience and interest in another Brassbright City adventure (and yes, Constance is in this one!) It’s been a busy year, made more challenging by a move to a new home, taking part in Motor City Steam Con, and increased projects at my day job. So, it’s coming along as time allows. Subscribers to this newsletter will be the first to know when it’s available.

See you soon!
Lori Alden Holuta”

Postcards From Industralia #11


“Happy October to you all. I apologize for the lack of newsletter last month, but my computer, which I named Scoundrel, came down with a bad case of catalepsy, and had to have a new brain installed. He’s up and about again, happily pillaging like a good pirate, so now we can get back to The News From Industralia!

I’ve updated my Brassbright City author website. One new bit of fun is the Steampunk Movie Theatre, which is a collection of films available for free from YouTube and Vimeo. If you have recommendations for additions to the theatre, please let me know.

And now for a rather fascinating discussion of a topic we rarely talk about. I’ll be the brave one, and announce that this newsletter focuses on bathroom activities. Whew. I’ve said it. Still with me? Let’s continue.

As you hopefully know by now, I write lighthearted, funny stories set in a time that can be compared to the Victorian Era. While there is no Queen Victoria in the world of BrightHope, other aspects of the times are similar. Aspects such as how one deals with personal hygiene and certain bodily functions. There are two mentions of those usually unmentionable topics in The Flight To Brassbright that I’d like to talk about. Now come along and powder your nose with me.

Let’s start with the Elephant In The Room, which is most certainly not really an elephant. I’m sure you’ll figure out the source of Constance’s consternation in this passage from Chapter Thirteen of The Flight To Brassbright.

The Ladies Parlor was charming, and unlike anything I had ever seen before. Soft blue and gold floral wallpaper ran down the walls to a wainscoting made of honey-colored wood. Those wood panels ended at the edge of luxurious, thick blue carpeting, which my boots were sinking into quite deeply. A glass-topped table with elegantly curved brass legs displayed an assortment of gilded bowls and bottles. Upon closer inspection, I found that the bowls contained puffy, pillow-shaped mint candies, of which I enjoyed four. There were also packets of aspirin powders and bottles of scented hand lotion. I slipped one packet of aspirin powder into the little cloth coin bag Letitica had pinned to my waist, in case of a future headache.
I felt like I had wandered into a fairy tale castle—a castle in the middle of a daisy in the middle of farm country. Who knew the world held such surprises?
On the far side of this charming little haven, a thick gold curtain hung in soft folds, cascading from ceiling to floor. I thought it might cover a window, and walked over to look out. But when I pushed the curtain aside to investigate, I saw something completely unexpected!
A short time later, I left the Ladies Parlor refreshed, relieved and grinning smugly with the knowledge of an amazing secret that had just been revealed to me. I stood there outside the parlor, enjoying the fresh, minty taste in my mouth, grinning broadly and bouncing on my heels. As a woman with a face as sour as a crabapple rushed up and fumbled with the door, I aimed my grin at her and advised helpfully, “Try the mints”.

Since indoor plumbing was invented around 1850, I decided that the Air Azimuth Aether Docks would have a rather fancy indoor ladies lounge. Much to small-town-girl Constance’s surprise, this lounge also had indoor toilets. I didn’t write about the toilet paper, though I promise you it was there, most likely hanging from an ornate brass holder. I did some research into the paper we all know and love, as I just couldn’t imagine the Ladies Room outfitted with a basket of corncobs, forest moss, or pages torn-out of an old Sears & Roebuck catalog. Those were all real things that people used before toilet paper was invented.

As it turns out, in 1857, New York’s Joseph Gayetty invented a paper product designed specifically for, ahem, wiping. At the time, his “Therapeutic Paper” was quite pricey (500 sheets for 50-cents), and considered to be a frivolous waste of money. But in 1890, Clarence and Irvin Scott came up with the brilliant idea of selling rolls of splinter-free paper for, ahem, wiping, and the rest is history. Most everyone recognizes the Scott brand of toilet tissue nowadays, and we think nothing of publicly tossing a big value pack of toilet paper into our shopping cart. But at first, the brothers couldn’t even bring themselves to brand their toilet paper rolls with the Scott name, since it was considered, at the time, to be a ‘lewd’ product. And then in 1942, the improvement that everyone was waiting for finally came along, when St. Andrew’s Paper Mill in Walthamstow London created the first rolls of soft toilet paper. And everyone breathed a collective sigh of blessed relief. Aaaah.

Now, shall we move on to a less delicate bathroom topic? Showers! Who doesn’t love a steamy, invigorating shower? Now that’s good, clean, fun! Constance encounters her first shower in Chapter Nine of The Flight To Brassbright.

“Wait—what’s a WaterDropper?”
Letitica poured me a second cup of tea and sighed happily. “It’s another of Gerard’s extra-ceptional inventions, and one of my favorites! An absolute must for one’s personal hijinks.”
I tried to keep the trepidation out of my voice as I asked, “Is it electrical? How far does the water actually drop?”
Nathaniel laughed. “The WaterDropper is wonderful and yer going to love it. If the contraption was at all portable, I’d have one on me wagon. See, it’s like a bathtub, but Gerard was quite fussy about the notion of soaking in a tubful of his own grime, wasn’t he, Letitica?”
“Oh my yes,” she agreed. “He was very particulate about his grooming.”
My curiosity began to win out over my apprehension. And I’ll admit, my personal aroma was starting to cause me some concern. “I haven’t had a bath in days, and the roads we traveled were especially dusty. If you can assure me that the WaterDropper will leave me intact, I’d dearly love to try it, Letitica. May I?”
By way of an answer, Letitica simply sang out, “Towels, towels, let me get you some towels!” and ran from the room.

The WaterDropper closely resembles a shower designed by The Peck Brothers & Co. (circa 1905). However, they did not recommend placing their shower on the roof… but that’s where Letitica’s WaterDropper was located.

Need More?

Postcards From Industralia #12


” Vive la France! This month, we travel away from Industralia to a country back on Earth you may have heard of. Squished between Spain and England, with quite a few other countries nestled against it’s interior backbone, France is a country of inspiration to lovers, dreamers, artists, writers and pigeon feeders.

You may or may not know that while I write by night, I also hold a day job at Michigan State University. Every Fall, MSU’s Student Parent Resource Center matches up departments with student families who are in need, so that we can help make their holiday a little more sparkly. This year our family includes an eight-year-old girl who, according to their wishlist, likes ‘books about France or the French language, a tea set, and she likes anything that makes her feel fancy.’

Though I haven’t yet met her, I’ve quickly identified with this little girl. While I certainly have my own favorite books that I enjoyed at age eight, I decided to expand my knowledge by asking my Facebook friends for their book recommendations. Happily, I’m blessed with a friends list that includes authors, bookworms, mothers, teachers and generally creative people.

I’ll be choosing a few of these books for our little Spartan in need, and am also busy crocheting her a red  beret to add to the fancy French fun. Meanwhile, I’ll share the books my Facebook friends recommended, as a resource for any of you who might be buying books as gifts for children (both girls and boys). Not all of these books are set in France, but all were offered in the spirit of adventure and fun.

2017 Book Recommendations for Eight-Year-Olds
(And Bonus Books For Teens)

One friend offered a link to an extensive reading list, saying, “This list from GoodReads includes several titles I used to read to my elementary kids when we had country studies.”

Sophie’s Misfortunes
French: Les Malheurs de Sophie. This is an 1858 novel written by the Countess of Ségur. This is the first book of a trilogy, along with The Good Little Girls (1858) and The Holidays (1859).

Puss in Boots
by Lincoln Kirstein

by Mindy Bingham

The Fairyland Series
by Catherynne M. Valente

The Fancy Nancy Series
by Jane O’Connor

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency Series
by Jordan Stratford

These books were also mentioned, but I believe they are more suitable for teens. I can personally recommend Elizabeth’s Midnight and the Finishing School Series for teens around fourteen years of age or older.

The Finishing School Series
by Gail Carriger

Elizabeth’s Midnight
by Aaron Michael Ritchey

A Wrinkle in Time (part of the Time Quintet Series)
by Madeleine L’Engle

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg

And finally, I humbly offer my own novel, The Flight To Brassbright.

Postcards From Industralia #13


Sooty Sunday

Black Friday has come and gone, and now it’s time for Sooty Sunday. This is the newest, trendiest consumer holiday, and I’ll admit I just made up, but it’s a great idea, right? An annual sale day for steampunks? My Sooty Sunday bargain is The Legend of the Engineer (a New Year’s holiday story), yours for FREE from Amazon Kindle. This offer ends December 17th, the day the book returns to its regular price of $2.99. If you know someone who hasn’t yet delved into the steampunk world of the Brassbright Chronicles, be sure to tell them about this chance to take an all expenses paid trip to Industralia.

Race the Countdown

As the late night infomercials used to say, “but wait, there’s more!” The Flight To Brassbright becomes an Amazon Kindle Countdown novel on Monday, December 4th. How does a Countdown work? First, the eBook price drops down to 99 cents. As the countdown progresses, the price will rise every few days. When we reach December 11th, the book will re-set to its regular price of $3.99. The quicker you grab it, the better the bargain. Pass the word around on this one, please and thank you!

Crayon or Sharpie? Choose Your Weapon!

Do you know a child who loves coloring pages? Are you perhaps a child-at-heart who swoons over a fresh box of crayons? Here’s four printable PDF steampunky coloring pages just waiting for a budding artist to bring them to life. I suggest that you print out the pages, roll them up and tie the bundle with a ribbon. Now that’s a stocking stuffer!

Postcards From Industralia #14


Happy New Year, 2018! Raise your glass of bubbly in a toast to the year that lies ahead.

Champagne, of course, is the drink of choice on New Year’s Eve. But did you know that there’s an old, old recipe that manages to take Miss Champagne, she of refined, sparkling beauty and a bubbly personality, and proceeds to send her out on the town with the fast-running street crowd of brandy, whiskey, rum, lemon, sugar, and who knows what else.

The result of this mishmosh is Chatham Artillery Punch. The punch was invented by A.H. Luce, or maybe  A.B. Luce, in the 1850s to welcome back the Republican Blues, or possibly a crazed mixologist  whipped it up in 1792 for George Washington. It was made in a gigantic punch bowl, or maybe a horse bucket, or possibly a bathtub.

As you can see, the true history of Chatham Artillery Punch is just about as muddy as your vision will be after two glasses of the stuff. A google search will turn up dozens of recipes, more than one claiming to be ‘the original’. We may never all agree on the exact original recipe.

There are a variety of recipes to be found for this punch—all different from this original, robust version—primarily because successive generations found its intoxicating power a little too, well, intoxicating. As Wondrich notes in this quotation from the headnote on a 1907 recipe: “Experience has taught the rising generation to modify the receipt of their forefathers to conform to the weaker constitutions of their progeny.” (Ouch.) . — Serious Eats

The River House in Savannah, Georgia offers an Artillery Punch that’s held in high regard. If you are ever in the area, why not stop in and enjoy a glass of confusing American history?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
And now, a new feature.
What tempting rabbit hole of a website did Lori run down this month?
Racing Nellie Bly
“For curious people who enjoy Victorian Secrets from footnotes in history.”

Postcards From Industralia #15


I would like to apologize for the lack of Postcards From Industralia in your mailbox. While I love staying in touch with all of you, circumstances forced me to set aside my creative pursuits. I’d love to put the blame on malfunctioning pneumatic tubes or those darn cats that are always clogging the internet. However, the truth is that 2018 proved to be a very challenging, somewhat scary, yet ultimately exciting year for me.

And the good news is that I have been granted the gift of time, to focus on my writing. On November 30th, I retired from Michigan State University, where I did my best for several decades to help the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs and Services provide resources and assistance to the many students that needed them. It was very rewarding work, but now it’s time for others to take the reins.

So after a brief respite, I’m ready to resume the pleasant task of creating interesting stories and writing them down for you to read. And to share with you my enthusiasm for my favorite holiday.

New Year’s Eve and Day – Lori’s Favorite Holiday!
Christmas is of course amazing, but I personally love New Year’s most of all. I was born in Pasadena, home of the Rose Parade, and had the happy opportunity to glue flowers on parade floats for many years alongside my father, who designed floats for the city of Sierra Madre. I’ve camped out on the parade route many times, spending the night so I could have a front row seat for the parade. The New Year’s holiday is just bursting with fond memories for me.

New Year’s Holiday Books For All Ages
While Christmas books are abundant, finding New Year’s themed books is a little trickier. Here are four book lists that may help – two lists for adults and two for kids!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my own New Year’s story, The Legend of the Engineer. I had such fun writing this book. Since the continent of Industralia exists on my fictional planet of BrightHope, I have lots of wiggle room to create my own original legends and traditions. It was an interesting challenge to bring a new holiday story to life, while still keeping it nestled in our own world’s familiar, cozy holiday feelings.

The Legend of the Engineer
Gerard Liddle is an eccentric, talented inventor. His wife Letitica is a short, energetic woman with a habit of muddling up her words. The Liddles, along with their friends and neighbors in Steamkettle Bay, are getting excited about welcoming in the New Year of 1883.

Get The Legend of the Engineer on a Kindle Countdown Deal!
On December 8th, the book price dropped to 99 cents (67% discount)
On December 11th, the book price increases to $1.99 (34% discount)
On December 15th, the book returns to its regular price of $2.99
Happy Holidays!

Postcards From Industralia #16


“I hope the new year has been good to you so far. Life has been surreal for your intrepid author, as I have been adjusting to life post-retirement from university. Rather than kicking back on a white sand beach with an ice cold beverage though, I’ve been keeping busy here in snowy Michigan with a hot cocoa and many editing projects. In fact, I recently edited a marvelous steampunk manuscript for a passionate, visionary writer. Once everything’s been completed and the book is ready for unveiling, I’d love to tell you more about it. I continue to accept fiction editing assignments through The Little Red Pen Fiction Editing Services. If you or a friend writes fiction and needs editing assistance, I’ll be happy to help.

A Website to Explore
The Steampunk Explorer
 is a new-ish website all steampunks will want to follow. Creator Stephen Beale says, “On March 8 [2018], I launched The Steampunk Explorer, a new website billed as a ‘shopping, travel, entertainment and research guide for steampunk enthusiasts and creators.’ It could also be described as a hybrid ‘National Geographic’ and ‘Time Out’ for the steampunk world.”

Are You on a Map Quest?
Who doesn’t love a lush, detailed map to whet the imagination at the start of a fantasy book? Ever since reading The Lord of the Rings as a pre-teen, I always get a thrill (and occasional goosebumps) while studying those maps. A Writer’s Path recently added Fantasy Cartography to their wide variety of services for authors. Check out their beautiful samples!

Until next time, stay warm – or cool, if you’re enjoying summertime down under. Take some time to relax, read a book, and take a moment to give that book a review at Amazon, GoodReads, or your favorite site. Even a couple of words (Loved it! This was great!) helps authors immensely.

Lori Alden Holuta
Brassbright on Facebook

Postcards From Industralia #17


“A friend is a gift you give yourself.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The theme of this month’s newsletter is “Friends”!  I am lucky to know talented, fun folk, and I’d like you to meet some of them by way of their projects.A trivia-loving friend and her co-workers have been writing Geeks Who Drink Presents: Duh!: 100 Bar Trivia Questions You Should Know (And the Unexpected Stories Behind the Answers)It’s  available for pre-order right now.  

I recently finished reading the Dear Maude time-travel, love-story trilogy. Denise Liebig, the author, blogged about the Timeless Vehicles Repurposed in the Dear Maude Trilogy. If you are a vintage car aficionado, you’ll enjoy her post.

Some of my friends are dolls. I mean that – they are real dolls. Fitch Lekvoda and Nika Thought-werk will host an event to coincide with Hinamatsuri, the traditional Japanese Doll Festival on March 3rd. It will be held in the virtual world of Second Life, where I’m known as Ceejay Writer. I will be a featured author at this “First Annual Doll Fest-For-All”. If you’re a resident of Second Life, I’d love to see you there! I’ve posted all the details at The Brassbright Chronicle.

Yours in friendship,

Postcards From Industralia #18


Come On… Get Happy?

Zombies are chic. Horror is hip. The apocalypse is awesome. And don’t even get me started on Game of Thrones. The world is a dirty, violent, failing ball of despair and we can’t get enough of it. Oh really? Not everyone is attracted to dark, grim entertainment. What are the alternatives for readers who would rather enjoy more optimism in their reading?

Allow me to start with an anecdote. My first con costume was my 2011 Steampunk Earthmomma, complete with a handcrafted butterfly net, bug-netted pith helmet, tea-stained peasant blouse under my forest green corset, and drawstring pouches for gathering herbs. I definitely stood out in a Detroit steampunk con packed with folks sporting gear and steam driven prosthetic arms, fearsome airship pirates and delicate, metallic clockwork dolls. Perhaps I was a bit… SolarPunk? Maybe. Wait, what’s that word I just used? SolarPunk. It’s been around for a few years, and I’ll give you more information on it in this newsletter.

But there’s another genre that’s fairly new, and which I’ve only just heard about… Hope Punk! I’m really excited about this, as I think this may be my genre. I’ve always thought of my own stories, for lack of a better term, as ‘Steampunk Sitcoms’, since I fill them with hopeful characters, lots of humor, along with solvable problems and simple life-lessons. In the end, things generally work out for the best, because that’s the way things are on BrightHope, which is the name of the world in which my stories are set.

I’ve spent a lot of time now happily running up and down all the rabbit holes I could find on Google, and would like to share some of what I found with you. Smile! Your reading is about to take a positive turn.

Hope Punk

“In the era of Trump and apocalyptic change, Hopepunk is a storytelling template for #resistance — and hanging onto your humanity at all costs.” — Aja Romano, Vox Journalist

If You Haven’t Heard of “Hopepunk,” Allow Me to Gently Introduce You

Hopepunk, the latest storytelling trend, is all about weaponized optimism

NPR Podcast
Do Get Your Hopes Up…Rocking Out With Hope Punk

10 great podcasts that are unabashedly positive

A Hope Punk Book

Solar Punk

“At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle. In progress…“–

7 reasons why solarpunk is the most important speculative fiction movement in the last 20 years

What You Can Learn From the Solarpunk Movement

On the Need for New Futures

From Steampunk to Solar Punk

Solarpunk: A Reference Guide

Two Solar Punk Books 
Shine: An Anthology of Near-Future Optimistic Science Fiction

Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers by Sarena Ulibarri

Raising my half-full glass to you,
Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #19 – May Flowers and Literary Festival!


Happy May Basket Day! 

I’ve just hung this basket of flowers on your email’s front door. Why would I do that? Because it’s May Basket Day, a tradition that has fallen by the wayside. You can read more about it and see some wonderful vintage photographs of May Baskets at NPR’s A Forgotten Tradition: May Basket DayApril was a busy month for me –  I joined the Fantasy Faire team in Second Life to help bring the Faire to life for its eleventh year. The Faire is a lot of fun, but also raises funds for the American Cancer Society. As of this morning, this year’s Faire has raised $39,138. Author Elizabeth Bear joined us in-world twice for readings, interviews and conversations. We also remembered the works of Ursula K. Le Guin. If you are a Second Lifer, the Fairelands will be open for exploration through May 5th.

The Faire also offers writer’s challenges, and the sixteen unique regions provide plenty of inspiration for storytelling. These stories are collected at the Fantasy Faire website and become the collective history of the Fairelands. On May 2nd, my own story will post. It’s about Trollhaugen, a region dominated by a gigantic stone troll, reading a book. He’s so big we held gatherings in his mouth, and over the centuries, an entire village has sprung up on his open book. Watch my Facebook page or Twitter for a link to my story when it’s revealed.

Whether you are a Second Lifer or not, everyone can enjoy photographs of the regions, and read the Literary Festival’s story collections by exploring The LitFest Region Tours and Writing Challenges.

Until next time, May your month be filled with flowers!

Postcards From Industralia #20 – Five Quick Info Bites


Booksilanti Reader’s Fair
This Saturday, July 6th, I’ll be in Ypsilanti, Michigan at the Booksilanti Reader’s Fair, selling and signing my books. If you’re in the area, stop in and say hi!

Amazon Giveaway – Win The Flight To Brassbright for your Kindle
Since Constance, my protagonist, spent her teenage years as cannon fodder, I’m running a 4th of July Amazon Giveaway. No purchase is necessary. Books will be awarded to random winners—will one of them be you? This contest runs to July 7th, or until all prizes have been awarded. If you’ve already snagged a copy of the book, feel free to share this giveaway link with others who would enjoy winning a free copy.

Walking Through the Industrial Revolution
Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Sir Tony Robinson’s history and archaeology shows. I found a fascinating look at the origins of the Industrial Revolution in the very first episode of “Walking Through History” on Amazon Prime. Happily, it’s also available on YouTube, so enjoy! And if Sir Tony seems familiar, he’s the actor who played Baldrick on BlackAdder.

Wrap Up – Second Life’s Fantasy Faire
We raised $68,173 for the American Cancer Society. And we had a lot of fun doing it! I’m already looking forward to the Literary Festival events in next year’s Fantasy Faire. As that time draws near, I’ll give you the details in a future Postcards From Industralia.

Queen Victoria’s Bloomers Sell for £1,000 at Auction
I… don’t even know what to say about this, except perhaps that the BBC article is short and rather fascinating, just like the Queen herself.

Enjoy a fair July and I’ll see you again in August,

Postcards From Industralia #21 – Deep Dive Into History


Wow, I haven’t sent a newsletter since July! But the fall harvest and buttoning-up of the yard and gardens is done, and we’ve settled into a more relaxed lifestyle with time to enjoy book reading, cooking, and home projects.

In November, I used NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as an impetus to gather up my old short stories and breathe new life into them. I called my project the “Short Story Factory”. I hope to find interesting venues to share them with everyone in the future.

I often get story ideas while reading unusual history articles. Here’s a selection from my favorite “deep-dive” historical sites. These aren’t fluffy, click-bait quick-reads. These are meticulously written and curated, with attention given to details, photographs, interesting facts, and quite often a big dose of humor.

A Parade Of Ragamuffins – “Before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade became a New York City icon, another holiday event once took place at the same time. The department store won.” After reading this article, you might want to sign up for the Tedium newsletter.

Northwestern University Libraries – Digital Collections
The Ira Silverman Railroad Menu Collection consists of 238 items: 227 menus and eleven pamphlets. 35 United States and Canadian railroads are represented in the collection. All menus were issued by their respective railroad.

The Bleat
James Lileks says, “It’s not some idle project, occasionally updated. The Bleat, a blog that’s celebrating its 21st year, contains a M-F essay, some piece of old commercial ephemera, a rotating feature on everything from cliffhanger serials to old radio to main street America to the ads of the 1930s or 1970s, and a link to the daily site update”. The Bleat is a small part of Lileks, which is nearly infinite in size and scope. Pack a bag, feed the cat, kiss your loved ones farewell, tell your boss you’ve caught a cold, and take a trip to the Land of Lileks.

“A vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago” Click any image to get the full-size version in glorious detail. It’s easy to get lost in a single image for long enough to count as time travel. And if you have high-quality vintage photos of your own, you can contribute to the collection.

The Vintage Pattern Files
Are you a sewer, crocheter, knitter? Or are you just interested in how vintage homemade items were created? Patterns range from the 1800s to the 1970s. Thanks to this site, my own crochet basket currently contains a nearly-done Perky Snood.

Roadside America
Are you planning a road trip across America and want to be sure to see plenty of weird attractions along the way? Use the Search feature at Roadside America to find, for example, all the weird stuff in Topeka, Kansas. Huzzah! There’s Truckhenge, the Evel Knievel Museum, and so much more! Wow, I think I need to plan a trip to Topeka soon, I had no idea it was such an interesting city.

I hope you enjoy this collection of vintage exploration sites. I’m sure many of you have your own favorites, and I’d love to know about them, too. Feel free to send them to me at anytime.

“In a country called Industralia,
children listen to a New Year’s story about Frostica,
the Engineer, and a magical train pulled by Engine No.19.”
Why not make a New Year’s eve reading of
The Legend of the Engineer a tradition in your home?

Postcards From Industralia #22 – Reliably Inconsistent


Forward, into the Past!
Lori Alden Holuta”
“Happy June 1st! Today is National Hazelnut Cake Day, and it’s also National Heimlich Maneuver Day. Please do not attempt to celebrate both at once.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I am very consistent in my inconsistency. I can be relied on to make a plan and then utterly fail to act on it. As proof, may I sheepishly point out that my last newsletter went out on December 7, 2019? My intentions have always been to send a monthly newsletter, so with today being the first day of a new month, let’s try a fresh start, all right?

So, what have I been doing during the pandemic? Here’s a few highlights.

  • I learned how to make homemade Ikea meatballs in their signature sauce. You can learn too! At my website I’ve shared Ikea’s instructions, which look a lot like their furniture assembly instructions. It’s well worth a look, even if you don’t plan on making the meatballs. I included a handy conversion to American measurements, and my comments on the recipe, too. Ikea Meatballs with Cream Sauce
  • Since I review every book I read anyway, I decided to make it official, and post all my reviews. I’m a reviewer for NetGalley and StoryOrigin, too. What does that mean? It means free books before publication! I’ve had a ton of fun with this, and seem to be specializing in reviewing cookbooks.
  •  I’ve been madly crocheting Twisted Kraken hats! These complicated, time-consuming monstrosities are crazy fun and keep my hands busy while watching movies. I’ve completed three hats and sent them off to live in California, and am working on four more requests. Oh, and I even made one for myself.
  • I’ve added a Word Search puzzle for each of my books to the ‘Free Fun’ section of The Brassbright Chronicle. One is an online interactive game, and the rest are printable PDFs. Got kids going stir crazy at home? Print a few out!

Oh, and of course, there’s my writing projects. I’m currently working on:

  • The final draft of Down the Tubes. I’m nearly ready to hand it off to my editor. I love it to pieces but I’m sincerely ready for this project to be published and done.
  • My second cookbook, with the temporary working title of “A Cabbage Cookbook”. This will be a companion book to Down the Tubes. Why? You can blame a holiday called Greensday, which I created for the folks that live in Brassbright City. Can you guess what the official vegetable of Greensday is? No, it’s not a turnip.
  • A ‘Victorian Era ABC’ book. 26 poems about notable Victorian people and things, accompanied by 26 illustrations created by the talented Olivia Wylie, one for each letter of the alphabet. She’s completed all the illustrations, and I’m working on the poetry whenever my brain is in that groove.
  • A novel that’s not steampunk. Gasp! It’s set in Seattle, in the mid-1970s. More on that down the road, it’s still in very early stages and needs a lot more research.
  • Tidying up various short stories I’ve written through the years, with an eye towards submitting them to various publications that regularly purchase stories. This is new territory for me, so fingers crossed!

I hope you’ve spent the past year-plus enjoying fun hobbies, or learning to cook something new, or reading exciting books. Whatever you’ve been up to while I’ve been consistently inconsistent, my hope is that you’ve stayed safe and well, and are weathering this unusual time in our lives as best you know how. Whatever you’re doing, remember to be good to yourself and to those you love.

See you next month! (yes, I see you laughing.)
Lori Alden Holuta

The Brassbright Chronicle
A License To Quill

Postcards From Industralia #23 – Bye Bye June and Pillow Talk


“It is the month of June
The month of leaves and roses
When pleasant sights salute the eyes and pleasant scents the noses”
~ Nathaniel Parker Willis

June is one of my favorite months. This year, my gardens exploded with color and beauty. The veg garden started to feed us. I saw fireflies. I amassed more freckles. My feet have a sandal tan. I got my first professional haircut since the pandemic began. I socialized with a former colleague, in person – and a hug happened!

In June I was happy to be interviewed by the Ann Arbor Book Society. I revealed my own Steampunk origin story, and explained how I’m representing Steampunk in literature. Spotlight on Steampunk: The Work of Michigan Author Lori Alden Holuta

In June, I worked on Down The Tubes, the sequel to The Flight to Brassbright. Every time I think it’s nearly done… well, the characters do something that changes things. Be patient and brave! I know I’m trying to be!

In June I set up a RedBubble Shop even though I have to say in my best Doctor McCoy voice, “Dammit, world, I’m a writer, not an artist!” But in spite of my meagre artistic skills, I’ve got a few items up and will add more when possible. So far, this pillow is my favorite item. I’ll be ordering one for the divan in my GirlCave today.

Now, let’s all make plenty of wonderful July memories!

Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards from Industralia #24 – Enjoying the Post-Apocalypse


Look! the round-cheeked moon floats high,
In the glowing August sky,
Quenching all her neighbor stars,
Save the steady flame of Mars.
“August Moon” by â€‹Emma Lazarus

Here are some fun facts about August: August is named for the first Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar (63 B.C. to A.D. 14). August is also traditionally canning season in my hemisphere and the bounty of tomatoes in my garden tells me I’ll need to get on that soon.

But perhaps most importantly, August 13th is Left Handers Day. I’m left handed, so will celebrate by just doing everything I normally do with the correct (not right!) hand. Incidentally, did you know that Sinistrophobia is the fear of left-handedness, or things on the left side? For any of you who might suffer from Sinistrophobia, I am right-aligning this newsletter just for you.

Morning Dew by Andrew McCurdy

Not all Post-Apocalypse books have zombies.

“Discover a world where rainbow fireflies glow in tune with your mood, quantum demons swear at you from the bushes, and cassowaries roam North America.”

It was my good fortune to be chosen as Andrew’s editor, and I had such a good time with this editing assignment. Andrew was a delight to work with! I’ve also managed to land his very first interview.

Cassowaries, Chickens, and the Apocalypse:
An Interview with “Morning Dew” Author Andrew McCurdy

Buy Morning Dew at Amazon

As the song says, “See you in September!”
Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards from Industralia #25 – Harvest Moon


“September’s newsletter is a few weeks late, I know. But at least I’m getting it sent before the harvest moon, which is September 20th this year – tomorrow! Did you know that all full moons have names, not just the Harvest Moon?

It’s been very busy around here. Along with submitting lots of short stories to various publications, I enjoyed working on an evaluation/coaching report for an author’s exciting spy thriller. And I’ve completed my annual fruit and vegetable canning. My shelves are filled with peaches, pears, applesauce, green beans, enchilada sauce, tomato puree, tomato juice, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something. I’ve also dried fresh mints and flowering plants for winter teas. Having antique Mason jars filled with tea ingredients is an incredibly cozy feeling.

Just for fun, I’ve set up a storefront at, as a way of featuring books I’ve enjoyed, and providing an alternative for people who don’t wish to purchase books directly from Amazon (I understand!) I hope you enjoy browsing my curated book lists. I’ll be making more as inspiration strikes.

I’ll close with a YouTube link to a lovely song by an artist I’ve loved since I was a teenager, just in time for that harvest moon. Remember to get out there and dance.

Take good care of yourself!
Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards from Industralia #26 – Here’s Looking At You, Squid


“Today is one of my favorite days of the year – happy World Octopus Day! If you’d like to celebrate along with me, I’ve gathered together plenty of entertainment and activities to make the day extra special. Just follow this link: What’s the Date? It’s Octo Eight!

New on the Brassbright Chronicle Blog:

Tenta-Cool! My Year of Twisted Kraken Madness

When I crocheted myself a Twisted Kraken hat back in early spring, I didn’t realize what I was in for. Friends and family immediately began clamoring for hats of their own. And it was such a joyful and adorable clamor that I agreed to make them.

And finally, here are a few jokes to crack up your kids or transform you into the wittiest person in your workplace:

  • Why did the octopus cross the reef? To get to the other tide!
  • What kind of printer did the octopus buy? An inkjet.
  • An octopus held up a local bank. Apparently he was very well-armed.
See you next month!

Postcards from Industralia #27 – Samhain Greetings and Fun with Book Stores


Halloween may be over, but we’re right in the middle of Samhain. At this time of year, I honor my ancestors and think fondly about loved ones who have passed on. I’m thankful for everyone that sprouted from my family tree throughout the centuries. Most of those branches are bare now, but each in their own time enlarged and nourished our tree, and provided a place for my branch to grow and thrive. If you’re curious to know more about Samhain, this is an article I often share with friends. And you are a friend.

Brassbright Busts into Brick and Mortar!
My cookbook, Steamed and Steamy and my adventure novel, The Flight to Brassbright, can now be purchased at The Robin Books in REO Town – a fun, artsy neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan. The Robin Books is tucked inside the magical space of The Robin Theatre. Right now the bookstore is open Saturday afternoons, but check the website for updates on that. If my books sell out, just tell Dylan and I’ll bring more! Here’s a fun article in our local City Pulse newspaper about the bookstore expansion of the theatre.

Dylan Rogers and Lori Alden Holuta at The Robin Books
Photo by Ken Holuta
Ways to Support Indie Authors and Bookstores
Have you discovered Bookshop yet? If you’re looking for an alternative to shopping at Amazon, Bookshop may be just what you’re looking for. I recently set up my own shop within the Bookshop network. So far, I’ve curated several lists of books that I’ve enjoyed throughout the years, and I hope these might help you find your next great read. By the end of November (I’m waiting out an Amazon agreement), I’ll also be listing my own books at Bookshop as well as Amazon, and most likely I’ll offer them at SmashWords as well. I’ll update you on this in the next newsletter.

I was quite jazzed to have one of my curated lists featured in various social media by Bookshop last week. Books That Changed My Life – “These are the books Lori Alden Holuta (The Brassbright Chronicles) never forgets, and will reread as often as possible. Each has influenced a facet of Lori’s life: her sense of humor, her outlook, the strength of her imagination, her plans for her future, and her memories of her past.”

New Feature – My Monthly Book Review and Recommendation
Every book I read, I review at A License to Quill, my author/editor/reviewer/foodie website. A few weeks ago I reluctantly finished and reviewed The Keeper of Happy Endings. I say ‘reluctantly’ because I didn’t want to leave the world author Barbara Davis had constructed. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this marvelous book.

Ready Highlighter One
Yesterday I noticed that author Ernest Cline had posted his Notes & Highlights from Ready Player One at Goodreads. In these, he shares insights into why he used certain phrasing and cultural references in the writing of his book. I found it to be an interesting peek into the mind of the writer, and I bet you will too!

Until next time, may November treat you and yours well.


Postcards from Industralia #28 – Knee Deep In Holidays!


“Having just recovered from Thanksgiving and my birthday, it’s time to think ahead to Christmas and the new year. We don’t usually make a big fuss over the holidays, but we do enjoy creating festive holiday foods. I’m looking forward to spending fun time in the kitchen making fantastic feasts and nummy nibbles.

Festive Books Galore
I know there’s a lot of holiday books out there, but I thought it would be fun to recommend some quirky and unusual stories for you and your families to enjoy. And one of them is mine! (hint: it involves a train)

A Hanukkah Book
Middle Grade Kids
The Hanukkah Bear
“Bubba Brayna’s legendary latkes lure an unexpected visitor into her home in this playful Hanukkah tale from a master storyteller.”

A Christmas Book
Adults – Gay Fiction
The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever
“Before he discovered the Heartland Bear Clan, Ron Corbin figured no one could ever love a “fatass” like him. But the big group of big men accepts him, and likes him just the way he is. Having finally found a place he belongs, he works hard to get elected president of the club—and wins.”

A Kwanzaa Book
Children’s Book with Illustrations
Together for Kwanzaa
“Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa? A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.”

A New Year Book
Middle Grade Kids
The Legend of the Engineer
“In a country called Industralia, children listen to a New Year’s story about Frostica, the Engineer, and a magical train pulled by Engine No.19.”

More Choices for Book Shopping
If you’re not so keen on shopping at Amazon these days, you can now buy my books at (paperbacks), and Smashwords (eBooks in a variety of formats).

Cooking Up Some Fun 
Need an unforgettable holiday present for that special kid in your life? Consider a subscription to the Sweet Encounter Kids Culinary Academy Your little chef-to-be will receive a themed cooking kit every month that includes three recipes, a utensil of the month and conversation cards. Visit the website to sign up or for more information.

The Dickens You Say!
Last year’s “Dickens Fair At Home” was a rousing success, and I enjoyed all the events immensely. The good news is, they’re holding it again this year! This is a free event, in spite of the ‘buy tickets’ link in the header. In fact, just ignore the header and scroll down their page for all the free fun. What can you look forward to, from the comfort of your own home? Here are some highlights from the website:

  • Invoke the spirits of Christmas Past and Christmas Present with “A Christmas Carol” read by Mr. Dickens himself.
  • Gather to sing in the parlour, or dance in the kitchen! Find favorite Fair music, videos, and the one and only Coventry Carolers in spirited song!
  • Discover delicious recipes from merry old England and serve up holiday favorites with Dickensian flair!
  • Entice your creative spirit (and young hearts) to make playful holiday gifts with instruction from Fair artists.

However you spend your December, may you create future happy memories for you and yours.

With warm and snuggly wishes,
Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards #28 – Important Update To Yesterday’s Newsletter


Yesterday’s newsletter contained a glowing recommendation for the Dicken’s Fair At Home online event. Sadly, today I’ve learned some terrible news about that event, and wanted to let you know I no longer endorse it. Here’s a link so you can decide for yourself if you want to participate or not.

‘Not a safe space’: Black cast members boycott Dickens Christmas Fair over failure to prevent racist, sexist behavior

Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #29 – Sales, Swearing, Speed, and Snow!


End of the Year Sale, and a Freebie!
Through January 1st at Smashwords, The Steamkettle Kids Save the Day is free, and The Flight To Brassbright is half price. Smashwords is an eBook shop that offers seven different electronic formats to choose from. Scroll down my author’s page to see all my books and sale prices.

Thunderation, my Steampunk Curse Generator is Down!
After many years, the third-party site that hosted my curse generator has deleted my page. I plan to revamp it and house it at, just as soon as I can find an app to do this. If you’re familiar with these sort of things, and know of an app that plays well with WordPress, I’d love to know about it. In the meantime, you’ll just have to think up fancy cussin’ phrases on your own.

But Miss Gail, What IS the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow?
I’ve always admired authors who pay attention to the small details in their stories. Gail Carriger has recently updated her 2012 blog post, Victorian Travel Times, in which she explains how she calculates the speed her characters move at, whether it’s by trains or dirigibles, or even the speed of a running, fully laden werewolf. It makes for an interesting and amusing article – and provides worldbuilding inspiration for any authors out there, as well.

“The Day It Snowed In Pasadena”
What in tarnation is Lori talking about? Well, with several locales dear to my heart having been transformed into winter wonderlands lately, those being Mid-Michigan and the Greater Seattle area, I’ve recalled a childhood memory.  Actually, it’s an event that happened before I was born, but I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, so I started hearing about it when I was mere hours old, I’m sure. Most of my contemporaries in the valley knew about it too. It was always referred to exactly like this: “The day it snowed in Pasadena”. My gramma told me about it dozens of times. My mom described it as well, and my grandpa simply nodded knowingly as the women of my family filled my head with seemingly impossible visions of snow-covered Southern California. If you’d like to learn more about “The Day It Snowed In Pasadena“, the Pasadena Museum of History has a good article, just follow the link. It would be so much grander if my gramma was telling the story, though. I will always regret not handing her the microphone attached to my tiny childhood tape recorder to preserve the story in her own words.

Until next month, may your new year be as amazing as snow in Pasadena!

Postcards From Industralia #30 – What I’m Reading


After pondering a blank newsletter box for a while, I realized I have nothing new to tell you. But, it’s February so I’m not surprised. Though it’s the shortest month, here in Michigan it can often feel like the longest. It’s the coldest month of the year, often brutally so. March is coming—we know that in theory, but as I sit here right now, gazing at the new layer of snow in the yard, I just keep wishing for a crocus bulb to pop up and give me hope that Spring is indeed on the way.

But in the meantime, while I wait, I have books to read! Ah, there’s my topic. Let me tell you about some books you may not be aware of. Rather than making up my own descriptions, I’ll give you back-cover blurbies. The authors worked very hard on these—blurbies are such a challenge!—so let’s enjoy them.

What I’m Reading Right Now

Gail Carriger

The Heroine’s Journey

Tired of the hero’s journey?
Frustrated that funny, romantic, and comforting stories aren’t taken seriously?
Sad that the books and movies you love never seem to be critically acclaimed, even when they sell like crazy?

The heroine’s journey is here to help.

Multiple New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a clear concise analysis of the heroine’s journey, how it differs from the hero’s journey, and how you can use it to improve your writing and your life.

In this book you’ll learn:

* How to spot the heroine’s journey in popular books, movies, and the world around you.
* The source myths and basic characters, tropes, and archetypes of this narrative.
* A step-by-step break down of how to successfully write this journey.

What do Agatha Christie, JK Rowling, and Nora Roberts all have in common?
They all write the heroine’s journey. Read this book to learn all about it.

From Harry Potter to Twilight, from Wonder Woman to Star Wars, you’ll never look at pop culture the same way again.

What Just Arrived on My Kindle

Jess Nevins
The Dictionary of Snow Hill

The Dictionary of Snow Hill is an encyclopedia guide to the greatest metropolis of the 1930s and the heroes and villains within it. Science adventurers, mad scientists, insane killer vigilantes, giant apes–they all lived in and around the sprawling, energetic city of Snow Hill, Maryland (the largest city in America) and adventured there. Readers will discover the exploits and losses, the triumphs and tragedies, of Michael Ferrum (a.k.a. “Doc Bronze”), the greatest adventurer in the world, assisted by his lieutenants, the Sensational Six; Havelock Black, the unmatched consulting detective; Howard Stein, the Garbo-obsessed mad scientist and creator of a variety of species of talking gorillas; El Aguila, the foremost luchador and hero of all Mexico; L’Ivoire Comte, the world weary albino European master thief; Anton Weird, the “Doctor of Destinies;” and many more.

The Dictionary of Snow Hill is a loving homage to the best aspects of the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s and to authors as varied as Peter Ackroyd, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Margaret Irwin, H.P. Lovecraft, Nelson Algren, and William Hope Hodgson. Written as an homage of Milorad Pavic’s The Dictionary of the Khazars, the Dictionary of Snow Hill is both New Pulp and Old, pastiche and tribute, adventure novel and tragedy, romance and science fiction. Fans of the pulp characters will find the familiar and the unexpected in the Dictionary; those who have never read the pulps will find much to enjoy.

A Pre-Order I’m Anticipating

This pre-order should arrive on February 23rd. It’s the sixth book in the Mysterious Devices series, which I’ve been enjoying immensely.

Shelley Adina
The Professor Wore Prussian Blue

Daisy and Frederica Linden, having finally found their beloved father, Professor Rudolph Linden, are on the last leg of the journey they began so long ago. The only thing now in their way is the notorious gang of air pirates who haunt the archipelago between Port Townsend and Victoria. Corporal Kent of the Royal Canadian Airborne Police gallantly offers to escort their conveyance in an official airship, hoping against hope that Freddie will fly with him and give him an answer to a very important question.

But Professor Linden’s sense of propriety dictates that Daisy’s fiancé William Barnicott and their ward Davey Fletcher should become the corporal’s crew. They gravely underestimate the pirates’ abilities and are barely clear of the mainland when they are shot down. It is up to the Lindens to locate the pirate hideout among the islands and mount a rescue. But when Davey goes missing, will they find him in time … or is it the pirates who should fear one intrepid small boy?

Perhaps in my next newsletter I’ll have news of budding crocus for you. Until then, stay safe, stay warm, be kind, keep reading! – Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #31 – Name my Characters – Read an eBook


Purple Crocus – Photo by Ken Holuta

Know a friend who might enjoy receiving my monthly Postcard From Industralia? I encourage you to forward this newsletter along with an encouragement to subscribe by clicking the Postcards from Industralia link below.

Greetings, Intrepid Reader!

Last month I mentioned that I hoped to be able to announce crocus blooms in my March newsletter. Alas, they are still playing shy! But I will keep an eye out for them. They can’t hide forever, right? Ah, well. Onward we go!


I’ve written the first draft of a short story. It’s not set in the Brassbright universe. I’ve dabbled with many short stories, and I’d love to finish a few of them, perhaps even submit them to publications. Like all first drafts, this story will be tweaked quite a bit before I’m happy with it. So far, I refer to the main characters generically, but for this story to have as much heart as I’d like it to have, they are going to need names. Perhaps you can help me!

The story is set about seventy years ago. The main characters are a smitten young couple – a man and a woman. They live in a Japanese mountain village. I’d love to use Japanese first names that somehow evoke a ‘beautiful and tragic’ feel.

Oh, and bonus points for locating their village! I need a good-sized Japanese village somewhere in the mountains. It should be large enough to have homes, a small main street with shops, and a train station. If you know of a village that fits this description, I’d love to visit it (via Google Earth, of course) and draw inspiration from a real setting.

Here are the first three paragraphs of my draft. Perhaps reading them will start those gears turning in your head. If you come up with names to suggest, simply email them to me at If I choose your name(s), I’ll contact you and we’ll talk about them.

I Said I’d Find You
He was the oldest man in the village, and because of his age he’d earned the respect of his neighbors. What the villagers never said aloud though, is that they all thought he’d gone mad. Why? The explanation would be a story, so let’s begin.

When the old man was a younger man, he fell terribly in love with the prettiest girl in the village. Of course, as always happens in romance tales, their parents forbade them to marry. And so the young lovers decided to elope and travel far away, where no one would know them and they could live as they pleased.

Plans were made. A destination was chosen. Two train tickets were purchased. Suitcases were packed, bedrooms were tidied. Apologetic notes were propped against vases of flowers for parents to find.


Don’t miss the 13th annual Smashwords “Read an eBook Week” sale, running now through Saturday, March 12. One of those books is mine! Get The Flight To Brassbright eBook at 50% off.

During “Read an eBook Week” you can browse over 62,000 deep-discounted titles using advanced filtering options to discover your next great reads. Whether you love mysteries, thrillers, contemporary romance, sci-fi, erotica, non-fiction, or anything in between, you’ll find a treasure trove of incredible deals with discount levels ranging from 25% to 100% (free!).

When you arrive to the Read an eBook sale page, click your favorite categories on the left side of the page to filter participating titles by genre and category. Use the top-center filtering options to filter by price, discount level, or word count. (ProTip: The Flight To Brassbright is in the “Coming of Age” category.) Oh, and two of my kid’s books just happen to be free! Hunt them down and they are yours for the taking.

Until next month!  I’ll be out staring at the garden dirt, willing the crocus to arise.

Be well, be kind, be happy.
~ Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #32 – Names, Poetry, and Choices


The Name Game
You may recall that last month I asked for help naming two main characters for a short story set in a village in the northern mountains of Japan. The names I have chosen from your suggestions are: Kiyomi, meaning clear, clean, or beautiful and Tadashi, meaning loyal or faithful. My thanks to those who sent ideas. I certainly hope that Kiyomi and Tadashi forgive me for everything I’m putting them through in this tragic little tale. If/when I find a market for it, you will be the *first* to know.

Bad Poetry Takes YouTube By Storm
Did you know that I write poetry now and then? It’s usually silly (I know, big shock). Over a decade ago, I submitted some of it to a website called Very Bad Poetry under my alter-ego, Ceejay Writer. I liked having a home for my wonky little works. After a few years, I drifted away from VBP, but my poetry remained. When I finally remembered to visit it again, the site had vanished. Ah well, these things happen, onward we go. But last week, I wanted to share one of my poems with someone, and I thought it was up at my own website. I did a quick google as a shortcut to the right page, and to my surprise, a YouTube video appeared in my search results. It seems that back in October of 2012, produced a delightfully dramatic reading of my poem as performed by actor Ian Delaney, but never told me about it! I’ve sent Ian my thanks and compliments, and he’s delighted that I finally found the darn thing. Give An Ode To Ladybugs a listen and a like.

Beyond Amazon 
With Down the Tubes on track to arrive within our lifetime, I’m making decisions about how it will be published and promoted. In the past, I’ve depended on Amazon to do the heavy lifting, with Smashwords giving an extra boost. Amazon is still a good platform for independent authors, but the competition is looking more impressive these days. And I need to face reality—some people don’t want to shop at Amazon. Smashwords recently merged with Draft2Digital and it looks like authors are really going to benefit. I’ve set up a splash page at, showing purchase options for my books beyond Amazon. Click any cover and choose “Get It Now” to explore a variety of options.Finally, don’t forget that tomorrow is Rex Manning Day! And it’s Friday, so why not kick back and watch Empire Records!

Lori Alden Holuta

Postcards From Industralia #33 – In the Weeds, and A Couple of Punks


“I hope April treated you well, and that May is behaving itself nicely. I’ve been enjoying springtime in Michigan, even thought this year that included a surprise snow shower or two. It felt good to welcome back our reliable, beautiful crocuses, always a sign of good things to come. (Crocus photo by Ken Holuta)

Fancy a Cuppa Weeds?
The Cambridge Dictionary describes the phrase ‘in the weeds’ as meaning “with so many problems or so much work that you are finding it difficult to deal with something”. Examples: We’re down in the weeds here with customer service, or The cooks were so deep in the weeds, they were threatening to walk out.

Around my house, ‘in the weeds’ has a more literal meaning. This time of year, a little yellow flower cheerfully pops up everywhere, to my delight and probably every else’s horror. Here in Michigan, it’s dandelion season! Just look at these soft, fluffy dandelion petals, pulled free from their green flower buds. They’re ready to add to quick breads, cupcakes, or just brew into a golden tea.

I spent most of yesterday in the weeds, and many of them came back in the house with me. I did my weeding just after a good rain, so the dandelion roots came up surprisingly easily. I scrubbed them clean, chopped them up and roasted them on low heat (300 degrees) for about 40 minutes, till they were dry and rock hard, but not burnt. Then into the coffee grinder they went! I pulverized them to a fine powder, which can be used to make a hot beverage that has a warm, nutty flavor. It’s similar to, but will never be mistaken for, coffee. I like it. Here’s a good article about harvesting, preparing, and brewing dandelion root coffee. The article says you don’t have to grind the roasted roots, but I like to. I feel I’m getting a lot more of the flavor this way. Just be sure to strain your drink before sipping!

For more springtime fun, here’s my collection of Living Simply articles, which includes some foraging adventures for you, and more information about dandelions, of course.

Need a Little Steampunk In Your Politics?
The YouTube video blurb says, “While modern campaigns have neglected music as a medium of messaging, grassroots activists have not. Andrew Crockett embraces this wholesome American tradition with his own campaign song to sing on his journey to Santa Clara County Assessor!” Not only does he sing, he dresses in a dapper vintage suit and hat, and his moustache is just marvelous. If I lived in Santa Clara county, I’d certainly give him my consideration. MUSIC VIDEO: “Public Service is What It’s For”

Crave a Dash of Prinnypunk In Your Reading?
Now that Shelley Adina’s Mysterious Devices series has come to a satisfying conclusion, she hopes you’ll dive into “The Emperor’s Aeronaut”, the first book in The Regent’s Devices series. This ‘Prinnypunk’ series is co-written by Shelley Adina and R.E. Scott. (Prinnypunk being Shelley’s coined word for this series, which is set in 1819 – the late Georgian Period, often called the Regency Period.) Learn more about the trilogy at Shelley Adina’s website.  And really, isn’t this a marvelous book cover?

Until next month – whether it’s springtime or autumn in your corner of the world, I hope you are enjoying nature’s beauty and bounty.

Lori Alden Holuta

Looking for my books beyond Amazon?
This universal link will give you lots of purchasing alternatives.

Postcards From Industralia #34 – The One With All The Links


It’s been a heck of a month, and the lateness of this newsletter proves it! I always aim for getting this out sometime during the first week of the month, but here we are in the *last* week of the month! So, what was I doing all month then, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell ya.

I’d planted a banana pepper and creeping rosemary in one of our deck pots. It’s fun to have pepper snacks within easy reach while relaxing on the deck, and the rosemary… well, I can never have too much rosemary, and I love the scent. But this is what my pot looked like the next morning – just horrible! We knew what it was, since Chives the Wonder Cat had recently alerted us to a raccoon casing the joint.

So I repotted the plants, which were unbroken, and covered the bare soil with fist-sized rocks. But the next morning, the pot had been trashed again! Grrr. I replanted *again* and put the rocks back, but this time I covered the exposed soil with used coffee grounds, because I’d read that raccoons hate the smell of coffee. At dusk, we also turned on the overhead deck light and removed all other temptations, like cat food and water bowls.

Ta-Da! The pot is untouched and the raccoon seems to have moved on. I’m still leaving the deck light on at night, but I can probably stop doing that soon. Maybe.

I’ve also been having fun with a new acquisition, Egyptian Walking Onions, celebrated Chive’s 9th adoptaversary, and binged Queens of Mystery on Acorn TV. By the way, other binge-worthy Acorn TV shows include Foyle’s War and Murdoch Mysteries (currently in it’s 15th season).

And of course I’ve been book-binging! I review everything I read, so if you’re curious, please check out some of my reviews. A few days ago, Save the World dropped into my Kindle and I’m going to be cracking into it this afternoon. Why don’t you grab a copy and join me? If you love it (I suspect I will), there’s more cli-fi (climate fiction) stories in last year’s anthology, Fix the World.

Twenty Science Fiction Authors Fix the World

Climate change is no longer a vague future threat. Forests are burning, currents are shifting, and massive storms dump staggering amounts of water in less than 24 hours. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to save the world from climate change. From the myriad of stories we received, we chose the twenty most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change via solar mirrors, carbon capture, genetic manipulation, and acts of change both large and small.

The future’s not going to fix itself.

Buy Save the World at your favorite online bookseller

Until next month, in the words of an old saying I just made up, “May your plants remain planted.”

Cheers! ~ Lori

Postcards From Industralia #35 – Freedom and Patience


As July winds down, I’ve decided that my personal theme words of the month were ‘Freedom’ and ‘Patience’.

On June 28th, Ken and I finished a ghostwriting project that had consumed most of our evenings and all of our creative energy for quite a while. When I finally pushed the ‘Publish’ button at Amazon, I felt a surge of pride in what we’d accomplished. But I was just as excited about returning to my own projects, especially pushing Down the Tubes closer to the finish line.

Last week I converted my cookbook, Steamed and Steamy, into an eBook. I’d been asked about an eBook version quite a few times in the six years since the paperback came out. I’d thought about doing it many times, and always ended up setting it aside. Why did it take me six years to finish this? Well, it’s like this… But now it’s done and available for pre-order, with a release date of August 2nd. But if you would like to buy it before its released to the general public, go to Smashword’s Pre-Sale Sale right now.

A New Way to Discover Books
In mid-July I was contacted by the creator of about writing a themed book page. Before answering, I prowled around the site and loved what I saw. So I said yes, I would be delighted to recommend books on my favorite theme, “The Best Books to Inspire Adventurous and Courageous Girls”. Learn more about Shepherd and explore my book list.

“Why am I a Spinster?”
In 1889, Tit-Bits, a weekly British magazine (I kid you not!), asked that question of its readers, and the replies are scathingly funny and sometimes heartbreaking. My favorite reply is, “Like the wild mustang of the prairie that roams unfettered, tossing his head in utter disdain at the approach of the lasso which, if once round his neck, proclaims him captive, so I find it more delightful to tread on the verge of freedom and captivity, than to allow the snarer to cast around me the matrimonial lasso.” I would not dare to call that formidable, wordsmith a spinster!

A Musical Bonus
While writing this newsletter, I’ve been listening to some cheery, fun music created by a good friend. Want to join me? Check out the Barbary Ghost’s Tribute to Studio Ghibli at Spotify.

August is coming! Beware the dog days of summer!
August is also National Catfish Month. Huh?

Anyway… until next time, be well and do your best!

Postcards From Industralia #36 – Full Steam Ahead!


Greetings, friends! I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer (or winter, for my down-under friends). I adore the summer sun and have been soaking it up in moderate amounts. My doctor loves to remind me that my Irish ancestors did not equip me well for such antics. Still, I love it. And I have the freckles to prove it.

I’m very happy to bring you new book news this month! It’s been a while since I’ve had anything published, and now I have *two* projects to tell you about.

First, I’m happy to announce that my 300 word flash-fiction story, “Magic Mirror” was chosen for Clarity, an anthology being produced by the Queer Sci-Fi website. I’m in good company, which includes my friends Jess Nevins and Crysta Coburn. I was surprised to learn that my story was granted Honorable Mention status, *and* a Judge’s Choice award. Who knew that a mere 300 words could be so validating? Clarity will release for sale on October 5th.

Second, I’ve gathered up all my kid’s short stories and created a collection titled Full Steam Ahead. The cover art features five books which are posing as homes (see it in all its splendor below), and I had four stories to include. I kept looking at those five books, and decided this collection really needed a fifth story to live in that fifth house, right?  It’s nice to be able to include something fresh and new for readers, too. So, without further ado…

A collection of all the “Brassbright Kids” stories PLUS a brand-new novelette!

Five adventures, all set in a Victorian-ish, steampunky country called Industralia. Three stories were previously published individually, one was written for International Octopus Day, and the final story is a brand-new adventure that can only be read in this collection!

The Steamkettle Kids Save the Day
It’s a warm Saturday in the summer of 1872, and somewhere in Steamkettle Bay, bad things are happening. Can Paisley Pockets and Christopher Cogan stop a crime in progress? They may be just a couple of kids, but where there’s a will and some smarts, there just might be a way.

The Legend of The Engineer
In a country called Industralia, children listen to a New Year’s story about Frostica, the Engineer, and a magical train pulled by Engine No.19.

A Life Invented
Gerard Liddle is a kid growing up in the late 1800s in the idyllic town of Quartz Corners. He’s already tinkering around with his very first inventions – which sometimes work, and sometimes do unexpected things.

The Steamkettle Kids and the Lucky Tentacles
After a hurricane shakes up Steamkettle Bay, Paisley Pockets, Christopher Cogan and Jimmy Cupper have an adventure as big as the sea.

The Secret of Tarragon Alley

Robin lives in an apartment high above the bustling streets of Brassbright City. He dreams of life on a farm, or at least having a garden filled with flowers, just like Gramma did. When he brings home a little clay pot filled with gnarly, weird plants, he has no idea that it will take him on an amazing adventure.

You can pre-order Full Steam Ahead right now at Amazon. A paperback version will be coming along in about a week if you prefer that format. I’ll also be listing it at Smashwords,,, and Goodreads. Remember, pre-orders help authors immensely. On September 25th when the eBook releases and drops into everyone’s Kindles, it will be ranked higher and be more visible to Amazon shoppers, thanks to those pre-orders.

Until next time… wait, is that pumpkin spice I smell on the wind?  Autumn is on the way!


Postcards From Industralia #37 – Octo-My-Gosh!


And already, it’s October. From where I sit, it doesn’t seem so long ago when my gardens were just greening up for spring. But, here we are. Perhaps I should have a second home in Australia—I could be forever chasing spring and summer! Now that’s a nice daydream for this California-born girl.


I consider October’s arrival as the start of the holiday season here in North America. After all, tomorrow is Thanksgiving in Canada. But let’s not overlook today, October 8th. “Octo Eight” is International Octopus Day! Take a break and enjoy some of the goodies in my resource guide to various octopodian offerings.


Recently, I was interviewed by Adam Geffen, author of the Cassidy Chronicles, and it was fun. If you are curious to know more about me, learn how and why I write my stories, find out what my spirit animal is, and other sorta-scintillating facts – here ya go. Adam Interviews… Lori Holuta!


I have a story in this cool new flash fiction anthology called “Clarity”, a collection of 120 short stories (including one from yours truly) for just $4.99: Amazon ~ Universal Buy Link ~ And there’s a giveaway!

Until next time!

Postcards From Industralia #38 – Holidays, Cute Dogs & Freebies


And just like a snap of my fingers, it’s November. For me, October just zoomed by. I was lucky enough to have one of my besties from Newcastle, England, come over to stay at our house for a week. It was part of her Grand Tour adventure to visit friends in three states, and while she was here we had a wonderful time. But now it’s November, a month chock-full of family birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday celebrations. Did you know that today is Chaos Never Dies Day?  To be honest, that’s a holiday we celebrate at our house all year long. But while I have a rare calm moment, let’s catch up on some news.

Get Four Free Books – Including One of Mine is an inclusive library of speculative fiction titles (fantasy, sci fi, paranormal and horror). Join Liminal Fiction as a reader now for free and get all of this:

  • Four speculative fiction eBooks from LimFic authors
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Then each month, you can sign up for the next batch of free books via the notices in the newsletter.

Book Review of the Month (New Feature)
I review every book I read at A License to Quill – if you’re looking for your next read, maybe I can help. Starting right now, I’ll be sharing one of my reviews in this newsletter each month.

I recently reviewed an absolutely delightful book called Pairing Paws: Dog Breeds and their Spirit Wines. Now I know a lot of you are dog people – or wine people – or both. This large coffee table-sized book filled with heart-tugging photographs of dogs would make an excellent Christmas gift.

Stocking Stuffer Idea
When I was a kid, my Christmas stocking always held a tangerine stuffed down in the toe, some walnuts, a couple of cheap plastic toys, a roll of fruit flavored Lifesavers, and a book. I loved having a new book to read after the Christmas feast, when the adults had fallen into conversation (or a sporting event), and left the kids to their own devices. Why not stuff a copy of Full Steam Ahead: A Short Story Collection Where Kids Save the Day into stockings this year? It even has a New Year’s story your young reader could save to read on the first day of 2023.

Now, I’ll let you go so you can get ready for tomorrow’s holiday – International Accounting Day. And since it’s also National Vanilla Cupcake day, why not give a sweet treat to your favorite accountant?

See you next month!

Postcards From Industralia #39 – Links, Freebies, and Science


“I’m sending my monthly newsletter a little early, because today is the last day of a special deal where you can get my novel, The Flight to Brassbright, along with three other books for free. Read to the end for more details.

Now, on with the show!  I don’t have a lot to tell you about this month, but as always, I’d love it if you you would consider reading one of my books, or purchasing them as gifts for your avid reader friends. I’ll make it easy, too. I have a universal book link, which is a portal to all sorts of places you can purchase my books. Not everyone wants to use Amazon, and I understand that. My books are available through lots of other places, too!  Bookmark this link:

Book Review of the Month – My Dog is NOT a Scientist
It’s time for the school’s annual Science Fair and Yara is super-excited about it! I love Yara’s never-give-up attitude, even when she’s being mocked by Eddie, the guy that’s always won the Science Fair in the past, or when she’s thwarted by her overly-eager dog, Renzo. As she struggles to come up with the perfect project to win first place, she figures out what it means to be a real scientist. Read my full review at A License to Quill.

Want my Novel for Free? TODAY IS THE LAST DAY! 
Liminal Fiction is an inclusive library of speculative fiction titles (fantasy, sci fi, paranormal and horror). Join Liminal Fiction as a reader now for free and get all of this:

  • Four speculative fiction eBooks from LimFic authors
  • Liminal Fiction’s weekly email newsletter
  • The ability to add books to your TBR list, and to “favorite” authors you enjoy.

Then each month, you can sign up for the next batch of free books via the notices in the newsletter. For November, one of those books is MINE, “The Flight to Brassbright”. The books will change over soon, so don’t wait!

And I will see you in the new year! Happy holidays, everyone.


Postcards From Industralia #39 – Welcome, Welcome!


“I don’t usually send out a mid-month newsletter, but I recently participated in a promotional book bundle sponsored by Liminal Fiction and I am delighted (and slightly shocked) that the promo more than doubled my newsletter subscribers. I couldn’t wait to welcome my newest friends and bring everyone up to speed!

I’m Lori Alden Holuta, and I write young adult and kid’s books set on my fictional planet of BrightHope. My genre is “Victorian-Era Steampunk-ish Carnival-esque Bohemian Urban Fantasy Sitcom Comedy” (that’s a genre, right?) You could also call it HopePunk, an upcoming new genre that’s quite timely for our stressful world.

This Universal Buy Link is always kept up-to-date with my books and all the places you can buy them. Right now, The Flight to Brassbright, Full Steam Ahead, and Steamed and Steamy are 50% off at Smashwords through New Year’s day.

My author site is The Brassbright Chronicle. The name comes from my novel series (yes, I know there’s just one book out so far, but there’s three more in the works!), and it’s also the name of my fictional newspaper. Poke around the place and you’ll find all sorts of stuff, including games and puzzles, book info, and even stories and poetry that you won’t find anywhere else.

If you’re socially inclined, here’s a list of where you can find me, and hopefully we’ll become friends out there in the wild and crazy socials! If you ever have a question for me, I’m always happy to hear from you. Just drop me an email at, or tag me in social media.

If you’ve read this far and think that I’m not your cuppa tea, there’s a no-drama unsubscribe link at the bottom of all my newsletters. I usually only send these out once a month. After all, who likes a bloated email box? Nobody! I do hope you’ll stick around, though!

See you in 2023 – Happy Holidays!

Postcards From Industralia #40 – Poetry, Reviews, Divans


Welcome to 2023, or MMXXIII, as they say in the movie credits. I hope the year has been kind to you so far.

I’ve been writing poetry lately, as I’m determined to finally publish my manuscript with a working title of “Victorian ABC’s”. My challenge is to write a poem or two for each letter of the alphabet, all firmly grounded in an aspect of the Victorian era. A few days ago I toyed around with the front page of the book and came up with this:

Alphabetically Poetical Victoriana

Exploring the Victorian Era in Poetry
A prose-laden romp through the Victoria era, in alphabetical order, with fine illustrations. Various forms of verse—from familiar to obscure—will take you on a journey from Ada to Zoetrope.
Poetry by Lori Alden Holuta
Illustrations by Olivia Wylie

If you have an opinion about the title or wording, I’d love to hear from you via email. At this stage, nothing is carved in stone and I’m open to hearing your thoughts. Oh, and let’s have a sneak preview of Olivia Wylie’s artwork, shall we? She’s created 26 images to grace the pages of what will hopefully become a fancy coffee-table-worthy book. This is her illustration for “T is for Tea”.

Have you ever read, or written, an Octo poem? This is a poem with eight lines. Each line has eight syllables. Now, here’s where it gets a little nutty. The line sequence is ABCDDCBA. What that means is, the first three lines (ABC) are repeated in reverse order as the last three lines (CBA). The middle two lines (DD) rhyme with each other, but none of  the other lines have to rhyme. This form of poetry was created by James Neille Northe. I’ve written two Octo poems for the “O Is For Octopus” page of the book. I just couldn’t resist!

I’ve finished reading and reviewing my first book of the year. I enjoyed A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking and I think you might like it, too. Read my review and see what you think.

Last year I achieved my goal of reading and reviewing 100 books, but this year I’m just aiming for 50. I don’t feel I need to match last year’s pace, and I want to be sure there’s enough time in my days to write and pursue other passions. If you want to follow me on my reading journey, I track all the books I read at Goodreads.

Reading is so much more comfortable and fun when you have a cozy spot to relax. For me, it’s a simple little divan, covered with a crocheted blanket and heaped with pillows, not far from my desk and computer. When I need a break, it’s right there waiting for me, often with a bonus cat to cuddle. I love divans. In fact, I spotted one online yesterday that I think would be perfect here in my writing room! Isn’t it wonderful? There’s only one problem with it… the price is $22,000, plus $899 shippingFor that price, I expect to be able to lounge on it on a beach in Tahiti.

A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
—Madeleine L’Engle

See you mid-February!

Postcards From Industralia #41 – Loose Ends, Video Review, Dragon Eater


In my part of the world, we’re only eight days away from spring! I just know the almost-every-day snowfalls will magically stop on the 20th, right? Well, a girl can dream, can’t she? Meanwhile, as I glare at the snowflakes tumbling past my window, let’s read some positive, good news. Onward!

Loose Ends

Some of you know that I’m an avid crocheter. Recently, I learned about Loose Ends. As the founders say in their ‘About Us’ message, “Jennifer Simonic and Masey Kaplan, both avid knitters, realized that they had a shared experience: Friends would often ask them to finish blankets, sweaters, or other projects left undone by deceased loved ones.”

To learn how to submit a loved one’s project for completion, or to become a finisher yourself, visit the website. If you appreciate the work being done, you can help defray the costs of running this volunteer-driven project via this GoFundMe. Also, follow them them on Facebook for frequent updates and lively chatter.

Photo  © Winky Lewis

Full Steam Ahead – Video Review

Mary Lanni is a librarian who creates video book reviews. She’s reviewed Full Steam Ahead: Adventures in Industralia, my collection of short stories for kids. I’m delighted with it, and encourage you to watch Mary’s review at YouTube. If this entices you to purchase Full Steam Ahead, it’s available in eBook or paperback at many online stores. Click here for purchasing options.

The Dragon Eater

The Dragon Eater is the first of four books in The Tharassas Cycle, a new series by J. Scott Coatsworth. This SciFi/Fantasy/Queer adventure releases on March 16th. Read my review of The Dragon Eater, where I’ll also tell you how you can get Tales From Tharassas, a prequel to The Dragon Eater, for free!

Until next month, which will surely find me frolicking in springtime weather,


Postcards from Industralia #42 – I’m Late, I’m Late!


Whoops! You may have noticed that I didn’t send a newsletter in April. Sorry about that, but I had a couple of unusual distractions…

Distraction #1 – Fantasy Faire

Fantasy Faire – A Relay for Life of Second Life event
Celebrating its fifteenth year, Fantasy Faire 2023 drew a large gathering of fantasy designers, enthusiasts, roleplayers and performers in the virtual world. Faire-goers were treated to dance and theater performances, DJ parties, auctions and shopping, questing, a Literary Festival, fantasy art, and roleplaying. Second Life residents and creators brought their own visions together to support the American Cancer Society’s vision of a world without cancer. This year, the Faire raised a total of $119,536 USD for the American Cancer Society.As my avatar, Ceejay Writer, at the Faire’s Literary Festival, I led four events. Two were storytelling hours, where writers shared their works in progress for others to enjoy and offer feedback. I also led two writing workshops:Blurb’s the Word – A Writer’s Workshop with Ceejay Writer
“If that back-cover description isn’t compelling, your potential audience could be passing you by. Learn how to hook a casual browser and turn them into your next avid reader.”Continuity: Solid Worlds, Believable Characters – A Writer’s Workshop with Ceejay Writer
“Ever have a character change their hair color, accent, or even gender in mid-story? And it’s not part of the plot? Oops. If your Loki-wannabe isn’t a shapeshifter or a trickster, it’s up to you to give them stability. We’ll talk about continuity in your worldbuilding, too!”Both of these workshops went very well. I think everyone learned something – including me! Soon, I will post the transcripts of both workshops at A License to Quill. If you’re interested in reading them, toss me an email and let me know. I’ll reply when they are posted.

Distraction #2 – The Big Copy Edit Job

Copy Editing is the process of revising written material to improve readability and fitness, as well as ensuring that a text is free of grammatical and factual errors.

I accepted a copy edit job in early April. It was a large manuscript, 104,000 words, which was big enough to let me really get into the story, bond with it, and make it better. It was very satisfying work. Normally, this would be a two-week turnaround, but since I was also knee-deep in Fantasy Faire events, I asked for a full month. And boy, was I glad I did. Not only did the book need plenty of tweaks, the author had requested a final product in American English. I didn’t realize at first how very, very British the author was. And that’s not just a matter of changing ‘petrol’ to ‘gas’ and ‘pub’ to ‘bar’. British English structures sentences differently than American English, so hundreds of them had to be re-sorted to flow in an American style. Anyway, this job consumed every available moment of my allotted 30 days, but I was pleased with the end result and hopefully the author was, too.

I’ll see you in June (the universe permitting),

Postcards from Industralia #43 – The Meaningful, the Delectable, and the Adorable


Happy last day of Spring!

Summer starts tomorrow here in the Midwest, but we’ve been practicing with soaring temperatures and dry spells for a while. During that heat we experienced a full exterior house refurbishing and have put in a lot of muscle-building landscape restoration work. The upshot is, I’m so ready for a relaxed summer of lounging on the back deck, and enjoying my newly spruced-up surroundings while catching up on my reading.

We Came To Dance Anthology Kickstarter

Speaking of reading – here’s a worthy cause to support. I’ve contributed an original story of my own for this book, and it’s the only place you’ll be able to read “Janet! At the Disco”. I had a lot of fun writing it, and hopefully it will put a nostalgic smile on everyone’s faces.

“Amphibian Press welcomes you to stand up with us as we support Club Q through storytelling. On November 19, 2022, an LGBT community hub and nightclub called Club Q was attacked by a shooter in Colorado Springs. Five people were murdered. Someone tried to destroy not just individual queer folx’ lives, but a safe place for the LGBT community. Someone silenced the music everyone in the club had come to celebrate with gunfire. We can’t let that happen. We came together with authors from around the world to tell stories of queer joy, filled with gender and culture-diverse characters, found family, community solidarity, love, comfort and hope. All proceeds will be donated to Club Q.”

Iron Skillet No-Excuse Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

One of my favorite foodie websites went offline recently. Luckily, I have a habit of saving recipes I love as pdf files, so I didn’t lose the recipe for cast iron skillet buttermilk drop biscuits. I’ve made a few modifications to the recipe, and it’s now posted at my website. It includes a convenient hack to get around that tedious cutting butter into flour step, and another hack for making fake buttermilk. There are also low-sodium instructions to drive the sodium content down to almost nothing. I make these biscuits often, and we are both addicted to them.

Chives Adoptaversary

On June 6, 2013, Chives showed up out of nowhere and managed to instantly ambush Ken’s heart. We couldn’t just leave him out in the rain, meowing plaintively as he sat in our chives plant, so in he came. But just for one night, of course, as our lease had a no-pet clause. But Chives managed to clear all the hurdles and that one night turned into ten years. Take a look back at Chives’ first decade with us – one year at a time.

Until next month, I’ll just be over here watching the fireflies dancing after dark!

Postcards from Industralia #44 – Deep in the Dog Days of Summer


There’s a saying that goes, “I need summer to be longer so I have more time to do nothing.” If only that were true! Frequent rains have our yard and gardens happily exploding with bursts of flowers, greenery, and weeds! Our veggie garden has also gone overboard, producing lots of delicious, fresh food for us to enjoy. Last night we snapped green beans while watching Good Omens, and today I’ll be canning those in pint jars. Our beets are also ready to enjoy, and I’d dearly love some new recipes that don’t involve pickling them. Do you have one to share?

There’s a lot going on in author-world too, so let’s talk about that!

Seeking A Common Thread

Here’s an overview of the Brassbright Chronicles series as it stands right now. It would be super-helpful to me to identify a common thread that ties them all together as a series. I’m brainstorming ideas, but I thought it would be fun to ask my readers what they think. If a connecting thread occurs to you, use my email address at the bottom of this newsletter and tell me about it! If your idea ends up being the breakthrough concept I’m looking for, I’ll do something nice for you. 🙂
The Flight to Brassbright (Published)
Idealistic young Constance runs away to join the circus, and ends up taking the road trip of her life, gaining insight, wisdom, and friends along the way.
Down the Tubes (In editing)
In Brassbright City, four letters are delivered via pneumatic mail tubes to the wrong recipients. They don’t know that they’ve received the wrong mail, and each person takes action based on the letters in hand. How their lives are changed by this incident is the basis for this admittedly ambitious book. Each letter’s impact becomes a complete story, along with a prequel about ‘how it happened’ and a finale that brings everyone together.
The Hidden Doors (75% written)
Three teenage friends try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Brassbright City’s eccentric, reclusive star of the stage – Divinity Desmond.
Off the Rails (still brainstorming)
Can Constance (now grown and working as a writer) get to the bottom of a scandal that involves Industralia’s new transcontinental railroad line?

A License to What?

You probably know about my author website, The Brassbright Chronicle at It’s full of information about my books, the Victorian Era that inspires them, and steampunky fun and freebies for adults and kids.

But you may not know about A License to Quill at This is the home of my book reviews, information about my editing services, my low-sodium and family recipes, information about living simply (I am an earthmomma, after all), and a ‘hodgepodge’ section for anything that can’t be pigeonholed.

If you aren’t a friend of my Second Life avatar, Ceejay Writer, that website address might be hard to remember. My hosting company recently had a domain name sale, so on a whim I snapped up and redirected it to Now, no matter which name you remember, you’ll end up at the right place.

We Came to Dance – A Queer Anthology Benefitting Club Q

I recently wrote a cute, romantic short story called Janet! At the Disco for an anthology project. A Kickstarter was created to fund this project, and would have given supporters extra swag and artwork for helping the book get published. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter didn’t fund. However, Amphibian Press will still publish the book (without the swag), and will forward all proceeds to the Club Q community via the Colorado Healing Fund.  You can pre-order We Came to Dance at the publisher’s website.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear my pea pods calling out to be picked. I suppose the tomatoes will be next?

Until next month!

Postcards from Industralia #45 – Fall Has Fell


Taking a Fall color drive around the countryside in our part of Michigan is a treat. Leaves have turned from green to blazingly colorful displays that could rival a July fireworks show. Of course, those same leaves are subject to the laws of gravity, and are currently piling up on everyone’s lawns after the big show. I think at last count, Ken had raked up nine garden cart loads of red bud and black locust tree leaves. While he’s been staying warm doing the fall cleanup, I’ve been warming the house with the last of the garden harvest canning projects, filling our pantry shelves with pints and quarts of produce to take us through to next year’s harvest. I believe I’ve canned enough homemade spaghetti sauce to feed whatever army might happen to show up. Or sink a battleship. Maybe both.

Last Wednesday, we got our first snow. Winter may still be weeks away, but since when does Mother Nature pay attention to human contrivances like calendars?
The first snow of the year, as seen from my writer’s girlcave window, looking south towards the frosted soybean field behind our yard. 

“I’ve heard wittier banter from the gargoyles of Notre-Dame”

After being broken for a couple of years, I’ve finally brought my Steampunk Curse Generator back from oblivion. I repopulated the generator with a few curses from the old version and some new ones from a couple of creative friends, but I would like to keep adding new phrases. The database can hold heaps of them, so if you have an epic Victorian-ish steampunky silly curse, I promise I shall not curse you if you email me your suggestions.

Free Downloadable Fun

I fell down a publishing house rabbit hole today, exploring the many imprints of The Quarto Group publishing house. I wasn’t looking to submit anything, I was just learning about them for a book review I was writing. Incidentally, I post all of my reviews at A License to Quill if you’d like to read them.

The rabbit hole eventually led me to Walter Foster, and a collection of downloadable coloring sheets, how-to-draw guides and more. (There’s a lot of duplicate links at the website for some reason, but you only need to download each item once). Just for fun, I grabbed a handful of coloring pages and a few drawing guides. If you have kids, if you are or know a homeschooler, or are just a kid at heart like me, check them out!

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find at the Walter Foster website.

My Three Favorite Reads of 2023

The good folks at Shepherd asked me to talk about the best books I’ve read so far this year. So I did!

Lori Alden Holuta’s 3 Favorite Reads in 2023

Shepherd creator Ben Fox says, “One day I walked into my local indie bookstore and saw little notes from the staff about which books are their favorites and why. I loved that idea because it exposed the passion behind the picks. Shepherd reveals that same passion by asking authors, experts, and interesting people for their favorite books around topics, themes, and moods.” You can learn more about Shepherd at the ‘Our Story’ page.
Until next time – stay warm, make soup!