Posts Tagged ‘Her Majesty’s Explorer’

Press Release: Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story LAUNCHES to the great placement on Multiple Amazon Bestseller lists

In Uncategorized on February 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Contact: Coal City Stories / Coal City Steam

Public Relations –

February 29, 2012

For Immediate Release:

Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story LAUNCHES to the great placement on Multiple Amazon Bestseller lists

Atlanta, GA —  Coal City Stories, publishers of  Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story, which is to launch Tuesday February 28th, 2012, the imprints first publication did better than expected in launch day sales rankings at Amazon.com. According to figures provided by the bookseller, HME:aSbs hit #1 on the Hot New Releases in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery and Horror chart at mid-day on Tuesday. Other hits include:

  • Peaking at #424 in Books (of the 4 million titles on Amazon, 423 were selling better.)
  • #3  in Books > 4-for-3 Books > Children’s Books > Literature > Science Fiction,
  • #33 in Books > Children’s Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy & Magic

Being included in Amazon’s 4-for-3 promotion seemed to be key to the velocity of sales on launch day. On pleased customer said, “I totally got suckered into the 4 for 3. If you’re gonna get 2, you might as well get 3 to get the free shipping. And if you pay for 3, you might as well get 4 for 3! Well done!” The price for the books was also discounted to $9.50 for the book’s launch. Initially, the publishers intended to return the price to $11.95 on Wednesday, but will holding off for one more day.

Amazon Customer Reviews for Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story, are also growing in number, and to this point are EXCLUSIVELY 5-stars.

# # #


The roller coaster of Launch Day.

In Uncategorized on February 29, 2012 at 3:46 am

It’s been a wild day – and WOW… We hit a few Amazon lists… It’s amazing what a few hours we had! So, at some point during the day we landed in these rankings:

  • #1 on the Hot New Releases in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery and Horror
  • #424 in Books  (over all – that’s out of the 4 million titles on Amazon available today.)
  • #3  in Books > 4-for-3 Books > Children’s Books > Literature > Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & Horror > Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
  •  Flat out #15 in all regular children’s books (Theresa wrote to me and said she saw that! I couldn’t find it as the hour had passed, but hawt digitydamn!)
  • #33 in Books > Children’s Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy & Magic

I’m stoked. This is a great thing. Best of all – I got to call Kevin and say, “Guess what? We’re on the bestseller list.” The puzzled stunned-ness on the phone was just a bonus. He called back later to ask what it all meant. To be fair, I wasn’t sure what it all meant either. SO, after watching ALL day and recording the best numbers as well as I could, I have found an interesting article on What Amazon Sales Rankings Mean.

This proves what most of us writers have known all along – most of us can’t give up our day jobs. But, after a wonderful day like today, I can’t complain. Not at all.

Thanks to everyone who bought a book, changed their Facebook photo to the duck, those who tweeted, retweeted and reviewed. Awesome. Just – wow!


THE BOOK LINK to AMAZON.COM. The book will be available on the 28th – for a special discounted price! http://www.amazon.com/Her-Majestys-Explorer-Steampunk-bedtime/dp/0984902805/

The Launch Page:  http://www.facebook.com/events/347525985265865/

The Her Majesty’s Explorer Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/HerMajestysExplorer

The blog: https://coalcitysteam.wordpress.com/

The Video Book trailer: http://youtu.be/kHb3Wpe3F2o

The Tease Read by Captain Robert of Abney Park:http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=2931604900935

Chenda and the Airship Brofman: http://www.amazon.com/Chenda-Airship-Brofman-Emilie-Bush/dp/1449542549

The Gospel According to Verdu : http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-According-Verdu-Book-Brofman/dp/1461026466/

AMAZON UK Kindle link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Majestys-Explorer-Steampunk-ebook/dp/B007AV8LVC/

AMAZON GERMANY Kindle Link: http://www.amazon.de/Her-Majestys-Explorer-Steampunk-ebook/dp/B007AV8LVC/

Amazon Italy Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.it/Her-Majestys-Explorer-Steampunk-ebook/dp/B007AV8LVC/

Amazon France Kindle Edition: http://www.amazon.fr/Her-Majestys-Explorer-Steampunk-ebook/dp/B007AV8LVC/

6-days to LAUNCH! Where I recognize those who have supported my struggle…

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm

People tell me Will Smith said this, but I don’t know for sure. Frankly, it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I sure as shootin’ believe it.  And I remember… I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday…. (Sing it, Brother MEAT!).

So now, in a moment of calm, the moments before the rush and rage of the upcoming convention, the whirl of what I hope will be the BEST launch of a Steampunk children’s book ever, I want to remember the people who have ALWAYS been in the struggle with me, and especially because they believed in me and my Steampunk writing. You can see the H.M.E. BLURBS down below, and I will remember those who gave a bit of their time to blurb or review…. I will never forget.

But first: Tony, baby. Love you. Trish, my muse of all work. Mom. Dad. Librarians both. Thanks for having STACKS of books and magazines  around. All. Over. The place. William Kevin Petty for having the talent of an artist with the mentality of a soldier. Theresa Curtis – THE BOMB DIGITY and in a hurry, too. YOU got the job done. Bambi and Sam, who take the kids off my hands so I can get some things done. Phil, for thinking MYLAR, not CLUNKER. The Gang at Three Blind Mice – who let me park my butt at the bar and write for hours on end, and expecially to C.J. who had the coffee waiting for me even before I stepped through the door and kept it hot and full. Priceless. Dan Dougherty, I can no longer live without your counsel, especially about being Amazonian; Dan Carroll: same. Our biggest fan – Penelope Dreadfulle. Kev’s mom for catching and pitching the packages. Barry Reese – who STILL does original cataloging. David Tyburg and Alexander Stadler of The Extraordinary Contraptions. Valentine Wolfe. Al Gore for inventing the internet. Broad Universe for being the best decision I ever made as a writer. Kathryn Hinds and Arthur, too. Patti – who came back from the dead. V. Q. Talloolah . Bill-Bill.Fett. SPC. Gretchen. Jah. Diana. OM Grey, Airship Archon. Kevin Steil and Airship Embassy. Captain Robert. Parliament & Wake. The Steampunk societies in Portland, Seattle, New York, Louisiana, Kansas City, Chicago, and throughout the interwebs.  I will never forget.

A special Thanks YOU! to Cindy MacLeod and William, who have ALWAYS given me the feeling that I am Queen of the Steam-geeks from the day they met me. I will never forget.

The eternal backers who have supported me all along: The Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Mississippi families. Christy Seelye-King, Bragg MacMorrichai, Baron Karl, Barbara Barth and the rest of the Gwinnett County Writers Guild, Chris Horne and the Crossroads Writers Conference, Kora, Rachael, Doreen, Aloysius, Christine, Eric, Whisper, Amy, Whitney, Jeri, Darrin, Jessica, Laura, Lynn, Anthony, Roger, Tracy, Mike, Kate, Beth, Jason, Katrina, Bridie, Missy, Hal, Lori, Rhonda, Austin, Pam, Rocky, Zoe, Heather, Mary, Ashley, Neil, Matt, Hugh, Paige, Sarah and so many more that I just don’t have time to type.  I will never forget.

Finally, thanks to those who took the time to review and blurb:

 “The illustrations are adorable!”  ~ Beyond Victoriana Blog

“I did enjoy Steamduck.  A wonderful whimsical story so real you might feel a little seasick. But in a good way.” Jenny ~The Bloggess

“St John Murphy Alexander marches the young reader through the excitement of exploration and duty, and lulls us with the tender familiarity of a comforting bedtime routine. The story is curious and intrepid, yet ready to be tucked in for a good night’s sleep.” ~ Nancy Overbury, Overbury Ink.

“St. John Murphy Alexander, “Her Majesty’s Explorer,” is literature’s most charming mechanical man since L. Frank Baum’s Tin Man.” ~ Jim Barnes Independent Publisher Magazine.

“I just finished reading Her Majesty’s explorer to Chloe (9 years old) and Isabella (just 6). They both loved it, and both wished they could have their very own Steamduck.”  Captain Robert of Abney Park.

“Utterly charming” ~M.K. Hobson, Steampunk Novelist

“This is the perfect childhood book for steampunk parents to introduce their children to the steampunk subculture. I use that term loosely. Steampunk has managed to increasingly wedge its way into popular culture and this book drives that opening wider and opens it to the youngest of readers.” John Iwasz, ComicBooked.com

“My syn­apses have always fired for a bot in uni­form…” ~ S. J. Chambers, co-author of The Steampunk Bible

“Three cheers for Her Majesty’s Explorer!” ~ Leisel Hindmann, Steampunk Blogger

“A story that is sweet and dreamy-a perfect bedtime story and a great introduction for children to Steampunk.”  ~ Benito, Corral, Betwixt Book Reviews.

“Absolutely charming.  It is the Dr. Seuss of Steampunk, and… I LOVED it.” ~ DJ Doctor Q, The Artifice Club and The Steampunk Chronicle.

I will never forget what you all have done for me.

It’s like Tolkein said – and the SCA improved on –  I hear, and shall not forget that which is freely given – Fealty with love….” and maybe you know the rest.


The Launch Page:  http://www.facebook.com/events/347525985265865/

The Her Majesty’s Explorer Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/HerMajestysExplorer

The blog:https://coalcitysteam.wordpress.com/

The Video Book trailer: http://youtu.be/kHb3Wpe3F2o

The Tease Read by Captain Robert of Abney Park:http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=2931604900935

Countdown: 10 days to go. Kevin tells HIS side of the story.

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Today, with 10 days left until LAUNCH DAY, William Kevin Petty is taking over the Coal City Steam countdown blog. To which I say YEA!. Finally, dear reader, you get her the story of out project from his perspective. Take it away KEVIN:

In early January of 2011, I was one of roughly 300 soldiers of the 230th Sustainment Brigade setting off for what turned out to be a year in Kuwait.  I’d done two such deployments before, to Afghanistan and Iraq respectively, and while each is undoubtedly different, one must plan for the inevitable patches of inactivity while deployed.  To that end, I packed a sketchbook and pencils among my copious detritus, as deterrent against monotony.  You expect to be busy with duties, without a doubt, but downtime away from the comfortably familiar can be tough to face – ask any soldier.

There were a few other reasons I packed the art supplies. Being able to draw is dead useful in the military, by the way. Among these was a preoccupation to do something with all the sketches and drawings I’d built up in my portfolio over the last decade or so since I’d been pulling the camouflage gig. I confess, here to you today, that I had not one pixel of a plan for the pictures.

By May a routine had settled in and I’d figured out when I could draw and not get yelled at.  I’d finished a few and showed them around. Folks said they were Steampunk, or reminded them of such.  Worth looking into, I thought. To the interwebs, then.

After a few days of snooping, I ran across some helpful folks on Facebook, namely the Sacramento Steampunk crew and the League of Proper Villians crowd. After lurking around there, I was asked to do some illustration work for Penelope Dreadfulle – work that turned out to be loads of fun.  I built a website and called myself in business.

California being a bit of a commute from the Louisiana homestead, I checked things out a little closer to home. After a few tentative Facebook messages, I made friends with Emilie P. Bush, of Chenda and the Airship Brofman fame and wondered if I could illustrate an existing Steampunk work in such a way that anyone would know what they were looking at.  I did some fan art of the Airship Brofman and got a little bit of a squee.  An encouraging squee, to be honest.

I was still ascertaining whether or not this Emilie P. Bush person was serious. I’d read both Chenda books and knew that when she talked about putting a book together she meant it and meant doing it well.  In the end, I figured it was at least a productive use of what downtime I had in Kuwait and that I never really enjoyed working with people who were entirely sane, so what the hell. ((Editor’s Note: Really, Kevin? I find out NOW that you picked me to work with because of proximity and relative insanity? I think I might be offended… Oh, wait. I’m not.))

By this time, I’d fully considered the idea of seriously attempting a substantial illustrating effort.  To this point, I’d only been approached to draw a central character or event, which meant one or two drawings from a single body of work.  Her Majesty’s Explorer would mean creating a character and drawing every emotion, action and background over each and every page. A lot of work, sure, but what fun!

We’d decided on taking a character from an earlier work of an automaton rigged up in that cool uniform from the 24th Regiment of Foot- that one from those Michael Caine ‘Zulu’ movies. I dialed down in martial trappings into an explorer rather than soldier.  By doing so we’d intended to combine two archetypes of the Steampunk genre, explorer and automaton, and by making one of his eyes a lens, he’d have that Victorian monocle business going on. Furthermore, we’d add other visual elements from the Neo-Victorian palette to objects and animals that children would identify with.  Hence Steamduck, but more on him later.

Ideas bounced over and across oceans and a storyline developed.  Emilie and I worked out a way around time zones that was fairly convenient; while it was late in the PM over here I was drawing over there, so I could expect feedback every morning after emailing off the roughs in my Kuwait afternoon.  She got drawings along with her cornflakes most mornings. Nifty.

As September neared I traveled back home for two weeks R&R, and on my way back through the Atlanta airport, Emilie met me there for our only face to face meeting through most of the development phase of the project. A lot was settled at that USO stopover. ((Editor’s note: As I recall, Kevin spent a good bit of time watching, agog, the people milling around the atrium while saying, “People in civilian clothes are so fascinating.” To be sure, he’d been soaking in the military pool for some time.))

After R&R and getting back to Kuwait, my coveted routine met with a snag; I was told I’d have to go up into Iraq and help close down Victory base in Baghdad.  Uncle Sam frowned on us giving too much away via Facebook so I had to be cryptic, but the meaning was clear, the day job had to take the front seat for a while.  After a month of what turned out to be a great mission, I headed back to Kuwait to pack things up and get ready to head home. About half the book was in the bag by this time.

When the ink finally dried on the redeployment paperwork in January of 2012 I got back to Louisiana and as soon as I recovered from the shock of stateside gas prices work on the book was all consuming. When the smoke cleared and the project completed, I was struck with the startling realization that I actually had a book coming out, and by all accounts, people seemed thrilled with the result. It really seems to be a world away from where we started, and I guess it really is.


The Launch Page:  http://www.facebook.com/events/347525985265865/

The Her Majesty’s Explorer Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/HerMajestysExplorer

The blog:https://coalcitysteam.wordpress.com/

The Video Book trailer: http://youtu.be/kHb3Wpe3F2o

The Tease Read by Captain Robert of Abney Park:http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=2931604900935

Chenda and the Airship Brofman: http://www.amazon.com/Chenda-Airship-Brofman-Emilie-Bush/dp/1449542549

The Gospel According to Verdu : http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-According-Verdu-Book-Brofman/dp/1461026466/

11 days to launch – The books of my childhood AND YOURS!

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Yesterday, in the day 12 countdown post, I commented about how I loved looking for The Gold Bug in Richard Scarry books. That got me to thinking about a questions I was asked this week in an interview:

What would you have loved about Her Majesty’s Explorer:  a Steampunk bedtime story if it had been given to you as a child?

Here’s what I said:

My first blush answer to this question was a glib, “My parents reading it to me.” That’s what kids love – their parent’s Big. Fat. Quantity time. But it’s more true than that. Kids love to have a part of what their parents do. I see a lot of people at conventions who HAVE kids, but leave them at home for any number of reasons (sometimes mommies need to get away, wear a corset and get their drink on, ya know? No mommy wants their kid to see THAT.) Like I said, there are some aspects of Steampunk that very small kids just won’t understand. BUT, there is a theory of development out there that says it is VITAL for kids to go play in their parents closets in order to become adults. They need to dress up in the hats and scarves, and in our case, goggles and boots, in order to LEARN to become adults. They play at being like their parents. That being said – I think the parents get as much out of sharing a Steampunk picture book with their kids as the children do. I’ve gotten several comments from reviewers who have said they shared it with a child (ones of their own, a niece / nephew, or the kids of friends) and were thrilled to finally be able to share this aspect of their lives in a way that the child could understand and get excited about. The kids REALLY feel that joy of connection coming from the grown up, and that makes them want to do more. My daughter wants to dress up as an airship pirate, because *I* dig the scene. She bops with Captain Robert and Abney Park because I play it on my laptop. Now, she has her OWN book – and it connects her to mommy.
I have a feeling that this story will be what some adult Steampunks show their own parents to show the gentle side of the movement… or to their “other” friends…. or their co-workers.  (The WHOLE interview will be on M.K. Hobson’s blog on the 28th – and I will get a link up about that in time, but let me plug her right-here-right-now! Read her novel The Native Star. It is one of the BEST Steampunk books I’ve ever read – a very American tale as well. Go on; I’ll wait…)
This Q&A got me thinking about my favorite children’s books:
  • Like I said, anything by Richard Scarry
  • Who’s Mouse Are You? (Wacky / creepy book in shades of orange)
  • How High is UP? (A quite book in shades of blue – but some of my FAVORITE images – ever)
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • All the Dr. Seuss EXCEPT Cat in the Hat
  • The Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs (It has no words – only pictures!)

Alternatively, books I hated, and still do:

  • The Bernstein Bears (It’ s the primer for gender roles)
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George (He always get’s rewarded for doing the wrong thing.)

I’m glad my list of likes is twice the length of hates. So, what’s on your list?


In Uncategorized on February 14, 2012 at 3:03 am

Happy Steampunk Tuesday to you all! Two weeks to launch and we have a GREAT treat. Here it is, the best first glimpse of Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story.  50 seconds of happy!

What do you think? Does it make you want to see the rest of the book? I hope so.

I’d be a total nutjob not to make a shout-out to Alexander Stadler, who plays with Atlanta’s most popular Steampunk band The Extraordinary Contraptions. He’s been a great supporter of the book, so much so that he recorded and offered up the lovely music in the video. How cool was that?

Also – a new review has come in from TotusMel’s WunderKammer – she totally recommends the book! Read her review!

In other blurbs, DJ Doctor Q, says, “Absolutely charming.  It is the Dr. Seuss of Steampunk, and… I LOVED it.”

If you have not done so – show support for our launch by clicking JOIN at the Facebook Launch Page – it will remind you when THE day comes, and it helps keep the ball rolling by generating interest. Invite your friends as well, please and thank you. If you would like to review the book – I have digital ARCs to send – please contact me and I will be happy to send one right out…

Countdown: 16 days left. A winner and another LOST IMAGE!

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Countdown:16 days to go- our giveaway winner is Lydia! She’s claimed her prize. Don’t worry – we will have MORE to give away next Saturday! Stay tuned for MORE fun!

To the runners up. Here is a little prize for you – another image that didn’t make it into the book. Here’s what Kevin sent as the storyboard image for the line “… he collapsed.”

Keep in mind, this was the last image in the “FIRST HALF” story board he sent. And ALL the images were just perfect, but this last one, I didn’t like. I said, “Ya know, I don’t think an automaton would collapse like this.” He said that this was how everyone around him who was hot dirty and tired collapsed – and there were lots of hot dirty and tired folks around him. But I wanted to see a machine that had hunkered down on itself.

Kevin came up with this – which we put in the first layout:

 We went with this little guy for a while.


The more I looked at it, the more I thought, “Hmm…. Not right.”

After all the images were done, I hemmed and hawed a bit more and finally expressed my hesitation about this image, to which Kevin  said, “let’s take another stab at it.”

In the end…

THIS made the final cut: Look familiar? Kevin was right the first time round… What do you think?

Countdown to Launch: 19 days to go – BLURB!

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm


NO not the sound my stomach makes to alert me that I’ve been at the convention ALL DAY without eating….

blurb [blɜːb]  n  a promotional description, as found on the jackets of books. [coined by Gelett Burgess (1866-1951), US humorist and illustrator]

Her Majesty’s Explorer has gotten it’s first BLURBS! and here they are:

“St. John Murphy Alexander, ‘Her Majesty’s Explorer,’ is literature’s most charming mechanical man since L. Frank Baum’s Tin Man. ” ~ Jim Barnes, Editor, Independent Publisher Magazine 

“Utterly charming!” ~ M.K. Hobsen, author of The Native Star

Thanks, Chloe and Isabella “I just finished reading Her Majesty’s Explorer to Chloe (9 years old) and Isabella (just 6). They both loved it, and both wished they could have their very own Steamduck.” ~ Captain Robert of Abney Park.
More are rolling in! I will be tweeting (@CoalCitySteam – do follow!) and posting them at the Her Majesty’s Explorer Facebook page as the reviews and blurbs come in leading up to launch.
Tomorrow – I’ll tell you all about HOW TO GO ABOUT GETTING BLURBS!!!! Exciting times….

20-days to go! Hurry up and wait.

In Uncategorized on February 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Outta my hands - and off to the printerIt’s outta my hands. This is the like being a bookie on the day after the Baseball All-star game. There’s nothing to bet on. After ten review editions, days of layout and color changes, weeks of storyboards and ideas, months of planning – it’s gone. The book is AT THE PRINTERS. And I now have to wait.

It won’t take long.

And I have stuff to do – stuff I want to share with the followers of the countdown! In the next 20 days – we’re going to keep real busy with giving stuff away, giving you sneak peeks, revealing the Video Book Trailer, sending out ARC’s and gathering reviews*, and generally planning a BIG PARTY!

But, still. My baby… is now on its way out into the world. Makes an author shed a tear. Hoping I raised it right.  (Sniff….)

AND… I’m over it! Just a reminder – join us at the virtual launch!

*ARCs = Advance Reader Copies – I will be talking about what and ARC is, who gets them, how I hobbled together ours, and so on in a few days (less than 5 days – wink, wink!) IF you know what an ARC is, and you review books, and you want me to send you one — by all means – send me a message on the FB page! HERE.

Countdown to Launch: 21 days to go – THE COVER REVEALED

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Coal City Stories hopes you will judge our first book by its cover! Today we reveal the cover of Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story. Drawn by William Kevin Petty and painted by internationally recognized watercolorist Bridie Rollins, the cover hints at the gentle story within, a story about the adventure of going to bed.

Drum roll please:

Drawn by William Kevin Petty and watercolor by Bridie Rollins

Drawn by William Kevin Petty and watercolor by Bridie Rollins

William Kevin Petty has admired Bridie Rollin’s work for years, and was pleased to co-ordinate with her on the cover. Mrs. Rollins says she sold her first piece of artwork in 1989 and was encouraged by that to stay with watercolor and to continue painting, learning and honing her skills. Today she is an Artist-in-Residence at River Oaks Square Arts Center in Alexandria, Louisiana, where she teaches and sells her paintings. Bridie is an active member of Louisiana Watercolor Society and her work is collected locally as well in New Orleans and as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The countdown continues with daily tweets images and tidbits leading up to the February 28th, 2012, launch of the world’s first Steampunk children’s picture book. Follow along at the blog: https://coalcitysteam.wordpress.com/

Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story. HME’s publisher – Coal City Stories – promises insights, giveaways, sneak peeks and videos each day at the book’s Facebook page, and encourages readers to mark their calendars for launch day! http://www.facebook.com/events/347525985265865/

The book, to be released on February 28th (exclusively through Amazon.com and at a deeply discounted price on the launch date), features an automaton explorer who loves his work, even though it makes him very tired and dirty. As a bonus, an additional bonus tale “Three Cheers for Steamduck” is included in the full color book.