In February 2020, I released the first book in the City of War series, City of Light & Steam. It was an amalgam, and such a mashup, when I wrote it, I was terrified of how it would do. The book was actually written in late 2018, but I needed time in my release schedule, so I'd held onto it.
Apocalyptic? ✓ The world was destroyed by a virus
Dystopian? ✓ The world was rebuilding/trying to function after the illness swept through it and failing miserably with it incredibly dangerous to step outside after dark.
Steampunk? ✓ Takes place in Victorian London with steam and electricity as the main sources of power long before they belonged in existence.
Vampires? ✓ The term for those affected by the illness that destroyed white blood cells causing them to need blood infusions to survive
Romance? ✓ Yup, the two guild leaders do, in fact, fall in love.
To my surprise, readers were in love with it, many messaging me days after release. I'd already had the second and third book covers, so I immediately sat down to outline. As often happens when I'm fresh out out of a world, the outline came quickly and I was ready to roll!
The pandemic began and life as a full time social media agency girl, mom, and author came to a halt as I could really only be a mom at that time to my 3 year old. My days were spent figuring out playtime, how to keep him from missing his friends, and how to stay safe because I originally didn't think COVID was a big deal - I was in New Orleans at the time, and the city taught me better.
Shortly after at the end of April, my mystery illness began. For 4 months I was in and out of so many surgeries, imaging sessions, and doctor's appointments I couldn't write, there was no time. Not an iota.
What happened next? A military move which means driving across the country, cleaning the new place, getting the new place ready, and starting life again. All during a Pandemic - which at the time, New Jersey was a dangerous place to be. From September 2020-September 2021 I worked more than 50 hours a week at the day job AND hand my son home with my full time. If you have been a long time reader of mine you know that between city of war and the end of 2021 I released 3 book in total - 2 Christmas Fairy Tales and Land of Flames.
In fall of 2021, my son started kindergarten and I quit my horrible day job in favor of a much calmer business opportunity - still in social media, but not for a giant agency that didn't give a shit about it's employees work hours. The words began to flow and I very quickly had written a Christmas story, a Monster Romance (accidentally because I didn't know it was going to be a thing), 2 In Service shorts, and began The Race.
The juices were back! I was vibing. But, the more I thought about City of War the harder it became for me to write. I love Ben and Raven so incredibly much. I love their world and how far they take things.
But, I can't focus on a world destroyed by an airborne illness that failed not because of the illness, but because of how the people within the countries around the world couldn't play nice in the sandbox. It's too very real right now and while some people can write that way, I want an escape from the drama America is going through every damn day.
Readers, I apologize. I know this has been a favorite series already, and I'm here to tell you that they will be out - likely late 2024. While things are still rough, they are getting better and with every escape I read and write, it's getting easier to believe I can distance myself from the crap around me.
I want to know, how do you feel about reading a story with so many accidental parallels to COVID?
As you know I've gotten my Alliance series signed and all set up for release. Demon in Steam marked the prequel to the series and the cover for that was difficult because sexy steampunk couples are exactly 0 in the stock market and I couldn't get any photographers responses. So while I LOVE the cover I made to bits, I knew it wasn't going to work thematically for the stand alone novels in the series.
With Nightmare In Steam almost fully written and 9 months until I need to do a cover reveal I decided I needed to get to it, knowing how hard it would be. The amazing lady behind the beautiful covers at Dreams2Media turned me onto a very special website, Period Images. This site is absolutely stunning. From the models to the chemistry between the models and the costumes I was drooling. Very soon I looked at my cart and I'd added over 15 images, none of which were actually Steampunk in nature but they were period specific and my brain came up with a nifty idea for how to make the cover work. Well as I was going I realized something - my brain was creating stories around the beautiful photos. Take a look at some of the ones I saved to my computer simply to look at them for outlining purposes and purchase later!
Now absolutely nothing has been outlined yet but awhile back I got the idea to do a Revolutionary War themed romance and this website provided me with so many cover options I think I was giddy just scrolling through them. What else came out of this? I don't know when I'll get to it since my muse has literally lined up 5 other series and 3 standalone ideas that I should probably conquer first, but I am obsessed with the idea of a time travel series now! So obsessed that my muse has already worked out the first story in the series and it would be the first series I've "thought up" where there will be no connecting thread other than the idea of time travel! Scary thought for me because I'm used to dreaming up stand alones that link up together in plot.
All that aside I think Nightmare in Steam may just be my favorite book yet. I've fallen in love with the main villain and Lucius has somehow managed to seduce me! I can't wait for you guys to get it in 2015! How about a quickie sneak peak at Seraphina, the mistress of all things evil for the entirety of the Alliance of Silver in Steam series.
© Lexi Ostrow, Nightmare in Steam (publication date April 8th, 2015)
The brush passed smoothly through the dark red strands of her hair. It always did. Even as a fallen her hair could never tangle, her looks could never be anything but perfection. Angels were always perfect, always beautiful and always masters of seduction. There were rumors that she’d heard from the humans; rumors that angels were chaste and pure. A smile curved on her lips at the ridiculous thought. Even when angels weren’t fallen they were anything but chaste. There also wasn’t a supreme deity pulling their strings. They simply existed. Just as demons did. They fought to keep demons from hurting humans simply because they felt it was their duty to protect those that could not protect themselves. But sex and seduction were always something they were known for. Along with the ability to be the perfect bed partner to whom ever they were with. Because again, they simply were perfect. A fallen angel was no different in their sexual habits. They just felt no love towards the humans and wanted them dead.
Seraphina was no exception.
She’d fallen over a hundred years ago, at the turn of the seventh century and she would never feel shame in her choice. She was never the most in love with the idea of protection, even before she fell. She’d wanted the angels to make the other, less important races their slaves. There had been no reason not too but she’d held her tongue for the sake of her lover, Demetrious. He was head of one of three battle sects- angels that specifically sought out demons acting out. Seraphina closed her eyes and briefly thought about Demetrious. His large, white wings were the first thing she pictured. Then the strong pectoral muscles, the way his purple eyes had looked at her while he pounded his body into hers, or the way he’d looked when he laughed. The jar of sleeping powder she held in her hand shattered as the images brought pain and hatred flowing through her. Her face morphed into an ugly snarl and she threw the glass pieces at the mirror, not bothering to move as one bounced back and slashed across her cheek. The blood was as dark as her hair as it dripped down her pale cheek. She kept watching as the skin stitched itself back together, but not before a drop of blood splashed near her feet on the floor. Angel blood was decadent, even the smallest drop could intoxicate someone and even as fallen they were careful to spill their own blood.
Demetrious had shared his blood with her often, not in a vampiric way but a few small drops before battle. It strengthened their communication while fighting and gave her a boost of strength to her own. But that connection came with a price. She’d felt as the human’s stupid knife slammed into his stomach as if it had been her own. Her knees had given out and a scream had torn past her lips so loud that many of the combatants near her had ceased to fight. She couldn’t get to him, couldn’t force her legs to move. The pain ran lines up and down her body and she could only have guessed the assholes had continued to jab their weapons into them. She’d felt the life drain from her lover just as the will to stay conscious left her body. When she’d awoken he was gone. Dead. When angels died they went to hell, a special section carved out just for angels like in the nasty underworld. They simply didn’t remain long. Once their energy drained from their soul they simply ceased to be, in any fashion.
So she’d fallen to find him and restore his soul in another’s body. Tore her wings from her back that very morning after seeing his body bloody and broken from a bar fight that demons had tricked humans into participating in. The pain as she tore each and every feather from her back during a six hour period was always with her. Always a source of motivation to go on when things felt to hard. Nothing was harder than falling by choice. And she’d done so for love. When she’d found Demetrious he’d been disgusted. Told her she was unclean and he would never touch her again. Rage had consumed her. She launched herself at him, had strangled him trying to wring the last life out of his soul. She’d succeeded and when her body had crashed into the ground because his had vanished, she’d sat there for what felt like days. Sat there and plotted. She was going to take humanity down for what it had done to her. And the only way she could do that was to get rid of Lucifer and make all angels fall so they couldn’t stand in the way. A century had passed before she’d managed to seduce the idiot to his death and she commanded all the demons in hell and above ground now. It wouldn’t be long until she took down the Alliance and began her reign of terror on the humans as she slowly killed every one of them on the planet.
A snore passed over to where she stood and Seraphina looked up at the mirror and smiled wickedly. Her latest bed partner, an ice demon, lay exhausted on the bed, snoring. The pleasant thrum in body from a delicious round of sex was the only reason she hadn’t slaughtered him when she’d finished coming. He’d been a willing partner as so many are for a taste of angel blood. She would let him live for his accomplishments, but only after she woke him and his tongue pleasured her from inside out to stop her from worrying if the coward Lucius was doing as he was ordered.
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