Of Shade and Soul: A Touch Trilogy Novella

My friend A. G. Carpenter and the great people at Falstaff Books have released ‘Of Shade and Soul’, the second novella in her Southern gothic ‘Touch’ trilogy.

Delaney Green might be dead, but she don’t mean to stay that way. As she searches for a way back to the realm of the living, and the man she lay down flesh and bone for, Percival Cox and his team investigate a series of deaths and stolen souls. But Percy is not the man he used to be. If Del can’t find a way to stop him from waking his past, he could destroy everything, including himself.

This is a powerful continuation of the first book (I was honored to read both in their beta stages and final form). The final product is worthy of a Poe award. If you like moody Southern gothic, horror-fantasy, magical realism with a languid air of magnolia and burnt blood…this is your trilogy. Come read it here:


‘Of Lips And Tongue’ by A.G. Carpenter

Delaney Green is one of them that don’t burn.

Touch Trilogy 1 cover AG Carpenter

Possessed of the Touch – with the ability to not only see the future but manipulate it – she’s been kept in an institution for most of her life. When the Salesman, a murderous entity with a connection to Delaney’s past, starts burning girls to death, FBI Agent Percival Cox gives her the chance to leave the asylum behind. But he presents an even greater threat and she must risk flesh and bone in order to keep him from becoming a Power more destructive than the Salesman.

I was lucky enough to read this novella in bits and pieces as a beta reader for A.G. Carpenter. Seeing everything stitched into place just proves all over again: this woman can write with the best of them.

Many novellas (my stuff included) can suffer from too little worldbuilding and story. A.G. has a deft touch with just the right amount of setting and plot, character and atmosphere, and social commentary slipped into a roller-coaster of a story. My Twitter blurb about this book may say just enough to avoid spoilers:

If you like dark, unsettling, gorgeous Southern Gothic books with a taste of Southern Fried X-Files, this novella might be your cuppa.

Second-best part: it’s part of a trilogy coming from Falstaff Books. First best part: I’ve already read some of the second book!

Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Lips-Tongue-Touch-Trilogy-Novella-ebook/dp/B01HMVHOVW

B&N buy link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/of-lips-and-tongue-a-g-carpenter/1124017184

A.G. Carpenter’s Amazon Author page (worth a look, I promise.)

She will be at LibertyCon next week

Legacy, by A. G. Carpenter

My fiendishly talented friend and beta-reader AG Carpenter has a new story out in the self-published wilds: Legacy.

A.G. Carpen

Blurb: When a skin-changer looking for passage to Lake Ponchartrain collapses at her feet, Willa Arch finds herself drawn into a conflict between the iron-willed Queen Elsbett of Brittania and Queen of the Dead, Marie Laveau. But survival means coming face to face with Willa’s own deadly legacy of fur and teeth.

Available 07-14-2015 at Kobo (.epub) and Gumroad (.mobi). If you like steampunk and Southern Gothic, try this.

The Collections Agent, by A. G. Carpenter

I occasionally make digital art covers for other people, when I have time and my intermittent art abilities function properly.

Collections+Agent cover Kobo

Here’s one, with text layout by A. G. herself. I think we did okay, for a creepy little spec-fic steampunky-sort-of-story. It’s only 28 pages, and under $2 on Kobo and Itunes. Go check it out.

Blurb: Milton Jones collects the things people can no longer afford to keep. Magic. Skills. Souls. And, sometimes, a heart.

Buy links here and here.

Here’s the art by itself. Specs: worked in Painter 12 with custom digital airbrush and blending brushes, images drawn freehand and heavily modified from public domain contemporary and historical photos. Wing filigree based on stamped brasswork feather ornaments in artist’s collection; costume from several Steampunk websites. Final JPG file 2400 x 1600 dpi.

Collector Cover 4 final blog

A. G. Carpenter news

Back in this post, I blogged about Brass Stars, the debut science-fiction/western novella release from my friend A. G. Carpenter.

I’ve also been privileged behind the scenes to watch some great new developments in her writing career. One of which I can now share:

A. G. Carpenter is now represented by literary agent Bob Mecoy, of Creative Book Services.

A. G. and her agent have been hard at work on revisions for her first big novel (which is so amazing it kills me not to talk about it.) She’s also been finalizing synopses for the second and third books in the trilogy, as well as several unrelated projects.

Way to go!

Brass Stars review (adult language advisory)

Disclaimer: I was provided with an electronic copy of this work, in exchange for an honest review.

I promised A.G. this one a month ago, and I’ll post it over on Goodreads, too. (But I’m watchin’ ya, Goodreads, which is why I’m archiving my GR reviews somewhere else as well.)

Brass Stars cover

Non-spoiler review: A gritty revenge novella more closely related to classic showdown Westerns than most modern space opera, Brass Stars relies on trope-busting characters and a vivid, relatively low-tech setting to deliver a satisfying story with fast action and good plot twists.

Spoiler review: mutant Tashndelu Sand has honed her skills, her body, and her life into a weapon of vengeance against the human lawmen who long ago raped and murdered her mother. One by one, Tashn stalks and executes them, and keeps their brass star badges as bitter trophies.

The last man on her list is Brannigan, a crime boss who rules the desert township of Paradise.

She’s aided by Snyder, a serial killer enslaved in the body of a cyborg horse. Snyder could easily have been one of the weakest parts of this story, but A.G. wrote his part intelligently, realistically, and without a trace of the redemption that other writers might have forced onto the character. Tashn’s first childhood meeting with Snyder is all the more chilling when readers understand how they interact in the future of the story.

A widowed gunslinger and a mutilated pretty-boy lend gentler emotional aspects more traditionally found in female sidekicks. I’ve been seeing this reversal in spec fiction lately, and when it’s done well I love it (Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, Scott Lynch’s ‘Gentlemen Bastard’ series).

Tashn herself is a strong protagonist who plots, suffers, and salvages victory – at the expense of some of her values, but to the benefit of others.

There is no snappy quick fix at the end of this story. It does offer the sense that Tashn is now free to build the life she wants.

Fans of Firefly, Dune, Jack Vance’s ‘Dying Earth’ novels, ‘Kill Bill’, and spaghetti Westerns will get this novella’s ironic moral ambiguity. Romance readers probably won’t.

4 stars only because I felt some of the action scenes might have needed a little clarification, and because I wanted to see more backstory on the ‘fading humanity’ universe.

Length: novella

Eggplant Productions buy link.

Amazon buy link.


‘Brass Stars’ by A. G. Carpenter

Updated 6-19-2017:

Brass Stars has been revised and expanded, and A. G. Carpenter now has the dark and gory (and gorgeous) results here.

Her new cover isn’t shabby, either.

Image result for BRass Stars AG Carpenter


A fun debut today for my friend A. G. Carpenter, who is a far better (and more prolific) writer than I am. Remember the name, folks – she’s already published a lot of sly, haunting, gorgeous short fiction in a variety of genres, but her longer work is going to be Known.

Beginning here, from the fine folks at Eggplant Productions: Brass Stars, a gun-slinging sort of space opera with a twist or two.

Brass Stars cover


Tashndelu Sand has wandered the known universe on a mission of vengeance. She’s spent years tracking down the gang who murdered her mother. And, with the help of Snyder—a psychotic cyber-horse with an agenda of his own—she’s killed all but one: Brannigan.

Now she’s come to Paradise, a lonely town on a desert planet. Here, Brannigan rules with a new gang. Here, the graveyard is filled with the corpses of gunslingers who have tried, and failed, to kill him.

Get in, kill Brannigan, and get out. That’s the plan. And Tashn is determined to finish what she started. She’ll not be stopped: not by Brannigan’s army; not by her feelings for Johnny, an Extra sapien like her; not even by the darkness she sees in herself.

Buy links: Eggplant Productions

Cover: I have to gush a little and share some cover love. A lot of small, medium, (and large) publishers appear to be stuck in the current fashion for Photoshopped collage covers, with many photographic and vector elements melded and layered with more-or-less skill. It’s a fast way to get cover art, and I’ve seen brilliant examples. I’ve also seen embarrassing failures.

I cut my reading teeth in the glittery last years of the 1970s, when the second Tolkien Renaissance gave us a staggeringly good crop of cover artists who actually painted and drew things the old-fashioned way: the Brothers Hildebrandt, Darrell K. Sweet, Michael Whelan, and many others. Modern advances in digital art tools and processing power have only refined that skill, and given new life to cover art and illustration.

One of the new masters is Alexandrescu Paul, known as Lex Paul on the internet. I am very, very happy Eggplant saw fit to pair up A. G. with someone who did such a brilliant job in bringing Paradise, Tashn, and Snyder to life.

How do I know he painted this? I’ve seen the initial sketches.