As my Kickstarter campaign for my upcoming novel, Anna, Daughter of Creed gets close to wrapping up, I’m filled with excitement and anticipation. There are just three days left! I figured this would be a good time to reflect on the journey so. Here, I’ll share some strategies for wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign, drawing from my experience with this project and past Kickstarters.


The Journey So Far: Anna, Daughter of Creed


The Kickstarter for Anna, Daughter of Creed has invited fans who share a passion for my Creedverse/Bodacious Creed novels. This upcoming novel, a spin-off from my The Adventures of Bodacious Creed trilogy, takes readers into the life of James Creed’s daughter, Anna Lynn Boyd, during the same time period when Bodacious Creed and the Jade Lake and Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate take place.

As the campaign wraps up, it’s essential to keep the momentum going and ensure potential backers are aware of what’s still available. Let’s look at what I’m focusing on, and what I suggest for others wrapping up their Kickstarter projects.

Strategies for a Successful Wrap-Up


1. Engage the Community

One of the most effective ways to maintain momentum is by engaging with the community. Regular updates, interactive Q&A sessions, and engaging content can keep backers invested. Throughout this campaign, I’ve tried to keep everyone informed with updates. Could I have done more? Yes, but when you’re busy in other parts of your life, work smart, and I think I did that.

2. Highlight Unique Rewards

As the campaign draws to a close, let me highlight the rewards. You can get copies of the upcoming novel and copies of the previous trilogy in digital or print formats. Anyone who donates $3 or more gets their name in the acknowledgements, and as for the add-ons… Check those out! Get additional book copies, perhaps for friends, become a walk-on character in the novel, or name a character. There’s even going to be a deck of “Anna, Daughter of Creed” playing cards you can add to your rewards! If you’re finishing up a Kickstarter, keep in mind that emphasizing the exclusivity of certain rewards can create a sense of urgency.

3. Leverage Social Proof

Social proof is something I didn’t learn about until I was over forty, but it makes so much sense, and affects all of us. When we know what others think of something, it informs what we think of it. When people give a book great reviews, or back a Kickstarter, people new to the book or project see it has some popularity, and that shows there’s a good chance it’s worth paying attention to. I read a few book reviews before I purchase a book. If a movie is critical reviews, I’ll often put off giving it a shot until it’s available for streaming. So, as your Kickstarter winds down and you post to social media about it, mention how much it’s made or how many excited backers you have!

4. Countdown to the Deadline

Creating a sense of urgency is crucial in the final days. Regular reminders about the ticking clock can encourage last-minute backers to pledge. Using countdowns in updates and social media posts can effectively highlight the limited time left to support the project.

5. Stretch Goals and Bonus Rewards

If the initial goal is met, introducing stretch goals can maintain enthusiasm. These could be additional content, special editions, or enhanced rewards. For “Anna, Daughter of Creed,” potential stretch goals might include additional chapters, exclusive artwork, or a special audiobook edition narrated by a woman. I admit, I didn’t do stretch goals this time, but I have in the past, and I certainly will for future projects. These are usually best for when a Kickstarter is really making a lot of money, making bonuses more affordable for the creator.

6. Thank the Backers

Expressing gratitude is essential. Thanking backers for their support and highlighting how their contributions are making the project possible can strengthen the community. Personal messages or shout-outs can make backers feel appreciated and connected to the project. I make sure to thank my backers on every update.


A Closer Look at “Anna, Daughter of Creed”


Anna, Daughter of Creed delves into the life of Anna Lynn Boyd, a visionary entrepreneur navigating a steampunk-infused Santa Cruz, California, in the late 1870s. While her father, the resurrected investigator James Creed, chases justice in San Francisco, Anna faces her own battles against societal challenges and personal threats. This novel promises the action, diversity, and depth that fans of the Creedverse love.


The Story Behind the Novel

In Anna, Daughter of Creed, we experience Anna’s struggle to champion women’s rights and create new opportunities beyond the traditional roles of the era. Her journey is filled with blackmail, libel, and the fight for personal and societal advancement. The novel promises a blend of historical intrigue and futuristic innovation, a hallmark of my storytelling.

Praise and Anticipation

I’m grateful for the positive feedback from fans who appreciate the compelling female characters in my stories. Anna Lynn Boyd represents the strength and resilience that I aim to portray in my characters. In this novel, I expand the Creedverse and strive to push the boundaries of the genre.

Wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign involves a mix of strategic engagement, highlighting unique aspects, and creating a sense of urgency. By focusing on these elements, I hope to maximize the campaign’s potential and ensure a successful conclusion. With its unique blend of steampunk and Wild West, interesting characters, and rich narrative, “Anna, Daughter of Creed” will captivate readers and expand my fictional world.

As the finish line approaches, every update, every thank you, and every bit of enthusiasm can make a difference. Here’s to a successful campaign and the exciting adventures that await in Anna, Daughter of Creed. Thank you for being part of this journey with me.

“I really like Kickstarter because you don’t have to be a Medici to fund the arts and sciences or to get behind a big idea or a person that sparks your imagination. It’s a type of microfunding directed toward creators.” ~ Lisa Gansky


My Kickstarter for my upcoming novel, Anna, Daughter of Creed, is just about to enter its forth week! This novel covers the life of Anna Lynn Boyd, the remarkable woman who runs The House of Amber Doves, during the last half of 1877. The story unfolds in Santa Cruz and explorers her challenges as she pushes for more rights for the women who work in her brothel.

So far, we’ve raised $1,187, and there’s still time to contribute. Even readers in certain foreign countries can get the book in print when it comes out. Plus, there are some fantastic add-ons, like the opportunity to name a character in the novel or even appear in the finished book!

Today, I want to share a bit about The House of Amber Doves. Located in the heart of 1870s in my alternate version of Santa Cruz, California’s business district, this establishment serves as both an upscale restaurant and a premier brothel. Owned by the enterprising Anna Lynn Boyd, The House of Amber Doves is much more than it appears.

A Legacy of Transformation

Originally a modest two-story building owned by Margarita Fullerton, The House of Amber Doves was transformed when Anna Lynn Boyd took over. Anna’s vision led to significant renovations, expanding the building to three stories and ensuring that each woman employed at the brothel now has her own private room. The cherry-red exterior and elegantly designed interior reflect the upscale nature of the establishment. Despite its luxurious ambiance, The House of Amber Doves remains relatively affordable, attracting a diverse clientele and making it a distinguished fixture in the fictional city of Santa Cruz.

Fair Treatment and Empowerment

Anna prides herself on the fair treatment of her employees. The women keep most of their earnings, with only a small portion going towards the maintenance of the brothel and payment for the kitchen staff. This approach ensures a positive and safe environment, earning Anna respect and loyalty from her staff.

Services and Pricing

The House of Amber Doves offers a range of services to its patrons. A standard brothel token costs $5.00, entitling the bearer to intercourse with a willing dove. Clients are expected to arrive clean or pay an additional $0.50 for bathing services in the dove’s room. The cost of other services varies according to the individual preferences and boundaries of the doves. This transparent pricing and the high standards of cleanliness and respect for personal boundaries further enhance the establishment’s appeal.

A Secret World Below

One of the most intriguing aspects of The House of Amber Doves is the secret underground laboratory located beneath Anna’s room. This hidden facility, added during the major rebuilding project, serves as a workspace for Anna’s various scientific endeavors. The lab is equipped with four tall support beams, an operating table, a wheeled table, a regular table, two desks, shelves, and cupboards arranged around the walls. In the corner stands a blacksmith’s forge and the 7-foot-tall automaton, Zero. The walls are outfitted with extra sound dampeners, making it nearly impossible to hear anything outside the lab. Only James Creed, with his enhanced hearing, and some automatons, can perceive what transpires within.

Innovating the Future

Anna and her partner, Jonathan Johns, spend much of their time in this lab, inventing cutting-edge technology for Miles Morgan’s corporations. It was here that they achieved one of their most remarkable feats: bringing James Creed back to life. While most of Anna’s tasks are assigned by Morgan, she still has the freedom to work on her own projects, pushing the boundaries of steampunk innovation. This secret laboratory not only underscores Anna’s brilliance but also highlights her commitment to advancing technology while maintaining her role at The House of Amber Doves.

Anna and Jonny’s Sanctuary

Above the secret lab, Anna and Jonathan reside in a large suite located towards the back of the establishment. Their living quarters, accessible through a short hallway that opens into an alley, include a bedroom, bathroom, and spare room. This arrangement provides them both comfort and privacy, a necessary retreat from their demanding work.

A Pillar of the Community

Under Anna ownership, The House of Amber Doves has become a distinguished establishment that embodies elegance, innovation, and fair treatment. Anna’s vision and leadership have not only transformed the physical space but have also created a positive and empowering environment for her employees. As a prominent local business in the Creedverse, The House of Amber Doves continues to thrive, leaving a lasting legacy in Santa Cruz.

The Kickstarter

If Anna and The House of Amber Doves intrigues you, I encourage you to check out and maybe back my Kickstarter! You can even get the entire trilogy that introduced her, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, which begins with Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, as part of your backer’s rewards. Check it out on Kickstarter! It’s running until the morning of May 30, 2024.

“Women’s work is never easy, never clean.” ~ Tayari Jones



May has rolled around, and with it brings Welcome to the Weird West Month at Weird West Fiction. As a steampunk western author, as soon as I heard about it I contacted them to make sure my novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, and the series, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, would be included. I just sent them back my answers to the interview questions.

So, I’m honored to announce that I will be one of the featured authors on this fantastic platform. I can’t wait to share the ins and outs of my journey through the trails of Creedverse with an audience that appreciates the grit and whimsy of the Weird West as much as I do.

Tall tales and grand adventures, fill the Weird West genre. We find gleaming guns and robots, and the echoes of horse hooves meeting the whir of mechanical wonders. Whether steeped in fantasy or sticking with science fiction, the Weird West allows us to reimagine the dusty, sunbaked streets of frontier towns. It’s about pushing the boundaries of traditional western stories into the realms of the fantastical and the eerie.

During “Weird West Month,” is hosting interviews, guest posts, and discussions that delve into the minds of creators who dare to explore this niche. The site does a marvelous job of bringing together a community that promotes a genre where anything is possible—if you can dream it, you can write it.

Taking part in Welcome to the Weird West Month feels like coming home. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what draws me to this intersection of genres and to explore how it influences my work. My passion for steampunk and westerns is about deepening the story possibilities of historical settings, and exploring modern concerns in a familiar, yet changed, context.

For those who follow my work, you know the Creedverse is a labor of love that challenges the norms of what westerns can be. In my books, you’ll find not only gunfights and horseback chases but also walking, talking steely companions that might just have a heart of gold (or at least a heart of finely-tuned gears and circuitry).

As Welcome to the Weird West Month progresses, I encourage you all to visit Whether you’re a longtime fan or new to the genre, there’s something wonderfully wild waiting for you. And keep an eye out for my interview—I look forward to sharing it with you and hearing your thoughts.


Important Reminder

The Kickstarter for my latest Creedverse novel, Anna, Daughter of Creed, is running until May 30, 2024! Now’s a great time to back it for signed copies of the novel, copies of the previous series (if you’re interested!), and much more! You can even appear as a Weird West version of yourself in the upcoming book!

“May your belly never grumble, may your heart never ache, may your horse never stumble, may your cinch never break.” ~ The Cowboy Blessing


Welcome to the exciting journey of bringing Anna, Daughter of Creed to life through my latest Kickstarter campaign, which is running from April 30 to May 30, 2024. This project is for the new spin-off trilogy from my series, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed. (See the sidebar for more!) It represents a deepening of my steampunk western alternate timeline, which I call the Creedverse, and the beginning of The Anna Lynn Chronicles,” a trilogy that promises to expand Creedverse lore.

The Genesis of Anna, Daughter of Creed

The inspiration to focus on my inventor and brothel madam character, Anna Lynn Boyd, originated from the overwhelming response she received from readers, particularly women, who praised her depth and realism—qualities they felt were often lacking in female characters written by male authors. This feedback, along with a moment of revelation while writing Bodacious Creed and the Jade Lake, sparked the idea for a new series centered around Anna. As James “Bodacious” Creed pursued justice in San Francisco, it became clear that Anna would have her own set of challenges to face back in Santa Cruz.

Developing Anna Lynn Boyd

Anna’s character is a blend of genius intellect and profound resilience, shaped by her early experiences and the societal constraints of the 1870s. Despite her innovations and contributions to technology, she found herself constrained by the limited roles available to women during the era, initially forcing her into prostitution—an occupation she turned to out of necessity but left behind due to her inventions and subsequent partnership with business mogul Miles Morgan.

I knew it was important to portray her not as a victim of her circumstances, but as a proactive agent of change. Her story is one of overcoming adversity through intelligence and determination, using her wealth and influence to challenge and change the status quo for women—an endeavor that is central to Anna, Daughter of Creed.

Crafting the Narrative

The narrative of Anna, Daughter of Creed intertwines historical elements with steampunk inventions in a plot rich with blackmail, societal critique, and personal growth. The story delves into themes of libel and misogyny, exploring how Anna navigates these challenges in a society that is simultaneously captivated by and cautious of her achievements. This interplay of historical realism and imaginative steampunk elements provides a fertile ground for exploring timeless issues through the lens of speculative fiction.

Reader Engagement and Community Building

A fun aspect of this Kickstarter campaign is how I’m letting backers have a bit of input into the story. This interactive approach has been a cornerstone of my writing process, allowing readers to name characters or even appear as characters within the novel. This level of engagement not only enriches the story but also fosters a stronger connection between the narrative and its audience, making the Creedverse a collaborative space for creativity and community.

Overcoming Creative Challenges

Writing Anna, Daughter of Creed has been an exercise in persistence and creativity. The initial drafts, while extensive, did not capture the story I wanted to tell. Through multiple rewrites and revisions, I have honed in on a narrative that feels true to both the character of Anna and the world of the Creedverse. It’s been a challenge, but incredibly rewarding.

The Future of The Anna Lynn Chronicles

With the broad outlines for the next two books already in place, the journey ahead for Anna Lynn Boyd is vibrant and full of potential. These novels will continue to build on her legacy, exploring new dimensions of her character and the impact of her inventions on society. The trilogy will follow her personal growth and reflect broader societal changes, providing a mirror to the ongoing discussions around gender and innovation.

Your Role in This Journey

By supporting this Kickstarter, you’re playing a pivotal role in the realization of a project that merges historical intrigue with speculative innovation. Every pledge supports the continuation of a saga that champions the indomitable spirit of its characters.

I am committed to transparency and communication throughout this process. I will share regular updates on the progress of the novel, from the first draft through to publication, ensuring that backers are not just contributors but true partners in this creative journey.

Join Us

I invite you to join us on this adventure, to be part of a story that blends the past with futuristic technology and social commentary. Your support is not for a book, yes, and also for a vision of the world where the fierce the fearless, and the compassionate lead the way.

Thank you for considering this journey with me. Anna, Daughter of Creed is a project born from love—for the characters, for the world, and for the readers who have made the Creedverse what it is today. Together, we can turn this vision into reality.

“Writing is an act of willed understanding.” ~ Stephen King


Starting with My New Kickstarter

Historical fiction allows authors to creatively explore past events and personalities, blending established facts with imaginative storytelling. For me, this is especially fun when the author adds in science fiction or fantastical elements. My series, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, and soon my spin-off series, The Anna Lynn Chronicles, do just that.

Before we go on, I’m running a Kickstarter to help pay for editing and other services I may need for the first novel in that new series. It’s called, Anna, Daughter of Creed, I’m half-way through it, and it’s time to get start putting the editing and publishing pieces in place.

This Kickstarter goes live on April 30, 2024! Before then, you can follow it at this link, and from April 30 to May 30, you can pledge to back it. Backers will get books (signed if you get them in print!), and more. Check it out here:

Anna, Daughter of Creed by Jonathan Fesmire — Kickstarter


Back to writing historical fiction! This genre’s unique appeal lies in its ability to make history accessible and engaging, especially when authors integrate real historical figures into their stories. The practice requires a delicate balance between staying true to historical accuracy and taking creative liberties that enhance the narrative without distorting history too much. My Creedverse, which is what I call my steampunk western milieu, incorporates figures such as Nikola Tesla, the Cooper Brothers, and Mary Ellen Pleasant into a layered fictional world.


Foundations of Historical Fiction

Good historical fiction begins with research. When you plan to include a historical figure, delve into that person’s life, as much as you can. This isn’t always easy! For instance, my depiction of the Cooper Brothers from Santa Cruz respects their documented historical roles. John and William Cooper were influential figures in Santa Cruz during the late 19th century. I portrayed in ways that echo their real-life occupations. John runs the Cooper Brothers Mercantile and William as mayor and, later, postmaster. However, there’s not much information about their personalities, so I had liberty there.

Once the historical groundwork is laid, authors can tell their stories while respecting the facts. In the Creedverse, Nikola Tesla is reimagined as a young prodigy recruited by a fictional character, Miles Morgan. explores his potential in an alternate technological timeline. It serves the steampunk elements, prompts readers to consider the impact of early technological advances on society, and I think does right by Tesla, who suffered in our own world because of Thomas Edison’s greed.


Techniques for Integrating Historical Figures

Historical figures can serve as cultural and temporal anchors, giving authenticity to the setting. For example, I’ve incorporated the real-world fraternity E. Clampus Vitus and characters like Emperor Norton into the Creedverse, using their historical significance to enhance the reader’s experience of San Francisco during the late 1870s. This way, I’ve held onto the essence of the characters and setting while adapting their narratives to suit the needs of my novels.

In some cases, historical figures can play pivotal roles in the plot, directly influencing the storyline and interacting with fictional characters. Mary Ellen Pleasant, known for her entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts, shares the multifaceted nature of the real woman. Her portrayal includes her known activities and speculated aspects of her life, such as running seances. This not only acknowledges her historical importance but also introduces elements of mystery and intrigue that are pivotal to three of the novels, including the upcoming, Anna, Daughter of Creed.


Ethical and Creative Considerations

Using historical figures in fiction also involves ethical considerations, particularly regarding the potential misrepresentation of people whose actions and legacies might still resonate. Authors must navigate these waters carefully. In your own writing, try to make sure to respect the individuals’ memories while providing engaging storytelling.

And yes, there were shady characters in the past, and it’s fine to portray them this way!

For example, James “Shanghai” Kelly was a notorious figure in San Franciscos in the 19th century, known for his involvement in the practice of “shanghaiing,” officially known as “crimping”—the coercive recruitment of men into maritime labor. This involved trickery, intoxication, or outright kidnapping, a practice deeply embedded in the criminal underworld of waterfront cities. Portraying Kelly as a criminal in historical fiction aligns well with documented historical accounts, as his actions contributed to the lawless and often dangerous atmosphere of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast. He makes an appearance in Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate, and I plan to use him in a future series, too.

He’s a fitting character for narratives exploring the darker aspects of this period, and his notorious reputation provides ample justification for his depiction as a criminal in works that wish to delve into the gritty reality of historical San Francisco, such as the Creedverse novels.


Practical Advice for Writers

When using historical figures in fiction, you may not be able to research everything about them, but make sure you learn the most important things, and anything that might help you portray them fairly. Yes, in an alternate history, things may be different and some factual inaccuracies are acceptible if they make sense in your unique timeline. However, the more you can stick to the facts, these characters will help ground your novel.

Organic integration of historical figures helps maintain the flow of your story. They should enhance the narrative and contribute to the plot without overshadowing the fictional elements, including the main characters. Consider including an author’s note in your book, such as in the foreword or afterword. There, you can clarify the historical why you made certain changes. This can deepen your readers’ appreciation of the creative process behind your storytelling and foster a more informed and engaging interaction with your book.

The integration of historical figures in fiction offers writers a powerful tool to enrich their narratives by merging historical authenticity with creative speculation. The result should be stories that expertly explore the most important question in speculative fiction, “What if?”


“I have always regarded historical fiction and fantasy as sisters under the skin, two genres separated at birth.” – George R. R. Martin

As an author, I’ve written both series books and standalone novels. I’ve also learned that modern readers prefer a series, meaning there’s a economic incentive for authors to write them over standalone novels. They lead to higher overall book sales. This serial approach fosters a devoted readership and encourages writers to craft a rich, evolving narrative that might span several connected series. Yet, standalone novels captivate with their ability to deliver a full, satisfying story in just one book. Some of the best novels are standalone. Think of books like 1984, The Stand, A Tale of Two Cities, or Hucleberry Finn. (Although The Stand fits into Stephen King’s larger narrative shown in The Dark Tower Cycle, and Huckleberry Finn ties into Tom Sawyer. Oh, and Greg Matthews much later wrote an excellent sequel, The Further Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that I highly recommend.)


Mastering the Standalone Novel: The Art of Closure

Approaching a standalone novel involves a focused commitment to closure. Every major plot and character development introduced must come full circle by the book’s end. This doesn’t mean answering every question or resolving every minor subplot, but ensuring that you address the major conflicts. Standalone novels excel in providing a powerful narrative impact, encapsulated in a single volume. They offer new readers an accessible entry point into an author’s work and satisfy those seeking a complete experience without the need to commit to following a series. It’s no wonder so many stand-alone novels appear on top literature lists.


The Dynamic World of Series Writing: Continuous Threads

Crafting a series presents unique challenges and rewards. Each book in a series should fulfill a dual purpose: it must resolve its own narrative arc satisfyingly while also paving the way for future installments. (Authors sometimes do this too with intended stand-alone projects, leaving them room to write a sequel.) Achieving this balance is critical to keeping readers engaged over the long term. One effective strategy I employ in series writing involves layered plot structuring:


  • A Plot: This is the central storyline of each book, designed to resolve within that volume.
    B Plot: A secondary subplot that develops to become the A Plot of the next book.
    C Plot: A lesser subplot that upgrades to the B Plot in the subsequent installment.


This structured approach ensures that, while the primary plot (A Plot) reaches a conclusion by the book’s end, the secondary (B Plot) and tertiary (C Plot) plots introduce additional elements that extend into the next book. This technique maintains a moving narrative and keeps the readers intrigued and invested in the unfolding story.


Organizational Strategies for Series Writers

The organizational demands of series writing are more complex than those for standalone works. While a standalone novel might require just a notebook of background details, a series demands a robust system to manage a wealth of information to maintain narrative continuity across multiple books. I use World Anvil to organize the expansive Creedverse. It’s a platform that allows me to document everything from character developments to intricate plot threads and technological nuances within my universe. I’ve found it indispensable for keeping track of the sprawling details that define the series. For a deeper insight into the Creedverse, you can visit my World Anvil site. Note that most of the information is private, but I’ve made some entries available to readers.


The Creedverse (


Navigating Your Narrative Path

The decision between writing a standalone novel or a series hinges on the scope of the story you wish to tell and the commitment you expect from your readers. Standalone novels are perfect for telling a potent, self-contained story, while series offer the space to explore more complex narratives and character developments over time. As a writer, the key is to understand which format best serves the essence of your story and meets the expectations of your readers.

For those embarking on the writing journey, whether in the realm of standalone novels or series, remember that each format presents unique opportunities for creative expression and audience engagement. The most important aspect is to keep your readers enthralled and eager for whatever narrative journey you choose to take them on.



I’m setting up my next Kickstarter! My trilogy, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed is widely available. While I plan to write another trilogy about our hero, James Creed, I’m currently writing the first spin-off series, The Anna Lynn Chronicles.

This new series is about one of my most popular Creedverse characters, James Creed’s daughter, Anna Lynn Boyd. It’s appropriately called Anna, Daughter of Creed. Alas, I’m still working on the project video, but I plan to have the Kickstarter live within a month! To get the news when it’s up and running, sign up for my newsletter by choosing one of the free short stories in the sidebar.

“A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.” ~ Samuel Johnson


Anna, Daughter of Creed – Coming Soon to Kickstarter 

It’s that exciting time again! I’m preparing for a new Kickstarter campaign for my upcoming novel, Anna, Daughter of Creed. As many of you know, each new project brings its unique challenges and learning opportunities, and this one is no exception. Today, I want to give you an inside look at what goes into getting a Kickstarter ready, from crafting rewards to selecting a narrator, and more.


Inspiration Behind the Novel

The genesis of Anna, Daughter of Creed stretches back to my time working on my MFA in Animation and Visual Effects, originally starting as a 3D modeling project. This led into my novel, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, and everything snowballed from there. Now, I have a rich alternative wild west setting for my novels and stories, the Creedverse. Anna emerged as a pivotal character in that first Creedverse novel as co-protagonist alongside James Creed. As I wrote the next two novels, it became clear that Anna’s story demanded its own trilogy to explore the challenges she faced during the events of Bodacious Creed and the Jade Lake and Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate.


Setting Kickstarter Goals and Funding Needs

Having run both successful and less successful Kickstarter campaigns, I’ve learned a lot about setting realistic goals and managing expectations. For my previous project, Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate, I set a modest goal of $300, which was quickly met and exceeded. Of course, the final pledge amount was much greater, coming in at $1,681. With that experience, I plan to use a similar strategy for Anna, Daughter of Creed.


Marketing and Promotional Strategies


Marketing is crucial for the success of any Kickstarter. I use a combination of social media platforms—Facebook, Threads, Substack, and my newsletter—to reach my audience. I also make TikTok videos and maintain engagement with previous Kickstarter backers by updating past campaigns. The goal with these efforts is to build anticipation without overspending on advertising.


Engaging the Audience

Engagement doesn’t just start with the campaign launch; it’s an ongoing process. I’m currently working on creating engaging content, including a potential video featuring a booktoker who could provide a compelling introduction to Anna’s character. This adds an element of social proof and helps assure backers of the quality and appeal of the novel, especially from a perspective that validates my ability to authentically voice female characters.

Managing Kickstarter Logistics

Running a Kickstarter involves meticulous planning, from setting up the campaign page with engaging text and pictures to coming up with the reward tiers. Rewards for Anna, Daughter of Creed will again include unique items like a specially designed deck of playing cards, which have become a signature part of my campaigns. Essential tools for this phase include graphic design software for creating appealing visuals and spreadsheets for tracking funding goals and expenses.


Advice for Aspiring Kickstarter Creators

To anyone considering a Kickstarter for their project, my advice is simple: go for it! Platforms like Kickstarter offer a fantastic way to gauge interest, build community, and fund your creative endeavors. From my experience, starting with a clear plan and a modest goal can lead to surprising and inspiring results. Kickstarter has instructional videos, and you should check out similar projects for ideas.


Looking Ahead

While I have yet to decide on the exact launch date for the Kickstarter of Anna, Daughter of Creed, preparation is in full swing. I am working on the video, page text, and rewards, and you can expect a follow-up soon with more details, including the official launch date.

Kickstarter campaigns are like a rodeo, full of activity, surprises, and excitement. Each one teaches me something new about the process and about my audience. I see Anna, Daughter of Creed as a doorway into a world where the struggles and triumphs of a formidable woman take center stage. I’m thrilled to bring you along on this journey.

Stay tuned! As always, thank you for your incredible support and enthusiasm—it’s what makes this journey so rewarding.

“When I look at Kickstarter, I see small businesses that have been funded by their customers. I see the acceleration of this shift away from the industrial manufacturing ideology to more of a maker economy. And I also see an idea so powerful that the company name has become a verb.” – Om Malik


The American Gambling Frontier


As an author of novels in an alternate, retro-futuristic Wild West (check out my popular trilogy, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed), I love learning about that period of American history. One fascinating topic is the art of gambling in the Wild West.

The story of gambling in the United States is woven through our tumultuous Wild West history. In the late 19th century, the American frontier was a melting pot of adventurers, outlaws, and entrepreneurs, with gambling a common thread linking communities. Let’s travel back to the 19th century and explore gambling in American society, focusing on its explosive growth during the Wild West era, embodied by legendary figures like Wild Bill Hickok and the enigmatic card sharp S.W. Erdnase.


The Card Games of the Wild West: Faro and Poker

In the bustling saloons and gambling dens of the Wild West, two card games reigned supreme: faro and poker. Faro, often referred to as the “King of Games,” (and pronounced pharaoh, like the kings of Egypt) was the most popular gambling game of the era. Originating in France, faro made its way to America in the 18th century, gaining immense popularity in the West because of its fast-paced nature and easy-to-understand rules. The game involved betting on cards drawn from a specialized deck, with players wagering on the order in which the cards would appear. Its appeal lay in its simplicity and the quick resolution of bets, making it a favorite among casual gamblers and seasoned professionals alike. However, faro’s popularity also made it a prime target for cheaters, with rigged dealing boxes and marked cards frequently reported, leading to its eventual decline as trust in the game waned.

Poker, on the other hand, emerged as the enduring symbol of Wild West gambling, encapsulating the region’s blend of skill, bluff, and chance. Unlike faro, poker allowed for more player control and strategy, with variations like draw and stud poker becoming staples in gambling halls. Poker games were intense social encounters; reading opponents and strategic betting were as crucial as the cards dealt. The game’s inherent complexity made it a staple of Wild West culture, immortalized in countless tales of high-stakes games in dusty frontier towns. Poker’s ability to combine luck with skill and psychological warfare ensured its lasting place in gambling history, far outliving faro to become a cornerstone of modern casino gaming.

These card games, with their rich history and deep association with the Wild West, provide a glimpse into the era’s social dynamics and cultural preferences. Faro’s fast decline and poker’s enduring popularity reflect the shifting trends and tastes in gambling practices, mirroring the broader evolution of American society from the rugged frontiers of the Wild West to the structured complexity of contemporary life.


The Heyday of Wild West Gambling

Gambling in the Wild West was more than a leisure activity; it was a vital part of social life, reflecting the era’s ethos of risk and reward. Saloons, tents, and makeshift casinos buzzed with activity, offering games like poker, faro, and monte. These establishments provided a communal space where men, and some women, won and lost fortunes in the blink of an eye.


Wild Bill Hickok: The Gambler and the Gunfighter

Wild Bill Hickok, a quintessential figure of the Wild West, exemplified the era’s gambling spirit. Known for his sharpshooting and law enforcement career, Hickok was also a notorious gambler. His death in 1876 while playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, has cemented his place in gambling lore. Shot by Jack McCall, purportedly over gambling grievances, Hickok’s last hand of aces and eights became the infamous “Dead Man’s Hand,” symbolizing the perilous nature of Wild West gambling. This incident underscores the volatile mix of gambling, honor, and violence characteristic of the time.

S.W. Erdnase: Master of the Card Table

In the shadowy corners of gambling history lurks S.W. Erdnase, author of “The Expert at the Card Table.” Published in 1902, this book remains a seminal guide to card manipulation and cheating. Erdnase, whose real identity is still debated, captured the essence of the card sharp’s art, detailing techniques that influenced both gamblers and magicians. His work offers a glimpse into the underground world of professional gambling, where mastery of sleight-of-hand was as revered as the ability to read an opponent’s tells. The best magicians use his slight-of-hand techniques to this day.

The Culture and Consequences of CheatiNG

In the Wild West, gambling was not just a game of chance but also a game of skill, wit, and deception. Cheating was rampant, and accusations thereof often led to deadly outcomes. Gamblers’ reputations hinged not only on their success at the tables but also on their perceived integrity. A cheater, once exposed, faced ostracism or worse, as personal honor and respect were paramount in the gambling community.

Gambling Halls and Social Dynamics

The gambling halls of the Wild West were social and economic centers that provided a nexus for exchange beyond mere currency. They facilitated the flow of information, goods, and more. These locals reinforced, and challenged, social hierarchies, and the diversity of the American frontier was on full display.

Economic Impact and the Gold Rush Connection

The link between gambling and the economy was obvious in gold rush towns, where prospectors gambled with the same fervor with which they mined. Towns like Deadwood and San Francisco experienced economic booms fueled by both mining and gambling industries. Gambling revenues helped build infrastructure and funded public services, contributing to the growth and development of the West.

Legal and Social Ramifications

As towns grew and societies became more structured, the need for regulation became apparent. The initially unbridled gambling practices faced legal scrutiny. Efforts to curb gambling’s excesses reflected broader social and economic shifts, marking the transition from frontier lawlessness to regulated civic order.

The Legacy of Gambling in American Culture

The Wild West period laid the groundwork for the gambling industry in the United States, blending the thrill of chance with the American ethos of opportunity and risk. The legacy of figures like Wild Bill Hickok and S.W. Erdnase continues to permeate the world of gambling, symbolizing the blend of skill, luck, and daring that characterizes the American gambling spirit.

From Frontier to Modernity

The evolution of gambling in American society from the Wild West era to the present encapsulates a journey from lawless frontier activity to a regulated mainstream pastime. The tales of Wild Bill Hickok and S.W. Erdnase highlight the allure and danger of gambling in the Wild West, reflecting broader themes of American history such as innovation, risk-taking, and the quest for justice. As the gambling industry continues to change, it carries forward the legacy of the Wild West, marrying the thrill of the gamble with the steadiness of regulated enterprise.

“The highest form of wisdom is to know when to play and when to stay away.” ~ Earl Wilson


They Wrote What? 

I stumbled on a comment the other day where someone bragged about never touching a novel, claiming that fiction is nothing but a waste of time. They were adamant that anything fiction offers could be learned more directly elsewhere.

I couldn’t disagree more. Let’s explore why fiction is far from a trivial pursuit, and why we can’t dismiss fiction.


Why Fiction Matters

Labeling fiction as just make-believe stories misses the point. It’s like calling a gourmet meal just food. Sure, fiction is made up. I mean… yes, and? Using that as an argument against it is pretty weak. “Made up” or not, fictional stories journey into the deepest corners of human experience.

So, why does fiction matter? Here are ten reasons.


  1. Walking in Others’ Shoes: Fiction lets readers live countless lives, understand diverse perspectives, and navigate the complexities of different characters. It’s one thing to be told how someone feels or what someone did. But experiencing that through the medium of fiction makes it personal, visceral. There’s a ton of research backing up how fiction readers end up being more empathetic. It’s about seeing the world through someone else’s eyes and getting why they feel the way they do.
  2. Igniting Creativity: Diving into fictional worlds is a creativity booster. It pushes the imagination to its limits, sparking ideas that can solve real-world problems. There’s a clear link between enjoying novels and being more creative and open to new experiences.
  3. Sharpening the Brain: Tackling the twists and turns of a good plot is like a workout for the brain. It hones critical thinking and analytical skills, making you better deciphering complex situations, not just in the story but in real life, and this boost continues on for a while after you’ve finished reading fiction. Keep it up, though! Read consistently to keep this benefit going.
  4. Cultural Exploration: Fiction is a backstage pass to different cultures and historical eras, offering insights and awareness that are hard to come by elsewhere. It’s like a time machine, providing a deeper grasp of various societies and their histories.
  5. Language Mastery: Regularly reading fiction can seriously amp up your language and communication game. The rich narratives and diverse vocabulary found in fiction enhance your ability to express thoughts and connect with others effectively.
  6. Mental Escape Hatch: Fiction is a sanctuary for the mind, offering a break from the stress and monotony of daily life. It’s not just an escape; it’s a way to recharge and improve mental well-being.
  7. Moral Gymnasium: The ethical dilemmas and life lessons woven into fiction offer a playground for exploring complex moral questions in a nuanced way. It’s about wrestling with right and wrong in a safe, contemplative space.
  8. Fun: Let’s not forget, fiction is downright enjoyable. It’s a source of pleasure and entertainment, enriching our lives with stories that thrill, move, and inspire.
  9. Building Communities: Fiction draws people together, creating communities where fans can share, debate, and geek out over their favorite stories. It’s about connecting with others who get just why that plot twist blew your mind. I love talking to other readers about books we’ve loved and the stories within.
  10. Resilience and New Perspectives: Fictional tales of struggle and triumph can be incredibly motivating. They offer fresh perspectives on tackling life’s hurdles, showing that obstacles can be overcome, often in ways we might not expect.


Making the Case for Fiction

Saying fiction is a waste of time overlooks so much! Fiction is a cornerstone of cultural and intellectual life, offering insights into the human condition that are hard to replicate elsewhere. It’s a powerful tool for growth, understanding, and connection. Ignoring its value to your own detriment; you’ll be turning your back on an incredible source of wisdom, pleasure, and inspiration. It’s anything but a waste of time—it’s a vital part of our journey to understand the world and ourselves.

While I don’t have the space here to drop links, I’d encourage anyone curious to check out the swath of studies and discussions on the benefits of fiction. Look into publications from the fields of psychology, literature, and education to see just how fiction molds our brains, hearts, and societies.

(If you’d like to read my fiction, check the links to the right! You’ll find links to two free short stories, my novels, my Patreon, and more.)

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” 
~ Anna Quindlen


Wait… Tarot for Non-Believers?


I love Tarot decks. Now, I also happen to be an Atheist. Tarot for non-believers? Does that seem like a contradiction? It’s not that, but it is something I’ve thought about a lot.

Tarot cards, often enveloped in an aura of mystique, are traditionally seen as tools for divination. However, their utility extends beyond fortune-telling. For the skeptic or non-believer, Tarot offers symbolism that can enhance personal introspection, creative thinking, and emotional understanding.


Deepening Meditation and Mindfulness

Tarot’s visual and symbolic complexity makes it an excellent aid for meditation. Whatever deck you choose, each card is a work of art, brimming with symbols that depict a myriad of human emotions and situations. By focusing on a card’s imagery while relaxing, one can enter a meditative state and open up to the subconscious. Meditation has many science-based benefits, and making a card, or several cards, your focus can unearth new insights into personal dilemmas, aspirations, and emotions.

For example, meditating on The Hermit may encourage one to explore a need for solitude and inner reflection, while The Empress could inspire thoughts on nurturing and abundance. This can lead to profound self-awareness and personal growth.


Reflective Tool for Personal Insight

In the hands of a non-believer, Tarot becomes a mirror reflecting the multifaceted aspects of the self. Drawing a card or spread can start a process of self-reflection, encouraging one to examine thoughts, feelings, and circumstances from different angles.

Consider a scenario where The Chariot appears in a spread about career advancement. This card might symbolize the drive and determination needed to succeed, prompting reflection on how these qualities manifest in one’s professional life. Sure, the reader drew the card absolutely by chance, but by considering how it relates to their life, or even if it doesn’t, the reader is thinking. Much of the time, that’s likely to bring new insights.


Stimulating Creative Thought and Problem-Solving

The Tarot deck, with its archetypal characters and scenarios, serves as a catalyst for creative thinking and problem-solving. Each card tells a story, and when these stories intersect in a reading, they form a complex narrative that can offer fresh perspectives on familiar problems.

In creative brainstorming or decision-making, using a Tarot spread, like the classic Celtic Cross Spread, can illuminate different aspects of a situation, helping to explore potential actions and outcomes. This narrative approach can break through mental blocks and open up innovative pathways for thought.

The reading may seem to fit the situation perfectly, or not at all. Either way, the reader is contemplating their question.


Tarot as a Comprehensive Learning Tool

Beyond its use in personal reflection, the Tarot is a compendium of human experience and cultural symbolism. Studying the cards exposes one to a range of archetypes and historical themes, offering lessons in psychology, mythology, and the arts. This educational journey can deepen one’s appreciation for the Tarot’s cultural and historical significance, irrespective of belief in its divinatory power.


Inspiration for Writers and Creatives

For the creatively inclined, Tarot can be a wellspring of inspiration. For example, I recently put a deck I designed, The Modern Wordsmith Tarot, for sale in my Etsy shop. This deck, which integrates themes of writing and creativity, can stimulate the imagination and aid in storytelling. Each card’s imagery and symbolism can spark ideas for character development, plot twists, or thematic exploration, or help authors think about the balance between writing and marketing.

Tarot for non-believers is not about foreseeing the future but about enriching the present. The cards offer a platform for meditation, a mirror for reflection, a source of creative inspiration, and a means for education. By engaging with the Tarot’s symbolic and narrative depth, one can gain valuable insights and perspectives, regardless of their stance on mysticism.

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” ~ Earl Wilson