The Things I Read

Sitting on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, watching the snow swirl against the windows, and wishing it were January rather than March. I wouldn’t have minded this so much in January.

But I guess I don’t mind it that much now. It’s warm in here, I went grocery shopping yesterday, we haven’t lost power (at least not yet), and I have a vase of $4 Whole Foods yellow tulips to lift my spirits.

I also have haphazard piles of books of different genres – source material for different projects, some current, some future, some past, and some hypothetical. I so love inter-library loan. It never ceases to amuse me what I wind up using as reference material.

In the hopes that it will amuse you as well, here are some lists for a snowy Tuesday afternoon.


Read For The First Time While Researching Timekeeper:

  • The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte by Robert Asprey
  • Waterloo by David Hamilton Williams
  • Napoleon and the Conquest of the World (there’s a story behind this one, but I’ll wait until the publication of the new edition of Timekeeper before I tell it)
  • Fodor’s Travel Guide To Vienna
  • The Stars Look Down by A. J. Cronin (fiction, but an excellent source of information on everyday life in Welsh mining villages)
  • Articles on Clément Duval, François Frean, Paul Renuci, Raymond Vaude, Giovanni Batistoti, Henri Charriere, and their escapes or alleged escapes from the French penal colony of Cayenne (a.k.a Devil’s Island)


Reread While Researching Timekeeper:

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (obsessively, to get the timeline and choreography right)
  • Waterloo: A Near-Run Thing by David Howarth (ditto)


Movies Watched While Researching Timekeeper:

  • Ocean’s Eleven
  • Ocean’s Twelve
  • Ocean’s Thirteen
  • The Italian Job

(the “heist” subplot ended up being downplayed by the final draft, but the research was fun)


Read For The First Time While Researching Timebound:

  • The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb
  • Assault in Norway: Sabotaging the Nazi Nuclear Program by Thomas Gallagher
  • The Mountains Wait by Theodore Broch
  • The Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France by Caroline Moorehead
  • History of England, Volume 3 by David Hume (can anyone guess why?)
  • Under These Restless Skies by Lissa Bryan (fun read, but didn’t turn out to be much help, since the character I was interested in only appeared briefly – can anyone guess who?)


Reread To Get The Feel For A Specific Tiny Scene In Timebound:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (and there’s a virtual cookie in it for anyone who figures out which scene it is, when the book is finally done. It’s not a mad wife in an attic, I’ll tell you that much.)


Regency Inheritance Law

Today’s research question:

Under what circumstances could a Regency-era parent withhold their child’s expected inheritance?

I note that in the Jane Austen canon, Mrs. Ferrars Senior “settles all her money irrevocably upon one of her sons” when the other declares his intention to make a marriage his mother disapproves of.

On the other hand, Mr. Wickham famously seduces Georgiana Darcy, “his object being her fortune,” which seems to indicate Mr. Darcy could not cut his sister off financially if she married without his approval. Unless he could, but Wickham was betting he wouldn’t?

My guess is that the terms of the inheritance matter a great deal. If Georgiana Darcy was left so much by her parents, to her by name, to come to her when she came of age or married, Darcy couldn’t do anything? But if the late Mr. Ferrars left all his money to his widow for her lifetime, she could disinherit a child if she wanted to? Something like that?

If anyone knows for sure or could point me to an appropriate website, I would greatly appreciate it.


Arisia 2017!

Will you be at Arisia this year? So will I!

You can find me at:

Emerging Trends In Game Technology

Friday at 8:30 in Fanueil

Augmented Reality now has mass appeal. The Virtual Reality market is getting overcrowded. Giant procedurally generated worlds are old hat. Yesterday’s promises are already mundane. So what’s next? Our panelists weigh in on which new technologies developers are embracing, and which might just be vaporware.


The Stories People Play

Saturday at 2:30 in Marina 3

Video games are often an interactive experience, and a good story can help immerse the participants. But interactivity changes the requirements for a good story, doesn’t it? If you want to give your audience choices, those choices will affect the outcome. How do you write something with that caveat? Do all games need a story to be enjoyable? If you just want to take out the alien invasion with your boomstick, does it matter *why* they are invading? In this panel, we will discuss these and more.


Writing A Great LARP

Sunday at 5:30 in Marina 3

Beyond the nuts and bolts of creating and running a game, what makes one truly excellent? The panelists will explore character writing, plot design, and game structure, and discuss what makes a game into something that people will talk about and recommend to others.


The Broad Universe Table

sometimes, but not other times, in the dealer room

Where, if all goes well, I will be selling Timepiece!


Very much looking forward to the fun. See you there!

Timepiece is available for purchase!

See the Stillpoint website for details:

Timepiece Now Available

Time Travel Stories To Tide You Over Until January

…sorted  by medium.

  • Print:

    • (long form) The Anubis Gates:
      • Winner of the 1983 Philip K. Dick award and considered to be one of the founding works of the steampunk genre, Tim Powers’ rollicking adventure features an ancient Egyptian sorcerer, a modern millionaire who has cracked time travel and wants to meet Samuel Coleridge, a young woman disguised as a boy, a brainwashed Lord Byron, a body-switching werewolf, a spring-heeled Jack, and an English professor hired by the aforementioned modern millionaire to act as tourguide to one of Coleridge’s 1810 lectures – where he is inevitably stranded, and hijinks ensue. The pacing is insane – you can’t catch your breath, but you don’t want to. I was handed this when the first edition of Timepiece was largely complete (“you want to write steampunk time travel, Heather? Tim Powers already did that”) and it’s just as well, or I would have been too intimidated to start.
    • (short form) Palindrome:
      • 680 elegant words by William Arthur. Read it for free at Daily Science Fiction.
  • Film:

    • (big-budget, classic, feel-good) The Back to the Future Trilogy
      • My favorite bits are the scenes in Part II that take place in the interstices of Part I.
    • (none of these things) Timelapse
      • A really strikingly good 2015 indie film, though a poor choice for a date night movie.
  • TV:

    • The Dr Who episode Blink
      • The first Weeping Angels episode. One of the tightest scripts I’ve ever seen in my life, and my usual go-to when trying to persuade people to give the rebooted Dr. Who a chance. It works most of the time. Fair warning, has more than a toe across the line into “horror.”
    • The Star Trek: TNG episode Timescape
      • Not technically time travel, but plays with one of my favorite time travel tropes: the story you think you’re watching is not the story you are actually watching.
  • Games:

    • Chrononauts:
      • Delightful lighthearted card game in which you play a time traveler trying to manipulate the timeline so you can get back home.
    • Anything run in Kevin Kulp’s magnificent TimeWatch universe:
      • I’m so not objective here, given that I contributed to both the core rulebook and one of the supplements, but you should listen to me anyway. If tabletop RPGs are your thing, particularly if you are a fan of Robin D Laws’ GUMSHOE system, you need to own this.


A Waterloo Primer

With only a week to go on the Kickstarter, and less than a month before Timepiece is due to be released, I thought it might be helpful to offer a primer of what (everyone thinks) happened on the field of Waterloo, so you can have it firmly in mind when Timepiece tells you what really happened. 😉

The 200th anniversary of this battle was celebrated a year and a half ago, on the very field where the original conflict occurred, in a grand re-enactment event involving something like 8,000 people (participants and audience) from all over the world.

(Re-enactors hold an event there every 5 years, as it happens; it draws 500 people on average. The town of Waterloo was not quite prepared for us. Though they did try very hard.) The following little piece of photojournalism is made possible by my husband, the brilliant photographer Richard Jackson.

Here is a view of the battlefield from the French lines – Napoleon’s perspective – before anything took place there.


Here is Britain’s view of the situation – admittedly biased, and a simplification of something more complicated, but a striking image – the Eagle overshadowing the whole world, gripping the globe in bloodstained talons.


The participants ride (or wade) into a field of rye.




The British are significantly outnumbered. If they can join with the Prussians, all will be well, but the Prussians have not yet arrived.

The battle is engaged.

You can feel every blast of the cannon vibrate in your sternum. Gunsmoke hangs so heavily over the battlefield that you can hardly see.


The British hold all day.



Here is the farm called La Haye Saint. It is about to fall to French hands, which will leave a gap in the British line.


And the Prussians are still nowhere to be seen.

In the real world, they arrived in time to join with Wellington and win the day.

But what if they hadn’t?

What other desperate methods might have been employed?

Especially in a world where monsters are real?

Timepiece is available for pre-order here.