Steampunk: A Definition

Quite recently, I was involved in a discussion of books, self-publishing and, in particular, my soon-to-be-published novella, Behind Her Mask was Death. During the discussion, I was talking about fantasy and how my book is not straight fantasy, but of a more steampunk-ish persuasion, and was promptly asked for a definition of the word ‘steampunk.’ As I stuttered my way through a rather confusing and (I’m sure) quite incomprehensible explanation, it occurred to me that, perhaps, there are other people who require clarification on what exactly steampunk is and why I have chosen to write it.

Steampunk is… steampunk. It is something that you recognize by sight. There is no simple, Oxford English Dictionary definition or, at least, not one that can encompass steampunk in all its multifaceted glory. Steampunk is gears and leather and grand Victoriana and blatant anachronism which, as all right minded people will agree, simply ought not to be allowed.  It is dust and faded dresses, old things from your grandmothers attic torn up to make new things, costumes hung with old cogs and bits of clockwork, grand adventures in dirigibles, keys, cobblestone streets, dark back alleys, and smog. It is something I am drawn to because am repelled by our slick, clean, user friendly vision of the future, with white plastic walls and softly glowing buildings, where everything is so very safe and huggable.

There is something about the gears and the dirt and tooled leather and cumbersome dresses and intricately crafted metal filigree which attracts me. Perhaps it is because that world seems so much more hands on, full of real people doing real work to make the world run along smoothly, old clockwork and decrepit buildings and some vision of Victorian London gone wild, skylines cluttered with smokestacks and airships. It’s a world where everything is so much more complicated, and yet somehow simpler, where real people interact on an everyday basis, not through computers or screens or hand held devices. It’s a place that forces you to put down your Pokémon Go and look around at the real world (well, the imaginary one, I guess). There’s so much scope for the imagination.

So, yes, thank you, I’ll take my sulfur yellow skies and rusty old gears, all those odd little hats, goggles (of course), corsets, coal smoke, dirty rivers, afternoon tea, chintz curtains, overstuffed armchairs and soot. There’s good stuff in there. I think I’ll build something.

Wednesday with Words: All the Claims of Men

I wrote down this quote, from Ravi Zacharias’s The Kingdom of the Cults, some time ago, but I think I will use it today just because it is so very interesting and true. I have not read the entire book, which consists mostly of long histories of various supposedly Christian cults, but I found this quote near the beginning:

I must dissent from the view that “all roads that lead to God are good” and believe instead the words of our Lord, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh into the father but by me.” It should be carefully noted that Jesus did not say, “I am one of many equally good ways,” or “I am a better way than the others, I am an aspect of truth; I am a fragment of the life.” Instead, His claim is absolute, and allegiance to Him as the Savior of the world was to take precedence over all the claims of men and religions.

The Kingdom of the Cults

By Ravi Zacharias, with Walter Martin


On my reading list this week:

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events! I have heard myself and a couple of my siblings compared numerous times to the three children in this book, and I decided to finally read it myself. It’s very, very silly and quite funny, and not the ‘horrible, sad, terrible book’ which was promised. (False advertising!)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: I have been anticipating this book for a long, long time, only to discover that it is an extraordinarily dark, violent book without any sort of morals, so very far from the fun fantasy I was expecting, and certainly not recommended to anybody.

The Shadows by Jacqueline West: Another book which I have been looking forward to. It definitely can’t go as far wrong as Six of Crows, as it resides in the Juvenile Fiction section of the library, and not the Young Adult.

Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.


Special Updates: Release Date and Goodreads Giveaway


Hey, everybody! As I just announced on Facebook, Behind Her Mask was Death now has an official release date. Paperback and Kindle editions will be available for purchase on and all other Amazon sites worldwide on October 1st, 2016. Due to some complicated technical and legal stuff, I am unable to list the book for pre-order before the release date. Anyway, the book is also now in the Goodreads database, so you can add it to your reading list if you wish.

Speaking of Goodreads, beginning August 1st you will be able to enter to win one of five signed copies of Behind Her Mask was Death, through the Goodreads Giveaway feature. The Giveaway ends on September 30th, and five random winners will be chosen to receive their prize. By the way, you can check out my Goodreads Author page here.

Thanks everybody!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Behind Her Mask was Death by Aria E. Maher

Behind Her Mask was Death

by Aria E. Maher

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


The Poet’s Corner: Autumn

I keep telling myself to write something other than Wednesday with Words posts on here. I’ve always wanted to write a poem about Autumn, because it is my favorite season. Here my attempt for your consideration:


Lady Autumn

Young Lady Spring has grown tall.

Summer’s fruit is ripening.

Soon she shall blossom into Fall

The season of cold reckoning.


Wheat and corn, rising high,

‘till men cut down the golden wall.

Trees reach up to touch the sky

Soon dying leaves will gently fall.


Colors burn before they die,

And drift in banks across the ground.

Like fires shining in the night,

One by one they put them out.


Lady Autumn wears her cloak

Of colors, red and orange and gold.

She walks the fields, sowing Hope,

For Spring shall rise when Winter’s old.


Seasons cycle, years go by,

Ever old and ever new.

The leaves, still in their banks they lie,

Forgotten, wet by morning dew.


When Lady Spring has grown tall,

And Summer’s Sun is brightening,

Clear the way for lovely Fall,

And brilliant colors ripening.

Wednesday with Words: Principles

I just recently finished reading Whatever Happened to Justice? by Richard Maybury, the sequel to Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by the same author. In Whatever Happened to Justice? Mr. Maybury takes a good look at our crazy political system, explaining the origin of democracy, the American legal system, and common law. While some of his ideas about the origins of government and other subjects are rather ridiculous and sometimes non-Christian, Whatever Happened to Justice? answers many questions about government and our legal system. Another thing I enjoy about the book is that Mr. Maybury includes quotes from people like the Founding Fathers and others well versed in the old Common Law. This quote from Thomas Paine caught my eye because it reminded me of something I said myself near the end of one of my blog posts here.


Man cannot make principles, he can only discover them.

Thomas Paine


On my reading list this week (Lots of Random Fantasy Edition):

Eldest by Christopher Paolini—Speaking of Paine, this book is turning out to be rather painful. While Eragon was fast paced and interesting enough for me not to notice the rather bad writing and annoying characters, Eldest lumbers painfully along for a whopping six hundred and eighty-one pages, almost as long as the last Harry Potter book. Unlike the last Harry Potter book, which I read in one day, this book has completely failed to grab me at all, until maybe half way through, where it got slightly more interesting (slightly!). And my favorite character, the only interesting character, who made the first book ten times more bearable, is apparently dead. There is also some questionable content which I really do not like. I will endeavor to read the rest of the series, because I like to finish what I start, but I do not have high expectations.

Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet—Unlike Eldest, this fantasy book actually interests me. It’s a little bit strange, but in a pleasant, inventive way, with lots of weird fantasy creatures and wild magic. I am actually looking forward to finishing it and reading the rest of the Auralia Thread.

Scarlet by Marrisa Meyer (assuming I can get my hands on a copy) —Scarlet is the second book in the popular sci-fi series the Lunar Chronicles, which kicked off with a spectacular bang in Cinder, the first book. This series is probably going to become my new obsession. Its one of very few (or the only?) ‘popular’ young adult series that I actually can say I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. I really want to read Scarlet, but unfortunately none of the library’s copies are due back until next month (though I’m hoping somebody will return one early…) You can read my glowing review of Cinder here.


Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.


Wednesday with Words: An Active Pursuit of Understanding

Instead of doing a traditional grammar textbook for school, I had to read Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves, which I just finished (read my review here). In the book she not only gives the rules of punctuation but constantly argues against our treatment of language on the internet, where ongoing, unpunctuated script, often without any spaces between words (think hashtags), has become completely acceptable. (As the quote is rather long, I was unable to fit it on a picture, so here it is in all its glory)

                The printed word is presented to us in a linear way, with syntax supreme in conveying the sense of the words in their order. We read privately, mentally listening to the writer’s voice and translating the writer’s thoughts. The book remains static and fixed; the reader journeys through it. Picking up the book in the first place entails an active pursuit of understanding. Holding the book, we are aware of posterity and continuity. Knowing that the printed word is always edited, typeset and proof-read before it reaches us, we appreciate its literary authority. Having paid money for it (often), we have a sense of investment and a pride of ownership, not to mention a feeling of general virtue.

All these conditions for reading are overturned by the new technologies. Information is presented to us in a non-linear way, through an exponential series of lateral associations. The internet is a public “space” which you visit, and even inhabit; its product is inherently impersonal and disembodied. Scrolling documents is the opposite of reading: your eyes remain static, while the material flows past. Despite all the opportunities to “interact”, we read material from the internet… entirely passively because all of the interesting associative thinking has already been done on our behalf. Electronic media are intrinsically ephemeral, are open to perpetual revision, and work quite strenuously against any sort of historical perception. The opposite of edited, the material on the internet is unmediated, except by the technology itself. And having no price, it has questionable value. Finally, you can’t write comments in the margin of your screen to be discovered by another reader fifty years down the line.

Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves

On my reading list this week:

Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis by J. K Rowling-An awesome Latin translation of the first Harry Potter book! My Latin class is over for the summer, so I’m compensating by trying (struggling) to read something way above my level.

Mossflower by Brian Jacques-I love both Mossflower and Redwall (they are both on my favorite books shelf on Goodreads), but its been a very long time since I read either of them. I’m listening to a really neat production of Mossflower on audiobook. They have different people do the voice of each character, so its like listening to an audio play.

The Holy War by John Bunyan-Another book I’m reading for school. The beginning was a lot like Paradise Lost, but it has gotten significantly more interesting after the first few chapters. Its an allegory, like Pilgrim’s Progress, so all the characters are named things like ‘Captain Resistance’ and ‘Mr. Ill Pause’.

Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.


Wednesday with Words: Fairy Tales and Einstein

My quote for this Wednesday with Words I actually found quoted at the beginning The Search for WandLa by Tony DiTerlizzi.  Mr. DiTerlizzi bills this fantastical sci-fi adventure as ‘a fairy tale for the twenty-first century’, hence these interesting words of wisdom from Albert Einstein, of all people:

Fiary Castle with Quote

On my reading list this week:

Eragon by  Christopher Paolini-Although certain people tried to dissuade me from reading this, because apparently the plot isn’t that great, I decided to try it anyway. I’m only a few chapters in, so I can’t yet make an accurate judgment, but so far its just a little bit slow moving for me.

Evenmere by James Stoddard-I just finished the final book of the trilogy a couple of days ago, and it’s absolutely brilliant. I highly recommend it to everyone. (You can read my Goodreads review here)

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel-Another book I’m reading for school. It’s really good and interesting, and reads almost like a novel, which a rare thing in a history book.


Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.



Wednesday with Words: Desolate Places

My first quote for Wednesday with Words is from James Stoddard’s The High House, a book which I borrowed from my dad, who got the entire series for Father’s Day. I’m really enjoying the book, not only for its excellent plot and fantasy elements, some of which remind me, interestingly enough, of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Faerie Queene, but also because it’s just chock full of vibrant descriptions of an old Victorian mansion, just the sort of place you wish you could spend a week (or two!) exploring. I really love this quote, because it perfectly describes my own fascination with nooks and crannies and all things old and secret:High House Quote

On my reading list this week:

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau-I’m rereading it again for the first time in several years. One of the books I’d have to put on my list of all time favorites.

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni-I’m reading this for school. I thought it would be boring, but it’s turned out to be a very interesting read with quirky characters and wry comments from the author. Just my sort of thing! 🙂

The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith-Or, well, I should be reading it. A really neat and interesting prequel to The Green Ember, but a few problems with the pacing and repeated dialogue tags (he said, he said, he said) make it a little hard to get into, especially in print. The audiobook is much better, but I haven’t gotten around to putting it on my iPod.

Wednesdays with Words is hosted by ladydusk

Official Title and Cover Release

Cover Image:


Hey, everybody! This is the official title and cover release for my upcoming novella, Behind Her Mask was Death. I am currently still editing it, just getting rid of all those annoying little punctuation errors and things before I send it to any reviewers and put it up on Amazon. I will do an official press release when it’s available for pre-order, but until then, here are a few more details about the book:

Genre: Mystery/Fantasy

Audience: Young Adult

From the Back Cover:

People don’t usually think about death,especially not on the night they are going to die…

Devon Lavender never thought he’d end up in the middle of a murder mystery. But when an unnamed red haired woman dies in his arms on the dance floor in the middle of the Prince’s extravagant costume ball,it would seem obvious to everyone who the killer is.Devon finds himself with one chance, and one chance only,to prove his innocence and discover the real murderer, before it’s too late.

If you’re interested in my book, please share this, Tweet this, or do whatever you do on social media! Help me get the word out.


The Poet’s Corner

I’d like to offer a little bit of my own poetry for your consideration, and to get this blog off to a good start. 🙂


Glass Towers by Aria Maher

Gleaming spires, rising high.
See these forests of the sky
Built by men who long to fly,

Glassy towers climbing skyward
Ever on and ever upward.
Square and tall and uninspired,

Blotting out the shining stars.
Slicing night like ancient scars.
Gracing such a land as ours,

Cities all will die someday.
Glassy spires shall decay.
What people build will never stay.