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We recently had a fun event in Houston for the local Steampunk community. The Brass Ball, a DJed dance with multiple musicians and vendors was held Sunday July 27 at Mimms Martini and Wine bar on Montrose. You can see photos of the Brass Ball here in the blog post.

This event had me thinking about Houston saloons in the 19th century. The main choice of drink in the saloon was whiskey, also called rotgut, sheep-dip, cactus juice, coffin varnish, and tarantula juice. In those days cowboys and western gents could partake of more than just a drink in a saloon. In 1839, a local Houston, Texas newspaper decried the town’s houses of ill repute. The newspaper was probably either The Houston Morning Star, a daily newspaper founded April 8, 1839, or the Telegraph and Texas Register, a weekly newspaper that included local, state, and national news, established July 10, 1839. The Houston Morning Star was actually printed in the office of the Telegraph and Texas Register.

In Houston Land of the Big Rich the author, Geroge Fuerman, statesbrass ball 2 that from 1880 to World War I Houston’s vice area was on old Howard Street. In the early 1900’s the brothels in Houston used a practical bookkeeping system based on towels. One was given to each customer and at the end of the night the madam counted the brass ball 5towels and paid the girls accordingly. There’s a story about a Howard street brothel in those days that caught on fire. The madam fled the burning house by taking the outside stairs but when she looked up she saw the porter jump form a second story window with his arms loaded with towels. She exclaimed, “Thank God. He saved the books.”

I did find some saloon information from other Texas towns. In the early 1870s in Lampasas Texas a gunfight broke out in the saloon between state police and outlaws. Three officers were shot to death in the saloon and a fourth was fatally wounded while trying to escape.

There’s even a Texas saloon story involving Jesse James. The brass ball 9outlaw lived for a time in the area of Granbury Texas. He fell in love with an 18 year old saloon girl and began to settle down. In those days if a saloon patron was upstairs with a saloon girl when his wife came to drag him home, the barkeep would send the man down the husband escape, which was the outside stairs. The saloon girl Jesse loved had to run down the husband escape one night but she wasn’t fast enough to escape a bullet in her back. Some people say the saloon girl still haunts the empty up stair rooms around the square in Granbury.

I’m glad to report the Brass Ball at Mims was old fashioned fun and great music without any wild west shenanigans or shootouts but there were some card tricks.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

In the last year and a bit, I’ve been to a whole bunch of genre conventions. Starting with Up in the Aether (steampunk) last May, followed by Pandoracon (general fandom) in October, ConFusion (science fiction) in January, World Steam Symposium in April, Romantic Times in May, Steamtopia (a reboot of Up in the Aether) in June and now NASFIC’s DetCon1 in July. In short, I love cons, but I’m really burned out on them right now.

For each of these cons, I’ve been speaking, signing, and in general, trying to sell books. I’m kind of tired of that. I’m tired of hotel kerfluffles, mediocre food and packing tons of costumes. I’m tired of feeling like I’m missing something when I crash before the late-night parties. I’m tired of always being “on.” I’m also tired of my husband being dragged along as my unpaid assistant.

On the other hand, I love the costuming, the networking, and spending time browsing the vendor booths at cons. I love visiting with people who share common interests. I really do love genre fiction in all its forms, so I can’t say I don’t like going. I truly adored visiting New Orleans for Romantic Times this year. It’s one of the few conventions where I’ve actually spent time outside the convention hotel. And the highlight of DetCon1 was getting to sign and sell actual PRINT copies of Steam & Sorcery.

So what do you think? What are your favorite conventions, and how often do you go? What parts do you love or hate? And would you rather go as a Pro or just a fan? Both sides have their pluses and minuses. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Ancient Egyptian culture had a major influence on the Victorian era and also modern Steampunk. Another Egyptian influence on Steampunk is belly dancing. The name belly dancing was coined in the Victorian era. It’s a translation of the French term – danse du ventre. The first time belly dancing was brought to America was at the 1893 Chicago World’s fair. The act, A Street In Cario was one of the most popular attractions on the Midway.

In the early 1900’s Maud Allan billed as the “Salome Dancer” became famous for her infamous dance of the seven veils. MaudeAllanSalomeHead

steampunk belly dancer at Comicpalooza

Belly dancing has been big in steampunk ever since Abney Park incorporated it into its live shows.Many belly dancers have been inspired to go steampunk, adding goggles, corsets and pantaloons to their costumes. At Comicpalooza this year among the other belly dancers was one who wore a Steampunk type costume.

Diosa, the director of the Osiris Belly Dancing Company explained that at Comiccon they were thrown into the Steampunk genre when they were invited to perform at the Steampunk Ball. There dance style is belly dance fusion and they blend Steampunk into their costuming for specific venues.

Katara the dancer who makes the fabulous costumes of the Osiris Belly Dancing Company,is intrigued by Steampunk’s blend of historical fashions with modern designs. She enjoys the opportunity to play with historical fashions and blend them into something interesting and modern.

astoneTITLEIf you enjoy a blend of Egyptian elements with Steampunk, you’ll enjoy my new release, As Timeless As Stone. It is free this weekend on Amazon from Friday, 07/18/14 – Tuesday, 07/22/14.

Little does Ricard know when he sets the broken head of an ancient Egyptian statue onto its body, the stone figure will transform before his eyes into the most beautiful flesh and blood woman he’s ever seen.

Seshat, an ancient Egyptian Priestess is newly awaken in 19th century Paris, after centuries as a stone statue. Though enchanted by the wondrous inventions of steam-servants and a steam-carriage, she is enthralled by the inventor, Ricard. He ignites her sensual desires and in a steamy night of carnal magic, Seshat transforms Ricard’s life forever. But how far will he go to secure her happiness? Is Ricard’s love for Seshat powerful enough to transcend time?

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

 

FRAGILE DESTINY, Book 3 of the Aether Chronicles Series releases in less than one month!!! That means it’s time for a pre-order giveaway!

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Have you pre-ordered FRAGILE DESTINY? Email in your proof of purchase to aetherchroniclescontest@gmail  to receive a PDF of 4 free Aether Chronicles stories! One of which has never been seen before.

Everyone who pre-orders can get this! The pre-ordered copies can be paper or e-book and can be pre-ordered online or the store. Feel free to black out sensitive info, I just need to know you ordered it.

Thanks for helping to support the Aether Chronicles Series. Remember…Destiny is Coming!  8-8-14!

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now, FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14. Find out more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com

One of the hardest parts for me about writing steampunk–or any genre–is creating the villain. In fact, I finally figured out that was the hold up on my current WIP. I had no idea what the bad guy’s ultimate goal was, so I couldn’t figure out what he was doing or why.  Once I sat down and started working specifically on HIM, the plot and flow just snapped into place. Here’s a few things I’ve learned (but had to remind myself) about bad guys over the years:

1) They don’t see themselves as a bad guy. Even if they have a major grudge against society, they’re doing what they do for a reason–a better world, retribution, or sometimes simply a sense of entitlement. The world OWES them money, power, fame, whatever. You have to know what their goal is, above and beyond the scenes in your story. What are they ultimately after? And why?

2) They have to have strengths and weaknesses. Even Superman has his kryptonite. Of course we need to know what your villain is good at, but als what he or she is bad at. This will be their ultimate destruction, of course. :)

3) What or whom does your villain hold dear? Even some of our worst criminals in history were great parents or loved their pets. Is it an ideal? Or is it a person? Perhaps a magickal item they’re sure will bring about their success. What will your villain willingly sacrifice, and what will he/she die to protect or achieve?

4) What’s the history that brought him or her to this place? Who is this character, as a person, aside from the context of your storyline? This probably won’t appear in the completed text, but if you, the author, knows it, it will help you write a consistent character.

5) Does he/she work alone, or with accomplices. If so, is he/she charismatic enough to get accomplices, or use some other means, such as threats?

These are just a few suggestions to help figure out how to make your bad guy a three-dimensional character, and also to drive your plot. Remember, the stronger your villain, the stronger your heroes and heroines look when they defeat them!

So, what do you like to see in a villain? One random commenter below wil receive a PRINT copy of Steam & Sorcery, as soon as my box arrives.

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On a completely unrelated note, if you happen to be in the Detroit area the weekend of July 17-20, think about attending DetCon1, the North American Science Fiction Assoication’s conference. I’ll be speaking on a panel about writing relationships and reading from Steam & Sorcery, as well as signing!

 

Destiny is coming! Book 3 in the Aether Chronicles Series, FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8/8/14. In order to get ready for it, we’re reading Book 2, CHARMED VENGEACE, over on my website.

web pagecharmed2

 

Here’s how it’ll work:

The Charmed Vengeance Read-Along starts TODAY and will run until July 31!

How it works:

  1. We’ll be reading 1 chapter a day, every day, even weekends. The prologue will be in addition to Chapter 1, the epilogue in addition to Chapter 23.
  2. Each day check back here for insights, awkward videos, deleted scenes, etc, related to the chapter-of-the-day
  3. You can talk about the chapter, your feels, ask questions etc., on twitter using the hashtag #cvreadalong
  4. If you miss a few days, or want to read ahead, that’s okay, too! We know life happens.
  5. This is also why the last to days in July are “catch up days” to discuss the book over all, speculate on book 3, and all that fun stuff.

So, are you ready? Join us on my website.

To get you started, here’s an (awkward) video from last year of me reading part of chapter 1.

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now, FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14. Find out more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com

 

A few years ago, at the beginning of another NANOWRIMO insanity laced journey, I took a look in a Steampunk Thread on one of the message boards.

“What is Steampunk?” Someone asked.

“A story set in a time period when they used Steam Power.” Was an answer.

“OMG,” replied someone else, “so you can’t use electricity?!”

I think I still have a scar on my forehead from the impromptu head-meet-desk reaction.

So today, I thought  I’d share a couple of fun FYI videos I found online.

Are there better videos out there? Sure… but I thought these two served a purpose.

1. How Steam creates Electricity in Four Steps

2. A Steam Turbine video produced in England in the 1940s. Simple, Easy, & Quick.

Hope you’ll enjoy viewing these short videos…

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