Archive for July, 2009

by Marie-Claude Bourque Steam cover_shot

I’ve been pretty obsessed with my  iPhone since I got it about 2 months ago and I’ve been trying to find applications for just about everything under the sun. So of course, I had to search for the word Steampunk in the application store but found very little, except for this very neat little reader call Steampunk Tales. The first installment called Steampunk 1, at 1.99 for the download of an anthology of 10 short stories, is a very nifty little application indeed.

The reader is superb, imitating a pulp fiction magazine from the 20s, but using the latest cell phone fiction reader technology. Steampunk Tales are also available in PDF and in a Mobile ebook version, see the website at http://steampunktales.com/.

The graphics has a beautiful Steampunk retro-futuristic Victorian feel to it, opening to a beautiful illustration by  artist Melita “missmonster” Curphy and with a reading  background made to look like parchment paper.

Steam indexscreenA touch at the center of the screen brings you to the main menu. In “Settings”, you can choose your reading orientation, add a fun turning page sound, decide on the font style and size and also chose another paper-like background.  In “Index”, you can decide on the story of your choice and “About” gives you the background of the authors.

While reading, press the left or right of the screen to go the next or preceding page. Press the bottom of the page and appears a meter to tell you how far along you are in page numbers. steamreader

I didn’t have a chance to read all the stories yet but so far for 1.99$, I think I got a good deal. The writing quality kept my interest up and was quite varied in theme.  It’s the perfect format and story length to carry around with you for a quick read when you have a few minutes to spare.

The Tales should be released every month, so look for Steampunk 2 coming soon.

I will sure be downloading it.

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I’d like to announce the winner of the aviator scarf…

drum-roll please

~*~Mary Ann Webber~*~

“WOW! All of you look fabulous and you seem to be enjoying yourselves!
Huge congrats to Colby and Leanna on their Prisms.
You make us stay-at-homes proud!”

Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail so I can get you your prize!  Congrats!


I also have to “Friday Fun” — even though it’s actually Saturday. 


If you haven’t checked on the Steampunk online comic Girl Genius you should. It’s a serial tale of adventure, romance, mad science.

Another great online comic is Monster Commute which blends mechanical and Steampunk elements in a monster world.

Have a great weekend!

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Two Steampunk Lolitas to be in Upcoming Anthology!

Mammoth book of time travel romance

My time travel short story Lost and Found will be included in the anthology THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE to be released in December 2009 by Constable & Robinson in the UK and Running Press in North America.  I pitched the story as a mash up of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Groundhog Day and Life on Mars.

I’m in the book also, writing as Colby Hodge.  My story is Time Trails and has a Texas Ranger, a time cop and steampunk elements that include a time machine and brass scorpions.
Congrats, Ladies!  The book is avaliable for preorder and the cover is hot!

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Squee! I just found out from the Hearts Through History chapter president that my steampunk urban fantasy manuscript, Mystic Taxi, won first place in the “Romance Through The Ages” contest for the paranormal/time travel category. This is my first first-place win ever! I’m thrilled beyond words. Today is a good day!

We’re thrilled for you too.  Congrats, Karen!

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Fast Food in Victorian London

By one estimate, over 6000 food and drink street sellers at one time hawked their fare in London.

On their way to work in the morning, many working men grabbed a coffee and a slice of bread and butter from a coffee stall. Coffee-stall keepers, usually women, made about one pound a week.

From: Victorian London by Liza Picard (2005.) “There were stalls selling eels and pea soup, sheep’s trotters and fried fish, meat puddings and eel pies, cakes and crumpets and, in summer, the more novel and aristocratic luxury of street ices.”

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m going to stick with the egg muffin and pass on the breakfast sheep’s feet and eel pie.

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About a half-dozen of the Steampunk Lolitas (that would be us, lol) went to the Romance Writers of America national conference in Washington DC. I was amazed and honored to be in the company of some amazing, amazing ladies.   The best thing, besides meeting the steampunk ladies in attendance, was finding out that editors and agents are starting to look for steampunk and some major steampunk projects are on the horizon.

The Steampunk Lolitas were up to some great stuff at conference as well. I feel so privileged to be part of a group that has so many great ladies doing so many great things (and that’s just those who came, stay tuned for all sorts of great news).

Steampunk Lolita Deb was the 2009 Librarian of the Year!

Deborah Schneider, 2009 Librarian of the year with Eloisa James

Deborah Schneider, 2009 Librarian of the year with Eloisa James

We had several ladies at the Litteracy Book Signing, which raised over $60,000 for charity!!

Cindy Holby at the book signing

Cindy Holby at the book signing

Liane Gentry Skye at the book signing

Liane Gentry Skye at the book signing








Several of the Steampunk Lolitas were nominated for Prism Awards sponsored by the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter



Colby Hodge and Jana Oliver nominees for ther Time Travel category with their agent

Colby Hodge and Jana Oliver, nominees for the Time Travel category, with their agent

Leanna Renee Hieber, nominee in the Novella category with Suzanne

Leanna Renee Hieber, nominee in the Novella category with Suzanne

Colby and Leanna WINNERS of the Prism Award!!
Colby and Leanna WINNERS of the Prism Award!!


Leanna was also on the author panel at the Prism Awards where FF&P authors ansewered all our questions.

Leanna on the FF&P author panel

Leanna on the FF&P author panel

Cindy also did a panel on Genre Jumping, which I sadly missed but was heard was great. There were  a lot of amazing workshops, though none on Steampunk. Next year *grin*. I also met the Smutketeers an awesome group of ladies who write steampunk/post apocalyptic erotica.

One of the highlights of the conference was the RITA/Golden Heart Awards Ceremony which is like the Oscars of romance novels. It was truly an elegant affair!

Elizabeth and Suzanne go to the Ritas

Elizabeth and Suzanne go to the Ritas

Okay, I bought the store out of art deco tiaras, but I have one aviator scarf left from the conference. I will give it to one lucky poster!

Have a great week everyone! For more conference adventures check out my my personal blog.

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When I volunteered to blog here, I had a look around the internet for information on Steampunk fashion, since that is a subject that fascinates me. In several places, I came across a notion about Victorian fashion that I knew was wrong, and I thought it would be fun to blog about it. Somehow, the idea has gotten fixed in some people’s minds that Victorian fashion was dark and rather gloomy, with an emphasis on black and dark brown. This is simply untrue.

First, I’d like to point out that the Victorian era was a long one, with significant shifts in fashion. I’ve noticed that many Americans think of Victorian times as being limited to the end of the nineteenth century. Actually, the era began in 1837, when Victoria ascended to the throne, and ended in 1901 with her death. Women’s fashion, especially, underwent major changes during those years.

In the beginning of the era, women’s style emphasized sloping shoulders, tiny waist and full, bell-shaped skirts. Women wore enormous bonnets that partially obscured their faces, and their movements were hampered by the many layers of petticoats they used to create the full skirt effect. In the 1850’s, the crinoline was invented, freeing women from the weight of all those skirts, and by the end of the century women’s clothes had taken on aspects of men’s style, such as shirtwaists and tailored suits with exaggerated broad shoulders (although retaining the artificially tiny waist).  Color was used generously throughout the era.

A Victorian lady wearing all-black would generally be assumed to be in mourning. Victorian women loved color in their clothing. Aniline dyes were invented in mid-century, making it possible to create brighter colors than had been available previously, and women took full advantage of this. Even gentlemen wore colorful garments, although their choices were much more subdued generally than the women’s.

I Googled Victorian men’s fashion and found a site called Victoriana, which had some men’s fashion plates for viewing. For the year 1868, from Harper’s Bazaar, I found these colors described: brown, dark claret, blue, drab (beige or light taupe), and gloves of golden brown or maroon. For lounge jackets, the fashion was to make them of gray cloth lined with purple, crimson or green flannel, trimmed with soutache (a kind of braid) in the color of the lining. The magazine also referred to an English style of “full dress”, for evening entertainments, consisting of blue coat, white vest and lavender pantaloons and gloves. In the 1840’s plates, I noticed these colors: black, dark brown, medium brown or tan, navy blue, burgundy, dove grey, a very colorful red spotted or checked fabric on a waistcoat, and several pairs of pantaloons with either striped or checked fabric.

My copy of Mr. Godey’s Ladies (a compendium of the popular magazine) shows much color variation over the decades from the 1830’s to the 1860’s. From the fashion plates, I find rose, blonde (cream or ecru), blush, pale lavender, maize, blue, purple, maroon, black, gray, pearl, plum, and “tan d’or” (a golden tan, judging by the plate). This list comes from just two fashion plates from the years 1858 and 1860.

I also have a copy of La Mode Illustre, a French fashion magazine, for the years 1860 – 1914.  Technically not Victorian, in my opinion, since it’s French and we all know the French and English don’t appreciate being confused with one another, but a beautiful book for anyone interested in the bustle years.  Unfortunately, the pictures are all in black and white, but they do give color descriptions.

Here are the colors given for one plate from 1860: bright blue, orange-and-black striped, black, green edged with black velvet, violet, pale green, white blonde.  This plate describes day dresses, so the bright colors are not only for evening.  Here is another from 1881: “dress of white batiste and blue satin damask” . . . “white broderie anglaise percale dress, over plum surah underdress.”

And speaking of color, I found this amusing tidbit in a book titled Victorian and Edwardian Fashions for Women 1840-1919, by Kristina Harris.  She’s referring to the 1850’s here: “For some time having being (sic) virginally white, petticoats suddently became popular in scarlet red when Queen Victoria was reported to have switched to the color ‘to reawaken the dormant conjugal susceptibility of Prince Albert.’ ”  I had to laugh at that.  I wonder if a red skirt would awaken my husband’s “conjugal susceptibility?”  Not that his is dormant, of course.

Naturally, people working in laboratories and workshops would have worn more practical, and probably dull-colored, garments.  So, if you have a mad scientist, he might not want to be dressed in lavender pantaloons . . . unless he’s attending a party or ball.  Your girl genius might have a work apron over her dress, but if she’s going out in the evening, I say let her go in full color!  It’s perfectly period.

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Herbert George Wells (1866-1946)

Wells was born in Bromley, Kent. His father was a shopkeeper and a professional cricketer until he broke his leg. In his early childhood, Wells developed a love for literature. His mother served from time to time as a housekeeper at the nearby estate of Uppark, and young Wells studied books in the library secretly. When his father’s business failed, Wells was apprenticed like his brothers to a draper. He spent the years between 1880 and 1883 in Windsor and Southsea, and later recorded them in KIPPS (1905).  

Adult Life, Loves and Children

“I was never a great amorist,” Wells wrote in Experiment in Autobiography (1934), “though I have loved several people very deeply.”  In 1891 Wells married his cousin Isabel Mary Wells, but left her in 1894 for one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins, whom he married in 1895. He had two sons with Amy: George Philip (known as ‘Gip’) in 1901 and Frank Richard in 1903. During his marriage to Amy, Wells had liaisons with a number of women, including the American birth-control activist Margaret Sanger (They had no children!) and novelist Elizabeth von Arnim. In 1909 he had a daughter, Anna-Jane, with the writer Amber Reeves; and in 1914, a son, Anthony West, by the novelist and feminist Rebecca West, twenty-six years his junior. Wells also had liaisons with Odette Keun and Moura Budberg. In spite of Amy Catherine’s knowledge of some of these affairs, she remained married to Wells until her death in 1927.

Visionary (From a 1945 issue of The Nation.)

OF COURSE it was H.G. Wells who first perfected the atomic bomb and put it to work. And not only did he put it to work, demolishing most of the world’s capital cities and destroying governments, but then he got busy and built an entirely new society. In less time than you can imagine after the last bomb fell, everybody was settling down nicely in a global socialist community under a World Republic; atomic energy, internationally controlled, was performing all the necessary jobs of production, transportation, heating, and such, and the creative energies of mankind were being applied to higher things. In 1914, when “The World Set Free” was published and no bombs of any sort had been dropped it all sounded fantastic and even funny.

 “Father of Miniature War Gaming”7c8183e02ba8b68e

Seeking a more structured way to play war games, Wells wrote Floor Games (1911) followed by Little Wars (1913). Little Wars is recognised today as the first recreational wargame and Wells is regarded by gamers and hobbyists as “the Father of Miniature War Gaming.”

Utopian Novels

From early in his career, he searched for a better way to organize society. He wrote a number of novels related to idealized worlds. The first of these was A Modern Utopia (1905), which shows a world-wide utopia with “no imports but meteorites, and no exports at all.”  Two travellers from our world fall into its alternate history. The others usually begin with the world rushing to catastrophe, until people come up with a better way of living: whether by mysterious gases from a comet causing people to behave rationally and abandoning a European war (In the Days of the Comet (1906)), or a world council of scientists taking over, as in The Shape of Things to Come (1933, which he later adapted for the 1936 Alexander Korda film, Things to Come). This depicted, all too accurately, the impending World War, with cities being destroyed by aerial bombs. He also portrayed the rise of fascist dictators in The Autocracy of Mr Parham (1930) and The Holy Terror (1939), though in the former novel, the tale is revealed at the last to have been Mr Parham’s dream vision.

d019af389ab3c4a2Film Adaptations

A Trip to the Moon · The First Men in the Moon (1919) · The Invisible Man · Island of Lost Souls · The Man Who Could Work Miracles · Things to Come · The History of Mr. Polly · The War of the Worlds (various versions) · The Time Machine (1960) · First Men in the Moon (1964) · The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) · The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) · The Time Machine (2002) 


“No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their affairs they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.” (from War of the Worlds)

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What is Steampunk? This is a question the editors are asking. It seems that they are still trying to figure it out. It goes hand in hand with the pat answer to the question asked at every publishing house. “What are you looking for?” The answer is “Something edgy.”

Every editor is looking for the next big thing. The next Harry Potter, the next Outlander, The next Twilight. On the other hand they want to cash in on the current trend. Vampires are hot so let’s buy vampire books. It’s a hard job to predict what will the next leaping trend will be and it’s scary for publishers to take a risk on something they’re not sure of.

I’ve been shopping a Steampunk proposal. I’ve gotten a lot of interest and I’m hoping for an offer very soon. What’s strange is that every editor I’ve talked to or that’s seen it, along with my agent, said the same thing. “I’m not sure what Steampunk is.”

I like to consider Steampunk as a blending of genre’s. I write historicals under the name Cindy Holby and Scifi Romance under the name Colby Hodge. To me Steampunk is the perfect blending of what I do best. Historicals and Scifi. For example my proposal, titled Prism, is a Victorian Historical with scifi elements. The scifi elements are purely Steampunk. I have a character with brass hands that have tiny gears and fittings. The hands are connect to his bones and muscles with tiny screws and need to be regularly maintained with oil. The hands are also larger than normal. I also incorporate a zeppelin and weapons that are powered with crystals. Some of it, like the zeppelin, is standard Steampunk fare. The rest is strictly part of my imagination.

The easiest way to identify Steampunk is simply say The Wild Wild West movie with Will Smith was Steampunk. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was Steampunk.

Steampunk can blend into several genre’s. Western Steampunk, Victorian Steampunk, Urban Fantasy Steampunk. Paranormal Steampunk, take your genre and add Steampunk. I’m pretty sure that Amish Inspirational Steampunk won’t work but hey, someone can try it.

My point is that Steampunk is a wide open genre at the moment. I believe it’s the new edgy that the publisher’s are looking for. Its boundaries are yet to be defined and like everything else, the editors will know it when they see it. Of course it needs to be well written. So let your imagination soar and get to writing.

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And the winner of my very last tiara is…

drum-roll please


I’m so happy to discover this blog, because I’ve become a fan of Steampunk and just started plotting a YA and now I know how to describe it.

Congrats Deborah.  email me asap at suzanne lazear (@) hotmail (no spaces) so I can get you your tiara in time for nationals…congrats on your award and I’ll see you there.

It’s Friday–and a holiday weekend.  Happy Independence DayHave fun and be safe. 

Need something to do?  Check out the calendar section at Dieselpunkswhich has listings for steampunk and dieselpunk events all over America!  (What’s dieselpunk, you ask?  Dieselpunk comes after steampunk, roughly the 1920’s-1950’s when diesel was king, how cool is that?). 

Here’s a steampunk band called Abney Park which I had heard of but hadn’t actually checked out before now.  This is a video of their song “Airship Pirate” shot in their studio–which is exactly where a steampunk band should be rehearsing, the belly of the HMS Ophelia!  I really love how they blend different genres and the violin adds so much.  Check out their decor and costumes.  Enjoy!

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