Archive for January, 2010

Lolita Deb just finished Heart’s Blood by Gail Dayton and asked me to post a review for her.

Book Review –Heart’s Blood by Gail Dayton

This is the second book in the Steampunk series by Gail Dayton. She continues to explore a world where magic co-exists uneasily with normal Victorian society.

Master conjurer Grey Carteret is used to doing things his own way. He doesn’t want any connections that tie him down and he avoids most responsibilities. But, when he regains consciousness in a London gutter not far from a man killed by magic, he needs help.

When he’s arrested for the murder, the street urchin who’s been guarding him offers a deal, take him on as an apprentice and he’ll get help for Grey. It’s a nasty deal for a man who prides himself on remaining unattached to anyone, but he has to accept.

Imagine his surprise to discover his new apprentice is actually a gently reared young woman who has fallen on hard times. Not only that, but Pearl Parkin possesses the gift for sorcery, the greatly feared blood magic.

Dayton continues to craft this world, with wonderful explanations of the way the different forms of magic:  conjury, sorcery, alchemy and wizardry work.  In fact, most of the focus of the book is on magic and there are no goggles, airships, or mad inventors to be found.  There are dead zones and strange machines that are a continuing premise through this series of books.

There is also a relationship, as Grey discovers he actually enjoys being with his apprentice and Pearl  moves from hero worship to falling in love. Watching the couple discover how well-suited they are for each other is a pleasure. The book includes the  very Victorian mores of the times, including some magicians who take issue with women studying magic. 

If you’re ready to move beyond vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters, this is a nice change of pace for a paranormal read.

Lolita Deb, aka Deborah Schneider, is currently having a Valentine’s contest.  Follow her blog tour and all commenters have a chance to win a basket of goodies including chocolate and a starbucks card.

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 Today I will share with you the beginning of my journey into creating a steampunk wardrobe! Or at least how I, a poor writer of steampunk/paranormal romance creates a wardrobe! The upcoming year holds many conferences, steampunk and writing alike and I need an extensive wardrobe to cover the many themes and days and events, etc, etc… Not being loaded with money and clearly being a toy short of a happy meal I am going to make my wardrobe….and make it on a treadle sewing machine none the less! Now I love my sewing machine it is beautiful and fun and it was free….but moving along…. until now I have only created one outfit at a time with many months in between, but now I am going to be cramming ten different outfits into the next couple of months and I am going to bring you along for the fun…aka …insanity! Have I also mentioned I will be doing edits and working on a new manuscript during all of this? I also don’t like to buy new fabric, I prefer to repurpose old clothing into something new and useable. So I have a mountain of old stuff that I need to transform into steamy goodness that I can be seen in public in! An impossible task? I think not! There are corsets, bustles, utility belts and short skirts in the works! So hold on to your top hats and fasten your garter belts because here we go! Stay tuned for Phase One, tackling the corset, next week! ~Elizabeth

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The ball at the Riverside Dickens’ Festival is quickly approaching. We recently moved and I can’t find the dress I made (well, my friends made while I watched, lol) for last year’s ball.

My mission: to get a dress, cheap, and Steampunk it, cheap, as quickly as possible so I’d have it in time for the ball.

The caveat: It’s a Dickens’ Ball, not a Steampunk Ball, so I want it to be different and spectactular, but not totally out-of-place.

The problem: I can’t sew worth a lick and am so not crafty.  Also, after our recent move I have no idea where even to find a needle and thread let alone the sewing machine that I haven’t used in six years.

Step 1: I bought a Von Lancelot Costume off ebay for dirt cheap. The only problem was that the one I won was all white. What in the world was I thinking? But it was so much prettier than the other “birthday cake” style dresses in my size, and all the others were outside my budget as was a custom one.  Also, I needed a full on ball gown, not a bustle-stule dress.

Step 2: I asked my friends to help me with very easy ideas and the general consensus involved dye in a contrasting color. I was leaning towards black. Black and white would be very striking, yet would blend in far better than distressing it and putting a corset on top (which would be the easiest.)

Step 3: But then I actually got the dress in the mail. It is beautiful, but the fabric won’t take dye. Also, the dress is all one piece, so it wasn’t like I could do something easy like cut out the underskirt, dye it, and baste it back on with fabric glue and duct tape (yeah, that’s how I roll, lol). I’m very tempted to simply pretend I’m a debutante and wear all white. I’d never seen an all-white Victorian ball gown, but white wasn’t the color du jour for wedding dresses so I might be able to get away with it.

Step 4: I took the dress to the fabric store. I’m going to have to bite the bullet and replace the back panel and underskirt with actual fabric. I obsess over fabric and decide on black brocade. I nearly bought black and gold brocade but decided it would be too busy.  Less is more where I’m concerned.  Less is also easier.  Using my coupons, I buy fabric, ribbons, and giant satin roses. I also buy thread, needles, pins, and a large bottle of fabric glue.

Step 5: I decide to tackle the back of the dress first. Would anyone notice if I simply fabric glued the black brocade over the white satin?

Step 6: I laid out the dress and the brocade out on top of a blanket on the livingroom floor. Gluing the heavy brocade directly to the satin would make the panel really heavy and probably affect the drape of the dress. The panel would have to be to be cut out. I seriously reconsider the sanity of doing this myself. Usually, I either convince my friends to help me or pay someone to sew it for me. Did the sewing machine even make the move?

Step 7: Steeling myself for the possibility of ruining the dress, I cut the back panel off, trying to get as close to the ruffle as possible. If worse comes to worse, I can always bring the dress and fabric to my friend and plead with her to make it right.

Step 8: Using a white crayon, I traced the cut-out panel on the wrong side of the black brocade. Using my husband’s measure tape, I measured 1 inch around for a seam allowance. Then, taking a deep breath, I cut the brocade. Neither my cutting or my lines are straight. When I was an intern, I’d been forbidden to put labels on envelopes because I just can’t make things straight.

Step 9: I hem the fabric with fabric glue, so the brocade won’t fray. My husband wonders what in the word I’m doing and says he thinks he’s found the sewing machine.

Step 10: I’m afraid to fabric glue the back panel on. It’s a ball, with dancing, and well, people’s dresses tear. I have nightmares about the back panel ripping off entirely. Why am I doing this again?

Step 11: I pinned the new back panel on–it’s looking good. The hubby finds the sewing machine.  It takes about two hours to do all this.

Step 12: The hubby didn’t find the power supply. But the sewing machine scares me as visions of ruining the dress swim through my head. I wished I still lived across the hall from people who sew. The idea of calling someone and going over to their house to use their sewing machine just seems like way to much work.

Step 13: I start to hand-sew the back panel on. Several times I consider shoving it into a bag and taking it to someone else and paying them to sew it for me. It takes four hours and the stitches are far from expert, even, or consistent, though I tried to sew over the original seams and make small stitches. Maybe I should reinforce it with fabric glue.

Step 14: I replace the white ribbon in the back with black ribbon. It’s time to go to bed. The front will have to wait for another day. But all-in-all, it’s starting to look pretty.  I might just be able to pull this off.

To be continued…

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Book Release–Promise Me

Lolita Deb has a new release, Promise Me. It’s not Steampunk, but it is about the wild west.

Promise Me
by Deborah Schneider

After spending years in an arranged marriage as the repressed wife of an older man, Amanda Wainwright has learned the hard way that money can’t buy happiness. She arrives in Willow Creek, Montana determined to keep a deathbed promise to her husband and do something to help other people. When Amanda meets a handsome, mysterious stranger who tempts her with sweet promises and long nights of passion, she discovers a fiery, passionate nature that could lead her to disaster.

For Samuel Calhoun, falling in love wouldn’t just be foolish, it could be deadly. He’s on assignment as an undercover agent for the Secret Service. In order to maintain his secret identity he accepts an offer from a consortium of mine owners to seduce, humiliate and ruin the Widow Wainwright. Before long, Sam knows he’s met the woman who can banish the aching emptiness in his soul and he’s willing to risk everything – even his life – to be with her.

Read an excerpt on Deb’s website. Also, anyone who comments on any blog she’s featured at until Feb. 10 is entered into a contest to win a St. Valentine’s Day gift bag that includes a copy of Promise Me — chocolate, a Starbucks card and some great Valentine’s day goodies.

Promise Me is available now from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

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Steamed! is now on Facebook. Come visit us here.

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Steampunk at Romance Divas

The Romance Diva’s are having a workshop on Steampunk over at the Romance Diva’s forum January 21-23, 2010. It features Zoe Archer, Meljean Brook, Gail Carriger, Sarah A. Hoyt, Katie MacAlister, and Dru Pagliassotti. The workshop is free, but you have to register with the forum (also free). See you there!

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Poe's GraveBy BEN NUCKOLS and JOSEPH WHITE, Associated Press Writers Ben Nuckols And Joseph White, Associated Press Writers Tue Jan 19, 6:22 pm ET

BALTIMORE – It is what Edgar Allan Poe might have called “a mystery all insoluble”: Every year for the past six decades, a shadowy visitor would leave roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on Poe’s grave on the anniversary of the writer’s birth. This year, no one showed.

Did the mysterious “Poe toaster” meet his own mortal end? Did some kind of ghastly misfortune befall him? Will he be heard from nevermore?

“I’m confused, befuddled,” said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

The visitor’s absence this year only deepened the mystery over his identity. One name mentioned as a possibility was that of a Baltimore poet and known prankster who died in his 60s last week. But there is little or no evidence to suggest he was the man.

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