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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Join us on Facebook!

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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I was looking for kid’s steampunk stuff online and this was so amazing I thought it needed its own post.

Over at Xylocopa you can buy these absolutely beautiful steampunk wooden blocks.

Each of the 26 blocks has beautiful mad-science inspired scenes on them.

But the best part is what the letters represent.  This is not your traditiona alphabet (and far more fun!):

A – Appendages
B – Bioengineering
C – Caffeine
D – Dirigible
E – Experiment
F – Freeze ray
G – Goggles
H – Henchmen
I – Invention
J – Jargon
K – Potassium
L – Laser
M – Maniacal
N – Nanotechnology
O – Organs
P – Peasants (with Pitchforks)
Q – Quantum physics
R – Robot
S – Self-experimentation
T – Tentacles
U – Underground Lair
V – Virus
W – Wrench
X – X-Ray
Y – You, the Mad Scientist of Tomorrow
Z – Zombies

How fabulous is that?

The folks at Xylocopa also have a great printable PDF of the Alphabet. Personally, I think it would make a great embroidery sampler! (If anyone makes one, I’ll post pictures.)

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Over at Musings on the Tarot, Arwen is doing a tarot reading on Miss Pearl from Gail Dayton’s book Heart’s Blood. If you leave a comment or ask Gail a question you’ll have a chance to win a copy of Heart’s Blood.

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 I know Steampunk is all about fantastic inventions that transcend the sleek, electronic efficiency of todays computer age. However there is no getting around the fact that we all still use the internet!! So today I will show you a few of the fantastic places that us steampunkers can get together on the interweb or explore for inspiration!

First off is the fantastic Steampunk Empire!!!
Visit Steampunk Empire
It is a fabulous place to gather and post pictures and meet like-minded people!! It is basically the facebook of  the Steampunk world!! I highly recommend joining, I have met some fabulous people there!

Speaking for Facebook……Steamed! officially has it’s own facebook group page!! Come and join in on the steamy goodness!! There are pictures and you will be alerted of each and every blog post here and other fun stuff!!

If you are interested in checking out a Steampunk band, Abney Park has a fantastic website. They are amazingly nice people and put on a killer show! So much fun and they have great fashion!!

Speaking of fashion…..Steampunk Couture has some fabulous, wearable Steampunk clothing! Kato rocks!!

That is it for the day, so until next time I wish you all amazing adventures!


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Soulless—book one of The Parasol Protectorate
by Gail Carriger

In a steampunk world where Vampires and Werewolves are integrated into London society, Alexia Tarabotti is still considered unmarriageable.  Being a bluestocking, half-Italian, and a spinster are only part of her problems—unbeknownst to her family, she was also born without a soul and can null the abilities of supernaturals.  When attacked by an ill-mannered Vampire at a ball, she’s forced to work with the sexy Werewolf Lord Maccon.  The two of them can’t stand each other, but they need each other’s help to figure out exactly what’s gotten into London society. 

Carriger’s vibrant steampunk world is filled with Victorian wit and humor and her very proper parasol-wielding heroine leads us on a jolly romp that makes for a delightfully entertaining—and funny—read.  The steampunk elements are fairly subtle until the end, but Alexia’s parasol is classic.  The secondary characters in the story add a lot of color, especially the eccentric Vampire Lord Akeldama and Alexia’s best friend Ivy, who has terrible taste in hats.  The book has some terrific one-liners, such as “a vampire, like a lady, never reveals his true age.” 

The cover is beautiful, but it’s very close to the photo of a dress I absolutely love over at Clockwork Couture.   I’m not sure which came first, but I really covet that top hat!  (Seriously, will someone please tell me where I can buy one like that?)

I found on the Soulless webpage over at Orbit Books that they have Alexia paper dolls, and its quite entertaining to play dress up with the bustles, hats, teacups, and, of course, parasols.    

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series and to see what mischief Alexia gets into–especially since airships seem to be part of book two.

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 by Marie-Claude Bourque

Vol hivernal by ~Remton on deviantART

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Recently my husband was working on a film and they needed an “alien detector.” So, the hubby, being the creative evil genius he is, made a really neat alien detector out of old toys and bits of things. He brought it on set and the director looks at it, scratches his head and says “It’s nice, but I want it more…Steampunk.”  (Tho, the movie itself isn’t Steampunk.)

So, the hubby when back to the proverbial and built this. It blinks, flashes, and is operated by remote…Pretty good for being made overnight from what was lying around the house.  I’d use it for a prop–Steampunk Alien Hunters, anyone?

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Happy New Year!

Here is an exerpt from my latest story, Time Trails, featured in the Mammoth Book Of Time Travel to start off your new year.  I hope you enjoy it.  There are plenty of steam punk elements through out the story and this partial holds a clue to some of them.

Time Trails

June 29, 1886

Texas Ranger Rand Cobb nudged the toe of his boot against the swollen mass at the bottom of the wash.  He took off his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow before settling back on his head.  It was hot.  The kind of hot that made you wonder if hell would be just as bad.  Thinking about the heat wasn’t making this job any easier.

He’d seen men who been in the water awhile. Just like cows they would bloat up and then the skin would burst beneath the hot West Texas sun but this…it looked as the body had been chopped up, randomly stuck back together, and then cooked in a pot until it melted into an indistinguishable blob.  And that was before it got caught up in the flash flood that carried it down the canyon and left it half buried in the sand. 

            He dropped down into a squat and gave it a closer look.  Unfortunately for Rand, he recognized it, or maybe he should say a part of it.  “Hell’s sweet heat!”  His horse, Joe, twisted its ears at his curse and looked at him curiously. 

The face, what was left of it, bore a distinct scar that ran from a missing ear to the corner of its mouth.  He jumped back when a scorpion crawled out of the open mouth and quickly scuttered into the rocks that littered the river bank.  Joe pawed the ground behind him and tossed its head as it stretched its lower lip out and waggled it back and forth.

            “Go ahead. Laugh it up, Joe.” Rand knelt back down to look at the body.  “I’m sure Hank thinks it pretty funny.”  There was no doubt in his mind that he was looking at Hank Miller, who was supposed to be on his way to the Federal Prison in Leavenworth along with two other prisoners.  His partner, Tom, was their escort. He’d been on the trail of the entire group after the prison wagon turned up empty and burning at the bottom of a ravine.  The driver had been alive, barely, and gasped out something about the attack coming from the sky before he’d died of his wounds, which were as big as a mystery as his last words.  He had a big round hole in the middle of his chest like someone or something had stuck a red hot poker clean through him.

            Since the driver’s last words kind of went along with something a copper miner had said after stumbling into down a few days earlier, Rand had centered his search in this particular canyon.  The miner reported strange lights at dusk, a boat that floated in the sky, scorpions made from steel and fire arrows.  And that was before he downed a bottle of whiskey.

            This was not what he expected to find.  Not at all.  “What happened to you?” he said to the mess before him.  He took his hat off again and wiped the sweat from his brow.  The sun was merciless, the thunderstorms from the night before the forbearers of extreme heat as if the lightening he’d watched from his shelter had boiled the air.  He looked upstream.  What ever had killed Hank and left this mess had to have occurred up the canyon somewhere. 

            “Guess there’s nothing left to do but bury you, or what’s left of you.” He went to where Joe browsed among some gorse bushes and yanked the small shovel from his pack. He took his shirt off and hung it over the saddle as he loosened Joe’s bit.  “Don’t get lazy on me.”  The horse that had been his faithful companion for the past twenty years.  “This is the last trip for you and me.  Once this is over and we get back to Laredo I promise its nothing but sweet grass and fat mares.”

            Sweat dripped down his chest as he dug a hole far enough back from the river bed to keep Hank from washing out in the next flash flood.  Finally he was content with the depth of the hole and went back to where the body lay.  Another hour under the hot sun had not helped its condition one bit and Rand looked at it in distaste.  Luckily he was wearing gloves and he finally reached down and grabbed the pulpy mass around what he thought could possibly be shoulders and pulled it from the sand.

            What came with it made Rand jump back a good ten feet.  There was another body.  Or was it?  What was between them was a twisted mass of…something…but beneath there was another part of a face. 

“Tom!”  Rand turned his head and heaved up the contents of his stomach.  He wiped his mouth on his arm and covered his bile with some sand before turning once more to look at what was left of Texas Ranger Tom Jacks.  Something protruded from his torso, something sharp and shiny, like the blade from a sword.  Rand covered his mouth and swallowed hard as he pulled the piece of metal from his friend’s body.

            It was unlike anything he’d ever seen before.  About three feet long and hinged in the middle so that the piece flexed, like a knee or an elbow.  Rand moved the piece, up, then down and marveled at the intricate craftsmanship of whatever it was.  The tip of it was as sharp as a razor and sliced open the finger of his glove.

            “Tarnation!”  He started to fling the piece away, then thought better of it and took it over to Joe, wrapped it in a piece of hide and stuffed it in his saddle bag.  Then he grabbed the bodies and dragged them over to the hole and rolled them in.  He shoved the dirt over the hole, packed it down with the flat side of the shovel and gathered as many rocks as he could find to place over the grave. 

“Damn…Tom…”  He stared up stream for a moment, then back down at the grave.  “I’ll find who done this…I swear.”  Rand pushed the shovel into his pack, swung up on Joe’s back without bothering to put his shirt on and rode upstream.  He’d had enough of that place.

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by Marie-Claude Bourque

Lycoris Daydreams by ~Kerahna on deviantART

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