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Archive for February, 2010

Ashes of Twilight

 Steampunk is about alternate universes.  Ashes of Twilight is a story about a society that went beneath a dome when Haley’s Comet came too close to the earth in the mid 1800’s.   After 100 years life has become stagnant and some want to escape it. 

I love the process of creating an alternate world and filling in the everyday details of life.  Where does the air come from?  Where does the fuel come from?  Their watersource?  What are the politics?  Where does my character live, what does she do, what does she want, who are her friends and her enemies?  Below is the beginning of Ashes of Twilight. 

            The Bible teaches us that the heavens and earth were made by the one true God.  I have heard these things all of my life but I dare not ask the questions that the lessons have created in my mind.  I am certain I know quite a bit about the earth, as I spend most of my waking moments within its clanking iron bowels. The heavens, however, are a mystery to me as my world is hollow and my sky is made of glass.  As I lie on my back and stare up at the thick dome that covers my world I still cannot help but wonder why?

            Our history is taught in two stages.  There is the before time, when man lived on the surface and roamed at will.  He built great cities and sailed the oceans and conquered kingdoms.  Then there is the after time when man created the great glass dome to protect all he knew from the mighty comet that came and burned up the sky.  It is the ninety-eighth year since the world became the dome and I spend all of my waking moments trying to find a way to leave it.

            Staring at the dome will not give me a way out.  I do it to justify my wanting to escape.  I am desperately seeking a sign that the earth has returned to what it was before the comet came.  I need to know for certain that I will not be burnt to a crisp when I do find a way out.  Occasionally, in the morning light, I see a shadow cross over, but the glass is too thick for it to be defined.  I never see the flames that are rumored to be out there and I often wonder if the flames are just an excuse to keep us within. 

            “Hey now, get on wit ya.”  I recognize the voice and know that it holds no threat, even though his words are harsh.  “It the filcher’s find the likes of you up here they’ll be throwing you in the fires for certain.” 

            I am not supposed to be on the rooftops.  Max is.  It is his job to clean this part of the dome from the constant build up of ash and smoke.  The rooftops are home to the gardens that supply the vegetables we need to survive.  They are closest to the light and also benefit from the condensation that builds up on the glass and then trickles down to give the plants water. 

            The scientists who designed our world were geniuses.  Unfortunately they are long gone and we have become victims of a sedentary government who will look no further than the dome that surrounds them.  Max is right about what he says.  I do not belong on the rooftop and if I am caught I will be punished.

            Max goes to work with his long handled mop.  I hear the squeaking of gears and see the men riding the baskets that will take them to the uppermost part of the dome.  Day has come to my world and it is time for me to sleep.

            I stand on my tiptoes and kiss Max on the cheek. “Thank you.”

            He blushes.  “I reckon I’ll see you in the morning.” I nod. “Be careful down there gel.”

            “I always am.”  I put my goggles over my eyes to protect them from the tainted air below. I could take the myriad of staircases attached to the side of the building down, but instead I head to the downspout.  It is faster, and there is no chance of me running into a filcher on the way down. 

            “Wren!”  Max came to where I’m propped against the building, my hands on the downspout and my feet braced. A sparrow swoops around my head and scolds me for being so close to its nest.   “There’s rumors of a runner afoot.”  Max said.  “Don’t let them suck you in.”

            A runner?  My heart pounds.  I need to know who but more importantly where?  If there is a runner, then how did he or she escape?  Max looks at me, his eyes expectant. He cannot see mine through the goggles. I have no choice but to lie.  “I won’t.”  I descended into the smoke.

            It is getting harder and harder for the fans to clear the air.  Some days are better than others.  This is one of the worst.  The government blames it on the coal, which means it is the shiners fault.  Shiners is a derogatory name given by the royals to those who work the mines.  They call us that because our eyes have a metallic cast to them. What they don’t know is that we can see in the dark, like a cat.  Years of living and working underground has changed us. 

            The coal is running out. Exploratory tunnels have been dug, spreading out in all directions like a spider web.  None have yielded anything so far.  Without coal we can not survive.  Coal creates the steam that powers the engines that keeps the fans going that circulates the air and keeps us from boiling beneath the dome.  An underground river serves as a source of water and a coolant for our air.  The engines are constantly going, their noise strumming through the dome and reminding all of us of the precariousness of our world.  If one thing fails, the rest will follow suit and the world within will end, toppled as easily as a strand of standing dominoes. 

            I believe with all my heart that it would be a good thing to happen.  It would force us to move, to look elsewhere, and to hopefully leave the dome.  But what I believe is not to be spoken out loud. 

            As soon as my feet hit solid ground the alarms sound.  “There is a runner.”  I give voice to my hopes and set out at a run for the promenade.

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I just got my book cover for “Bound by Blood” my upcoming paranormal romance from Lyrical Press. I may be a bit partial, but I think it is FABULOUS! It isn’t steampunk, but my heroine does wear goggles!

Mila Deluca is an immortal vampire powerful in magic with a quick trigger finger.

Bryce D’Angelo is a lethal warrior as sexy as he is deadly and pack leader to the Lycan clan.

Two equally powerful species, they are each other’s greatest enemies whose lives collide in the midst of a world filled with chaos.

As an uneasy alliance is formed to right wrongs and impart justice what begins as lust turns into something deeper even in the face of a dangerous evil.

They must become one before they face the enemy in a final show down that will decide the fate of the world

      To save the world they must become, “Bound by Blood” 

 ~Elizabeth

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Steamed: A Steampunk Romance
By Katie MacAlister

Dr. Jack Fletcher, a nanoelectrical systems engineer and Steampunk fan, and his sister Hallie, are a spirited to a parallel universe during a lab accident. They end up on the airship Tesla under the command of Captain Octavia Pye. It’s still 2010 but it’s hardly the world as they knew it. In this world Airships are real, aether is an element, and women captain ships in corsets and long skirts. Jack and Octavia are dawn to each other immediately. Sparks fly as Jack and Hallie are thrust into the adventures of the Tesla and their madcap crew as they try to deliver their cargo during a time of unrest as the Mongolians are at war with the Prussian Empire and the resistance known as the Black Hand will stop at nothing to crush the Empire.

I thought this was a very, very funny book and was frequently laughing out loud. Steampunk doesn’t have to be grim or depressing and I found this to be a very quick, fun read. I wasn’t bothered at all by the alternating first person POVs—in fact I found it refreshing and thought it worked for this story–but I’ve read a lot of first person books.

Now, if you’re a hard core Steampunker, this may not be the book for you. It’s not dark or gritty and a lot of the Steampunk elements are conventional. It’s also a romance novel and reads like a romance novel (versus an Urban Fantay with romantic elements like Gail Carriger’s Soulless), which means the central focus of the story the relationship between Jack and Octavia instead of action and steampunkery.

I enjoyed Steamed immensely. (It also has a great title, don’t you think?) If you’re interested in a romance novel that’s a little different, want to dip your toes in the pool that is Steampunk, or are looking for a good beach read, this is an excellent book to pick up.

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Hot topic steampunk jacketIs it a good thing that steampunk is popping up in so many very mainstream places? I found the jacket and the timepiece ring at Hot Topic which for hosting a plethora of goth/alternate clothing is beyond mainstream! I am a little on the fence about this topic, because I feel that steampunk is a very D.I.Y. subculture and feel it takes away from it when you can just go into a store and procure an entire “steampunk” outfit. On the flip side though, for those with limited time or are less than crafty this provides them with a way to enjoy steampunk fashion. I have seen it pop up everywhere, from store window displays to magazines to commercials all very mainstream places and so many more people have at least heard of steampunk. It is also catching on with the teen crowd. I do have to say as an author I am kind of stoked, because well when I contract my steampunk book I will have that many more readers. But after attending Steamcon 2009 and seeing the amazing effort people put into the wardrobe and how they adopted the mannerisms and feel of the steampunk subculture so well, I can’t help but wonder what this fabulous and amazing subculture is going to morph into as more and more people take it on. It has reached so far into mainstream that the lovely half-naked angel with the amazing wings is actually a model strutting her stuff at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show! For the record I want her whole outfit, wings included! I suppose what it really boils down to is we should be glad that so many people are able to find some joy in steampunk and we know that those of us with the love of steampunk firmly rooted in our hearts will still be standing after the fad has faded. And yes I will always be glad that this has informed so many people what steampunk is….it will make marketing so much easier! 🙂 So what are your thoughts, is it good, bad or ugly that steampunk has come barreling into the mainstream on a steam-powered locomotive? ~Elizabeth

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Short Post

I’ve been sick, so I’m keeping it short and sweet. A funny time travel comic from the folks at XKCD

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Happy Valentines Day from all the Lolitas at Steamed!

This comic is from the folks over at I Wish I Had A Penguin Friend

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  I have some very happy news to share! I sold my first book, “Bound by Blood” a sexy paranormal romance featuring Vampires and Lycan to Lyrical Press! This one isn’t steampunk, but my heroine does wear goggles frequently! I am so excited, but of course this has increased my already busy schedule to really busy! So today I just wanted to share the good news and update you on how my outfits are progressing…well that front isn’t so happy! I have things cut out, but the belt on my machine broke! I will have to break out the duct tape and fix it.. 🙂 While I am busy I wanted to share this totally fun and time-wasting site where you can dress up a virtual paper doll with amazing steampunk clothing from Clockwork Couture! Just follow this link http://anniestegg.com/clockworkcouture.php and let the fun begin! I will also put up the book trailer for “Bound by Blood”! I will be back next week with pictures showing progress on the sewing front! ~Elizabeth

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