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Archive for April, 2010

By Diana Vick

And Then There Was Steamcon 

I’ve been in science fiction fandom for a lot more years than I am going to cop to right now.  I’ve attended well over two hundred conventions.

 They have always been a great source of wonder, creativity and surreal adventure for me that I have never found anywhere else.  My husband and I met at a convention.  It’s still a shared love of ours.  We had been talking about getting more involved in running cons or maybe even beginning one, when we found ourselves swept up in a new community… steampunk . 

We knew that we had found the perfect new subject for our convention.  Up until that point, most steampunk events that I had heard of, had been music festivals or one day events or the theme of an existing general science fiction convention.  I saw a huge potential for a bunch of like minded folks to spend a weekend completely immersed in the world of Victorian science fiction, or steampunk. 

Steamcon was born. 

We based our convention on the armature of a science fiction convention, but we fully intended to expand the model.  Having attended anime cons, goth cons, furry cons and lots of general science fiction/fantasy cons, we had seen many different ways of running things.  We felt we could select some of the best aspects and combine them to the best advantage. 

We began to gather a crew made up of old con runners and some complete newbies.  We swore that the words “because that’s the way it’s always done” would be seldom heard.  Of course we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel either, so we got advice from many old hands at this.  Having not much starting budget, I went the route of viral marketing, using social networks on the internet, and creating communities specifically for Steamcon. 

I taught myself the skills and posted everywhere I could think of.  The veteran con runners told us not to expect to big a crowd.  First year cons in this area usually attract about 500 attendees, they said.  When our pre-registration numbers were almost double, we began to worry.   We suddenly found ourselves in the awkward position of needing to cap the membership so the space wouldn’t be too crowded.    

Our final numbers were 1350, which includes the small amount we could take at the door.  Amazing and gratifying.   The result of all our hard work was a bustling, lively, successful steampunk convention.   We had gotten the word out far and wide, and folks came from so many places.  New York, Texas, California… all over, even Europe. 

My greatest fear was that as the “face of Steamcon”, people would approach me to solve their problems all weekend long.  As the first few came up to me, I internally cringed, but they just wanted to say “Thanks!”  I spent the entire weekend meeting people and hearing about how much fun they were having.  Despite the things that went wrong behind the curtain, the audience was well pleased. They were having fun.  The best outcome a con runner can hope for really.   I am so proud of my fabulous staff and my wonderful husband, the convention chair.  I was the creative director or visionary but he was the details person.   It’s an unorthodox teaming, but it works for us.

As we gear up for yet another Steamcon, we are aiming even higher.  There were so many ideas that we simply didn’t have time for last year.  This year, with two hotels and twice as much space, I imagine we can be more than twice as entertaining. 

Our theme this year is the weird, weird west, a nod to our western roots, and it’s got so much potential.  From clockwork sharp shooters to Indian shamans, we expect the eye candy to be spectacular and that’s just the attendees. Many fun schemes are in the works.   Steamcon has come a long way from the fanciful idea we had to a fully fledged steampunk convention.  And we couldn’t have done it without our attendees.  You beautiful, creative, steamy folks!  Hope to see you all again in November at Steamcon II!  www.steamcon.org

(If you want to see some of the amazing attendees from last year: http://www.flickr.com/groups/steamcon/)

Diana Vick is vice chair, creative director, and co-founder of Steamcon, the largest steampunk convention held thus far.  For the past several years, she has been speaking on the topic of steampunk at many conventions across the country, beginning with the infamous “guerilla steampunk panel” that she instigated at Dragoncon in Atlanta.  She has been interviewed by Women’s Wear Daily Fast, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine and Marie Claire, and appeared on King Five News.   She has written many articles and guest blogs on the subject of steampunk and has many more in the works.  She has a few short stories and serials in the works as well.  One of her steampunk costumes took grand prize in the masquerade at Orycon in 2009.  Even her art has taken a decidedly steampunk direction lately and you can find examples of this on her Zazzle site at http://www.zazzle.com/artvixn*.   To find more of her art, costumes and articles, you may go to http://www.dianavick.com

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The Lolitas at RT!

By Marie-Claude Bourque and Elizabeth Darvill

We are so so busy at RT that it’s hard to even find 5 minutes to post a blog!

But we just attended the editor’s panel and when someone asked about whether editors were looking for steampunk, all hands went up!!!

Actively looking for steampunk for romance are:

Grand Central Publishing

Carina Press

Ellora’s Cave

Heather Osborne at Tor/Forge

Samhain (and news here: Samhain has a call for short story for a steampunk anthology, so submit your 25K stories!)

Authors Jessa Slade and Delilah Marvelle at the Ellora’s Cave party

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Today we have an amazing guest for you, but first, yes, we have some winners to announce (and who doesn’t like winners?)

First off, I’d like to announced the winner of a copy of Kate Milford’s new book The Boneshaker.

…drum roll please…

*~*~*GAIDA M.*~*~*

Congratulations, Gaida.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Now, for the winner of the amazing gift basket from O.M. Grey.

…drum roll please…

*~*~*TAMIBATES*~*~*

Congratulations, Tamibates!  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

On to today’s guest.  I am pleased and honored to welcome Kaja Foglio.  She and her husband Phil produce an amazing gaslamp fantasy web comic called Girl Genius.Who doesn’t love the tagline–adventure, romance, MAD SCIENCE! Kaja will be giving away a Girl Genius Omnibus, a pin assortment, and an original GG sketch by Phil to one lucky poster (and how cool is that??)

Please give her a warm Steampunkapalooza welcome!

Gaslamp Fantasy and a Sort of Love Letter to Steampunk

Sooooo…I have no business being here, but I was invited, so here I am anyway. Muhahahahaha.

Therefore I inflict myself upon you all. Have no fear, it’s only for one day, tomorrow the Chair of Steamcon will be here to talk to you. She is absolutely lovely and throws an incredible convention. Hock your raygun and buy a membership. It’s worth it. We’ll be there too, assuming they’ll let us back in. We did have a lot of fun last year.

And why do I have no business here? Well, mostly because I don’t actually use the word “Steampunk” to describe what I do. In fact, except for my eBay listings, (where I want people to actually FIND my auctions) and the odd review that I quote because they say such nice things about my books, I do my best to resist using the term altogether. Instead, I hide behind the blast shield of “Gaslamp Fantasy,” a term I thought I had read in the introduction to an H. Rider Haggard book, but in fact had cooked up myself out of a muddled memory, with a dash of the San Diego Gaslamp district thrown in. Probably a dash of Cream Sherry as well. Oh, well. Let’s hear it for muddled memory. And Sherry.

Oh. Right. Hello–I’m Kaja Foglio. Along with my husband Phil, I write and produce a story called Girl Genius. You can read it in its comic form at girlgeniusonline.com. We update three times a week, collect the pages into a printed volume every year or so, and were awarded a Hugo Award for it last year. We’ve been nominated for another one this year. Also, the members of American Mensa listed us as one of their top 50 Web sites for 2010. We are very, very lucky. Our readers are smart, kind and funny, they send us lovely presents and photos of themselves in their laboratories reading Girl Genius. They dress up as our characters at conventions. I mean, really now. We have a job where people bring us presents, and we have a huge amount of fun doing what we do. What more could we ask? Life is pretty good.

And it’s been getting better in recent years. We started working on Girl Genius in 1993, and finally brought it into publication in 2000. Since then we’ve watched as the literary genre known as Steampunk has morphed into an…well, actually, I really don’t know what. Certainly a fashion movement, which I know I never expected. And a sort of odd lifestyle thing that is reminding me a lot of my early days in the SCA, but with a lot less arguing about authenticity (and bless you all for that.) And of course, there is the rise in popularity of the actual literary genre. Or sub-genre, really, since it’s all pretty much fantasy/SF with a special, delicious twist. When we started working on Girl Genius, none of this was the crashing force it is now. There was “Steampunk” stuff out there, of course, but nothing like what’s going on at the moment. What’s going on at the moment is incredible.

This brings me back to my Gaslamp Fantasy. When we were first working on Girl Genius, it was going to be modern–sort of Cyberpunk, actually. But at the time, I was going through Phil’s old sketches and finding the most wonderful drawings–airships and cats with pocket watches and a superhero called “Locomotive Lars.” I was working on trying to come up with something involving mad science, since I…um… kind of have a thing for that… and I’ve long been a fan of Lovecraft and Poe and Shelley and Rider-Haggard and Wells and Verne (of course, Verne.) After a while of going through all these wonderful sketches, I said to Phil something along the lines of: “The modern stuff is boring. Let’s do something kind of Lovecraft/Verne-ish. You’ve done hard SF (Buck Godot, zap gun for hire) and Fantasy (MythAdventures) and modern (What’s New with Phil & Dixie), Let’s do something with this style you’ve been drawing but have never used.”  I probably used more words than that, because you really can’t shut me up sometimes, but I didn’t use the word Steampunk, because I didn’t know it then…

Fast forward to the year we actually got around to releasing Girl Genius in print. I knew the word by that time. But when it came time to publish the first comic, I didn’t want to use it. Let me go look at my Wikipedia entry, which I believe has an actual quote of something that I apparently said in print at some point:

–Tic Tic Tic–

AAH! My Wikipedia entry has vanished. I redirect to Girl Genius. Oh well, that sure puts me in MY place. Oh, the existential angst of being deleted from Wikipedia. Ouch. Anyway, I dug up the actual quote. Under “Gaslight Fantasy” no less. What on Earth is THAT? Gaslight? Really? Oh, well, here it is, at any rate:

“I called it Gaslamp Fantasy because, around the time we were bringing Girl Genius out, there was a comic called Steampunk on the shelves and I didn’t want any confusion. Plus, I’ve never liked the term steampunk much for our work, it’s derived from cyberpunk (a term which I think actually fits its genre well) but we have no punk, and we have more than just steam, and using a different name seemed appropriate. I mis-remembered a term that I had come across in the foreword to an H. Rider Haggard book, where the author was talking about Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Rider Haggard and that sort of pre-pulp adventure material, and came up with “Gaslamp Fantasy.” I felt a bit foolish when I discovered that I had made up my own term, but it works and I like it.”

So that’s what I said. Probably in my blog, which I’m pretty bad about writing in these days. At least I’m getting this done. But, yes. I didn’t want to confuse my thing with someone else’s thing. So I stuck something else on it. And that’s all it was. Really.

But these things have a way of getting away from one… and now, during interviews, people are asking me (with totally straight faces! It’s amazing!) how Gaslamp Fantasy differs from Steampunk. And expecting some kind of intelligent answer. From ME. HAHAHAHAHAHA! … I have no idea. Originally, it was a sidestep, a way of avoiding the toes of a noble colleague. These days, it’s my way of avoiding the “But THAT’S not STEAMPUNK!!!!” argument that I see playing out all over the internet. It happens all the time. The snark is unbelievable. Something is too goth, or too modern, or doesn’t have a damn (Ooh. I said “damn” in front of the Victorians. Sorry, folks. It’s the tipple.) steam engine right in the middle of it, and the dogs of the internet are released. You know what? I make my stories to please myself. I’m not interested in making my stories according to someone else’s mold. It’s not Steampunk as others see it? Okay. That’s fine. It’s MINE. I’m not trying to play by someone else’s predefined rules. Having my own goofy home-made label to hide behind has saved me SO MUCH grief. On the other hand, it has bitten me, as well, because…

The downside to being on record as having “dissed” the beloved Steampunk is that people think I don’t like Steampunk! I get people thinking that if they use the term to describe my work, I’ll be offended! Seriously. One simply can’t do anything without getting people all upset.

Let me set the record straight.

Do you know what it’s like to live with a head full of this stuff, and suddenly be able to go off to conventions and see it all? Everyone dressed so beautifully, with the most incredible gadgets… things I would have had to have Phil DRAW for me if I’d wanted to see them? Or worse, to hack away at drawing them myself? Ugh. To have well-wishers daily send me links to things that make my heart skip multiple beats? To see how many people out there are enjoying this, and making amazing things, and working on raising the tone of everything in their daily lives by the application of a healthy dollop of artistic fantasy? To stand on top of the Neverwas Haul: a three-story Victorian house that drives around at Burning Man, and that I’d only seen in pictures until recently? To get my picture taken on a giant brass snail (the Golden Mean) that spits fire, and sit on a giant metal ride-on trilobite that I would KILL for? The art people are making, the dreams they’re dreaming… Well, actually, if you’re reading this, you probably DO know what it’s like, don’t you?

Isn’t it wonderful?

I’ve just turned forty. So far, it’s been a good year. If the second half of my life is going to be filled with things like this, then I can only imagine that I was VERY VERY GOOD in my previous life. And to those of you who are making it thus? Thank you. Whatever it is that I make, (and we won’t get into that any more than necessary, oh dear, no, not after all this “Gaslamp Fantasy” business…) what you make is a true delight. Thank you.

Thank you.

*~*~*~*

Wow, what a great post.  Thank you so much, Kaja, for taking the time to visit us today.  To win the amazing prize (a Girl Genius Omnibus, a pin assortment, and an original GG sketch by Phil) all you have to do is post a comment.  That’s it!  THe contest is open until 11:59 pm PST, Sunday, May 2nd, winner will be announced Monday, May 3rd.

Tune in tomorrow for the last official day of Steampunkapalooza when we’re visited by Diana Vick from Steamcon!  After that, please keep visiting us most weekdays and the occasional weekend as my fellow Lolitas and I continue to bring you musings, mayhem, and all things Steampunk.  Thanks for making Steampunkapalooza a smashing success!

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Today’s guest Lolita is Emilie P. Bush, author of Chenda and the Airship Broffman. Let’s give her a warm Steampunkapalooza welcome. She’ll be giving away a copy of her book to one lucky poster.

Emilie P. Bush’s novel Chenda and the Airship Brofman is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Nobel, Powell’s Books, and at several upcoming personal appearances at Sci-Fi conventions, including AnachroCon (Atlanta), Steampunk World’s Fair (Piscataway, New Jersey), Marcon (Columbus, Ohio), ConCarolinas/ Deep South Con (Charlotte, NC) and DragonCon (Atlanta).

Hi! I’m Emilie P. Bush. Long time reader, first time guest blogger.
Thanks to STEAMED! for giving me this opportunity. Now that you’ve given me the soap box, I’m just going to scramble up onto it and put in my plug for independent writers of Steampunk.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Steampunk began as a literary movement – long before many of us were born. I’ve often said that Steampunk is the love child of Mary Shelley, Nicola Tesla, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells (and that’s some weird love geometry, to be sure). The genes are sure there. (All of the works of Shelley, Vern and Wells are available for free in digital formats – and are soworth the reading!)  Then there are the true Steampunk classics — the roots of the modern movement: Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, Jeter’s Infernal Devices, and Blaylock’s Homunculus, among many others.

In the last several years, the genre has exploded. Short Stories, periodicals, novella’s and novels. Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker is nominated for a Hugo this year! The work is good and plentiful.

Which brings me to the point. I’m a self published author, releasing late last year Chenda and the Airship Brofman. Several years ago, self publishing was the literary equivalent of dressing a hooker up and taking her to the prom. It’s what people who couldn’t get published by “real” publishing houses did. In recent years, the taboo about self publishing has changed, and for a very Steampunk reason. Nothing can stop the cream from rising to the top. The tastes of readers can change faster than the process of traditional publishers. Fueled by the can-do attitude that runs through the Steampunk society, I went for it.

And then, when my little masterpiece, my precious baby snowflake was finished, I let it go out into the world. There were good reviews and great reviews, and copies stared to sell to people who weren’t friends of my mom. E-mails from strangers came in telling me how much they liked the book! There’s nothing like a little positive feedback to let a writer know they are not just self deluding ego maniacs.

To be sure, self publishing is a hard row to hoe. Traditional publishing houses are very good at two things – marketing and distribution. In the digital age, distribution has become a snap for the independent author – thanks in no small part to Amazon.com and similar sites. Marketing is left in the author’s hands. The Internet can help there too, but one has to be willing to go out, each and every day, to put that precious snowflake into the light. No mistake, this is a JOB.

Looking to get a little more exposure earlier this year, I entered Chenda and the Airship Brofman into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition. Just me and 9,999 others. After several rounds of cuts, my little Steampunk adventure tale is a Quarterfinalist. The next round of cuts is TODAY. I’m thrilled and nauseated at the same time. Somewhere along the line, this ABNA competition became important to me. Personal.

I started to write Chenda out of a strange compulsion – feeling like I would die a horrible death or something if I didn’t write. The adventure flew out of me, and I was taking this shell of a woman out of her element, breaking down her world, roughing her up and sending her aloft on an airship. She traveled to places she never thought she would see and accepted a gift from the gods themselves. In the end, she became stronger, and finally became commander of her own life.

Like Chenda, I am looking for my place in the literary world, and I am choosing my own path to get there. I’m working hard, and pushing with my can – do attitude. I ask you now to take a look at some of the good independent Steampunk literature available on line and in periodicals like Steampunk Tales and Steampunk Magazine. They are bargains in e-formats (from FREE to a buck or two each – $3 for the Kindle version of my book) and well worth your time.

I also challenge you to recommend what you like. Twitter, Facebook and tap out your new finds in Morse code to anyone who’s listening. There’s more good independent Steampunk stuff out there to shout about. So, have your own adventure, find some hidden treasures and spread the word!

*~*~*~*

Thank you so much, Emilie, for visiting us today.  Good luck!

Emilie is giving away a copy of her book.  To win, simply post a comment or question for Emilie.  Contest closes on Friday, April 30th at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced Monday, May 3rd.

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Happy Monday, everyone.  I have some winners to announce.

First, we have the goodies from Lolita Elizabeth.

…drum roll please…

~*~*~*EDEN BRADLEY*~*~

Congratulations, Eden.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Next up we have the ebook from Reginia Riley.

…drum roll please…

*~*~*SANGU*~*~*

Sangu, congratulations!  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail.com

If you won a tiara, I hit a few snags and I hope to send them out towards the end of this week or the beginning of next. I apologize for that. You can still enter to win a book from Kate Milford or an amazing gift basket (with brass goggles) from O.M. Grey.

Tuesday, April 27th Emilie P. Bush comes to visit. The creators of the Girl Genius Comic stop by on Thursday, April 29th. Diana Vick from SteamCon visits on friday, April 30th. Lolita Elizabeth and Lolita Marie-Claude will also be giving us updates from the Romantic Times Convention.

The Making of Steampunkapalooza

People have asked me how I came up with “Steampunkapalooza.”  I joke that Steampunkapalooza is what happens when an event planner is out of work.  Basically, it started out with a simple idea and then took on a life of its own.

When I decided that it would be fun to celebrate “Steamed’s” first birthday as a thank-you to our readers, a month-long blog party was far from what I had in mind. My original idea was that since we had regular bloggers Mon-Wed-Fri that I’d find guests once a week for the month of April as something different.  Or, if I got really lucky, twice a week.  I never imagined we’d have a different guest nearly every day for an entire month.

I made a list of a few of my favorite Steampunk authors and businesses that I thought might come on and sent out a couple of emails.  My first response was a polite “no.”  But the second response was a “yes” and had me doing the happy dance.  I opened slots up to all the other lolitas and kept making lists of people I thought might be willing to be a part of our party.  But I just couldn’t keep up, so I asked Lolita Elizabeth and Lolita Marie-Claude for help in getting guests.  They started reaching out to their own contacts and boom, we were suddenly out of Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It seemed like the more guests we booked the easier it was to get others.  A few people even contacted *me* asking to be part of our event.

We added weekends and started booking guests on “our” days.   I even worked up the courage to email some of my “dream” guests and was even more surprised when some of them actually agreed to come on.  I also got a little paranoid wondering if we left anyone out and that I’d hurt someone’s feelings.  (If I did, I’m sorry, we’d still love to have you on.  Email me.)

I’m not quite sure when exactly I coined the term “Steampunkapalooza,” but it fit, since between our guests and the amazing giveaways we were getting it was far cry from “just” a birthday party.  As me and the other lolitas joked, somewhere along the way we’d become “the real deal.” 

April 1st rolled around and then the party officially started as we kicked off.  We got more guests, more blog hits then we’d ever had, lots of new visitors, gave away super cool prizes, and had a ton of fun.  I’ll be a little sad to see it all come to an end on  April 30th.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a lot of work, too.  I spend hours every day formatting posts, moderating, emailing back and forth with guests and the other lolitas, and promoting our posts.  But it’s also been a fun and incredible experience.  I learned a lot along the way about follow up, coordinating, publicity, and how awesome and generous people were.  I’m still amazed at our incredible line-up.  Really, it belongs on a t-shirt (anyone one to take a crack at designing a concert-style “Steampunkapalooza” shirt with all our guests?)   My only wish is that I would have been eligible to win some of our amazing prizes, lol.

Truly, I am amazed and blessed not just by all those who participated, but by all of you, who visited every day, promoted our posts, entered our contests, and just stopped by to say hello.  Thank you so much, each and every one of you.  I’d also like to put a special “thank you” shout out to all our super guests and to the rest of the lolitas, especially Lolita Elizabeth and Lolita Marie-Claude. There would be no Steampunkapalooza without you.

As much fun as we’ve had getting to know all our great guests, ultimately we did this for you, our fans, as a “thank you” for being with us this past year. I hope all of you, both our longtime followers and those new to the blog, had a great time and will continue to visit us even after Steampunkapalooza comes to an end.  Lolita Elizabeth, Lolita Marie-Claude, and I will be back to our regular blogging days, with the other lolitas chiming in, as usual.  We’ll be introducing two new lolitas.  We’ll also be introducing “guest Thursdays” where we hope to bring you a visiting Lolita or special guest each week.

We’re looking for guests right now, if you have a suggestion, or are interested in visiting us on a guest Thursday, please contact me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail with either “Steamed! Guest request” or “Steamed! Guest suggestion” in the title.   Guests should either be Steampunk writers/musicians/artists/craftpersons/etc or be willing to do a Steampunk-themed post (those who might not be a Steampunk writer/artist/etc but love Steampunk).  If in doubt, email me anyway, maybe we can work something out.  Giveaways are always welcome but not required.

Thanks again for helping to make Steampunkapalooza 2010 a smashing success.  Will there be a Steampunkapalooza 2011?  You bet there will.

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I’d like to welcome today’s visiting lolita–debut young adult author Kate Milford. She’ll be giving away a copy of her upcoming release The Boneshaker.The adventure starts May, 24, 2010.

Lolita Suzanne:  Hi Kate, welcome to Steamed!  Thank you so much for joining us. You’re new young adult novel, The Boneshaker, comes out next month.  Is this your first release?  Can you share the story of “the Call”, the “email” or how you broke through into publishing?

Kate Milford:  Yes, this is my first. I originally moved to NYC to write plays. My friend Julie kind of put me up to writing my first attempt at a book, and helped me figure out how to do it. My second attempt was a short book called Gingerfoot, which became The Boneshaker. As far as the call/email goes, I sent out a ton of query letters (I think about 30). I had about six ask for chapters and three ask for full manuscripts. One of the agencies I queried was Scovil Galen Ghosh—they represent Cory Doctorow and Charles de Lint, and on their website Russell Galen had this absolutely wonderful statement about why he became an agent that I found really inspiring. Ann Behar had just been put in charge of SGG’s juvenile titles, and she emailed back asking for the manuscript. We exchanged a few emails and she asked for some revisions, which I did, and then she invited me to lunch and it wasn’t until the end of the meal when she said something like, “Oh, and by the way, I’d love to offer you representation.” What’s funny is that we had such a nice time chatting that it hadn’t even occurred to me to be at the edge of my seat waiting for her to make the offer. She sold the book almost a year later to Lynne Polvino at Clarion. I think at that point I was pestering my husband to check my email during the day because I couldn’t do it at work (I work full-time managing a shop in SoHo, and at the time I didn’t have a phone with email capabilities), so he got the email first and called me to tell me to call Ann. I got the news secondhand.

LS:  At least you got the news from your hubby.  That’s quite the story.  Can you tell us what The Boneshaker is about?

KM:  It’s set in Missouri in 1913 in a crossroads town called Arcane. Shortly after Arcane’s doctor goes to the aid of a nearby town suffering from a flu epidemic, Jake Limberleg’s Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show rolls into town, and although everybody’s skeptical at first, the hucksters win the town over pretty quickly. Only a few people get a really bad feeling about Limberleg and his cohorts, and one of them is Natalie Minks, who’s the thirteen year-old daughter of Arcane’s bicycle mechanic. So of course, it falls to Natalie to save the world from a bunch of diabolical snake oil salesmen. That’s the short version; there’s also Old Tom Guyot, who’s kind of a Robert/Tommy Johnson figure who met the Devil at the crossroads and beat him in a head cutting—a musical duel. There’s Jack, a drifter who happens to be passing through town at the same time as the Nostrum Fair for very specific reasons. There’s Simon Coffrett, who rented space to Jake Limberleg for the Fair and lives a mansion in a grove where albatrosses roost and the trees are hung with dozens of wind chimes. There’s a vicious harlequin, a lonely demon, and a mechanical fortune-teller that quotes Edgar Allan Poe. Basically, the book’s a big collection of Weird Stuff I Think Is Cool.

LS:  What an amazing, eclectic mix.  It sounds terrific.   The Boneshaker is “Steampunk” right?  What elements in it make it Steampunk?

KM:  I think so, but in order not to disappoint anybody who will read “steampunk” and expect an alt-Victorian world in which steam-driven technology plays a big part, let’s say it has a lot of steampunk detailing. Clockwork plays a huge part in the story. Jake Limberleg, the proprietor of the Nostrum Fair, collects automata—in fact, it’s Limberleg’s insistence that certain of his automata are perpetual motion machines that really convinces Natalie that something’s not right. The Paragons of Science, Limberleg’s colleagues, are specialists in Victorian (and earlier) medical technologies: Phrenology, Magnetism, Hydrotherapy, and Amber Therapy. The world of the Nostrum Fair, I think, has a very steampunky feel to it, even if its technology has more to do with clockwork and electricity (the fair’s electrical power, for instance, comes from bicycle-driven generators).

LS:  Sounds good to me!  So, where did you get the idea for this story?

KM:  Well, I did a lot of research into Victorian medicine and psychology for my first attempt at fiction. Then I found an article in the New Yorker on the Jamaica Ginger epidemic of the 1930’s. During Prohibition, patent and proprietary medicines were one of the common ways by which people found drinking liquor, and one of the most popular cheap medicinal tipples was Jamaica Ginger, or jake. There were all kinds of rules intended to keep medicines from being used for drinking, one of which was to regulate the amount of ginger solids used. Without getting too nerdy with the details, in order to adhere to the regulations but still have a palatable product, a chemical plasticizer was used (which happened to be a neurotoxin). There are a ton of blues songs that reference the symptoms that resulted, which were often called jake leg or, in one song, “the old jake limber leg blues.” This, apart from giving me the name of my villain, put me onto patent medicines and from there I started reading about traveling medicine shows. Somewhere in there I read Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Golden Compass, which definitely shaped Limberleg and Natalie. Plus my husband, Nathan, who gets me like nobody else, is constantly sending me links and book recommendations and making comments that start with some variation on, “You know what would be cool for your next Natalie story…” I’m really fortunate that my husband is not a writer.

LS:  Thank goodness for creative and understanding husbands.  Why Steampunk—what drew you to Steampunk and caused you to incorporate these elements into your story?

KM:  I just have always liked old stuff, weird stuff, mechanical stuff. I think, for instance, that old light bulbs and radio tubes are just beautiful, and I keep pretty ones in bud vases. The year I typed the end on my first book manuscript my reward to myself was an antique Underwood typewriter. I actually had never heard of it when I wrote the first draft five years ago or whenever it was, so I wasn’t out to write steampunk, precisely; I certainly didn’t know the conventions, didn’t have any sense of what people would expect from a “steampunk” novel. It was Nathan that brought the term “steampunk” to my attention, and once I realized there was this world of people who liked the same weird stuff I did and wrote about it, I was hooked. Now, of course, I’ve read lots, but clearly I’m not a purist. Then again, I sort of don’t want reading one of my books to feel like reading anybody else’s. The book I’m working on now, for instance, has some fairly insane gadgetry, a sweet pair of goggles, a difference engine inspired by Neal Stephenson and a ship I think would do Jules Verne proud, but it’s set in a contemporary city, it’s about contemporary teens, and there’s precious little steam.

LS:  That sounds fun, too.  Why did you choose to write for young adults?  What age group is this most appropriate for?  Will adults enjoy it?

KM:  My mom and I decided to submit manuscripts to a children’s book contest. I wanted her to finish working on this story she was writing (Uncle Fenton’s Pearls, which is still one of my favorite books) and start submitting it, and I’d finished that first manuscript I wrote which frankly wasn’t very good and I wanted to see if I could do better. So I wrote the first draft in two weeks in order to make the contest deadline (it wasn’t, you know, good or anything at that point, but I finished it, which was a big deal for me).

Age group—I’m really glad you asked this. The age recommendation on the book is ages 10 and up, which technically makes it upper middle-grade, I guess, but Amazon  has it for ages 9-12 for reasons none of those of us involved with the book can figure out, because there’s some pretty scary stuff in there. And yes, I do think adults will enjoy this book a ton. Natalie’s a young protagonist, but she and Jake Limberleg and Tom and the rest are, I think, pretty complex characters and part of a reasonably intricate story. In my humble (but probably biased) opinion, of course.

LS:  Tell me about the city of Nagspeake?

KM: Nagspeake was another of Nathan’s brilliant ideas that he was kind enough to let me have. I love cities and small towns, and I love fiction that brings a place to life to the point that it becomes a character. Nathan’s very much a tech geek, and he suggested I amuse myself while waiting for agency responses (this is when I was still querying The Boneshaker) by building myself a city, and his logic was that, online, my city could be as real as any other. So I started building Nagspeake.  It’s a coastal city built on the iron bones of an earlier city, the history of which nobody really knows because the city has a long-standing tradition in which the civic archives are burned every 25 years. This makes it particularly interesting to be building the city online—I wonder how long I’ll get away with it before the city government starts getting its back up over the fact that it can’t burn my work up along with everything else.

Nagspeake now exists in a cluster of websites (some more active than others—in the last year I’ve been pretty busy with other things) and occasionally on Twitter. The primary point was to build the city and have a few stories hidden within the content on the websites, but last year I wrote a draft of a book set there that I’m revising right now. That was kind of funny—my husband found out he was going to lose half his salary during the economic freak-out at the beginning of 2009, and I naively thought, I better get moving on a next book so I can save us if Nathan loses his job—because obviously a first-time novelist can just write a book fast and replace half of an information technology salary on like a month’s notice. (By which I mean: what was I thinking?) I’m also working on a cookbook (written by the proprietor of a Nagspeake candy shop and hooch parlor called Magothy Treats) and a collection of short stories. These may very well wind up being things that only entertain me (at least until the current work-in-progress hits the shelves), but just in case, here’s a special post for readers of The Age of Steam.

LS:  A cookbook?  That sounds like a lot of fun.  I think personal writing projects are vital to the mental health of writers. J Do you have any upcoming events/appearances?  Anything else in the works?

KM:  In terms of appearances, I know for sure I’ll be at BEA on Wednesday, 5/26. I’m still working on my summer schedule after that; as soon as I have specifics I’ll post it on my website. I’m also finishing the book set in Nagspeake, which I presume will be my next release; an older YA set on a forgotten highway across the U.S., and a follow-up to The Boneshaker.

LS:  That sounds fabulous, I can’t wait to read The Boneshaker. Thank you so much for stopping by and being part of Steampunkapalooza.

KM:  Thanks for having me to visit!

Winning the advance reader copy is easy, just leave a comment, or a question for Kate, below. To earn an extra entry, blog/tweet/post about Kate’s visit and let us know about it. You can also become a member of Kate’s Facebook Group or the Steamed! Facebook group or follow the Steamed blog. Let us know if you joined, or if you’re all ready a member to get your entries. Contest closes Tuesday, April 27th, at 11:59 pm PST and the winner will be announced Thursday, April 29th.

Tuesday, April 27th Emilie P. Bush comes to visit. The creators of the Girl Genius Comic stop by on Thursday, April 29th. Diana Vic from SteamCon visits on friday, April 30th. Lolita Elizabeth and Lolita Marie-Claude will also be giving us updates from the Romantic Times Convention. This is the final week of Steampunkapalooza, but the Lolitas of Steamed have all sorts of things in store in the coming months.

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Today is a very special day. We are helping O.M. Grey release her new book Avalon Revisited. But first…

If you live in the Los Angeles Area, on May 15th, 2010 the Los Angeles Romance Writers will be hosting National Bestselling Author Bob Mayer and his Warrior Writer Workshop at the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood. This is a fantastic workshop for writers of all levels. For more information please go here.

Also, I’d like to announce the winner of the “ear wings” from Creative Habits.

…drum roll please…

*~*~*RACHEL*~*~*

Rachel, congratulations, you’ve won a pair of ear wings.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail so you can get your prize.

You can still win a copy of Regina Riely’s book and goodies from Elizabeth Darvill (Lolita Elizabeth).

Now, on to today’s visiting lolita. I am very excited to welcome author O.M. Grey. To help celebrate the release of her new book, Avalon Revisited she’ll be giving away this yummy basket of goodies to one lucky poster. (Wow, it makes me wish *I* were eligible, lol).

O. M. Grey is rather camera shy and is a complete novice when it comes to modern technology. She prefers to live in the cobwebbed corners of her dark mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or tending the garden or drinking a hot cup of tea. Her first book Avalon Revisited was just released.

Big Bouncing Bustles

That fashion oddity known as the bustle originated in the mid-19th century, and albeit short-lived, nothing screams Victorian quite like the bustle. It lasted only a few decades, moving from its original crinolined petticoat in the late 1860s to the exaggerated form that nearly reached ridiculous proportions in the 1880s, wherein my story Avalon Revisited takes place, to disappearing altogether by 1906. The bustle is indeed a brief fashion trend that has not been seen before or since in mainstream styles, but it is ever so delightful. Thankfully for us all, the bustle is making a comeback on the fringe of our modern society through the Steampunk movement.

With high collars, covered ankles, and even skirted chairs, sexual repression was certainly at its height in the Victorian Era. Not even the Goody-Two Shoes of the Fifties can compare. And as repression goes, when something essential or natural is repressed to such a large degree, it comes out in rather odd, often sick & demented, ways. The brothels of Madame Jeffries are a perfect example (and I got some truly demented history from her. Yes, friends, the Chamber of Horrors in Avalon Revisited is historically accurate).

Although meant to exaggerate the form of the hidden female body in such stifled times, the bustle is quite charming. With it gathering of material down the backside of a lady’s dress, it most certainly draws the eye and attention there. The bigger the bustles became, the more eyes were transfixed by their swaying, bouncing beauty.

This is likely why my antihero protagonist, Arthur, loves bustles so very much, as his attention is always in that general area anyway. Actually, love is rather an understatement. The undead chap is quite simply obsessed with the bustle. Baby just needs quite a bit more back, it seems.

So bustles abound in Avalon Revisited, as do airships, vampire hunters & their modern gadgets, and perhaps even a mad scientist for good measure.

Perhaps through Steampunk Paranormal Romance stories like my Avalon Revisited, Katie MacAlister’s Steamed!, and Regina Riley’s Clockworks & Corsets, we’ve birthed an entirely new romance trend. Instead of bodice rippers… let’s have more bustle bouncers.

One certainly gets a decent dose of bustle bouncing in Avalon Revisited…

About the book:
Arthur has made his existence as a vampire bearable for over three hundred years by immersing himself in blood and debauchery. Aboard an airship gala, he meets Avalon, an aspiring vampire slayer who sparks fire into Arthur’s shriveled heart. Together they try to solve the mystery of several horrendous murders on the dark streets of London. Cultures clash and pressures rise in this sexy Steampunk Romance.

Allow me to I offer a special thanks to the fine artisans who donated their wares to my Steampunk Gift Basket & other prizes. Your generosity will not be soon forgotten.
Please visit their shops:
PH_Factor: (Steampunk Goggles)
RowanOfTheWood: (Steampunk & Dark Fantasy Jewelry)

Thank you so much for visiting us, today! We wish you all the best with you new book, it sounds fab. Who doesn’t love vampires, airships, and bustles?

To be entered to win the amazing gift basket, simply leave a comment or question below. You can receive extra entries by blogging/facebooking/twittering about today’s release party or by joining her facebook group, joining the Steamed! facebook or by following the Steamed! blog. (Already being a member/following counts, just tell us.) Just let us know what activities you participated in, one entry per activity. Contest ends Tuesday at 11:59 pm PST. Winners will be announced on Thursday, April 29th.

Keep tuning in for more great guests as the month of April, and Steampunkapalooza, comes to a close. Tomorrow, Sunday, April 25th we have debut YA author Kate Milford. Tuesday, April 27th, author Emilie P. Bush stops by. Thursday, April 29th we’re please to welcome the creators of the Girl Genius comic. Diana Vick from Steamcon visits on Friday, April 30th. Lolita Marie-Claude and Lolita Elizabeth will be running off to the Romantic Times Convention and will be giving us updates and pictures. Thank you so much for joining us today, come back and visit!

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