Archive for November, 2010

First off, my Steampunk writing class I’ve been teaching has been fantastic, and I’m sad it’s drawing to a close. I am starting a Writing Steampunk yahoo group. If you write Steampunk (or want to write Steampunk) and would like to join us, sign up here. Make sure to let me know you heard about it on Steamed! This isn’t a class but a place to share links, ask questions, etc.

Another neat place for writers is Steampunk Writers Guild which is a place to hang out and connect with like-minded writers.

Now, on to today’s business. I need your help once again. I’m comping a Steampunk resource list. It’s geared more at those who write Steampunk but has a little bit of everything on it. I know the web is vast and I can’t put everything on here, but I know I’m missing some good stuff–especially things that will help writers, Victorian names, maps of the era, research sites, etc.

This is what I have so far:

Steampunk Resource list (Not comprehensive)





Victorian life, culture, and vocab

American West




Being a Victorian Teen



Victorian Names

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~poindexterfamily/OldNames.html (American)

Multicultural Steampunk



Steampunk Communities





Other Steampunk links/blogs










Steampunk Zines









Steampunk Clothiers





Steampunk Music






So, what am I missing?

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Happy Thanksgiving


Today we have a special Steampunk Movie Review for you by Ramon Fagan of The Art of Steampunk.

“Nickel Children“: SteamPunk/Sci-Fi Western Short Film
Review by Ramon Fagan, review courtsey of The Art of Steampunk.

I have gotten so hopeful, then disappointed with other attempts to use the currently fashionable Steampunk Aesthetic and Fictional approach (much less actual Steampunk Cultural ideas or values) to boost attention to various movies or TV shows lately that I find myself almost afraid to hope that something really good would come out of a project like this.  Thank Goodness Kevin Eslinger, apparently with help from his brother, was the one that put this project together! 

    Imagine a place where an “Indiana Jones” like vigilante goes after the most evil imaginable, yet classic, bad man from the old west, who is hiding a secret weapon right out of classic science fiction horror films. Now picture it set in the one place and time on earth where everyone, and probably the family pets even, would need to have a pair of adventurer’s goggles on them at all times, the dust bowl time period in Kansas.  As this is a “Steampunk Film” the goggles are naturally very decorative and science fiction looking including one pair (that the vigil ante’s partner uses) that appear to be the most elaborate pair of magnifying, telescopic goggles I have ever seen, and I assure you I have seen a lot of them!

    The acting ranged from good/very good (depending on your interpretation of the director’s intent) on the part of some of the minor actors to some of the finest acting I have ever seen on the part of the stars.  The script was also tight, well written, well thought out, and well executed, as it must be when you have only 16 minutes to tell a gripping tale.  All short films try for that perfect blend, but few come up to this one’s high standards of delivering this combination that can make even a very short film something to remember!

        Amanda Bailey apparently (per another reviewer’s comment, as she changed so expertly in her two double roles I actually missed that it was the same actress) plays both Jack’s mother in the opening scene, and Anastasia, the vigil ante looking for her stolen son.  Both were absolutely incredibly well performed in all ways!  To give you some idea of how talented this actress really is, she managed to convey deep love and protectiveness for her son, love and admiration for her man, thanks that he did not object when she gave the lion’s share of their meager food to their child, then fear, grief, shock, and finally abject terror in every possible way without so much as a single spoken line.  She did this as well, in my opinion, as Katherine Hepburn, Meryl Streep, or anyone I have ever seen, and she did this all in about 60 seconds total.  I know this sounds impossible, but if you pay close enough attention to body language (even breathing patterns) and have ever seen real people going through that level of real terror and tragedy, then you will understand when you see her in that scene!  I had to catch my breath again from that alone just to be able to focus on the core film which followed and we were still in the first two minutes or so of the film with almost no spoken lines! The film only got better from there, but first, let's discuss some of the other actors in the film.

    Easton Lee McCuiston plays Jack, a quiet, polite, young boy, whose parents are murdered, apparently just to steal him for the child fighting arena. When I asked the director about the very emotionally restrained performance of this character he gave a very sound and artistic explanation for how this character was directed to perform:  “Easton did a fantastic job at keeping that somber, blank expression, of a kid whose been almost completely traumatized by the events he's witnessed. Almost catatonic shock, he's going through the motions, but not really understanding what is happening. “

 Michael Venter plays his father who manages to convey, without even speaking, courage, despair, love, and tragedy when trying to calculate what will give his family the best chances when a gunslinger comes to destroy them.  While his part was brief, it was very good and very memorable.  Jeremy Snowden plays the evil gunslinger (referred to as “Sherrif” in review info) that rules over a network of child sex slave and gladiator slave rings throughout the territory.  He gives a chilling and very believable performance with excellent attention to even very small details of facial expression, body language, and range of emotions conveyed by the eyes.  Brian J. Lowry was entertaining and interesting as Dr. Montague, the Steampunk inventor and vigil ante accomplice, but he was not given enough of a role in this to evaluate well.  We will see more of him, I hope in future episodes.  Benjamin Wood also did a great job as the evil “Sherrif’s” secret weapon, but I can’t say much about that here without giving away too much in the plot.  I would also like to make a special mention of the fine performance of the ring announcer, his lovely female assistant who exudes greed from her eyes while happily taking money for a child sex slave, and the “Sherrif’s Exotics” a pair of Asian women who show a strong performance of sensual pleasure at watching Jack’s blood being spilled.  

       While the subject of child slavery, especially for sexual purposes, is, or at least should be, repulsive to us all, it was handled about as tastefully as it can be and still get across the level of evil the vigil ante is up against.  Besides, what sci-fi/steam punk/western story could possibly be more enjoyable than seeing the worst scum imaginable get beaten up by the very children they were abusing?   In fact the director, like many before him, insisted that his “evil” actors show as little emotion, either pity or anger toward the children as possible in all scenes of the film.  He said this was completely intentional: “ their lack of emotion is only to show that this is just another day, another betting ring, and another kid. They feel no remorse.”   He said it was important to make the evil characters as evil and predatory as possible so that the children not have any negativity attach to them as characters in later scenes where they violently retaliate against the betting ring staff and patrons.

    On a similar note that would make the Bards of my own Celtic ancestors proud, the director briefly mentioned in an e-mail to me that he actually hoped this film’s story line would help to draw attention to this worst of all modern social problems.  He didn’t make an issue of it, and may not mention it again, but that really caught my attention.  The reason it caught my attention so strongly was that this is a “Steampunk Movie” and from the very earliest beginnings of the 1800s era science fiction that “Steampunk” evolved from, such as “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “The Time Machine”, our “Steampunk” sub-culture (and it’s early ancestral sources ) have rebelled not only against the idea of mass production of ugly, shoddy, disposable goods in settings that demean and abuse 3rd world factory workers, but also against the idea of apathy toward social problems and the trials of disempowered classes, including children. 

    In other words, those members of  the “Steampunk  Community”, like myself, who treat it as far more than just a fashion statement, have been progressively making it into a force for positive social change.  Why would this matter to the TV/film industry you may ask?  It should matter, because after the fiasco of NCIS-LA attempting to use an incredibly poorly researched and insulting episode they pandered as “Steampunk” which did bad things to the reputation of the show‘s writers and producers, much more attention is being paid to whether or not writers, directors, and producers take the time and trouble to actually ask members of any given community or subculture for information and assistance in developing entertainment that gives professional results, not to mention responsible and respectful reflection of various cultures and values. 

    Mr Eslinger, and his costumer, and other production staff not only asked for  opinions and help from their local Steampunk Community, but were actually loaned personal items to use in the film with their blessings and support.  The Castle TV series went so far as to hire members of the California Steampunk community as extras and expert consultants for their “Steampunk Episode“.  Why is it so much trouble for people to pick up the phone, or drop a courteous e-mail and ask for support from people so desperately trying to communicate?  When this is not done, it simply shows the writers and developers to be lazy and apathetic about producing good art in a way that is actually in touch with the times and the people represented.  As a film director that is using a truly excellent Steampunk Genre film to tell a fictional tale that attracts attention to the worst of all social evils, I would like to say that I at least consider that sufficient reason to try to claim him, at least in an honorary capacity, as a part of our Steampunk Community!  If any of my readers do not believe that child slavery is still a serious problem worldwide, including in America, I would strongly suggest they take a look at the website of an excellent charitable organization that directly assists these children at http://love146.org/
I have to say that while any film (yes pretty much any of them) can be criticized in one area or another if dissected enough, and that all films, including this one, can be polished more or made more smooth and more easily understood if given more screen time to fill and more money to spend, overall I found this film truly enjoyable and a great pleasure to watch!  I also have noted that the comments and responses from literally every viewer I have been able to locate, canvas, or see a review or comment from so far has been unanimously very positive!  I have trouble recalling other films with such a universal appeal although I realize the limited audiences that have been able to see it so far have tended to be persons already seriously interested in the genre or in the film industry in general, but that is still incredibly impressive!  Having already given you my opinion of the acting, I would like to say that the script and the directing are truly outstanding!  I would also like to point out a few items of special interest in the technical areas.
The costuming is wonderful!  It ranged from old west, Kansas area, dust bowl farmer/rancher through upper class wealthy family riding/traveling clothes from the time period with the addition of goggles and corsets, (the two steam punk fashion essentials)as well as a few intentionally anachronistic accents.  In spite of what may sound, to persons unfamiliar with the “Steampunk Fashion Aesthetic”, which derives from an 1800’s era genre of science fiction stories. (which surprisingly enough really did begin to be published in that time period, but has changed much over the years)   This may sound rather odd, but assure you, the look and feel of a really good “Old West” movie, like the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” pervades almost every fiber of the short film, aside from the goggles, but even the goggles make good sense in light of the time and place where even Clint Eastwood would find such eye apparel pretty much a necessity if he wanted to hit anything in the daily dust storms. 
While I have seen more elaborate and more luxuriant Steampunk ensembles, goggles, toys, backpacks etc., and they looked great in a 21st century “Dream Team” concept version of a “Private Steampunk Nightclub” on a recent episode of the TV serial Castle, such extravagant looking costuming and fabrics would not have been nearly as perfect for this setting and I think such extremely fancy toys would have damaged the realistic, gritty, believability of the film in general. 
The soundtrack is also one of the film‘s great strengths!.  Unfortunately my expertise in this area is insufficient to say as much about the details in this area, but it was far more emotionally moving and richer as a soundtrack than I would have ever expected from any low budget short film. 
  The cinematography was also really good!  Most, if not all of the shots were in setting where limited and/or muted lighting was used to give an emotionally dark aspect to a very dark themed adventure.  While most viewers have never tried to act or perform in such lighting, I have, and I tell you it was murder!  Somehow the camera and lighting crew of this film found the magic formula to make everything very clear, yet realistic at the same time.  Even in the darkest, dungeon like area where the child slaves were caged, I could see every detail of every facial expression and every line of body language without multiple shadows.
The computer graphics that were used in some scenes to add background and depth were also used in one scene to make a very surprising and fairly believable sudden change to the building itself where the fight occurs and to even add an escape dirigible up close and later at a distance. 
The acting ranged from good to absolutely superb and the technical work on this short film was impressive as well!  I sincerely hope it was enough to help it win the recognition and support from the film industry and producers or bakers that it needs to make their dream of turning this short film into a Steampunk Serial a reality!  I and pretty much all of my hundreds of Steampunk friends worldwide are hoping his dream will happen as this is the best non-anime, possibly the best ever, Steampunk Fictional story TV or film, I have seen to date!  Best of luck to Mr. Eslinger and all the cast and crew of “Nickel Children”!

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In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

In case you’re wondering what this is all about, “In My Mailbox” something some book bloggers do to show off their ARCs. I’ve never done one, since I don’t get many ARCs. This is my first stab at Vloging, uploading to youtube, or any of that. Me participating in this is all the fault of Julie and Harmony. None of these books are actually Steampunk, though “Book Monday” usually features Steampunk books.

For Review (for a special non-steampunk feature I’ll be doing after the first of the year):
Pale Demon by Kim Harrison
Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce

Dick and Jane and Vampires (I had to share this because it was funny)

Thanks to:
Harper Eos
Random House

So, there you go. I feel like I really should be in full Steampunk dress, sitting at a table in a richly appointed room with a cup of tea, what do you think?

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I’ve been asked several times if I had a list of “usual” gadgets in Steampunk.  The request sort of baffled me, since (to me) half the fun of Steampunk is making things up.  But, when I thought about it, I could identify several things that are not uncommon to find gadget/technology-wise in Steampunk stories.  This isn’t a comprehensive list and by no means do you need to have *all* of these in your world. 


Aether is a classical element.  In ancient times it was thought to be the forces beyond control. In the late 19th century, the term luminiferous aether was used to describe a medium for the propagation of light.  There’s a lot of room to use this mysterious element in everything from a power source to a scapegoat for natural disasters.  In Katie MacAlister’s Steamed, rayguns shoot superheated aether.

Analog Systems

In analog technology, a wave is recorded or used in its original form, where in digital technology  the analog wave is sampled at some interval, and then turned into numbers that are stored in the digital device.  What if we continued as an analog society instead of a digital one?


An automaton is a self-operating machine (an autonomous robot).  They could be anything from elaborate clockwork singing birds (or killer ladybugs like in Blameless) to robot servants (like in Android Karenina).   They could be lifelike or stylized, maybe they even have a windup key in their back.

Clockwork Systems

Machines using elaborate clockwork can abound in Steampunk.  They can be anything from automatons to actually being the “heart” of a city.  They could set off explosives, or run radios, trains, or analytical engines.

Difference/Analytical Engines

A difference engine is a type of mechanical calculator capable of computing complex equations.  Charles Babbage’s design featured a hand-cranked device.  An analytical engine is a mechanical general-purpose computer using punch-cards.

Flying Machines

Jules Verne enchanted us all with balloon travel in “Around the World in Eighty Days” and “Five weeks in a Balloon.”  But aircraft get even bigger like blimps, zeppelins, dirigibles, and airships.

They could be grand and elegant passenger ships of gleaming wood and polished brass, or could be patched and clunky cargo haulers, or these vessels could be filled with the most fearsome people to haunt Steampunk skies—air pirates!

They could be steam, helium, or hydrogen powered.  Maybe they’re solar or run on aether.

But ships aren’t the only things that can fly. What about personal aircraft like “detachable wings” – small powered gliders with wings reminiscent of a Da Vinci sketch or hoverboards?   And don’t forget the flying car or the flying city—or the genetically engineered airship made from a Whale in Leviathan.  Flying machines go beyond the dirigible and are only limited by the imagination


Rayguns are as quintessential to Steampunk as airships.  They are “directed energy” weapons used for maiming or killing people and powered on all sorts of things, from aether to fairy-farts (okay, I made that up).  They can come in all sizes and shapes, and generally are metallic-colored.  Sometimes they may be pearl-encrusted for evening wear.  After all, a lady’s raygun says a lot about her.


Steam technology is the fundamental basis of Steampunk.  Steam engines can power trains and boats or run factory equipment or mills, steam turbines can produce electricity.   Steam can power cars or farm equipment, heat houses, power weaponry–it can even run clocks.

In a basic steam engine heat is obtained from fuel burnt in an enclosed firebox.  The heat boils water in a pressurized boiler, turning it into saturated steam.  The steam transfers to a motor which uses it to push on a piston sliding inside a cylinder, powering the machinery.  As the steam cools it is exhausted into the air.

There are all sorts of steam engines of varying sophistication, including underwater jet and rocket-type engines.   How about a steam-powered submarine?

Escaping steam and boiler explosions can call all sorts of devastation, disaster, and injury.

Time Machines

Who doesn’t love time machines?  Whether they take you to the past or the future, they guarantee and adventure.

These are just a few things to get you started and there’s much more to these technologies than my little descriptions.   Taking these basics and making them your own (and inventing new things) is half the fun.  Write on!

So…what’s your favorite Steampunk gadget?

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Shelly Brooks, the artist behind Mystic Pieces, is a true mechanical tinker as she assembles her artful pieces with time travel and beauty, whimsical and sweet, yet as hard core Steampunk as one can be in current society.  Shelly began her art at an early age, fostering her creativity by majoring in Art History in college. An opportunity to work at The Laguna Art Museum in California, kept her in touch with the art community. She had a passion for creating jewelry and over the last 12 years has continually enjoyed her hobby by turning it into a way of life. 

Her creations are wildly inventive, adding the subtle with something raw and basic like the inner-working of timepieces. She takes the usual and turns it into the unusual. Inspired by the Victorian Era and the Industrial Age, Mystic Pieces finds a perfect juxtaposition of old and new, taking apart watches and repurposing gears for fashion sake. A mixture of destruction with the soft romance of filigree and sparrows adorns her art. “Sometimes I just stare at one of my pieces, until it hits me on how to transform it into a treasured work of art.” And art it is, a wearable piece of delight that is displayed in full view. It’s the hidden things that bring the love of Steampunk to everyday life, which keeps one bound in the passion of the genre while still living in a conventional world. 

Besides finding her work at 6 retail stores in Phoenix, Az, www.mysticpieces.net, Mystic Pieces has two upcoming shows in Arizona; the Tempe Festival of the Arts, Tempe, AZ  Dec 3-5 and the Wild Wild West Steampunk Con, Tucson, AZ Mar 4-6 2011

“Life expands or contracts in direct proportion to one’s courage.” ~Anaïs Nin 

Shelly Brooks
Face Book                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://twitter.com/mysticpieces

Copyright © 2010 Mystic Pieces. All rights reserved.
Proud member of the Etsy Steam Team
SRAJD (Self Representing Artist in Jewelry Design) member #2668

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The Hunchback Assignments
Book One of the The Hunchback Assignments
by Arthur Slade
Book Provided by Random House

Modo the disfigured young hunchback has the unique ability to shift into any shape he wants–but only for a few hours. Trained from birth by the mysterious Mr. Socrates he’s enlisted at the age of fourteen as a secret agent. Someone is kidnapping orphans and turning you men into unwilling assassins. With the help another teen agent–the witty, feisty, and beautiful Octavia Milkweed–the two of them must stop the Clockwork Guild’s nefarious plot before it’s too late.

This fast-paced Steampunk book for young adults is packed full of action, suspense and mystery. The Steampunk elements are woven seamlessly into the story and even though the advanced technology isn’t precisely explained, you never question it’s presence, both from the ghastly experiments of Dr. Hyde the mad-scientist or the wondrous gadgets Mr. Socrates has. There’s everything from mechanical birds to steam powered limbs, to giant robots.

There’s not a lot of backstory, but there’s some great character development. It’s very easy to root for young, sheltered, and resilient Modo, horrifying looks aside. Octavia, the savvy former orphan and street sparrow, makes a great foil and the attraction between them crackles enough to intrigue girls but not enough to turn off boys. As they world together to stop the Clockwork guild it’s very clear that Modo is interested in Octavia, but is afraid of what she’ll think if she sees the real him. This thread is left unresolved, but they’ll most likely be reunited to fight evil another day.

This book is fast paced, sometimes almost too fast. But Slade’s alternate Victorian London is still rich and gritty, the story full of plot twists and turns. Filled with non-stop action, peril, gadgets, intrigue, and just a hint of innocent romance this book should be a hit with both boys and girls tween/younger teen set.

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Before I welcome today’s guest, we have some winners to announce. 

Frist, we have the winner of the “Steampunk Reloaded” ARC:


Next we have the winner of the newest Grey Griffins book, “The Brimstone Key”:


And the winner of the set of Grey Griffins posters:

*~*~*Elizabeth Kolodziej*~*~*

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

Today we welcome videogame designer Joel Carlson.

Joel Aaron Carlson is the owner of Mind of Motion Studios, an independent video game company with a focus on story driven gameplay and high quality artwork. 5 years ago he made the jump from the storyboarding in the animation industry to developing in the video game industry. His games have won numerous awards including Gametunnel.com’s ‘Graphics of the Year: 2006’ and ‘Players Choice Game of the Year: 2006’, as well as becoming a finalist in the annual ‘Slamdance Games Festival’. He currently resides in Irvine, California with his wife, Deborah, and frisbee-loving beagle ‘Gobbles’.

Steampunk: My Perfect Playground
by Joel Carlson

Alright, everyone! It’s time to make a strategy game about WAR! Soldiers are dying, tanks are exploding, and you’re sending legions of men to their deaths! Sounds like a fun-filled family-friendly title that’s to be enjoyed by both boy-and-girl young-and-old, right? 

Not so much.

And that’s the big problem with strategy games. Their main focus is on a very serious subject. War and death. Though I love the strategy genre, and love creating strategy games, a game with such serious themes doesn’t really appeal to me. War is cold, dark, unforgiving, and I wanted to create a game with heart, vivid colour, and hope. So how could I make this jump?

Dusty Sprocket marks my second foray into strategy gaming, as well as my second foray into the world of steampunk. This is no coincidence! Steampunk has offered me ‘my perfect playground’ in three different and highly valuable areas.

If you go to a movie about about WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, etc, you enter with a lot of preconceived ideas of what’s about to take place, how it will be presented, and what the outcome should be. I hate that. I want to start with a clean slate when it comes to my presentation of war. There’s something magical that takes place in my mind when I enter a fantasy world. Whether it’s a book, movie, song, (anything!) that’s based in fantasy my brain switches to a new mode, and that mode is acceptance. For some reason my mind (and hopefully the viewer’s mind) says ‘teach me’. Teach me the rules to this world and I’ll accept them as the new reality. Of course, this is the PERFECT mindset for presenting a game. The viewer is already curious! One of the great things about the steampunk genre is that it’s not completely foreign either. It’s grounded somewhat in our own reality. So not only are the players asking for guidance, but they’re also accepting this new world not as some whimsical fairytale, but as a time that may have existed! Perfect!

Art Direction
I want to make the prettiest game there’s ever been about war. There it is. That’s my goal. I want the player to hug their tv/laptop as hard as they can, wishing they could just fall into the world I created and spend a warm sunny afternoon flying through the rolling hills on their little airship. When I think of steampunk I think of beauty and industry. Now what better theme other than steampunk has there been to bridge war and my quest for a beautiful environment?

Steampunk has offered me the freedom and direction to build the world of Dusty Sprocket. I can’t picture a better theme that so neatly combines fantasy, beauty, industry, mystery, and wonder!

Dusty Sprocket may be my second trip down steampunk lane, but I feel it’s the tip of the iceberg. I’m constantly inspired by the genre, and already have way too many ideas of what to do next in the wonderful world of steam!

-Joel Aaron Carlson
Become a Facebook fan @ http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dusty-Sprocket/133378786706868
For more of Joel’s artwork, check out www.mindofmotion.com

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Thanks for all your great suggestions on my previous post.  So, I decided that the first accessory I’d make for my Steampunk Princess costume would be a raygun.

I started with a little mini Nerf gun.  It’s about 6 inches long and was about $3.  I’ve never done anything like this before.  I also spent more money on paint then on the gun itself.

Since, it is a formal raygun, and orange clashes with my ballgown, the first thing I did was paint the whole thing with gold acrylic paint and take off the black hook. I obsessed a lot over  painting it.  I think I may have over-painted parts of it trying to make it perfect.

I painted it with another coat, mostly trying to cover the raised writing, which didn’t work very well.  Also, I probably should have waited until the first coat dried completely, but I got impatient.  Next, I added accents with metallic golden-brown paint.  I also painted the foam bullets which didn’t turn out to be that good of an idea, especially since by painting it, the gun became unusable anyway.

After that, I added a couple of coats of clear varnish to keep the paint from chipping.

Since it is a formal rayrun, I decided it needed a little something extra.  After all, a lady’s raygun says a lot about her.  Since my clockhand tiara has pearls on it, I decided to buy some self-adhesive pearls.  I added another coat of varnish to help keep the pearls on.

So, there it is, a raygun fit for a princess.  Now, I just need to figure out how to affix it to my wrist.

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We posted the last batch of author invasion winners.   Did you win?

Today we welcome Middle Grade Author J.S. Lewis, co-author of the popular Grey Griffins series. The Grey Griffins are a group of kids who become monster hunters. In their newest adventures, The Clockwork Chronicles meld Steampunk with adventure and magic. “The Brimstone Key” is the first book in this new series featuring the Grey Griffins. We have a copy of “The Brimstone Key” and and some amazing posters up for grabs.

J.S. Lewis is an American novelist and comic book writer. His novels include Invasion (coming December 2010), as well as The Brimstone Key (from the Grey Griffins Clockwork Chronicles), and the original Grey Griffins trilogy: The Revenge of the Shadow King, The Rise of the Black Wolf, and The Fall of the Templar (co-authored by Derek Benz). Lewis also wrote a twelve book comic book series based on Sony’s virtual world phenomenon, Free Realms.

A graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Broadcasting, Lewis has explored a career that includes news reporting, radio production, animation, graphic design, web development, mural painting, speech writing, video game development, voice over work, and marketing. He currently resides in Arizona with his wife and children.

Introducing a New Generation to Steampunk
by J.S. Lewis

I have a love/hate relationship with Harry Potter. Initially I refused to read the series because of the hype. Like most people, I have a rebellious streak. If you tell me how much I should love something, more likely than not I’ll despise it. Why? I wish there was a good explanation, but I can’t come up with one outside of stubbornness.

Years after its release, I finally picked up the first Harry Potter book. I was going to prove that the sensation credited for single-handedly bringing kids back to reading wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. I couldn’t wait to tell the world that J.K. Rowling was a hack. But there was a problem. I got hooked from the first chapter and now I’m a fan.

I truly am thankful that Rowling re-introduced kids to the wonders of books. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that in many ways I owe my writing career to her. Without Harry Potter, the Grey Griffins likely wouldn’t exist. Neither would Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Artemis Fowl, Fablehaven, The Spiderwick Chronicles, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Eragon, Charlie Bone, and a slew of other titles geared toward kids.

There is one problem, though. Any book with children and magic is in danger of being judged as derivative, whether it’s true or not. Is Percy Jackson simply Harry Potter with Greek gods? What about Eragon? Harry Potter on the back of a dragon?

In our latest release (The Brimstone Key) the Grey Griffins transferred from an average elementary school that would exist in just about any town in the United States, to Iron Bridge Academy, a special school for Templar youth where they learn to fight the monsters that go bump in the night.

Now if I were in Las Vegas, I’d bet the house that the word “Hogwarts” just popped into you head. I can’t blame you. Harry Potter is an enormous part of pop culture, so the comparisons are inevitable. That didn’t stop us from trying to make it different, though.

So if Rowling owns magic, we had to find our own niche if we didn’t want to be seen as derivative. Was that going to be science? Not likely. I can watch nature shows on television all day long, but I’m not a scientist and I don’t find the minutia of science interesting enough to become an expert. What about technology? Now there’s something I’m fascinated with. And is there any technology – real or imagined – more interesting than Steampunk?

We wanted to find a way to introduce a generation of young readers to the Steampunk subculture in the same way that Rowling introduced them to magic. We took our favorite elements and fused them with a secret society that lives in the shadows of today’s modern world. It gave us an exciting blend of today with the romantic qualities of an alternate history where Charles Babbage was Bill Gates, and clockworks served as nannies, butlers and soldiers.

We’re not alone in our quest, either. Thanks to books like Boneshaker and Dreadnought by Cherie Priest and Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, Steampunk is becoming a household name – and that’s exciting!

–J.S. Lewis



How would you introduce a new generation to Steampunk? Buy your kids brass goggles? Hand out gears instead of candy next to the neighborhood kids next Halloween? Give everyone on your holiday gift list Steampunk books?

Two lucky commenters will win a great prize.

One commenter will win a copy of The Brimstone Key and a bookmark.

The other will a set of the following amazing posters (these are beautiful and suitable for framing):

* Sprig (a Welsh Faerie)
* Max (the hero of the story)
* Natalia and Brooke (the female leads)
* Tundra Troll

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Here’s the last batch on winners for the author invasion. Thank you for making this such a success.


The winner of Jeanne Stein’s Chosen AND Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker is…



Next we have a copy of Ednah Walter’s Awakened and nailpolish.



Finally, we have three Tarot card readings from Maggie Shayne!

Sandy Robinson

Christine Ashworth


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

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We have more winners from the Halloween Author Invasion. Is it you?

Thanks again for helping to make the Author Invasion a success and thanks to all the fab authors that came on to blog about Halloween and give away treats. A couple of contests are still open.

Today is a busy Steampunk day for me. The online writing class I’m teaching starts today. ~waves at the readers taking the class~

I’m over at Candace’s book blog explaining Steampunk.

I’m also blogging on the elements of a Steampunk novel at Castles and Guns.

NaNoWriMo starts today. I think I’m going to sit this year out, but kudos to everyone doing it! (Who’s writing Steampunk?)

Now, back to Book Monday! Today, not only am I reviewing a great Steampunk anthology coming out, but one lucky commenter will win an ARC of “Steampunk Reloaded.”

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded
Edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
Released November 15 by Tachyon Press
ARC provided by Tachyon Press

The award-winning editorial team Ann & Jeff Vandermeer does it again with their sequel to their original Steampunk anthology. “Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded” brings together a triumvirate of Steampunk spectacularness — original fiction, reprinted short stories, and non-fiction.

The twenty-seven stories and articles represent a broad cross-section of Steampunk by some of the best in the genre. “Tanglefoot” by Cherie Priest is a Clockwork Century story inspired by a real location. There are also stories by G.D. Falksen (“The Strange Case of Mr. Salad Monday) and Tanith Lee (“The Persecution Machine”).

Besides the usual stories and “What is Steampunk” articles there’s a couple of unusual pieces that add depth and spark to an already good anthology. “Ada Lovelace: The Origins” by Sydney Padua is a delightful alternate history comic. “The Secret History of Steampunk” by The Mecha-Ostrich and Catherynne M. Valente’s “The Anachronist’s Cookbook” also make for interesting reading.

My favorite story isn’t actually a fiction piece, but Gail Carriger’s non-fiction article “Which is Mightier, the Pen or the Parasol?”

This is a well put together anthology suited for both lovers of Steampunk and those new to the genre. The cover is beautiful and the anthology as a whole is artful, from the incredible illustrations to the advertisements in the back. Even the designs around the page numbers and title fonts add to the ambiance and aesthetic, pulling the whole anthology together in a way that makes it more than a mere collection of stories.


There’s a full list of stories and articles here . Tell me which one you really want to read and why. One lucky poster will win an ARC of “Steampunk Reloaded.” Contest ends Sunday, November 7th, 2010 at 11:59 PM PST.

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What’s not to love about prizes?

First off, we have a copy of Kristen Painter’s “Miss Bramble and the Leviathan.”

drumroll please

*~*Nara Malone*~*

Next we have the winner of one of Simone Ekeles books (your choice):

drumroll please


Congratulations everyone.  Please email me at suzannelazear(@)hotmail to claim your prize.
Stay tuned for more winners.

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