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Archive for September, 2011

Maeve Alpin loves reading and writing about ancient times. It’s only natural she loves alternative history just as much. She had a lot of fun adding an ancient twist to the Victorian age in her Egyptian/Steampunk/Romance As Timeless As Stone by Lyrical Press. And her newest release, a Celtic/Steampunk/Romance, To Love A London Ghost by Eternal Press. She lives in Texas with her family; her grown son, her granddaughter, and her spoiled cat, Severus. Visit Maeve Alpin at http://MaeveAlpin.comt

Multicultural Steampunk by Maeve Alpin

As the hub of the industrial revolution, Victorian Britain and its culture will continue to be one of the strongest settings for Steampunk fiction. That said, it is not the only legitimate setting. After all, even Jules Verne’s most memorial character, Captain Nemo, mentioned more than western European aristocrats in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. “Do you think I’m unaware of the suffering people and oppressed races of this planet, the poor to be comforted, the victims to be avenged?” In our modern world most people share the Captain’s concerns and a trend toward multicultural Steampunk mirrors this.

One book that breaks out of the typical Steampunk mode is Cold Magic by Kate Elliot. The first book in her Spirit Walker trilogy focuses on Celtic and African Cultures. Another novel cultivating cultures other than those of Western Europe is The Burning Sky by Joseph Robert Lewis, the first book of the Halcyon Trilogy. This alternate history is set in exotic Morocco in the 16th century, a melting pot of the people of West Africa and the Mediterranean. It encompasses the Amazigh, Yoruba, Igbo, Mali, Spanish, and Persian cultures.

For Steampunk in an Irish setting try James White’s As Silent Stars Go By. In this alternative history, Ireland, the most powerful nation, launches a space flight to a new world, which includes their allies, the Redmen, the natives of north and South America. For more Steampunk exploration of ancient cultures, check out Maeve Alpin’s Steampunk/Romances. Though As Timeless As Stone is set in Paris, and the soon to be released As Timeless As Magic takes place in London, they both include an ancient Egyptian time traveler as a main character. Her brand new novel, To Love A London Ghost, coming October 7th features an unusual Steampunk heroine, a Celtic warrior ghost from the Iron Age, who died on the bank of the Thames fighting Julius Caesar.

Steampunk settings and ethnicities aren’t limited to Western Europe. After all, Steampunk is for everyone and the literature should emulate that.  The popular trend toward Multicultural Steampunk is sure to grow.

 Maeve is giving away a toy airship from the film The Golden Compass. Please comment below to enter.  Contest ends October 5th at 11:59 PM PST.  Open Internationally. 

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First off, if you’re lucky enough to be going to Steamcon III in Seattle, Steamed is up for an Airship Award, so please vote for us. 

Speaking of voting, here’s a rather shameless plug.  You all know how much I love cupcakes.  Well, please vote for me, so I can be a judge at the Cupcake Love In, in Arizona in late October.   (You can vote daily and if I win, I will show up in Steampunk gear). 

I’m going to be teaching Writing Steampunk from A-Z online during the month of November, so come join us–even if (especially if) you’re doing NaNoWriMo.  I’ll be writing right alongside everyone else. 

It’s banned book week and to celebrate we’re giving away some H.G. Wells here

Also, Dr. Fantastique’s Show of Wonders Magazine is a huge supporter of Steamed and they’re off on an adventure to offer their terrific steampunk magazine in print.  Check out their kickstarter campaign

Finally, I have a copy of The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer to give away to one of you.  The anthology is based on the fictional story of Thackery T. Lambshead and the odd assortment of things supposedly uncovered beneath his estate.  In this rather large book of strange and fascinating tales, each author explores the story behind each discovered item.  

From Goodreads:

All-new stories and art from the doctor’s wondrous collection

After the death of Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead at his house in Wimpering-on-the-Brook, England, a remarkable discovery was unearthed: the remains of an astonishing cabinet of curiosities. Many of these artifacts, curios, and wonders related to anecdotes and stories in the doctor’s personal journals. Others, when shown to the doctor’s friends, elicited further tales from a life like no other.

Thus, in keeping with the bold spirit exemplified by Dr. Lambs­head and his exploits, we now proudly present highlights from the doctor’s cabinet, reconstructed not only through visual representations but also through exciting stories of intrigue and adventure.

A carefully selected group of popular artists and acclaimed, bestselling fantasy authors has been assembled to bring Dr. Lambshead’s cabinet of curiosities to life. Including contributions from Alan Moore, Lev Grossman, Mike Mignola, China MiÉville, Cherie Priest, Carrie Vaughn, Greg Broadmore, Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, Michael Moorcock , Holly Black, Jeffrey Ford, Ted Chiang, and many more.

Want it for your very own?  Just leave a comment below on what Steampunk object you’d like to uncover.  Contest ends October 2nd, 2011, at 11:59 PM PST.  Open Internationally.

 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Happy Banned Book Week!  I’m going to keep this post on sticky all week so everyone has a chance to enter.

Did you know that every year books are banned from schools and libraries?  Banned Book Week, September 24-October 1, 2011,  celebrates intellectual freedom and the right we have to have access to all books–including ones that might be “objectionable” for whatever reason.  It also draws attention to the fact that even in this day and age books are banned and censored in communities across the United States.   Censorship is harmful and we have the right to access all opinions and ideas, not just the popular ones.

Fortunately, most challenged books are not banned thanks to the hard work of librarians, booksellers, teachers, and community members who work to make sure that everyone can read what they wish.

In 2010 the top 10 most frequently challenged books were:

1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins

5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

6. Lush, by Natasha Friend

7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones

8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich

9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie

10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer

But it’s not just contemporary books that get banned, classes get banned and challenged, too.

The list of frequently challenged classics is always my favorite.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
41. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E. M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

How many of them have you read? I’ve read 31, most as school assignments. Even H.G. Wells is on the list. I think it’s ironic that “1984″ is on the list–someone tried to censor a book about book censorship.

The purpose of banned book week is to let people know that even in this day and age, censorship still exists in America. The first amendment is still questioned. During this week we try to get the word out that banning books is censorship, pure and simple, and it’s wrong.

So what will you do to celebrate Banned Book Week.?

I think I’m going to read some H.G. Wells.  So can you, one lucky commenter will win a copy…all you have to do is tell me how you’re going to celebrate Banned Book Week. One entry per person, open internationally, contest ends October 1, 2011 at 11:59 PM PST.

We’re part of the Banned Book Week Blog Hop sponsored by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and I Read Banned Books.

Want to win more books and stuff? Check out the other contests in the hop.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Today we welcome MADemoiselle Veronique Chevalier.

Veronique Chevalier is the eccentric Françican (Français-American) Chanteuse (Songstress) known as The “Weird VAL” of Dark Cabaret.  She’s an unparalleled Parodist; a Steampunk-lish Chanteuse, and Spooky Polkanista, who has been described as a twisted incarnation of Edith Piaf from an alternate reality – the one in which her parents are Jim Morrison, and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, and her godparents are Lucille Ball and Weird Al.  As a self-proclaimed “Mad Sonictist,” she takes maniacal pleasure in combining previously unrelated musical forms into new, unholy combinations. She vows to leave no genre unadulterated in her quest to create the ultimate Sonic Frankenstein.  She originated the genre of “Gothic Polka”. Her twisted brand of humour hits at the core of daily reality. Being gonged off the premiere season of America’s Got Talent (which is FAKE reality) was irrefutable proof her gifts are wasted on the masses.

What Is “Steampunk Music?”

by Veronique Chevalier

MADemoiselle Veronique Chevalier

There seem to be more and more debates floating through the aethers on the subject of “Steampunk Music,” so I wrote this piece from the viewpoint that I have as an artiste. Although I have performed at numerous Steampunk events, and shall continue to do so as long as the invitations keep coming my way, I don’t call myself a “Steampunk” artiste, per say.

I prefer the word “artiste” without any descriptors, because I create to please myself, and I appear at non-Steampunk events (Cabarets/Music Halls/Gay Venues/Burlesque Rooms) as well. I do feel very privileged and honoured that many fine folk in the community appreciate my special brand of ODDitory MADemoiselle-ness.

However, I know that people new to the Steampunk community, as well as long-time adherents, yearn for more musical choices, so that they might have a soundtrack, as it were, to complement the aesthetics and spirit that drew them to the community initially.

In the spirit of inclusiveness, I’d like to share a couple of invaluable resources for Steampunk-ish music. Incidentally, there is no universal agreement about what constitutes “Steampunk” music, since it commenced as a literary and aesthetic movement. However, it does seem to follow that numerous music artistes enjoyed by many Steampunks (and in whose ranks I am honoured to be included) are congregated in the following two websites:

Gilded Age Records
* http://www.gildedagerecords.com*
*https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gilded-Age-Records/122519387775698*

The world’s only artist collective, founded by Joshua A. Pfeiffer of Vernian Process & Evelyn Kriete, focused on musician’s combining old world aesthetics and sounds with current genres of music. Steampunk/Cabaret/Swing/Ragtime/Gypsy-Punk/Darkwave/etc.

Sepiachord
*http://sepiachord.com*
*https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_208390005860341*

Founded by Jordan Bodewell, “Sepiachord is the “genre that doesn’t exist”. It is to music what “Steampunk” is to literature and cinema: something that looks back to the past to comment on the present while looking sideways at the future. A cubist aural experience. As goth & glam are the bastards of David Bowie, Sepiachord is the made from the genetic material sown by Tom Waits.

Sepiachord is assembled like a clockwork orchestra, from such elements of music Sinister Circus, Cabaret Macabre, Chamber Pop, Organic Goth, Celtic/Gypsy Punk, Mutant Americana, Ghost Town Country It is the music our grandparents or great-grandparents would have listened to, if they were as off-set as we are.”

“A Sepiachord Passport” released under the Projekt Records imprint, is a compilation with a generous selection of 20 tracks by as many artistes, and is an excellent way to dip one’s toe into the Steampunk Music pool. It may be ordered from the Projekt website:

Coming late fall 2011, Steampunk is a two volume CD soundtrack for G. D. Falksen’s novel The Hellfire Chronicles: Blood In The Skies. This musical compilation represents the combined work of some of the top steampunk bands and musicians from across the world, who have come together to provide you with music to listen to while reading Blood In The Skies. The soundtrack also features an exclusive preview of the book, read by the author.

Disc 1

Disc 2

With great eSTEAM,

~Veronique Chevalier

http://weirdval.com/

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I like to joke that I write steampunk because I love the Victorian era but don’t have the attention to detail to write Victorian historicals.

Even though you get to create amazing worlds while writing steampunk, you still have to do your research.

I like to research what things were like so I know how and what to change in my story, in other words, you need to know what the rules are before you break them.   Wherever and  whenever you story takes place, researching the place and time it’s based on can help you form the backbone for your world and give you a springboard for your worldbuilding.  It can also help you create that 19th century aesthetic that gives steampunk it’s ambiance as well as find neat gadgets, scientific theories, and other things to incorporate into your story.

I did my research for INNOCENT DARKNESS as I wrote.  I did a lot of google searches that probably got me on government watch lists.  Googling victorian torture methods, as well as researching insane asylums and treatments for the various “illnesses” women were diagnosed with during that time was just plain scary.  However, I was able to base a lot of things in the reform school Noli is sent to on real things — real diagnosis, real treatments, and real punishments all served as a base for what I created (though I made stuff up, too, which is part of why I like steampunk).  A lot of what I created for the school ended up on the cutting room floor so we could get to the realm of faerie faster, but I think doing that research, and being able to ground my creations in reality really helped give it depth and reality.  One of the hardest scenes I wrote in ID is a punishment scene at the boarding school, based on an actual torture method and it makes me shiver to read it.

There’s more and more great resources available online, from maps of Victorian London to old photos of turn of the century Los Angeles.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

Victorian life, culture, and vocab
http://www.victorianweb.org/
http://www.victorianlondon.org/

American West

www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/events/

http://www.over-land.com/westpers2.html

http://theautry.org

Being a Victorian Teen

http://nineteenteen.blogspot.com/

 

Victorian Names

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

What are some of your favorite research sites?

 

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, Innocent Darkness, book one of The Aether Chronicles, releases August 2012 from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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Today we welcome writing team E.C. Belikov and Elias Anderson!

Elias Anderson’s writing experience ranges from staff writer and reporter for the Coastal View News (Carpinteria, CA) to food critic, freelance copy writer, and editor. He has published poetry, articles, essays, and short stories.  His most recent work includes the novel Blood&Gasoline, and the short story compilation 13 Tales Of Abject Human Misery, both of which are available at http://www.elias-anderson.com.  He currently resides in Denver, CO, with his wife and children.

E.C. Belikov is a former MMA fighter with a record of 3-1, and full-fledged geek/gamer, who has been writing in one form or another pretty much all his life. Previous pieces of fiction include a collection of short horror stories titled FERAL and most years of his tax return forms (joking, please don’t audit me…again). He hopes to have his first full-length novel—a cyberpunk/sci-fi offering—completed by the end of the year. You can learn more about him at ecbelikov.com

Together E.C. and Elias have written Look Homeward, Clockwork Angel.  It is the first in a series of Steam Punk novellas and stories chronicling the harrowing post-apocalyptic adventures of the crew of the airship Masamune and the lives they touch along the way. You can find it on Amazon, for the Nook, and at Smashwords.

From Tourist to Native: A Pair Of Authors’ Journey Into A Sepia-Colored World

by E.C. Belikov and Elias Anderson
 
This whole process started out slowly…it began in each of us discovering that the other was a writer.  We’d give each other stuff to read over and E.C. did an edit on one of Elias’s books.  Throughout all this we found similar tastes in not only books but movies and music, and though it wasn’t something either of us had ever really had an interest in, we started kicking around the idea of working on a project together. Mostly it would be as an experiment, with neither of us expecting much from it.   Meanwhile, and unbeknownst to E.C., Elias had a clear image of a scene in his head about a woman walking into an obviously Old West-style saloon and being served drinks by a robot, then having a confrontation with a man that had (for lack of a better phrase) a bionic arm. 
 
Then E.C. said, ‘Let’s write an Alternative Western’. Though it was mostly a throw-away remark (who knows what ‘Alternative Western’ even means?) Elias kept thinking on it, and thinking about that scene in the bar, and how maybe the woman had gotten there in a giant airship like the ones in the Final Fantasy games he used to play on the SNES.  He brought the idea of the scene to E.C., who really dug the concept.  It really clicked for Elias one day when looking through some of Bjorn Hurri’s Star Wars art…Steampunk! THAT was the entry point we’d been looking for without really knowing we’d been looking for it. 
 
Elias had been a fan of the genre and had long been toying with the idea of writing something within it, but hadn’t come up with anything.  He brought the idea to E.C. and the project was propelled forward almost immediately. We dove further and further into the world of cogs and corsets, researching like crazy, coming to websites like this one for genre specific tips, all the while writing the first draft of an untitled piece with no clear conception of what it would turn out to be.  We used Elias’s bar scene as a jumping off point, not knowing even then that it would eventually be the actual beginning of the story.
 
We did know, at least, that we wanted a character driven story, with a strong plot. We weren’t writing Steampunk just to write Steampunk. We wanted a story that melded with the setting, not a story about the setting. Had we set out to write a story about Steampunks, rather than a story about people in a Steampunk world, we would have most certainly failed, and deserved it.
 
Immersing ourselves in the setting and source material as we did brought rapid change. For a time, everything was about Steampunk; we showed each other photos, passages from other writers, shared tips that we’d received. We think there’s a good bet we annoyed the crap out of the people around us. Well, except E.C.’s girlfriend who caught the bug too, and is gearing up to put together a costume for the next Denver Comic Con. Just about everyone else though probably found us insufferable and wanted to slap us.
 
But that’s okay, we forgive them. They’ve yet to dream in sepia.
 
Though we’d both been fans of the genre, one of us a little more than the other, but largely it was an outside, casual thing,.  We both dug the idea of an alternate history making a much different present and the opportunity to change that into a much different future…plus everything just looked cool!  We don’t think that writing this story brings us fully into the community…anyone can say (with varying results) “Add goggles to the main character and steam-ify this scene by 60%!”. 
 
For us, the community itself brought us into the community.  We’ve both been around the Internet long enough to know that most niches, especially when your primary entry-point is based online, can be tough to really become a part of.  It was such a pleasant and welcome surprise to find the across-the-board encouragement and acceptance that we have. More than airships and retro-fitted anachronistic future-tech, we think THAT is what Steampunk is really about, and we’d like to take this time to thank all of you for it.

~E.C. Belikov and Elias Anderson

www.theclockworksaga.blogspot.com
www.elias-anderson.com
www.ecbelikov.com


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Winners! (finally)

I know, I know have some winners to announce.  Thank you for your patience.  Things have been a wee bit busy around here.

First, the signed copy of Those Who Went Remain There Still by Cherrie Priest goes to:

Cindy Holby

Next, we have the signed copy of Boneshaker by Cherrie Priest

 Sara Ann Denson

Finally, Enclave by Ann Aguirre

OctoberLace

 

Thanks again for making our contests a success.  Winners, please email me at suzannelazear(@) hotmail to claim your prize. 

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