Archive for October, 2011

Today is the last day you can participate in the YA Trick or Treat Party (I’m giving away buttons.)

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.  If you’re writing Steampunk come join us at the Writing Steampunk yahoo group,  make sure you say you learned about us on Steamed.

Artist Brigid Ashwood makes beautiful art–I’ve been drooling over her designs for years.  She is part of a brand new company called Secret Scents, which makes beautiful lockets filled with beeswax-based solid perfume.  They have a wide variety of designs including Steampunk (love the butterfly), Vintage Romance, and Victorian ones designed by Brigid Ashwood, Lisa Steinke, and Ash Evans.  There are many, many scents to choose from  provided by Mystic Memories Artisan Perfumes.

I have the butterfly teacup one from the Victorian collection (in sepia, they also have it in color).  As pretty as it is in the picture, it surpassed my expectations when I actually held it in my hands.  It’s beautiful, not too heavy or too big, nice quality, and the tea linen scent is nice and light when I wear it (I prefer very light, fresh scents.)  The beeswax perfume isn’t greasy and it’s not overpowering to wear a locket full of it around my neck.

You can also mix and match and customize your locket by choosing if you want our locket brass or silver,  what scent you want it in ( or no scent at all), you can even have a custom picture (which might make for a nice holiday gift.)

There are other collections, including so cute it burns with pictures of whimsical little creatures and butterfly wisdom.  All the designs are just so pretty (or cute) and would be great for your fave Steampunk outfit, going out, or a special gift.

As a special trick-or-treat Halloween surprise, one of you will win one of your very own and will have your choice of any of the regular lockets from their collection.  All you have to do is tell me which one you’d wear and where you’d wear it in the comment box!

Contest closes Sunday November 6, 2011 ay 11:59 PM PST.  Winner chosen at random. Contest open to those in the U.S. only.  




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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Michael Rigg lives with his wife and children in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. He’s a social media writer and blognovelist, and self-described nerd. His Steampunk blognovel, Heart of Bronze, can be found at heartofbronze.wordpress.com. He also writes a regular column about roleplaying for the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic video game called “The RP XP with MJ” which can be found at swtor-life.com. If you’d like to learn more about the author or his work, as well as plans for an e-book and audio version of Heart of Bronze coming in 2012, you can email him directly at BronzeNovel@gmail.com. You can follow him @MichaelJRigg on Twitter, or check out his links at MichaelRigg.com.

Do you feel steamy, punk?

A blognovelist’s foray into the world of Steampunk

by Michael J. Rigg

I’ll admit it. The first time I’d heard the word “Steampunk,” I turned my nose up at it. I had heard of “Cyberpunk,” and I grew up in an age of “Punk Rock,” but steam?

Then I saw glimpses of it. Huge bronze engines, airships bristling with guns, bizarre pistols brandished by roguish men in top hats and brass goggles, beautiful women in corsets and bustles brandishing attitude, biplanes, steam-powered monstrosities, strange and mysterious glimpses of a reality that seemed all too real but not quite right, and I was intrigued enough to allow a seed to plant in the back of my mind.

Good thing. I would need it.

I am a writer and DIY author. My work is all free, mostly rough (because I’m more storyteller/writer than writer/editor), and available to anyone who doesn’t mind reading a novel on a computer screen. I  published poetry and short stories way back in my meager beginnings, but the long form had always appealed to me. If I was going to be a writer, I would write novels.

I studied filmmaking and philosophy in college, but it was one professor who pointed out to me that novelists don’t need to hire actors, build sets or pay caterers that steered me toward writing to tell my stories; truly “Do-It-Yourself Filmmaking on the Cheap.”

After several failed attempts and publishing a novel (I had no problems writing them. I wrote in just under three months, another during a mad dash through “NaNoWriMo”), I gave up. I had written a horror story, a science fiction novel, a fantasy set in an age of dragons and heroes, and I had received kudos and accolades from peers and even publishers. “Your manuscript passed our first round of reviewers and has moved on to our editorial board,” came from St. Martin’s Press on a first submission. Holy cow!

But I’m lazy when it comes to publishing persistence. The average number of submissions to get a hook from a publisher used to be 20-25. I’m sure it’s much higher in today’s economy. I didn’t have that kind of money for postage. And I couldn’t find an agent. This was decades ago, folks. We old-timers didn’t have no newfangled Internet Thingy.

Then I realized I didn’t want to be “published” per se. I just wanted someone to enjoy my stories. It had nothing to do with fame, fortune, or being an author. I was a story teller. If just ONE person read my work and it made their day, it would make my day. It would all be worth it.

In 2007 I “published” my first “blognovel experiment.” I started a blog, but—instead of entries about the funny things my dog does—I wrote chapters. I didn’t have an outline or even characters in mind. It was an organic experiment to see what would happen if I just started writing from a premise. It began with this thought: What if a serial killer, on the run, ducked into a fortune teller’s home at the precise moment the fortune teller realized she really could predict the future? Ninety thousand words later: August Winter.

Two years later I took another stab at it. An Angel For Sara Dawn began with a premise and an idea. I followed that up with an outline and some character bios, but I had no idea how it would end. The characters would decide that as the story progressed. The few readers I had collected for August doubled by the time I started Sara. What next?

For my third blognovel, I went back to an old favorite manuscript. I started to re-write a finished book as a blognovel, but stopped dead only five chapters in. Again, I gave up (Yeah, its’ a theme with me).

Something wasn’t clicking. I had written about angels and demons, aliens and mysterious government projects—all topics I loved—but the settings all seemed weak to me, stale.

That’s when my mind wandered to an alternate reality where airships and Victorian lifestyles reigned, where polite English butlers waxed their mustaches and ladies wore tiny hats with veils (and Derringers in their garters), where Nikola Tesla’s visions provided the fuel for a world. What was that called?


Heart of Bronze began the same way as August Winter. I had an opening scene in mind, as well as a few others that would come later in the story, and a conclusion. All I had to do was let the characters connect the dots for me.

As of the publishing of this article, I’m a little more than half way through the story, with a new chapter publishing each Wednesday. Heart of Bronze, forgive the pun, has picked up steam as well as readers. Nearly four times as many people are following Heart than followed August and Sara combined, and I’m dedicated to putting it out as a free e-book and podcast book next year.

What makes the journey fun and interesting is the interactivity with my readers. Three of the main characters were named and designed by readers. Several other items, places or vehicles were named by readers. The book cover and web site banner were created by readers. One reader has even stepped up to create a Wiki for the book. And, as we near the climactic crescendo, I’ll be asking readers to decide which of the story’s two villains will die, and which will live on in book two.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Steampunk. In fact, I’m still a Steampunk virgin. I don’t classify Heart of Bronze purely as a Steampunk novel. I call it my Steampunk-Sci-Fi-Romantic-Thriller-Alternate History-Fantasy because it has elements of all (or most) of the above, though several of my most vocal fans lean toward “Steampunk Romance” and call it a day. Who am I to argue with my readers?

I think I can safely say I’ve come home. I’m learning a lot about this booming genre and can’t wait to create more stories and characters in the clockwork world of brass and steam. Heart of Bronze is a love affair for me. It has given me a playground to call my own, a world frozen in time and reality where anything can happen.

And does.

–Michael J. Rigg


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Halloween is starting early. I’m part of a Halloween trick or treat even were you visit author websites, look for the trick or treat bag and get great prizes.

I’ve crossed over to the dark side and finally gotten a facebook author page.  This and my newsletter is where you’ll find out about all the Innocent Darkness book news, etc, as we get closer to release day.

So, who’s writing Steampunk for NaNoWriMo?

I am.  I’ll be writing the sequel to Innocent Darkness during NaNo, since ID was my 2009 NaNo book. Yeah.  We’ll see how that goes.

I’ll also be teaching Writing Steampunk from Aether to Zeppelin online in November.  This can be a great resource if you’re attempting to write Steampunk for the first time during NaNo, since not only will you have a writing community to support you, but you can ask all your manuscript-related questions as you write.

I also run the Writing Steampunk Yahoo Group.  Writers of Steampunk of all levels are welcome.  Make sure you tell me you found out about it on Steamed.  We will be cheering each other on for NaNo.

Also, we’ve made a list of some of our favorite Writing Steampunk posts here at Steamed.

To all of you starting NaNoWriMo next week, regardless of whether you’re writing steampunk or something else, playing by the rules, or using it as a swift kick to finish a project, all of us at Steamed wish you the best of luck.


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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What might have been had events and technology happened a little differently? If we’d kept on as a steam-powered society instead of becoming an oil-based one?

Steampunk: History Beyond Imagination! at the Muzeo in Anaheim, CA, explores exactly that. Visitors are drawn into an era where science and industry combined in new and fascinating ways to launch mankind into a future where ordinary human beings could do the impossible.

Interactive and informational displays help visitors explore the relationship between science fact and fiction in the Victorian era highlighting the work of pioneers such as Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace and Nikola Tesla alongside the visionary fiction of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The exhibit includes a collection of replicas and artifacts, including original props and concept art, vintage books and comics, and a selection of art, sculpture, jewelry, fashion, photography and inventions.

A public opening will take place on October 23 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with a ribbon cutting, Steampunk and Victorian characters, war game re-enactments, dance demonstrations, English tea and chocolate tastings, storytelling, crafts and more. The exhibit runs through January 8, 2012. The exhibit was created by Aeronaut Productions, LLC.

Admission to MUZEO is $13 for adults, $9 for children 12 and under, children 3 and under are free. Group and senior discounts are available. MUZEO is located in the heart of downtown Anaheim. For more information, directions, hours, and to purchase tickets online please go to www.muzeo.org, or call 714-956-8936.





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 author Alison DeLuca. 

Alison DeLuca is a writer of urban fantasy for young adults.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.   As a teacher she taught every grade level in every kind of school district possible.  She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.

The Creation of the Governess 

by Alison DeLuca

My steampunk Crown Phoenix series is set in Edwardian England. One of the main characters, Mana, comes from an island country and has dark skin. This would be no big deal today, but in Edwardian England it would have been an interesting social situation, to say the least. Mana is one of my favorite characters that I ever created, and I hesitated over handling her place in English society.

I wanted her to be a real person, who had intelligence, beauty, and humor. I also wanted her to exist in a realistic society, although one that was filled with steampunk elements. Therefore, Mana had to face a level of prejudice that was abhorrent to write but necessary for the story. She had to overcome what would have been a natural attitude, sadly, at the time. It was a very difficult type of mental gymnastics: I wanted to create a sympathetic character that was strong in her own right and yet have her confront social morés and keep her dignity within a long, complicated plot.

As she developed a personality and characteristics, she started to win other characters over in the story. Her first conquest was the difficult, neglected daughter of a rich man, Miriam, who had become almost feral in disposition. Next were some of the servants in the house where Miriam and Mana lived, a very difficult thing to accomplish.

In The Night Watchman Express, Mana was viewed from the point of view of Miriam, the child, and that was a huge help to me as a writer. Children are prone to love easily, and as Miriam began to truly accept and respect Mana, her governess, the true character of the woman from the islands emerged. The girl admired Mana’s patience, neatness, and the way the governess never raised her voice and yet got people (Miriam included) to do what she asked.

It was a very delicate nuance to develop. I thoroughly enjoyed creating Mana, and I hope that one day you will invite her into your imagination as well.

 ~Alison DeLuca

 Fresh Pot of Tea blog http://alisondeluca.blogspot.com/
On Amazon http://amzn.to/p13tCl

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I am so excited to share my big news with you.  My debut YA Steampunk Dark Fairytale, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book 1 of THE AETHER CHRONICLES has a cover!!!

I’m really happy with it, the team at Flux did an incredible job. 

The book comes out 8-8-12.  It’s not available for pre-order yet, but you can add it to your shelf on Goodreads.  If you want to hear the latest news, get sneak peaks, and enter contests you can sign up for my occasional non-spammy newsletter here

I’m also having a contest on my personal blog.  Come on over for a chance to win the necklace from the book (you know you want it). 

What do you think about the cover? 

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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My apologies for the radio silence.  I do have some epic news for you…but you’ll have to wait until Monday. 

Until then, here are the winners I owe you:

The winner of The Faerie Ring is:

Jessie Ball

The winner of the toy airship is:

Mina Gerhart


Today we welcome author Maureen O. Betita!

Rules? I Don’t Need No Stinking Rules!
by Maureen O. Betita

I love that about steampunk. I’ve been to several big steampunk conventions and one thing most everyone agrees on…we don’t want rules. We don’t want a definition; we don’t want to be hemmed in.

Yes, steampunk roams free across the plains of the ‘what if’. It almost seems, as a genre, it’s more about a feeling, an aesthetic, than a strict interpretation of anything. This is one of the reasons it’s one of my favorite new genre mutations. (I know it isn’t really new-new, just new to the greater world.)

Because, I, too, want to roam free. I’m one of those writers who didn’t know about the rules, or the concept of format. All those silly acronyms were like hieroglyphs to me. I just wrote. And if I crossed POV or head hopped or used too many adverbs or… Well, you get the picture. Obviously, at the rate I worked, I would never see anything published.

So, I learned some of the rules. The basic rules. About grammar and punctuation and POV and head hopping… I still tend to use run on sentences. (Notice?) But mainly for the effect of effective babble.

Yes, effective babble.

In many ways, this is one way to look at steampunk. Effective babble. It wanders and roams and plays with words and inventions that boggle the mind. Not the purely high-minded scifi inventions created by luminaries such as Arthur C. Clarke, penning the concept of satellites before the idea was more than a gleam in the eye of communications specialists all over the world. Or Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics.

Nope. Steampunk creates…oh…mechanical wings with gears, powered by steam. An earth mover that undermines an entire city, or a blend of mechanical and biological…hence an airship created from a whale. See? Effective babble!

Open any page of the Girl Genius comics and you’ll see inventions and innovations that defy every law of gravity, mechanics, physics…and yet…they aren’t magic! Which is one of those weirdly wonderful things about steampunk. Seldom is magic part of the mix.

And I say seldom because being the free roaming spirit it is…sometimes magic is part of things.

I love it!

For those of us who see ourselves as closet anarchists…steampunk is our wetdream.

When I began to create the world of The Kraken’s Caribbean, I wanted elements of steampunk, without the steam. I wanted magic and I wanted some technical toys. But mainly, I wanted pirates. So, no steam. But pirates. Hence, piratepunk was born. My personal name for the genre of The Kraken’s Caribbean.

The Kraken’s Mirror introduced a pirate haven of Tortuga, roundabouts 1690, where there were blenders at the bar and margaritas! My pirates do their work with an iPod strapped to their belts, heads bobbing to the music of the internet. A corner juggler may be using rubik’s cubes to amaze his audience. There’s ice to keep the drinks cold. And sanitation. Vampires act as the defense system for the island. Werewolves wander the forest and zombies gather in the swamp.

Oh, and time travelers stroll the streets while a matchmaking albino kraken stands guard over the entire world.

Yes, pirates inhabiting a world I could see steampunk would find interesting.

So, in the second volume, The Chameleon Goggles, I have Tortuga under attack from a very nasty steampunk world, intent of harvesting all that is profitable from the Kraken’s haven. Novan has come for its escaped citizen, but Captain Jezebel isn’t going easy and with the help of the chameleon goggles and a swashbuckling Mick March, Tortuga will force Novan to regret their actions! (coming October 20th!)

Bwah ha ha!

I have a third in the works involving a pirate circus…

Would I have felt so free to create this world without the example before of Gail Carriger? And Scott Westerfield? Cherie Priest? I don’t know. Maybe, but maybe not.

Steampunk. Piratepunk. Effective babble…what wonderful worlds!

Is there a favorite bit of fantastical babbling you’d like to see slip into the steampunk universe? Tell me about it (include your e-mail addy, please)  and I’ll set one of you up with an e-copy of The Kraken’s Mirror AND The Chameleon Goggles when it’s released!

Yup, I’m Maureen O. Betita and I write along the shores of the beauteous Monterey Bay in California. I walk my dog along the bluffs where I study the waves, watch the dolphin teach the surfers a thing or two and dream about pirates. When I’m not at pirate festivals, renaissance faires, scifi/fantasy conventions or steampunk gatherings…

Explore my worlds at
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Maureen-O-Betita-Author/155907664465540  
Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/maureenobetita
and www.romancewritersrevenge.com (Where I babble as 2nd Chance, the bartender of a ship full of writing pirates.)

Contest ends at 11:59 PM PST 10/19/11.

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First off, we have some winners to announce.

The winner of  The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer is:


The winner of War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is:

Rebecca RyalsRussell

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

Now, on to Book Monday.

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

(ARC Provided by Tor)

I have a huge soft spot for young adult faerie books, since I write about faeries.  I have an even larger soft spot for Victorian faerie stories.

This book didn’t disappoint me one bit.

Hamilton skillfully combines faerie lore with Victorian London weaving together an enchanting tale of magic, mystery, and mayhem.

Tiki is a teen-pickpocket living with her “family” of orphan thieves, including little Clara, who’s often sick.    When Tiki steals a ring from the palace she thinks first of Clara and how the ring could buy the medicine they need for the littlest and frailest member of their band.  Only the ring Tiki stole binds the treaty between the royal family and the fey.  Away from the safety of the palace, the ring–and Tiki–become a target.  If the ring is destroyed then the treaty is broken and the fey can do as they will, probably at the cost of mortal London.  In order to save the treaty–and humanity, she must figure out who to trust, which includes the handsome rascal Riecker and the young Prince Leopold.

This fast-paced action-packed story is full of twists and turns that had me glued to my chair.  I fell in love with Tiki from the very beginning.   She’s plucky, and resilient, and even though life hasn’t dealt her the best hand, she’s not bitter, rather, she rolls with the punches and does what she needs to do to survive–and protect her family.  I love how loyal she and the other orphans in their little band really take care of each other — even little Clara.

Hamilton’s version of Victorian London comes alive–complete with the grit, despair, and poverty all-too-common in that era.  However, thanks to Tiki and her resistance, even when the story gets dark, there’s always a glimmer of hope.  It’s also quite fun to journey through London with Tiki–from the streets of London to the palace and thanks to the brilliant descriptions you feel like you’re *right there*.

And Riecker.

Oh yes, there’s Riecker.

Again, I loved the way Hamilton seamlessly melded faerie lore–and even Gaelic–into her Victorian world.  Like in faerie lore, these faeries aren’t always nice, especially those of the dark court.  There’s something for everyone in this story–a little historical fiction, a little romance, a really good story, faeries, action, and mystery.  I highly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of either faeries or Victorian stories.

Since I love this story so much and am going to buy a final copy, I’m going to give away my ARC.  All you have to do is leave me a comment and tell me what sort of faerie (dark or bright) is your favorite.  Contest open internationally, ends October 9th, 2011, at 11:59 PM PST.

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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