Archive for October, 2013

Happy Halloween. Many of our Halloween traditions began with the Celtic New Year festival, Samhain, (Sow wen). This was a day without time as if fell between the old year and the new. On this day the veil between Earth and the Otherworld was at its thinnest.

In my Steampunk Romance, To Love A London Ghost, Samhain comes up a lot. The heroine, Cerridwen, is a ghost of a Celtic warrior woman, who died fighting Julius Caesar. She comes back to earth for Samhain.

Here’s a short excerpt from To Love A London Ghost:

What type of evil had come over the land…her Londinium? Phantasms were to be honored and revered on Samhain. Her descendants should have greeted and welcomed her with a platterof food from the feast. No one laid out food for the ancestors anymore. Where was Ceridwen’s plate of food? Where was Ceridwen’s honey oat cakes? It had been hundreds of years since she came for Samhain. She’d been in eternal rest for many years, a long nap, but she woke up and journeyed all the way from the Otherworld, to visit her descendants and feast with them, yet there was no feast.

Here’s another:

“Algernon doesn’t know as much as I do and he’s not quite dead, not yet.” Ceridwen focused her energy on Charlie’s rifle and it slid across the floor, far out of his reach. “Celtic spirits can take another body any time they wish.” She floated in front of Sexton.

“It’s the reason we rub ash on our faces at Samhain, to look like ghost so the spooks won’t steal our bodies.”

“I’m not sure I quite understand, my dear. You may have to explain again and go a little slower for me, because it sounded like you just said you can take over Algernon’s body.” Sexton carefully stuffed the pistols back in his pockets.

A lot of changes took place in England between the times when the Celtic tribes ruled and the era when Queen Victoria ruled. Samhain became christianized into All Saints Day, November 1, also known as All Hallow Day. People began using the term Halloween as a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”

In the later part of the 19th century, the Victorians began to make Halloween less about spooks and more about parties. As we know, the Victorians loved a good party. These events included a harvest theme, dancing, romantic divinations and parlor games.

Predicaments was a popular game. Players gathered in a circle and they each whispered a predicament to the person on their right. Then, they whispered a solution to the person on their left. That’s where the fun came in. Someone would start the game off, mentioning the predicament given to them. For example, Miss/Mr so-and-so, what would you do if you had blood on your collar after you dreamed of kissing a vampire? The person asked, uses the solution they were given. Which might be something like, I would eat a turnip. The solution and the predicament were unrelated, which made them funny. It would go on like that until everyone in the circle was questioned.

halloween postcards- click to go to site

Apple paring games were quite popular. In one, single women peeled an apple, trying not to break the strip. They’d toss the apple rind over their shoulder. The shape of the letter the peel resembled most was the beginning of the name of the man they’d marry.

The Ouija board was also a popular Victorian board game and perfect for Halloween.  Also, telling ghost stories was always a big hit. No one can discount the fun of sharing ghost stories. It was on a rainy evening when Mary Shelly and others guests of Lord Byron’s were reading German ghost stories to each other. Lord Byron challenged everyone at the party to write their own ghostly tale. Shortly afterwards, Mary Shelly came up with the idea for Frankenstein.

Here from Steampunk Ghostly Tales is Ghost Hunting Steampunk Style. Halloween in Skeleton Bog  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8W-aG8SDQ8

Contest: As a Halloween treat, I’ll send one winner a PDF eBook of my Steampunk ghost story, To Love A London Ghost. It has a traditional romance heat level of three flames. Please comment below and include your email so I can contact you if you win.

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Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 published books. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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In honor of the birthday of my character Noli Braddock, (which was October 25), I’d like to share this short story with you. I originally wrote it for the YA Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy. 

Happy Birthday Noli

An Aether Chronicles Story

© Suzanne Lazear 2013

This story takes place between INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE.

Steven Darrow woke before the sun. Today was Noli’s birthday—and he wanted it to be perfect. He dressed, grabbed her present, shoved the letter from Noli’s brother in his pocket, and went downstairs. Just as he’d asked, the milkman had delivered a few special things so he could make Noli breakfast.

Gabbing the basket, he darted out the back door, across his backyard, and through the loose board in the fence which separated their backyards. The fall air was chilly and he hadn’t brought a coat.

As always, the backdoor to her house was unlocked.

Quickly and quietly, he lit the stove and put the kettle on for tea. The kitchen was very dark and the Braddock’s didn’t use their gaslights, given the expense. Noli and her mother didn’t have much money since Mr. Braddock had disappeared, though they tried.

They were also very proud.

He looked around the sparse, but fairly tidy kitchen. One of Noli’s books and a wrench sat on the table, along with Mrs. Braddock’s sewing basket.


He took everything out of the baskets. This morning he was going to make all of Noli’s favorites–poached eggs and asparagus, fried potatoes, bacon, and tea. Later, he’d take her to the Otherworld and they’d have cake and presents with James and Charlotte.

Hopefully his brother had things handled on his part. It felt so strange that James wasn’t here in Los Angeles. Steven understood why he’d chosen to stay in the Otherworld with Charlotte, but that didn’t mean he missed him any less.

It also meant more of their father’s disapproval was focused on Steven. Between everything that had happened in the Otherworld and the fact he and Noli were courting, there was a lot of disapproval. Noli might not be mortal anymore, but his father still didn’t think she was fit for a prince.

Today, none of it mattered.

He frowned at the ingredients. How exactly did one poach an egg…or cook bacon? Steven didn’t know how to make anything more than tea and toast. Someone had always done the cooking for him.

It couldn’t be that hard. Poaching eggs involved water, right?

Trying to be quiet, he filled a pan with water, cracked two eggs, and let it boil. Then, he put some bacon on to fry. Yes, this would be easy.

The kettle whistled and he made tea and set the table, clearing off the wrench and other such things. What he’d really like to do was bring her breakfast in bed—but her mother might object.

Steven stood back and admired his handiwork. Her present sat at her seat. He should have brought roses for the table, since those were Noli’s favorite. Perhaps he could cut some from her backyard? A few were still blooming.

Yes, he’d do that. He ducked outside and cut a few roses. The smell of something burning caught his attention as he returned inside. The bacon!

Steven ran to the stove, flowers dropping to the floor. The eggs were boiling over—they also looked…well…not pretty.  The bacon was also burning. He reached out and grabbed the handle of the pan. Pain seared his hand and the pan dropped to the ground, grease and bacon flying everywhere.

Flying figs. He turned the burners off and ran his hand under cold water in the sink.

The bacon was ruined, so were the eggs. He hadn’t even gotten to the potatoes or the asparagus. There were a couple more eggs—and some more bacon.

But what if he ruined that as well?

There were footsteps on the back stairs. “Mama, is everything all right?”

Noli. Steven froze.

She came down, in only her nightdress. When she saw him, she froze, her steel eyes going wide. “V. What are you doing?”


Embarrassment consumed him. “I was trying to make you breakfast, but all I haven’t ruined so far is the tea.”

Who would have thought cooking could be so difficult?

“Oh.” Her gaze flickered from the tea on the table to the roses and bacon on the floor.

His stomach knotted. The sun was barely up and already he’d ruined her birthday.

“Would you like some help?” Her smile lit up her face.

Steven drooped. “It’s your birthday; it wouldn’t be fair to ask you to cook.”

Noli laughed, making the entire room come alive. “I’d say it was fair—you brought the food, I cook it. I’ll dress, you clean up.”

Without another word, she ran back up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

This wasn’t precisely what he’d hoped for, but he put the roses in a vase and set them on the table, then cleaned up the floor. Already the pain in his hand was lessening. Maybe everything would be all right after all.

Noli came back down, dressed for school in a blue skirt and a white blouse with a blue ascot. She dumped her schoolbooks on the table he’d just cleared, and tied an apron around her waist. Her chestnut hair was in a braid.

“Now, what are we making? I don’t suppose there’s more bacon?” she asked, hope on her face. Noli loved bacon.

“A little. I’m sorry I ruined it. I think I ruined the eggs, too.”

“There’s still more.” Noli kissed him. “I think it’s sweet that you even tried to cook.”

His heart sped with that kiss. “I just wanted to give you a nice birthday.”

“It’s already nice. You’re here. Here, let me show you how to poach an egg, just in case you ever need to know. But first, you should wear an apron.”

Steven let Noli tie a pink apron on him and watched as she showed him how to fry bacon and potatoes, cook asparagus, and poach an egg.

“What a feast. I really appreciate it.” She leaned in and gave him a lingering kiss.

The backdoor flew open and they jumped apart.

“Oh my, what do we have here?” Mrs. Braddock stood there, already in a blue work dress.

Unlike his father, Mrs. Braddock approved of them courting, but he still couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty being caught kissing in the kitchen.

His eyes fell to the market basket on her arm. Mrs. Braddock must have had the same idea he had. Hopefully he hadn’t ruined everything.

“I taught V how to make breakfast,” Noli told her, chest puffing up slightly with pride.

Mrs. Braddock’s eyes lingered on his pink apron and she put a hand to her lips, blue eyes shining. “I see. How lovely of you to bring Noli’s favorites.”

“I didn’t ruin anything, did I, Mrs. Braddock?” he stammered. “There’s enough for everyone.”

There he went, messing things up again. Often he felt like he couldn’t do anything right.

“Of course not.” She smiled, putting him at ease. “Unless you think you won’t have enough room for these delicious pastries.” Mrs. Braddock held up the basket. “They’re still warm.”

“Oh, Mama.” Noli gave her mother a hug. “Let’s eat everything!”

His stomach rumbled in agreement.

The three of them sat down to breakfast and sang to her.

He handed her his gift, which he’d wrapped himself.

“Hmmm, let me guess, it’s a book?” She tore open the paper.

“Yes, but which one?” he teased. They both loved to read—and talk about books.

Her mouth formed an “o” of surprise. “Nicomachean Ethics you silly old bodger, if anything I should buy you a copy.”

The copy he’d lent her had been ruined.

“I…I wanted you to have it.” It was one of his favorites. Perhaps he should have bought her another Dickens novel instead. There must be one she didn’t have yet.

“I love it.” She leaned in as if to kiss him, remembered her mother was there, and pulled back. But her eyes still glimmered and he relaxed a little.

It seemed that Noli liked the present—and breakfast. Good.

“Noli, let me get your present.” Mrs. Braddock went upstairs.

“I’m guessing it’s a dress.” Noli shoved a piece of bacon in her mouth.

“It probably will be,” he replied. Her mother was a very skilled dressmaker. “Oh, I have a birthday letter for you from Jeff.” Steven fished the letter out of his pocket. Her brother was an air pirate and she hadn’t seen him in ages, but they wrote back and forth.

Noli tore open the letter and bills floated out. “That’s quite the present.” Her eyes lit up. “I need a part for the steam-powered sewing machine—and there’s a book I’d like to buy.” She tucked the money in the pocket of her skirt and read the letter.

There were footsteps on the stairs and she tucked the letter away.

“Happy Birthday, Noli.” Mrs. Braddock presented Noli with a blue dress.

“It’s wonderful, Mama.” Noli gave her a hug and the three of them finished breakfast.

Afterward, Mrs. Braddock left for her dress shop.

Noli gave him and expectant look as they cleaned up the kitchen. “We’re not actually going to school today, are we?”

Steven laughed. “Not today. James and Charlotte are expecting us. Charlotte’s baking a cake. But you might want to hide your school books, so it looks like you went.”

“A day with you, Charlotte, and James instead of school? And cake, too? I can’t wait.” She grinned. Noli liked cake almost as much as she liked bacon. “This is the best birthday I’ve had in a long time.”

“I’m sorry I burned breakfast,” he apologized as he dried the dishes. “I wanted everything to be perfect.”

“There was still enough bacon for everyone,” she laughed.

His fingers grazed her jaw. Steven kissed her, long and sweet, glad they were alone.

They’d been friends for so long, and now they were more. Every day he thanked the Bight Lady for it, for her. Sure, not everything was perfect, but maybe they didn’t always have to be. One thing they had was time. Something he’d also learned not to take for granted.

“Happy Birthday, Noli.” He tangled his hand in her hair.

She gazed into his eyes. “Birthdays don’t need be perfect, as long as I have those I love. Now, let’s go eat some cake.”



Suzanne Lazear is  the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now, FRAGILE DESTINY releases in 2014. Find out more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com 

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GoS_WebBetween now and October 31st I’m giving away several Kindle copies of my works, including the new Avalon Revamped, the eclectic collection Caught in the Cogs, and the teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer. The last is in preparation of The Ghosts of Southwark (its sequel) release on November 1st.

A few of these giveaways have already come and gone. Those who “like” my FB Fan Page were the only ones in the know, so go “like” that page now. You wouldn’t want to miss out on future freebies!

For the others, stay tuned to my Amazon Author Page to see what’s free when between now and Halloween. You’ll get hints as to when the next free book is available on my FB Fan Page.

Additionally, I’ve put up several new, never-before-seen short stories on the Kindle, all for under $2. Steampunk readers will especially be interested in “The Clockwork Heart,” written in the style of H. G. Wells. Here’s what one reader says about it.

This author has captured the feel of a period piece and still engaged the reader in the manner of a modern piece of fiction. Very engaging, her writing casually sneaks in and demands your attention. I enjoyed this story thoroughly.

Here’s a list of all the short stories recently listed on Kindle:

“The Clockwork Heart” – Written in the style of H. G. Wells, this Gothic Steampunk story will make your heart bleed and your skin crawl. $1.49 (FREE with PRIME, as are the rest below)

Inevitable Enlightenment.” Trace the existential thoughts of a zombie after the apocalypse. $0.99

Come to Me.” Jason’s boring Monday turns into one full of adventure and horror when his mother’s strange affliction takes him and his sister around the world. Based in Scottish Mythology. $0.99

The Handy Man.” After losing his hand in a work accident, Linus Cosgriff adapts a new invention to please women and relieve them from symptoms of hysteria. Adult Content. $1.99

Heart of Stone, Flesh of Ice.” Several men mysteriously disappear after a night of passion during a ski vacation. Based in Japanese Mythology. $1.99

Hannah & Gabriel.” Dark Fantasy Steampunk retelling of Hansel & Gretel. $1.99 (This story is also available along with 11 others, poetry, and articles in the collection Caught in the Cogs: An Eclectic Collection for only $2.99.)


OMG_2013Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited and its sequel Avalon Revamped. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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Writing a series is a lot of fun, but the task isn’t without its pitfalls. The most obvious is continuity. After half a dozen books, it can be hard to keep track of every character and remember exactly what they look like, how old they are, and what they like for breakfast. Good record keeping can help that, of course, but even then–how much detail do you write in a series bible? Especially about characters who initially seem relatively minor, like servants or a friend of a friend?

Furthermore, the thing about records is you have to remember to USE them. In the Gaslight Chronicles, I didn’t think I needed to check up on the coloring of Wink, one of my major characters (heroine of book 4) because I’ve always had a very clear view of her in my mind. However when I was preparing to write her story, Moonlight & Mechanicals, I read through two previous books, where she was a secondary character and found, to my chagrin, that her eyes had changed from brown in book 1 to green in book 3. Both were compatible with her darkish copper curls, so I solved the problem by giving her changeable hazel eyes, that shift tone depending on clothing. It seems to have worked–at least I haven’t had any readers or reviewers call me on it yet.

Another problem that can crop up is that as the series continues, each protagonist has to remain unique. This is also something I’ve struggled with. Having just turned in book 7 last week, I’m starting to see personality types duplicate. It was particularly awkward with book 7, because the heroine was Melody, who is Wink’s best friend, fellow adventurer and fellow engineer.  It took a fair bit of work to give Melody her own quirks, but when I really pondered it, she’s not the same person. Wink is the oldest of the Hadrian brood, Melody is the youngest MacKay. Wink lived on the street for many years, Melody has always been wealthy and loved by a large extended family. So of course those differences in background would be reflected in their personalities, even though their temperaments and careers are a lot alike. Melody’s story, which is scheduled for March, 2014, will show you a young woman who loves designing and building airships, but has a weakness for pretty gowns and sensational novels.

The trick with heroes is that even in a series, they all have to be, well, heroic. Brave. Strong. Handsome(ish), Loyal, dependable, and smart. So keeping them from being generic is a tough trick. It’s a skill I’m certainly still honing, and I’m really grateful to have an editor who will say, “He sounds an awful lot like… Make him different.” You can thank her for Connor’s playfulness, Liam’s troubled past, and one of my favorites, Sebastian, from the upcoming Ashes & Alchemy (Jan 6, 2014), whose quiet strength was a challenge to write, but well worth the effort.

Lastly, I’m going to mention time. There are series of books I remember from my childhood, where the characters never age, even though they have adventure after adventure. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys come to mind. That always bugged me. I do keep very detailed charts of when characters were born, so I know how old they are in a certain book.

In steampunk, or any alternate history, you particularly have to keep track of not only how the characters change and grow with time, but how the world around them changes, both with respect to the actual history of the time period, and to the ways in which your fictional technology will grow and change, and change society. In the first Gaslight books, the splitting point from the real world is about ten years back. Because computers were invented in the 1840s, by 1851, there are wonders the Victorians didn’t really have. By the third book, in 1859, there are more things, like telephones and even a budding LAN network, but there is also a smog problem in London so dire that everyone walks around in gas masks. (Don’t worry–Wink is working on air scrubbers!) 🙂

I don’t think the Gaslight Chronicles will run forever. But if they do, even I don’t know for sure what’s in store down the road. I do know 2 things: 1) they will never become so powerful as to overwhelm their world. Someone will rise up to put them back in their place among the rest of humanity.  and 2) Their world will be ever-changing. Just like a real one. 🙂

What do you think? Do you like series that take place in a short span of time or over years? And how long is too long? When’s it time to pack things in and create a whole new reality?

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Gail Carriger at Lone Star Worldcon 2013

Gail Carriger at Lone Star Worldcon 2013

About a month ago, at /LoneStar/WorldCon in San Antonio, I attended the “I Married A Werewolf” panel on Paranormal/Romance. The panel was made up of authors: Darlene Marshall, Carrie Vaughn, Charlaine Harris,  and also two authors with Steampunk credentials, Gail Carriger, well known author of the The Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School series, and Jean Johnson, who in addition to her paranormal and sci-fi books wrote, Steam, a Steampunk short story in the The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance.

The label of paranormal romance came up and Gail Carriger mentioned that Orbit struggled with how to label her first book, Soulless. The label on the spine read – Fantasy/Horror.  Jean Johnson said, “I considered my book The Sword to be a Fantasy/Romance, but I don’t deal with labels, that’s the marketing department. The publisher labeled The Sword as a Paranormal/Romance.”

Gail Carriger explained that she played with actual genres in Victorian literature in her five books in the Parasol Protectorate series. The first was based on Gothic Romance, the second on Gothic Cozy, the third on an American Boy’s Adventure, the 4th on a Sherlock Holmes Cozy, and the fifth is in a Travel Journal style.

In another LoneStar/WorldCon panel I attended, Gail Carriger spoke about world building. Along with Gail Carriger — Bryan T. Schmidt, Amanda Downum, and Robin Hobbs made up the “Intricate Worlds Panel”. The first question the panel addressed was what are some of your world building pet peeves?

Bruan T Schmidt’s answered, “Things that get overlooked.”

Amanda Downum’s said, “A static world or a world that hasn’t evolved. Where things have always been this way. For example, they have always used swords and horse drawn carts and nothing will change.”

Robin Hobbs said, “Cities that have no reason for being there. Cities that are hard to get to, so the characters have difficult challenges in reaching them but there doesn’t seem to be any other reason for the location of the city.”

Gail Carriger mentioned her pet peeve was not making use of objects representative of the characters’ culture. “Don’t discount objects your characters own or have with them as they can be very telling to the readers about those characters.”

Steampunk at World Con 2013

Steampunk at World Con 2013

Ms. Carriger also gave advice for research and world building: “Call your local university. They are one of those untapped resources. Also, one of the secrets of world building is to piggy back on a culture that is little known or pick and choose and meld two cultures that never did blend in actual history.” She further advised, “You are the god or goddess of your own universe – you just have to explain the rules of your universe properly. You’re drawing up your own laws for this universe, so you can’t break those.”

The panels at LoneStar, WorldCon in San Antonio were great, full of interesting information and advice for my writing. Feel free to comment below with your own world building pet peeves or world building advice.

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Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 published books. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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uniforms Lolita Cindy here, phoning this one in. I’ve got a hard deadline in two days and on the third, I’m headed off to Pandoracon to participate as a panelist on the writers’ track. So wish me luck!

On another note, the spouse and I have officially joined the ranks of the HMS, RAF Defiance, based out of Royal Oak Michigan. I’m joining the crew as resident naturalist, and the tall, dapper gent with me is Rear Admiral Pape, currently aboard on part of a hush-hush diplomatic mission. The real story is, since his jacket came with that insignia, he had to come up with a story to match it, so he didn’t usurp the authority of Captain Sir Benjamin Despard, who so kindly welcomed us aboard.

Creating uniforms from scratch was a fun, long-term project for us. We assembled them piece by piece, either from thrift shops or clearance sales. Here’s the break-down.

Mine: skirt (split riding skirt) clearance from Recollections. (That they happened to have one clearance piece, my size, even in short, still amazes me.) This formed the basis for my uniform. Jacket was from Torrid, also clearance mail order. Corset, underneath, is my old Corset-Story basic black. White blouse underneath, straight out of my closet, black tie filched from one of the offspring. My standard steampunk boots are vintage Salvation Army My hat was $8 at an Army surplus store, and I picked up the hatpin there too. It’s a French parachuting insignia. The ribboned medals I’m wearing are from Spectra Nova and others are from random thrift finds. Total cost of uniform, roughly $100, over the course of 6 months or so, and most of the parts can be worn separately, the coat even in real life.

The hubby is wearing a vintage Detroit Fire Chief’s coat, found at the local antique mall for about #30. His US Navy pants, $7 or so at a thrift shop. Medals again are random thrift bits, and his Royal Canadian Mounted Police hat was all of $20. White shirt, black tie, black boots, straight out of his closet. The goggles were bought so long ago, I don’t remember where or how much. Total cost, maybe $70.

We’ll be rocking these as representatives of the Defiance at Pandoracon. I hope this post sparks an idea or two for anyone who’s been hesitant about costuming. Get creative. Thrift shops are your friends!

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Today we welcome author Ciar Cullen, as we celebrate the release of Lillian Holmes & the Leaping Man.


A Most Unusual Woman

by Ciar Cullen

My heroine, Lillian Holmes, was 24 in 1899. Certainly there were worse times to be a woman, and worse circumstances to being an heiress. It was a time of significant change for women, as some of means were going to college, becoming physicians, leading more independent lives. Still, the Victorian claws didn’t unclench easily. One magazine, The Ladies’ World, advised how easily it was for a woman to appear vulgar. Shaking hands with men, unless as a hostess at a party, was verboten. A woman’s voice was not to be high-pitched or shrill, her jewelry was to be modest, and she was not to dress above her means.

This would have been an issue for my Lillian, who liked to dress in boys’ clothing as she rode her steam-powered bike around the city late at night. Fashion was not her friend. She couldn’t care less about it, and would have liked nothing more than to ignore it completely, but her friend Bess and her ladies’ maid Aileen would have her take more care. What time did she have for dances and gowns when there were crimes to be solved? What did she care if men found her attractive? They were insipid fools, after her money. Well, except for one, one dark handsome man who mystified her.

Indeed, it seemed most advertisements aimed towards women in 1899 were for corsets, for creating that shape that is considered practically anathema these days. We want to be straight and thin, and keep a multi-billion dollar diet industry alive. But no, in 1899, it was all about the hourglass. Whether rust-proof or complete with hose-supporters, the corset was the essential bit of dress.


Lillian Holmes refused to be so constricted, as she did in many aspects of her life, much to the horror of her dear friend, Bess. Case in point:

Bess adjusted Lillian’s feathered hat and linked her arm through hers. “Isn’t this better than reading a pamphlet on soils or mollusks or the history of the Hindus? Why must you always wear deep blue? You look as if you’re in mourning. How lovely you’d look in white. I know, quite impractical. You’re so beautiful, Lillian. Why must you ignore your appearance? Now your hat has gone quite floppy again.”

“I’ve gone quite floppy in this heat. At least I didn’t wear a corset. You must be ready to faint. Although I must say you look rather pretty in all that pink, like a small party cake from Eisner’s bakery.”

“No corset?” Bess’s blonde curls bobbed as she shook her head in frustration. “Didn’t Aileen dress you tonight? What am I to do with you?”


Read an Excerpt of Lillian Holmes & the Leaping Man

Purchase it at Boroughs Publishing Group & Amazon

About Lillian Holmes & the Leaping Man

LillianHolmes_COVERAt the cusp of the twentieth century, an heiress turned detective enters a world of deception and danger and must learn to trust her nemesis with both her life and her love.

Tormented by a tragic past, Miss Lillian Holmes nonetheless found the strength to go on, to become the greatest female detective of her time. To make her uncle proud. Except…he was not truly her uncle. Sherlock was a fictional character, and Lil was less a true detective than a sheltered twenty-six year old heiress with taste for mystery…and  morphine. But then she saw him. Leaping from her neighbor’s second-story window, a beautiful stranger. With the recent murders plaguing Baltimore, here was a chance to  reveal the truth.

Except, the Leaping Man was far more than he seemed. A wanton creature of darkness, an entry point to a realm of deception and evil, and to a Truth she had waited countless years to uncover, he would threaten far more than Lillian’s life. He would take both her heart and soul. And she would rejoice in it.

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I recently attended WorldCon, in San Antonio, where the Steampunk: The Present and The  Future panel of Judith Shields, Elektra Hammond, Phil Foglio, and Takayuki Tatsumi, spoke about the growing presence of Steampunk in literature, the cinema and television.

Steampunk at World Con 2013

Steampunk at World Con 2013

Elektra Hammond  remarked that Steampunk is for those who like to read Steampunk ficiton, including the variety of cross-genres such as Steampunk/Romance, Steampunk/Zombies and Steampunk/Web Comics. It’s also for people who don’t like to read but do like to dress up. It also interest people who like to make things. There is something for everyone in Steampunk and no one is doing it wrong. It was mentioned that as Steampunk grows in popularity everyone hopes the acceptance and openess of steampunk remains.

The panel and audience also mentioned that individualism and optimism fueled the Victorian era and that kept going until the war hit. Then instead of making things one at a time and ornate, they needed a lot at one time and cheap. So steampunk brings us back to the individualism and optimism prevalent before the first world war.

Regarding Japanese Steampunk, Takayuki Tatsumi asked the audience how many were familiar with the Japanese Steampunk anime, Steamboy. Several hand went up. He commented, “though it’s not that new, it’s a strongly popular Steampunk animae.” 

A bit of Japaneses Steampunk at the Mad Hatter Tea Party

As for the hottest new things in Steampunk, a new genre, Zombie/Steampunk Westerns were brought up. Dead Reckoning, a Young Adult book by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemay Edghill was recommended. Everyone loves Mercedes Lackey but also Rosemary Edghill has always been one of my top favorite authors. Her book, Met By Moonlight,  is one of my favorite romance novels of all time.

Here is the blurb for Dead Reckoning:

Jett is a girl disguised as a boy, living as a gambler in the old West as she searches for her long-lost brother. Honoria Gibbons is a smart, self-sufficient young woman who also happens to be a fabulous inventor. Both young women travel the prairie alone – until they are brought together by a zombie invasion! As Jett and Honoria investigate, they soon learn that these zombies aren’t rising from the dead of their own accord … but who would want an undead army? And why?

As far as the latest in costuming and ideas, Judith Shields recommended Brass Goggles for the UN and Steampunk Empire for the US to get great information about what other Steampunkers are creating as far as costumes.

While the panel members asked the audience if they had heard of what the next big thing in Steampunk would be – they mentioned things I’d recently blogged about on Steamed: Jim Butchers’ Steampunk series he’s working on,  Westernpunk, and the Frankenstein’s Monster movie. So if seems, if you want to keep up with Steampunk, Steamed is the place to be.

And as far as the latest in books, dear readers keep in mind, Thursday is guest author day – where many authors tell us about their new and upcoming releases.

Please comment below of what you think of or have heard of as being the next big thing in Steampunk.

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Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 18 published romances. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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