Archive for December, 2013

I shake John Carney and then Christine Carney’s hands. “Happy New Year and welcome aboard Airship Steamed. Watch your step,” I call as I stretch my short legs in a leap across the wide gap between the dock and the airship. John and Christine, the owners of Thick and Thin Designs, follow me into the parlor.

I gesture towards the crimson settee, which features curvy lion head legs and claw feet. John and Christine take a seat there. I sink into the large armchair across from them. I raise my voice to speak over the clang and grind of the airship as we take off. “Cupcake toppers are wonderful and they take a cupcake to a whole other level. What drew you to the fascinating art and business of creating decorative acrylic cupcake toppers, jewelry and ornaments?”

Christine glances at the blue willow teacups, shaking and rattling on the tea table between us. “John’s an MFA student at the University of Maine and had been working as a tech in the new Innovation, Marketing, Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC) on campus and fell in love with the laser cutter. We knew that machine would allow us to produce what previously only existed in our wildest dreams. One night while I was cooking dinner, we envisioned a massive zombie horde placed upon dozens of cupcakes and the idea to produce unique, quirky cupcake toppers was born. We always knew that we wanted to be in business together and this was our opportunity.”

“How can you not love any business inspired by the vision of a zombie horde on cupcakes.” The dainty china cups cease rattling on the tea table as our airship glides smoothly pass the clouds. “Several of your Thick & Thin creations have a Steampunk appeal:  gears, mustaches, tentacles and hot air balloons. Do you have an interest in Steampunk?” I pick up the teapot and pour my guests a cup of Earl Grey.

John and Chrisitne pick up their teacups. “We love the Steampunk genre! We love the combination of beautiful clothing, dirty industrialization and the whimsical nature that threads through it all. Steampunk and those who love it are always an inspiration for us when we’re creating new designs because we know that there are great number of people out there who love it and not many products to support it.” Tendrils of steam rise from their teacups as they each take a sip.

I pour myself a cup of tea. “How do you get your inspiration for your creations?” Lifting and tilting my teacup to my lips, I take a long sip.

John reaches for the sugar bowl, picks up a white cube and plunks it into his tea. “We’ve always been fans of the obscure, geeky and cute so we often find inspiration in our hobbies. When we’re deciding what to put on our shop we think of things that we would want and can’t find anywhere else. We have a very diverse group of friends, sometimes thinking about what they might want can lead to innovative designs that we wouldn’t necessarily think of for ourselves. The tentacles for instance were created specifically for one of our Cthulhu loving friends who had just moved to the US from Spain. Obviously they had to be shared with the world, and now they are one of our top sellers.” He dips a silver teaspoon into his cup and swishes it gently from side to side.

Reaching for the dish on the table, I pinch a slice of lemon and inhale the invigorating citrus fragrance as I squeeze a few drops into my teacup. “Since this is Steamed, I have to ask do you like Steampunk fiction?  If so, what are some of your favorite Steampunk books or authors?”

iChrisitne leans back in the setee and takes another sip of tea. “I’m a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and have loved the His Dark Materials trilogy by Pullman since it was first published. I love science and enjoy Steampunk fiction especially because of its, often positive, view of mechanics and its favorable portrayal of women in the field. It’s inspiring to women young and old to not let anything stop you from doing what you love, especially public opinion.”

I bring my teacup to my lips. As the steam from the cup blows warm on my face I finish the last of my tea and set the cup down. “As a husband and wife team, do you both design the cupcake toppers? If so, are some of the designs collaborations?”

Christine sets her teacup on its saucer on the table as John  does the same. “All of our pieces are collaborations. We will bounce ideas back and forth off of one another during the initial phases of a design. I will often check for scientific accuracy while my husband checks to make sure the piece will be interpreted visually. After the first rendition is finished in Illustrator, we’ll print a few test prints off and discuss how we feel about the piece and whether it’s successful before putting it up on the store. When looking at our shop line-up any design that is animal related or cute can be attributed to me and anything mechanical or figurative can be attributed to John.”

Hearing rattling and clinking, I glance at the tea table, the cups and saucers are shaking.”I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for one final question. What is your favorite cake or cupcake topper?”

Christine grasps hold of the arm of the settee, bracing for the landing “My favorite toppers are the tentacles! They were a blast to design and always go over well at a party! John’s partial to the ninja toppers, it was one of his first designs. He’s always thought that they perfectly represent our style and aesthetic, while showcasing the fine detail we are capable of in our pieces.”

The airship steamed has  landed and John and Christine Carney must get started on making cupcake toppers for all the parties in 2014, but they left their left calling cards for us.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes 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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Holidays and Holly

Please enjoy tchristmas 002his special, never-before-seen Gaslight Chronicles holiday vignette, then below, tell me what your biggest wish is. One random commenter will receive a free download of the new story, Ashes & Alchemy, on the 12th day of Christmas, Jan. 6. A winner will be announced on Jan. 1.

Happy Christmas, everyone!


Holidays & Holly

© 2013, Cindy Spencer Pape

Christmas Eve, 1859, Hadrian Hall, Northumberland

“It’s our first Christmas without all of the children home.” Caroline Hadrian, Lady Northland said to her husband Merrick as they descended the stairs from the nursery to the master suite at Hadrian Hall. “It just doesn’t seem right.

“Our chicks are leaving the nest,” he said, drawing her down the corridor toward their bedroom. “It’s only natural, darling.”

“I know.” She laid her head against his shoulder and leaned into him, wrapping her arm around his waist. “But it’s going to be so strange, not seeing Tom or Wink’s faces around the tree tomorrow morning. The little ones were asking for them all day today.”

“The hazards of having a twenty-four-year age gap between eldest and youngest.” He toed open the bedchamber door, swung her inside and closed it with his foot. “I’m sure they’ll telephone.”

“Yes.” Caroline’s heart brightened a little. “And they’ve both sent big boxes of gifts for the babies. The nursery will be so full of toys there might not be room for the children.”

Merrick chuckled and swooped in to kiss her. Even after eight years of marriage, Caroline’s heart still pounded at his slightest touch. She leaned into him, returning his kiss, deftly unbuttoning his waistcoat. Yes, it was sad that their eldest two adopted children were unable to return for Christmas, but they still had seven, ages twenty-two to seven months, all asleep in their rooms. Although Caroline had had a difficult life in her own youth, the past eight years had brought unparalleled joy, all wrapped up with this man whom she loved more than she’d ever dreamed possible.

Later, exhausted and lying beside him, she ran her fingers through Merrick’s dark wavy hair, now streaked with strands of gray that only served to make him even handsomer in her eyes. The grandfather clock in the hall outside their room chimed midnight. “Happy Christmas, my love.”

He hugged her tight. “Happy Christmas. You’re still the best gift I’ve ever had.”


The next morning, Merrick woke when a weight slammed onto his chest. “Wake up, Papa. Saint Nicholas has been here.”

Merrick opened his eyes to see his five-year-old son Will bouncing on his rib cage. “Good morning, Will. Are you sure he came? You might not have earned any presents this year.” He tickled the boy’s ribs as he sat up. Sylvia, at seven the likely mastermind of the invasion was shaking Caroline’s shoulders, and three year old Rose sat on the foot of the bed with her thumb in her mouth.

“No,” said Jamie, eighteen and home from military academy for the holidays. The youngest of the adopted Hadrians, he stood beside his next-eldest sibling, Piers in the doorway. “There’s definitely a surprise in the parlor. I think someone must’ve been very good indeed.”

Twenty-two year old Nell giggled, bouncing baby Vivian in her arms. “Come on out in the hall, everyone, and let Mum & Papa get dressed. Then we can go down to see the presents.”

They filed out, shouting exhortations for speed. Merrick kissed his bride, then reluctantly climbed out of bed. “And to think I once believed I’d grow old alone. It certainly would have been quieter.”

Caroline laughed as she pulled on her dressing gown. “And you’d have been a miserable old bear. Now hurry up.” She was as much of a child on Christmas as the rest of them and didn’t care who knew it. Her enthusiastic spirit was just one of the things he loved about her.

Soon, the family tromped down the grand staircase, taking a moment to gaze at the big, ornately trimmed tree in the entrance hall. Then they moved on to the cozy family parlor, where a smaller tree waited, decorated with handmade ornaments. All around that corner of the room, piles of brightly wrapped gifts gleamed in the gaslight.

Jamie and Piers brought coffee for Merrick and chocolate for Caroline who nursed Vivian under a soft blanket, while Nell corralled the younger children into perching on a sofa with sweets.

“Before we open any of the packages, we have a special gift for Mum,” Jamie said. He leaned against the servants’ door. “It seems Saint Nicholas knew exactly what she wanted for Christmas.”

“A grandchild?” Merrick said with a laugh. Their eldest, Wink, had married this year.

Caroline snorted. “No, not until they’re ready.” Her vivid green eyes misted. “All I really wanted was to have them home for Christmas.”

Jamie opened the door with a flourish. Wink, her husband Liam McCullough, Scotland Yard superintendent and the Hadrian’s foster son Tom Devere, a Knight of the Round Table like Merrick, all burst into the room, hugging Caroline, Merrick, and the other children with equal glee. Even George, Wink’s bronze mechanical dog was there, wagging his metal tail.

“I just couldn’t stay away,” Wink explained to her mother. “Liam wrapped up a big case last night, and when he settled down to do the paperwork, Sebastian Brown intervened. He knew, you see, how much I wanted to come home. He took over Liam’s shift today, too, although we’ll have to be back in London by tomorrow.”

Merrick nodded. “Send Seb my thanks.” The grandson of a Knight of the Round Table, Brown was a good friend of the Order, and a bit help to Liam in Scotland Yard.

“We stopped by Liverpool to pick up Tom,” Liam added. “Since he’s undercover as a wastrel, he can afford to be missing for a day.”

Tom nodded. “It’s nice to be warm and dry, even if only for one night. And to see everyone again, of course.”

Caroline’s eyes were bright with tears. “Thank  you. I love you all. Now it really feels like Christmas.”

Jamie had gone unusually still. Finally he smiled. “Next Christmas, we won’t be all together. I’m sorry, Mum. But we’ll all be all right. Just—doing different things. We will be together again, though. I can’t see when. When we are though, I think there might be more of us.”

Jamie had visions which were invariably accurate. Merrick clasped the young man on the shoulder. “Thank you for that. And for excelling in school this term. I’m proud of you, son.”

Jamie blushed. He’d had a good time getting kicked out of prep school after prep school, but had clearly found his niche at a military academy.

“If we’re not going to have Christmas together next year, then let’s just enjoy this one, shall we?” Caroline’s voice was light and sweet, and Merrick’s heart still kicked when he saw her smile. “Sylvie, help the little ones pass out the packages. Piers, Jamie, pull up some extra chairs.”

Merrick plucked one package off a sturdy branch and brought it to Caroline while the younger children distributed boxes.  “This is from all of us, darling.”

She opened it without disturbing the infant at her breast, and gazed at the necklace he’d commissioned. Nine cameos dangled from a gold chain, each bearing a white, mother-of-pearl silhouette against a green jade background. He’d given the jeweler silhouettes of each of the nine children, and had them carved into stone for Caroline to wear. The matching earrings featured his silhouette and hers.

“It’s Christmas in a box,” she said with a misty smile. “Because that’s what Christmas is. Love.” She handed it to him to place around her neck, whispering, “I need one of Liam, too. He’s ours as much as any of the others.”

“Of course.” He couldn’t resist dropping a kiss on her nape. Then he settled back on the settee, with his arm around Caroline and their youngest child. Their last, according to both the doctors and to Jamie, but neither of them minded that. Nine was plenty. “You’re right,” he said. “Love is what the yuletide spirit is all about.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She’d made a believer out of him. “Thank you,” he whispered—to the universe, to St. Nicholas, to a deity, he didn’t know which. “Thank you for every single one of them.” He gazed out at all the people he loved and said, “Happy Christmas, everyone. May all your wishes come true.”

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Steampunk 12 Days of Christmas

‘Tis the season, so I’m posting this again, like I do every year.

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

12 Air Pirates

11 Painted Ladies

10 Clock Hands

9 Ray Guns

8 Pairs Brass Goggles

7 Aviator Caps

6 Cogs and Gears

5 Mad Scientists

4 Flying Cars

3 Top Hats

2 Pretty Corsets

And an Airship in a Pear Tree!

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  Her debut novel, INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, and book two, CHARMED VENGEANCE are now available from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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A Dickens Christmas by Maeve Alpin

A scenic white Christmas occurred at the Galveston parade at the annual Dickens On The Strand celebration in Galveston Texas. Of course the snow was fake but fabulous still. Little bits of white fluff flying everywhere.

A Little Elf Punk at Steampunk Square

A Little Elf Punk at Steampunk Square

Yuletide merriment was had by all with wandering musicians.   

Mirth and merriment, Steampunk Style

Everyone brought their families, one and all.

For an old fashioned Steampunk Christmas on the strand.

Merry Christmas to all.

Here are more photos from Dickens on the Strand with lines from A Christmas Carol.

on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath -“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”

on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath -“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”

It wore a tunic of the purest white;- “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

It wore a tunic of the purest white;- “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort who knew his business better than you or I!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley

the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort who knew his business better than you or I!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley

No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle

No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle

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It’s that time of year again…

A Steampunk Night Before Christmas
© 2009 Suzanne Lazear

‘Twas the night before Christmas and the whole ship was quiet,
Too quiet for the likes of this seasoned air pirate.

The airship was festooned with frippery and green,
With nary a brass polished surface to be seen.

Their stocking were hung by the crow’s nest with pride,
Along with homemade cookies and rum for Santa to imbibe.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the crew.
That Santa wouldn’t approve of what we do.

Sure, we stole from the rich, and gave to the needy.
But he’d probably think taking a cut was too greedy.

It didn’t matter that they had hearts of gold,
Only that it was stolen goods we bought and sold.

Suddenly portside there arose such a clatter,
That I grabbed my spyglass to see what was the matter.

The deck became filled with curious crew,
As I climbed the rigging for a better view.

The sky that had moments before been silent,
Had erupted with a commotion both grievous and violent.

The black ship portside was one that even we dread,
And it looked as if it were attacking a small red sled,

Driven by a fat guy and flying brown deer,
I polished the spyglass to ensure my vision was clear.

“Dread Pirate Fred’s attacking Santa, let’s help him, quick,”
Shouted my trusty first mate old Salty Nick.

What could I do but help out the sled,
“Come on, crew, let’s teach a lesson to Fred.”

I climbed down the rigging.
“There are cannons to load,
Christmas to save,
And pirates to goad.
Let’s kick up our speed,
And give up a fight.
Even we know
Robbing Santa just isn’t right.”

With a cheer, I manned the helm, going full speed ahead,
Nick loading our cannons to aim at the Dread Pirate Fred.

“Don’t worry Santa, help will arrive,
Salty Nick, man the cannons, prepare to take a dive.”

We flew through the air quickly, with all our might,
Fred’s crew had the sleigh on board, a terrible sight

Santa looked frightened, a gun to his head,
“Give me those presents,” growled the Dread Pirate Fred.

Even the reindeer had been rendered immobile,
By a few of Fred’s men in a black dirigible.

Santa shook his head, “If you take them, they will be missed.
Certainly, you all shall make my permanent naughty list.”

“I don’t care,” the pirate growled,
“We just want those gifts,” his crew avowed.

“Unhand those presents,” I called, dashing through the air
The cannons fired, aimed only to scare.

The reindeer bucked, trying to get free,
Fred sneered, “Captain Sno, you don’t scare me.”

Quickly, we secured Fred’s ship and dastardly crew,
But Fred still had Santa—there was only one thing to do.

Fred and I grappled across the deck, precariously,
Nick making sure Santa and the reindeer went free,

“You can’t rob Santa, it’s just not right,”
I yelled as I punched Fred when he put up a fight.

“Now, now, cease that,” Santa said,
Causing me to stop punching Dread Fred.

“Now Dread Pirate Fred, trying to steal presents in wrong,
but Captain Sno, punching him won’t stop him for long.

Christmas is about sharing and caring, not fighting and stealing,
and doing what’s right, not wheeling and dealing.”

Fred and I looked at each other, hanging our heads in shame.
The jolly old man had a good handle on our game.

Both crews made sure the gifts all went back
Into Santa’s giant red velvet sack.

Cook fed the reindeer carrots, and Santa cherry pie
I looked at the Dread Pirate Fred and gave a sigh.

“Why did you do that? That’s low even for you,
to attack Santa and take his presents on Christmas Eve, too.”

“Those presents would fetch prices that are sky high.”
But the look on Fred’s face told me that was a lie.

“There are better ways of getting a present from Santa’s sack,
then trapping the reindeer and staging an attack.”

“You’re one to talk,” Fred replied.
Nodding slowing, I looked at my crew, and again I sighed.

“I’m afraid, Santa, neither Fred nor I have been good this year,
but please, don’t forget our crew, they could use some cheer.

They don’t meant to be bad; they’re just following orders
They’re good men at heart, not drunkards and cavorters.”

Santa said, “Thank you captain, for rescuing me,
I think I my sleigh might hold an extra present or three.

You too,” he added to Dread Pirate Fred.
I shook my head. Was that what he actually said?

“Fred and his crew tried to steal your gifts to sell,
now you’re giving them presents as if all were well?”

Santa winked. “Now, Sno, remember what Christmas is all about.”
Getting in his sleigh, he gave his reindeer a shout.

“Just try to stay off the naughty list, the both of you, from now on.
Now, I have to be off, to get these delivered before dawn.”

Both crews looked up, as Santa took off.
“Merry Christmas, Santa,” my voice went soft.

With a wink of his eye, and a flick of his hand,
Presents flew out of his sleigh; onto the deck they did land.

“Thank you, Santa,” the crews did shout.
“There’s not one for me,” Dread Fred did pout.

“All I’ve ever wanted is a present from Santa, just one.”
I scoffed. “But not enough to stop having all your plundering fun.”

“Stop it you two,” Santa added with a call.
“But I didn’t forget you either, no, not at all.”

Two more presents floated down from the sky.
Turning mine over in my hands I looked up. “But why?”

Santa just smiled. “Just remember what I said.
And for once, Sno, can you stop plaguing Fred?”

With a hearty laugh, the sled flew through the sky,
Both crews waving, tears in their eyes.

“A present for me?” Fred’s eyes gleamed.
I knew deep down, he wasn’t as dreadful as he seemed.

Taking a box from my pocket, I said, “And there’s another.”
Giving it to him, I smiled. “Merry Christmas, brother.

I’m sorry I plague you, but it’s so much fun.
Let’s make next year a much better one.”

Nodding, Fred said, “For once, Sno, you’re right.
I think this should be the last time we fight.”

Santa sped by, doing one last turn.
“I hope there’s a lesson tonight you all learned.

Merry Christmas to you, and remember my lads,
no one says air pirates have to be bad.”

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What’s next?

As the end of the year approaches, I suppose it’s natural to begin thinking about what the coming year will bring. One of my first projects for 2014 is to finish and turn in Ether & Elephants (working title), the last book so far contracted in the Gaslight Chronicles. While I won’t swear that this is the end, the cold, hard fact is that steampunk isn’t selling anywhere near as well as publishers originally expected. Fewer and fewer publishers are contracting the genre at all, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that steampunk is far more lifestyle than literary. As a working author, this brings up the difficult question, “What next?”

There are several directions I could go. Back to paranormal romance, although that field seems to be tapering off as well. Contemporary romance or straight-up Victorian romance are both viable options, and both things I’ve written in the past. Another challenge might be urban fantasy, outside of the romance genre, with perhaps a steampunky feel. I’ve also toyed with the idea of epic fantasy. I have an outline for one of those that’s been sitting in an actual paper file for over a decade. Maps and everything.

So my question for readers is this: If steampunk fiction fades from the marketplace, where would you like to see your favorite authors go? Fantasy? SF? Mystery? Contemporary or historical romance? All thoughts and opinions are welcome.  As a thank you, I’ll give a free download of any book from my backlist to one random commenter.


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As a contributing author in Shanghai Steam & the Steamfunk! Anthology, Ray Dean enjoys writing about many different cultures. Steampunk speaks to her in a retroactive futurism that opens so many possibilities. Her blog, My Ethereality (http://raydean.net), explores history, culture, war and love in eras and countries that influence the Steampunk world. Recently, she’s been working with D. Alan Lewis in his capacity as an editor for Luna’s Children – Stranger Wereworlds Anthology and she jumped at the chance to interview him about his upcoming novel release.

Interview with D. Alan Lewis, author of The Lightning Bolts of Zeus

by Ray Dean

Ray Dean: How did inspiration strike you to create Jasmine & Thyme Hawke?

DAlanLewis01D. Alan Lewis: I’ve always had a love for Steampunk and sci/fi- fantasy stories from the Victorian era. After finishing my first novel, a murder mystery, I wanted to jump right into a Steampunk tale. The idea of a lost Confederate airship came to me first off but the sisters took a little more time to come together. At first, It was just a single woman, Jasmine, who would be after Zeus. But after watching my daughters playing one afternoon, I decided that there should be 2 sister. In The Blood in Snowflake Garden, I had 2 central characters and wrote the story from 2 points of view. I enjoyed telling the story in that manner and decided to do the same with The Lightning Bolts of Zeus. As I progressed into outlining and writing the first draft, the Hawke Girls came to life in ways I hadn’t planned.

When I started writing, the Hawke girls had been fleshed out in my head as far as basic looks and personality, but as the story progressed, I found them lacking somewhat. I wanted to explore who they were and why they were doing what they do. So the backstory was created. Their mother was a secret agent and the girls followed in her footsteps. The mother’s death, which we learn about early in the book is a source of turmoil in their lives, but especially Jasmine’s since she was present when the mother was murdered. For Thyme, this adventure is her first time as an agent, so she is struggling to deal with the ordeals of the adventure, dealing with an overprotective big sister and falling in love for the first time.

The mother’s death, Jasmine’s guilt, and Thyme’s romance were never planned early on, but came about as a need to make the character more alive and real. It is one of those wonderful things about being a writer…. you watch as the characters grow and take on life as you write.

RD: Where does their world veer off from known American History?

TLBOZcoverDAL: In the world I created for the Hawke Girls, Steampunk technologies (advancements in steam power, electric energy, mechanical construction) come into play during the early 1860’s. With the Civil War underway, the Confederacy embraces the new technologies as a way of compensating for the manpower and resources while the North doesn’t. The result is a prolonged war, lasting 10 years instead of 4. One of the lasting effects of a decade-long war is that much of the male population of the United States is killed off. Women are now forced to step into the roles that had formerly been male-dominated.

Another lasting impact of the war has to do with the Indian Wars. In our history, the Indian Wars lasted until the early 1900’s and pushed the Native America on to small reservation, scattered throughout the U.S. In the Hawke Girls’ world, the United States lacked the manpower to continue the western push, battling the Indians across the continent. Seizing on the opportunity, British, French and Russian diplomats brokered a treaty between the U.S. and the combined Indian tribes and created the Sky Nation. This Indian nation will play a big role in the future of the series.

RD: What other Steampunk books/stories/ have you written/published?

DAL: I have a few short Steampunk short stories published or soon to be published.

“Kaylana” in Dreams of Steam 4: Gizmos
“Dull Flesh, Sharp Fangs”  in Comfort Foods
“The Celeste Affair”   coming soon in A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder
“Keely ”  coming soon in Capes & Clockwork

Capes & Clockwork is an anthology I’m editing for Dark Oak Press. The stories are a fusion of Steampunk and the Superhero genre. My story Keely was a lot of fun to write.

The Celeste Affair is a Steampunk pirate adventure, but there is a twist. The lead character is Anastasia Hawke, mother of Jasmine and Thyme Hawke from The Lightning Bolts of Zeus. I plan on writing short stories from time to time featuring secondary characters from the Hawke Girls’ Adventures.

RD: What have you written for other genres?

DAL: My first novel, The Blood in Snowflake Garden was a fantasy murder mystery. I’m planning on a sequel, eventually.

I’ve also written a number of Pulp stories. For those who don’t know what it is, Pulp is a style that echoes the pulp books from the early 2oth century. The stories typically feature over-the-top characters, paranormal or supernatural villains or elements. The stories are full of action and concentrate on telling the story and not as much on exploring the thoughts of the characters.

I’ve written some horror and science fiction as well.

RD: Are you planning another foray into the world of Jasmine & Thyme?

DAL: Yes… in a number of ways. The Lightning Bolts of Zeus is the first book in the Hawke Girls’ series. I plan on 5 books in the series which is geared for adults and young adults. In addition, there will be a ‘Young’ Hawke Girls’ series that will feature Jasmine and Thyme as children, traveling the world with their mother. The ‘young’ series will be short chapter books for children 8 to 14.

Another publisher has approached me about turning the Hawke Girls’ world into a role playing game. Depending on the popularity of the series, that could be something in the near future.

Plus, as I’d mentioned earlier, some of the secondary characters in the series may show up in some short stories, here and there.

RD: Tell us about your current launch promotion-

promo DAL: After 2 years of writing, it seems that many of my projects are hitting within a 3 month period. So as a way of celebrating/promoting all the new work, I’m conducting a give-a-way. All you have to do is go to my website, sign-in to the Rafflecopter contest link.

You can ‘Like’ various Facebook pages and ‘follow’ me and my friends on Twitter. The more you like or follow, the more times your name is dropped in to the hat. You can come back daily and tweet the contest link or share the link on Facebook for additional chances to win. The contest will run through the end of the year. There are plenty of prizes, large and small, so take a look.  http://www.snowflakegarden.com/alans-launch-contest/
Ways to contact Alan:

Website:    www.dalanlewis.com

Website:  www.hawkegirls.com   (work in progress)

Twitter  @Dalanlewis

Facebook Author page:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Author-D-Alan-Lewis/141282752579697

The Hawke Girls’ page:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Hawke-Girls-by-D-Alan-Lewis/211289518894053

The Blood in Snowflake Garden page:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Blood-in-Snowflake-Garden/212067772166261

The Pulp page :  https://www.facebook.com/#!/dexterblackwolfe

Alan’s Amazon page:   http://www.amazon.com/D.-Alan-Lewis/e/B006DA9P2U/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1


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By reading early sci-fi books, you gather wonderful steampunk ideas, as well as a Regency, Victorian and Edwardian perspective on their vision of the future. Last month, I blogged about Mary Griffith’s 300  Years Hence, which was written in 1835. Almost a hundred years before Charlotte Perkins Gillman wrote Moving The Mountain, Herland, and With Her in Ourland, which was from 1911 – 1916. The similarities between 300 Years Hence and the stories listed above are they’re feminist works, futuristic utopia fiction, and they are written by American women.

Published in 1911, Moving the Mountain is the author’s glimpse of thirty years into the future, so it goes from 1910 to Gillman’s utopia vision of 1940. Griffith and Gillman, though one wrote in the Regency period and the other in the Edwardian one, mention food and futuristic improvements in the type, the preparation, and the selling of it. People in the Regency, Victorian, and  Edwardian periods needed changes for the better regarding the food they bought and ate. This is great inspiration for creating steampunk gadgetry in your books, to improve the way food is cooked or served or the way people clean up the kitchen and the dishes after eating. You could even develop a seed with a brand new type of miracle vegetable or fruit that doesn’t even exist.

Automat in Philadelphia, 1902

Writers love food scenes because the five senses are almost automatic. You don’t’ have to think much to add them into the scene. Smell, taste, feel – with all the different textures of food, sight – with the colors and the way it’s served, and sounds – setting things on the table, china and silverware interacting, people walking around the table, pulling chairs out, dogs barking for scraps, and all the noises of cooking food. It’s also an easy way to interest the reader and bring them further into the story. Everybody eats…in the past, in the future, and even in alternate universes. People like food. Readers like food.

“They took me between rows of glass cases, standing as books do in a library, and showed me the day’s baking: the year’s preserves: the fragrant colorful shelves of such fruits and vegetables as were not fresh picked from day to day.” This description from Moving the Mountain, of a future food department in the basement of a New York apartment building, reminds me a bit of the old-fashioned coin operated automat restaurants, without the coins. To the left is the automat opened in 1902, in Philadelphia. This waiterless restaurant looks so steampunk.

The utopia Herland is more fantasy than Sci-Fi as it’s set in the time written, 1915, rather than the future. Three young, well educated men go on a big scientific expedition. While there, their guides and the savage tribes they meet  speak of a land of women only. So at the end of the expedition before they had to go home, the three friends decide to try to find this land. The rich friend has a boat and airplane and they use them to find Herland.  They are comfortably held captive and the women learn from the men as much as they can, while they teach the men their history. The women in Herland have been without men for two thousand years, as the males all died due to war and violence. At some point in time, one of these women had a parthenogenesis birth, a virgin birth. This process continued through time and the women always gave birth to girls.

Several creatures in the animal kingdom do this. But there are also species who usually produce sexually but in some cases in captivity have given birth parthenogenetically: Komodo dragons,  a captive bonehead shark  and a blacktip shark gave birth to female offspring while in captivity and DNA testing proved the pups delivered contained no genetic material from a male. In 2010, a female boa produced several all-female litters that carried a rare genetic mutation, a DNA test confirmed the birth was through parthenogenesis. Though parthenogenesis can be seen as good in allowing female creatures to give birth without mating, it’s bad in that it reduces genetic diversity. Parthenogensis birth in humans has been used in books and TV shows and video games. I’m not sure of steampunk stories utilizing it, but you could not only go utopian you could get very mad scientist and dystopian with it. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote of parthenogensis birth 100 years ago, so it definitely fits in with the Victorian era and Steampunk.

From Her In Ourland, we learn a lot of the issues of 1916, from the perspective of someone who lived at that time. Also Ellador, who leaves Herland with her husband, one of the three friends, studies the outside world as she travels all over and comes up with ideas of ways to improve many of its horrors. She returns to Herland with her husband and gives birth to the first boy born there in over two thousand years.

An Edwardian perspective of the future can be enlightening and inspirational for Steampunk authors. Also you can get a female perspective on that time period by reading sci-fi or utopia books written by women authors in the Regency, Victorian, and Edwardian eras. Because women have been reading and writing Sci-Fi for hundreds of years. Please feel free to comment below. All comments welcomed.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes 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. She has a giveaway of five autographed print copies of her Steampunk/Romance, To Love A London Ghost, for Friday, December 6, 2013, enter now at Free Book Friday.

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