Archive for May, 2014

Steam & Sorcery is coming to print!

After three years of waiting, readers will finally be able to order a hard copy of Steam & Sorcery,

the first book in the award-winning and best-selling Gaslight Chronicles.

Exclusively from Amazon, the trade paperback will be available sometime within the next week!

And there was much rejoicing!

(I will post the link as soon as it becomes available.

I will also do my absolute best to have copies available for sale at Steamtopia and DetCon1!)

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61kc2VV+MoL__SL500_SX300_I’m intrigued when any writer blasts their characters out of the Victorian, or other historical era, and into outer space. Edgar Allan Poe did it with The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaallin in 1835, Jules Verne followed with The Earth To the Moon in 1865, and in 1901 H. G. Wells wrote The First Men In The Moon.  These Regency/Victorian/Edwardian tales offer great inspiration for modern steampunk writers. Jules Verne’s The Earth To The Moon was one of my greatest inspirations for Conquistadors In Outer Space.

1889I asked the authors of the new book 1889 Journey To the Moon, George Wier and Billy Kring, what inspired them to take their Steampunk story into outer space?

George: First of all, we really should have been in space (and I’m not talking about NASA or the ESA, I’m talking about ALL of us) a damn long time ago. All we’re doing here is correcting history’s big mistakes. What were those mistakes? Well, we let corporations, governments and bankers decide for us what mankind does–what his future is. You don’t believe me? Well guess what? What if Nikola Tesla had been allowed to finalize his experimentation in ambient free energy and give to the whole world wireless free energy? He was factually shut down by his “friends”. What if every single advance we’ve made in the past 150 years was not snatched up by corporate or government interests, patented, crated and put away in that hangar that comes at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? I’ll tell you what, we would be REALLY free. We would be free of economic duress (“Come on honey, let’s forget about working and paying the mortgage and the light bill. We’re going to Arcturus”), we would be free of government suppression (“What border? You mean that imaginary line down there on the planet?”), and we would be free of corporate suppression (“I see IBM and GE stocks finally tanked.” “Oh? What are ‘stocks’?”). You see what I mean? This is the world we SHOULD live in. This is the world we were promised by our Founding Fathers. What happened to it? Well, from my point of view, it was: Industry, the Rise of the Banks and the Federal Reserve, Mechanization, Factories, World War I, World War II, the suppression of “Academics” who now “own” knowledge, etc., etc. What got lost? The family, true entreprenuership, innovation, art, style…all our dreams. No. Here’s the dream, as rough as it may seem. Much of it is contained in 1889. You have to read between the lines, but it’s there. Okay, that’s my short answer.

Billy: My inspiration came about because I wanted to create a sense of wonder and adventure in our readers like I felt the first time I read H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs and their space adventures; then we wanted to add some spice, with the characters and the twists and turns of a mystery to it, and all of it occurring in a steampunk universe (George’s idea!).  I thought that was a unique twist on the story. In a nutshell, I wanted readers to experience a fantastic adventure unlike anything they’d experienced before.

Maeve: Of course the next thing any writer thinks about when putting characters in outer space is world building. I kept the world building in Conquistadors In Outer Space simple  because the plot was so quirky, the concentration on the book is the relationship between the characters, and it’s short – a novella. So I pulled from the history of the DeSota North America expedition, the physical makeup of the eyes of some insects, and how to ride an ostrich, then I transferred that over to this alien planet with strange creatures and humanoid natives.

I asked Billy and George what they thought was the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe and what are the challenges and advantages of writing steampunk fiction?

GeorgeGeorge: I dunno. I don’t think it’s hard. Take a concept and run with it and let it live and breathe and think and it’ll start doing stuff all on its own. That’s kind of what happened with 1889.

For me the challenge is not to copy the Masters. You have to strike out in your own direction, and you have to be sure of yourself completely. After that, the world opens up and you can do anything, by which I mean…ANYTHING. There are no limits. You can alter time, speed up the harvest and teleport yourself off this rock. We did that with this book. Yeah. That’s the haps.

BillyBilly: I agree with George, writing 1889 was not hard in the sense of storyline, etc.  It practically pulled me along.  I guess if anything could come to mind, as far as being difficult, it would be that the way we wrote it made me wonder at times how I was going to proceed. And the way we wrote it was, one of us would take the story and write without talking to the other, then send it forward, and the other would start, using the same method.  That meant when either one of us received the manuscript again, there were always plot twists and unexpected happenings that made us (at least me), keep my game at a high level, so to speak.  No way to get lazy with these! So it was a little hard, but in a good way.

The challenge: Telling a unique story in a familiar universe.  The advantages: It frees the writer completely.

Maeve: I have never collaborated with other authors so my curiosity was aroused by George Wier and Billy Kring’s  collaboration of 1889 Journey To the Moon. I asked them what method did they you use for their collaboration?And if there was anything they took away from the experience that helped make them a better writer or the story a better story?

 George:  We emailed the book back and forth. I think I gave Billy the basic concept, told him in a general way where I wanted to go with it, wrote the first few pages, then handed it off to him. Whoa! Ten thousand or so words later it comes back. I read it with gusto and I was off like a shot–another 10-15k words, then back to Billy–20k words. I mean, whoa! Back and forth, back and forth. It was done within a few months. One of the fastest things I’ve ever done in my life.

The secret is to find the right collaborator. (Wink!) Okay, all kidding aside, you have to be able to have fun with the project. You also–and for some folks, this is going to be an extremely difficult concept–must be willing to put the thing in your partner’s hands for a given length of time, give them your blessing and let them run with it. I mean, really. Who would have thought? Trust? Another author? Trust them not to mess up your book? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s because it’s a c-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-i-o-n. It’s not just yours. You really, absolutely and unequivocably have to make sure they make it there’s! I can do that now, for sure. But really, you have to be able to do it even before you “know” for sure. Also, I took away from this experience a much broader horizon. I could have never, not once in a million years, come up with some of the characters, the situations, the description, the dialogue, and the concepts that Billy Kring came up with. The man’s a frickin’ genius. So I suppose the real (REAL) thing here is to find someone who is either better than you are, or is potentially better than you are. Yeah,  what I got out this collaboration with Billy is a new way of looking at things. Anything can happen–and will–in a steampunk adventure. There are no rules. That’s the truth.

Billy: What George said!

It helped that George and I were friends before we collaborated.  And he is the one who thought we would be a good writing match for the story.  He’s outstanding at looking at an idea from about five thousand different angles and seeing which way is best to proceed.  He was the leader in this from start to finish.  And I agree with him, we wanted to make it fun for each of us to write, and to trust each other.  That was a big thing for both of us.  The other thing that happened almost from the first, was the story became magic, and each of us couldn’t wait to get the story back from the other and read how our adventure was going. The energy from that was amazing.  George is one heck of a writer, too, and that made me give it my best.  Some of the passages he wrote were scenes I could never have written, would never have thought about going the way the took it, BUT, that is why it is so entertaining, too.  There are surprises throughout the story, and that will make readers happy.

EternalMaeve: Though I have several published books under the pen name of Cornelia Amiri, I only have two Stemapunk books, To Love A London Ghost and Conquistadors In Outer Space available now but I plan to release Brass Octopus and re-release As Timeless As Stone and As Timeless As Magic later this year.

I asked George and Billy what other published works they had and what was next for them?

George: Plenty. First there’s the Bill Travis Mysteries, a series of 8 books (so far) based in Austin, Texas. They are wild rides, all mystery commingled with action-adventure, and a little sci-fi occasionally thrown in. Additionally, there’s Long Fall From Heaven (Cinco Puntos Press, 2013), and various short stories.

The continuation of this series, with the sequel, 1899: Journey to Mars1904: Journey into Time, and 1909: Journey to Atlantis. That’s first. I’m currently working on 7 major projects contemporaneously, including the next two Bill Travis books, a sci-fi collaboration with Robert A. Taylor entitled The Vindicators 2: Parsec, a multi-layered, almost Neal Stephenson-esque blockbuster about the Austin legal community entitled Personal Injury, and a number of others. I would, however, like to specifically say something about 1899: Journey to Mars. If 1889 was fun (let me tell you, it was a total blast!) then 1899 is warp drive. The Tesla robot fighting the evil Westinghouse robots, the characters (many of whom you will recognize both from actual history and from fiction) interacting, walking and talking and shooting down vampire singleship spaceships. Wow. You’re all in for a treat. Hey, you asked.

Billy: Yes.  Two suspense novels in my Hunter Kincaid series, QUICK, and OUTLAW ROAD, and one romantic suspense novel, WHERE EVIL CANNOT ENTER (under B.G. Kring).  My other mystery/suspense series (The Ronny Baca series) will begin very soon with the release of  BACA.

To continue on our other books in the series, and write my other novels, as well as writing screenplays and acting.

Maeve: Before I left Billy Kring, and George Wier I asked them to describe their writing in three words.

George: “Hot and Heavy.”

Billy: Lean and mean.

Here’s the blurb : I’m back in a time that never was–it’s 1889, and eleven people are on a strange steam-powered spaceship to the Moon. Included in the crew are such unlikely passengers and crew as: Billy The Kid, Nikola Tesla, Jack The Ripper, a Sioux warrior out for the blood of George Armstrong Custer (who did not die at the Little Bighorn), a Cossack warrior-princess, a battery of robots, a half-man and half-cyborg engineer, a Punjabi mathematician and linguist, a big-game hunter from Africa, and the grandson of Blackbeard the Pirate, not to mention the genius who designed the ship. There are aliens on the Moon with evil intentions, the robots are wound a little too tightly, and no one knows that the Ripper is along for the ride except for the Londoner himself. What could possibly go wrong? 

Here are their calling cardsGeorge’s Facebook Author Page   FB page for 1889: Journey to the Moon  Twitter: @billtraviswrite  Wordpress: www.georgewier.wordpress.com Billy’s Links: www.billykring.com

~          ~          ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be at Comicpalooza in Houston this weekend please stop by her panels there.


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Writing Through Greif

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a few months. While this topic isn’t steampunk, this is also a blog about writing.

imagesBy “writing through grief” I’m not talking about journaling as a way to process your feelings. I’m speaking more about how to keep writing when something awful is happening, something that saps your mojo and makes you unmotivated to write, even if you have the time (and deadlines.)

My father died in October, it was sudden, but not totally unexpected. Still, it wasn’t something I was expecting to happen now.

One of the first things that hit me was Dad never got to read book three. The book had been finished, edits had been turned in weeks before. My dad had just gotten a Kindle, so I’d planned on putting the e-arc on it for him when it came out in March. Which, never happened.

This thought really impacted me. My dad was a huge fan of the Aether Chronicles books. He liked INNOCENT DARKNESS better than CHARMED VENGEANCE (I’ve only met one other person who agrees.) He shipped Kevighn and Noli so hard.  “Why should the good guy always get the girl?” he told me. He read the kissing scenes out loud to my mom.

After reading INNOCENT DARKNESS, he asked me for more steampunk, so I gave him Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN. When he gave it back to me he said “I liked your book better.”

There are…choices…in FRAGILE DESTINY, choices I wanted to hear his thoughts on.

Thoughts I’ll never hear.

Suddenly, it got difficult to linger in Noli’s world. I didn’t want to promote the story–blog posts, events, even facebook, because it was too hard.

That Aether Chronicles story I was going to write for NaNoWriMi 2013?

Didn’t happen.

I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have the willpower.

It was difficult to write other things, too. Usually, I’m a writing machine.

The words wouldn’t come. The ideas weren’t there. Even if I knew what was happening next, it was easier to read through old things than write new ones.

And it hurt.

I don’t have the answers, more than six months later, the words are just barely starting to come back. I’m just getting back to a place where I can write in Noli’s world and promote book three.

There are days the words still don’t come. Many days.

Here were a few things that worked for me, though other people will be different:

1) On the days the words came, I wrote. It didn’t matter what project it was, as long as it didn’t interfere with deadlines. Focus can come later. Sometimes that act of writing for yourself is rejuvenating.

2) I was lucky in that I didn’t have any deadlines through many of those months. When the deadlines finally came enough time had passed in that it was time to put on the big girl pants and do them. Sure, it was hard to go back to Noli’s world, but it had to be done. So I did it. And you know what? It helped me.

3) While I didn’t have any hard-and-fast deadlines, my reluctance and inability may have put me behind opportunity-wise in regards to a specific project, one that I should have finished in December and is barely done now. But you know what? It’s not worth it to beat myself over the head about it. Should I have sucked it up and done it? Probably. But I can’t get that time back. Also, publishing is not a race. It’s probably better to hand in something that was crafted well, in the right headspace, than something sub-par I wrote because I felt like I had to.

That’s all I’ve got. This is still a process for me.

What worked for you when writing through times of grief? I’d love to hear your own thoughts.

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles — a YA steampunk fairytale series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now. FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14.



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coverA few days ago, a new small press and a new Steampunk anthology took their first breaths… To help launch this new endeavor, I’ve put together a post to introduce the press and then the authors who have stories in the anthology. – Ray


First, a few words from the head of Witty Bard Publishing  about the company and the new anthology: 

My name is Anna Victoria Jones, I prefer to go by Victoria or V. I have been working in Marketing at a Fortune 500 company for about 3 years, prior to that I received 2 degrees in IT. I am back in college, pre-law, at the moment. I have always loved to read and write and I have stumbled into a lot of terrific indie authors over the years. I was shocked, however, that no one else that I knew had heard of them. I have also had a few friends go through a traditional publisher and they are seeing pennies of the profits and are not really seeing much in the way of promotion either. I looked around at publishing options and there really isn’t a middle ground.
I started Witty Bard Publishing, LLC (WBP) to bridge the gap between a total self-published author and a traditional large corporate publisher. I use my marketing knowledge and business skills to promote the authors that, otherwise, may go unnoticed by so many willing readers. WBP focuses on promoting and rewarding quality writing no matter the writer. The competitions we host are one way to do that very thing. My judges do not know the names of the stories or the authors while they are judging. This way there is no author bias on the part of my judges; they grade the writing on its own merits. My plans for WBP include continuing to host competitions, while also offering many other author services, including editing/proofreading, publishing, promotion, etc., more information on those services can be found on our website www.wittybardpublishing.com. My main goal is and will always be to help authors receive the notoriety they deserve.
WBPLogoI am very new to the Steampunk genre. It is something that has always interested me, but I have never become that involved with it. After I decided that I wanted to do competitions I was trying to decide where I should start and a friend suggested Steampunk. I started learning more about Steampunk and I found it super interesting. I have enjoyed reading all the amazing stories that were submitted. I am super excited to see so much interest from the Steampunk crowd! If there is enough interest so soon, I may do another Steampunk anthology with the next set of competitions.
I think that this anthology has turned out very well! I was super excited by the amount and quality of entries and all the interest within the community. There is such a huge amount of diversity between the stories and I think that everyone can find something they love in the anthology. I cannot wait to publish it!
I am always looking to meet new people and I would appreciate any suggestions for future contests. I am also accepting applications for future judging spots, feel free to contact me. 🙂
Happy Writing!

 I also had the opportunity to ask the other authors about their stories and writing…

 (the images below will give you an idea of where our authors hail from)authorsmap

1. Author Name – Website

Lee Parry – www.themire.co.uk

John Walton – www.facebook.com/john.walton.927543 

Seamus Sweeney – www.nthposition.com/author.php?authid=217 or scarfaceproject.blogspot.com

Ross Baxter – www.amazon.co.uk/Ross-Baxter/e/B0041DO99U/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_3

Nicole Lavigne – http://www.nllavigne.wordpress.com

Liam Hogan http://happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk

Ray Dean www.raydean.net


2. The first – Your story is published in the first “Witty Bard” Publication – how excited are you to be a part of this inaugural event?

Lee: Very excited. It’s the first competition I had entered and I was thrilled to have won.

John: Very, It’s always good to get in on the ground floor then you become part of the history

Seamus:  It is an honour to be considered worthy of inclusion. It is an exciting development and I am extremely impressed with Witty Bard’s professionalism and enthusiasm.

Ross: Very excited, its always great to get a piece published and even better when its with an outfit like Witty Bard.

Nicole: Very excited. It’s a fun theme and I am looking forward to reading the other stories in the anthology. Doubly excited because this is also my first publication.

Liam: It’s always lovely to see one of my stories find a home, and being part of a “first” makes it extra special, hopefully Witty Bard can go on to many more anthologies, and I can say I was there at the start.

Ray: Love the energy of it all. Our publisher was so on the ball and things just kept rolling along. I hope to keep a strong working relationship with Witty Bard!

3. Is this your first Steampunk story?

If yes – what prompted your foray into the genre?

If no – did this story take you in a new direction within the genre?

Lee: No — I had previously self-published a novel that had significant Steampunk elements. It was more tongue-in-cheek and straight-up comedic than my novel. The novel had similar elements (as the short story’s protagonist was a supporting character in the novel)  but was far heavier and dramatic than the short story.

John: I am currently busy with a series The Voyages of the Black Thistle No1. This is a back story of one of the devices and some of the characters. Which will eventually form a companion volume. So to answer your question, not a new direction but an opportunity.

Seamus: Not really, but it is my first published one. Various threads in Irish history have acted as my inspiration. One is a chap called Henry Joy McCracken, who was one of the United Irishmen who, inspired by the French Revolution, rebelled in 1798. McCracken was a Presbyterian mill owner in Belfast. It is one of the ironies of history that the movement for Irish independence was initially led by Ulster Presbyterians, who would in later times be the bulwarks of Unionism. Reading about that period in history and subsequent events, there are many other roads that things could have gone down. There was much sympathy between Catholic communities and “dissenter” ones, well into the 19th Century we read of the communities helping each other to build churches and meeting houses. Also, as someone raised and educated in the Republic of Ireland, little of the industrial heritage of the whole Island was taught to us. I was also inspired by a book called “Jacquard’s Web” which essentially described how the loom invented by Jacquard in the early 19th century was a form of early computer. So, somewhat in the spirit of Gibson and Sterling’s “Difference Engine”, I postulate mass computational technology arising much earlier, but using spinning/weaving technology. I retain, at least in broad terms, the social structure of those industries, with cottage-based spinning giving way to industrial processes as the 19th Century continued. And also it is very much a muscle-power based industry.

I’ve written three of these “flaxpunk” stories so far, of which “An Honest Ulster Spinner” is the middle story chronologically. The first story deals with Henry Joy McCracken with various other twists. It probably has more exposition than the other two, and another speculative fiction element which I won’t give away here. In “real history” McCracken was executed  after the 1798 rebellion; that doesn’t quite happen in my timeline! The third follows Caroline, the daughter in “An Honest Ulster Spinner”, many years later. I’ve submitted both to various outlets so we’ll see what happens. They are standalone stories but with some overlap.

Ross: No. I’ve got a Steampunk Novella published with Phaze.com, available on Kindle. However, it’s Steampunk with a difference – it is erotic Steampunk written for a (very) mature audience (!)Writing erotic Steampunk pays well, but is a very narrow genre. The story in Witty Bard is more mainstream, and has allowed me to play a bit.

Nicole: It is the first Steampunk story that I have completed. I’ve read a few Steampunk stories and really enjoyed the juxtaposition of technology with history. Plus, it’s fun and the costumes look cool.

Liam: Ahem. I may have squeaked in by the narrowest of margins in definition terms. But that’s okay. I seem to have predated steam by (quite) a bit, and it’s rather less punk than others in the anthology! I tend to write all sorts of styles, depending on the seed-idea for the story – some horror, some sci-fi, some urban fantasy. And now, a little bit of Steampunk.

Ray: My first published story was Steampunk and so are a few of the other stories that are published or in the process of publication. This story is the first one that I’ve written that was set in my ‘hometown’ – The Hawaiian Kingdom/Sandwich Islands.

4. Hopefully your muse has continued to draw upon more Steampunk inspiration, are you planning to write more Steampunk stories? Short or novel length?

Lee: I am writing another short story set within the same universe for a similar competition, and I am also working on a second novel — again, set in the same universe.

John: Oh Yes – both

Seamus: I would like to explore this flaxpunk world more. I would see it developing as a series of vignettes and episodes, getting a sense of everyday lives lived in a specific world. At the start of 2014 I had notions of writing a story a month along these lines but things haven’t gone entirely to plan!

Ross:  If the right idea comes along, then yes. I find it very hard to write Steampunk, and need a great idea to help me carry it.

Nicole: I have another Steampunk short story in the works right now that will be quite different from Stolen Cargo.

Liam: Absolutely. I’m going to try my hand at a proper Steampunk short story, for Steampunk Trails – Steam punk meets the Wild West. Lets see if they like it.


Ray: Have a bunch in the process of publication and I’m always working on more… both short and novel-length.

So… how do you get your copy???

1. Use any of these links to find a format to order:

2. Reply to this post and I’ll select a random participant to receive a KINDLE copy of the anthology 

– to be considered, please have your ‘comment’ completed by end of  Monday May19, 2014


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Steamy in the Big Easy

As this publishes, I’ll be in New Orleans, getting ready for one of my very favorite events, the Steampunk Carnivale Tea on Thursday. I’ll also be one of the hostesses at the Intergalactic Bar and Grille, and throwing beads at the Mardi Gras parade event and speaking on a panel about alternate history.

This comes right on the heels of Steampunk Empire Symposium in Cincinnati, where I had a fabulous time as a guest of honor. Here I am in my favorite Shoptroll garb, which unfortunately isn’t going to NOLA because it weighs too much in a suitcase.

And here’s a bunch of Michigan ladies anxiously awaiting the evening airship party!

UV bot mark I anfortunately, Her Majeasty the Clockwork Queen did NOT make an appearance at Symposium. Will she appear at RT? Unlikely, but you might find a doppleganger. If you are running about, I’d love to see you!

Carry on! and after RT, look for some HUGELY exciting news about Steam & Sorcery!





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Grabbing time by the clock hands

“It’s so nice that you have the time to write.”

“I wish had time to write.”

Statements like this make me cringe. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of this online, which makes me want to go ranty mcrantypants. (But I don’t.)

I don’t have time to write. I make time to write. Like many writers, I have a job, aclock family, commitments. Writing time is precious. It’s not going to smack me upside the head and go look, writing time. (And if it does, you bet I seize it.)

No. I have to grab time by the clock hands and wrestle it into submission. I cram writing into nooks and crannies. I give up other things (like TV and a really clean house) to write.  I write on the couch with animated movies in the background. I write on my daughter’s bed. I write outside. I write late at night or early in the morning. CHARMED VENGEANCE was written almost entirely in one-hour intervals during my lunch break at work.

I don’t have the time more than anyone else. I make time.


Because writing means something to me, so I give up things in order to find time for it. It’s just like anything else — you make time to watch that TV show you like, or spend time on twitter, or make a quilt, or practice an instrument, or play a sport.

If you want to write (or do anything else — paint, dance, etc.) don’t wait for the time to wave at you. Make the time. (It might not be easy, I give you that. Also, you might have to wait out something, I get that too. Life happens. I know that far too well.)

However…you don’t have to make lots of time. Even writing for five minutes means you have more words than the day before.

So do it.

Figure out where you can squeeze in a few minutes — during commercials, cutting back social media by a few moments, getting up ten minutes earlier.

Grab time by the clock hands and make it your bitch  create time. I dare you.

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles — a YA fairytale steampunk series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now. FRAGILE DESTINY will be released 8-8-14.

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I recently worked a temp job where my co-workers sent a group email once a week when the food trucks came to the area. Everyone was always so excited about lunch on those days. It was the one time they all went to lunch together. In a large group they’d walk over to where the food trucks parked to try out the different ones. Some of the most popular food trucks in Houston, where I live are Yummy’z Kitchen serving American classics, the waffle bus with their gourmet waffle sandwiches, and FoodGasm offering everything from burgers and lobster rolls to wings and waffles and deep-fried Oreos. I love the food trucks that come to the Houston Highland Games each year where I get cultural delicacies such as haggis, bangers and mash, and scotch eggs and Irn – Bru to wash it all down. I haven’t got my granddaughter to try haggis yet but I did get her to each a scotch egg. She loved it. And everyone loves food trucks. Here are some great photos of actual Steampunk food trucks. It might surprise you to know food trucks aren’t new. And, yes, they go back to Victorian times. They were called lunch wagons then.

In 1887, Walter Scott, a Rhode Island pressman at the Providence Journal, made extra money selling homemade sandwiches and coffee he carried in baskets to co-workers. This little side business did so well Scott upgraded to a horse-drawn wagon with walk up windows on each side. There, he served fresh sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, sweet pies, and steaming coffee. Scott’s customers, these late night regulars and shift workers, were the rough and rowdy kind. He often had to hold their hats as collateral until they paid for their sandwiches.  Sometimes he even had to collect  payment with a club. It seems selling sandwiches in the Victorian age wasn’t for the faint of heart.  Still, his business boomed. Soon copy cat lunch wagons popped up giving him some local competition.

A Massachusetts wagon owner,  T.H. Buckley, discovered building lunch cars was more profitable than operating them. Commercial production of lunch wagons began.  The leading advantage of Buckley’s design, No. 22,743, Patented Aug. 22, 1893, was a series of windows extending  around the wagon and a door on either side of the wagon. The row of windows in the upper portion of the wagon body added a light and airy appearance. Buckley’s wagons also had large wheels to maneuver over the cobblestones, overhangs to keep patrons out of the rain, decorative murals, frosted glass and shiny fixtures, as well as ice boxes and cook-stoves.

The united States post Office honored these early lunch wagons with a 29 cent Lunch Wagon stamp issued on April, 12, 1991.

Food Time Line is a great source for 19th century foodways for Steampunk stories – authentic saloon menus are even listed and a recipe for a pioneer birthday cake as well as Queen Victoria’s favorite foods. Also click here for some great Lunch Wagon images.

If you enjoy eating at food trucks keep that in mind when writing stories set in the 19th century. Have your characters stop by a food wagon or create a character who owns a food wagon.

~ ~ ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be making several appearances this month at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans and at Comicpalooza in Houston.

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The doubt monster.

It gnaws at in the back of your mind. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. 

It can make you hide your writing, dabble at it (you can’t fail if you don’t commit), or simply put it off.

Or it can just haunt you. Taunt you. I can’t hack it. I will fail. Why even bother?

Sometimes it’s not a voice in your head, it’s other people –friends, teachers, parents. Other people who say you’ll never make it as a writer, it’s a terrible idea, quite now while you’re ahead.

As much as we’d like to say things like this don’t matter, sometimes they do. Sometimes they stay with us for a long time.

I have a few instances in my life that stayed with me–and affected me taking writing seriously for a long time. A high school guidance counselor who told me I’d never be an author. An elementary school friend who said I couldn’t be an author because she was going to be one and I was “copying.”

You are also not alone.

Pretty much every writer I’ve ever talked to has felt this way.

It happens when you’re considering writing.

It happens when you’re an aspiring writer.

It happens when you’re a published writer.

I’ve had plenty of these moments myself, and this fear of failure–and being told you can’t do it. My personal favorite (it makes me more angry than anything) is my ex-sister-in-law’s parents who told me that “people greater than you” have tried and failed to write a book. I also had a former boss say “it’s nice that you’re trying to write…things” when I had a book coming out (but that whole “A YA isn’t a real book” is a topic for another day.)

As one author said to me once “don’t let the jackwagons get you down.”

Publishing is full of ups and downs. The one thing you can control is your writing.

Even on those bad days, I knew that if I failed I didn’t want it to be because I didn’t try. So I did. It was hard in the beginning — to commit, to get serious, to put myself out there. It was a process.

It’s still a process. I still have those doubty days.

And it’s okay.

Still, I keep writing and carry on. This is my dream. My writing. And I’m not going to let doubt–from myself or others stand in my way. I keep writing. Keep learning. Keep growing.


My friend A.C. Gaughen  did a TEDx Talk on this very topic of doubt.

One of the things that really resonated with me was that you have to be brighter than a spark.

To me this means that if you’re going to do it — DO IT. Go for it 110%. Don’t just shine like a diamond, burn like a bonfire.

I can do it.

You can do it.

Whether you’re just considering writing, or you’ve written many books —you can do it.

Because you know what?

You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And gosh darn it, air pirates like you.

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles — a YA steampunk fairytale series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now. FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14.

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Marking The Passage

Hmm… the post about Mummies had me thinking…

The Egyptians prepared bodies for passage into the next ‘life’ and left monuments and tombs to protect the bodies of their departed.

What of other departings?
What is left to mark their passage?

Why am I even talking about this… on a site about writing Steampunk?

Characters live and die in our stories, but how are they remembered? What marks their passage from one world into the next?

cartwrightAlexander Cartwright, who some consider to be the Father of Baseball, was buried in Hawaii (see, you knew I’d get Hawaii in here somehow). Visiting his grave at Oahu Cemetery, you’re likely to find baseballs, gloves, and sometimes bottles of beer. All from athletes and fans hoping for a good season or a strong and accurate arm.

Military graves have been decorated with coins and research online has uncovered a number of ‘guides’ on what denomination of coin to leave behind to show your proper respect to those heroes that served their country.

benfranklinBenjamin Franklin’s grave in Philadelphia can be found easily on the grounds of Christ Church. Just look for the large slab dotted with pennies. Why such a coin? No, it’s not for the face on the coin, we all know that’s not Ben’s claim to fame… it’s for one of his adages. “A Penny Saved…” goes a long way, even though it doesn’t provide a lot of revenue for the church and historic graveyard.

pinterestdotcomeslashcgrenewaldslashA Ballerina’s grave in France is covered in heaps of shoes that are linked to her talent. Flat shoes and pointe shoes are left to weather the time on her grave. Perhaps there are young ballerinas hoping for divine inspiration… or merely to dance away the pain in their feet. Who knows what it is they think they will gain from leaving their shoes behind for the deceased dancer?

fergusonlearnncMy final example comes from North Carolina. I visited a dear friend that lived in NC and she took me to a National Park near her home. There, at Kings Mountain Park, along the hiking trail, is the grave of Col. Patrick Ferguson. An officer in the British Army, he made it his duty to secure the mountains for King and Country… the only problem was, he didn’t have a problem killing anyone in his way.

When the local settlements rose up against the British forces, they killed Col Ferguson. My friend noted that the stones piled up on the grave is not something to mark the death or honor the soldier. She tells me that the local mythos explains that each stone helps to ‘pin him’ to the grave.

So, what will your characters be remembered for?

What tokens will be left at their graves by generations to come?

Will their visitors seek otherworldly council or hope to prove that the deceased is still encased in stone and no longer a threat?

Is this a place of peace and hope? Or do those familiar with the area leave before darkness falls?

What is their story?


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