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Archive for the ‘Airships’ Category

Across the U. S.from 1896 – 1897, many newspapers reported unidentified flying objects, often described as silver cigar shaped airships with space alien crewmen and pilots thought to be from Mars. If you are looking for inspiration for a 19th century Steampunk UFO tale these reports from the great airship scare should help.

The Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Call reported the first sighting on November 18, 1896. A witness named R. L. Lowery described an alien craft powered by two men exerting themselves on bicycle pedals. Above the pedaling men, under the main body of the dirigible lay a passenger compartment, Some witnesses reported the sound of singing as the airship passed overhead.

The November 19, 1896 edition of the Stockton, California Daily Mail reported Colonel H. G. Shaw claimed that when driving his buggy through the countryside near Stockton he came across what appeared to be a landed spacecraft with a metallic surface, with no features other than  a rudder, and pointed ends. He estimated the space craft was a diameter of 25 feet by about 150 feet in length. Three slender, 7-foot-tall space aliens emitting a strange warbling noise came out of the craft. The beings examined Shaw’s buggy then tried to physically force Shaw into their airship. The aliens were said to give up after realizing they lacked the physical strength to force Shaw onto the ship. They climbed back into their airship, which lifted off the ground and sped out of sight.

The Albion Weekly News reported two witnesses saw an airship crash inches from where they were standing. The ship suddenly disappeared, with a man standing where the vessel had been. The airship pilot showed the men a small device which had enabled him to shrink the airship small enough to put it in his pocket.

On April 10, 1897 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article reporting a witness, W. H. Hopkins, encountered a grounded airship about 20 feet in length and 8 feet in diameter near the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri.The spaceship was propelled by 3 large propellers and crewed by a beautiful nude woman and a bearded man, also nude.Hopkins attempted to communicate with the crew to ascertain their origins. Eventually they understood what Hopkins was asking and they both pointed to the sky and uttered something that sounded like the word Mars.

April 16, 1897 the Table Rock Argus reported a group of reliable witnesses saw an airship sailing overhead. It had a lot of passengers, including a woman tied to a chair and a man with a pistol guarding her.

The Center Farmer’s Advocate published the April 19, 1897 account of Alexander Hamilton of Leroy, Kansas, who along with his son and a tenant, sighted an airship hovering over his cattle pen. A red cable from the space ship lassoed a heifer, but got entangled in the pen’s fence. Hamilton’s attempts to free the cow were unsuccessful. He then cut a portion of the fence loose and the ship and cow rose off the ground and sailed away.

In 1897 the Washington Times speculated the airships were a reconnoitering party from Mars. The same year, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch suggested these may be visitors from Mars, now fearful of invading the planet they have been seeking.

Here’s four sample of articles which appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1897:

Mount Vernon, Illinois, April 15 — What appeared to have been the mysterious airship was seen here by more than 100 persons last night.

Carlyle, Ill., April 15 — The airship was spotted this evening travelling fast in a northwestern course.

Quincy, Ill., April 15. — The Wabash passenger train which arrived here at 10 o’clock tonight raced for 15 minutes with the alleged airship. They first sighted it near Perry Springs, 52 miles east of Quincy. All of the passengers saw it, but all they could see was two lights, one white, the other red.

Hillsboro, Ill., April 15 —the airship was seen in the western heavens by a number of reputable citizens last evening.

My favorite report is the UFO crash in Aurora Texas in 1897. A cigar-shaped airship plowed through a windmill, destroying it. The good folk of Aurora discovered a space alien inside, who died upon impact. They gave him a Christian burial. Someone stole the space alien’s tombstone but the state of Texas erected a historical marker at the cemetery, which reads, “This site is also well known because of the legend that a spaceship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash was buried here.” The Dallas Morning News printed the story, stating an airship hit the tower of Judge Proter’s windmill, blew into pieces in a terrific explosion scattering parts of the UFO over several acres, wrecking the windmill and water tank, and destroying the Judge’s flower garden. The newspaper reported that the pilot, the only one in the spaceship, died upon impact and though his body was badly disfigured it was evident he was not an inhabitant of this world.

An interesting aspect of the Great Airship Scare was a rumor that the space ships were the invention of some genius who wasn’t ready to announce his creation to the public. Thomas Edison was widely speculated to be the mind behind the airships and in 1897, to quiet the rumors, he issued a statement denying all responsibility.

So start researching and writing some Victorian era UFO stories. I can’t wait to read them when they’re published.

~      ~      ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 26 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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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!
V

 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.

cover

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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I teach a lot of online writing classes and do a lot of workshops. One of the things I encounter most is the assumption that in order to be “steampunk” a story MUST be set in Victorian London.

While you’re free to set you story here, this isn’t so. It’s not so much where your story is set as the setting itself. It’s in the aesthetic, the culture, the technology, the very feel of the story–things which trancend mere location.

My Aether Chronicles series is hardly set in London, they’re set in America (and Faerie), though they are set in an alternate version of the year 1901.

But the year your story is set is not a prerequisite either. Your story can be set in whatever year or city you want as long as it has that 19th century feel — and of course steam tech.

Your steampunk story can even be set in the future.

space-pirate-captainI’m not talking about a futuristic world where something happened and the world had to start over and has become steampunk (though that would be amazing.) No, I’m talking about honest-to-god futuristic steampunk with spaceships and the like.

Yes, this is possible. People have even considered it. Just google Steampunk Star Trek if you’re curious.  (Technically, IMHO Firefly is a Space Western, not steampunk, but feel free to watch it over and over again for inspiration like I do.) 

This idea of futuresteam, or steampunk in space, comes down to more than corset-laced spacesuits, steampunky outfits, and neat gadgets. However, these are important, too, in keeping up your aesthetic (another key element of a steampunk story.)

steampunk space suit 2One of the most important elements in making this work is the technology. So, perhaps steam-powered spaceships aren’t actually plausible yet in real life, but the tech needs to be present in your story for it to work in a way that’s most believable in the context of the story and preserves the basic elements of what makes tech steampunk. See my post about steam-powered spaceships here. 

This tech is going to be an important integration, since this is one of the things that really makes your story steampunk and not just a story dressed in steampunk.

steampunk-gearAnother element would be blending your futuristic tech with the steampunk aesthetic. This is where the phrase the future as imagined by the past comes in handy. This would also be where you’d add in your corsets and rayguns and fun tech. Keep these elements constant and consistent but you don’t need to keep hitting the reader over the head going look, it’s a steampunk story, but at the same time, you don’t want the steampunk elements to fall away as you get into the action and adventure. A few really amazing details can go along way in keeping up your steampunk throughout the story.

Future steam doesn’t necessarily need to be on a spaceship either. Perhaps we’re on Earth or some other planet with skyscrapers and flying cars. Or maybe we’re in an underwater city.

But the future can still be steampunked–after all, the future is yours. 

Suzanne Lazear writes Steampunk tales for teens.  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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I’ve been mulling over a Steampunk space adventure for a very long time, but for many, many reasons hadn’t really developed it. 

space

When I started to finally work on the project, one of the first things I started researching was the actual probability of steam-powered spaceships. Even if it wasn’t actually viable right now, I wanted to come up with something possibly feasible, or at least something I could explain, since I have a habit of writing female MCs who know, or want to know how things work — which means I need to know. I love science, but I was more into chemistry than physics.

M.E. Brines’ article Are Steampunk Spacecraft Really Feasible? was very thought provoking, though I was looking for something more akin to the spacecraft I was familiar with, such as  the Enterprise  or Serenity. 

The hubby proposed I look into nuclear submarines and that technology, or even Project Orion, which was a nuclear-propelled spaceship proposed in the 60’s (which Brines’ article also mentions.)

A recent party yielded the idea of Solar Sails. Now this was a very interesting idea.

Okay, I think I could figure out an interesting power source that fit into the definition of Steampunk–especially if I added that amazing all-purpose element aether.

But what about the carbon dioxide? Bingo. Spaceships use lithium hydroxide to break down the excess carbon-dioxide, so that definitely could have potential. Not to mention some hydroponics in the ship’s garden.

As for what the ship looks like and the layout?

Hmmmm….I don’t know.

Maybe I need to watch Firefly for inspiration. Again.


Suzanne Lazear writes Steampunk tales for teens.  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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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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This Memorial Da981656_613954288623576_410594702_oy weekend, I was Up in the Aether–at the brand new convention in Dearborn, Michigan. Although there were holdover staff and guests from World Steam Expo, which folded, this was an all-new con with all new staff. It wasn’t perfect. We had plenty of growing pains, some visible to attendees, more that weren’t. You know what, though? I had a blast. My favorite place was the vendor’s room, of course, which was chock full of goodies ranging from $5 to thousands. Of course I picked up a few goodies to augment my wardrobe–I’m only human.

Other activities abounded, though. There was an airship combat room. An airship-to-airship combat video game to test out. There were more bands than I can remember. There was a Mr./Ms. Steampunk pageant. And of course, there were lots of panels–history, costuming, food, DIY, and, of course, steampunk fiction. That’s where I came in. Yep, I was in charge of wrangling the authors (and, incidentally, one film crew.) Yes, that can be an awful lot like herding wet ferrets. In this case, though, everyone pl467982_613348448684160_218185869_oayed together pretty well. Guests of honor included Pip Ballantyne and Tee Morris, Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, and Steven Harper. Other panelists were me, David Erik Nelson, Christian Klaver, and Colleen Gleason, plus the makers of the steampunk movie, “Wars of Other Men.” We had lots of great panels and even a few attendees showed up.

Yep. A few. Here’s where my learning curve on steampunk conventions kicks in. Science fiction conventions are about the product: the books, the movies, the games, and by extension, the creators of the above. Romance cons are even more so. But steampunk conventions are not about fiction. They’re about being steampunk. Make your costume, make your food, learn your history and dance to the music. Only a rather small percentage of the con-goers give a rat’s butt about the books. This strikes the average author as very odd, but the solid truth is that a lot of folks who identify as steampunk Don’t Even Read. (gasp) No, I don’t mean they’re illiterate. I just mean that fiction isn’t their recreation of choice.

Huh.   Well, having come into steampu967225_3198677542531_491994324_onk via fiction, that just bloody well hadn’t occurred to me. So what to do next year to keep fiction as a viable part of the convention, and draw in more bodies to the literary panels. I have ideas, but not enough. More suggestions would be more than welcome. One thought is to run the writing panels as DIY models–where there are hands-on exercises and the attendees come out with some kind of product. One is to have fewer panels, so the audience isn’t diluted by too many options. More advance promo of the authors would also be a plus. Maybe integrate some of that into the main programming of the con itself. Mostly, though, I’m just going to have to work my butt off to come up with something. I have confidence in the steampunk community that we’ll pull something off. After all–we build worlds. Surely we can build an audience. 🙂

In these photos, you’ll see me, my spouse, and my younger offspring. The grand-spawn was also in attendance, which was fun. Thanks to the captain and first mate of the Airship Valkyrie for the props: deck gun, tentacle, and the Aerodrome Authority chalkboard. All three black top hats are from Blonde Swan, leather skirt, kilt and suspenders are from Shoptroll, and red men’s corset and my green silk outfit are from Ties that Bynde.

 

 

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Two months until CHARMED VENGEANCE (book two in my YA fairytale steampunk series THE AETHER CHRONICLES) releases! ~launches cupcake cannon~

Have you pre-ordered your copy yet? Seriously, I love this book even more than INNOCENT DARKNESS and I hope you love this book too. There are some new characters who I just adore. We also meet Noli’s brother, Jeff, the air pirate.

Unlike book 1, which takes place mostly in the Otherworld (faerie), book 2 takes place mostly in the mortal realm. This means MOAR STEAMPUNK. There are airships, air pirates, explosions, and cake. (No cake was harmed in the making of this book.)

Anyway, I made a short video with me reading an excerpt from Chapter One of CHARMED VENGEANCE. I hope you like it! (I’m pretty technologically awkward, so the video’s not fancy.)

I have all sorts of fun things in the works for Book 2’s release–giveaways, twitter chats, signings, a blog tour. There will even be a read-along of INNOCENT DARKNESS in July to get everyone ready for CV! I’ll keep you updated. (The AC facebook page or my author page are always good places for updates.) In the meanwhile, I have to get back to my book 3 edits…

~S


Suzanne Lazear is the author of the YA Fairytale Steampunk Series The Aether Chronicles. INNOCENT DARKNESS is out now, CHARMED VENGEANCE releases 8-8-13. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and a menagerie of pillow-pets.

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So far, since becpirate coupleoming a Lolita last year, I’ve been mixing my posts on writing steampunk with chronicling my adventure into the steampunk lifestyle. Discovery #1: Steampunk folks are diverse, warm, welcoming and loads of fun. As one wise gentleman told me the other night, waving out at a dance floor full of corseted and tricorned partiers, “Life is hard, complicated and often messy. This? This is just fun.” (That’s him below with the spouse.) Discovery #2: There is an enormous crossover between the steampunk crowd and the Renaissance Faire crowd. Enormous. Fortunately, a lot of hoops, corsets, skirts and blouses, belts, gloves, jewelry, etc. can do double duty. That makes the crossover a lot more affordable. But this weekend brought me to discovery #3: PIRATES!glenn & don`

Yes, there is an active and organized pirate community in Michigan. How did I not know this?

shoptrollThey call themselves Brethren of the Great Lakes and offer everything from a pirate festival on Lake Michigan to adding color to your random local event. They do lectures on maritime history. And yes, they throw one hell of a party. One of my steampunk friends (left) invited me to an event via Facebook, where he was going to be selling his magnificent leather goods. (Like the skirt I’m wearing in the photo above. See more of his awesome work at Shoptroll.net) That was the first I’d heard of the Brethren. Best yet, the event was right in my home town, so for a change, the spouse and I didn’t have to drive anywhere. pirate kala

During the afternoon, there was a fair inside a local hall, with booths selling everything from clothes to wigs, to pirate stickers to the best handmade caramels I’ve ever eaten. (War Pony Forge: Yum!) There was a pirate art show. A silent auction and raffle raised funds for this summer’s festival. A band played traditional music in one corner. The costumes and company were…piratical, loud, funny and courteous. Also much less smelly than their historical counterparts, an anachronism I applaud. There is no single era of piracy required in the costuming and fun.  A Renaissance admiral chatted happily with a steampunk airship pirate.shiver me timbers

In the evening, the party moved to a local watering hole, where we filled both of their banquet rooms. A rowdier band played rocked-up traditional music, and the event was so much fun that random locals paid their five dollars to come in, just because there were so many people having such a good time. (And there were lots of pirate wenches in corsets–duh.) Also to note was that many of the pirates were also members of the steampunk and Ren-Faire communities. In fact, they make something of an effort to have the pirate events fill in the gaps when there isn’t much Rennie stuff to do. And again, a lot of the garb is compatible. I see much more pirating in my future. Yarrr!

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Last weekend I went to my first steampunk dance party.

This might not make a lot of sense if you know me. I don’t dance much–too many old injuries to the hips, knees & ankles. Plus I have NO rhythm. They hubster’s bad knees make the idea of dancing the night away even more unlikely. It was hot and sweaty, and crowded, plus I was in a corset. But I did have a lot of fun.    There was a huge crowd of total strangers, and, other than the spouse, exactly one person I’d met one time before. By the end of the night, I’d gotten to know people I look forward to meeting again. Some of them were in costume, others weren’t. Overall, there was this wonderful, wonderful sense of coming home. I was among my people.

Or, as the spouse happily put it, the place was a nerdfest. That’s not an insult, coming from him. He sang along to the “Time Warp” as loudly as anyone. Apparently, that’s a tradition at midnight at Up in the Aether gatherings. Yes, there were a few business-related moments. I talked to people about author participation in the Up in the Aether, the Convention, coming next spring. I handed cards with book info to a few interested people. I picked up cards from jewelry makers and costumers, looked at one guy’s gorgeous steampunk Tarot cards and had a taste of bacon brownie pie. Mostly, though, we just chatted with other people, ranging from the ages of our offspring, to significantly older than us. Steampunk, unlike some other movements, is very accepting of all ages, shapes, and sizes. I can’t wait for next month.

For anyone in the Detroit area, here’s the info: Up In The Aether‘s monthly gathering is held at a cool little place called The Phoenix Cafe. It’s 5 dollars admission, and you bring your own food and beverages, though a lot of sharing goes on. Next month’s meeting is Oct. 19. I’d love to see some more familiar faces there!

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It’s Day #14 of NaNoWriMo. As of last night, most should be around 22k to stay on track word count wise. Anyone hit 30k yet? 40k?

If you need some inspiration the Happily Ever After Blog over at USA Today is checking in weekly with romance writers doing NaNo.

Amazing news on the book front.  Innocent Darkness popped up for pre-order on Amazon. If you have a moment, could you please go tag it with “steampunk”? Pretty, pretty please with cupcakes on top? Also, if you want to read it on Kindle, make your you press the little button to tell my publisher that there’s interest.

I’ve also crossed over to the darkside and gotten a Facebook author page.  Like it for book news and such, if you wish. 

The NaNo Cheater Challenge is still going on my personal blog and it’s not too late to join in the fun.

So how is everyone doing on their goals? Here’s my wordcount so far as I chip away at book #2 in my Aether Chronicles series (sequel to Innocent Darkness).

Day 7     2467      
Day 8     1662      
Day 9     1195      
Day 10   2200      
Day 11   4750      
Day 12   1324      
Day 13   5152      
Grand Total so Far: 36305

Some days are good, some days aren’t. There were a few days I was just too tired to write at night, so I only had my lunch time counts. I just do what I can each day and try to make up for it on the weekends.

I’ve hit a huge road block in this WIP. I’ve written myself a character who would actually know and care how an airship works. Right now, she’s on an airship, which means *I* need to know how my airship works right down to the repairs she’s making on the engine. This has been quite the challenge for me (and I’ve spent a lot of time complaining about it on Twitter.) I just don’t know enough about airships — and yes, it’s steampunk, I can and will make things up, but at the same time, I like to know what the rules are so I can break them — and there is *so* much to learn I’m getting overwhelmed. I need to decide how much fantasy I will have in my world (versus something very realistic), and even then I want it to be somewhat plausible (maybe) — or at least fit within what I’ve built in book 1.

I’ve been using a lot of [insert proper name here] and the like, but at the same time, that only works for some details, the big things, like what the ship looks like, what runs the engines, where they’re located in the ship, the ship’s layout, what keeps the ship afloat–those things I need to know so I can actually write the story. When you don’t have much writing time, this research can slow you down. Because in this point of the story these things are so important I’ve had to look up a lot of things, and ask a lot of questions, and ponder a lot of things. So I’ve just had to suck it up and do what I can, though I know I’m going to have to do a lot of fact-checking and detail adding in re-writes. The reason why I’m having to take so much care in all this is because it’s in character with my MC. Noli likes to fix things, so her not knowing these things, asking about these things, or caring about these things, would be very much out of character for her, not to mention, some things are plot points. If she didn’t care about these things, I wouldn’t need to care about them so much either. (Why did I write myself an MC who likes to fix things, again?)

Thanks to everyone online so far who’s explained things to me, sent me links, etc. I’m still looking for more links and *really easy to understand* explanations. All of this is a little out of my comfort level, and I am getting overwhelmed and bogged down, which I can’t do, since this is NaNo. Must. Get. Wordcount.

Even with all my progress, I think December is going to be “Novel FInishing Month” and January is going to be “Novel Editing Month.” Anyone game?

So that’s where I am in my NaNo progress.

How are you doing? What have been your trails and triumphs this week?

Also, we have our winner of DARKER STILL by Leanna Hieber:

What The Cat Read

Please contact me to claim your prize. 

Until next week, write on!

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

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Heather Hiestand is the author of seven novels and numerous novellas and short stories. Her latest release is a steampunk romance novella, Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas.

Airships on my Mind

by Heather Hiestand

Thanks for allowing me to visit today, Steamed!, and discuss one of my favorite topics.

Gadgets are a perpetually exciting part of writing steampunk and the airship is one of the most durable elements. Some authors have them drifting across the sky, providing a backup, some have characters travelling on them in casual fashion, and some of our characters have to get a bit more up close and personal with these lighter-than-air machines. There are as many variations to the airship as there are writers to imagine them.

Here is the first view of an airship in my novella, Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas:

Linet dashed back to the window. Yes, a rope ladder, just like the ones she’d climbed thousands of times to her father’s dirigible, the Christmas, dangled outside, a little lower now. Ladders had been the staircases of her life until she was seventeen, carrying her from earth to sky, larceny to freedom.

Who had found her? Her father had enemies, to be sure, but no enemy would be visiting her on Christmas Eve. No one from her old life had crossed her path in all this time. Perhaps her sister Terrwyn had finally reappeared?

She reached through the window and grabbed the ladder, then frowned. That knot with a gash on the left side looked familiar. One rung was painted red, the next, green. Her gaze rose, unbelieving.

The Christmas tossed gently, grandly, merrily, on the wind, the green and red-striped balloon over the deck radiating holiday cheer. She watched the propellers turn for a minute, dumbfounded.

When I wrote Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas, I didn’t have to know too much about airships, but as I write the sequel, Captain Fenna’s Dirigible Valentine, I’m having to understand them a bit more. Lots of sky battles in the new story! I’m far from an expert, but I’m making use of some excellent websites.

Here is my list:

To start, Wikipedia always has great information. http://www.wikipedia.org. Just search on whatever term you are wondering about, like dirigible or zeppelin.

I use Mapquest to figure out travel routes for my airships. http://www.mapquest.com

If you need to understand the basic parts of a dirigible, here is a good site:  http://history.howstuffworks.com/world-war-i/dirigible1.htm

Fantastic real world information:  http://www.airships.net/

Need some help with air acrobatics? http://www.greenharbor.com/fffolder/questions.html#anchor1234506

I use actual ships to figure out layout and size of the ship part of my flying contraptions. Sales sites for ships, versus aircraft, are very handy for that. One site I use, that has slideshows of actual boats, is:  http://www.boatquest.com.

This is a discussion on Steampunk Empire about building steampunk airships and models:  http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/forum/topics/building-an-actual-airship?xg_source=activity&id=2442691%3ATopic%3A569797&page=2

~ Heather Hiestand

http://blog.heatherhiestand.com
Captain Andrew’s Flying Christmas links:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Captain-Christmas-Steampunk-Smugglers-ebook/dp/B005WASTQK

Smashwords:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/96889

BN:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Captain-Andrews-Flying-Christmas/Heather-Hiestand/e/2940013314191

ARe:

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-captainandrew039sflyingchristmas-624819-339.html

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Today we welcome Steampunk author Stella Price

Stella Price writes Steampunk as Dagmar Avery and runs the Authors After Dark convention. Her new Airship, the PenNInk, will debut November 2011 online. Watch for it. You can check out all her work at www.stellaandaudra.com

Airships. You know them, you lose them, you even write them into all your books of steamy goodness. But did you know that airships are real? No not in the “Duh, zeppelins and dirigibles…” way.

A lot of people outside of the steam community don’t know this but Airships are popping up all over the country. Airships, or groups or troupes with a common goal in the steam community, are responsible for conventions, events and performances. Think of them as non union unions. I personally know of 4 “official Airships” that do everything from Setting up events to performing at conventions and traveling to do panels.

So shall I introduce you?

The Airship Archon, from Ohio, is the premier steam group. I met the majority of them at MARCon this year and was greatly impressed. They work as a unit, and are committed to keeping the steam community an open and welcoming place for people to explore. You can see more about them at their website, www.airshiparchon.com

If you check the website for the Airship Isabella, their mission is much the same as Archon, as they are also populated by performers, Artists and visionaries, and they are committed to helping people create characters to get into the real spirit of steampunk.

The A.S.S. Titilus, the Northeast answer to the Archon, is all about performance, information, and fun. As Im personally close with the Captain, A Count Named Slick Brass, I have been able to see both on the forefront and behind the scenes what this Airship does. For those of you at AAD this year, the Crew of the Titilus came to wreak havoc on the con floor for Saturday, and they were the MC’s for the Steamball. They are staples of the East Cost Steam events and like most airships… are completely for Hire.

Now the 4th? Im proud to say Im part of the 4th, and we are affiliated with the Titilus (loosely… LOL). The Airship PenNInk, So named because the majority of our crew are writers, goes live via the web soon! Our mission is to bring the new horizon of steam literature to the masses of the steam community, as well as a unique fashion sense and sexiness the community is missing. And remember, just because your not showing a little leg, doesn’t mean it aint sexy!

I’m the Captain of this rag tag ship, along with my amazing crew: PJ Schnyder (Weapons expert), A.L. Davroe (our Anthropologist), Leanna Renee Hieber, Our perpetual passenger,  Lia Hable, Lady of All things pretty and tentacle driven (she hides them under all her voluminous skirts its quite frightening…) and Marilyn Hacket, our first mate and bringer of Airshanties.

But You know a crew doesn’t live on ink alone… And we have our support crew who must always be mentioned. Our Steamstress, Brandi, Mercenary Mandi, Madame Kelly, Our Barrister Kayleigh And Ladies James and Sandy… Without them the PenNInk would cease to function.

 

An Airship is easy to put together, and more airships out there I think is a good thing. You have a common goal? You enjoy the lifestyle, and dressing up and having a good time? Are you always in a group anyway? Start your own airship. It’s a great way to get known… or join an existing one… Most take crew all year long. It’s a great way to get into steampunk…


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Today in celebration of National Steampunk Day, we, the Lolitas of STEAMED! offer up ten things you can do to get into the spirit of things:

10. Wear goggles to work (or if you’re already at work and have missed the opportunity wear them out to dinner). You’ll be amazed at the curious looks and questions you get, which is a perfect time to talk steampunk!

9. Try wearing a corset. That’s on the outside, please.

8. Wear a hat. Top hat, aviator cap, newspaper boy slouchy cap, bowler, it all counts!

7. Unplug and read a steampunk book – by lamplight. Okay you can use a candle if you must, but instead of watching the television tonight, why not escape into a great piece of steampunk fiction?

6. Talk with a British accent for the day. You may even call your boss, “Old Bean” unless of course, he or she is younger than you.

5. Use phrases like “My word”, “How splendid”, or “Please excuse me while I wind my gears,” or “Where did I park my aeromachine?” “Drat”, “Most peculiar” or even “Fire the mechanical monkies!”

4. Drink a cup of tea. Crumpets, clotted cream, jam and little fingers sandwiches are optional.

3. Learn to waltz. Waltz anyway. Why walk when you can waltz?

2. Go read Girl Genius (it’s updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at http://www.girlgeniusonline.com under comic. Warning: it is addictive, especially if you start at the beginning).

 And, the number one thing you can do is. . .

1. Try the Steampunk Drinking Game. Pick out a steampunk movie or book of your choice. Best played with others who don’t actually plan to go anywhere afterward. Beverage may be of your choice. For each item you come across, take the prescribed drink. Last person standing wins.
Aether = 1 drink
Airhship = 2 sips
Automaton = gulp
Bodice = 1 drink
Corset = down the whole shot
Gears = 1 sip
Goggles = three sips plus bite of lemon
Her Majesty and/or Queen Victoria = down the whole shot
Horse and/or carriage = 3 drinks
Inventor and/or mad scientist = 4 drinks
Inexplicable device = 1 drink
Mention of social rank (Duke, Marquess, Earl, Barron, etc.) = 4 sips
Parasol = 2 drinks
Presence of bioengineering = 4 drinks
Puff of steam = 1 drink
Raygun = chug
Top Hat = 3 drinks
Tesla coil = down the whole shot

Celebrate Steampunk!

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If you were to tell the story of this gal what would it be? Is she an airship pirate, or military general?

What is the eye piece for? Does it replace her own eye or is it an add on to detect automatons passing for humans? Did she steal that fancy coat?

And what about those wires on her left shoulders?

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 Hello my lovelies!! I have been absent I know!! Have no fear though, I am back!

So, I hear rumor we are talking about fantasy in steampunk this month and do I have something to show you!! On March 25th, Suckerpunch, a total kick ass steampunk(ok, maybe more dieselpunk) movie full of mechanical robots, zeppelins and sexy girls in a variety of fantastical steampunk outfits arrives in theaters!! This movie weaves a crazy dark fantasy stylized world with steampunk elements and all I can say is I will be first in line to see this movie. I also totally plan on recreating Sweet Pea’s AMAZING outfit!! Does anyone have a sword I can borrow? lol

I would also like to add I am a total fan of how often the paranormal and fantasy elements are being blended with steampunk, personally that’s what I prefer to write, read and watch, so this is all good-by me!! How about you guys? Do you prefer the fantastical element mixed in or do you prefer your steampunk more science based? I promise a full review after I watch it, but until then I will leave you with the amazing trailer for what looks to be a very fun, action packed steampunk movie!

~Elizabeth

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