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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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