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I love cemeteries. Always have. In college, we had a particularly old one in the historic Texas town where I grew up. Sam Houston, once president of Texas, is buried there among the ancient tombstones and moss-covered monuments. Two of the most popular statues therein are those college students referred to as the Black Jesus, a bronze statue of Christ, and the Angel of Death, a quite beautiful statue of an angel whose crevices are stained with mildew. One, by the way, I would view quite differently now after BLINK (as Whovians would understand). We’d go there in the middle of the night, tripping on whatever psychedelic we had taken that night in the early 90s, and talk, dream, philosophize, etc. After reading Anne Rice my freshman year, my Gothic nature was both defined and solidified.

My fiction leans more toward the Gothic fantasy side of Steampunk than the highly technological science fiction side of Steampunk’s beginnings. Sure, my work has sprinklings of fantastic Steampunk technology, but the dark themes of my work almost always deal with death and loss in one way or another. From my Gothic short stories, like the erotic, Steampunk Chronicle’s Readers’ Choice Award-winning “A Kiss in the Rain” to my novels Avalon Revisited and The Zombies of Mesmer, when it comes to my taste in fiction, reading or writing it: the darker, the better.

Imagine my delight when I discovered the Cross Bones Graveyard in my research, home of “The Outcast Dead.” Stretching back to medieval times, the graveyard became home to the unwanted, the poor, and the working girls between the 16th to 19th centuries. Those too poor to be buried properly in hallowed ground at the nearby Southwark Cathedral, then known as St. Saviour’s, found their final resting place at Cross Bones. Many a prostitute throughout that time, including the infamous “Winchester Geese,” prostitues licensed to work by the Bishop of Winchester, from the 18th century, are among the hundreds buried in this tiny plot of land. In 1853, the graveyard was closed “on the grounds that it was ‘completely overcharged with dead’ and that ‘further burials’ would be ‘inconsistent with a due regard for the public health and public decency’.”

In 1990, a partial excavation was done at the site, removing some 148 skeletons. It’s estimated that’s less that 1% of all the 15,000 buried on those tiny grounds.

Situated on Redcross Way, it’s iron gates have become a colorful shrine to the forgotten dead as well as others lost by visitors. Glorious colorful ribbons and roses cover the entrance to this once-shamed place, telling its inhabitants and the world that every decent person is worthy of respect and remembrance, despite their livelihood or economic status.

The amazing Julie Mollins, the same reporter who wrote an article on me for Reuters in 2011, reported on Cross Bones and John Constable, the man who breathed life back into the graveyard with The Southwark Mysterys plays and monthly ritual honoring the forgotten dead.

Next month, I’ll be traveling to London in part to plan an O. M. Grey Tour of London for 2014, where I will personally take readers to the places found in my novels and short stories. On that tour that will take us all from Bedlam to Gray’s Inn Road to Hyde Park and beyond, the Cross Bones Graveyard will be one of the many stops in the Gothic borough of Southwark.

The Cross Bones Graveyard appears in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Southwark, the sequel to The Zombies of Mesmer: A Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter Novel which is available on Amazon, Kindle, and serialized on my blog for free, either in print or via podcast.

-_Q

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

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

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The lovely Lolitas of STEAMED! have asked me to contribute twice a month, and I am quite honored to do so. Initially, at least, my articles will revolve around the interesting historical tidbits of the Victorian Era that appear in my novels and stories.

One my favorite things about writing Steampunk is the research. It’s fascinating, really. So often in my fiction, I incorporate historical people or events or places or even technology. My imagination for technology is rather limited, I’m afraid, as my strengths as a writer are characterization, emotional depth, and dialogue. Technology and world-building are far down the list, so I work with what’s already there, although much of what I incorporate into my work has been all but lost to history. These little-known facts and events and gadgets find new life in my work. With that splendid thing known as creative license, I embellish and bend historical events and 19th century technology to fit the needs of my story.

Today, I’ll focus on The Air Loom: The Human Influencing Machine, something devised in 1810, even before the Victoria’s Reign began in 1837. While doing research on the notorious Bedlam (Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bethlem) Asylum for a guest post called “Lunatics in London” for Bitten by Books during a blog tour, I watched a fascinating documentary on the infamous hospital. Within, they introduced one James Tilly Matthews, the first documented paranoid schizophrenic. I was immediately fascinated by this person and his concept of The Air Loom, so I vowed to work it into my next novel.

In my Steampunk teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer, we visit the horrible Bethlehem Asylum. Although set in 1880, my Bedlam’s halls contain the misery and pain seen in the hospital in Matthews’ time there. After being released from a three-year stint in a French prison for suspicion of being a double agent, Matthews returned to London and proceeded to accuse the Home Secretary of treason in a rather dramatic and publicly disruptive way. Matthews was committed to Bethlem Asylum in 1797 as a lunatic. Fortunately for Matthews, a resident of the hospital for over a decade, he had a relatively cushy room there and ended up drawing plans for the renovation of Bethlem Hospital among many other helpful things. In 1810, he wrote a book called Illustrations of Madness in which he illustrated the influencing machine in great detail both in design and description of purpose. Matthews believed that scientist spies, experts in “pneumatic chemistry,” had set up near Bedlam and was tormenting him by means of rays emitted from The Air Loom.

The Air Loom was a piece of advanced technology, but in the early part of the industrial age advanced technology often meant enormous machinery, rather than the increasing minutarisation that characterise the 21st century. The Air Loom was enormous. The mechanism stood seven metres tall and occupied a footprint of nine square metres, and it was constructed from oak with machined brass fittings.

It was surrounded by barrels that fed noxious gases through oiled leather pipes into the main body of the machine. The gases were derived from substances including ‘gas from the horse’s anus’, ‘seminal fluid’, ‘putrid human breath’ and ‘effluvia of dogs’. (Source)

The machine’s rays exacted such horrendous tortures onto Matthews’ mind like “kiteing,” where ideas were forced into his brain; “thought-making,” where thoughts were removed and replaced by others of the scientist’s choosing; and Lobster Cracking, where “the external pressure of the magnetic atmosphere surrounding the person assailed was increased, ‘so as to stagnate his circulation, impede his vital motions, and produce instant death’.” Other torments included “lengthening of the brain,” “thigh talking,” “fluid locking,” and “bomb bursting.”

Read more about this fascinating machine and see images of The Air Loom, built by artist Rod Dickinson using Matthews’ illustrations at http://www.theairloom.org.

An altered version of The Air Loom appears in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Southwark, the sequel to The Zombies of Mesmer: A Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter Novel which is available on Amazon, Kindle, and serialized on my blog for free, either in print or via podcast.

-_Q

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

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

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Although I may be familiar to many of you from my guest posts on Steampunkapalooza for the last two years, today marks my debut as a regular contributor. I recently had the delightful opportunity of meeting several of my fellow Lolitas at the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago, and I couldn’t be more excited about joining their number. For any gentle readers not acquainted with my name or work, my name is Cindy Spencer Pape (three words, no hyphens) and I write the Gaslight Chronicles from Carina Press, along with a variety of other, non-steampunkish, romances, though we won’t be talking about those here.

In the real world, I’m married to a wonderful man who indulges my love of dressing up in silly costumes and can maintain his equanimity when I muse out loud about how to describe the sound of a cudgel striking a human head, how one would build a steam-powered ice maker, or what to call a secret order of vampyre hunters in Victorian London. Being something of a mad scientist himself, he actually encourages me. Furthermore I have two college-aged sons who remain remarkably unembarrassed by their mother’s occupation, which is really as much as one can hope for. As I write, two spoiled-rotten dogs lounge at my feet and an iguana who considers humans his personal servants is glaring at me from across the room. It appears his luncheon is a few moments late. Beyond that, I live a deceptively ordinary suburban life in southern Michigan, and survive by passing amongst the others unnoticed.

My Gaslight books are a willy-nilly mix of steampunk, gaslight fantasy, mystery and romance. As a child I was told that my too-vivid imagination would get me in trouble one day. Instead, it gives me the opportunity to have endless amounts of fun, writing fantastical stories about a world that might have been. One of my favorite plotting techniques is to take as many disparate ideas as I can, toss them in a mixing bowl, bake and see what comes out. Ultimately, those end up being madcap tales populated with oddball characters against a backdrop of fantasy, science and history.I’m certain I’ll be talking more about the series as time goes on.

You can find out more about me and my books by visiting my website. I also love to meet new friends on Facebook and Twitter. I’m charmed to meet each and every one of you, and hope that if anyone has any particular requests for future posts, you’ll let me know. Toodles!

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Here’s the last batch on winners for the author invasion. Thank you for making this such a success.

 

The winner of Jeanne Stein’s Chosen AND Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker is…

Tamibates

 

Next we have a copy of Ednah Walter’s Awakened and nailpolish.

Linda

 

Finally, we have three Tarot card readings from Maggie Shayne!

Sandy Robinson

Christine Ashworth

Marsha

Congratulations!  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

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What’s not to love about prizes?

First off, we have a copy of Kristen Painter’s “Miss Bramble and the Leviathan.”

drumroll please

*~*Nara Malone*~*

Next we have the winner of one of Simone Ekeles books (your choice):

drumroll please

~*~*Janel*~*~

Congratulations everyone.  Please email me at suzannelazear(@)hotmail to claim your prize.
Stay tuned for more winners.

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Two more days left of the Steamed! Halloween Author Invasion. Tomorrow we have Urban Fantasy Author Jeanne Stein. Thank you so much for helping to make this a success. Have you checked to see if you’ve won? If you haven’t, you still have a few more days to win!

Today we welcome Debut YA Author Ednah Walters. Her book Awakened is available now. One lucky poster will win a signed copy of Awakened and bookmark, and a set of Halloween nailpolish–some glow in the dark (US only please).

Most teens turn sixteen and get the license to drive, Lil Falcon gets the license to kill demons, but someone forgot to tell her not to fall in love with one.

Orphaned as a child and raised by her grandfather, Lil Falcon is concerned with navigating her new high school and is unaware she’s a descendant of the Nephilim, a race of beings with super powers tasked with protecting humanity from the demons who threaten it. But when she meets Bran, his psi energy unlocks her latent abilities and opens her eyes to what she is, a Guardian.

But Bran has a secret and befriending him sends Lil down a dangerous path that will either destroy her or make her stronger

 

Guardians and demons, their origin and how to get rid of a Lazarus/smoke demon.

By Ednah Walters

Nephilim, children of the Fallen Angels

You may know them as the Fallen Angels, the Watchers or Gregori, depending on your book of choice (Holy Bible—Genesis 6:2; The Book of Enoch and Jubilees—other editions of the Bible), but we know that these heavenly beings fell in love with “the daughters of men” and gave rise to a new breed of beings called the Nephilim.  The Fallen Angels passed on their amazing powers and vast knowledge to their children, from the ability to control minds to shape-shifting, distort perception of things and teleport to foretell the future and time-travel.  Some could even manipulate the elements—fire, water, wind and earth

Beings with godlike powers, or part human and part god, are found in many ancient worlds.  Titans and demigods, Pharaohs and Rakshasa in Hindus and Buddhist mythology.  Some were good and some were evil.

According to the Holy Bible, God decided to destroy the Nephilim strain that had entered the human gene pool by sending the floods.  Noah’s family was spared because they were pure and untainted.  Gen. 6:4 says that: “There were Nephilim in the earth in those days (in the days of Noah); and also after that.  In other words, some remained after the flood.  And so the story of the Nephilim continues with the Guardians.

The Guardians

The Guardians are the good descendants of the Nephilim.  The Neterus subgroup look like you and me, the were-nephils are shape-shifters who can sprout wings and fly or take a form that’s part-human and part-animal, the Nosferatu are the fanged ones and only hunt at night.   But they all carry on the tradition their forefathers, the Watchers/Grigori/Fallen-Angels, were sent on earth to do.  They watch over humans by killing demons that want to destroy humanity.

 

Since the demons they fight have similar powers and abilities like them (and physically look like them), the Cardinal Guardians train in martial arts and weaponry.  They are faster and more organized.  They have a system in place that works, from the teens attending your local high school and learning how to interact and speak like human teens, but secretly train after school and in the summer, to the Civilian Guardians who supply them with funds, information and cover.  The Civilians can be anybody, your doctor, the lawyer down the street, a cop, your teacher or even your local librarian.  Their existence is the best-kept secret in the cosmos.

 

Human Guardians?

The Guardians live among us, they look like us, fall in love, get married and have children.  Some fall in love with humans and sacrifice a lot to marry them.  Children from their union can either have more human traits or more Nephil traits.  You’ll know if one of your parents is a Guardian when you turn 16 and start to hear voices or teleport across town in your pjs and think you were sleep-walking.  If that happens, tell your parents.  If they rush you to the nearest shrink, honey, you were adopted!!!!  Put a help-ad in the local newspaper with a sketch of the Guardian amulet—a six-sided star inside a circle and a green stone at the core of the star.  A Guardian will come and take you to their enclave.

Halloween and Demons

Halloween is fast approaching and it is impossible to differentiate between a demon and a human wearing a costume.  If you’re giving out candies at the door, remember, they can’t come inside unless you invite them.  Watch out for their trickery though.  They will find a way to manipulate you.  If you’re out trick-o-treating, beware of two distinct demon scents.  The sulphur smell associated with the Lazari or smoke demons.  The sickly sweet scent of the nature-benders, you know the ones behind natural disasters.  I’d advise you to carry plenty of salt this year.  Since the death of a certain demoness, the Lazari population has tripled on earth.  The purity of salt crystals will repel them, but a direct spill of salt into the eyes of a Lazarus demon in human form can send her or him straight to Tartarus.  If in smoke form, whip that salt shaker like a feather duster and get the heck out of there.  The Lazari travel in packs and some ignore the rules.

~Ednah
http://www.ednahwalters.com

To learn more about Ednah’s Guardians and Demons check out Awakened.

What would you do if you met a demon?

One lucky poster will win a signed copy of Awakened and bookmark, and a set of Halloween nailpolish–some glow in the dark (US only please).

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We posted more winners — is it you?

It’s Day #6 of the Halloween Author Invasion. We’re still going strong with great authors blogging through Halloween and giving out prizes every day.

October 29 — Paranormal Romance Author Maggie Shayne
October 30 — Young Adult Author Ednah Walters
October 31 — Urban Fantasy Author Jeanne Stein

Today we have Paranormal Romance Author Maggie Shayne–and she has three amazing prizes to give away!

New York Times Bestselling author Maggie Shayne will be releasing her 50th full length novel, KILL ME AGAIN, this summer. Her stories span the genre, from westerns, to romantic suspense, to tales of the spiritual and paranormal, and just about everything in between. She’s a recipient of the RITA Award, the romance fiction industry’s most prestigious prize, and has won countless others. Maggie’s “Twilight” series of vampire novels, officially known as Wings in the Night, began in 1993 with a TWILIGHT PHANTASIES from Silhouette Shadows. She’s still penning novels in this series with two new stories due out next year. In addition, her new romantic suspense trilogy, “The Secrets of Shadow Falls” was just released in July, August and September.

Maggie Shayne’s Halloween

I think Halloween is my favorite holiday, and not just because I’m a card carrying modern-day Witch (although that certainly enters into it.) But it’s also because it comes during my favorite season, Autumn, and while All Hallows arrives long after the glorious foliage has passed its peak in my neck of the woods, I still associate it with that breathtaking beauty.

But it’s also everything else the holiday represents that makes me love it, not the least of which is the chocolate. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Halloween descends from the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced “SOW-en.”) Samhain was the final of the three harvest festivals, and it marked the end of the planting, growing, and reaping seasons. The final harvest didn’t just include fruits and veggies. It included meat, and so it was a time associated with slaughtering the animals raised for that purpose, which is part of where it gets its association with death. In fact, the full moon of October is most often known as the Blood Moon (also the Hunter’s moon.) The more widely known Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox, and the Blood Moon is the one that follows.)

The other source of Halloween’s link to death is that it’s one of the two times during the year when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is perceived to be at its thinnest. (The other is May 1, or Bealtainne. In spring, however, the veil is seen to be more the one between the world of humans and the land of the Fay, of nature spirits and the like.) Communication and even travel between the worlds is said to be easiest at these times.

In days of old, families would hold a Dumb-Supper, a feast with places set for the beloved dead who had passed during the previous year. The meal was eaten in silence as the living communed with and listened for messages from those ghostly guests.

I hasten to add, the actual date of Samhain is the day that falls precisely halfway between the Autumnal Equinox, and the Winter Solstice. It’s never on October 31st, but usually the first week in November. This year it’s November 7th, in the USA.

We all know the stories of how trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns originated. Offerings were usually left outside the door for any spirits that might be wandering the world on Samhain night, the idea being that the treats would placate them so they wouldn’t play any tricks on the residents, or try to get inside. If the treats failed, the Jack-o-lantern, carved into a turnip, not a pumpkin, would surely frighten the spirits off. And if nothing else worked, why wearing a mask would surely do the trick. Make the spirits think you’re one of them. Then they surely won’t haunt you!

But how do modern day witches celebrate Samhain?

Well, I’ll tell you a few of the ways I do.
First, if there are any herbs, fruits or vegetables still out in the fields, I spend the weeks prior to Samhain getting them in. Old lore says anything left out on Samhain night is likely to be tainted by gremlins. So I gather my mint and rosemary and sage, apples from the trees on my lawn, and any wild weeds I want to store for winter use, before Samhain.

I will most likely hold a solitary, quiet ritual in my temple room, during which I’ll sit in quiet meditation, speaking to, and listening carefully for messages from my own beloved dead.

I’ll spend a lot of time making lists of the blessings I’ve received during the past year, and spending time in blissful appreciation of each of them. And during my Samhain ritual, I’ll give thanks more formally. Samhain was a time of feasting on the recent harvest, and probably the pre-curser to our modern day Thanksgiving. Although the Autumnal Equinox is also a day for giving thanks among Pagans. So I’ll be spending lots of time giving thanks and taking stock of all I’ve gained during the year that has just passed.

I’ll spend a great deal of time on divination, because the powers that fuel such efforts are at their peak during Autumn, and at Samhain in particular. Tarot readings tend to be my forte, though I have a crystal ball I’ve been wanting to spend more time with. So I’ll be doing many readings during the days leading up to Samhain and on the day itself. I’ll be asking many questions about the future, and the nature of being, and carefully recording the answers I receive.

Shamanic journeying too, ought to be most potent during these thin-veil nights. So I’ll be putting in some time on that, as well, and making notes and filling journals will all the insights I bring back from the Otherworlds with me.

During the Month of October everything has deeper meaning to me. The dreams I have at night, the shapes I see in the clouds, the animals that appear on my walks outside, the odd thoughts that pop into my mind out of nowhere, the ideas I get for stories. The veil is thin. The curtain is parting. The illusion that is our world becomes so transparent that we get brief, tantalizing glimpses of what’s really true. The stuff that’s coming through is not to be ignored.

To fully appreciate the energies of Samhain, you might want to create your own little holiday ritual. Here are the simple ritual steps most working Witches use.

1. Cleanse and Consecrate the ritual area.
This is done by walking in a clockwise circle around the ritual area with some cleansing incense burning, such as sage or rosemary. Wave the smoke with your hands and imagine it purifying the space of any negative vibe, leaving only peaceful, pure positive energy behind.

2. Cast the circle.
Again, move clockwise around your ritual area, holding your hand out to project an invisible beam of energy, forming a circle. Move around the circle for a second time, imaging that ring rising up above and below, forming a bubble around the area, surrounding you. Move around a third time, adding substance to that bubble, your mind focused on it being sacred space, where nothing bad can enter, and where the energy you raise is contained until you’re ready to release it.

3. Honor the four directions, give thanks, and leave offerings.
This is yet another part of the rite that is observed by Shamans of every ilk. Move to the north, imagine its energy. It is snow, ice, cold, hard. It is rock and the planet earth. It is the depth of winter and midnight, and the rest of death itself. Open your arms and honor the North. Thank it for its gifts stability, of rest and repose, of the abundance of the Earth. Leave an offering of gift for the North, blow it a kiss, and move on.
Move to the East. It is springtime, and youth and newborn life, and the air we breathe. It is new growth, sprouts and twigs and breezes and yellows and birds. It is rebirth. Open your arms and honor the East. Thank it for its gifts of intellect, muses, the written word, language, inspiration, and travel. For the freshness of rebirth, and all gifts of air. Leave it an offering, blow it a kiss, and move on.
Move to the South. It is summer and fire and passion and energy, red and orange and vitality and life and sex and richness. Open your arms and honor the South. Thank it for the gifts of passion in your live, for your energy, your strength, your creative fire. Leave it a gift and move on.
Move to the West. It is autumn, and harvest, and the ocean. It is age and wisdom and transformation. It is emotion and love and all things watery. Open your arms and honor the West. Thank it for the harvest, for the abundance in your life, and for your heart and your love. Leave it an offering and move on.
Move to the center. It is the the place of spirit, and it is the Tree of life. Above is the abode of the Gods, and Below, the land of the dead, and the ancestors. It is the place of magick. Open your arms and honor the center. Thank it for your connection to your higher self (above) and your subconscious (below), and your ancestors and your own inner magick. Leave an offering, and then move on.

Sit quietly, and perform any divinations you may feel moved to do, or just meditate and see if any information comes to you. Speak to those who’ve passed if you wish. Listen to what they say.

When you feel ready, open your eyes, ground yourself back in the physical world. Rise and thank the center, say goodbye. Move to the west, and do the same. Then to the South, and then the East, and then finally the North. You’ll note you move counter clockwise this time.

Walk once more, counterclockwise around your circle, hand extended, taking back the energy with which you created your bubble, returning the room to being just a room. And then kneel and press your palms to the floor to let the energy you’ve gathered “ground” there.

Be sure to get something to eat immediately after. And don’t go in swimming for at least an hour. 😉

For more information on Halloween traditions, I strongly recommend HALLOWEEN by Silver Ravenwolf.

And from me this season, look for re-prints of my vamps:

TWILIGHT HUNGER- October

EDGE OF TWILIGHT- November

BLUE TWILIGHT- December

All in preparation for my three NEW vampire titles in 2011.

Tune in at www.maggieshayne.com for the premier of my new vampire video on October 31st!

Happy Halloween!

Maggie
www.maggieshayne.com

How are you going to celebrate Halloween? Three lucky commenters are going to win a tarot card reading via email with Maggie!

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