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gail carriger (2)

Gail Carriger made a book tour stop in Houston, Texas for her new release, PRUDENCE : The Custard Protocol: Book One. In this latest novel, Alexia’s girl, now all grown up, with all the spunk of her mother and then some ventures to the exotic land of India. Her high priority, top secret mission involves tea, vampires and weremonkeys. 

At Murder By the Book, Gail shared with her fans that she did a lot of research for this novel as it is set in India. The mythology used in the book including that of the Rakshasas, India vampires, and the Vanara, India weremonkeys is accurate. In her research she also uncovered the interesting historical tidbit that Bombay was originally several islands the English engineered into one by means of land reclamation projects.

Ms.Carriger also discussed how she comes up with such interesting names for her characters. She uses names for humor. Sometimes the name just comes to her as she’s writing like it did for her main character, Prudence. She also looks names up in Victorian registries and on tomb stones. Sometimes she likes a word so much she just adds a letter or letters at the beginning or end to make a name.  Another way she choses names is what she calls cookies, meaning it’s a treat for anyone willing to do the research. She’ll pull a name from a real historical character or the name will have a hidden meaning or she’ll spell a word backwards for a name. One such cookie is Lord Akeldama. If you don’t know where and what Akeldama is, google it. It’s interesting. I have to say my favorite new character name in Prudence is Spoo, she’s a lively member of the Spotted Custard’s crew.

At the book signing, Ms. Carriger was asked how she explains Steampunk to people who aren’t familiar with it? She says, “Imagine living in a time period where you can take a hot air balloon to the moon.” Speaking of fiction genres, she also divulged that she likes military sci-fi including Rachel Bach’s Paradox series and Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff. And she likes some romance in her sci-fi reads. Ms. Carriger even has a book club on Goodreads where you can read along with her. A book she likes is chosen each month.  Also on My Book The Movie blog you can see who she would chose to cast for Prudence if it were a movie.

I read Prudence and I love the line,

Rue was moved to italics by the gesture. “Mine?”

As you can see from that sentence, PRUDENCE is as charming and humorous as all of Ms. Carriger’s books.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

She could be a member of the Spotted Custard crew, perhaps Greaser Phinkerlington or even Spoo.

In PRUDENCE, the adventure begins when Dama gives Prudence an airship, which she paints to look like a lady bug and she names it the Spotted Custard. Of course her good friends Prim, Percy and Quesnel come along. Intrigue and espionage ensue, which Prudence thinks is all due to the special tea Dama has sent her for but it turns out it’s also about supernatural beings in India, the vampiric Rakshasas and the Vanara, weremonkeys.  I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say of course in the end Prudence manages to save the day.

The book is a funny, sweet, fresh delight. It’s ever so creatively original – after all it’s by Gail Carriger. I highly recommend PRUDENCE for anyone who likes good books and of course it’s a must read for all Gail Carriger fans.

Here is a video from Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego 03/17/15

Other Gail Carriger related post on Steamed:

Book Monday: Timeless by Gail Carriger

Maeve Alpin Reviews Gail Carriger’s Timeless
How To Make A Proper Pot Of Tea by Gail Carriger 
In Which We Get Cozy with Gail Carriger
In Which Author Gail Carriger visits

~      ~      ~

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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dictionaryI’ve been reading an annotated version of a Jane Austen book and while I find the book fascinating, the notes on the right-handed pages are even better. I’ve read my share (and then some) of books written IN or about Regency and Victorian eras, but we never truly know ‘everything.’ It’s only through continued reading and researching that we grasp a good and thorough understanding of these fascinating eras of time.

When I read the title ‘Sense & Sensibility’ – I read it as being ‘having good sense and being sensitive’ – referring to ability or inability of the characters to have the good sense to make decisions and be sensitive toward others… qualities that I felt Marianne lacked and Elinor had in droves… but wait a minute…

Sensibility – the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity [in the annotation it says that the meaning is ‘strong feelings’]

Strong Feelings? Not Sensitivity? Boy howdy have I been ‘off’ about this! I’m going to have to find an annotated version of Sense & Sensibility… *sigh*

Let’s take a look at a few other words –

Disgusting – arousing revulsion or strong indignation [in the annotation it says that the meaning is distasteful]

Character – the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual [annotation – reputation]

Interesting – arousing curiosity or interest, catching attention [annotation – important]

Years from now… when readers delve into the universes that we create… will their vocabulary be different than what we use today? Will they understand what we intended when we set the words down in print/ereader file?

Will they understand the difference based on the context of our words? Will they rely on annotations of our works? Or… will their altered understanding of the vocabulary be… just fine? Will they enjoy the story even more… or look to understand our creativity by broadening their knowledge of our ‘times’ and ‘vocabulary’?

Thoughts?

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navajorug1** Please forgive the odd timing, we’ve been on hurricane alert in Hawaii and I admit prepping for the storm did take a little bit of my attention**

Last week we talked about continuing threads in story fiction… this week we get to continue the discussion.

I’ve been working on a story for Capes & Clockwork II – the follow up anthology to the popular Steampunk Anthology from Dark Oak Press – Author D. Alan Lewis is both an author in the anthology and the editor.

I had a conversation with him about a story in the anthology, Captain Amy and the Steam-driven Kittens of Doom.  In the story we are introduced to the intrepid Captain Amy as she struggles to defeat her arch-enemy, Professor Von-Dark… and then we are suddenly transported…

capesfcoverbigAmyLynn, a young girl needed at the dinner table, begs off for just a few more moments to finish the story…

What happened?

When I spoke with Alan, he was working on the follow up story to this one, and explained that AmyLynn’s family had experienced a loss and bringing these stories to life with her imagination is how Amy was working through her grief.

It wasn’t what he had in mind when he started, but the ‘twist’ was an inspiration that came to him while he wrote the story. AND, will carry on to more Captain Amy stories… perhaps a novel or collection. It sounds like a lot of great inspiration.

So, for more steam-powered superheroes and intriguing stories… keep your eyes open for more information on Capes & Clockwork II from Dark Oak Press!

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navajorug*First, I am so happy to be back from my trip. My first Vacation in seven-ish years!*

I had the opportunity to spend some time within the Navajo Nation studying their history and culture. Spending four days living in a traditional Navajo Hogan on a family ranch in Many Farms Chapter. During my travels I visited the Interactive Navajo Museum in Tuba City. One of the many ideas that struck my interest was the idea of continuing inspiration. My tour guide, a young lady born and raised in the area, explained that rug weavers, eager to keep their creative muse excited and inspired would weave a continuing thread into their rugs.

There are different ways that they can do this…
1) Weave in a different colored thread along a side or border that literally leads off the rug
2) Design a path of color that also leads off the edge of the rug, like a pathway in a maze
… incorporating either method or a combination of the two gives a weaver ample ways of continuing their creativity into their next project.

So, how do we do this in our own works?

The most obvious method is to leave open a storyline that might inspire a sequel to a story/novel.

Leave an unanswered question in the story. Not every question posed by the characters will end up answered with a pretty little bow at the end of your story.

A supporting character might create that link to another story. Readers may fall in love or in hate with that character and clamour to know what happens to them in a future installment.

Where is your thread? Where is your pathway out from the maze? Maybe you have more than one… enjoy it, write it, and then share it!

Capes & Clockwork, an anthology of Steampunk Superhero stories published by Dark Oak Press, has its own continuing path… a second anthology is in the works and next week, we’ll discuss how the stories, authors, ideas from the first anthology are finding new life in the second!

I’d love to hear how you, as either readers or writers, have been inspired by THREADS in stories? Comment below and let me know!

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Destiny is coming! Book 3 in the Aether Chronicles Series, FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8/8/14. In order to get ready for it, we’re reading Book 2, CHARMED VENGEACE, over on my website.

web pagecharmed2

 

Here’s how it’ll work:

The Charmed Vengeance Read-Along starts TODAY and will run until July 31!

How it works:

  1. We’ll be reading 1 chapter a day, every day, even weekends. The prologue will be in addition to Chapter 1, the epilogue in addition to Chapter 23.
  2. Each day check back here for insights, awkward videos, deleted scenes, etc, related to the chapter-of-the-day
  3. You can talk about the chapter, your feels, ask questions etc., on twitter using the hashtag #cvreadalong
  4. If you miss a few days, or want to read ahead, that’s okay, too! We know life happens.
  5. This is also why the last to days in July are “catch up days” to discuss the book over all, speculate on book 3, and all that fun stuff.

So, are you ready? Join us on my website.

To get you started, here’s an (awkward) video from last year of me reading part of chapter 1.

Suzanne Lazear is the author of the Aether Chronicles series. INNOCENT DARKNESS and CHARMED VENGEANCE are out now, FRAGILE DESTINY releases 8-8-14. Find out more about the series at www.aetherchronicles.com

 

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I’ve been deep in edits for Fragile Destiny, Book 3 of the Aether Chronicles series and it’s made me think about all the work that goes into getting a book ready for publication. Steps I wasn’t aware of when I first started seriously writing.

Back when I first started writing, I thought I was done when I wrote “the end. Revisions? What was that? I was lucky if I remembered to run spell check.

As I learned (and wrote several really bad manuscripts that will never see the light of day), I discovered all that you put into revisions–which is far more than spellcheck. It has to do with flow, pacing, making sense.  Not to mention all that research.

And those gosh darn word counts.

I made synopsis and queries and finally, sold a book.

Done right?

Fragile Destiny (1)No…there’s so much that goes into making a story ready for your readers that happens after you sell your story — or turn it into your editor. Things I wasn’t necessarily aware of (um, what are first pass pages?)

Every publisher is a little different, but here’s the time line for Fragile Destiny which releases 8-8-14.

August 2012 — Started to write Fragile Destiny during Camp NaNoWriMo

October 2012 — Turn in proposal

December 2012 — Get go ahead to write entire book

April 2013 — Turn in full draft (which has been beta read, edited, ad nauseam)

July 2013– Get edit letter

September 2013 — Turn in edits

October 2013 — Cover is released

February 2013–See back cover copy

March 2014 — ARCs come out

Late March 2014 — Get line edits

April 2014 — Turn in line edits

Late April 2014 — Get copy edits

beginning of May 2014 — Turn in copy edits

May 2014– Get and turn in first pass pages (last chance to change anything)

June 2014 — Book goes to printer

August 8-8-14 –Book is released

I’m sure I’m forgetting things (and I may have gotten some of the dates wrong, also, for the other books in my series sometimes things were a little different. Don’t forget, every publisher has a different process.) Also, there are lots of things that go on behind the scenes that I’m not necessarily a part of.

Happy Writing!

~Suzanne

Suzanne Lazear is the author of The Aether Chronicles series, which is YA Fairytale Steampunk. Book 3, Fragile Destiny releases 8-8-14. Innocent Darkness and Charmed Vengeace are out now.

 

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Jane Loudon

Jane Loudon

Jane Loudon’s novel, The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century was published anonymously as a trilogy in 1827, and again in 1828. It was the first book about a mummy brought back to life, a popular plot to this day. However, there’s a lot more to Loudon’s contribution to sci-fi. In the regency era, a time when the word sci-fi wasn’t even used, she understood what futuristic sci-fi was meant to be. She wrote of the future in a way no one had before. Instead of just taking her own time period and moving it into the future making few changes except for utopian or dystopian ones, she built an actual futuristic world with advanced technology, futuristic clothing, and a different type of government. Jane Loudon was the first sci-fi author to actually world build.

The gadgets in her future world all spring from the regency era when the high-end technology of the day was steam and balloons. Two of Loudon’s characters, Edwin and Dr. Entwerfen embark on an expedition to the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops (Khufu), to shock him back to life with a galvanized battery. Their dialogue when leaving for Egypt and realizing they have too much baggage for the balloon touches on some of Loudon’s interesting futuristic inventions. She even envisioned a certain type of space flight as a fashionable mode of travel. Here’s a short excerpt:

“The cloaks are of asbestos and will be necessary to protect us from ignition, if we should encounter any electric matter in the clouds; and the hampers are filled with elastic plugs for our ears and noses, and tubes and barrels of common air, for us to breathe when we get beyond the common atmosphere of the earth. “

“But what occasion shall we have to go beyond it?”

“How can we do otherwise? Surely you don’t meant to travel the whole distance in the balloon? I thought of course, you would adopt the present fashionable mode of traveling, and after mounting the seventeen miles or thereabouts, which is necessary to get clear of the mundane attraction, to wait there till the turning of the globe should bring Egypt directly under our feet.”

“But it is not in the same latitude.”

Then the doctor explains the box he wants to bring on the balloon contains his portable galvanic battery and his apparatus for making and collecting the inflammable air. It also holds a machine for producing and concentrating quicksilver vapor – the power to propel them onward in place of steam. It even has laughing gas for the sole purpose of keeping up their spirits.

Another change in everyday life in the future is fast mail delivery. Letters are placed inside balls and fired from steam cannons. Every town and district have a woven wire suspended in the air as a net to catch the ball and a cannon to send it off again when the letters for that neighborhood are extracted. A smaller wooden ball with a hole in its side to making whizzing noise as it sails through the air is sent before each mail ball to alert people to keep out of the way.

Also Stage balloons are used to make fast deliveries. One of the characters receives a collection of ballads, at least three hundred years old, sent from London by stage balloon that morning. They are on rag paper since asbestos paper used in the 22nd century had only been invented for two hundred years.

Movable houses are another change in the future. One of the characters, Edric, sees a house slide out of place and glide along the road. A lady at the window blows a kiss to someone in another house as she passes by. When someone wants to go into the country for a few weeks they take their house with them, which saves the trouble of packing and allows everyone to have all their little conveniences about. There are grooves in the bottom of the houses that fit on the iron railways. Propelled by steam, they slide on without much trouble but it only works for small houses as large ones aren’t compact enough.

More futuristic marvels are feather-fans hung from the ceiling, circulating aeriform fluid. Also they use tubes in the houses to suck out stale air and bring the fresh air in. And the most stylish coats are made in a machine. At one end it strips the wool off a sheep, then weaves it so a ready to wear coat comes out at the other end of the machine. Also Bridges are movable and steam-powered to rotate in all directions and to adjust to whatever height is needed for the different waterways. Even streets are modernized, they are warmed by pipes of hot air so no one perishes of cold.

She envisions a lot of technological advancements in agriculture including a steam-powered lawnmower and a mechanical milking machine. Also when the sun doesn’t shine enough to make hay they use a burning glass to make it. When it doesn’t rain enough for the crops they use an electrical machine to draw down clouds to cause rain on the fields that need it.

She also shares a glimpse of futuristic fashion: “The ladies were all arrayed in loose trousers, over which hung drapery in graceful folds; and most of them carried on their heads streams of lighted gas forced by capillary tubes into plumes, fleurs-de-lis, or in short any form the wearer pleased; which jets de feu had an uncommonly chase and elegant effect.”

There are also political changes from the Regency era to the 22nd century. After undergoing a revolution, and even a period of democracy, England returns to an absolute monarchy but as a matriarchy. All rulers are queens and the candidates are single women of the royal family between the ages of 20 and 25. There is  a law that the queen cannot get married. In the towns, the men in the country 21 years on up, in groups of 10,000, choose a deputy to represent them in London. The queen is elected through the majority vote of these deputies.

The Mummy! 1828 2nd edition - title page

The Mummy! 1828 2nd edition – title page

The main characters in The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century come from two families with their eyes on the crown: the Montagues and the house of the Duke of Cornwall. The Montagues have two sons, Edmund, a national hero and Edric, an intellectual. The Duke of Cornwall’s family has two daughters Elvira and Rosabella, who are the next in line to the throne if anything happens to Queen Claudia. Edric’s father has arranged for him to marry Rosabella but he reuses. Edric is fascinated by the idea of reanimating the dead. His friend, Dr. Entwerfen tells him that since the ancient Egyptians believed the souls of their mummies were chained to them in a torpid state till the final day of judgment, there is every reason to believe that by employing so powerful an agent as a galvanic battery of fifty surgeon power re-animation may be produced. Edric is too squeamish to touch a dead corpse’s flesh but he’s willing to touch a mummy as it swathed in wrappings. He and Dr. Entwerfen go to Egypt and resurrect the mummy, Cheops. But the mummy runs out of the pyramid, hijacks their balloon, and flies back to England. When he flies over Queen Claudia’s coronation pageant, his balloon gets tangled up with all the other balloons crowding he sky. His balloon gets torn and falls to the earth landing on and killing Queen Claudia. The story continues with political intrigue, a secret birth father, and love triangles, all with a little help from the wise Pharaoh, Cheops, who has the most common sense and perception of anyone in the book.

The similarity between awakening the mummy and awakening Frankenstein back to life and the similarity of the two main male characters, hero and intellectual as in in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, is no coincidence. Jane Loudon uses them as a parody to show her own view point. Her political, social and religious beliefs differ greatly form Mary Shelley’s.

I have to say it, Sci-fi readers and writers owe Jane Loudon and Mary Shelley so much. Frankenstein was written and first published in 1818, when Mary Wollstoncroft was only nineteen. Jane Webb wrote The mummy, a Tale of the 22nd century when she was 17 and it was published in 1827. H. G. Wells and Jules Verne didn’t write their first books for many years after this: Jules Verne’s – Five Weeks In A Balloon in 1863 and H. G. Wells – The Time Machine in 1895. Not only have women been reading and writing sci-fi for over two hundred years, the sci-fi genre wouldn’t be the same without them. The genre was pioneered by two teenage girls with very different views on politics and religion, both writing in the Regency era. I think that’s awesome.

 ~       ~        ~

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

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As we all know Mary Shelley wrote sci-fi before H. G. Wells or Jules Verne and was one of the main pioneers of the genre. Everyone’s familiar with Frankenstein and probably everyone looking at this post has read it. It is the first mad-scientist sub genre book and many consider it  the first work which can logically be labeled sci-fi.  But I’m going to talk about a lesser known book of hers that is also significant to the sci-fi  genre, The Last Man. It is the first written work  of the sci-fi sub genre of a sole survivor of earth. A still popular plot, often used in books and movies two hundred years later.

A good place to start with Mary Shelley’s work is with Mary herself. Mary Wollenstoncraft, an author and the most important feminist of the day, died due to child birth complications nine days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Wollenstoncraft Godwin. Mary’s father was the famed philosopher and author, William Godwin. Shortly after his wife’s death, William married Mary Jane Clairmont. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin grew up in a household with her half sister, Fanny Imlay, from a liaison her mother had with an American, and her step mothers’ two children from a previous marriage, Charles and Claire Clairmont, and her half-brother William, the child of her father and his  new wife.

When she was 16 Mary fell in love with the poet, Percy Shelley and ran off with him, even though he was married. Mary gave birth seven months into her first pregnancy and the premature baby died shortly after. Her next pregnancy produced a healthy son, William. Soon after that, Percy’s wife, Harriet,  drowned herself and her unborn child. Then Mary’s half sister, Fanny, committed suicide.  After that, Mary gave birth to a daughter, Clara. That child died a year later and the next year her son William died. She became pregnant again and gave birth to her son, Percy,  the only child who survived. After that Mary suffered a dangerous miscarriage she barely survived. Then her husband drowned in a boating accident. By the time all this loss occurred, Mary was only 24 years old. In the few sentences above, these facts about her life, we can see the tragedies she experienced contributed to her creations of both Frankenstein and The Last Man and gave her the emotions she needed to pull from to write them.

I also wanted to mention that at the time they were first published both Frankenstein and The Last Man received terrible reviews but both sold well and were widely talked about by readers of the day. Shelley was a brave author who wrote what she wanted to write even if it went against political, religious or social beliefs of the time. We owe much to her for that. The sci-fi genre owes much to Mary Shelley for that.

“The last day passed thus: each moment contained eternity; although when hour after hour had gone by, I wondered at the quick flight of time. Yet even now I had not drunk the bitter potion to the dregs; I was not yet persuaded of my loss; I did not yet feel in every pulsation in every nerve , in every thought that I remained alone of my race, — that I was the LAST MAN.”

The Last Man is set in the 21st century and written in first person. The writing is elegant with marvelous description. Verney tells the story of his life. Through mistakes of his father, he and his sister, Perdita,  are cast out of a happy life into one of poor lonely orphans.  He forms a plan of vengeance against the people who brought this ruin. The main culprit was the king, who is dead. When the king’s son, Adrian, comes to Verney’s town he sets his plan in motion. However, Adrian turns out to be a great supporter of Verney’s  late father. Verney rises from his life of despair and longing with the help of Adrian, who becomes his lifelong best friend.  This circle of six friends: Verney, Perdita, Adrian a poet and intellectual , Raymond a hero nobleman (who marries Perdita) , Adrian’s sister, Idris  (who marries Verney) and Evadne, a Greek princess, have many ups and downs in their lives. Eventually, most end up married with children and quite happy and settled. But Perdita’s husband, Raymond, cheats on her with Evadne.  So Perdita leaves Raymond. A war between the Greeks and the Turks break out and Raymond fights in it as does Evadne. She dies on the battlefield and Verney finds her body and buries her. As Raymond is on his death bed from mortal war wounds, Perdita goes to him and forgives him. When he dies, she kills herself.

Soon after this an epidemic begins. It’s unknown what causes it or how it spreads. It goes from country to country. For a long time England is untouched by it. Due to the plague and several natural disasters in different parts of the world, England is filled with immigrants. Then the symptoms reach a patient in a hospital in London. In the year 2096 the few survivors of the plague in England decide to leave and find some untouched part of the world. Verney, Adrian, and their families are at the forefront of this group.

They sail from England, leaving it depopulated. The group decides to pass the hot months in the icy valley of Switzerland. As they journey there Idris, Verney’s wife. dies from the plague. By the time they arrive in Switzerland it, like every other place, is empty of people. After seven years the plague ends. Thinking danger has passed they leave the alps to go into Italy and pass the winter in Milan. Then they  spend the summer in a villa by a lake. There one of the children is struck with a sudden fever and dies. They burry the child and sail their skiff toward Athens. But a storm overtakes the ship . Everyone is drowned in the shipwreck except Verney.

Verney enters the town of Ravenna near where the wreck occurred. He sees oxen, dogs, horses, birds, and other animals but no men among them. After staying a while in Ravennna, he heads to Rome, the capital of the world, the crown of man’s achievement. He finds pens and paper and writes a book about his life, which is the book – The Last Man.  He leaves it in the ancient city of this world as a sole monument of Verney the LAST MAN. He then leaves Rome to sail around the shores of deserted Earth.

The Last Man is elegantly written with marvelous descriptions. It is written in first person with complicated characters. However, keep in mind it is written in the Regency era for Regency era readers. In that time period writing did not demand nor did the readers want fast pacing, hooks or a balance of dialogue and narrative. This book has far more narrative than dialogue. Therefore it may be slow reading for us modern readers. I had to push myself to get through it at times, but I am so glad I read it.

The next time you are writing, reading, or watching a movie or TV show with a mad scientist or sole survivor on earth plot, take a silent moment to thank Mary Shelley. And if you’re at a con or other event and someone says something like women are new to Sci-Fi, you might just want to remind them that women have been reading and wiring Sci-Fi for over two hundred years.

~       ~        ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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white-queen-red-queen

The White Queen & the Red Queen – Comicpalooza 2013

Lewis Carroll’s birthday was Monday of this week.  Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, best known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll, was born  January 27, 1832. In addition to a writer, he was also a mathematician and a photographer. He wrote over a dozen mathematic books under his real name.

mail-google-com

Lolita Alice and the Mad Hatter – Comicpalooza 2013

He wrote poems and  stories as a child. And in 1856 he gave the editor of The Train magazine a list of pen names for his poem Solitude. From that list the editor chose Lewis Carroll. Chalres Dodgosn came up with the name using Lewis in place of Lutwidge and Carroll in place of Charles.

For his birthday week, I thought I’d pull out the Steampunk Mad Hatter tea party. This is for you Lewis Carroll:the man who brought us the Unbirthday Party.

There was a table set under he pavilion in Houston’s Herman Park and the mad hatter was having tea at it.  No sleeping doormouse sat beside him. Plenty of  squirrels scurried about the park, which are quite close to mice, but alas he didn’t try to put a squirrel in his teapot.

Group Photo - taken by Marilyn at Houston- Herman Park Mad Hatter Tea Party

Along with the mad hatter, I and about forty other Houston area Steampunk enthusiast came to tea.

Alice - Taken by Marilyn

Including Alice, complete with the white rabbit on her necklace.

We bought teapots and tea cups and, though the Queen of Hearts didn’t make tarts for us, we had yummy cucumber finger sandwiches, luscious blueberry scones, crisp ginger biscuits, grapes, cheese, brownies, and more. We even had a fancy parasol center piece and a Steampunk sign. Though it was a lovely day the pavilion offered nice shade. It was much like standing under a large mushroom.

Though Alice was curious about the March hare’s watch, which didn’t keep time but told the year, here in the 21st century many of us have watches which do both, but we didn’t spread the best butter on ours or dunk them in our tea like Lewis Carroll’s march hare did. Still we had a great time drinking our tea.

The day was gorgeous and every time the little train in the park went by all the riders, parents and children, waved at us.

Waving at the train -taken by Marilyn

We smoked the hookah like Lewis Carroll’s large blue caterpillar and we played croquet like the Queen of Hearts court.

Lighting the Hookah

There were no cries of off with your head from the Queen but my croquet ball was smacked out by other balls several times. We used regular wire wickets, not soldiers doubled up and standing on their hands and feet to make the arches as they did at the Queen of Hearts’ croquet game. We also didn’t have to try to manage live flamingos for mallets or live hedgehogs for balls.

taken by Marilyn at Houston- Herman Park Mad Hatter Tea Party

Which is fortunate, as the chief difficulty of using a flamingo as a mallet is by the time you get its neck straightened out it twist itself round and looks up in your face with a puzzled expression. And the hedgehogs have a habit of unrolling themselves and crawling away.

Of course in Wonderland it is always time for tea since the mad hatter quarreled with Time last March it stays at six o’clock, but our tea party ran until 4 o’clock. Though somewhat sad, it’s good it came to an end so we could take our teapots and teacups home and wash them out rather than moving all the tea-things around as they get used up like the mad hatter, march hare and the doormouse did. After all, they couldn’t find time to wash them when it’s always tea time.

DSCN0246I had such a pleasant day at the Mad Hatter tea party, I half believe I went to Wonderland rather than Herman park. I wish you could have been with us Lewis Carroll…and Happy Birthday.

~      ~      ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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capesandclockworkbookcoverDuring a forgotten time when the world was powered by steam and clockwork, heroes arose to do battle against the forces of evil. Some were outfitted with the latest technology. Others were changed by the mysteries of science and magic, while a few came from the skies. Capes and Clockwork fuses the fantasy and beauty of steampunk with the action and adventure of the superhero genre. Tease your imagination with sixteen stories of good versus evil, monster versus hero, and steam versus muscle! 

The Capes and Clockwork Anthology was published on January 1, 2014 by Dark Oak Press – what a great way to start off the year!

I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to some of the authors of this anthology –

Are you primarily a short story writer or novel length?

Alan D Lewis:  I’ve written both and enjoy both. A novel gives you plenty of room to explore the characters and their worlds in my depth and detail. I prefer writing novels. On the other hand, short stories can tell a brief but compelling story, not weighing the reader down.

For me, writing a few short stories after finishing up a draft of a novel is a pallet cleanser, so to speak.

Logan L Masterson:

It’s hard to say, since I haven’t actually finished a novel to date. Wait. Maybe it’s not that hard. With Clockwork Demons in Capes & Clockwork, a very brief story in an upcoming werewolf anthology, and a novella from Pro Se Press, I suppose I’m really a short form writer. I enjoy exploring the economy of shorter works, and I think they support theme a lot better than novels.

David J Fielding: Though I have aspirations at being a novelist, I find myself concentrating on short stories at the present time. There is a challenge to take readers on a journey, with a beginning, middle and end and keep it to a limited word count. Perhaps that’s the influence of modern media on storytellers – the on-demand format, the hyper-link generation – micro-bursts of entertainment; when they want it, how they want it. As a writer it challenges you to convey your ideas and story in a streamlined way. You find yourself creating shortcuts. There’s a Stephen King short story Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut that (for me) is a great metaphor of writing short stories – and that new roads, worlds and layers are out there.

Christopher Valin: I haven’t written a novel yet, although I did write a history book. Most of my work has consisted of short stories, feature scripts, and teleplays. I grew up reading comic books and eventually worked in the comic business as an inker and writer, so I’ve always loved superheroes.

Brent Nichols: I write frequently at a wide variety of lengths, from short stories to novellas to novels. Each form has its challenges and its rewards, and I’m fairly comfortable with all of them. Mostly, I like to tell a story, and I don’t worry too much about length. The story goes from the start to the finish, whether that’s four pages or four hundred.

What aspects of the Steampunk genre do you find the most satisfying?

Alan D Lewis:  With Steampunk, I’ve always been drawn to the Victorian Era and the spirit of adventure and wonder. It was a time where anyone with some know-how could take a box of metal cogs and springs and invent wondrous contraptions. Balloons and airship were indeed flying during this time. Maybe not monstrous flying machines, but they did exist and were built by individuals, not by aerospace corporations.

So Steampunk let my imagination run wild with what ‘could have been’.

And superheroes? Well as a kid, I grew up reading The Avengers, Thor, and others. So writing about them wasn’t a problem but joy.

Logan L Masterson: The best thing about steampunk is the opportunity of exploration. The Victorian era was a brilliant time, and its settings allow authors to as some great what if questions. That there remained so many unknowns opens the field. We can explore social issues, the resurgence of mysticism, technology, and wide, vast dominions, all with the same breath.

Christopher Valin: As for Steampunk, it’s something I liked for many years without knowing it was a genre. For example, as a kid, ‘Wild, Wild West’ was one of my favorite shows.

But it wasn’t until six or seven years ago that I realized it was a genre in itself, and started not only reading it, but writing stories in that vein.

So being able to write a story combining the two and figuring out how to make it work was very satisfying to me. I loved thinking about how superheroes would have been over a hundred years ago.

Brent Nichols:  The beauty of Steampunk for me is the absence of limits in certain key areas. I grew up reading science fiction and old-fashioned adventure stories, and steampunk at its best combines the two.

The thing about Steampunk technology is that it feels accessible. You can’t take apart a piece of modern technology and tinker with it. Pull the cover off of your smart phone some time and see how far you get. So much of modern technology is simply beyond the grasp of an individual. Most science fiction these days doesn’t involve a solitary genius making a breakthrough or building an innovative new machine. That sort of thing is done by the huge R&D departments of major corporations these days, not one smart person with a lab in his basement.

In the 19th century, though, we had men like Edison and Tesla, and a few women, too, making truly astonishing discoveries and building devices that changed the world. Steampunk technology often feels like something you could create on your own, or at least take apart and tinker with, and understand. It’s just plain more fun than modern science fiction.

The other part of Steampunk that appeals to me is the ability to play in a wild, fascinating past world, when every corner of the planet was not yet mapped and measured, when there were still lost tribes and unexplored jungles and so many things that were simply unknown. A steampunk writer gets to play in that marvellous world, without the need to be limited by actual history. Steampunk worlds are alternate worlds, and we get to make changes. We get to say, let’s change that historical fact, or devise that gadget that would not, strictly speaking, actually work. Let’s keep the story rooted in history and technology that are basically sound and feel plausible, but let’s allow for wondrous machines and places and events, because it allows us to tell such awesome stories.

What writing challenges have you learned to overcome?

Alan D Lewis: When I first started writing, my main problem wasn’t with developing the story or plot or characters. It was with the mechanics of writing. The subject had never been a strong point in school and I struggled, early on with that fact. Storytelling always came easy. Writing did not. But I surrounded myself with other writers who weren’t afraid to point out my errors and encourage me to continue. I also had to get over the fact that it doesn’t have to be right the first time. A writer can edit and rewrite and rewrites some more. My first book was a long, long road, but I learned enough that the second novel took a fraction of the time to turn around from an idea to a published manuscript.

Logan L Masterson:  Steampunk’s challenges are relatively few for me. It’s really a natural genre, since I grew up reading mostly comic books and, you guessed it, classics. Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and so many others. I was a teenager before I got past Tolkien into other “modern” fantasists, so the fusion of science fiction and Victoriana was easy for me. Add my love of comic books, and Clockwork Demons may have been the easiest story I’ve ever written. The only challenge for me was devising a unique, distinctive technology for my world. Once I had that wound up (hah!), the rest fell into place.

Christopher Valin: For several years, I wrote almost nothing by screenplays, so the biggest challenge for me in writing short stories is probably changing my mindset and including more description and inner dialogue.

I’m still hesitant to include too much about how everything looks because I want to leave some of it to the ‘director’… which, in this case, is the reader picturing the story in his or her head.

Brent Nichols: Learning to tie my shoes was a big hurdle. More recently, I’ve been struggling with how to present the technology of steampunk in a way that’s plausible and interesting without bogging the reader down in a lot of technical detail.

The big problem with Steampunk technology is that most of it wouldn’t actually work. There were no airships in the Victorian era, no walking machines, no hydraulic spiders or steam-powered giant mechanical ants. Steam power requires vast weights of iron and water to function. The really cool inventions that steampunk writers and artists dream up simply wouldn’t work in the real world.

I deal with it by dreaming up gadgets that are just a little bit beyond the realms of physics as we know it. Far enough out there to be cool, but not far enough out there to be ridiculous. And I hint at alternate-reality technologies, things that, if they had existed, would have opened the doors of possibility and allowed the fantastic gadgets of steampunk to be real. Enhanced coal, for example. My fictional enhanced coal burns hotter and faster than real coal and makes some preposterous machines just a little more plausible.

Now, what are you waiting for? Delve into the Capes & Clockwork stories –

Buy Capes & Clockwork on Amazon.com
Capes & Clockwork Facebook page

For more information on the authors in this Q & A –

Alan D Lewis – www.dalanlewis.com
Logan L Masterson – www.agonyzer.com
David J Fielding
Christopher Valin – www.christophervalin.com
Brent Nichols – www.steampunch.com

From Ray Dean: Howdy from Hawai’i, folks! I’ve been a guest blogger on Steamed! on several occasions, but thanks to Suzanne who gave me the opportunity to do this on a regular basis. So the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month you will be subjected… err… entertained(?) by my blog posts… YOU WILL BE ENTERTAINED, I said… *cough*

Anywho… A hui hou (Until we meet again)

Ray Dean – www.raydean.net – My Ethereality

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Today we welcome author Eva Gordon.

Eva Gordon writes genre bending paranormal/fantasy/steampunk and historical novels with a strong romantic element. She loves to create stories that combine her passion for mythology, steamy romance, and action/suspense. Her imagination takes her from one universe to the next. Thus far, she has several series lined up as well as single titles waiting in line for production.

Eva has a BS in Zoology and graduate studies in Biology. She once taught high school Biology, Environmental Science and Anatomy/Physiology. When not in her den writing, she can be found at steampunk conventions, at work at the raptor rehabilitation center, wolf sanctuaries, or to satisfy her inner Hemingway on some global eco adventure. 

The Hand of Miriam

By Eva Gordon

image001A Victorian world of supernatural creatures, magnificent airships, a secret society, and one bluestocking adventuress who, threatened by evil seeks protection by awakening the golem.

On an archaeological expedition, Bayla Gideon, is widowed by a supernatural force and branded with the Hand of Miriam or Knowing Eye. Threatened by evil, she awakens the golem; a mythical man of clay, who protected the Jewish community over three centuries ago.

The golem, Gesher, is surprised. Freedom –by a beautiful, enchanting woman. His desire is to return to the celestial spheres and regain his status as an avenging angel. Yet, Bayla challenges his mind, body and soul. Would he risk his return to the heavens for her?

Besides, dealing with the otherkind, mad inventors and an unrelenting matchmaking aunt, Bayla is equally determined to resist her steamy attraction to the striking fallen angel.

Thrust into a malevolent war, which includes facing Jack the Ripper, they must resist the magnetic pull toward each other, while protecting the world from encroaching evil.

Excerpt:

 Bayla unlocked the Gemmatridon and held it as instructed. The talismans on the cover shifted into gears that twisted in rapid circles, and buzzed like irate bees while emitting light. Startled, she fumbled with it. The box opened. Inside was a small parchment. The instructions dictated that it be placed in the golem’s mouth. She carefully removed the ancient scroll and with trembling hands set it in the slit that had to be its mouth. Immediately, the parchment sunk in as if swallowed by quicksand and vanished. The chamber shook as if an earthquake had struck. She fell back still holding the box. Sitting sprawled on the floor, she froze in terror. Thankfully, the tremor stopped.

A blinding bright light erupted from the crate and the golem roared a deep menacing bellow from within.

Bayla dropped the box. What have I done? She closed her eyes from the blazing brightness and wrapped her arms and head over her knees. Like a candle snuffed out, the light vanished. The golem’s holler subsided into a grumbling moan, as if awakened from its slumber.

She dared look. The golem sat in the crate. She suppressed a scream on seeing his rigid red-stone face. He looked like a misshapen man made of hard red rock. An aleph was added in front of met. The Hebrew word for truth, emet, now inscribed on his forehead, permitting it life. It slowly rose and stepped out. Tall, its square head almost touched the ceiling. It wasn’t too monstrous in stature, perhaps six-foot-seven, and within the range of human height. It blinked open gray eyes and stared at her. His eyes were the only part that looked remotely human and revealed his soul, by holding her gaze as if he knew her.

Bayla scooted back on her bottom but kept her eyes on him. There was a connection, a warm bond that eased her fear. She couldn’t read its thoughts. Was it because it had none?

The golem turned his head to the side and spoke in a deep baritone voice, “You are a woman.”

Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle US | Amazon Kindle UK | Amazon.ca  | BN Nook | Smashwords 

Paperback available on Amazon as well.

 

 

 

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

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

by Ray Dean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RD: What have you written for other genres?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RD: Tell us about your current launch promotion-

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

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

Website:    www.dalanlewis.com

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

Twitter  @Dalanlewis

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

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

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

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

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

–RD

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GoS_WebBetween now and October 31st I’m giving away several Kindle copies of my works, including the new Avalon Revamped, the eclectic collection Caught in the Cogs, and the teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer. The last is in preparation of The Ghosts of Southwark (its sequel) release on November 1st.

A few of these giveaways have already come and gone. Those who “like” my FB Fan Page were the only ones in the know, so go “like” that page now. You wouldn’t want to miss out on future freebies!

For the others, stay tuned to my Amazon Author Page to see what’s free when between now and Halloween. You’ll get hints as to when the next free book is available on my FB Fan Page.

Additionally, I’ve put up several new, never-before-seen short stories on the Kindle, all for under $2. Steampunk readers will especially be interested in “The Clockwork Heart,” written in the style of H. G. Wells. Here’s what one reader says about it.

This author has captured the feel of a period piece and still engaged the reader in the manner of a modern piece of fiction. Very engaging, her writing casually sneaks in and demands your attention. I enjoyed this story thoroughly.

Here’s a list of all the short stories recently listed on Kindle:

“The Clockwork Heart” – Written in the style of H. G. Wells, this Gothic Steampunk story will make your heart bleed and your skin crawl. $1.49 (FREE with PRIME, as are the rest below)

Inevitable Enlightenment.” Trace the existential thoughts of a zombie after the apocalypse. $0.99

Come to Me.” Jason’s boring Monday turns into one full of adventure and horror when his mother’s strange affliction takes him and his sister around the world. Based in Scottish Mythology. $0.99

The Handy Man.” After losing his hand in a work accident, Linus Cosgriff adapts a new invention to please women and relieve them from symptoms of hysteria. Adult Content. $1.99

Heart of Stone, Flesh of Ice.” Several men mysteriously disappear after a night of passion during a ski vacation. Based in Japanese Mythology. $1.99

Hannah & Gabriel.” Dark Fantasy Steampunk retelling of Hansel & Gretel. $1.99 (This story is also available along with 11 others, poetry, and articles in the collection Caught in the Cogs: An Eclectic Collection for only $2.99.)

-_Q

OMG_2013Olivia 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 and its sequel Avalon Revamped. 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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Gail Carriger at Lone Star Worldcon 2013

Gail Carriger at Lone Star Worldcon 2013

About a month ago, at /LoneStar/WorldCon in San Antonio, I attended the “I Married A Werewolf” panel on Paranormal/Romance. The panel was made up of authors: Darlene Marshall, Carrie Vaughn, Charlaine Harris,  and also two authors with Steampunk credentials, Gail Carriger, well known author of the The Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School series, and Jean Johnson, who in addition to her paranormal and sci-fi books wrote, Steam, a Steampunk short story in the The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance.

The label of paranormal romance came up and Gail Carriger mentioned that Orbit struggled with how to label her first book, Soulless. The label on the spine read – Fantasy/Horror.  Jean Johnson said, “I considered my book The Sword to be a Fantasy/Romance, but I don’t deal with labels, that’s the marketing department. The publisher labeled The Sword as a Paranormal/Romance.”

Gail Carriger explained that she played with actual genres in Victorian literature in her five books in the Parasol Protectorate series. The first was based on Gothic Romance, the second on Gothic Cozy, the third on an American Boy’s Adventure, the 4th on a Sherlock Holmes Cozy, and the fifth is in a Travel Journal style.

In another LoneStar/WorldCon panel I attended, Gail Carriger spoke about world building. Along with Gail Carriger — Bryan T. Schmidt, Amanda Downum, and Robin Hobbs made up the “Intricate Worlds Panel”. The first question the panel addressed was what are some of your world building pet peeves?

Bruan T Schmidt’s answered, “Things that get overlooked.”

Amanda Downum’s said, “A static world or a world that hasn’t evolved. Where things have always been this way. For example, they have always used swords and horse drawn carts and nothing will change.”

Robin Hobbs said, “Cities that have no reason for being there. Cities that are hard to get to, so the characters have difficult challenges in reaching them but there doesn’t seem to be any other reason for the location of the city.”

Gail Carriger mentioned her pet peeve was not making use of objects representative of the characters’ culture. “Don’t discount objects your characters own or have with them as they can be very telling to the readers about those characters.”

Steampunk at World Con 2013

Steampunk at World Con 2013

Ms. Carriger also gave advice for research and world building: “Call your local university. They are one of those untapped resources. Also, one of the secrets of world building is to piggy back on a culture that is little known or pick and choose and meld two cultures that never did blend in actual history.” She further advised, “You are the god or goddess of your own universe – you just have to explain the rules of your universe properly. You’re drawing up your own laws for this universe, so you can’t break those.”

The panels at LoneStar, WorldCon in San Antonio were great, full of interesting information and advice for my writing. Feel free to comment below with your own world building pet peeves or world building advice.

~   ~   ~

Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 published books. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Photo by Richard Alois

Photo by Richard Alois

Gothic London, its varied history, and just getting to and from places has kept me so busy and exhausted over the past month that I’ve shirked my duties as guest blogger for STEAMED. My apologies. Even now as I write this, I’m on a bus to the train station to see the editor of Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue, Patricia Ash. Unlike most places in the USA (and even many in the UK), traveling in London can be an all-day affair. If I’m out of the flat (and not indulging in a frothy mocha at a Starbucks), I’m either on a bus, on the tube, or walking up to 10 miles a day exploring this glorious city. I’ve even hired a Barclay Bicycle and tooled around a bit. Great fun. It’s not unusual that I get totally lost walking from here to there, even with my Mini A to Z, discovering many wondrous things along the way. Things, of course, that I would unlikely ever be able to find again.

I highly recommend going on guided walks in London on your visit, but not through London Walks. Although they have a varied menu of walks, it’s really hit or miss with the guide and crowd. It’s not unusual for them to have 50-100 people on a walk, and then it’s a big mess. You can’t hear the guide and your constantly moving with a huge crowd. Not fun.

For you Gothic Ghost Story fans, I can’t recommend the walks hosted by Richard Jones enough. He came highly recommended to me by my writerly colleague Leanna Renee Hieber. Richard has written something like twenty-three books on haunted London. Leanna used some of his ghosts in her fabulous Strangely Beautiful series.

Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting Richard and talking about publishing and marketing with him between the stops on the Sweeney Todd Haunted Walking Tour, which I thoroughly enjoyed. His dramatic presentation of ghost stories and history is fabulously entertaining. On his walk, I learned that many of the churchyards throughout London are higher than the rest of the city. This is because in the early 19th century, they were quite literally burying people on top of one another. The gravediggers would dig up a grave, move the existing bones out of the way, wait until after the current mourners were done saying their goodbyes, and then they’d slip the bones back in the new grave.

In the 1830s, a law was passed that closed many of the overrun graveyards in The City of London, including the Cross Bones Graveyard, on which I wrote about in June 2013. At this time, cemeteries were set up around the perimeter of London, like Kensal Green Cemetery, close to where I stay while in London. I’ll be visiting Kensal Green Cemetery shortly, and I’ll hopefully have a report on their catacombs! Seven of these cemeteries were built, known affectionately as the Magnificent Seven.

There was also a practice called “fishing” among grave robbers. Grave robbing could be a lucrative business at £12-15 per body (a considerable amount of money then), but it was also against the law. Grave robbers had to get in and out quickly before the cemetery security watch made their way back around. Family members would arrange things on the fresh grave in a particular way so they’d know if the grave had been disturbed. Thus, the grave robbers would first take note on how things, flowers and tokens and such, were arranged on the grave. Then they’d dig a thin notch across near the top of the grave, crack open the coffin with their shovel, and lower a rope down into the coffin and around the corpse. They’d pull the body out of the grave, strip it of it’s clothes and jewelry, for it was death if caught stealing personal property. A dead body, however, just carried a hearty fine. They’d put everything back the way they found it and then sell the corpses to doctors and medical schools for research.

There are hundreds of thousands of graves all over London, in the many churchyards as well as in larger cemeteries like Brompton Cemetery, also one of the Magnificent Seven. I visited Brompton Cemetery my first week here because it appears in my book Avalon Revisited. I rode a Barclay Bicycle through the ancient grounds in awe. This is where my characters Arthur and Avalon discovered the resurrected Pembertons.
O. M. Grey in London

O. M. Grey in London

I’ve had a lovely time visiting historical places, Harry Potter filming locations, and all the places in my books. I’ve made a preliminary map for readers interested in seeing the settings themselves. Perhaps 2014 will bring a proper O. M. Grey and Leanna Renee Hieber tour of London.

For now, I’ll take my leave until (hopefully) two weeks from now when I’ll have more Gothic Goodies to share. Until then, more mochas, more exploration, more walking and then even more walking.

-_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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