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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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Florence_Stoker

Florence Balcombe Stoker

If you don’t have access to ShowTime and you’ve been wondering what Penny Dreadful is all about, let me clue you in. I enjoy the show and recommend it. Ethan Chandler a Wild Bill Cody type is hired by Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives to find and rescue his daughter, Mina Hunter, kidnapped by Dracula. Dr. Frankenstein teams up with them as well. And Dorian Gray is added to the mix.

This is my third post for Halloween month, October, so it’s Bram Stoker and Dracula’s turn. It is not a proven fact but it has been reported by many Stoker biographers that he died of syphilis. It was a disease that plagued many in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. When dracula attacks someone he infects them with vampirism and it’s easy to see the possible connection with a disease like syphilis. It’s not hard to discern his guilt and concern over possibly infecting his wife and also in being unfaithful to a woman he loved. Bram Stoker married actress Florence Balcombe in 1878. She’d previously been engaged to Oscar Wilde. From all accounts they had a strong marriage and shared a deep love for each other. We can see those intense emotions in Jonathan’s feelings for Mina.

Bram Stoker

Some interesting tidbits on Bram Stoker s he was  Irish, while Dracula is Eastern European For that reason, you may not have noticed the author’s Celtic roots showing in the story but I assure you they are there. It is said he actually wrote his first draft of Dracula while he was a guest at Slains. The Slain castle in Aberdeenshire Scotland is often considered an inspiration for Dracula’s castle in the book.

On his mother’s side Bram Stoker happened to be a direct descendent of ’Manus O’Donnell (Manus ‘the Magnificent. He was an Irish clan leader who led a rebellion against Henry VIII in the 16th century. Bram Stoker drew on his lineage to write of a man with a great past as a warrior and ruler now displaced by the passage of history, living in the shadows, in other words it is also the story of Bram Stoker’s ancestry.

It has been said that as a little boy in Ireland Bram Stoker’s mother often told him stories including horror stories. They must have included Irish folk lore.There are many tales of dark vampiric fey in Celtic mythology. These dark fey are often extremely beautiful and seductive. The vampiric fey, the baobhan sith,  always roamed together as sisters. In Dracula, Bram Stoker’s description of the three sisters in the vampire’s castle seems similar to dark Celtic fey.

Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on. One said:—

“Go on! You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.” The other added:—

“He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.”

Because authors Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Oscar Wilde pulled deep from within and wrote emotion and human pain into their stories we can connect with the horrors they created. We feel what the monsters feel. We can see bits of ourselves in these monsters …and that is what makes them scariest of all.

~           ~            ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 22 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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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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ALNTcoverThe dark twists and turns of Edgar Allan Poe’s mind have inspired many a nightmare and some hazy imaginings…

Aadenian Press has published “All the Night-Tide” – an anthology of Steampunk stories inspired by poems written by the Victorian writer.

This is the first of TWO posts about the release of “All the Night-Tide”


I asked Hazel Butler, the editor of the collection, about the anthology.

“When we were first batting around ideas for this anthology, there were a lot of them. So many possibilities. It was, however, eventually decided that since Aädenian Ink was founded for the express purpose of publishing Gothic and Steampunk art and fiction, it seemed natural that this, our first anthology, reflect that goal. The possibility of drawing on the works of Edgar Allan Poe presented itself very early on in the creative process as he is a much-loved Gothic author, and has such a wide range of works. It was decided that each piece in the anthology should be based on one of Poe’s uniquely dark and delicious poems. It was further decided that we wanted these stories to have a Steampunk twist to them.”

The selection process for stories can seem mysterious to some. Hazel explained how the stories were picked  for the anthology.

“The process of selecting the stories was quite a simple one in the end, at least in terms of the process. Editor Hazel Butler read all submissions and basically chose her favourites. That left a pile of about fifteen or sixteen. We couldn’t include all of those so it had to be whittled down. In the end she chose those stories that she felt had entered into the spirit of the anthology the most. In some cases this was simply a matter of them being well based on a poem and having a Steampunk theme or Steampunk elements. In other cases it was a deeper sense that they were truly quite Gothic in tone and reflected the nature of Edgar Allan Poe’s work quite well.”

The cover artwork is truly an amazing image and there are individual story graphics inside the anthology. I asked Hazel about the images in this volume: 

“The artwork is a combination of several images by artist Alice Rope, who recently did a large exhibit of bird studies. Three of these were of a raven or crow, and this tied in very nicely with the central ‘Poe’ image of the raven that was chosen for the cover design. The cover itself is a digital painting that was done by the Editor, Hazel Butler, who is also an artist and author. She used the raven to represent one of the most well-known poems of Poe, and the image of the woman, in all her Steampunk finery, holding the raven in a cage, was a good ALNTcoverrepresentation of what we were trying to achieve in the anthology – the melding of the two genres. On the back cover, the raven appears again in silhouette, this time free of the cage. Hazel and Alice also illustrated several stories each, with illustrations done specifically for the stories.”

The anthology is currently available at Amazon.com in hardcover. There will be a kindle edition available later.

 

Next week Friday, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from the authors…


As a contributing author in a number of anthologies, 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.

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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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