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lampKerosene gets it name from the Greek word Keros (meaning wax). Petroleum, related to the production of Kerosene, was discovered in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s and helped fund a number of American industrial fortunes. Oil for the home lamps had a new source.

Kerosene was cheap and burned brightly. Lamp development was quick and kerosene lamps were one of the primary light sources in homes during the second half of the 19th century.

studentlampThe Student Lamp (not used widely in America until late 1870s) was a special type of lamp. Rather than the static construction of most lamps, a student lamp was based off of a ‘stem’ and the actual light could be ‘swung out’ or positioned over a book or paper that needed illumination.

In our modern world, light sources cast WIDE beams and can make a room bright and cheery. The Victorians had a different experience.

When writing your stories.. keep in mind where the light sources are.

When you’re in a room at night or in the center of a house where there are no windows, where is the light?

How much light comes from each source?

How does that change where people stand in a room?

How does it change their activities in the dark hours of the day?

Or, if a character lacks the funds or access to such conveniences… do they go to sleep with the sun or find alternative methods of producing light?

Facts from – A Style and Source Book – American Victorian by: Grow & Von Zweck

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newspapers In my search for things to do during the winter months, I encountered and interesting note to Victorian housekeepers. So for our Steampunk folks, here are some tips on how to reuse your newspapers… just like they did way back when..

Peterson’s Magazine 1890

USES FOR OLD PAPERS. – Most housekeepers know how invaluable newspapers are for packing away the winter clothing, the printing-ink acting as a defiance to the stoutest moth, some housewives think, as successfully as camphor or tar paper. For this reason, newspapers are invaluable under the carpet, laid over the regular carpet-paper. The most valuable quality of newspapers in the kitchen, however, is their ability to keep out the air. It is well known that ice, completely enveloped in newspapers so that all air is shut out, will keep a longer time than under other conditions; and that a pitcher of ice-water wrapped in a newspaper, with the ends of the paper twisted together to exclude the air, will remain all night in any room in midsummer, with scarcely any perceptible melting of the ice. These facts should be utilized oftener than they are in the care of the sick at night. In freezing ice-cream, when the ice is scarce, pack the freezer only three-quarters full of ice and salt, and finish with newspapers, and the difference in the tie of freezing and quality of the cream is not perceptible from the result where the freezer is packed full of ice. After removing the dasher, it is better to cork up the cream and cover it tightly with a packing of newspapers than to use more ice. The newspapers retain the cold already in the ice better than a packing of cracked ice and salt, which must have crevices to admit the air.

so… let me know if you try any of these and how they work.

Keep in mind that modern day inks are different. If you choose to try these out please be VERY careful if you use newspapers around food. Be careful… Be safe…

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childrenFirst, my apologies for my disappearing act. It was not my wish. Diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both my hands, I have done my best to recover the full use of my hands, but still have bouts of pain and I can’t feel my fingertips. So, I owe you folks posts.. and I will make them… just horribly late. So very sorry for the wait. – Raye

Since this is the winter, hopefully of much content for all of you… I wanted to post about Victorian Era entertainments and crafts. Hoping that if you do end up with some ‘snow days’ you might have something to occupy your time in a Steampunk way!

Peterson’s Magazine – 1865

PARLOR GAMES.
FOX and GEESE. – There must be an even number of players in this game, and a circle is to be formed standing two by two, so that those who are on the outside have each one person in front of them; these are called the Geese, and there must be some space left between the couples, to allow the one who is chased to run in and out of the circle. Two must be left out, one a Goose, and the other the Fox.

The Fox is to catch the Goose not belonging to the circle, who can run around the circle and also within it, which the Fox cannot be allowed to do; but when the Goose, who is pursued, places himself before one of the couples composing the circle, there will necessarily be three in the row, and as this is against the rule, the outside one of that three immediately becomes liable to be caught instead of the other, and must endeavor to avoid the pursuit of the Fox by darting within the circle and placing himself before some one of the players.

It is the object of the Fox to catch the player who makes the third one of a row and it is the object of each Goose to avoid the third place. The Fox can only catch the Goose as he stands the third in a row, or before he succeeds in escaping to a place of safety. If the Goose is touched by the Fox while in the position of third one in a row, or if touched in passing from this third place to one of safety, he becomes the Fox instead, and the other becomes the Goose again. It will be observed that the amusement of this game will depend upon the spirit and animation with which it is conducted. Great rapidity of movement is necessary.

While I was reading/typing out the instructions, it struck me that the game was still around when I was in school. Back then (in the 80s) we called it Safety Tag and played it in the school yard during PE Class.

Would this game occupy children in the common room of an airship? In a village in a remote part of the world after a long voyage? Aboard a submarine to entertain the families of crew?

What kinds of games would children in your stories play on long winter days/nights?

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paperbeadsI have some great friends.. old friends, but we won’t get into ‘how’ old… ’cause I’m NOT telling! Anywho, this old friend gave a beautiful necklace a long time ago made of paper beads.

Recently as I was talking to him about this series of posts he brought up the beads. His grandmother had made them as a child and had learned the craft from her mother, so he knew it was from the ‘right’ era. A little searching on the net brings up a love link for those who would like to make the beads for themselves.

Guide to Making Paper Beads

So here’s the crazy thought…

I’m one of those that sees crafts made of old books… and I wince. I love the idea of recycling, but I hate the idea that writing from another era might be lost forever when the book is consumed by the craft…

But, if you’re a writer (and most of us are) why not make these beads with your printed drafts?

Now, I know the concern may be someone opening up all the beads to read your work, but that’s a lot of unrolling… so don’t do it with your printed drafts if you’re worried, but I think it might be a nice way to recycle… or use those left over scrapbook papers!

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Photo Credit - Night Fox Photos

Photo Credit – Night Fox Photos

Makers? Writers? Are we the same? Are we so very different?

Kawaii Kon 2014 descended upon Waikiki, HI the first weekend of April and there was fun to be had by all… cosplayers and mundane alike! ¬†I was one of the mundane, suffering to walk the halls in everyday dress, leaving the cosplay to my son (Doctor Who 10 & Tulio).

I began the weekend with the ‘Ye Olde Intro to Steampunk Panel’ on Friday night. A number of local Steampunks came together to present a basic user friendly introduction to the Steampunk culture… there is only so much that can be covered in 50 minutes, but we did our best.

My part of the informational section was talking about Writing Steampunk and Steampunk: Hands Around the World.

Two of the other panelists, Abby and Rick from “Ricks Steam Punk Etc,” spoke about ‘making’ Steampunk gear.

Being a costumer/crafter I’ always fascinated by discussions on the subject and squirmed out of my table seat to find a seat on the floor to watch. They talked about three types of Steampunk Making and I thought I’d see how they compared to Steampunk Writing. Why? Cause I’m crazy like that… ūüėÄ

Photo Credit - Night Fox Photos

Photo Credit – Night Fox Photos

Three types – Scavenging * Modding * Tinkering

Scavenging – finding items that have been discarded and using it for your own purposes

Modding – taking an object created for one purpose and making it fit another

Tinkering – taking bits and pieces and cobbling something from the ‘ground up’

***

Writing as Scavenging – I know I do this all the time.

  • Find a starting line I jotted down at an earlier time…
  • Find a scrap of paper that I’d stuffed into my handbag with a few lines of dialogue…
  • Find a writing prompt or an image that strikes my fancy

Nothing wrong with using what wasn’t needed before and make it useful now… or keep it for another time down the line.

Writing as Modding –¬†

The first thing that comes to mind is mashups & re-imagining & re-setting. We see it all the time,

  • a modern retelling of Emma by Jane Austen hits the silver screen as “Clueless”
  • Tee Morris’ “Aladdin and his Wonderfully Infernal Device” mixing Steampunk and Aladdin together
  • taking a Victorian Era story and setting it in a Steampunk world of advanced steam-driven technology
Photo Credit - Ricks Steam Punk Etc

Photo Credit – Ricks Steam Punk Etc

Writing as Tinkering

Using the basic building blocks of fiction, but for those new to Steampunk, it might take a little bit of effort.

  • Science – using Steam era science can be new to some, but I highly recommend looking for information on what was already in use in the Victorian Era… you might be surprised!
  • Multicultural Influences – colonialism/imperialism from the Brit standpoint was to ‘Make the World England!’ but that doesn’t ¬†mean that England was isolated while it affected other cultures. The use of Indian silk, Chinese err.. China, etc. What elements from other cultures will transplant themselves in your settings AND characters?
  • From the Ether/Aether – who says you can’t just ‘come up with something’ and write about it. Again, my favorite word in writing is VERISIMILITUDE! If you can make it SEEM real… in fiction it IS real!

Part of the fun that keeps me writing is the discovery of new people to inspire me, new ideas to explore, and new concepts to investigate, I hope you find the same things appealing and inspiring…

So… get going and create!

Keep in mind that there are just my thoughts at this moment… if you have other thoughts… please add them to the comments I’d love to discuss this further…

Ray Dean – Living in Hawaii has few perks when it comes to Steampunk – the main idea is the Victorian Era History that is so readily available…  

**sorry for the posting delay, had an issue with the laptop… crashes galore.

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Photography: Henry Faber, 2013 For this series, Suna Dasi has taken the guise of a DevaDasi spy. The gadget she carries is an Aural  Induction Oscillator, fondly known as 'The Earwig' among its users.

Photography: Henry Faber, 2013
For this series, Suna Dasi has taken the guise of a DevaDasi spy. The gadget she carries is an Aural Induction Oscillator, fondly known as ‘The Earwig’ among its users.

During my adventures in February 2014 with Steampunk Hands Around the World, one of the fun folks that I met during the planning stages was Suna Dasi. Suna lives in Scotland and runs the website “Steampunk India”

Inspired by Steampunk and History and her own heritage, Suna has created a site that I will continue to visit for many years to come. There are a number of sections devoted to different Steampunk arts: Photography, Fiction, Links.

If you’re looking for fiction, there’s a story up at at the website and more in the works…

Edinburgh, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. A clandestine meeting to effect a dodgy deal. Taskara Singh, trader in specialist illegal goods, has no idea what she is carrying. The offered price was high enough to warrant following the instructions on the map and not ask questions. However, with her contact running late and time to wonder, her curiosity gets the better of her. She furtively decides to take a peek and realises even she may have reached a moral limit of what she is willing to trade for… What can her invisible client possibly want Cerebro-Spinal fluids and Homo-Nucleic Acids for? Photography: F. McGregor, Art Attack Films Costume: Suna Dasi Model: Kay Singh Make-Up: Kay Singh

Each photo shoot has a character/setting/story along with it that adds to the inspiration!

Steampunk India’s image gallery truly gives a concrete and colorful visual image of blending history, culture, and creativity together!

Even the colors and backgrounds fit into the look of the website and bring to life the idea of Steampunk India.

Bookmark the site, visit, and revisit later to see all the great fun that’s available to you as you broaden your Steampunk World View!

steampunkindiasite

Click on this image to visit – Steampunk India

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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 ‚Äėcould have been‚Äô.

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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