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Archive for the ‘Guest Thursdays’ Category

My apologies for the radio silence.  I do have some epic news for you…but you’ll have to wait until Monday. 

Until then, here are the winners I owe you:

The winner of The Faerie Ring is:

Jessie Ball

The winner of the toy airship is:

Mina Gerhart

Congratulations!

Today we welcome author Maureen O. Betita!

Rules? I Don’t Need No Stinking Rules!
by Maureen O. Betita

I love that about steampunk. I’ve been to several big steampunk conventions and one thing most everyone agrees on…we don’t want rules. We don’t want a definition; we don’t want to be hemmed in.

Yes, steampunk roams free across the plains of the ‘what if’. It almost seems, as a genre, it’s more about a feeling, an aesthetic, than a strict interpretation of anything. This is one of the reasons it’s one of my favorite new genre mutations. (I know it isn’t really new-new, just new to the greater world.)

Because, I, too, want to roam free. I’m one of those writers who didn’t know about the rules, or the concept of format. All those silly acronyms were like hieroglyphs to me. I just wrote. And if I crossed POV or head hopped or used too many adverbs or… Well, you get the picture. Obviously, at the rate I worked, I would never see anything published.

So, I learned some of the rules. The basic rules. About grammar and punctuation and POV and head hopping… I still tend to use run on sentences. (Notice?) But mainly for the effect of effective babble.

Yes, effective babble.

In many ways, this is one way to look at steampunk. Effective babble. It wanders and roams and plays with words and inventions that boggle the mind. Not the purely high-minded scifi inventions created by luminaries such as Arthur C. Clarke, penning the concept of satellites before the idea was more than a gleam in the eye of communications specialists all over the world. Or Isaac Asimov and the Three Laws of Robotics.

Nope. Steampunk creates…oh…mechanical wings with gears, powered by steam. An earth mover that undermines an entire city, or a blend of mechanical and biological…hence an airship created from a whale. See? Effective babble!

Open any page of the Girl Genius comics and you’ll see inventions and innovations that defy every law of gravity, mechanics, physics…and yet…they aren’t magic! Which is one of those weirdly wonderful things about steampunk. Seldom is magic part of the mix.

And I say seldom because being the free roaming spirit it is…sometimes magic is part of things.

I love it!

For those of us who see ourselves as closet anarchists…steampunk is our wetdream.

When I began to create the world of The Kraken’s Caribbean, I wanted elements of steampunk, without the steam. I wanted magic and I wanted some technical toys. But mainly, I wanted pirates. So, no steam. But pirates. Hence, piratepunk was born. My personal name for the genre of The Kraken’s Caribbean.

The Kraken’s Mirror introduced a pirate haven of Tortuga, roundabouts 1690, where there were blenders at the bar and margaritas! My pirates do their work with an iPod strapped to their belts, heads bobbing to the music of the internet. A corner juggler may be using rubik’s cubes to amaze his audience. There’s ice to keep the drinks cold. And sanitation. Vampires act as the defense system for the island. Werewolves wander the forest and zombies gather in the swamp.

Oh, and time travelers stroll the streets while a matchmaking albino kraken stands guard over the entire world.

Yes, pirates inhabiting a world I could see steampunk would find interesting.

So, in the second volume, The Chameleon Goggles, I have Tortuga under attack from a very nasty steampunk world, intent of harvesting all that is profitable from the Kraken’s haven. Novan has come for its escaped citizen, but Captain Jezebel isn’t going easy and with the help of the chameleon goggles and a swashbuckling Mick March, Tortuga will force Novan to regret their actions! (coming October 20th!)

Bwah ha ha!

I have a third in the works involving a pirate circus…

Would I have felt so free to create this world without the example before of Gail Carriger? And Scott Westerfield? Cherie Priest? I don’t know. Maybe, but maybe not.

Steampunk. Piratepunk. Effective babble…what wonderful worlds!

Is there a favorite bit of fantastical babbling you’d like to see slip into the steampunk universe? Tell me about it (include your e-mail addy, please)  and I’ll set one of you up with an e-copy of The Kraken’s Mirror AND The Chameleon Goggles when it’s released!

Yup, I’m Maureen O. Betita and I write along the shores of the beauteous Monterey Bay in California. I walk my dog along the bluffs where I study the waves, watch the dolphin teach the surfers a thing or two and dream about pirates. When I’m not at pirate festivals, renaissance faires, scifi/fantasy conventions or steampunk gatherings…

Explore my worlds at
www.maureenobetita.com
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Maureen-O-Betita-Author/155907664465540  
Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/maureenobetita
and www.romancewritersrevenge.com (Where I babble as 2nd Chance, the bartender of a ship full of writing pirates.)

Contest ends at 11:59 PM PST 10/19/11.

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Today we welcome Steampunk author Stella Price

Stella Price writes Steampunk as Dagmar Avery and runs the Authors After Dark convention. Her new Airship, the PenNInk, will debut November 2011 online. Watch for it. You can check out all her work at www.stellaandaudra.com

Airships. You know them, you lose them, you even write them into all your books of steamy goodness. But did you know that airships are real? No not in the “Duh, zeppelins and dirigibles…” way.

A lot of people outside of the steam community don’t know this but Airships are popping up all over the country. Airships, or groups or troupes with a common goal in the steam community, are responsible for conventions, events and performances. Think of them as non union unions. I personally know of 4 “official Airships” that do everything from Setting up events to performing at conventions and traveling to do panels.

So shall I introduce you?

The Airship Archon, from Ohio, is the premier steam group. I met the majority of them at MARCon this year and was greatly impressed. They work as a unit, and are committed to keeping the steam community an open and welcoming place for people to explore. You can see more about them at their website, www.airshiparchon.com

If you check the website for the Airship Isabella, their mission is much the same as Archon, as they are also populated by performers, Artists and visionaries, and they are committed to helping people create characters to get into the real spirit of steampunk.

The A.S.S. Titilus, the Northeast answer to the Archon, is all about performance, information, and fun. As Im personally close with the Captain, A Count Named Slick Brass, I have been able to see both on the forefront and behind the scenes what this Airship does. For those of you at AAD this year, the Crew of the Titilus came to wreak havoc on the con floor for Saturday, and they were the MC’s for the Steamball. They are staples of the East Cost Steam events and like most airships… are completely for Hire.

Now the 4th? Im proud to say Im part of the 4th, and we are affiliated with the Titilus (loosely… LOL). The Airship PenNInk, So named because the majority of our crew are writers, goes live via the web soon! Our mission is to bring the new horizon of steam literature to the masses of the steam community, as well as a unique fashion sense and sexiness the community is missing. And remember, just because your not showing a little leg, doesn’t mean it aint sexy!

I’m the Captain of this rag tag ship, along with my amazing crew: PJ Schnyder (Weapons expert), A.L. Davroe (our Anthropologist), Leanna Renee Hieber, Our perpetual passenger,  Lia Hable, Lady of All things pretty and tentacle driven (she hides them under all her voluminous skirts its quite frightening…) and Marilyn Hacket, our first mate and bringer of Airshanties.

But You know a crew doesn’t live on ink alone… And we have our support crew who must always be mentioned. Our Steamstress, Brandi, Mercenary Mandi, Madame Kelly, Our Barrister Kayleigh And Ladies James and Sandy… Without them the PenNInk would cease to function.

 

An Airship is easy to put together, and more airships out there I think is a good thing. You have a common goal? You enjoy the lifestyle, and dressing up and having a good time? Are you always in a group anyway? Start your own airship. It’s a great way to get known… or join an existing one… Most take crew all year long. It’s a great way to get into steampunk…


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Tee Morris began his writing career with his 2002 historical epic fantasy, MOREVI The Chronicles of Rafe & Askana. In 2005 Tee took MOREVI into the then-unknown podosphere, making his novel the first book podcast in its entirety. That experience led to the founding of Podiobooks.com and collaborating with Evo Terra and Chuck Tomasi on Podcasting for Dummies and its follow-up, Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies. He won acclaim and accolades for his cross-genre fantasy-detective Billibub Baddings Mysteries, the podcast of The Case of the Singing Sword winning him the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Audio Drama. Along with those titles, Tee has written articles and short stories for BenBella Books’s Farscape Forever: Sex, Drugs, and Killer Muppets, the podcast anthology VOICES: New Media Fiction, BenBella Books’ So Say We All: Collected Thoughts and Opinions of Battlestar Galactica, and Dragon Moon Press’ Podthology: The Pod Complex.  When he is not writing, Tee enjoys life in Virginia alongside Philippa Ballantine, his daughter, and five cats (3 female, 2 males). Considering the male-to-female ratio in his house, Tee understands how General Custer felt near his end.

 

Foggy Goggles:  The Problem with Steampunk Sub-genres

by Tee Morris

When reading a recent blogpost from the Parasol Protectorate’s Gail Carriger, I felt my hackles rise. They stood a hint taller when I followed a link to The Steampunk Scholar who gives an in-depth look at what I believe to be the silliest trend currently running amuck in steampunk. The gist of both posts is that Gail’s New York Times bestselling series really shouldn’t be considered “Steampunk” but a softer cousin of the genre — “Bustlepunk.” Gail, as she is a class act, opens her commentary on this as follows:

I tend to not weigh in, Gentle Reader, on the controversial subject of bustlepunk, and prefer to let the experts argue amongst themselves as to whether my books are officially steampunk… Since Soulless came out in 2009 I have obeyed to the letter the old Internet adage “do not engage.”

I admit—I’m a new kid in the community. I know this. It was only in March of this year when I (with Pip Ballantine) stepped fully into the fray. Our first steps into steampunk were with the launch of a steampunk podcast anthology. We followed this first step with our second step — the book, Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, now just over two months old.

And yet, reading both of the earlier cited columns, I’m asking the same question:

Bustlepunk?

Seriously?

Seriously?!

With the accomplishments Gail has achieved with the Parasol Protectorate series, I’m stunned that there are Steampunk SMOFs (Secret Masters/Mistresses of Fandom) who believe she doesn’t write steampunk on account of — as described by Gail herself — her books being unabashedly frivolous and fun. “Of course that can’t be steampunk!” these SSMOFs trumpet from pulpits on high. “We must give it its own classification — bustlepunk! Yes! That’s it! Bustlepunk! The softer side of nitty, gritty, icky, grimy, and dirty steampunk!”

Yes, I’m the new guy, but I’m just going to say it — Enough with the sub-genres!

It’s not just bustlepunk (and yes, every time I say that word, a kitten dies) that I speak of. It’s all of these contrived sub-genres that are cropping up in order to distinguish themselves from “true” steampunk. I first discovered this segregation when explaining to a curious bystander what steampunk was. When asked for some examples from film and television, I went with a favorite example: Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang.

One of the steampunks in our group turned to me and said:

 “Well, Tee, Chitty Chitty, Bang Bangis more dieselpunk.”

Not only was the steam-curious furrowing his brow at that, so was I. Dieselpunk? What the hell is dieselpunk?

The hair-splitting continued, particularly at WorldCon 68, when I heard bandied about the other “just-like-steampunk-but-different” sub-genres:

  • Sailpunk
  • Sandalpunk
  • Ricepunk
  • Atompunk
  • Teslapunk
  • Stonepunk (No kidding — Stonepunk. Think The Flintstones.)

To those in the mainstream struggling to understand what steampunk is, dropping sub-genres like these only muddy the boiler’s water, making for a really poor performance and a bad stink coming from your analytical engine’s exhaust.

So if this rule of “a case of the whimsies” applies and Gail Carriger therefore doesn’t write steampunk, then you better tell Kaja and Phil Foglio they aren’t writing steampunk either. And someone call The League of S.T.E.A.M. They are having their steampunk card revoked, regardless of their delightfully witty writing and artistic direction.

And while you’re at it — best proceed with caution when reading Phoenix Rising. Between the explosions and intrigue, our whimsies are strong.

Part of what appeals to me (and, I imagine, outsiders of the steampunk circles) with this Science Fiction sub-genre is the passion, wit, and downright cleverness and creativity of “what could be.”  From the possibilities K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock first envisioned back in the late-1980’s came a “future-that-never-was” along with a wide definition of what steampunk is all about. When Pip and I attended The 2011 Steampunk World’s Fair, we were struggling not to gawk and gape at what people defined as steampunk, but never did I hear anyone describe someone’s outfit as being a great ricepunk outfit or how their elaborate cannon and teapot was an amazing dieselpunk creation. And when I saw rayguns of Grordbortian inspiration, never did the term retropunk ever bandy about people’s lips. What we were a part of was a celebration of ingenuity and do-it-yourself technology with style. It wasn’t about the niche you fit into, but what you as an artist were defining as steampunk.

Now as steampunk begins to approach mainstream in its appeal, we as writers, costumers, and artisans of various media should stop and ask ourselves how wise it is to search for that magic genre we fit in. If we are not edgy enough are we merely writing bustlepunk? (And there goes another kitten…) If we decide to set our steampunk in Calcutta, have we ventured into currypunk? What if our steampunk traces its true origins back to the earlier era of the Restoration? Do we dare explore the possibilities of powderpunk?

How silly can this hair-splitting get?

Steampunk is more than an era, more than Victorian London, and far more than the technology of Babbage taken to a higher plane. Steampunk is a celebration of what you can accomplish when your heart and your imagination is behind it. It is adventure. It is wonder. It is, as Nathan Fillion’s Richard Castle so eloquently puts it, “…a subculture that embraces the simplicity and romance of the past but at the same time couples it with the hope and promise and sheer super coolness of futuristic design.”

Not ricepunk.

Not retropunk.

And certainly not bustlepunk.

This is steampunk.

Let’s keep our sights on what we do together, not searching for our own little niches. That way, we are better artists, a stronger community, and an artistic movement that changes perspectives.

-Tee Morris

http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com

http://teemorris.com/

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Today we welcome comic book artist Joe Benitez, who does the *awesome* Lady Mechanika comics. 
 
Joe Benitez is an American comic book artist who has worked on such titles as “JLA”, “Superman/Batman”, “Detective Comics”, “Supergirl”, and “Titans” for DC Comics and “The Darkness” for Image Comics. He also co-created and penciled the sci-fi series “Weapon Zero” and the dark fantasy mini-series “Magdalena: Blood Divine” for Image. In 2005, Joe published his first creator-owned mini-series “Wraithborn” through Wildstorm.  In 2009, he stepped in to finish up Michael Turner’s run on “Soulfire”. Joe is currently working on a new creator-owned book, “Lady Mechanika”, published by Aspen Comics.  For more info on Joe Benitez or Lady Mechanika, please visit www.joebenitez.com.
 
Lady Mechanika #2 is scheduled for release July 13th, and a collected edition including the sold out #0 and #1 issues will also be released the same day.  Lady Mechanika books can be found at your local comic book store, or online at www.aspenstore.com.
 
Hello all!
 
My name is Joe Benitez and I am a comic book artist.  A lot of people associate comic books with men in tights, mwa-ha-ha villains, and outrageous plotlines.  While these elements can sometimes be found, comics have evolved to encompass so much more, giving me a perfect medium for expressing my love of steampunk!
 
“Steampunk”, to me, is about re-imagining history, combining the elegance, mystery, and superstitions of the Victorian Era with more advanced inventions and technology.  While this can all be effectively incorporated into a well-written story, there’s one thing traditional novels can’t explore, the most appealing aspect of the steampunk genre in my humble opinion:  the visuals.
 
Corsets and cogs, airships and automatons!  Written descriptions simply don’t do them justice!  I was first inspired to create a steampunk comic book by all the visual possibilities.  For the last several years, steampunk cosplayers have been flocking to comic conventions with their brass goggles, intricate timepieces, and clockwork rayguns.  This piqued my interest so I began researching steampunk online, which steered me into a new world of amazing crafts men and women with their own spin on the genre.  The more I looked into it, the more amazed I was by all the cool steampunk artisans.  I was very taken by the genre, loved the idea of combining Victorian elegance with the retro future tech look.  I wanted to be a part of this phenomenon, to show my artistic take on “steampunk”, so I began working on my own steampunk comic, eventually titled “Lady Mechanika”. 
 
After the spark of inspiration was lit, I had to work on the actual story.  I was doodling and sketching, designing the look I wanted for this world I was creating, but I also wanted to create compelling characters and intriguing storylines.  From the get go, I knew the main protagonist would be female and British (there’s just so much more you can do with female fashion).  I wanted to have a strong female character in a very male  dominated era.  Then I gave her mechanical limbs.  This, for me, was the ultimate steampunk character:  an elegant, classy Victorian woman with mechanical parts.  It also automatically gave me an interesting story:  discovering how she came to be.  At the start of the story, Lady Mechanika has no memory of her early years, so she doesn’t know where she came from or how she got her mechanical limbs – she doesn’t even know her real name.  Finding the answers to her past is a driving force for her character. Though she hasn’t been able to unravel that mystery yet, her search leads her to investigate other unusual or supernatural cases, giving me the opportunity to place her in various adventures that explore the visuals of my fictitious steampunk world.
 
-Joe Benitez
www.joebenitez.com
 
 
 

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Heather Massey runs The Galaxy Express, a blog devoted to sci-fi romance. She’s also an author in the subgenre. “Steambot Rampage” (Dreamspell Steampunk, Volume 1) is her latest release. For more information about her work, visit heathermassey.com.

[Stay tuned for details about a giveaway.]

One of These Days, We’ll Get a Steampunk Romance Movie

By Heather Massey

 

DearHollywood,

Everyone loves a good redemption story, and if any institution needs one, it’s you—specifically, Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio behind WILD WILD WEST (1999). You had a chance to introduce mainstream audiences to the wonderful world of steampunk and frankly, you blew it.

I avoided that film for years. I knew it was going to be bad, but the intrepid steampunk fan in me had to discover just how bad it could be. Yes, WILD WILD WEST was bad, but what cut me to the quick was its rampant silliness. It was obvious inside of a minute that the suits behind the production went out of their way—to the moon and beyond, it seemed—to avoid taking that project seriously.

While the film contained a few interesting ideas, overall it was very painful to watch. And I’m a fan of steampunk. I can’t imagine what the experience felt like for viewers new to the genre. In fact, the comedic elements had an unintended effect: You were inviting audiences to laugh at both the film and the genre. For shame.

Well, I’m writing to let you know that now, nearly twelve years after that debacle, the time is ripe to revisit a big budget live-action steampunk film. I realize that risk-averse isHollywood’s middle name, but think about it: One among you could be the first to greenlight such an innovative project. Blatant ego-stroke: you could make cinematic history!

Here’s my pitch:

Make it a steampunk romance

I know how much you gravitate towards releasing films that deliver an upbeat ending. Your experience has shown that’s where the profit is. Traditional steampunk, while utterly amazing and thought-provoking, isn’t always about tying everything up with a neat little bow. However, a steampunk romance film, with its universally appealing Happily Ever After, would have the built-in structure of an upbeat ending.

The romance aspect would also be a draw for untold numbers of women—the segment of the population you are currently in denial about when it comes to marketing films in general. See where I’m going with this redemption angle?

Load it with action-adventure

Drawing upon steampunk’s Edisonade roots, a steampunk romance would lend itself very well to an action-adventure story. Throw in a yummy mystery, too, while you’re at it. Plus, you can market it as an alternate history action adventure film if you still lack the cojones to tell potential audiences what it really is.

And who wouldn’t love a dynamite airship battle? Preferably with lots of explosions.

Think of the trailer! If you played your cards right, news of the film could go viral before the director has even shot a single frame!

Gadgets, gadgets, and more gadgets

While I don’t suggest including every steampunk element under the sun in your steampunk romance film, some of the popular mainstays include airships, automatons, and brass goggles. Oh, and don’t forget the steam! Steam-powered contraptions figure prominently in the steampunk genre, and I don’t have to tell you how striking the visuals for those would be. Or maybe I do—they’d be striking beyond measure!

Steampunk machinery ranges from bright and colorful to dark and atmospheric. Gadgets come in small, medium, and large sizes. Take your pick—the sky’s the limit.

And don’t forget the merchandising. Victorian-era style—whether applied to fashion, gadgets, or accessories—is a classic look that’s also retro-cool. If you do the film right, merchandising is an area where you could really cash in. Seriously—I don’t mind you profiting off of me if you show me that you “get it.”

Take advantage of the current CG and 3D technology for some fabulous eye candy

Steampunk, as I’m sure you don’t know, is heavy on the aesthetics (in Hollywood-speak, that means “pretty” and also “shiny”). In other words, steampunk looks fantastic, especially on film. I can understand why you largely ignored the genre in the past. Filmmaking technology just hadn’t progressed enough.

Now, however, it’s a different story. While such an undertaking would undoubtedly take great effort, bringing the steampunk aesthetic to life is affordable these days. Current technology would cut the labor time in half or more compared to decades past. So yeah, it’s time to get with the program—I mean, clockwork.

Whatever you do, don’t make a dumb steampunk movie

There are times for “lowest common denominator” films that yield an easy profit.

This isn’t one of those times.

Remember, we’re talking about a chance at redemption. Steampunk is a complex and venerable genre. It has a rabid hardcore following whose members will support your efforts if you make a film that respects and validates their interest. Doesn’t mean the film can’t be exciting—far from it. But you must take it seriously.

Hollywoodhas actually been generating decent sci-fi movies recently. Why not continue the trend with a steampunk romance film? You could end up with a bona fide phenomenon on your hands.

Take your time. Think it over. I’ve waited years for such an event; I can wait a little longer. In the meantime, I’ll spend my hard-earned money on the steampunk romances that publishers are currently releasing (especially digital-first publishers—gotta love their visionary attitude, eh?).

At least authors and their publishers understand I have steampunk romance needs. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to fork over my cash in exchange for a big-budget theatrical spectacle that does steampunk romance right.

In fact, here’s a list of some steampunk romance/erotic steampunk romance titles in case you’re looking for inspiration:

Clockwork Heart (Dru Pagliassotti)

Here There Be Monsters (Meljean Brook, from the Burning Up anthology)

The Iron Duke (Meljean Brook)

Sky Rat (Angelia Sparrow)

Steamed (Katie MacAlister)

Full Steam Ahead and Mechanical Rose (Nathalie Gray)

Island of Icarus (Christine Danse)

The Miraculous Lady Law (Robert Appleton)

Like Clockwork (Bonnie Dee)

Tangled In Time and Steamrolled, and Steam Time (Pauline Baird Jones)

Clockworks and Corsets (Regina Riley)

Silk, Steele, and Steam (Samhain Publishing’s anthology)

Hot and Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance (DAW Books anthology)

Dreamspell Steampunk, Volume 1 (L&L Dreamspell anthology)

Yours truly,

A concerned fan

***

Now for a giveaway! I’m going to give one person a digital copy of Dreamspell Steampunk, Volume 1. Winner chooses the format (PDF, Mobi, or ePub).

Entering is simple: leave a comment for this post by12 midnight ESTon Sunday, June 26. Tell me your idea for a steampunk romance movie, or what kind of elements you’d like to see.

Here are the story blurbs:

Steambot Rampage by Heather Massey

On the eve of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, a no-nonsense secretary and an intrepid reporter join forces to battle a bizarre automaton on a rampage.

Steam Time by Pauline B Jones

The man formerly known as Tobias Smith hadn’t planned to ride along with Dr. Everly and his Medicine Show. Grifters gave him a pain their elixirs couldn’t heal. But he was headed to Marfa, too. And Everly’s son turned out to be a really fine looking damsel—one in distress when the ghost lights of Marfa bump them into an alternate reality complete with an automaton gang and airships. Could he be the good guy? Be the hero, save the day and get the girl? 

The Prometheus Engine by Chris Samson

When an airship is shot down over the desolateKashmirlandscape, seven survivors of disparate backgrounds must band together to escape. As a swarm of marauders approaches, the survivors’ only hope lies in the untested Prometheus Engine.

Angelina by Linda Houle

Valerie is fascinated with an antique ruby and diamond pendant. Where did it come from and why was it hidden in a makeshift wall safe? An old log cabin on her new husband’s ranch holds the answers and a lot more, but once Val goes through a secret door will she ever find her way back home?

Thanks for reading!

~Heather Massey
www.heathermassey.com
The Galaxy Express

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I adore crafting.  I do.  But I’m domestically awkward and most things wind up, well…you all remember the glue gun ball gown fiasco.  When I got this book on Steampunk jewelery, Steampunk Emporium, I fell completely in love with it and I want to try to make something from it[s glossy pages–which will end in laughter, paint on the couch, and beads all over the floor, I’m sure.   Today I’ve asked the author, Jema Hewitt, to come on and talk to us.

Jema Hewitt is a jewellery and costume designer living and working in the rolling hills of Derbyshire in the United Kingdom. Her love of all things steampunk gradually evolved through a passion for Victorian costume and an insistence that her friends dress up in bustles and go on picnics in castles with her.

Her steampunk Alter ego is Miss Emilly Ladybird, an adventuress who travels the world on behalf of her employers Dickens and Rivett auctioneers, looking for unusual artefacts and getting into mischief. Visit www.steampunkjewellery.co.uk for lots of stories about the pieces.

Steampunk Emporium is Jema’s latest jewellery making book, taking you on a rip roaring adventure with unusual characters and stories to accompany the crafting. Thrill to the daring adventures of zeppelin pirate “Andromeda Darkstorm” then make her storm bringer device, or take tea with the clockwork dolls then make a pretty chatelaine. This is a book to inspire the steampunk in everyone.

You can follow Emilly Ladybird’s adventures on twitter “emillyladybird” and join her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/emillyladybird for more fun and frolics.

In search of the perfect “cog”

by Jema Hewitt

One of the questions I’m asked most as a steampunk jewellery artist is “but where do you get your cogs?” As the genre of Steampunk rises in popularity in crafting circles, so has the enthusiasm for all things “cog” shaped, but what exactly is a cog? And why is it so important to Steampunks?

Firstly, what is steampunk? Well in a nutshell it could be summed up as Victorian style science fiction, it’s a creative movement which encompasses, art, literature, fashion and music, all inspired by airships, robots, submarines etc with lovely Victorian style in natural materials like brass and wood, with cogs, lots of cogs….

Now, to be pedantic, a cog is in fact just the little tooth part on a gear wheel, a gear wheel is the shape we normally call a cog, a moving part which meshes with another moving gear wheel as part of a larger piece of machinery. Just to confuse the issue further, A sprocket looks very similar to a gear wheel, but it only interacts with a chain or something like that, never another sprocket. (So a bicycle has sprockets, a pocket watch gearwheels)

There are hundreds of types of gear wheels, radial, helical, crown and worm, all of which get engineers terribly excited. This is all far too complicated for most people, so that lovely spiky shape is just called a “cog” for craft and steampunk purposes.

Its rise as a steampunk icon is directly related to its use in Victorian steam powered machinery, in which of course it was an integral moving part. Some Steampunks insist that a cog should only be used in this original form, as a true moving part in a larger functioning machine or artwork, while others are happy to stencil it onto a t-shirt, or embroider one onto a bag for instant recognition as belonging to part of the steampunk tribe.

I like to sit somewhere between these two camps, whilst I always try to make my cogs look functional, intersecting and if possible moving, in the devices and jewellery I create, there is also just no getting away from the fact that a cog is a gorgeous object in its own right. Those delicate little cut out teeth and interior are every bit as pretty to me as a piece of filigree, and I am happy to use them as purely decorative items in my art.

A cog stands for something small but important that is part of a greater whole.

So yes, I use cogs in my work, lots of them, and I mostly get them from watch and clock menders, who, if you pop round with a thermos of tea and some biscuits, show an interest in horology (that’s the posh word for clocks and watch making) will usually let you have a handful or two of old “cogs” (or gear wheels..) You can also purchase packets of new watch parts; teeny tiny shiny bits from specialist watch maker’s suppliers. Then there are the “craft” cogs, specially manufactured by companies like Ranger for use in scrapbooking and jewellery making, these are readily available from craft stores.

I do use cogs in my book quite a bit, but I also tried to find other interesting motifs that are integral to steampunk. Corsets, Keys, zeppelins are all fun, but not components in their own right. Cogs are like beads, totally addictive. You start stashing them, then not wanting to part with them, wondering what they were once part of, what they could be part of again, then it’s out with the wire and rivets and a new piece begins to take shape…..

~Jema Hewitt/Emilly Ladybird

www.steampunkjewellery.co.uk

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Today we welcome Shelley who writes under varies and sundry alter egos, writing YA as Shelley Adina, adult inspirational under Shelley Bates, and Amish fiction under the name Adina Senft.  I’ve asked her to come on today because after having written numberous books for major publishers, some award-winning, she has decided to self-publish her latest work, a Steampunk YA entitled Lady of Devices, which came out last week.

Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

A whole new meaning for DIY

By Shelley Adina

First of all, thank you to the lolitas for inviting me to post today!

We all know how important the makers are to the steampunk world. Without them, where would we get mechanical arms, cool clothes, and temporal decay monitors? I’m a maker myself when it comes to costume, whether it’s a full Victorian ballgown or a steampunked-out day costume that I wear to work. But when it comes to my books, I create the manuscript and then I leave it to my publisher to make the final product.

Until now.

Last year, as part of my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program, I wrote a YA steampunk story called Lady of Devices. Since I wasn’t under contract at the time, I pulled out all the stops and just had fun with it. Why shouldn’t the British Mail be delivered by vacuum tube? Why shouldn’t housework be done with automatons? And why can’t a well-bred young lady be an engineer? That last one is a stumper for my heroine, which is why she gets this story.

Anyway, my agent sent it out all over New York, and we waited for someone to love it as much as we did.

And waited.

And waited.

Then the replies started coming in. “Love the story. Can’t market it.” “Beautifully written but where do we shelve it?” “Love the story. Can we make the heroine 22?” Did they not know how hot steampunk is right now? Don’t they get it? Crestfallen, I retreated back into my office and the Lady resigned herself to netting me a degree instead of a publishing contract. Until we both had an idea.

Self publishing.

After all, I’m a maker and she is a creature of intellect and resources. I contacted Amanda Hocking’s cover artist, who gave me a stunning cover that was exactly right for the book. I hired a designer to do the lettering, as well as to create the back cover for the print edition, published through CreateSpace (amazon’s POD arm). I formatted the book myself, edited it myself (it’s what I do in the day job) and posted it … et voila, Lady of Devices is available in print and digital form, at your service on amazon.com.  

My agent is very supportive—after all, she reads the blogs and knows what’s going on in the world of self publishing. And the response from readers? Let’s just say the book has been selling five copies a day since I put it up, which for a newbie at this, is pretty good. It debuted at #39 on the historical fantasy bestseller list—two below The Mists of Avalon and one above Naomi Novik’s latest! And that was with no marketing at all other than an announcement on my Facebook page. I plan to do just what I do for my print books—let people know via my newsletter and Facebook, hand out bookmarks, and then let the writing appeal to readers who enjoy it and might want to talk about it with their friends.

Makers. When all else fails, we do it ourselves.

~Shelley Adina

http://www.shelleyadina.com

Thanks Shelley for sharing with us.  We all know what a hot topic self publishing is.

What’s your take on self publishing? 

Shelley will be giving away one paper copy of Lady of Devices to one lucky commenter.  North American only please.  Contest ends June 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM PST.

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