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Archive for the ‘Steampunk’ Category

Lit-Con at Write Space

I went to a Lit-Con here in Houston at Write Space last weekend. What a great idea to mix cosplay with readings from local steampunk, sci-fi, and fantasy authors and a book signing. Writespace (2)

from zelda

Dugfinn of Dugfinn Cosplay

Entertaining and enlightening readings were presented by local authors. DL Young who writes edgy, dystopian sci-fiction read from his newest release, Juarez Square and Other Stories. Cassandra Rose Clarke, an author of YA and Adult fantasy and science fiction read from her adult novel, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. Rachael Acks, a Steampunk, sci-fi, and fantasy writer read a humorous horror short story she just sold. Dorothy Tinker writes high fantasy and she read from the latest in her Peace of Evon series, Lost King, which was released this week.

The award winning cosplayer Dugfinn of Dugfinn Cosplay gave a wonderful presentation on cosplay. She went over the four parts of cosplay: the wig, the costume, the shoes, and the prop.

Steampunk compasBedrock City Comics here in Houston donated the prizes which were prop swords and action figurines for the awesome cosplay contest they had at the Lit-Con. The categories were for best over roll play, best  Literary Costume,  Best Fantasy Costume
Best Steampunk Costume, and Best TV/Movie Costume.

This Lit-Con was great fun and I hope other people and organizations will do Lit -Cons. Write Space itself is such a neat place for writers, just like an art gallery but for authors. I want to say an auth-gallery.

While there, I gained great information and inspiration form one of the cosplayer/readers. She asked  about my costume and in the explanation my Egyptian steampunk books came up. So due to the emphasis tribble salesmanthe Egyptians put on the sun in their religion and their buildings she asked if I man about townknew about Sunpunk. I didn’t and needless to say I was so intrigued. It’s a perfect tie in  to Egyptian Steampunk books or as I say SteamGyptianPunk. Have you ever thought of how much cogs look like the sun? Here is a brief post on sunpunk and

Steampunk gothIf you have any comments  at  all especially on LIt-Cons or sunpunk please post them below.

princes

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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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Tea Time

English tea houseLike most little girls, I grew up playing Tea Party. Ceramic and plastic tea sets are still some of the most popular toys, if you have daughters or granddaughters, they probably have at least one.

 

I learned so much about teas during the demonstration at the Oklahoma Steampunk Exposition, I attended a few years back.. We were served cucumber sandwiches, lemon pound cake, devil eggs, scones, cookies, and three types of tea. Our charming, expert hostess also taught us the differences in tea time in England, France, and Germany. For in Germany they usually served coffee and cake while in France they drank chocolate and served cookies or pastries or baguettes with butter and jam.

Dressed for tea time

Dressed for tea time

At an English tea, once everyone is seated, the hostess pours the tea, filling each guest’s cup. The spout of the tea pot faces the hostess or pourer. A tea cup is shallow and wider than a coffee or chocolate cup to give the tea room to temper before drinking. The hostess offers lemons, milk, or sugar for the tea. Milk and lemon are never added to the same cup, as citrus spoils milk. Cream is not offered as it is much too heavy for tea.

An infinite variety of tasty sandwiches may be served at tea, sometimes filled with chicken or turkey salad and cucmber sandwiches are often offered as well. The crust is always trimmed off the bread.

Do not extend your pinkie finger when drinking tea, it is rude. When stirring tea do not clink your spoon against the cup, instead swish it gently to and fro. After stirring, place the spoon on the saucer behind the tea cup. Remove the spoon before drinking your tea. Do not swirl the tea in your cup or you might slosh and stain the tablecloth.

There is specific etiquette for gentlemen attending teas. They must stand when a lady enters or leaves the room, open the door for the ladies, and escort the ladies downstairs to their carriage or cab. One would never expect less of a true gentleman.

I enjoyed sharing my new found knowledge with all you and I wish you all Happy Tea Time

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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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Quest for the Lost City of Z

Percy Harrison Fawcett, born in 1867, disappeared into the Amazon jungle in 1925. He was one of the foremost and one of the last of the Victorian/Edwardian explorers.He graduated from a course at the esteemed Royal Geographic Society where he was a member. His studies included surveying, how to record and classify what was around him, and the fundamentals of mounting and executing an expedition. The society bred him as an explorer.

Fawcett’s first mission was a two year expedition to map regions of south america between Bolivia and Brazil. He successfully completed the mission, redefining the borders of South America and did it almost a year early. In 1916, the royal geographic society awarded him with the blessing of George V gold medal for his contributions to the mapping of South America.But most importantly, it was on that expedition that he fell in love with the wilds of the Amazon.

Fawcett returned to the dangerous Amazon jungle seven times. Some things he claimed to have seen on these expeditions were a 62 foot long anaconda, a double-nosed Andean tiger-hound (a rare breed of hound with a double nose), and a giant Apazauca spider (a black tarantula so big a plate can barely cover it). His accomplishments also include tracing the source of the Rio Verde, and travelling along the Heath River on the border of Peru, to try to trace its source. Fawcett found evidence on these expeditions that indicated there had once been a large, organized  and advanced civilization with what must have been a huge city deep in the Amazon. One example of his findings was that in several high areas of the Amazon just a bit of scratching into the dirt would reveal shards of beautiful quality pottery to rival ancient Greek relics. He grew more and more interested in discovering this city lost in the jungle. He even gave it a name…Z.

Fawcett and other explores of his day didn’t have the fancy gadgets and communication devices we have now. These adventures braved the unknown with a compass, a machete, and an uncompromising belief in themselves to succeed. This was before specialist so they had to have the skill set of an explorer, a geographer, an anthropologist, and archaeologist, an emergency medical technician, and a leader all in one, in addition to being exceptionally physically ft. Percy Harrison Fawcett was all these things. Even at age 57 when he embarked on what was to become his last expedition, his body was resistant to illness and ailments, and he could walk for days with little or no nourishment. What he and other explores faced in the Amazon jungle were jaguars, snakes including anacondas, wild pigs, even some frogs there are poisonous to the touch, mosquitoes which carried diseases from malaria to yellow fever and settled on the explorers in swarms biting every inch of their bodies, ticks that descended on them like clouds of black rain…and they were also subject to attack by hostile native tribes.

It’s said Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used Fawcett as his inspiration for Lord John Roxton in his 1912 book The Lost World. Also Fawcett’s older brother Edward was an adventure novelist and drew on his younger brothers private fantasies in his book, The Secret of the Desert, where an explorer finds an ancient abandoned temple laden with treasure.

Fawcett’s theories of the ancient abandoned city of Z were considered nonsense by his peers. In the Edwardian era it was a widely held belief not only that El Dorado was a false myth but that all the documentation of the conquistadors discoveries were fantasies. Fawcett’s colleagues believed the Amazon natives were incapable of having developed a complex civilization.There was a theory at that time as well that the Amazon itself was too inhospitable for anyone to have created a sophisticated society there.

Fawcett didn’t believe in El Dorado but he thought many of the journals of these early Spanish expeditions contained accurate descriptions of the Amazon before the natives were almost entirely wiped out by small pox and other European diseases. For  instance the 16th century Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana reported seeing many fine roads leading into the interior. A conquistador on another expedition wrote of seeing towns so large they he was astounded by them.

After studying the conquistador’s records and native myths Fawcett figured out the location of Z. He formed an expedition to uncover the lost civilization despite being considered a fool by his colleagues. It took him a long time to get funding, but at last he was ready to set out. In 1925, Fawcett formed a small team of only three – himself, his son Jack, and Jack’s friend Raleigh, because that was a small enough party that they could live off the land and three men wouldn’t pose much of a threat to hostile Indians.Their explorer outfits  included lightweight tear-proof pants, stetsons, 30 caliber riffles and machetes.The three men entered the Amazon in search of the lost city of Z, but they disappeared in the jungle never to be heard of again.

It’s know that Fawcett’s party crossed the Upper Xingu, a south-eastern tributary of the Amazon and got as far as the Suyas and Kayapos tribes and then planned to turn eastward and confront the Xavante, an inhospitable tribe said to usually kill anyone they could catch. Some members of the Kayapos remember warning Fawcett not to go east as the tribes there were so hostile. The Kayapos saw the smoke from Fawcett’s campfire for five days after they left them then it went out. It is still unknown happened to Fawcett and his son and Raleigh after that. Over the years the mystery of his disappearance grew. Many rescue missions followed as well as many ideas about what happened to Fawcett, including one theory that he found Z and stayed there to live in the ancient city in the jungle he so loved. .

Though Fawcett’s theories of Z were dismissed by most of his peers, it’s now known he actually saw things clearer than them. His theory of an advance civilization in the depth of the Amazon jungle, a city he named Z, had proven to be true. Anthropologist Michael Heckenberger, working alongside the local Kuikuro people,uncovered huge man made moats that once had palisade walls, as well as large circular plazas and a huge area where many dwellings once stood.These ancient people had also build roads up to a hundred and fifty feet wide as well as causeways canals, and there is even evidence of bridges built over rivers. The roads connected large settlements about two to three miles apart. Each settlement contained about two to five thousand people and they lived here between 800 to AD to 1600 AD before European diseases basically wiped most of the out.. All of the cities and roads an other construction were built with a sense of engineering and mathematics which rivaled anything happening in most of Europe at the time. Heckenberger calls it Kuhikugu and it was most likely created by the ancestors of the Kuikuro. As there wasn’t much stone in the jungle Kuhikugu was built with wood, palm, and earth mounds which decompose.And this ancient advanced civilization lay right where Fawcett determined Z was.

If your interested in writing a Steampunk adventure story, Fawcett and his expeditions offer great inspiration. One of the best nonfiction books and also a great, page turner read, about Fawcett and his expeditions is The Lost City of Z by David Grann.

STEAMED! | Writing Steampunk Fiction// //

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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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Across the U. S.from 1896 – 1897, many newspapers reported unidentified flying objects, often described as silver cigar shaped airships with space alien crewmen and pilots thought to be from Mars. If you are looking for inspiration for a 19th century Steampunk UFO tale these reports from the great airship scare should help.

The Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Call reported the first sighting on November 18, 1896. A witness named R. L. Lowery described an alien craft powered by two men exerting themselves on bicycle pedals. Above the pedaling men, under the main body of the dirigible lay a passenger compartment, Some witnesses reported the sound of singing as the airship passed overhead.

The November 19, 1896 edition of the Stockton, California Daily Mail reported Colonel H. G. Shaw claimed that when driving his buggy through the countryside near Stockton he came across what appeared to be a landed spacecraft with a metallic surface, with no features other than  a rudder, and pointed ends. He estimated the space craft was a diameter of 25 feet by about 150 feet in length. Three slender, 7-foot-tall space aliens emitting a strange warbling noise came out of the craft. The beings examined Shaw’s buggy then tried to physically force Shaw into their airship. The aliens were said to give up after realizing they lacked the physical strength to force Shaw onto the ship. They climbed back into their airship, which lifted off the ground and sped out of sight.

The Albion Weekly News reported two witnesses saw an airship crash inches from where they were standing. The ship suddenly disappeared, with a man standing where the vessel had been. The airship pilot showed the men a small device which had enabled him to shrink the airship small enough to put it in his pocket.

On April 10, 1897 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article reporting a witness, W. H. Hopkins, encountered a grounded airship about 20 feet in length and 8 feet in diameter near the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri.The spaceship was propelled by 3 large propellers and crewed by a beautiful nude woman and a bearded man, also nude.Hopkins attempted to communicate with the crew to ascertain their origins. Eventually they understood what Hopkins was asking and they both pointed to the sky and uttered something that sounded like the word Mars.

April 16, 1897 the Table Rock Argus reported a group of reliable witnesses saw an airship sailing overhead. It had a lot of passengers, including a woman tied to a chair and a man with a pistol guarding her.

The Center Farmer’s Advocate published the April 19, 1897 account of Alexander Hamilton of Leroy, Kansas, who along with his son and a tenant, sighted an airship hovering over his cattle pen. A red cable from the space ship lassoed a heifer, but got entangled in the pen’s fence. Hamilton’s attempts to free the cow were unsuccessful. He then cut a portion of the fence loose and the ship and cow rose off the ground and sailed away.

In 1897 the Washington Times speculated the airships were a reconnoitering party from Mars. The same year, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch suggested these may be visitors from Mars, now fearful of invading the planet they have been seeking.

Here’s four sample of articles which appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1897:

Mount Vernon, Illinois, April 15 — What appeared to have been the mysterious airship was seen here by more than 100 persons last night.

Carlyle, Ill., April 15 — The airship was spotted this evening travelling fast in a northwestern course.

Quincy, Ill., April 15. — The Wabash passenger train which arrived here at 10 o’clock tonight raced for 15 minutes with the alleged airship. They first sighted it near Perry Springs, 52 miles east of Quincy. All of the passengers saw it, but all they could see was two lights, one white, the other red.

Hillsboro, Ill., April 15 —the airship was seen in the western heavens by a number of reputable citizens last evening.

My favorite report is the UFO crash in Aurora Texas in 1897. A cigar-shaped airship plowed through a windmill, destroying it. The good folk of Aurora discovered a space alien inside, who died upon impact. They gave him a Christian burial. Someone stole the space alien’s tombstone but the state of Texas erected a historical marker at the cemetery, which reads, “This site is also well known because of the legend that a spaceship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash was buried here.” The Dallas Morning News printed the story, stating an airship hit the tower of Judge Proter’s windmill, blew into pieces in a terrific explosion scattering parts of the UFO over several acres, wrecking the windmill and water tank, and destroying the Judge’s flower garden. The newspaper reported that the pilot, the only one in the spaceship, died upon impact and though his body was badly disfigured it was evident he was not an inhabitant of this world.

An interesting aspect of the Great Airship Scare was a rumor that the space ships were the invention of some genius who wasn’t ready to announce his creation to the public. Thomas Edison was widely speculated to be the mind behind the airships and in 1897, to quiet the rumors, he issued a statement denying all responsibility.

So start researching and writing some Victorian era UFO stories. I can’t wait to read them when they’re published.

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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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Here is the link to the previous interview.

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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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The Original Botch Up

As writers our tools are words so their meanings and origins are important and interesting to us. That is the case with the word botch. It means to bungle something or patch something up in a sloppy way. It’s origin can be traced to the Victorian era.

Thomas botchThe word botch comes from the name Thomas Bouch, a Victorian architect and railway engineer. At 26 years of age, he became Engineer and Manager for the Edinburgh and Northern Railway where he designed and introduced the first roll-on-roll-off rail ferry. He also helped develop the caisson, a watertight retaining structure where water can be pumped out, keeping the work environment dry. In addition, Bouch popularized the use of lattice girders in railway bridges

He reached his height of fame when he built the Tay Bridge to carry the Edinburgh to Aberdeen railway two miles high above the Firth of Tay. At the time it was open, it was the longest bridge in the world.. After Queen Victoria rode across the Tay Bridge she rewarded Bouch with knighthood for his great accomplishment.

Unrecognized by Bouch, there were some design flaws in the bridge. The iron piers supporting the lattice girders were narrower and the cross-bracing less extensive than then should have been. Also, since he’d gotten expert advice on “wind loading” when designing a proposed rail bridge over the Firth of Forth, he didn’t make any additional allowances for wind loading in the Tay Bridge. There were other flaws in detailed design, maintenance, and in quality control of castings.

The Tay Bridge disaster occurred during a violent storm with a wind force of 10 to 11 on the beaufort scale with gusts even higher.  The Tay bridge collapsed into the Firth of Tay and a train with all of it’s passengers and crew plunged to their deaths. There were no survivors. Bouch was hard hit by the disaster, became ill and died less than a year later.

William McGonagall, acclaimed’ as the worst poet in history, wrote the poem, The Tay Bridge Disaster in 1880.  It begins:
“Beautiful railway bridge of the silvery Tay. Alas! I am very sorry to say that ninety lives have been taken away on the last Sabbath day of 1879. Which will be remembered for a very long time.”

So now you know how the word botch came to be. And when you botch up something at least you have the comfort of knowing you didn’t botch it up as bad as Bouch.

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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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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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Going Ape

If you‘re looking for a fun character for a Steampunk novel, why not throw in an ape? Gorillas and Apes were popular in Victorian literature. With the British colonies in Africa, the Victorians had a strong interest in the unique continent. Another reason for the popularity of these human-like creatures was the topic of evolution spurred by Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, published in 1859.

The most famous gorilla was Edgar Allan Poe’s mass murderer from his tale, The Murders In The Rue Morgue, published in 1841. It stands as the first detective story ever written.

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs came out in 1912 and Apes are strong secondary characters and are an intricate part of the storyline. The story begins in the year 1888 when John, Lord Greystoke with his new, young wife, Lady Alice sail to Africa. There is a mutiny on their ship and they are abandoned on the coast of Africa near a jungle. Alice has a baby there but shortly after the child is born, Alice dies and Lord Greystoke is killed by a gorilla. A female gorilla, Kala, who had recently lost her baby, takes Alice’s baby and raises him as her own. She names him Tarzan. She was the only mother he ever knew.

This is a short excerpt from The Return of Tarzan: “And I, on my part, loved her, Paul. I did not realize how much until after the cruel spear and the poisoned arrow of Mbonga’s black warrior had stolen her away from me. I was still a child when that occurred, and I threw myself upon her dead body and wept out my anguish as a child might for his own mother. To you, my friend, she would have appeared a hideous and ugly creature, but to me she was beautiful—so gloriously does love transfigure its object. And so I am perfectly content to remain forever the son of Kala, the she-ape.”

In the return of Tarzan he finds a lost city of gold and the people, though human, speak his native language, that of the gorillas.  When Tarzan escapes the City of Gold and sees Jane in the Jungle with the man she chose over him, he returns to his tribe of apes, broken hearted and wanting nothing more to do with humans. Later in the story when Jane is captured by the men from the City of Gold, it’s a gorilla that tells Tarzan she’s been taken.


Six-Gun Gorilla is another r interesting story, published as a fifteen-part serial in the British Pulp, Wizard in 1939. Set in the 19th century American wild west, a kidnapped baby gorilla ends up in Colorado with a kind prospector, Bart Masters. The gorilla, O’Neil, loves the prospector like a father. Unfortunately, Tutt Stawhan, head of the Strawhan outlaw gang, murders Bart Masters. O’Neil vows to revenge Bart’s death. He straps a bandoleer across his broad, hairy chest and holsters two Colts. Then he sets out on a quest to track down, shoot and kill every member of the Strawhan gang.

Rupert Cornelius is a popular Steampunk gorilla.  I had the pleasure of meeting, this educated Ape, at Aetherfest in San Antonio, Texas a few years back. This brilliant gorilla answers such mind boggling questions as pirates vs ninjas, The borg vs the daleks, and what he would he do for a Klondike bar?

And of course there’s DC comics’ Gorilla Grodd, arch nemesis of the  Flash. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, the  premise is that in the 19th century, a spacecraft crashed deep in the heart of Africa in the Congo Basin. Grodd and his troupe gain super intelligence and Grodd and another gorilla, Solovar, are also empowered with telepathic and telekinetic abilities as well as mind control. Uner the leadership of the alien pilot, the genius apes build Gorilla City where they live in a society far advanced from our own. The apes dwell in peace in this secret city hidden in the mountains, until they are discovered by explorers.


Grodd forces an explorer to kill the alien, so he can rule Gorilla City. But Solovar and the Flash thwart Grodd’s evil plan. Many times through the years the Flash and his allies including Solovar save the world from Grodd.

If you’ve read or written a book featuring a gorilla, tell us about it or comment on anything else regarding the post. I love to hear from readers and other authors.

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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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Mail Myself To You

Just last month, everyone was wrapping packages and mailing them to relatives and friends. It’s hard to believe but in 1913 when the parcel post service began in the US, at least two children were mailed with stamps stuck on their clothes. I swear I’m not making this up. There’re actually pictures of mail carriers with children they delivered.

This inspires all sorts of ideas for books. A child could be sent by mail by the mother to the baby’s father, who didn’t know about the baby. A child could mail themselves to the North Pole so they could see Santa and get all the toys. A runaway child could even stamp themselves to go out west for adventure. A child could get delivered to the wrong address.

Western mail order brides could actually be sent by mail with stamps on their dresses or foreheads.  A mail order bride could be delivered to the wrong man. Instead of a train to deliver mail you can use an airship or a mail balloon to send stamped people about. And you certainly don’t have to keep this practice in the Edwardian era, you can move it to the Victorian era wild west.

A mailed woman or child could end up riding pillion with a pony express rider through Indian country. They could even ride on a stage coach that carries mail.  If the train, stage or airship is held up by outlaws and a mailed person is taken as a hostage is that tampering with US mail? Would the Calvary be brought in to recover the stolen person or rather package? The ideas are endless.

Wood Guthrie wrote a cute song about this practice of mailing children.

This practice of mailing children is definitely one of those what were they thinking scenarios. In this case what they were thinking was how to do something cheaper. How to get out of the cost of an expensive train ticket. The how to do something cheaper thought process often causes people to do strange things. You can always use it for one of your characters; have them try to do something cheaper that ends up being pretty crazy. It might be a challenge to come up with something crazier than mailing children but if you can think of it chances are someone has actually done it. For many people cheaper and easier seems to outweigh unresponsible and dangerous and leads people to make some pretty foolish mistakes. Also characters who always try to do things on the cheap can be funny.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 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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timemachine1Dickens On The Strand was earlier this month. It included a holiday parades of pirates, fellow Steampunkers, choirs of carolers, beggars, a host of other memorable Victorian characters and also the suffragettes. This picture of me next to H. G. Wells’ time machine as I’m wearing my Votes for Women sash is fitting. I went back in time on the strand as I marched with the Victorian suffragettes in the parade.

We sung: All I want for Christmas is the right to vote The right to vote The right to vote All I want for Christmas is the right to vote So I can govern my existence

votesMarching as a suffragette was a blast but the real suffragette movement was serious business and a long hard fight. Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage in 1897. The movement began with peaceful protest arguing that if women had to pay taxes they had the right to vote.

But because Fawcett’s progress through peaceful protests was slow, a lawyer, Richard Pankhurst, his wife, Emmeline, and daughter, Christabel, made a fresh attempt to gain the vote for women and formed the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903. They pursued civil disobedience for the cause. Suffragettes protested by chaining themselves to railings and eventually by smashing windows.

As you make your New Year resolutions tomorrow, think about these brave women of the suffragettes movement who resolved to gain us the vote and did so, both Suffragettes in England and also in America. They gave us a great gift, the opportunity to vote.

Consider adding a suffragette sash to your Steampunk costume. I’m going to continue to wear mine. Also consider making one of your Steampunk characters a suffragette – it worked well for Mrs. Banks in Disney’s Marry Poppins film.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 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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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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Twelve Steampunk Days of Christmas

©Cindy Spencer Pape 2012

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Twelve vile villians,

Eleven killer kraken,

Ten automata

Nine naughty nymphets

Eight brave explorers

Seven scribbling scribes

Six leather corsets

Five brassy gears

Four tiny top hats

Three ray guns

Two Tesla coils

And a Babbage engine in an airship.

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A Steampunk Night Before Christmas

A Steampunk Night Before Christmas
© 2009 Suzanne Lazear

‘Twas the night before Christmas and the whole ship was quiet,
Too quiet for the likes of this seasoned air pirate.

The airship was festooned with frippery and green,
With nary a brass polished surface to be seen.

Their stocking were hung by the crow’s nest with pride,
Along with homemade cookies and rum for Santa to imbibe.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the crew.
That Santa wouldn’t approve of what we do.

Sure, we stole from the rich, and gave to the needy.
But he’d probably think taking a cut was too greedy.

It didn’t matter that they had hearts of gold,
Only that it was stolen goods we bought and sold.

Suddenly portside there arose such a clatter,
That I grabbed my spyglass to see what was the matter.

The deck became filled with curious crew,
As I climbed the rigging for a better view.

The sky that had moments before been silent,
Had erupted with a commotion both grievous and violent.

The black ship portside was one that even we dread,
And it looked as if it were attacking a small red sled,

Driven by a fat guy and flying brown deer,
I polished the spyglass to ensure my vision was clear.

“Dread Pirate Fred’s attacking Santa, let’s help him, quick,”
Shouted my trusty first mate old Salty Nick.

What could I do but help out the sled,
“Come on, crew, let’s teach a lesson to Fred.”

I climbed down the rigging.
“There are cannons to load,
Christmas to save,
And pirates to goad.
Let’s kick up our speed,
And give up a fight.
Even we know
Robbing Santa just isn’t right.”

With a cheer, I manned the helm, going full speed ahead,
Nick loading our cannons to aim at the Dread Pirate Fred.

“Don’t worry Santa, help will arrive,
Salty Nick, man the cannons, prepare to take a dive.”

We flew through the air quickly, with all our might,
Fred’s crew had the sleigh on board, a terrible sight

Santa looked frightened, a gun to his head,
“Give me those presents,” growled the Dread Pirate Fred.

Even the reindeer had been rendered immobile,
By a few of Fred’s men in a black dirigible.

Santa shook his head, “If you take them, they will be missed.
Certainly, you all shall make my permanent naughty list.”

“I don’t care,” the pirate growled,
“We just want those gifts,” his crew avowed.

“Unhand those presents,” I called, dashing through the air
The cannons fired, aimed only to scare.

The reindeer bucked, trying to get free,
Fred sneered, “Captain Sno, you don’t scare me.”

Quickly, we secured Fred’s ship and dastardly crew,
But Fred still had Santa—there was only one thing to do.

Fred and I grappled across the deck, precariously,
Nick making sure Santa and the reindeer went free,

“You can’t rob Santa, it’s just not right,”
I yelled as I punched Fred when he put up a fight.

“Now, now, cease that,” Santa said,
Causing me to stop punching Dread Fred.

“Now Dread Pirate Fred, trying to steal presents in wrong,
but Captain Sno, punching him won’t stop him for long.

Christmas is about sharing and caring, not fighting and stealing,
and doing what’s right, not wheeling and dealing.”

Fred and I looked at each other, hanging our heads in shame.
The jolly old man had a good handle on our game.

Both crews made sure the gifts all went back
Into Santa’s giant red velvet sack.

Cook fed the reindeer carrots, and Santa cherry pie
I looked at the Dread Pirate Fred and gave a sigh.

“Why did you do that? That’s low even for you,
to attack Santa and take his presents on Christmas Eve, too.”

“Those presents would fetch prices that are sky high.”
But the look on Fred’s face told me that was a lie.

“There are better ways of getting a present from Santa’s sack,
then trapping the reindeer and staging an attack.”

“You’re one to talk,” Fred replied.
Nodding slowing, I looked at my crew, and again I sighed.

“I’m afraid, Santa, neither Fred nor I have been good this year,
but please, don’t forget our crew, they could use some cheer.

They don’t meant to be bad; they’re just following orders
They’re good men at heart, not drunkards and cavorters.”

Santa said, “Thank you captain, for rescuing me,
I think I my sleigh might hold an extra present or three.

You too,” he added to Dread Pirate Fred.
I shook my head. Was that what he actually said?

“Fred and his crew tried to steal your gifts to sell,
now you’re giving them presents as if all were well?”

Santa winked. “Now, Sno, remember what Christmas is all about.”
Getting in his sleigh, he gave his reindeer a shout.

“Just try to stay off the naughty list, the both of you, from now on.
Now, I have to be off, to get these delivered before dawn.”

Both crews looked up, as Santa took off.
“Merry Christmas, Santa,” my voice went soft.

With a wink of his eye, and a flick of his hand,
Presents flew out of his sleigh; onto the deck they did land.

“Thank you, Santa,” the crews did shout.
“There’s not one for me,” Dread Fred did pout.

“All I’ve ever wanted is a present from Santa, just one.”
I scoffed. “But not enough to stop having all your plundering fun.”

“Stop it you two,” Santa added with a call.
“But I didn’t forget you either, no, not at all.”

Two more presents floated down from the sky.
Turning mine over in my hands I looked up. “But why?”

Santa just smiled. “Just remember what I said.
And for once, Sno, can you stop plaguing Fred?”

With a hearty laugh, the sled flew through the sky,
Both crews waving, tears in their eyes.

“A present for me?” Fred’s eyes gleamed.
I knew deep down, he wasn’t as dreadful as he seemed.

Taking a box from my pocket, I said, “And there’s another.”
Giving it to him, I smiled. “Merry Christmas, brother.

I’m sorry I plague you, but it’s so much fun.
Let’s make next year a much better one.”

Nodding, Fred said, “For once, Sno, you’re right.
I think this should be the last time we fight.”

Santa sped by, doing one last turn.
“I hope there’s a lesson tonight you all learned.

Merry Christmas to you, and remember my lads,
no one says air pirates have to be bad.”

Suzanne Lazear writes steampunk tales for teens.  INNOCENT DARKNESS, book one of The Aether Chronicles, book two, CHARMED VENGEANCE, and book three, FRAGILE DESTINY, are now available from Flux. Visit her personal blog for more adventures.

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victorianxmaqsAnother find from Peterson’s Magazine…

This Parlor Amusement is so detailed they must have memorized it like a mini play. Title sounds like it might have been vaguely inspired by Poe.

Having a Steampunk gathering during the winter? This might be fun to try amongst the ladies… and gentlemen if they choose.

Let me know!
Raye –

PARLOR AMUSEMENTS
THE TELL-TALE LITTLE FINGER.
– This game is intended for young ladies; if, however, a few young gentlemen are of the company, their presence may contribute to render it the more amusing.
All the company place themselves in a semicircle, within which is a seat more elevated than the rest, for the schoolmistress, whom they at once proceed to choose. The latter selects another of the company, who takes her place on a stool in front of her companions, and must be prepared to answer all the accusations which the Mistress may bring against her.
Mistress. – You ventured to go out yesterday without my permission; where did you go?
Accused. – To my aunt’s (here she points to one of her companions, who must at once answer, “Yes, mistress,” or pay a forfeit.)
Mistress. – That is not all; you have been somewhere else, my thumb tells me so. (At the word thumb, the Accused answers, “It knows nothing about it,” which she repeats until the Mistress names another finger.)*
Mistress. – And, what is worse, you did not go alone.
Accused. – It knows nothing about it.
Mistress. – Still it says that you were in a grove –
Accused. – It knows nothing about it.
Mistress. – And that a handsome young man was there at the same time.
Accused. – It knows nothing about it.
Mistress. – You have even dined in company with him. It is my middle finger tells me this.
Accused. – Do not believe it. (This is the phrase where the middle finger is spoken of.)
Mistress. – And in a private room.
Accused. – Do not believe it. My neighbor knows to the contrary. (She points to another young lady, who must answer. “Yes, Mistress.”
Mistress. – After the dinner, which lasted for a long time –
Accused. – Do not believe it.
Mistress. – The young man brought you back in a carriage.
Accused. – Do not believe it.
Mistress. – And the carriage was overturned in crossing a brook.
Accused. – Do not believe it.
Mistress. – And when you returned, your dress was wet and torn.
Accused. – Do not believe it. I can bring testimony of one, two, or three of my companions. (She points toward those who are inattentive to the game in preference to the others. They must answer, “Yes, Mistress,” or pay a forfeit.)
Mistress. – It is my little finger that has told me so.
Accused. – Pardon me, Mistress, it has told a falsehood. (All the young ladies say at the same time, “Ah! The wicked little finger!”
Mistress. – It insists upon it, however.
Accused. – It has told a falsehood. Ask all my companions.
All, without uttering a word, lift up their right-hand, as if to attest the falsehood of the accusation. The slightest hesitation is punished by a forfeit.
Mistress. – It says that all these young ladies tells a falsehood.
All rise. Those who keep their seats pay a forfeit. The Accused returns among her companions; a new Mistress is chosen, who designates a new culprit, and the game continues.
If, on the contrary, the first Mistress, content with the testimony which the young ladies have given without rising, announces that the little finger declares that it was mistaken, she can bring forward new charges, to which the culprit must answer in the same manner as before described.

*There was a punctuation error in this line. I didn’t want to post it without the correction.

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st nick 2Dickens Christmas on the Strand, held in Galveston Texas, is full of old  fashioned Holiday fun. So lasso up the kids and heard then down to the strand. laso up the kidsTossing knives while ridding a unicycle … fun fun fun. Of course I won’t be trying that anytime soonfunA highlight of Dickens On the Strand is the Victorian Bed Races. The beds have to be Victorian style with head and foot-boards. photo photo 2photo 5photo 4

 

 

The beds must be decorated in a Victorian Christmas theme. photo 7cphoto 3cphoto 2b       photo 4cphoto 6c

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beds may only be pushed, from the back or the sides. No pulling allowed Teams begin at 21st and Mechanic Street and race westward to the intersection of 22nd and Mechanic. In the intersection, teams come to a complete stop and perform a “Chinese Fire Drill”, with every team member circling the bed once. Then one of the pushers dons a night cap and gown, without assistance, and changes places with the previous rider, who becomes a pusher.photo 16 photo 11photo 14 photo 17         Once the new rider photo 18is on the bed, the team races to the finish line. Awards are given for the fastest time and the best decorated.

I want to wish all the Steamed readers a Merry Steampunk Christmas and a lot of Victorian Holiday fun.

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 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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