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Archive for the ‘conventions’ Category

Steampunk has come to embrace so many varied arts, well beyond just fiction. I’d like to introduce you to a couple of the artisans who make the stuff that makes us all look so good.

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 Shoptroll: (aka Peter Vanslyke)

 

Where can shoppers find your products online?

www.shoptroll.net (but realistically I update the Shoptroll Facebook page way more regularly.)

 

What do you make? 

Riveted seam (no sewing) leather clothing. Mostly skirts, kilts, and pocket-belts.

(Note from Cindy: he also makes bodices, bracelets, gloves, shelves, benches, and just about everything you can make with wood, nails, rivets and soft leather. That’s me and the spouse in SP invasion of RFall our Shoptroll finery.)

 

Do you do this full time or is it a side job? 

Full time. 24-7.

 

How did you get into steampunk, personally and as an artisan?

I think, for me, the two’re inseparably linked. I love non-traditional construction methods (example: to make a skirt, I use rivets instead of thread). I see a great deal of the above in the overall steampunk aesthetic. Descriptions and images of things that at the first seem over-built, stylized, or overly ornamental can too be taken as, say, a plumber’s take on a message-delivery system. Using your knowledge or trade to solve situations that they may not at first seem applicable to…I love seeing that.

 

What’s the hardest thing about being a steampunk vendor?

Not going to panels when you’re at a con.

 

What is your very favorite thing about steampunk and the people involved?

If there is a defining aspect of steampunk, I’d call it creativity. No, really, bear with me as I “define” steampunk here. Every single steamo out there brings something to the table. Every. Single. One. At a comic or sci-fi convention, you have some great artists, writers, actors, cosplayers, etc., but for every one of those folk, there are at least a dozen fans or collectors. (Which, by the way, is great.) In steampunk, that ratio is reversed. Participants create their own character, or their own costume. They all add to the ambiance. most of us have *some* project or other we are working on, be it a light-up Nerf mod, a hover pack , a moving picture, a moving piece of poetry, an airship crew, a presentation, a new novel, knitting, we are all working on things, and most of us will happily enthuse, and share ideas to inspire and encourage one another. That, the building of this thing that we all enjoy together, that is probably my favorite aspect of steampunk.

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 Matt Sabins, of Sabins Gadgeteering Lab, LLC

 matt

Where can shoppers find your products online?

www.sabinsgadgeteeringlab.com

What do you make?

Custom costume props, accessories, and jewelry. My style tends towards Tesla-tech, usually with small glowing light effects to simulate strange energies of the Aether.

(note from Cindy: His wristbands and firefly necklaces are out of this world!)

 

Do you do this full timIMG_3955e or is it a side job?

Full-Time, my own business. I’ve tried pursuing conventional means of employment; it never really worked out for me.

 

How did you get into steampunk, personally and as an artisan?

My first exposure to steampunk was the tabletop role-playing game, “Mage: The Ascension” by White Wo Studios. There’s a Tradition of mages called the Sons of Ether whose mad devices and eccentric style were steampunk even before the term had really caught on, and they were my fast favorite. I really love the strange mélange of mysticism and technology that they represent, and I began to try making Etheric devices of my own to use as props. That was more than 10 years ago, and I’ve been refining my methods with what I could afford ever since.IMG_3667

 

What’s the hardest thing about being a steampunk vendor?

The hardest thing about being a vendor is coming up with product ideas that are original enough not to infringe on other copyrights, but that have sufficiently recognizable value to customers who migIMG_2985ht want to buy them. I often have to restrain myself from exuberant creativity and focus on making everyday stuff with a just a hint of mad science in them.

 

What is your very favorite thing about steampunk and the people involved? 

My favorite thing about steampunk is that it is primarily fan-driven. There isn’t a lot of popular source material in films and television with steampunk as the main focus. There’s plenty of room to get in on the ground floor as it picks up steam, so to speak. As for the people involved, I’ve found most are quite friendly and well-mannered, and they seem to really like my creations.

***

 So now that you’ve met these two awesome creators, don’t forget to check out their work! Hopefully, these interviews will be a recurring feature, so if you’re an artisan, or know one who ought to be interviewed, send me an email at cindy@cindyspencerpape.com.

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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… 😀

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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uniforms Lolita Cindy here, phoning this one in. I’ve got a hard deadline in two days and on the third, I’m headed off to Pandoracon to participate as a panelist on the writers’ track. So wish me luck!

On another note, the spouse and I have officially joined the ranks of the HMS, RAF Defiance, based out of Royal Oak Michigan. I’m joining the crew as resident naturalist, and the tall, dapper gent with me is Rear Admiral Pape, currently aboard on part of a hush-hush diplomatic mission. The real story is, since his jacket came with that insignia, he had to come up with a story to match it, so he didn’t usurp the authority of Captain Sir Benjamin Despard, who so kindly welcomed us aboard.

Creating uniforms from scratch was a fun, long-term project for us. We assembled them piece by piece, either from thrift shops or clearance sales. Here’s the break-down.

Mine: skirt (split riding skirt) clearance from Recollections. (That they happened to have one clearance piece, my size, even in short, still amazes me.) This formed the basis for my uniform. Jacket was from Torrid, also clearance mail order. Corset, underneath, is my old Corset-Story basic black. White blouse underneath, straight out of my closet, black tie filched from one of the offspring. My standard steampunk boots are vintage Salvation Army My hat was $8 at an Army surplus store, and I picked up the hatpin there too. It’s a French parachuting insignia. The ribboned medals I’m wearing are from Spectra Nova and others are from random thrift finds. Total cost of uniform, roughly $100, over the course of 6 months or so, and most of the parts can be worn separately, the coat even in real life.

The hubby is wearing a vintage Detroit Fire Chief’s coat, found at the local antique mall for about #30. His US Navy pants, $7 or so at a thrift shop. Medals again are random thrift bits, and his Royal Canadian Mounted Police hat was all of $20. White shirt, black tie, black boots, straight out of his closet. The goggles were bought so long ago, I don’t remember where or how much. Total cost, maybe $70.

We’ll be rocking these as representatives of the Defiance at Pandoracon. I hope this post sparks an idea or two for anyone who’s been hesitant about costuming. Get creative. Thrift shops are your friends!

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This Memorial Da981656_613954288623576_410594702_oy weekend, I was Up in the Aether–at the brand new convention in Dearborn, Michigan. Although there were holdover staff and guests from World Steam Expo, which folded, this was an all-new con with all new staff. It wasn’t perfect. We had plenty of growing pains, some visible to attendees, more that weren’t. You know what, though? I had a blast. My favorite place was the vendor’s room, of course, which was chock full of goodies ranging from $5 to thousands. Of course I picked up a few goodies to augment my wardrobe–I’m only human.

Other activities abounded, though. There was an airship combat room. An airship-to-airship combat video game to test out. There were more bands than I can remember. There was a Mr./Ms. Steampunk pageant. And of course, there were lots of panels–history, costuming, food, DIY, and, of course, steampunk fiction. That’s where I came in. Yep, I was in charge of wrangling the authors (and, incidentally, one film crew.) Yes, that can be an awful lot like herding wet ferrets. In this case, though, everyone pl467982_613348448684160_218185869_oayed together pretty well. Guests of honor included Pip Ballantyne and Tee Morris, Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, and Steven Harper. Other panelists were me, David Erik Nelson, Christian Klaver, and Colleen Gleason, plus the makers of the steampunk movie, “Wars of Other Men.” We had lots of great panels and even a few attendees showed up.

Yep. A few. Here’s where my learning curve on steampunk conventions kicks in. Science fiction conventions are about the product: the books, the movies, the games, and by extension, the creators of the above. Romance cons are even more so. But steampunk conventions are not about fiction. They’re about being steampunk. Make your costume, make your food, learn your history and dance to the music. Only a rather small percentage of the con-goers give a rat’s butt about the books. This strikes the average author as very odd, but the solid truth is that a lot of folks who identify as steampunk Don’t Even Read. (gasp) No, I don’t mean they’re illiterate. I just mean that fiction isn’t their recreation of choice.

Huh.   Well, having come into steampu967225_3198677542531_491994324_onk via fiction, that just bloody well hadn’t occurred to me. So what to do next year to keep fiction as a viable part of the convention, and draw in more bodies to the literary panels. I have ideas, but not enough. More suggestions would be more than welcome. One thought is to run the writing panels as DIY models–where there are hands-on exercises and the attendees come out with some kind of product. One is to have fewer panels, so the audience isn’t diluted by too many options. More advance promo of the authors would also be a plus. Maybe integrate some of that into the main programming of the con itself. Mostly, though, I’m just going to have to work my butt off to come up with something. I have confidence in the steampunk community that we’ll pull something off. After all–we build worlds. Surely we can build an audience. 🙂

In these photos, you’ll see me, my spouse, and my younger offspring. The grand-spawn was also in attendance, which was fun. Thanks to the captain and first mate of the Airship Valkyrie for the props: deck gun, tentacle, and the Aerodrome Authority chalkboard. All three black top hats are from Blonde Swan, leather skirt, kilt and suspenders are from Shoptroll, and red men’s corset and my green silk outfit are from Ties that Bynde.

 

 

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Women With Weapons - Comicpalooza 2013

Women With Weapons – Comicpalooza 2013

Whether your costume or your characters attire is a Steampunk ghost, pirate, vampire, mechanic, world explorer, airship crew member, a proper Victorian lady or something altogether different, I wanted to share helpful pointers from panels at Comicpalooza, this past Memorial weekend.

Since I’m a Lolita at Steamed, let’s start with Lolita fashion.

 Steam Lolitas - The Cup Cake Girls - Comicpalooza 2013

Steam Lolitas – The Cupcake Girls – Comicpalooza 2013

When developing a steampunk persona and the costuming for it, you may find yourself building a lot of drama and hardship to your characterization. However, Lolita personas are lighter, let’s just have fun, let’s  have a tea party. For that reason many women are attracted to Steampunk/Lolita fashion crossovers.  For a good start to Lolita fashion, take a nice white blouse, add a frilly petticoat and a skirt trimmed in lace.  Goodwill, Salvation army, and local thrift stores are excellent places to get accessories and props to build a costume.

A Cup Cake girl with the Steam Lolita panel

A Cup Cake girl with the Steam Lolita panel

Whether you’re a Lolita blending steampunk into your costume, a steampunk persona mixing Lolita concepts into your outfit or working with a straight stempunk characterization for your attire, one thing to keep in mind is well fitted garments flatter any figure. Garments that are too large are as bad as clothing that’s too small. Regarding corsets, use those with steel bones, avoid the plastic ones as they bend when it’s hot, and become lumpy. Queen size women should ensure their corsets fall a bit longer in  front. Corsets should close to about 4″ all the way for a comfortable, even fit. It’s less expensive to invest in a custom fitted corset, than buying a dozen inexpensive ones that don’t look or feel quite right.

Lady Blue - Comicpalooza 2013

Lady Blue – Comicpalooza 2013

Don’t foreget bustles, they add a lot to an outfit. They don’t make your butt look big; they make your skirt look full. Certain silhouettes require a bustle to fill out your skirt and add a polished, proportional look to your dress.

Steampunk Sweethearts - Comicpalooza 2013

Steampunk Sweethearts – Comicpalooza 2013

Other than a corset, the most expensive part of your costume may well be your shoes. Granny boots are always popular for steampnk. Consider investing in a good pair of Doc Martins that appeal to your steampunk self. For dancing at a a Steampunkb all you will need something more feminine. Cherries Jubilee is a great source for source for Steampunk shoes, her emeblishmens are amazing.

Regarding menswear, a man’s waistcoat or vest  needs to be long, such as one purchased from a big and tall store,

Shiny As A Copper Penney
Shiny As A Copper Penney

so it covers the shirt to the top of the trousers. That prevent the tummy from bulging under the vest. Pants should be worn at the waistline, around the belly button, not beneath it. Most men will find suspenders work best. Men should keep spats in mind, to add a touch of completion and pizazz to their outfit.

Steampunk Poision Ivy

Steampunk Poision Ivy

For both men and women, stemapunk costumes should look complete, from head to toe, for example don’t wear tennis shoes with a period dress. Also, though accessories are key to a Steampunk look, don’t’ go overboard, keep to the less is more fashion philosophy.

Lolita Alice and the Mad Hatter

Lolita Alice and the Mad Hatter

For examples and ideas, I’ve included a few photos I snapped at Comicpalooza in Houston Texas. So have fun and enjoy creating your or your characters’ Steampunk costumes.

Maeve Alpin is the author of four Steampunk/Romances: To Love A London Ghost, Conquistadors In Outer Space, As Timeless As Stone, and As Timeless As Magic.

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Prudence for print -with trim -300 dpi -CMYKSibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award winning historical romance author Deborah Schneider. Sibelle writes sexy Steampunk and paranormal stories, filled with magic, witches, mad scientists, dirigibles, automatons, and creatures that would scare the panties off Deborah. In her spare time Sibelle enjoys dressing up in Victorian ensembles, modding play guns into something that looks a bit more sinister and wearing hats. Deborah/Sibelle works for one of the busiest library systems in the country and she’s been named Librarian of the Year by Romance Writers of America. Her first full-length Steampunk romance, Prudence and the Professor, will be released in May 2013. Visit her website at www.sibellestone.com to see what costuming fun she’s having throughout the year.
Steamcon – A Steampunk Adventure
by  Sibelle Stone
Steamcon III 052A few years ago I didn’t really know much about Steampunk. I’d seen some photos of Steampunk fashion and as someone who has written books set in the Victorian era as well as an adult who never, ever outgrew “dressing up” —I felt like I’d found my “people”.
Then, a friend emailed me and asked if I was planning to attend “Steamcon” in Seattle. Well, I live near Seattle and I was incredibly interested in the Steampunk sub-culture. So of course I said, “Damned right I shall be attending!” In my very best Victorian speak.How can I even describe attending an event where everyone seems to share an enthusiasm for all the wild, weird aspects of a pretend world? Better than Disney World? Well, there aren’t any rides but having the opportunity to be with like-minded folks who imagined, for even the expanse of a weekend, that we could be all be part of something bigger and better was intoxicating. (Not to mention the many social events at the bar).
steamcon2010-35There was amazing costuming, fabulous music—including ABNEY PARK and one of my favorite artists,UNWOMAN, plus workshops, a Victorian Tea, vendors, readings, gaming, and more. The weekend was packed with things to do, nice people to talk with and fun.
Since then, I’ve attended every Steamcon, including last year when the theme was “Victorian Monsters” which was perfect for the pre-Halloween experience. The costumes were even more outrageous, the workshops informative on a variety of topics, such as Victorian Mediums and Mortuary Traditions, plus the music, art, vendors and gaming.
2012-10-27_19-49-29_173If you can only afford to attend one Steampunk event this year, and you’re close to the West coast, I invite you toSteamcon V. It’s small enough to get to know people, but big enough for a variety of incredible programming choices.
The theme this year is “Around the World”. And say hello to me! I’ll be wearing the  Chinese silk jacket and amazing hat. There MUST always be an amazing hat!
~Sibelle

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As a Hollywood makeup artist who worked on the film Titanic and owns of one of the most popular makeup lines used along with Steampunk and Halloween costumes, as well as creator of the Bloody Mary comic books, I picked  Bobbie Weiner as the perfect person to blog about for my Halloween post on Steamed. I met Bobbie Weiner recently at Sparkle and Hustle in HoustonTexas.

Bobbie Weiner & Maeve Alpin

Bobbie Weiner & Maeve Alpin

Bobbie’ Weiner is the heroine of her own life. Her book, I Can Do This, describes her remarkable journey from a doctor’s wife and the country club life to a to a successful, independent business woman. She clearly has a Steampunk sprit, full of spunk and spit fire.

Bloody Mary’s story begins when her husband rode off on his Harley into the California sunset after telling her he wanted a new life, his  new life included an incredibly young wife already lined up for him. In her mid forties, for her first step in reinventing her life, Bobbie (Bloody Mary) enrolled in the Joe Blasco Makeup School for the television and film industry. Three days after she graduated she worked on a low budget horror film, Pumkinhead II. There the production assistant led her into an old barn where she painted a doll house replica of the set with blood and gore, to prepare it to be blown up. Her work on the doll house impressed the cast so much they nicknamed her Bloody Mary.

After Pumkinhead II, she worked as a makeup artist on a lot of short films and B-list horror movies. Then she got a  call for the TV show Renegae, staring Lorenzo Lamas. On that set she met and became friends with an English makeup intern, Josie. Bobbie’s big break came when Josie recommended her for the film Titanic, they needed her special effect makeup skills for the frozen, floating corpses.

During the Titanic shoot, on her day off, one of Leonardo Dicaprio’s stunt doubles asked her for blue and gold makeup to paint his face for the San Diego Chargers game. The next day he told her they were on TV and everyone wanted to know where they got the makeup. When she asked him what he usually used, he said markers and sharpies. That gave her the idea to start a sports makeup line. She attended a college trade show and left the convention with 46 orders for face paint kits.

About a year before Titanic came out she appeared on the morning show, Sun Up San Diego. The manger of the base super store for Marines and their families at Camp Pendleton heard her say her makeup never washed off, even as the actors lay in the water up to five hours at a time. He wanted her to make camouflage face paint for the marines. At that time the US military used a formula from 1918 full of castor oil. The men hated it so much they wouldn’t use it. At the advice of her father, Bobbie trademarked Sports Fan Face Paint, her name, Bobbie Weiner, and Bobbie Weiner’s Camouflage Face Paint. She was soon flooded with orders from the military. In 1999, she received the first of two gold medals from the U. S. Department of Defense, she was awarded the second one in 2002. These were Automated Best Value System medals, awarded to government contractors whose products meet stringent quality, price and delivery requirements.  Every U. S. solider who went to Afghanistan or Iraq had one of her camouflage makeup kits with them. By the early 2000’s Bobbie no  longer worked as a makeup artist for films, instead she supplied the film industry with her makeup. Anytime you watch a modern military movie in which camouflage is used, you can safely guess the makeup came from Bobbie Weiner.

The owner of Troma Entertainment asked her to speak and give a presentation at Comic-Con in San Diego. There she met the branding manger of Diamond Comics. When she told him she was creating a comic book, he asked her to send it to him when she was done.

When her mother became ill, She went to Florida to care for her. That’s how she met her comic book artist. She dropped in a local printing company to order business cards and asked the clerk if she knew any good animation artist. The lady recommended the artist who worked there, Tommy. Bobbie set up an interview and he presented eight black and white pages that were exactly what she was looking for. She sent the first prototype of Tales of Bloody Mary to Diamond Industries and they loved it. She printed 100 copies for a Horror Convention and sold every one. She also sold out at Comic Con 2003. In 2007 she licensed the name Bloody Mary and her 5th comic book theme to Six Flgs over Texas in Arlington, Texas and “Bloody Mary’s Circus of Fear” haunted attraction was born. She gives all proceeds from it to the Boy Scouts. She also licensed the name Bloody Mary to Universal Studios Orlando for their Halloween Horror Nights haunted house.

At a huge Halloween trade show in Chicago, Bobbie did a Titanic-style dead-person demo on stage. There, a writer from a horror magazine interviewed her and asked what was the best Halloween makeup. She told him hers was the best, Bloody Mary’s. She began making death makeup and blood. Her blood is the best , it doesn’t contain any sugars, so it’s not sticky and washes off with just soap and water.

Bobbie gave the key note address on opening day for the 7-Eleven International Convention. She brought people up on stage and transformed them into frozen, dead zombies. She began selling her makeup kits in all the 7-Elleven stores.

In 2002 a funeral director approached her about providing funeral makeup and she reformatted her makeup line, The Other Makeup, to make women look younger, into an additional line, Bloody Mary’s The Final Touch for funeral homes. She also sells jaundice powder and embalming filler for filling in wounds, surgery scars and bullet holes. People also started buying those products to look like real corpses in haunted houses.

Her line of products even includes Bloody Mary’s Bloody Mary Mix and Bloody Mary Hot Sauce. Every year she develops new products from spray blood to tattoo cover kits to living statue makeup kits as seen in the video above.

Her makeup is thought of as essential in creating certain Steampunk personas. Her metallic makeup foundation perfects the popular metallic Steampunk robot look. Her bullet hole, gash, and bite prosthetics are often used, as well as her fairy ears and fairy makeup kit. With the choices she offers, you are sure to find a product of hers to enhance your Steampunk look. or your Halloween costume for tonight.

But the  most important thing to remember about Bobbie Weiner is her advice, “Never let your age be an obstacle. I don’t care how old you are.”

Happy Halloween,

Maeve Alpin

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The captain had called me to the bridge… again. Nothing good ever came of a summons like that.

As I stepped through the door, I swept my hat from my brow. “You asked to see me, ma’am?”

She spun on one hourglass heel and peered at me through the monocle she’d been using to survey the map. I must have looked rather odd through the lens because she dropped it so it dangled from a hook on her pristine navy blue corset. I tried not to think about the amount of filth and grime I’d brought with me from the bellows. She shone like the brass gaslamps on the wall, and I… looked like I’d just crawled out of a coal mine explosion. I twisted the hat in my hands and shifted my gaze to the floor. It wasn’t near as shiny.

“I did indeed, Lolita Seleste. I need you to build something for me.”

Building? I could handle building. I met her gaze again, nodding like my head didn’t want to stay attached. “Of course, ma’am.”

Smiling, she pulled me aside and whispered her plans. With every word, my heart sank further into my gut. I couldn’t do what she wanted. No… it couldn’t be done. She was asking the impossible. My heart started to thunder like someone had let a wild stallion loose in my chest.

“I’m sure you won’t let me down, Lolita Seleste.” Then, without waiting for a response from me, she turned on that perfect heel and strode back to her perfect bridge where her perfect crew stood ready to do the impossible.

But I couldn’t. As much as I scrubbed my palms on my breeches, they wouldn’t stop sweating. Or shaking.

I was poised to become the captain’s very first failure.

~~*~~

So, for those of you who don’t know the World Science Fiction Convention is going on right now in Chicago. And I’m there! A couple years ago, I attended World*Con when it was in Montreal. It was my first solo convention… and it was before I was published. A great time to fade into the woodwork and just watch things happen.

This time, I’m a multi-published author in a few genres, and I said to myself, “Seleste, you should try to get involved in some of the programming.” I figured it was no big deal, I’ve done panels and such at the Romantic Times convention for the past two years. I did a panel at World Steam Expo. Panels are old hat. And worst case scenario, if my nerves kick in, there are always other people there to pick up the slack.

Except…

Apparently someone at World*Con is convinced I’m a decent sized draw. Two of my three slots in programming are just me. Solo reading *gulp* (I’ve never actually done a public reading before.) Literary beers *gulp* (People are supposed to sign up to come talk to me.)

I got my schedule and went into a bit of a panic.

It took a while, but I’m no longer panicking (at least about that). I figure I have to learn to do this stuff sometime, so I might as well embrace it on a large scale to start off. And hey, at least one of the things will have beer… and we’re supposed to drink. Honestly, the only way that could have been better is if it had been “Literary Vodka Shots.”

So, if you’re going to be at World*Con in Chicago, please look me up. (Needless to say, I probably won’t be able to check back and comment here but, if you want to post confidence boosters, I won’t say no 😉 ) I’m on the “Why I Love My Editor” panel Saturday morning, doing the reading Saturday evening, and Literary Beers Sunday evening.

Otherwise, I’ll be the chick wandering around… trying not to panic.

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Image

Lolita Cindy, Gail Carriger, and I

By the time Lolita Cindy and I made it back to the dirigible, we barely had energy to stagger to our berths. As excited as I’d been for the opportunity, I hadn’t anticipated the excursion to be quite so draining.

From the moment we’d stepped inside World Steam Expo, my heart sank. Though I could indeed blend in as Lolita Suzanne had suggested, my quest seemed impossible. How was I supposed to find one item in this sea of finery, frippery, and outright nonsense? As daunted as I was by the immensity of my task, I refused to shy away from the challenge. Lolita Cindy seemed quite at home so, as I’d been told, I accompanied her for much of the first day.

We learned of villains and heroes and damsels-in-distress (who I feel are all best put out of their misery, thank you very much). In addition, we learned both trickery and attacks with a variety of weaponry. As soon as I felt comfortable enough, I set out on my own.

The Bawdy Boys

Oddly enough, it didn’t take long before I set my eyes upon my goal. In mere moments, however, it was snatched from my grasp and lost once more in the crowd. I spent much of the evening searching for it, from the battle room of Aegis to the thrummingly violent strains from The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing–all for nought. I retired, exhausted and dejected.

Image

Lead Singer of TMTWNBBFN

After an unfortunate delay, I returned the next day to resume my hunt. When every avenue brought me nothing, I turned at last to the lure of wormwood and the hope of second sight. Once again, music called to me, the siren songs of The Bawdy Boys as well as the musical displays from Steam-Powered Giraffe hypnotized me, lulling me into a strange sense of security and innocence as the drink took hold of my brain. I danced in a haze of clockworks and corsets until I woke with the sunrise…outside on the grass.

No one was near, but beneath the expanse of my skirts rested the sapphire beauty I’d come to claim. How I’d taken possession of the thing, I’ve no earthly idea. What the wormwood and music did to my mind…

Blasted evil scientists…

It didn’t matter. I had what I’d come for. At once, I secreted it away from pirates, scientists, and that little slip of a girl who delighted in showing off with her pistol. None there could be trusted, not even my fellow Lolita. Still, appearances had to be maintained, so after securing my treasure, I made my way back to Lolita Cindy, staying demurely by her side until we returned to the ship.

Though I detest the idea that I had to leave my prize, I am confident none will find it. For certain things have a life of their own–the sapphire chose me as its keeper as surely as I chose it. And I will return. I must. For this adventure has only begun.

Bloody Pirate (aka my partner-in-crime Maureen’s favorite pirate, Thee Bluebeard) trying to blend in with Steampunk Chicago

Needless to say, I had a fantastic time at World Steam Expo, and I can’t wait for next year. Also, if you have a chance to visit Ms. Martha’s Corset Shoppe, I highly recommend her work. I got a beautiful blue corset from her at the convention and am kicking myself for only buying one.

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Puttering amongst my old berth in the back of the cargo hold, I stumbled upon a scrap of paper. Since I hadn’t had the chance to sneak into the captain’s library, I salivated over the opportunity to read something not written  in the log book. I examined that piece of paper so long and so hard that my head began to throb with the implications. Even as I rubbed at my forehead in an attempt to dull the ache, I continued to stare and plot.

It’s there. Right there. If only I could–

“Lolita Seleste! Why aren’t you at your post?” The captain, Lolita Suzanne, rounded the stack of crates that towered over me, anger writ in the pinching of her brows and the tight line of her lips. I was in trouble.

“I came here for my break and–”

She pointed toward the ladder, not deigning to speak until I started that way. “You specifically requested boiler duty. If you want to make yourself indispensable to this ship, you cannot shirk your responsibilities.”

“Yes, Captain.” I still clutched the paper in my fingers as I climbed. This was, by no means, the proper time to ask, but if I waited I would lose any chance. “Captain, I believe part of the reason for my daydreaming is that I’m unaccustomed to so much time confined. Some time on the ground would do my state of mind a world of good. Re-focus my attention.”

She tilted her head, eyeing me in a most discomfiting manner. “Aye, Lolita Seleste. I can see where that might be of some benefit. The ship will touch down tomorrow in order for the crew to participate in something called #steampunkchat. Foolish beliefs about romance and airships. Nonsense really, but it will provide you the opportunity you’re looking for. You may accompany Lolita Cindy on her errand.”

Not at all what I had in mind. “But, Captain–”

“She is attending the World Steam Expo. Surely, someone with aspirations such as yours could benefit from joining her.” The captain tilted her head toward the crumpled paper in my hand.

My lips twitched, and I had to fight the urge to smile. “Aye, Captain. I surely could.”

“Dismissed.” The instant she turned away, I raced toward the boiler room. Then her voice pulled me up short again, “Oh and, Lolita Seleste, do make sure you dress the part. I will not allow any of my people to present our dirigible or crew in a negative light.”

“Aye, Captain.” She’d as much as told me to blend in. Surely she wasn’t giving me permission to… No. Preposterous…

.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I will indeed be attending World Steam Expo in Dearborn, Michigan, this weekend, along with fellow Lolita Cindy Spencer Pape. If you happen to be there, I’d love it if you found me to say hi on Saturday or stopped by the Local Authors panel we’ll be part of on Monday at one. (I will have a limited supply of Badlands buttons and chapter books as well as postcards with discounts for ebooks at the Carina Press website.) In addition, don’t forget about the last #steampunkchat before the summer hiatus. It’s tonight at 9PM Eastern time. The topic is romance in steampunk, and I’ve heard rumors there will be book giveaways!

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Having spent all day today (Tuesday) working on the final edits for Moonlight & Mechanicals, coming in October of this year, I’m definitely in a steampunk state of mind. Earlier this week I drafted proposals for two new steampunk romance novels, so I’m on a roll, which feels awfully darned good!

I’m also excited to be attending and speaking at the World Steam Expo in Dearborn, Michigan this weekend, and have been mulling over my costume options for days. (okay, maybe weeks–I love playing dress-up!) There are some wonderful main author guests, including Gail Carriger, but I’m delighted to be part of a local author panel on Monday, with the fabulous Seleste DeLaney, Steven Harper, and David Erik Nelson. Hopefully we can show the world that southern Michigan is a force to be reckoned with in the steampunk world. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll think about dropping by and saying hello. I hope to have a full report from the Con for my next blog.

The icing on my steam-covered cake, however, is the upcoming release of Book 3 of my Gaslight Chronicles series, Kilts & Kraken from Carina Press. The book releases on Monday, June 4, but you can preorder it now at Carina, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. It’s also available as part of Carina’s anniversary collection: Editor’s Choice: Volume I.

Here’s the blurb, for your enjoyment, and a tiny little excerpt to whet your appetite. (Calamari, anyone?)

Kilts & Kraken

by Cindy Spencer Pape

Blurb: Magnus, Baron Findlay, longs to bring the wonders of the steam age to his remote island home, but his hands are full fighting the vicious kraken ravaging the coast. When he’s swept to sea during battle and washes up on the shore of an isle in the Hebrides, he is near death.

 Struggling to establish herself as one of the first female physicians in Edinburgh, Dr. Geneva MacKay is annoyed when The Order of the Round Table sends her north to care for an injured highlander. To heal him, Geneva escorts the handsome warrior home, just in time to defend the villagers from another onslaught.

As the attacks escalate and they work together to fight off the threat, neither Geneva nor Magnus can resist the overwhelming attraction between them. But as their relationship deepens, a new threat arises – from within the village itself…

(PG excerpt: book is hard R)

The darkness tried to drag Magnus back into its depths and he had little will to fight. It was comforting, this darkness, warm and free of pain. You’ve struggled enough, it seemed to whisper, let go.

He would have, but for another voice, one not as subtle but far more sweet. “Come now, sir. Open your eyes for me.”

Magnus tried. The rich, feminine voice held the soft burr of a lowlander, with educated overtones. How had such a one come to his island? How had he not known? He was laird of Torkholm, and all who came here had to be approved by him.

“Who are you, sir? Won’t you at least wake and tell me your name?” Soft, cool fingers stroked Magnus’s forehead.

He moved his lips to answer the lass. From the silkiness of her touch and the sweet scent of her leaning over him, he might have thought her an angel, but he knew better. Dead in battle or not, he’d have never ended up in Heaven. A valkyrie, perhaps? The Valhalla of his Norse ancestors was a far more likely fate for him than the vicar’s pearly gates.

“His heart rate and breathing are weaker,” the sweet voice said. “I’m worried, Alice. He didn’t wake at all last night. Though his wounds haven’t festered, he seems to be losing strength.”

“He’s in God’s hands,” said another female voice, a little older, a little deeper, and oddly familiar. A door opened and closed, but he still felt the touch of strong, feminine hands, the fingers laced with his own.

At long last Magnus was able to unglue the lashes on one eyelid. The light in the room blinded him for a moment, but his vision adjusted and soon he was able to see. A woman sat by his bedside, her flowing hair the color of his favorite roan stallion. Her fingers tightened on his as she realized he’d woken. “T-Torkholm,” he gasped between lips as cracked as a mud path on a hot day.

The lass—pretty in a strong, country sort of way—pressed him down when he tried to sit. “Your hip is injured. Don’t move.” With her other hand, she held a water-filled sponge to his lips. “Only a little to start with.”

The cool liquid felt wonderful on his parched lips, but a single sip was all he could manage. He blinked again, this time both eyes focusing on her. “Magnus Findlay.” His name seemed to be dragged from his lips. Pain seared through him from more places than he could name, and he’d never once felt this weak. What was wrong? Why hadn’t the island healed him, as it always did?

He blinked again and the answer swam into focus, for a moment at least. This was a strange room—one he’d never seen before. Magnus sagged back against the woman’s arm, and let her ease him down to the pillows. The darkness began to close in again. One thought registered, ringing through his brain.

He wasn’t on Torkholm. He was going to die.

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If you live in Southern California you should check out the Gaslight Gathering in San Diego May 11-13, 2012.  I’ll be there on Saturday.  Come say hi.

Anastasia Hunter is the Director of Programming for Gaslight Gathering and has actively volunteered on various Southern California conventions including San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon, and LosCon.

Gaslight Gathering 2: The Expedition – A Southern California Steampunk Convention

Most steampunk enthusiasts in Southern California have not been largely involved in the convention scene until the last few years.  The local steampunk communities focused primarily on hosting various meet ups, single day events and the occasional concert. San Diego Comic Con became a haven for all local steampunks who were able to attend and the response was overwhelming.  In 2010, Comic Con won the Guinness Book of World Records for Largest Steampunk Meet Up.

Elsewhere, a number of new dedicated steampunk conventions were already in the works. Nova Albion Steampunk Expo launched in the Bay Area and was an immediate hit.  TeslaCon, in Wisconsin, and SteamCon, in Washington State, pioneered a unique steampunk convention model as a weekend event filled with performances, panels, and many special ticketed events. This was exactly what Southern California steampunks were looking for!

Out of this void, Southern California’s first steampunk specific convention – Gaslight Gathering, was born. The brain child of a few San Diego steampunk & SF/F fans who had decades of convention experience, these pioneering souls teamed up with other local steampunks to bring forth a brand new steam powered convention open to all enthusiasts, both young and old.

The inaugural Gaslight Gathering convention kicked off on May 6, 2011, at the Town and Country Hotel. Organized and operated exclusively by volunteers, Gaslight had a total attendance of just over 1200 guests with more than 85% making an effort to dress the part. Along with a wide variety of presentations, classes, vendors, teas, and other special events, the Gaslight crew made every effort to ensure there was something for every steampunk enthusiast.

Gaslight Gathering 2: The Expedition will be returning to the Town and Country Hotel this May 11-13, 2012, with Kaja Foglio, writer and co-creator of Girl Genius, and Dan Jones, Maker of Tinkerbots as our Guests of Honor. Award-winning authors Tim Powers and James Blaylock, two of the founding fathers of steampunk fiction, will also be on hand to discuss their thoughts on where steampunk has been and what steampunk may become in the future.

New in 2012, Jon Magnificent will be performing at Gaslight’s first annual Airship Ambassador Ball and there will be an amazing Travelling Medicine Dinner Show, with special guests Steam Powered Giraffe and a Safari inspired High Tea!

Whether you stop by Basecamp, where newly unearthed Mayan relics with some very unusual carvings will be on display, or show off your steampunk or vintage bathing costumes at our Poolside Bathing Contest, Gaslight Gathering 2 will have fun and excitement for all ages!

Please join Suzanne, and all of our amazing guests, as Gaslight sets sail on another incredible voyage! All passengers are welcome, especially volunteers! (Steampunk or Victorian costumes are not required, but highly encouraged.)

Check out Gaslight Gathering’s website for a full description of our special events, maker classes, confirmed guests, and other information.

http://www.gaslightgathering.org

 

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I thought I’d pass this along to everyone.  This makes me wish I lived closer to the East Coast.

Steampunk Festival Fears Mother Nature

Steampunk World’s Fair takes unusual step to keep inclement weather from raining on parade

This May, the Steampunk World’s Fair will hit Piscataway, New Jersey with three days of the largest steampunk festival in the country – last year’s fair garnered about 3000 guests in total. With a nation of steampunks fondly reminiscing on the jam-packed events of the 2011 event and expectations just as high this year, any inclement weather could only result in soggy sadness. But this year, Mother Nature will not stand in the way. In preparation for unwanted precipitation, the event has specifically planned a special set of programs to take place in the rain.

This solution may be unusual, but The Steampunk World’s Fair is used to travelling unorthodox routes. Three years ago, it was among the very first of Steampunk events to approach Steampunk gatherings from a festival, rather than a convention, standpoint. The performance-heavy event focuses on creating the boisterous, exuberant atmosphere of a carnival or faire, rather than the calmer atmosphere of a convention. Says event creator, Jeff Mach, “rather than a situation where, if it rains, we just ‘make do,’ we’re going to actually have activities and programs which will blow your socks off!” It will take a grand amount of planning to get the rain program on its feet, but organizers are excited about its potential, urging guests to “Hope for rain!”

Of course, if it doesn’t end up raining at the fair, there will be plenty of delightful activities for guests to revel in. In addition to the largest array of Steampunk performances available anywhere, festivals of the past have featured everything from Why Not Cake, an imaginative company of gourmet cake artists; to visits from award-winning author Leanna Renee Hieber. So stick an umbrella in your top hat, because the Steampunk World’s Fair promises imaginative entertainment, rain or shine.

The creators of Steampunk World’s Fair are also notable for their annual Wicked Winter Renaissance Faire and Geeky Kink Event. More information on The Steampunk World’s Fair can be found at steampunkworldsfair.com

 

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Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium and Masquerade Ball

Within the luxury of an amazing venue, Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium and Masquerade Ball will have Steampunk aficionados feeling more than transported while strolling the decks The Queen Mary, in Long Beach, California.  Built by the Cunard Line in the early 1930’s, our lady maintains the grandeur of a transatlantic ship of the line which is easily seen above and below deck.  Its ballrooms are decorated with vast murals and polished walnut burl.  Its original decking, engine rooms, bridge, radio rooms and other historical areas are dream photo opportunities.  Its staterooms are a step back into the future as art deco meets modern amenities.  Challenge your friends in the shuffleboard tournament, a bit of a scavenger hunt or a game of shuttlecock.  Did we mention that she’s haunted?  Feel free to tour the ship at www.queenmary.com.

Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium and Masquerade Ball. Yes, that is the whole name. What a mouthful! And what a phrase to live up to.  The name was the easy part, the rest was just too damn much fun.  We’ve been having a blast putting together the most immersive west coast Steampunk experience to date.   Lectures, roving entertainment, a bit of whimsy and steamy cocktail or two make the environment inviting and when you add some very talented vendors, renowned Steampunk authors, games, roll playing and a midnight ghost tour…it’s just not something that you can miss! 

Now let’s talk about some entertainment over and above the rest.  Steam Powered Giraffe, 6 String Samurai, Jon Magnificent, Lee Presson and the Nails, Unwoman, Veronique Chevalier, Thee Bluebeard, Mr. Saturday and Sixpence, Professor DR Schreiber, Dino Staats, Alchemy Belly Dancing Troupe and more.  Musicians, Pirates and Burlesque, Oh My!  Comedy, Magic and Mayhem, Oh No!  Something for everyone, no disappointed attendees here!

Original to Her Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium is our theatrical element.  We have multiple opportunities for those aspiring actresses and actors to join our thematic roll-playing events.  Assisting us in our thespian endeavors are; The Court of Steam (Featuring Queen Victoria herself), The League of Supremely Evil Revolutionaries (LOSERS), Mike Young (Improve Now and New England Interactive Literature), and Aaron Vanek (Interactive Live Game Designer and HP Lovecraft LA Film Festival Organizer).  But this list is not complete as more events continue to be bid and reviewed.   Opportunities can be convention-long, or of a simpler setting such as the Murder Mystery or Inventor’s Contest.  Any event will hone your skills or tickle your funny bone, and most will test your deductive reasoning.

Come One, Come All!  See and Be Seen!  We’ve commandeered the entire vessel this January 13 – 16th, 2012, and are awaiting your reservation.  Please visit our website for rooming, ticketing and further event information. www.hrmsteam.comDon’t forget to “like” us on facebook to keep up with the latest news and additions.  Any and all questions may be answered by thequeen@hrmsteam.com.

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I am happy to say that Steampunk was everywhere at the recent Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, which was held in Los Angeles, April 6-10, 2011.  Yes, I am finally just getting around to writing about it.  Do you know how much time Steampunkapalooza takes?   

RT was amazing, I’d never been to one before and had a few reservations.  There were several Steampunk panels — I was on one Steampunk panel and one about writing historical fantasy (with Gail Carriger, squee).  One of the publishing houses, Samhain, had a Steampunk high tea. 

Then, of course, there was the Steampunk Social that I was in charge of along with Kady Cross, Kassy Taylor, Deb Schneider, and Seleste deLaney.

I volunteered to make about 250 cakepops for the social–because you all know I’m a huge slacker and have nothing else to do than spend 10 hours baking.  Per hotel rules, every cakepop had  to be individually wrapped, too.  Good thing I was local and didn’t have to fly them in my suitcase. 

I’d also picked up all the clothes from the fashion show from Clockwork Couture, who graciously lent us all the beautiful fashions our models wore.  RT involved a lot of me schlepping things from my car to Kady’s room, since I had the clothes, the cakepops, the centerpieces, the fans, several door prizes, and a lot of things for the swag bags.  Kady also volunteers her room for us to put all 100 of the swag bags together.  (Did you know we work very, very hard to put these socials together?)

Also, I was in full Steampunk dress most of the time.   Since Leanna Renee Hieber couldn’t make it I even wore (nearly) all black one day in honor of her, since usually she’s the one in black and I’m the one in pink. 

The social itself went really well.  Close to 100 people gathered for Steampunk swag, cake and tea, a fashion show, a costume contest, and lots of door-prizes. 

But you really want to see gratuitous pictures of Steampunk clothing, not hear me babble about party planning. 

Here’s Kady Cross, the Steampunk track captain. 

And here’s the fab Kassy Taylor. 

Here’s Deb Schneider, along with the winner of our costume contest (the one in the sash).  She *made* her costume on a treadle sewing machine.  Wow.

I don’t have a close up of Seleste deLaney.  (Seleste, why don’t I have a picture of you?).

Since this was tea and cake, I wore pink and a large hat for the occasion.  Not that I need a reason to wear a large hat. 

The fashion show was a smashing success and everyone loved the pretties from Clockwork Couture

Here’s Beth and Erin (same dress, different color). 

Here’s Erin and Zoe Archer.

Here’s Marcella. (I love this dress.)

And, for some reason I don’t have  a close up of Kristen Painter.  (Can you tell my camera died, so I had to gather pictures.  Thanks to everyone who I begged, borrowed, and stole pictures from.)

We had several people come to the social in costume, so we had a costume contest.   Here’s me getting the crowd to help us pick a winner.  Can anyone identify these lovely ladies?  We never got their names. 

Over all, the social was a smashing success.  Despite the hard work, I’d plan another one of these in an instant.  Here’s everyone in costume (except for Kristen. She’s somehow escaped all of my pictures.  Anyone have any pics of her in costume?)

Do you have a favorite outfit?  A favorite flavor of cakepop?  A random comment on Steampunk or Steampunk fashion?  I have one more bag of swag and books from RT, including the *very last* swag bag left over from the party.  I’ll give it to one lucky commenter.  Contest closes April 30 at 11:59 PM PST.

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