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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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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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I began writing historical romances, Celtic ones, set in the Bronze ages,  Iron ages, and Dark ages. I moved from history to alternate history with Steampunk. The move into Steampunk was a natural one for me. In To Love The London Ghost I even combined Victorian history with ancient Celtic history as my heroine is a ghost who died on the banks of the Thames fighting Julius Ceasar.

I always loved the Victorian era, I think because of all those western shows I use to watch growing up: The Riffle Man, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Bonanza, The Virginian, and Wagon Train. When I was eight, I discovered the Little House On The Prairie books, those page turners were the first series I ever read and historical fiction has been one of my favorite genres ever since.

Around the age of six on up to about eight, I use to daydream what I called TV in my head and except for one series of mine – fan fiction based on Flash Gordon – all the others were westerns. In one daydream series my hero road a buffalo – I was six or seven and it made perfect sense at the time.  The heroine of those daydreams, the buffalo rider’s wife, always wore a blue and white print frontier style dress. I should find some fabric like that and have a prairie dress made for myself. I can tell people I’m cosplaying a character form my daydreams when I was seven. Why not?

I was eight or nine when The Wild Wild West show began on TV and I was crazy about it. With that in mind, click on the Wild Wild West video for some background music for the post.

I know now that The Wild Wild West was Steampunk.

DSCN0086 (2)Though I haven’t written any western themed Steampunk yet, I live in an area where western Steampunk costumes and personas are popular. I live in Texas. Here are some Western themed photos from members of Houston’s local Steampunk community.

Now that I’ve shared my childhood inspiration with all of you, feel free to comment below on what inspired you to write Steampunk. I’d love to hear about it.

 

wester

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

 

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peterson1888Fun without a television? *GASP* Horrors, you say?

In the Victorian Era, where much of Steampunk is set, entertainments in the home were very much a DIY experience.

Part of what I love about Historical Fiction and Speculative Fiction is research… love it… nerd-like love… oh, who am I kidding! NERD LOVE…

So, I thought I share some of the home entertainments discussed in my Peterson’s Magazine from 1888. Why this issue? ‘Cause It’s at my desk and I’m LAZY tonight 😀

Anywho… this is from pages 178-179 FIRESIDE GAMES

Games for Winter Evenings – We give a game or two more, for amusement on winter evenings. The “Magic Answer” is a game much liked. There are two ways of playing it, and it requires two confederates; one leaves the room and the company decides upon the name of any person they please; on being recalled, the other confederate puts the question, and asks “Is it So-and-so?” naming a different person each time. The answer is “no,” until the right person has been named, when it is “yes.”  The simple trick consists in always naming a person with white hair before the name of the person agreed upon. The correct answer creates much surprise as to how it has been arrived at.

– they say there are two ways of playing it… but um… they only gave us one way… *tsk tsk*
– the other thing is that they may not have explained it fully… the ‘company’ doesn’t know it’s a trick… needless to say the ‘tell’  changes depending upon the company… a room full of people with white hair will need something different

“Birds” is a rather fun game, if it is well played. Four or five ladies out of the company each choose the name of a bird, and whisper it to the gentlemen who is to sell them. Any of the company offers to buy a bird, and asks for the one he wants; the amusement consists in the badinage which passes between the birdseller and the purchasers, and the guesses as to which of the ladies is intended by the birds described; children and young people enjoy this game, and the description of the birds are made as apropos as possible. 

– I wonder how much flirting went on with this game… would the ladies choose their birds for a reason? What if it was a bird that had special meaning for the object of their affections.  Would they choose the bird hoping that he will ask for that very bird? Ah… romance… or frustration as may have happened!

 

More from the home entertainments of Victorians… NEXT time 😀

 

 

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Steampunk and Chocolate go together like tea and scones. After all modern chocolate was created in the Victorian era and steam power made the first mass production of chocolate possible. Not to mention when I think of chocolate factories, I think of Willie Wonka, which has a steampunk vibe.

I set up a Steampunk event to tour the Keggs Chocolate factory here in Houston Texas. It’s not quite Wille Wonka’s but it’s a lot of fun and full of freshly made chocolate treats. Yum yum! The choclate factory -Chocolate was first molded into solid form in 1847 by Francis Fry, who added melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa then added sugar, creating a moldable paste. He called it “eating chocolate” Two years later the Cadbury brothers were also selling “eating chocolate”. And in 1861 Richard Cadbury created the first heart-shaped candy box for Valentine’s Day. If you like milk chocolate like I do, you can thank Daniel Peter, who invented it in 1875  by using condensed milk his neighbor Henri Nestle developed. Then Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle formed the Nestlé Company.putting swirls on the choclate to tell which kind is which

In 1879 Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine to heat and roll chocolate to a smooth and creamy consistency so it melts on the tongue. In 1895 Milton S. Hershey sold his first Hershey Bar in Pennsylvania. He made it using modern, mass-production equipment he purchased at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

so hard to decide – it all looks good

So we can think the Victorian era for chocolate. After the scrumptious chocolate factory tour, we had lunch at Your Cup Of Tea, an English style Tea House.

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Her latest Steampunk Romance is a re-release, As Timeless As Magic, the sequel to As Timeless As Stone and Brass Octopus is coming in September.

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At Apollo Con I attended the Amusements and Diversions in the Age of Steam – Magic Lantern show – by fantasy artist, Theresa Mather.

She showed us a photographic history of Victorian entertainment and oddities A popular fair attraction In the mid 19th century was the platform carousel with a circular floor rotating around a pole in it’s center and operated manually or by ponies. The carousel went steamed in 1861. Thomas Bradshaw created the first steam-powered mechanical carousel, (I call them Merry-Go-Rounds). That carousel and others of it’s day spun much faster than modern ones. It’s a wonder people were able to hold onto the horses during the ride. it was a thrill ride of it’s day. A high-point of early fairground art was the elaborate decorations created by Italian designers and craftsmen imported at the showmen’s expense and they even included lavish center organs.

The first Steampowered carousel inspired Frederick Savage to try his hand at making similar machines using the expertise at his agricultural engineering works at Kings Lynn.Savage’s first steam powered ride was a bycle carousel, the Velocipede. Savage also competed with several manufacturers to try to make carousel horses gallop and created their first platform galloper in 1885. The same year Messrs Reynolds and King designed the overhead crank system. By the end of the 19th century crank-action gallopers were a popular ride. The steam engine connected to a spinning top that in turn linked to the platform.One  variant used galloping cockerels rather than horses.

In 1880 the partnership of Frederick Savage and William Sanger gave birth to another novelty ride, Sea on Land. Replicas of seafaring vessels were pitched and tossed by mechanisms beneath their hulls. Then a patent taken in 1888 introduced the Steam Yachts the ultimate mechanized swing ride. William Cartwright of Bromwich first succeeded in building a set using upright cylinders. The Steam Yacht rides used huge boats able to carry 20 or more people at a time.They even named the ships after giant ocean-going liners like the Lusitania, Mauritania. Cymric, and Celtic, although Olympia and Titanic proved short lived names..These rides were gorgeous in full swing as the boats had lavishly painted bottoms.

Savage also created the Razzle Dazzle ride, with seats and an outter wall it tilted side to side as it spun around. By 1885 Savage made the ride Tunnel Railways, a locomotive pulled carriages on a circular track with a tunnel. Frederick Savage enjoyed prominence as the pioneer of the steam roundabout but several engineering firms  along with some amateurs. Robert Tidman of Norwich, Thomas Walker of Tewkesbury and William Howcroft, of Hartlepool, all emerged as competitive manufacturers of steam powered rides by the 1880s.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 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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Ancient Egyptian culture had a major influence on the Victorian era and also modern Steampunk. Another Egyptian influence on Steampunk is belly dancing. The name belly dancing was coined in the Victorian era. It’s a translation of the French term – danse du ventre. The first time belly dancing was brought to America was at the 1893 Chicago World’s fair. The act, A Street In Cario was one of the most popular attractions on the Midway.

In the early 1900’s Maud Allan billed as the “Salome Dancer” became famous for her infamous dance of the seven veils. MaudeAllanSalomeHead

steampunk belly dancer at Comicpalooza

Belly dancing has been big in steampunk ever since Abney Park incorporated it into its live shows.Many belly dancers have been inspired to go steampunk, adding goggles, corsets and pantaloons to their costumes. At Comicpalooza this year among the other belly dancers was one who wore a Steampunk type costume.

Diosa, the director of the Osiris Belly Dancing Company explained that at Comiccon they were thrown into the Steampunk genre when they were invited to perform at the Steampunk Ball. There dance style is belly dance fusion and they blend Steampunk into their costuming for specific venues.

Katara the dancer who makes the fabulous costumes of the Osiris Belly Dancing Company,is intrigued by Steampunk’s blend of historical fashions with modern designs. She enjoys the opportunity to play with historical fashions and blend them into something interesting and modern.

astoneTITLEIf you enjoy a blend of Egyptian elements with Steampunk, you’ll enjoy my new release, As Timeless As Stone. It is free this weekend on Amazon from Friday, 07/18/14 – Tuesday, 07/22/14.

Little does Ricard know when he sets the broken head of an ancient Egyptian statue onto its body, the stone figure will transform before his eyes into the most beautiful flesh and blood woman he’s ever seen.

Seshat, an ancient Egyptian Priestess is newly awaken in 19th century Paris, after centuries as a stone statue. Though enchanted by the wondrous inventions of steam-servants and a steam-carriage, she is enthralled by the inventor, Ricard. He ignites her sensual desires and in a steamy night of carnal magic, Seshat transforms Ricard’s life forever. But how far will he go to secure her happiness? Is Ricard’s love for Seshat powerful enough to transcend time?

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 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 first panel I went to at Comicpalooza, last month, was Friday at 10 AM, it was a make-n-take. The beautiful and lively anime voice-actress Claire Hamilton helped me and the other attendees create a tentacle necklace. I had so much fun in that make-n-take. I mean who doesn’t love tentacles?

Making Tentacles at Comicpalooza

Making Tentacles at Comicpalooza

We were all provided with polymer clay in a vivid selection of colors. The clay comes in four sectioned off areas. We each took one of those small sections in the color of our choice for the tentacle and a half section in another color for the suckers. We pulled off enough off the bigger section to roll and shape it into our tentacle. Twisting it around until we had it the way we wanted it. Then we took the half portion of a small section of clay and used the edge of our comicpalooza badges to slice it into small pieces. We rolled those into tiny balls for the suckers. We were each given a toothpick and used it to make the indentions in our suckers. We stuck the suckers onto the tentacle. We also used the toothpick to punch a hole in the clay so we could string it onto a cord for a necklace.   When we were finished we used special hand held dryers like blow dryers but hotter, to firm them enough until we could get them home and bake them. Heating our Tentacles

Once home we baked them in our kitchen ovens at approximately 110 degrees for about 30 minutes. When you try this in your on oven, please be aware oven temperatures vary so keep an eye on the tentacle to make sure it doesn’t bake over or under the needed time.

Here are some youtube videos on making tentacle necklaces:

Making tentacle necklaces is fun, easy and … very Steampunk. A tentacle necklace make-n-take is also a great panel to do for readers at a convention.

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 Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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I recently worked a temp job where my co-workers sent a group email once a week when the food trucks came to the area. Everyone was always so excited about lunch on those days. It was the one time they all went to lunch together. In a large group they’d walk over to where the food trucks parked to try out the different ones. Some of the most popular food trucks in Houston, where I live are Yummy’z Kitchen serving American classics, the waffle bus with their gourmet waffle sandwiches, and FoodGasm offering everything from burgers and lobster rolls to wings and waffles and deep-fried Oreos. I love the food trucks that come to the Houston Highland Games each year where I get cultural delicacies such as haggis, bangers and mash, and scotch eggs and Irn – Bru to wash it all down. I haven’t got my granddaughter to try haggis yet but I did get her to each a scotch egg. She loved it. And everyone loves food trucks. Here are some great photos of actual Steampunk food trucks. It might surprise you to know food trucks aren’t new. And, yes, they go back to Victorian times. They were called lunch wagons then.

In 1887, Walter Scott, a Rhode Island pressman at the Providence Journal, made extra money selling homemade sandwiches and coffee he carried in baskets to co-workers. This little side business did so well Scott upgraded to a horse-drawn wagon with walk up windows on each side. There, he served fresh sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, sweet pies, and steaming coffee. Scott’s customers, these late night regulars and shift workers, were the rough and rowdy kind. He often had to hold their hats as collateral until they paid for their sandwiches.  Sometimes he even had to collect  payment with a club. It seems selling sandwiches in the Victorian age wasn’t for the faint of heart.  Still, his business boomed. Soon copy cat lunch wagons popped up giving him some local competition.

A Massachusetts wagon owner,  T.H. Buckley, discovered building lunch cars was more profitable than operating them. Commercial production of lunch wagons began.  The leading advantage of Buckley’s design, No. 22,743, Patented Aug. 22, 1893, was a series of windows extending  around the wagon and a door on either side of the wagon. The row of windows in the upper portion of the wagon body added a light and airy appearance. Buckley’s wagons also had large wheels to maneuver over the cobblestones, overhangs to keep patrons out of the rain, decorative murals, frosted glass and shiny fixtures, as well as ice boxes and cook-stoves.

The united States post Office honored these early lunch wagons with a 29 cent Lunch Wagon stamp issued on April, 12, 1991.

Food Time Line is a great source for 19th century foodways for Steampunk stories – authentic saloon menus are even listed and a recipe for a pioneer birthday cake as well as Queen Victoria’s favorite foods. Also click here for some great Lunch Wagon images.

If you enjoy eating at food trucks keep that in mind when writing stories set in the 19th century. Have your characters stop by a food wagon or create a character who owns a food wagon.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be making several appearances this month at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans and at Comicpalooza in Houston.

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white-queen-red-queen

The White Queen & the Red Queen – Comicpalooza 2013

Lewis Carroll’s birthday was Monday of this week.  Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, best known by his pen name of Lewis Carroll, was born  January 27, 1832. In addition to a writer, he was also a mathematician and a photographer. He wrote over a dozen mathematic books under his real name.

mail-google-com

Lolita Alice and the Mad Hatter – Comicpalooza 2013

He wrote poems and  stories as a child. And in 1856 he gave the editor of The Train magazine a list of pen names for his poem Solitude. From that list the editor chose Lewis Carroll. Chalres Dodgosn came up with the name using Lewis in place of Lutwidge and Carroll in place of Charles.

For his birthday week, I thought I’d pull out the Steampunk Mad Hatter tea party. This is for you Lewis Carroll:the man who brought us the Unbirthday Party.

There was a table set under he pavilion in Houston’s Herman Park and the mad hatter was having tea at it.  No sleeping doormouse sat beside him. Plenty of  squirrels scurried about the park, which are quite close to mice, but alas he didn’t try to put a squirrel in his teapot.

Group Photo - taken by Marilyn at Houston- Herman Park Mad Hatter Tea Party

Along with the mad hatter, I and about forty other Houston area Steampunk enthusiast came to tea.

Alice - Taken by Marilyn

Including Alice, complete with the white rabbit on her necklace.

We bought teapots and tea cups and, though the Queen of Hearts didn’t make tarts for us, we had yummy cucumber finger sandwiches, luscious blueberry scones, crisp ginger biscuits, grapes, cheese, brownies, and more. We even had a fancy parasol center piece and a Steampunk sign. Though it was a lovely day the pavilion offered nice shade. It was much like standing under a large mushroom.

Though Alice was curious about the March hare’s watch, which didn’t keep time but told the year, here in the 21st century many of us have watches which do both, but we didn’t spread the best butter on ours or dunk them in our tea like Lewis Carroll’s march hare did. Still we had a great time drinking our tea.

The day was gorgeous and every time the little train in the park went by all the riders, parents and children, waved at us.

Waving at the train -taken by Marilyn

We smoked the hookah like Lewis Carroll’s large blue caterpillar and we played croquet like the Queen of Hearts court.

Lighting the Hookah

There were no cries of off with your head from the Queen but my croquet ball was smacked out by other balls several times. We used regular wire wickets, not soldiers doubled up and standing on their hands and feet to make the arches as they did at the Queen of Hearts’ croquet game. We also didn’t have to try to manage live flamingos for mallets or live hedgehogs for balls.

taken by Marilyn at Houston- Herman Park Mad Hatter Tea Party

Which is fortunate, as the chief difficulty of using a flamingo as a mallet is by the time you get its neck straightened out it twist itself round and looks up in your face with a puzzled expression. And the hedgehogs have a habit of unrolling themselves and crawling away.

Of course in Wonderland it is always time for tea since the mad hatter quarreled with Time last March it stays at six o’clock, but our tea party ran until 4 o’clock. Though somewhat sad, it’s good it came to an end so we could take our teapots and teacups home and wash them out rather than moving all the tea-things around as they get used up like the mad hatter, march hare and the doormouse did. After all, they couldn’t find time to wash them when it’s always tea time.

DSCN0246I had such a pleasant day at the Mad Hatter tea party, I half believe I went to Wonderland rather than Herman park. I wish you could have been with us Lewis Carroll…and Happy Birthday.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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I shake John Carney and then Christine Carney’s hands. “Happy New Year and welcome aboard Airship Steamed. Watch your step,” I call as I stretch my short legs in a leap across the wide gap between the dock and the airship. John and Christine, the owners of Thick and Thin Designs, follow me into the parlor.

I gesture towards the crimson settee, which features curvy lion head legs and claw feet. John and Christine take a seat there. I sink into the large armchair across from them. I raise my voice to speak over the clang and grind of the airship as we take off. “Cupcake toppers are wonderful and they take a cupcake to a whole other level. What drew you to the fascinating art and business of creating decorative acrylic cupcake toppers, jewelry and ornaments?”

Christine glances at the blue willow teacups, shaking and rattling on the tea table between us. “John’s an MFA student at the University of Maine and had been working as a tech in the new Innovation, Marketing, Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC) on campus and fell in love with the laser cutter. We knew that machine would allow us to produce what previously only existed in our wildest dreams. One night while I was cooking dinner, we envisioned a massive zombie horde placed upon dozens of cupcakes and the idea to produce unique, quirky cupcake toppers was born. We always knew that we wanted to be in business together and this was our opportunity.”

“How can you not love any business inspired by the vision of a zombie horde on cupcakes.” The dainty china cups cease rattling on the tea table as our airship glides smoothly pass the clouds. “Several of your Thick & Thin creations have a Steampunk appeal:  gears, mustaches, tentacles and hot air balloons. Do you have an interest in Steampunk?” I pick up the teapot and pour my guests a cup of Earl Grey.

John and Chrisitne pick up their teacups. “We love the Steampunk genre! We love the combination of beautiful clothing, dirty industrialization and the whimsical nature that threads through it all. Steampunk and those who love it are always an inspiration for us when we’re creating new designs because we know that there are great number of people out there who love it and not many products to support it.” Tendrils of steam rise from their teacups as they each take a sip.

I pour myself a cup of tea. “How do you get your inspiration for your creations?” Lifting and tilting my teacup to my lips, I take a long sip.

John reaches for the sugar bowl, picks up a white cube and plunks it into his tea. “We’ve always been fans of the obscure, geeky and cute so we often find inspiration in our hobbies. When we’re deciding what to put on our shop we think of things that we would want and can’t find anywhere else. We have a very diverse group of friends, sometimes thinking about what they might want can lead to innovative designs that we wouldn’t necessarily think of for ourselves. The tentacles for instance were created specifically for one of our Cthulhu loving friends who had just moved to the US from Spain. Obviously they had to be shared with the world, and now they are one of our top sellers.” He dips a silver teaspoon into his cup and swishes it gently from side to side.

Reaching for the dish on the table, I pinch a slice of lemon and inhale the invigorating citrus fragrance as I squeeze a few drops into my teacup. “Since this is Steamed, I have to ask do you like Steampunk fiction?  If so, what are some of your favorite Steampunk books or authors?”

iChrisitne leans back in the setee and takes another sip of tea. “I’m a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and have loved the His Dark Materials trilogy by Pullman since it was first published. I love science and enjoy Steampunk fiction especially because of its, often positive, view of mechanics and its favorable portrayal of women in the field. It’s inspiring to women young and old to not let anything stop you from doing what you love, especially public opinion.”

I bring my teacup to my lips. As the steam from the cup blows warm on my face I finish the last of my tea and set the cup down. “As a husband and wife team, do you both design the cupcake toppers? If so, are some of the designs collaborations?”

Christine sets her teacup on its saucer on the table as John  does the same. “All of our pieces are collaborations. We will bounce ideas back and forth off of one another during the initial phases of a design. I will often check for scientific accuracy while my husband checks to make sure the piece will be interpreted visually. After the first rendition is finished in Illustrator, we’ll print a few test prints off and discuss how we feel about the piece and whether it’s successful before putting it up on the store. When looking at our shop line-up any design that is animal related or cute can be attributed to me and anything mechanical or figurative can be attributed to John.”

Hearing rattling and clinking, I glance at the tea table, the cups and saucers are shaking.”I know what that means, the airship is landing. I have time for one final question. What is your favorite cake or cupcake topper?”

Christine grasps hold of the arm of the settee, bracing for the landing “My favorite toppers are the tentacles! They were a blast to design and always go over well at a party! John’s partial to the ninja toppers, it was one of his first designs. He’s always thought that they perfectly represent our style and aesthetic, while showcasing the fine detail we are capable of in our pieces.”

The airship steamed has  landed and John and Christine Carney must get started on making cupcake toppers for all the parties in 2014, but they left their left calling cards for us.

Website, Online StoreFacebook

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 published books. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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The Dead Flower Case

Today I’m boosting the signal for a new steampunk adventure game: The Dead Flower Case, because it sounded cool, and because it’s fun to help out other steampunk enthusiasts. 🙂poster_dimoso-thedeadflowerscaseThe campaign for the Steampunk adventure game The Dead Flower Case for IOS, Android, Mac and PC is finally live on Kickstarter at http://kck.st/1bj3nGo.

Created by adventure game veterans of Mando Productions, the game’s distinctive style is based on the Steampunk sculptures of acclaimed Belgian artist Stephane Halleux, whose character Mr Hublot is also the main hero of an Oscar-nominated short movie.

The Dead Flowers Case is a 2.5D murder/mystery point and click adventure, set in a mechanised, retro-style dystopian world in which workers take Nevrovitamin pills so they never have to take a break. All plant life has long since been eliminated, leading police to investigate why some dead flowers have been found next to the body of a murdered factory worker. Players will have to use tools, interrogate people and use two archaic machines to solve the case.

A video presentation of the title is available at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1981824375/the-dead-flowers-case

Generous backers of the game have the chance to receive exclusive artworks, collector’s boxes, limited edition 3D-printed statues of the game characters (at a much cheaper price than Stephane’s sculptures), signed by the artist, as well be part of the production as beta testers, and even go to Paris to meet the team.

The Dead Flowers Case opens on Kickstarter
Steampunk-style murder/mystery adventure coming to PC, Mac & Tablets

Paris, FR – 11 November 2013 – Independent game developer Mando Productions today announced that their highly anticipated title The Dead Flowers Case is now open for backing on Kickstarter. Mando Productions, led by the creative minds behind best-selling classic adventure game Syberia, has teamed up with acclaimed Steampunk sculptor and artist Stéphane Halleux, to bring his amazing universe of characters to life in a point and click murder mystery adventure for PC, Mac and Tablets (Android and iOS). Stéphane Halleux is also the creative force behind ‘Mr Hublot’, recently shortlisted in the Best Animated Short Film category in the 86th Academy Awards.

Backers of the project will have a chance to own bespoke items from the game including artbooks and limited edition character statues signed and authenticated by Stéphane Halleux himself. They’ll also have a chance to meet the artist and the game developers in Paris.

The Dead Flowers Case is set in a fantasy mechanised “Steampunk” alternate reality in which flowers and plants have long since become extinct and the world runs to (apparent) mechanical perfection. However, this precise order of things is thrown into chaos when the body of a senior employee at a car factory is found dead at his desk. The only clue to his murder are the dead flowers placed by his side. From this point, the player assumes the role of detective, exploring the game’s world, questioning its strange and colourful citizens, and uncovering more clues that will eventually unravel the mystery as to who committed the terrible crime. The game’s 3D characters are all fully rendered in real-time 3D by the game engine against pre-designed, highly detailed backdrops.

“The Dead Flowers Case is a humorous and visually arresting murder mystery that we’re developing in the best traditions of classic point and click adventures so well-loved by fans of the genre,” said Michel Bams, Co-Founder of Mando Productions. “By merging Stephan’s amazing and striking visual designs with some of the best game developer talent in the business, we’re confident that we’re creating a unique and memorable game that will be a hit with fans of the genre. Our aim is to create a vibrant gameworld by rendering all the characters in real time 3D against the highly detailed environments.”

To develop the game Mando are asking for $290,000. Donations can be made in sums ranging from $1 to $10,000 and investors will receive a range of items that includes T-shirts, soundtrack, limited edition 3D figurines, the chance to be part of the beta test and even a journey to Paris, depending on the level of investment made.

For more information about the game visit http://bit.ly/DeadFlowersCase

See the Kickstarter campaign on http://kck.st/1bj3nGo

Follow the developers on Twitter @MandoProd or like the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dead-Flowers-Case/540216469377677

About Mando Production
Founded in 2010, Mando is an independent game development company. The team of around twenty people is led by industry veterans Michel Bams et Olivier Fontenay. The company works on creative and original projects for digital distribution. Previous products include Yéti on fury, Hills of Glory 3D, Babel Rising and Babel Rising 3D (PS3, XBox, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, Rim, Windows 8), Cardboard Castle, Hills of Glory : WW2, Babel Running.
http://www.mandoproductions.com

Media Contact
For more information please contact
Valentina Ciolino, dimoso
valentina@dimoso.com +44 (0) 207 033 2660

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Happy Halloween. Many of our Halloween traditions began with the Celtic New Year festival, Samhain, (Sow wen). This was a day without time as if fell between the old year and the new. On this day the veil between Earth and the Otherworld was at its thinnest.

In my Steampunk Romance, To Love A London Ghost, Samhain comes up a lot. The heroine, Cerridwen, is a ghost of a Celtic warrior woman, who died fighting Julius Caesar. She comes back to earth for Samhain.

Here’s a short excerpt from To Love A London Ghost:

What type of evil had come over the land…her Londinium? Phantasms were to be honored and revered on Samhain. Her descendants should have greeted and welcomed her with a platterof food from the feast. No one laid out food for the ancestors anymore. Where was Ceridwen’s plate of food? Where was Ceridwen’s honey oat cakes? It had been hundreds of years since she came for Samhain. She’d been in eternal rest for many years, a long nap, but she woke up and journeyed all the way from the Otherworld, to visit her descendants and feast with them, yet there was no feast.

Here’s another:

“Algernon doesn’t know as much as I do and he’s not quite dead, not yet.” Ceridwen focused her energy on Charlie’s rifle and it slid across the floor, far out of his reach. “Celtic spirits can take another body any time they wish.” She floated in front of Sexton.

“It’s the reason we rub ash on our faces at Samhain, to look like ghost so the spooks won’t steal our bodies.”

“I’m not sure I quite understand, my dear. You may have to explain again and go a little slower for me, because it sounded like you just said you can take over Algernon’s body.” Sexton carefully stuffed the pistols back in his pockets.

A lot of changes took place in England between the times when the Celtic tribes ruled and the era when Queen Victoria ruled. Samhain became christianized into All Saints Day, November 1, also known as All Hallow Day. People began using the term Halloween as a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”

In the later part of the 19th century, the Victorians began to make Halloween less about spooks and more about parties. As we know, the Victorians loved a good party. These events included a harvest theme, dancing, romantic divinations and parlor games.

Predicaments was a popular game. Players gathered in a circle and they each whispered a predicament to the person on their right. Then, they whispered a solution to the person on their left. That’s where the fun came in. Someone would start the game off, mentioning the predicament given to them. For example, Miss/Mr so-and-so, what would you do if you had blood on your collar after you dreamed of kissing a vampire? The person asked, uses the solution they were given. Which might be something like, I would eat a turnip. The solution and the predicament were unrelated, which made them funny. It would go on like that until everyone in the circle was questioned.

halloween postcards- click to go to site

Apple paring games were quite popular. In one, single women peeled an apple, trying not to break the strip. They’d toss the apple rind over their shoulder. The shape of the letter the peel resembled most was the beginning of the name of the man they’d marry.

The Ouija board was also a popular Victorian board game and perfect for Halloween.  Also, telling ghost stories was always a big hit. No one can discount the fun of sharing ghost stories. It was on a rainy evening when Mary Shelly and others guests of Lord Byron’s were reading German ghost stories to each other. Lord Byron challenged everyone at the party to write their own ghostly tale. Shortly afterwards, Mary Shelly came up with the idea for Frankenstein.

Here from Steampunk Ghostly Tales is Ghost Hunting Steampunk Style. Halloween in Skeleton Bog  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8W-aG8SDQ8

Contest: As a Halloween treat, I’ll send one winner a PDF eBook of my Steampunk ghost story, To Love A London Ghost. It has a traditional romance heat level of three flames. Please comment below and include your email so I can contact you if you win.

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Maeve Alpin, who also write as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 published books. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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A couple weeks ago, I got to do something cool–I went to the inaugural event of a brand new steampunk group.

In Michigan, there has long been a lot of steampunk activity in the Detroit area, and a number of people who attend the Detroit events do so from around the state and even into Ohio. There’s been some attempt made to get a group going in Grand Rapids, but until recently, the Lansing area was devoid of organized steampunks.

Not any more. Introducing, Capital Steam, which is largely, at this point, a Facebook group. Something I’ve learned about the steampunk community is that there are both formal and informal organizations. Formally, you have the smaller groups, predominantly airships, where informally, you have all the steampunk fans in the region who show up for various events. For instance, in Detroit, the Detroit Steampunk Consortium, Up in the Aether, and the Ann Arbor-based Woodruff’s Grove Steampunk Society all have pretty much overlapping members, as does Steampunk Michigan and Survivors of the Great White North. Now, many of us have also joined up with the fledgling Capital Steam. Since I live about equidistant from Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing, I have no qualms about this.

The first event came off beautifully. In the afternoon, small groups met, in garb, at various local attractions. I was at the R. E. Olds (yes, as in Oldsmobile) Museum, and both fun and education abounded. I met some new friends I can’t wait to see again, and saw some really cool old vehicles as well as other accoutrements of the era.

In the evening, we all met for a lovely dinner in the restored railroad dining car at Clara’s Lansing Station. A few of the Detroiters showed up to lend their support, and a number of totally new recruits arrived as well to start things off right. There was good food, excellent company, wonderful clothing, a fair bit of booze and enormous amounts of laughter. Following dinner, some of the crew retired to a local coffee house/pub to end the evening.

The next event, scheduled for October, is tea at a Lansing mansion, the Turner-Dodge house. I’m looking forward to this eagerly, and already planning my wardrobe.

It was just about a year ago that I discovered southern Michigan had an active steampunk community and went to my first event. It’s been a wonderful, busy, crazy 12 months. A meme I’ve seen on social media says “Happiness is finding other people who are the same kind of crazy as you.” Yeah, that applies to my experience with the steampunk community over the past year.  Can’t wait for year #2.

In other news, I will be appearing at PandoraCon in Cincinnati, Oct. 9-11. If you’re in the area, come look me up! I’ve also been approved for a steampunk panel at the Romantic Times Convention in New Orleans next May, and will be one of the hostesses for the steampunk tea. Finally, my January Gaslight Chronicles novella, Ashes & Alchemy is up for pre-order on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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