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Archive for the ‘Lolitas’ Category

I love cemeteries. Always have. In college, we had a particularly old one in the historic Texas town where I grew up. Sam Houston, once president of Texas, is buried there among the ancient tombstones and moss-covered monuments. Two of the most popular statues therein are those college students referred to as the Black Jesus, a bronze statue of Christ, and the Angel of Death, a quite beautiful statue of an angel whose crevices are stained with mildew. One, by the way, I would view quite differently now after BLINK (as Whovians would understand). We’d go there in the middle of the night, tripping on whatever psychedelic we had taken that night in the early 90s, and talk, dream, philosophize, etc. After reading Anne Rice my freshman year, my Gothic nature was both defined and solidified.

My fiction leans more toward the Gothic fantasy side of Steampunk than the highly technological science fiction side of Steampunk’s beginnings. Sure, my work has sprinklings of fantastic Steampunk technology, but the dark themes of my work almost always deal with death and loss in one way or another. From my Gothic short stories, like the erotic, Steampunk Chronicle’s Readers’ Choice Award-winning “A Kiss in the Rain” to my novels Avalon Revisited and The Zombies of Mesmer, when it comes to my taste in fiction, reading or writing it: the darker, the better.

Imagine my delight when I discovered the Cross Bones Graveyard in my research, home of “The Outcast Dead.” Stretching back to medieval times, the graveyard became home to the unwanted, the poor, and the working girls between the 16th to 19th centuries. Those too poor to be buried properly in hallowed ground at the nearby Southwark Cathedral, then known as St. Saviour’s, found their final resting place at Cross Bones. Many a prostitute throughout that time, including the infamous “Winchester Geese,” prostitues licensed to work by the Bishop of Winchester, from the 18th century, are among the hundreds buried in this tiny plot of land. In 1853, the graveyard was closed “on the grounds that it was ‘completely overcharged with dead’ and that ‘further burials’ would be ‘inconsistent with a due regard for the public health and public decency’.”

In 1990, a partial excavation was done at the site, removing some 148 skeletons. It’s estimated that’s less that 1% of all the 15,000 buried on those tiny grounds.

Situated on Redcross Way, it’s iron gates have become a colorful shrine to the forgotten dead as well as others lost by visitors. Glorious colorful ribbons and roses cover the entrance to this once-shamed place, telling its inhabitants and the world that every decent person is worthy of respect and remembrance, despite their livelihood or economic status.

The amazing Julie Mollins, the same reporter who wrote an article on me for Reuters in 2011, reported on Cross Bones and John Constable, the man who breathed life back into the graveyard with The Southwark Mysterys plays and monthly ritual honoring the forgotten dead.

Next month, I’ll be traveling to London in part to plan an O. M. Grey Tour of London for 2014, where I will personally take readers to the places found in my novels and short stories. On that tour that will take us all from Bedlam to Gray’s Inn Road to Hyde Park and beyond, the Cross Bones Graveyard will be one of the many stops in the Gothic borough of Southwark.

The Cross Bones Graveyard appears in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Southwark, the sequel to The Zombies of Mesmer: A Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter Novel which is available on Amazon, Kindle, and serialized on my blog for free, either in print or via podcast.

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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The lovely Lolitas of STEAMED! have asked me to contribute twice a month, and I am quite honored to do so. Initially, at least, my articles will revolve around the interesting historical tidbits of the Victorian Era that appear in my novels and stories.

One my favorite things about writing Steampunk is the research. It’s fascinating, really. So often in my fiction, I incorporate historical people or events or places or even technology. My imagination for technology is rather limited, I’m afraid, as my strengths as a writer are characterization, emotional depth, and dialogue. Technology and world-building are far down the list, so I work with what’s already there, although much of what I incorporate into my work has been all but lost to history. These little-known facts and events and gadgets find new life in my work. With that splendid thing known as creative license, I embellish and bend historical events and 19th century technology to fit the needs of my story.

Today, I’ll focus on The Air Loom: The Human Influencing Machine, something devised in 1810, even before the Victoria’s Reign began in 1837. While doing research on the notorious Bedlam (Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bethlem) Asylum for a guest post called “Lunatics in London” for Bitten by Books during a blog tour, I watched a fascinating documentary on the infamous hospital. Within, they introduced one James Tilly Matthews, the first documented paranoid schizophrenic. I was immediately fascinated by this person and his concept of The Air Loom, so I vowed to work it into my next novel.

In my Steampunk teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer, we visit the horrible Bethlehem Asylum. Although set in 1880, my Bedlam’s halls contain the misery and pain seen in the hospital in Matthews’ time there. After being released from a three-year stint in a French prison for suspicion of being a double agent, Matthews returned to London and proceeded to accuse the Home Secretary of treason in a rather dramatic and publicly disruptive way. Matthews was committed to Bethlem Asylum in 1797 as a lunatic. Fortunately for Matthews, a resident of the hospital for over a decade, he had a relatively cushy room there and ended up drawing plans for the renovation of Bethlem Hospital among many other helpful things. In 1810, he wrote a book called Illustrations of Madness in which he illustrated the influencing machine in great detail both in design and description of purpose. Matthews believed that scientist spies, experts in “pneumatic chemistry,” had set up near Bedlam and was tormenting him by means of rays emitted from The Air Loom.

The Air Loom was a piece of advanced technology, but in the early part of the industrial age advanced technology often meant enormous machinery, rather than the increasing minutarisation that characterise the 21st century. The Air Loom was enormous. The mechanism stood seven metres tall and occupied a footprint of nine square metres, and it was constructed from oak with machined brass fittings.

It was surrounded by barrels that fed noxious gases through oiled leather pipes into the main body of the machine. The gases were derived from substances including ‘gas from the horse’s anus’, ‘seminal fluid’, ‘putrid human breath’ and ‘effluvia of dogs’. (Source)

The machine’s rays exacted such horrendous tortures onto Matthews’ mind like “kiteing,” where ideas were forced into his brain; “thought-making,” where thoughts were removed and replaced by others of the scientist’s choosing; and Lobster Cracking, where “the external pressure of the magnetic atmosphere surrounding the person assailed was increased, ‘so as to stagnate his circulation, impede his vital motions, and produce instant death’.” Other torments included “lengthening of the brain,” “thigh talking,” “fluid locking,” and “bomb bursting.”

Read more about this fascinating machine and see images of The Air Loom, built by artist Rod Dickinson using Matthews’ illustrations at http://www.theairloom.org.

An altered version of The Air Loom appears in my forthcoming novel The Ghosts of Southwark, the sequel to The Zombies of Mesmer: A Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter Novel which is available on Amazon, Kindle, and serialized on my blog for free, either in print or via podcast.

-_Q

Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.

Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com

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“Lolita Seleste!”

I snapped to attention as the captain strode toward the engine, her bustle sweeping through the soot on the floor. Soot I should have cleaned hours ago. “Aye, Captain!”

“I was under the impression you had some experience with steam engines when you requested to take up this post. Was I mistaken?”

My gaze darted to the left where turbines and pistons moved in much the same manner as they had when I arrived. Which meant they weren’t yet at full capacity. “No, Captain. The hitch in the works is a wee bit more complicated than I–”

“Excuses, Lolita I have no time or tolerance for them. We need to be at full power by nightfall. Get back to work.” Picking up her bustle as she spun around, she scowled at me. “And this place will be ship-shape by morning. Have I made myself clear?”

“Aye, Captain.”

As soon as she left the engine room, I kicked the offending turbine. “Work, blast you!”

When I said I could fix the steam engine, I’d anticipated a simple problem. Something quick. I’d been down here for three days, tinkering with the damned thing. By nightfall, she said. If I didn’t figure this out soon, I had a feeling my time on board might quickly be reaching its conclusion.

~~*~~

In other words, I am neck deep in revisions for Clockwork Mafia. They’re going fairly quickly (which is nice), but small changes have proved very invasive and have led to… a lot of changes. As I announced on Twitter last night, readers who felt Badlands was too short will be happy to know that this installment of the story is roughly twice as long. And… I got a release date last night! Clockwork Mafia will go on sale April 29, 2013. I know, I know, it’s a long way off, but I am hoping to have the third book out in 2013 as well. (As long as the writing gods cooperate at least.)

For now, however, I need to get back to Henrietta Mason and her rogue clockworks. I do promise a more infotaining post next time (that’s informational/entertaining for those who didn’t know :P)

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I must admit, I’ve stowed away once or twice on the great ship Steamed! This last time though, your lovely Captain, Lolita Suzanne, said the ship was in need of some new crew members. Since she had the most adorable little pink and pearl gun pointed at my head, I didn’t bother to ask what happened to the others. Instead, I told her to point me to my new quarters.

Warrior women in a time of steam work, right?

After getting settled into a spot somewhat more comfortable than the back corner of the cargo hold, she informed me that one of my primary duties would be posting an update to our log once a fortnight. The topic, of course, needs to focus on all things steam.

“But what of vampires?” I asked.

“Are they clockwork?” she replied.

With no intimate knowledge of that sort on the vampires, I asked, “But what of gods and romance and warrior women and…”

She cut me off with a look that told me in no uncertain terms that her princess gun was close at hand. “Steam, Lolita Seleste. If it does not fit in the world of steam, it has no place here.”

To which I smiled, nodded, and wished desperately that the cat hadn’t stolen my knives. But, upon closer examination, I realized that with the exception of the vampires (who I’m fairly confident have no clockwork parts) I could indeed speak on the others if only I could work in the proper angle. As I’m bucking for the job of chief mechanic on this bird, I’m pretty good with angles…

To that end, it is with great pleasure that I announce that the story of the warrior women of the Badlands and the dirigible The Dark Hawk is not ending with Badlands. I have recently sold the sequel, (tentatively titled) Clockwork Mafia, to Carina Press. I do not have any information on release date yet. However, I can tell you a couple things. First, there are two more books planned in the series beyond this one. Clockwork Mafia focuses on Henrietta, book three will center on Mahala, and book four will wrap up the series by following Laurette.

And, as you may recall, the last time I stowed away (prior to the insanity of being caught…) I offered up a prize that included a digital copy of Badlands as well the opportunity to have a Badlands warrior in one of the future installments named after them (there is a SLIM chance this could still happen with Clockwork Mafia). This ingenious device known as Random.org drew from the twelve comments other than my own and came up with the number four. That devious Lolita Cindy obviously tampered with the machine. And as there is already a Spencer in all of the books, she and I are destined to have words over this. It took me a moment, but I repaired the machine, and the new winner is comment #5… CLOTHDRAGON! Congratulations! Please contact me at selestedelaney(at)gmail(dot)com to collect your prize!

In the meantime, if you are curious enough about this stowaway turned crew member, you may find me lurking in various places (as lurking is one of the things I do best), such as:

Website: http://selestedelaney.com

Blog: http://selestedelaney.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SelestedeLaney

Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/seleste.delaney

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seleste-deLaney/111903172206874

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4243796.Seleste_deLaney

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/selestedelaney/

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Although I may be familiar to many of you from my guest posts on Steampunkapalooza for the last two years, today marks my debut as a regular contributor. I recently had the delightful opportunity of meeting several of my fellow Lolitas at the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago, and I couldn’t be more excited about joining their number. For any gentle readers not acquainted with my name or work, my name is Cindy Spencer Pape (three words, no hyphens) and I write the Gaslight Chronicles from Carina Press, along with a variety of other, non-steampunkish, romances, though we won’t be talking about those here.

In the real world, I’m married to a wonderful man who indulges my love of dressing up in silly costumes and can maintain his equanimity when I muse out loud about how to describe the sound of a cudgel striking a human head, how one would build a steam-powered ice maker, or what to call a secret order of vampyre hunters in Victorian London. Being something of a mad scientist himself, he actually encourages me. Furthermore I have two college-aged sons who remain remarkably unembarrassed by their mother’s occupation, which is really as much as one can hope for. As I write, two spoiled-rotten dogs lounge at my feet and an iguana who considers humans his personal servants is glaring at me from across the room. It appears his luncheon is a few moments late. Beyond that, I live a deceptively ordinary suburban life in southern Michigan, and survive by passing amongst the others unnoticed.

My Gaslight books are a willy-nilly mix of steampunk, gaslight fantasy, mystery and romance. As a child I was told that my too-vivid imagination would get me in trouble one day. Instead, it gives me the opportunity to have endless amounts of fun, writing fantastical stories about a world that might have been. One of my favorite plotting techniques is to take as many disparate ideas as I can, toss them in a mixing bowl, bake and see what comes out. Ultimately, those end up being madcap tales populated with oddball characters against a backdrop of fantasy, science and history.I’m certain I’ll be talking more about the series as time goes on.

You can find out more about me and my books by visiting my website. I also love to meet new friends on Facebook and Twitter. I’m charmed to meet each and every one of you, and hope that if anyone has any particular requests for future posts, you’ll let me know. Toodles!

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

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

A whole new meaning for DIY

By Shelley Adina

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

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

Until now.

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

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

And waited.

And waited.

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

Self publishing.

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

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

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

~Shelley Adina

http://www.shelleyadina.com

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

What’s your take on self publishing? 

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

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I’m excited to be a part of Armchair BEA as we continue our virtual conference.

Today we’re supposed to talk about relationships.  Although I love to get ARCs, I don’t get a ton of them since there’s just not that much Steampunk out there yet.  We also usually only feature books we’re in love with (but we always welcome author guest blogs.  Since the Lolitas are authors we  want to support other authors.  We also welcome guest reviewers.)  I feel guilty asking for non-Steampunk ARCs since this is a Steampunk blog, but if I really love a book, I might feature if even it’s not Steampunk and sometimes we have non-Steampunk theme weeks. 

But honestly, the relationships I want to talk about aren’t about with authors, publishers, or even other book bloggers.  It’s about the relationships I’ve built with my co-bloggers, my fellow Lolitas.  There are four of us (myself, Theresa Meyers, Marie-Claude Bourque, and Elizabeth Darvill) who post regularly, but there’s about a dozen of us all-together, most of whom only post once in a while (including my “sister” Leanna Renne Hieber, who is awesome.)  Having a group of co-bloggers is amazing.  It’s having a group of people who you can share things with from silly links to trials and tribulations.  I know if I go to a conference there will be people to hang out with–and people to conspire with for submitting panel and workshop proposals.  If I’m panicking about something writing-related or need a last-minute beta I know someone will answer my emails (Yes, Shelley and Deb, I’m talking about you.)   Sure, running a group blog is a ton of work.  Group blogging is also not for everyone.   But, to me, just being part of a group like the Lolitas is well worth the effort. 

To help spread the Steampunk love, I’m doing a Steampunk-themed giveaway open to all ArmChair BEA participants (even the international ones).  I’ll email you if you win. 

Just comment below on what Steampunk book you’d love to read most for your chance to win your choice of:

 Blameless, by Gail Carriger is one of the Parasol Protectorate books.  This series is my favorite. 

Or…

 The Brimstone Key, is part of the Clockwork Chronicles Series, featuring the popular Grey Griffins. 

So, is there some Steampunk book out there you’re dying to read? 

Contest open to all Armchair BEA participants (I’m going to trust you on this).  Contest closes Monday, May 30 at 11:59 PM PST.  Winner will be contacted by email.

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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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First up, there’s about a day left on the critique I have up on Operation Auction.  It’s for a Steampunk or YA proposal (or Steampunk YA–Elfpunkers, or any “punkers”, I’ll include you too).  Proposal = Query, Synopisis, + 3 chapters.  Come on, be generous and place your bidThere’s a lot of other good stuff up and it’s for a good cause.

The Romance Writers of American announced their RITA and Golden Heart Finalists. I’d like to give a special shout out to Zoe Archer for her nomination for Rebel and Cassandra Clare for her nomination for Clockwork Angel. Congrats to all the nominees!

So, who’s going to the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention?

I will be there with bustles on.  You know I mean that literally, right?  Here’s my new bustle.

There’s going to be some great steampunk stuff.  (And I’m on a panel with Gail Carriger!!!!  I hope I don’t say something stupid.)
SPECIALTY: When Worlds Collide: Melding Reality and Fantasy in Historicals
Date: Wednesday April 6, 2011 02:15 pm – 03:15 pm
Event Type: Writer Industry Workshop                                                              Panelists: Zoe Archer, Gail Carriger, Nathalie Gray, Suzanne Lazear, Kathryn Smith

STEAMPUNK: Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?: Gadgets, Gizmos and Automatons
Date: Thursday April 7, 2011 02:45 pm – 03:45 pm
Event Type: Writer Industry Workshop                                                                               Captain: Kathryn Smith Panelists: Eden Bradley, Gail Carriger, Kristen Painter

STEAMPUNK: Writing the Steampunk Romance: Beyond Leather Corsets and Brass Goggles!
Date: Friday April 8, 2011 01:30 pm – 02:30 pm
Event Type: Writer Industry Workshop 

Panelists: Cindy Holby, Suzanne Lazear, Laurie McLean, Kathryn Smith
READER: Steampunk Social
Date: Friday April 8, 2011 02:45 pm – 03:45 pm
Event Type: Reader Social
Location: Beaudry A
There will be a fashion show with clothes from Clockwork Couture, cakepops, prizes, and other fun stuff! 

Other steampunk writers will also be there.  Check out all the authors doing the book signing.
Good stuff, right?  Make sure you say hello to me if you’re there. (No, I’m sorry, but I will have no romance trading cards for Innocent Darkness, since I have no art, unless you want to make me something quick quick.)
Steampunkapalooza 2011 starts soon.  It’s going to be incredible  and I am excited.   Have you seen our lineup and entered our giveaway yet?
Oh, and here are the boots the hubby got me from Clockwork Couture for my birthday.  I hope they come in time for RT.
Cute, right?  Now, if only I could find a black corslet/corset belt, that a) will get here in time b) isn’t a fortune.  I have one, the teen borrowed it and can’t find it (insert Le Sigh here).
So, are there any Steampunk events coming up that you’re looking forward to?

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In case you need books to read, here’s a great list of steampunk books. 

I have a case of the Mondays. 

I’m going to be doing a couple of panels at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in April in Los Angeles (including one with Gail Carriger, squee!)   

 I need clothes to wear.  I can’t actually buy things to wear, but I still need them.

If I could buy new steampunk clothes for this convention, this is what I’d buy:

I would get this beautiful skirt in black from Clockwork Couture because I could wear it with so many different things…Oh, how I want this skirt so much!

I would love to find a little cape like that to go with it.  I am also fond of hats.  I like this one I found on ebay to pair with it.

I have this wonderful tan asymmetrical steampunky blazer I wear to work.  I found this great skirt on ebay.  I bet I could put them together and create a nice look for a panel. 

I’d pair it with this lovely hat from Maritime Arts, only I’d want the ribbons and flower in green.

In case I actually make it to the masquerade ball, I’d want this mask in cream from Asfina on Etsy

If I had an infinite amount of money, I’d get this dress from Bound By Obsession, because it is really, really amazing and would match my clockhand tiara. 

Isn’t it breathtaking?  I covet this dress.

 

I love my clockhand tiara from EJP Creations.  But this one from SparklyJems is a beauty. 

 

Okay, that sums up my list of things I wish I could buy for RT.  If you’re going, look for me.  I’ll be there with bustles on…

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Did you have a Steampunk release in 2010?  The Prism awards, which is given out by the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal Chapter of the Romance Writer’s of America is *desperately* short of Steampunk/Time Travel entries and will cancel the category if they don’t get enough entries.  If your story has romance elements please consider entering.  Details and eligibility requirements here. 

We have some winners to announce…

We have five copies of David Burton’s’ Scourge to give away.  And the winners are…

Paula S

Nikki

FredTownWard

Alden Ash

Beth

You are our five lucky winners.  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.

Today we have the amazing Lolita Deb aka Deborah Schneider who’s going to tell us about her new project.

A love for American History drew Deborah to the field of education and teaching American History right after college. She resides in a small town near the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest, where she fulfills her dream of waking up every day to look at a mountain. She’s the winner of the Molly Award for Most Unsinkable Heroine for her book, Beneath A Silver Moon. She loves writing about strong, smart women who aren’t afraid to challenge the men they love. She’s employed by one of the busiest library systems in the US, is the 2009 Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year, and believes in the power of books to change lives.

No Ordinary Love

By Deborah Schneider

For the past three years a friend of mine has invited me to be part of short story romance anthology. The compilation isn’t for sale; all the authors offer it at no cost to their friends, families and fans. For me the best part of working on the anthology has been learning to write shorter, more focused stories. This year our theme was “love songs” because we planned to release the stories for Valentine’s Day.

I write long, and do edit a lot out of my stories. Trying to get everything in a story under 3000 words is really a challenge for me, but it’s also very rewarding to finish and be pleased with the result.

This year, I knew I wanted to write something with a Steampunk flavor. I’m working on a novel in that sub-genre, had completed a novella and now wanted to experiment with a short story. Suzanne’s announcement of selling a YA Steampunk Fairytale had intrigued me. I love fairytales and imagined how much fun it would be to play with that kind of story with Steampunk flare.

I’ve always loved the story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier, so I started with the idea of a toy shop, a soldier and a love affair. I started to do some research, and learned about automatons. Translating to “self moving machines”, these mechanical wonders were especially popular during the Victorian age.

There’s a famous automaton in the Musee d’Art et d’Historie of Neuchatel, Switzerland designed in the 18th century by Pierre Jacquet-Droz.   “The Writer” is a small figure that can be programmed to write 40 characters, dips the pen into an inkwell before actually writing and his eyes that even follow the flow of words. This mechanical wonder astonished people around the world.

I was intrigued by this machine, and created a story around a shop filled with wonderful automatons, exquisite toys and amazing clocks.  When a soldier stops by the shop on Christmas Eve to purchase toys for his niece and nephew, he meets a childhood friend and rekindles an old relationship.

But the girl he grew up with is very different now and she’s afraid that if he finds out the truth, he’ll reject her just like many of the villagers do.  

Because we had to choose a title that is a love song, my choice was the song by Sade, No Ordinary Love.

You can download the book, “Love Songs Say So Much” for free at my website: http://www.debschneider.com

On my books page, you’ll find the other two anthologies, also free to download.

I hope you enjoy this collection.

~Deb Schneider

http://www.debschneider.com

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We take a break from our normal Fantastic February programming to bring you the following diversion:

Books have been sighted!

The first copies of the fantastical vampire tale (aka – my latest release) The Truth About Vampires from Harlequin Nocturne have been spotted at a local Walmarts in Port Orchard and Bremerton, Washington, and reports are coming in (on Facebook) that they’ve also been seen in Mililani, Hawaii.

The book, which features a roguish cover of a vampire doing things better left unmentionable in the presence of those prone to vapors and other such lady-like sensibilities, recounts the story of a bluestocking (female, gasp!) reporter Kristin Reed intent on uncovering the purportrator of the vicious Bloodless Murders happening in Seattle only to uncover instead a clan of vampires living beneath the streets of the city in the Seattle Underground. While the security leader, Dmitri Dionotte, attempts to guide Kristin’s exploration of the vampires, he is also working to protect her from a rogue band of vampire reviers intent on harming the populace of the fair Emerald city and Kristin Reed in particular for her audacity to reveal their presence to humans.

a glimpse of the Seattle Underground

Now you may ask, what in blue blazes does a modern vampire tale have to do with steampunk? My answer: The Seattle Underground.

Created in the aftermath of the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, the Seattle Underground happened when the city decided to rebuild more than 25 blocks of prime business district waterfront, with the goal of elevating the streets to avoid the capricious flooding brought on by the tide. The city streets were rebuilt an entire story above the old. For many years during construction there were ladders that went up and between these sections of the city while the supporting walls and roads were built overhead.

Today that little bit of Victorian culture from Seattle still stands and can be viewed at hourly intervals by proceeding through the delightful auspices of Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1889 era saloon, as part of Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour.

As an author, I thought the tour was not only fantastic, but it inspired me to think what a perfect place for my vampires to make a city of their own beneath Seattle where no one would suspect.

And now, dear reader, I ask you, where else may you have spotted this book?

Until next time, truly yours,

Lolita Theresa

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If you’ve never been to a steampunk con, let me say, you’re missing something. It is emersion into the culture at it’s finest. Where do I even begin?

Just look at that arm!

How about Friday? Friday early I arrived at the location of SteamCon II, which was held between the SeaTac Marriot and SeaTac Hilton. (For those of you not familiar with the Seattle area, that’s right across from the Seattle airport, which means it’s great for people flying in, but not so fun to walk between the two up the hill and down the hill depending on which activity or workshop you were interested in.) The registration lines looped around a bit like Disneyland, and people in the pre-registered line were all in costume, and so were most of those who were coming in to register that day for the event. Unlike other conferences and conventions I’ve been to, the costuming is a huge part of the experience. There’s eye-candy everywhere.

Fabulously Dressed Ladies in Workshop

They gave us a newspaper-like program heaped with so many different workshops and events it was likely to make your top-hat spin. What a glorious array! Everything from steampunk modding and how real gun fights work to magic and steampunk, and chats with the likes of James Blaylock (one

Tuesday Lolita Theresa Meyers with James Blaylock

of the founding fathers of the genre), Cherie Priest, Gail Carriger, Jay Lake, Nick Valentino and the intrepid inventor Jake Von Slatt, and a set of Steampunk ghost-busting enthusiasts from The League of S.T.E.A.M.

Member of The League of S.T.E.A.M.

There was a Grand Mercantile with a huge array of things to be purchased – feathers, leathers, hats and tea, corsets, books and jewelry (oh, good grief, does that actually rhyme?) You could find numerous opportunities to practice your acting skills in live action role-playing events (LARP), or game away in the various game rooms. (I attempted to sit in on a card and dice game of The Good, The Bad and The Munchkin, and having never played any sort of Munchkin was still horribly newbie and lost despite the best efforts of my fellow players at the end of an hour. Thank you to those of you who were so gracious and patient.)

The devine Cherie Priest on her way to a workshop

Friday also presented us with the First Annual Airship Awards, where lovely little airship statuettes were presented for the best in written, auditory, visual and community support of the genre. (Winners and finalists in each can be found at the SteamCon II website if you are curious.) They had a lovely dinner, and big screen flashing various images of the finalist. A few funny speeches and a lot of fun talk around the tables with fellow steampunk enthusiasts.

Saturday saw more workshops and the hosting of a most memorable afternoon tea and fashion show. The designers had some absolutely stunning clothes (which I believe there might be pictures of at the SteamCon website shortly).

A good doggone answer to What is Steampunk?

Due to an unforeseen series of most fortunate events, I was invited to fill in for an author who had to cancel at the last moment, so I spoke on three different panels and gave a reading. May I say, if you ever get the opportunity to go to a workshop by Jay Lake, do so. He is a veritable fount of one-liners that are both groan-worthy and very humorous at the same time.

That is a HUGE hand, mister.

We talked about what is steampunk, dissecting the genre, as it were, and after an hour came to the conclusion that it’s as much time period and aesthetic as it is a particular feeling to the work which is based in the gilded age where excess reigned supreme and exploration was rather mandatory, vs. diesel-punk which has roots more firmly grounded in the dystopian elements of the great depression and world war, where scarcity rules the day and invention is out of necessity to use and reuse whatever one had on hand to survive.

A Teapot handbag! How brilliant!

I went to workshops on ghost hunting in the Victorian era, steam cowboys and one about Hoaxes perpetuated by newspapers of the time by the likes of writers such as Samuel Clemens and Edgar Allen Poe, who apparently made a decent enough showing of it to have their tales of airships being spotted over the city, and animals escaping zoos in the midst of busy down-town cities very popular – and gasp, news of the day. In fact, I found it most fascinating that fictional tales were often intermingled with actual news items in such prestigious publications at The Boston Globe, and not much was done to distinguish between the two. (Wait, how is that so different than today’s reporting?)

L to R Nick Valentino, Tues. Lolita Theresa and Wed. Lolita Elizabeth

I digress. I went shopping in the grand mercantile and purchased a new corset, some tea and some Christmas presents. I had fun lunch with fellow Lolita Elizabeth Darvill. Late in the day I gave a reading from my Weird West set steampunk The Hunter, which doesn’t even come out until late 2011. I let the audience choose, from two sections, action or spicy. They unanimously picked the spicy version. Unfortunately, we’d spent so much time chit-chatting to start that we barely even got into the spicy bit before my half hour was up.

They actually move up and down!

I also took time to visit the art gallery. Wow! Such creativity. (I didn’t know if we were actually allowed to take pictures, so I opted not to.) There were three-dimensional sculptures, prints, clothing, jewelry and more.

Saturday night was the esteemed Outlaw Concert featuring three different bands, including the well-known steampunk stylings of Abney Park. There were people crowded, spinning, dipping and doing what suspiciously looked to me like the Tango out on the dance floor in front of the stage. We were admonished at the beginning of the concert not to leap upon the stage due to the damaging of equipment in the past from such behaviors. While I had to leave early (because I was driving back and forth from home each day rather than staying at the hotel) apparently the high enthusiasm kept up until 3:30 Sunday morning.

Lovely use of top hat and corset!

Which made giving a workshop at 9:00 am Sunday morning a bit of let down. A few hardy souls trickled in to hear about Steampunk Young Adult books, but by far, I think people were likely still dealing with the affects of the concert the night before. I was part of another talk later in the day about Character vs. Setting which was better attended.

I also went to a workshop about the history of steam propulsion that was incredible. Who knew the first hybrid steam/electric car was actually introduced in 1903 and the Prius in 2003? Makes you wonder what the auto industry has actually be working on in the last 100 years, doesn’t it?

Hey, Zombies! Mad Scientist with Brain Pack over here!

My overall impression is that steampunk cons are a meeting of the mind, the creative, social and intellectual (not to mention the dancing portion of one’s anatomy). If you really want to have a good time, prepared to bring comfortable shoes and costumes. Not just one costume, but at least one for each day, and possibly a forth for dancing or going to fancier dinners and events. And don’t be shy about being a mad scientist with a backpack brain on one day and an aeronaut hottie with brown bolero-length bomber jacket and brown leather and wool trimmed hot pants on another, and a high-society vixen with an outrageous top hat and bustle on the third. Everything goes as long as it relates back to the genre. And the array of hats is very impressive. One person at a workshop put it best, “I’ve discovered something about steampunk, there is no such thing as excess. One can never have too much of anything.”

No such thing as excess, I tell you!

Be prepared to shop for those things you’ll find it difficult to get elsewhere. Have business cards so you can share with fellow steampunk fans, and for the love of all that’s decent, if you are going to give a workshop, at least provide some type of handout to go with your brilliant Powerpoint so people will have something to take with them. There’s just too much information to store it all under one’s top hat and I found myself scribbling like a jibbering idiot to keep up.

All in all it was a fantastic event, so worthy in fact, that I’ve already pre-registered for next year! There’s steampunk conventions aplenty out there. If you are interested in the genre, think you want to write in it or would just like something fun and crazy to do for a weekend go to one! And of course this isn’t ALL the pictures…if you are looking for more check out the SteamCon II album over at www.facebook.com/TheresaMeyersAuthor or go www.steamcon.org and check out their gallery.

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Today is the last day you can enter to win a copy of Arthur Slade’s new steampunk Tween thriller “The Dark Deeps.”

Also, tune in Monday, October 4th, 2010, when we announce the lineup for our 2010 Halloween Author Invasion (and what exactly the author invasion is.) Be very afraid (but be excited, too.)

Today we welcome Lolita Leanna, aka Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the “Percy Parker” Gaslamp Romance series.  “A Christmas Carroll” aka “Percy Parker 2 1/2” will be featured in the anthology A MIDWINTER FANTASY which is an ebook to be released by Dorchester.  At the moment Dorchester has delayed the ebook’s release, but if you follow Leanna on Twitter, she’ll let you know when the ordering link goes live.

Gaslight Musings: Building on Your Atmosphere – Leanna Renee Hieber’s latest Strangely Beautiful venture:

It should be no secret that what draws readers to Steampunk, to Gaslight and also to the Gothic is atmosphere. Our favourite works are full of rich atmosphere and intense world-building. One of the important yet tricky things in writing series fiction, particularly if it’s fantastical, paranormal or all of the above, is coming up with ways in which your world still maintains its conventions but also grows in richness, complexity, conflict and intrigue. I think one of the best ways to do this is to make sure that if you introduce a new convention, to be sure that it comes from within the world you’ve already built rather than tacking on something new. Also, the beauty of series fiction allows us to dive deeper into secondary characters, and deeper into the world’s details, where these new flowers can really bloom.

In thinking of new aspects to introduce in “A Christmas Carroll” which serves as Strangely Beautiful series #2.5, featured in A MIDWINTER FANTASY anthology, I knew I needed something new within my spirit world, what I call the Whisper-World.

What I came up with was The Liminal. You’ll see it described in the brief excerpt below, and I didn’t realize until I wrote it that it’s a very Steampunk detail. The Liminal clock keeps magic mortal time; its hands are vast and the barrel tells the year, shifting its great lens to show its charges the necessary scene in any moment in time. But it is still a part of the Whisper-World; a place I’ve described as mysterious, vast and shifting, beholden to powers over life and death that mere mortals can only guess at. The Liminal fit into that premise smoothly.

I love writing series fiction for all of the reasons I’ve mentioned. I love getting the chance to give secondary characters their due, and I adore taking the world I’ve built and simmering further in it; not just the skin and bones but the marrow of the world. I hope you’ll enjoy A MIDWINTER FANTASY, which just released on the 28th! Each of the stories in the anthology features a respective world that the author has built upon for at least two series books. Please note, due to changes at Dorchester Publishing this is a digital / eBook release ONLY. Future books will be released in Trade Paperback, but the transition at Dorchester has caught this book without paperback printing of any kind.

Here’s a tiny excerpt involving The Liminal, Strangely Beautiful’s new world-building detail:

From “A Christmas Carroll” featured in A MIDWINTER FANTASY anthology:

Prologue – December 1888, at the edge of London’s reality

Three spirits murmured to each other, standing in the luminous Liminal that separated the waiting Whisper-world from the dazzling, drawing light of the Great Beyond.  The Whisper-world was quite the grey purgatory, while the Great Beyond, well…who possesses the words to describe Paradise?

The Liminal is a place where magic is discussed and made, from whence spirits receive duties and inspiration, where dreams are both created and abandoned. Where those who are worthy might become angels. It is a place where time is porous and malleable; it keeps its own clock. Here pasts are recaptured and futures glimpsed; here spirits from every walk of death—those still invested in parties on Earth—discuss their current designs on the living, for better or for worse.

The present trio at the Liminal edge was shrouded in shadow, and they contemplated parties in London, England, under the reign of Queen Victoria. Their clothing, too, represented various decades within Her Highness’ extensive reign, long may she live. The spirits stood before a living portrait rendered by exquisite hands: the vast proscenium of an elaborate stage dwarfed their spirit trio. The set scene laid wide before them was a stately school on a moonlit night, dim, eerie, engaging…and awaiting its players.”

For more about Leanna Renee Hieber, the Strangely Beautiful saga and A MIDWINTER FANTASY:

www.leannareneehieber.com

www.twitter.com/leannarenee

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/sbsfan

– Strangely Beautiful Blessings!

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The fabulous Lolita Donna, aka Donna Ricci, proprietress of Clockwork Couture has come to my rescue and put together an amazing post about building a Steampunk wardrobe from the ground up.

Building a Steampunk from the grubby ground up

Creating a Steampunk ensemble requires imagination, ingenuity and creativity. The New Victorian movement is rarely portrayed accurately in movies in the true style of genre. To say that it “Damns the factory but celebrates the machine” is one of the most accurate quotes stemming from the budding subculture. Aristocrats are not fine lords and ladies but rather ship captains, yard bosses and storekeeps. This is the working class Victorian. Creators, inventors, metal smiths, dressmakers, musicians and explorers are the celebrities of the time and with that comes a more practical ensemble.

Figure out who you identify or can lose yourself in. After that, you must create the wardrobe to support it.

Thrift stores can be a great source to find sacrificial items to be altered. Many a prom dress was reinvented into a Victorian Steampunk gown. Do a little research before going in so you can keep an eye out for what makes sense.

If you want to do a period recreation, consignment shops and ebay can be a great source for authentic late 1800’s that is still very wearable. Beware that storage and sun are factors in how well a garment can withstand a soiree. Showcase it knowing that it may be a one shot deal and have a backup (or at the last great underclothes) should it fall away during the night’s revelry.

You can also either commission or buy off the rack at one of the online Steampunk Clothing stores opening up. A helpful salesperson can even guide you to get pieces that support your ideal self.

For ladies, you can never go wrong with a swag-front bustled skirt, ruffle-front blouse, granny boots and great little hat. Do remember your foundation when dressing, utilizing a corset to get the hourglass silhouette of the time. An underbust corset helps create that look while giving you more “breathing room”. Literally.

For men, a true gent can never be without coat and tails and a proper topper. Men’s clothing largely hasn’t changed over the years too terribly much. A pair of dress slacks and shirt will go well under a well tailored frock coat or tuxedo jacket. A bowler or top hat complete a dapper look. Spectacles or a dangling monocle distinguish a literary man from the uneducated worker and a cravat or ascot can cover up an unsightly or non period button up shirt. Don’t be afraid to show some frill. The Victorian gent was the first metrosexual.

Some pointers: Like a towel, a Steamer can never go wrong if he knows where his goggles are. It’s much like a passport, you should have a pair because you just never know what adventure awaits you today. Flights on dirigibles were as common as train rides in our alternate history, and one really does not fancy a bug in the eye.

Every subculture has had it’s ”symbol” as it were. The punks wore anarchy symbols stitched, painted or drawn on clothing and jewelry and the Goths had the ankh. Steampunks unite under the cog to show their avid love for invention, mechanics and time travel. Never be afraid or ashamed to don one.

Not unafraid of social qualms, Steampunk-styled ladies are NOT afraid to show their well fashioned corsets on the OUTSIDE. Cinch up a well curved waist over a skirt and show off 2” of backlacing. I dare you.

Being a celebration of technology, adventure, hopefulness and travel. It’s not uncommon to see the everyday tinkerer strapped into a homebrewed invention or altered object. Perhaps you could make a better pocketwatch or tietack. Perhaps they are both the same thing?

Because many period images were in sepia, many Steampunks have fancied themselves in browns and blacks. Partner that with the working class appreciation, and they tend to shun the acid dyes of the Victorians. This is not to say it’s not allowed, just know with Steampunk, brown is the new black.

Movies to watch for inspiration: Wild, Wild West starring Wil Smith and Kevin Kline, Steamboy (animated), The Prestige, Sherlock Holmes and Firefly. Recommended sounds: The Unextraordinary Gentleman, Tin Hat Trio, Emelie Autumn, and Rasputina.

With your help, we can create a night of Neo-Victorian opulence. A new Utopia with elaborate dress, impeccable manners, renewed chivalry and undeniable kindness. I hope to see you at the celebration.

Yours truly,

Captain Donna Ricci of the S.S. Clockwork Caravel

www.clockworkcouture.com

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