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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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