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Archive for the ‘Steampunkapalooza’ Category

As a contributing author in Shanghai Steam & the Steamfunk! Anthology, Ray Dean enjoys writing about many different cultures. Steampunk speaks to her in a retroactive futurism that opens so many possibilities. Her blog, My Ethereality (http://raydean.net), explores history, culture, war and love in eras and countries that influence the Steampunk world.

The Pacific Commercial Observer 
29 April, 18–
by Ray Dean

advertIt has come to this humble reporter’s attention that a rash of attacks perpetrated on women touring seaside locales has not given rise to widespread panic. The reason? A simple cure created by the world renowned chemist, Dr. Oh!

“I truly had no idea why such a thing was even needed,” heiress Wilhemina Chatsworth informed us as she lounged in the sitting room of her rented flat. Her feet pillowed on a richly brocaded ottoman, Miss Chatsworth made some mention of her injury. “I am able to move about on my own,” she assured me, “most likely I would have suffered a much greater injury had my most able companion not leapt to my defense.”

At such time, she did indicate the woman standing a few feet away. Dressed in a sensible day dress of woolens, the woman of indeterminate age and unremarkable looks stepped forward.

When asked for her name, the woman demurred, insisting that her actions were nothing out of the normal. That any other person, armed with Dr. Oh’s Octopodiform Deterrent, would be able to protect someone in their acquaintance from such an attack.

The atomizer, she explained, was one that contained an ample supply of the deterrent. Displaying the conveniently sized bottle, one that we are assured fits easily into a moderately sized reticule, she demonstrated how easy it was to use.

London Weekly Record
21 June, 18–

The shores of Lyme are known for their dark beauty and wild waves. Many flock to the town to experience the majesty of the ocean, but a sinister shadow now lies beneath the waves. A shadow with eight appendages has terrorized both visitors and denizens alike.

While many pressed for an increase of police at the water’s edge, the local constabulary asked that any visits to the Cobb be postponed until the danger had abated. On any given day, nearly a score of visitors could be found treading the slick stones beside the water.

One such visitor, a young woman by the name of Philomena Prentiss, was nearly dragged into the sea by the fearsome shadow.

As a few visitors raised the alarm and called for assistance, Miss Prentiss watched in horror as a second tentacle snaked out of the waves and wrapped around her wrist.

A gentleman nearby, who asked to remain nameless, gave the young woman great praise for her quick thinking and quicker hands.

“Even with the unwelcome attention of the mysterious beast, the young lady was able to loosen the strings of her purse and from its dainty confines withdraw a smart-looking bottle. One spritz and the creature rushed out to sea before the tides!”

When Miss Prentiss divulged where she had purchased the bottle of Dr. Oh’s Octopodiform Deterrent, the shopkeeper was soon sold out of the miraculous product and planning on ordering a number of cases for his stock.

ETSY listing –
http://www.etsy.com/listing/67383459/steampunk-advertisement-11-x-14-inch-art

~Ray Dean

http://raydean.net

 

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Jared Axelrod is an author, an illustrator, a graphic designer, a sculptor, a costume designer, a podcaster and quite a few other things that he’s lost track of but will no doubt remember when the situation calls for it. He is a founding member of the daily flash-fiction website 365 TOMORROWS, and the writer and producer of two science-fiction podcasts, “The Voice Of Free Planet X” and the serial “Aliens You Will Meet.”

 

I Prefer My Steam Punked

by Jared Axelrod

battle-bloodink-coverAshe, the protagonist on my graphic novel THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK is young, angry and poor. She spends half the book homeless. She spends the entirety of it trying to bring down an unjust government. Like the punk musicians and journalists of the last quarter of the 20th Century, Ashe believes in the power of violent speech to change the culture. She’s going to be heard, even if that means speaking with the volume and power of an explosion.

Ashe is a punk, or in the parlance of her world, a clouddog. She’s the rabble the upper crust dismisses, and her journey to be heard is the main thrust of the book.

Steampunk exists in a weird place. There is a lot to recommend it. The outfits are sexy, the DIY underpinning is marvelous, and the 19th  Century itself was a time of exploration and discovery the world over. All of this makes for a fantastic fictional setting. But it also takes an overwhelming amount of inspiration from an increasingly narrow cultural conceit. The use of “Victorian” and “Edwardian” to describe steampunk is especially problematic. Not only because countries other than Great Brittan  had a 19th century, but because tying the genre to white European royalty is exclusionary on both a racial and class level. I’m sure people who refer to steampunk as “Victorian Science-Fiction,” don’t mean to exclude people, but sadly the language does it for them.

B+I-001-largeI often wonder, though, if perhaps the biggest issue is that the exclusionary element IS part of the appeal of steampunk. I’m not saying that people get into steampunk because they want to be exclusionary. But it’s easy to fall into a focus on the upper class, and allow the dress and mannerisms of a wealthy Victorian to be celebrated. Even the scientists and explorer characters fit with in this umbrella, as those were the occupations of people of privilege.

This is understandable. Who doesn’t want to be part of a ruling class, even if only for afternoon? Or in time it takes to read a novel or short story? There’s no fun in dying of cholera, either, the end result of many a 19th century rabble rouser.

B+I-002-003

But  there is so much to mine beyond wealthy Brits sipping tea and wielding rayguns. There’s one hundred years of history full of punk concepts! Things like cholera riots, gold rushes, suffrage  wars abroad and at home, and the fight for the right of entire subsets of humanity to be treated as people. The status quo was challenged often in the 19th century, and often violently, and those challenges gave us the world we live in today.

B+I-009-large

Ashe’s flying city home of Amperstam is a fantastical place, set above a fantasy world. But within it is the grit and grime of police brutality, child-labor, kidnapping, torture, assassinations and everything else that kept an Industrial-Age city alive. And she’s fighting against, the only way she knows how. By making sure she’s heard.

I got a brand-spanking new paperback copy of THE BATTLE OF BLOOD & INK. Leave a comment with your favorite punk character in steampunk fiction, and I’ll pick on at random and send you a copy!

 –Jared

http://www.fablesoftheflyingcity.com/

http://www.jaredaxelrod.com

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Caitlin Kittredge writes both YA and adult books including The Iron Codex series. She is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. Visit her website at www.caitlinkittredge.com to learn more.

 

The Finish Line

by Caitlin Kittredge

itcoversmallI read a lot about starting a steampunk story—how to worldbuild, how to create compelling characters, how to mix up timelines and history to make a unique, compelling universe—but I don’t see much about endings.

The last book in my Iron Codex trilogy was released in February  and while I’m sad to have the journey end—as any writer would be—I never intended the series to be more than three books. I always had an end in mind, a destination for the journey. I don’t think that’s necessary—some of the best writers I know start with no end in sight and figure it out as they go. But I knew these characters and their world had a single story to tell, and then I’d exit gracefully.

ngcoversmallYet, as I drew to the end of writing The Mirrored Shard, I found myself leaving little things open. Aoife, Dean and Cal get their endings—some happy, some not so happy—and the plot that carried me for three books wrapped up, but I left more ends open than I anticipated. Was I just being wistful? Maybe. But I think it’s a sign that maybe I didn’t say quite all I had to say about the world of the Iron Codex. Maybe there’s a short story, or a novella in my future. I can’t say!

I like little openings for future stories scattered here and there in the natural arc of the story I’m actually telling. I don’t like ambiguous endings. I blame a childhood of serial stories, mostly in comic book form, that led me to be the sort of writer who has to leave a few trails of breadcrumbs here and there for alternate storylines.

The Mirrored ShardI tried to strike a good balance in Mirrored Shard—all the major threads ending where I’d always intended them to. But there’s still one large element left without resolution at the end of Mirrored Shard, and that’s absolutely on purpose. In another time, with another set of characters, this could absolutely be its own series. I’ve only ended one series before the Iron Codex, and since those stories were serial, not really connected, it was very different. The heroine got her ending, the plot wrapped up, and everyone could pretty much go home happy (except the bad guys, of course.) This time, I like to think I was smarter, and left myself with another story to tell, a small door left open to sneak back into this world I’ve devoted close to half a decade to writing in, imagining, dreaming about.

Like I said, maybe I’m just wistful. I love steampunk and Victoriana, so I know I’m definitely nostalgic!  But maybe in the future I’ll get another chance to go back to the start with a new set of characters and revisit Aoife’s world, explore that last thread left loose. Loose threads, after all, beg to be pulled and they exist in all of my favorite books. Tantalizing possibilities that, once explored, can lead to brave new worlds of their own.

~Caitlin

http://www.caitlinkittredge.com/

 

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Today we welcome authors Zoë Archer and Nico Rosso. They both write books in the  ETHER CHRONICLES series. Nico’s books include Night of Fire and Nights of Steel. Zoë’s books include Skies of Fire and Skies of Steel.

Steampunk Cannons

by Zoë Archer and Nico Rosso

Zoë: Thanks so much for having us here today!  Nico and I have been talking a lot about what constitutes steampunk cannon, especially because there are readers and writers of the genre who seek to define what steampunk is and isn’t.  For starters, I think one of the elements of steampunk that really drew Nico and I to write it was how wide open it was as far as interpretation.

I happen to love history, so I enjoy writing about historical aspects within steampunk.  But because we’re writing about alternative history, actual timelines don’t have to be adhered to. On top of which, I can shape social mores to suit my own personal ethos—which means women in more active roles, and a culture that accepts women in positions of power.  This way, I can incorporate certain details about life in another era, but also utilize elements from our own time period (or even a better world than our own) within that historical timeframe.  So in SKIES OF FIRE, Louisa works for British naval intelligence, while in SKIES OF STEEL, Daphne is a anthropologist.  And in SKIES OF GOLD, which comes out this summer, the heroine Kali is an engineer (as well as being half East Indian).  So I can shape history to suit my desires as a writer.

In general, I think the one aspect of steampunk that most writers incorporate is the late-19th century feel and aesthetic.  That might not be canon, but it is widely used. When readers see a cover with men in waistcoats and goggles and women in corsets holding unusual firearms, they understand that they’re going to read a steampunk story.

Nico: Because I’m the main technological inventor for the Ether Chronicles, one of the most consistent elements I try to adhere to are the materials and building techniques for the various steampunk inventions and vehicles.  Even though we’ve created an alternate history, it still has many similarities with the actual end of the 19th century, so I keep things grounded there as much as I can to keep the elements relatable for the reader.

In our world, and in the late Victorian period as well, many technologies were still hand made.  This is especially true for one of a kind experimental projects – like Jack Hawkin’s augmented arm in NIGHTS OF STEEL.  To create these things, I need to use what the inventors at the time had – brass, steel, iron, wood and leather.  Modern materials like aluminum and plexiglass aren’t available the world of the Ether Chronicles.  Neither are construction techniques like CNC part creators or plastic molding.

Some of our technologies are completely made up for our world, like the tetrol fuel used for the most advanced engines, but for the most part, things feel genuine.  That way, the characters can use them on a realistic level, and the reader can understand what each piece of technology does and how it works.  And if I’ve done things right, the reader could even imagine what it feels like to hold one of these inventions and operate all its gears and levers.

Z:  While Nico and I don’t follow an external canon, we stay consistent to the technological and sociological rules created within our alternate history…

N:  While at the same time using some of the landmarks of the actual past to ground them…

Z:  That way, readers can be immersed completely in the stories and feel that they’re real for the characters and themselves.

~ Zoë  and Nico

www.zoearcherbooks.com

http://nicorosso.com/

 

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I have a deliciously exotic post for you for Steampunkapalooza. Today, April 12, is national licorice day. Those amazing ancient Egyptians were the first to discover the wonders of licorice. Generous amounts of licorice were found in King Tut’s tomb and the use of licorice in an ancient beverage is recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Victorians loved licorice. It’s a perfect candy for a tea party. You can place a stick of it in your tea to stir it. Also a crystal dish filled with colorful Licorice Allsorts, a favorite English candy since 1899, will liven up your tea table. Of course licorice was just one of many ancient Egyptian influences on Victorian culture.

Constance Collier as Iras in Ben Hur, 1902

Constance Collier as Iras in Ben Hur, 1902

The Victorians loved costumes and Cleopatra influenced costumes were quite fashionable, used in the theater and to wear to balls. Of course actual Ancient Egyptian clothing and the Victorian idea of it were two different things. Pictured here are actresses Constance Collier, Sarah Bernhardt, and Maud Allan.

Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra in the 1890 production of Victorien Sardou’s Cléopâtre, and on the right, above, Maud Allan as Samone, 1910

Also, Inspired by authentic Victorian fashion plates of Egyptian costumes, the Steam Ingenious Cleopatra fancy dress project is recreating the gown Lady Paget wore to the 1875 Delmonico Ball in New York City. The portrait and photo of Lady Paget in the costume along with several fashion plates of Cleopatra style gowns are pictured on the blog.

The Egyptian Revival period also influenced Victorian furnishings.This chair belonged to Empress Josephine.

Victorians were fascinated with Egyptian mummies and unwrapping parties were quite stylish. George Mann tied Steampunk with mummy unwrapping in a wonderful scene in The Osiris Ritual. Here’s an excerpt from a Victorian mummy unwrapping party in the Steampunk/Romance, As Timeless As Magic.

Mister Mugrage yanked a strip of linen wrapping, tugging it off as he circled the mummy, unraveling it. He withdrew an amulet from the linen gauze and held it up. “Our first party favor. Who wants this lovely turquoise scarab?”

A lady in a large hat and a blue gown fluttered her fan. “I do, Mister Mugrage.”

“Madame Mills, by all means, this little gem is yours. It shall bring you great luck.” Mister Mugrage placed the treasure in the woman’s gloved hand as she giggled with glee.

Heru loosened his cravat before he gagged. The crowd’s thunderous applause fueled his anger. These amulets protected the deceased, helped him find his way in the afterlife, and this ridiculous man handed them out as party favors.

Mister Mugrage continued unraveling the mummy until he came upon the next find, a small hawk carved from blue lapis. He handed it to a man with a protruding belly and white beard, dressed in black trousers, a gray coat, and a green cravat. Heru fought the urge to grab the amulet back from the man‟s chubby fingers.

No sooner had the other guests congratulated the man than Mister Mugrage yanked the wrappings again. “Here we have a hollow gold beetle.” He placed it in Felicity’s hand. “What is this symbol on the top?“

Felicity peered at the golden insect, examining it closely. “Two crossed arrows over a shield, the symbol of Goddess Neith, deity of the hunt.”

“Who will have this fine beetle?” Mister Mugrage flashed a broad grin.

Heru wanted to yell for them to stop as he stood helplessly by, watching a corpse being violated for nothing but the fleeting pleasure of shallow people. He accidentally bit his tongue. He grabbed his jaw, and rubbed it.

A woman held up her dainty hand netted in a lacy glove. Felicity gifted the lady with the beetle amulet.

As Mister Mugrage unwound more linen gauze, he discovered a small statue with the body of a man and the head of a jackal.

“Anubis.” Finally, an idea struck. Heru swiftly stuck out his hand, almost grabbing the amulet. ”May I?” he asked in French.

“Oui.” Mister Mugrage handed it to him.

Heru knew this held the most powerful curse, for the priests who cast spells on the amulets wore the mask of Anubis. He flipped it over and read the hieroglyphic inscription. “You dare to touch this sacred mummy. You mortal man, whose flesh and skull will return to the desert sand. I curse you with the loss of your hands.” Heru clasped the amulet tightly, whispering the spell in Old Egyptian in the parlor just as he would have in the temple of Anubis. “Curse him, who disturbs the dead, who robs what the gods entombed. His hands should be severed if not his head, his cursed fingers doomed.”

“Give me that. Let me read it.” Felicity’s father reached for the amulet to grab it back from Heru. He gasped. His fingers fell limp. Mister Mugrage screamed, “My hands! They are numb, I cannot feel anything.”

Another fun fact, the coolest thing about Steamgyptianpunk is Heron (also called Hero) the Egyptian, in first century AD, invented the steam engine. His aeolipile was the first working steam engine in history.

Along with my  Steamgyptianpunk books, As Timeless As Stone and As Timeless As Magic there are several other steampunk books in my home library with Egyptian influences:  The Osiris Ritual by George Mann, The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, Timeless by Gail Carriger, and Empire of Ruins by Arthur Slade.

My Contest to celebrate Steampunkapalooza is a giveaway of a pdf eBook of As Timeless As Stone. Leave a comment below and I’ll choose two winners. Please include your email so I can reach you if you are selected.

Here is a book trailer of As Timeless As stone:

Maeve Alpin

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Today we welcome Karen from Teen Librarian Toolbox — it’s time to get crafty! You don’t have to be an artisan to make Steampunk crafts. Here’s some ideas for kids and adults alike.

Steampunk Crafts

By Karen from Teen Librarian Toolbox

As part of Steampunkpalooza with author Suzanne Lazear, we are bringing you today some excellent Steampunk Crafts.

Steampunk USB Drive (using Polymer clay)
Ehow takes you through the 7 easy steps to make a fantastic Steampunk USB Drive.  If you search on Etsy and Deviant Art you will see that people are making and selling all kinds of Steampunk USB drives for quite a chunk of change.

Steampunk Jewelry
There are a variety of books out there that discuss making jewelry out of everyday things found in your toolbox.  These are all easily adaptable to make some amazing Steampunk inspired jewelry.

You can also use Pull Tabs, Beading Wire and Small Beads to make jewelry, like these ear rings found on Flickr. There are also step by step instructions over at Wiki How on how to make a pull tab bracelet. 

Check out these and other jewelry books at your library for tips, tricks & inspiration

(more…)

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

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Steampunk Role-Playing

By PJ Schnyder 

 

Steampunk? Role-playing game? The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences?

Yes!

42bweb02I’ve been a part of the steampunk community for a couple of years now, with two short stories published (Evie’s Gift and A Swan in Siam). I’ve written more and look forward to the day those stories are available, but all good things come with time, do they not?

In the meantime, I’d continue working on my various series in other genres and build my offerings for my readers.

Then I was approached with a most unique steampunk opportunity. When Galileo Games asked me to join the team as the writer of a role playing game adaptation of one of my favorite steampunk series, I immediately accepted. Then I bounced around and did a happy dance. Aiyeee!

Ahem.

TftA2_siamWriting a role playing game is very different from writing a novel, novella, or even a short story. There’s a different structure to presenting the game, for one thing. Crafting the setting, world building, and character creation is more about “telling” in an engaging way than about “showing” the reader. Beyond the technical writing aspect, I wanted to create a role playing game that would draw people in, tease them into playing, even if they’d never played such a game before.

Have you ever read a book and daydreamt of being a character in that world? Come, role play, and become an Agent of the Ministry Initiative.

The Ministry Initiative is based on the incredible steampunk books of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Tee Morris & Pip Ballantine. Not only do I get to poke Tee and Pip for details on the fantastic world they’ve created, but I also get sneak peeks into what’s in store for our brave agents, Books and Braun. 😉

As a part of this incredible creative team, I can tell you we’ve got a lot of wonderful things in store. There’s an entire anthology of new short stories in the works, with contributions from incredible authors such as Kady Cross, Leanna Renee Hieber, Tiffany Trent, Tracy Hickman…and so many more! This anthology, the Ministry Protocol, will launch alongside the role playing game I’m writing, the Ministry Initiative, in a month-long Kickstarter event beginning on May 15th. Supporters of the Kickstarter will have access to unique rewards and fun insight into the world of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.

As a little pre-game to the big events, I’m doing a giveaway right here, right now. Enter to win your choice of an ecopy of one my steampunk short stories: Evie’s Gift or A Swan in Siam. Hope you enjoy!

Grab your goggles, pull your corset strings tight, and get ready for one heck of an adventure in the coming months. 😉

~PJ

Play find the PJ around the Internetz:

http://pjschnyder.com

@pjschnyder

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPJSchnyder

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Today we welcome Maureen O. Betita

I’m Maureen O. Betita, creator of The Kraken’s Caribbean Series and A Caribbean Spell Series. I live in California and am so damned lucky to find Steampunk conventions flourish on the west coast.

 

Steampunk Convention(s)

By Maureen O. Betita

LoreleiΓÇÖs-Song200x300There is nothing like attending a Steampunk convention. Big, little, in a hotel, on a cruise ship, wearing a corset or overalls. It’s just…a world outside of itself. And inside itself. I often feel as if anything could happen at one of these conventions.

Dr. Who could wander thru one of these wonderful events and no one would blink. Captain Jack Sparrow, Sherlock Holmes (pick your favorite)…and Jack the Ripper, Mr. Hyde, Dracula. As if there is a huge neon sign blinking into the cosmos – ALL ARE WELCOME!

Flash Gordon? Come on in! Ming the Merciless? We have a table for you right over here. Miles Vorkosigan? Luke Skywalker? Captain Nemo! Love the turbin, let me set your sword over here…

Wander any Steampunk conference and you’ll see it all. If you open your eyes and look. James West and Artemis Gordon just wandered thru the ballroom, Jim took a spin with that redhead sporting tentacles under her skirt…

Music plays, commerce takes place, couples wander, arm in arm, posing for pictures. Tea is served, battles are discussed, as are great scientific accomplishments. The man from SETI is in the forward meeting room, setting up a slideshow. The company following whales from the dirigible are babbling about how close they got to a mother and calf, migrating to Alaska.

And off in a corner, there are shadows and strange meetings. Beneath the haunting music of Unwoman  a writer huddles, scratching away at her tablet, beset with an idea…

I was that writer. Aboard the Queen Mary at Her Majesties Royal Steampunk Symposium, Long Beach, California. I thought, what if…

smallprayerAnd Lorelei’s Song was born. My newest release from Decadent Publishing, a mix of Steampunk/horror/erotic romance. What makes it Steampunk? It takes place at a Steampunk convention, mostly. What makes it horror? Well, the descendants of Cthulhu are stalking their prey. What makes it erotic romance? There are two of them and one of her and she wants to be caught.

Cthulhu was part of the Steampunk con on the Queen Mary. The Sunday morning service was in homage to his great tentacleness and from there…I knew. I had to see his horribleness wander a convention.

For those who don’t know who Cthulhu is…get thee to Wikipedia! His immensity has become a bit of the patron god of Steampunk. Born of the imagination of H.P. Lovecraft…or channeled, who knows… he’s taken the world by steam! And his distant sons take Lorelei…

Here’s an excerpt, the men are setting up the Steampunk convention, hoping to find the one woman who can help them remain sane and handle the strength of their passion… Unknown to them, she’s in the room. Instincts try to take control…

His nostrils caught the perfume of something different. Spicy, with a hint of dry driftwood, it wafted in the air and he froze. Damn, what the hell was that? He started at a sharp rap on the table. “Fuck.”

“Get up here!” A kick arrived with the plea.

He rose, rubbing his head, to find Jerrod snatching up a pair of goggles and sliding them on.

“What the hell?”

“My eyes. I can’t—” His kinsman turned his back on the nearly empty room. “I smelled something odd and—”

“Okay, okay. Sit and—”

“Get me the hell out of here!”

Jerrod gripped his arm tightly, head turned so Nicholas could glimpse the shadow of the change on his cheek bones.

Nicholas didn’t think. He wrapped his arms around his cousin and pulled him down to the shadow of the table. Lowering a hand, he gripped the steel-rod erection he knew he’d find beneath the loose pants.

Holding the rigid cock, he whispered, “I smelled her, too. She’s out there. You just have to be stealthy. Be the monster who stalks. Blend in. We’ll find her.”

 “I…want….”

The hollow echo of the deepest crevasse of the ocean reverberated against Nicholas’s bones in the low voice.

“Yeah, we’re gonna find her, and we’re gonna fuck her, and this time, we aren’t going to hold back.”

……

Lorelei’s Song – available as an ebook at Decadent, Amazon, Smashwords and most e-outlets.

Tell me of your favorite monster and who you would like to see wander a Steampunk convention. One random comment will win a copy of Lorelei’s Song.

~Maureen

www.maureenobetita.com

 

Decadent http://www.decadentpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=751&osCsid=od4lb7goki9vvlpaa1t5519og7

 Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Loreleis-Song-ebook/dp/B00C2FCZ4U/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1364509074&sr=8-3&keywords=Lorelei%27s+Song

 Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/300475

 

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Today we welcome Lady Jane Summers from the Airship Vindus.

Lady Jade Summers is both a person and a character on the Airship Vindus, part of the Steamworks & Shadows universe. The observations she makes are her own and does not necessarily reflect on the Vindus crew as a whole.

 

Zero Budget Film Making, Or, How To Tell Stories On Film With Not Very Much At all

By Lady Jade Summers of the Airship Vindus

_DSC3830I’ll begin with a disclaimer here: Steamworks & Shadows, the 9-episode webseries telling the story of the Airship Vindus versus the Veritas Academy (and assorted characters), has not been made yet. That’s being produced this summer. So even as I write authoritatively here about zero-budget film making, there is still much we have to learn. It may be even more interesting and instructive to read a blog post from me on the same topic in a few months’ time.

However, we haven’t been idle – haven’t been idle since last August, in fact. We’ve gone from a motley group of strangers to an up-and-coming name in the Midwest (successfully running a fundraising campaign for our films) and we have produced several webisodes, shorts, vignettes, trailers (and one rickroll). We are deep into the pre-production for our 9-episode webseries.

None of us have had any formal training in making films or videos.

Here is what we have learned, in three parts.

1. Story

2. People

3. Execution

Let us begin with:

STORY

If you’re anything like me, your main experience with the process of film making came from watching the making-of documentaries for big Hollywood movies and sometimes the director’s commentaries on the DVDs. I’d fast-forward through all the actors talking and plot recaps to get to the good stuff – the filming part (preferably with explosions) and the special effects (also often concerning explosions.)

It’s true that it’s not as much fun to watch a bunch of people sitting around a table with a bunch of paper. But I know now that that is arguably the most important part of making a film of any size: the story and characters, and the writing of. It doesn’t matter if you’re dreaming of a one-person monologue in front of a webcam or a full cast production like we’re about to attempt. Without a compelling story and characters people care about, you’re sabotaging yourself from the starting gate.

This is absolutely key. You can’t skip this step to get to the explosions. (Otherwise Michael Bay would be hailed as an auteur.)

Fortunately for the zero budget aspect of this, imagination and paper don’t cost much. Free tutorials and writing guides abound on the Internet. You’ll be swimming in a sea of well-meaning advice from friends and family, too. Things like Pixar’s 22 Rules of Writing  make the rounds when you’re not even looking for them. I won’t go much into the finer points on crafting story and character, as those writing guides do a much better job of it (suggested reading: Stephen King’s “On Writing” ). You’ll also find plenty of tutorials and free script software to help you transform your story into standard script format.

Three observations, however:

– Inspiration comes from everywhere.

I’ll go ahead and assume you’re a steampunk and therefore a bit of a geek. You’ll have been steeped in examples of your favorite authors’ writing, and your favorite films, your whole life. Reread and rewatch them, but pay attention this time as a student, not a consumer. Study how the masters practice their crafts – pacing, timing, dialogue, exposition vs. action, camera angles, framing, and on and on.

Find other books and films within the genre of your production and study them. It’s cheaper than taking classes.

– For a first-time production, try to write characters within your comfort zone (and your actors’ comfort zones).

It’s tough enough trying to make a film on zero budget without taking the kinds of risks that could cause problems for even experienced filmmakers. Unless you happen to have friends/castmembers who have vast previous experience with avant-garde material, it’s easier to write characters that your cast can get along with in their heads. They’ll come out much more naturally.

– SHOW, DON’T TELL.

You must remember that the characters living in your head are much more fascinating and interesting to you, the creator, because you know them intimately. You know their secrets. Your intended audience does <i>not</i> know them intimately and so you must assume them unimpressed unless you “sell” them on the universe you’ve been dreaming about. Do not assume your characters are cool. You have to show them that your characters are cool.

The crew of the Airship Vindus has been living with our characters in our heads for anywhere between a few months to two or more years. We’ve lived with the Vindus universe for over six months. We’ve developed whole pages of backstories and inside jokes between all of us that you’ll find us giggling madly about if you catch us at the right (or wrong) moment. None of this matters if it doesn’t make it into the writing in a convincing way.

But now we come to a stumbling block – suppose you’re not a writer. Suppose you are talented in all respects except writing. This leads us into the next part of zero budget film making:

PEOPLE

It’s extremely tempting to take every single rein of control as you frantically try to nurse your dream production into fruition. Writer-director-editor-producers aren’t that uncommon on indie projects, and even lauded. Especially on a zero budget, as you have to ask people to work for you for free, it’s often just easier to do everything yourself.

This, taken too far, is a genuine mistake. Our Steamworks & Shadows director, Ben Watkins, has a story to tell about his first ever Star Wars fanfilm from years ago – he tells it better than me, so you’ll have to ask him when next you see us – but it generally goes something like this: he tried to take every single rein of control, the film is now locked away very deep where none of us have seen it, and Ben has since embarked on a saner mode of operation.

The advice runs thus: surround yourself with people smarter than you.

As the creator(s), micromanaging is going to come very easily, but you have to know that you cannot be all things to all people. Rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel, find someone who already has a wheel or already knows how to build it.

To that end, mine your contacts list and your friends groups. If you’re already a member of other geek subcultures and scenes, so much the better – you’ll be starting with more than zero. Geeks tend to come with all sorts of varied background knowledge ranging from writing to costuming to construction to photography to acting to marketing, all useful skills. And if you’re friends, they’ll be more willing to work for you for free.

Stage32.com is a good resource for when you need to cast your net wider. It’s sort of a social network for theater/movie people, though, of course, the catch is that you’ll have to find people willing to work for free. (A note: asking people to work for free is not as galling when you offer to pay for their gas and also provide food.)

Once you’ve got people working with you, here are two more observations:

– Maintain clear, open lines of communication.

This is a kind of universal piece of advice applicable to anyone who has worked on any kind of project for school, work, or a hobby. Insert any other knowledge you have for managing groups of people. Make use of Facebook or Google Docs/Calendar (or preferred communicating tools of choice) to keep everyone up-to-speed and organized.

– Treat your production as WORK.

Friends are awesome, and you benefit from already having some rapport rather than starting from scratch with strangers, but the biggest pitfall of working with friends is that you don’t have clearly agreed-upon boundaries and expectations. This may lead to excuses, missed deadlines, lowered standards, hurt feelings over miscommunications, and a muddled workflow that will hinder your project.

Though not everybody needs one, sometimes it helps to have a written contract. It’s useful to have a clear delineation between “right now we are friends” and “right now we are coworkers.” And the other unpleasant part is deciding what to do when someone just is not pulling their weight or flaking one too many times. It’s easiest to treat it the way you’d treat a situation at work – conflict mediation, action plans, or ultimately removing them from the project if it comes to that.

Now that we’ve got a story and people – now we get to the bit of the making-of documentary with explosions in it (sort of):

EXECUTION

We’ll divide this section into three parts: Equipment, Filmcraft, and Publicity. I’m not going to write step-by-step tutorials, because there are much better tutorials out there for just about everything, and you’ve already got the expertise of your friends and crew to rely on.

EQUIPMENT:

judgefilminggarageThe biggest hit to your nonexistent budget will come from equipment, depending on how high-quality you want the final product to look. If you want to do a Paranormal or Blair Witch-style production (or the aforementioned monologue in front of a webcam), you won’t have to scrounge up quite as many dollars in equipment – but make sure you have a solid grasp of style before you try that, as amateur shakeycam is not a substitute for genuine suspense. (Story, people!)

Generally speaking, for HD-quality, film-quality production, you’ll need:

– A good camera.

This is where you need to research, ask your friends/crew, and make some hard decisions. The cheapest option? Borrowing from someone who already has gear. Otherwise, the typical DSLR will start at $700 and keep going up. I’m a big fan of Canon DSLRs because I have prior training from journalism school.

BorrowLenses.com is a fantastic resource for people without the budget to buy a full-blown film-quality camera. The site allows you to rent camera bodies, lenses, and other equipment for up to 4 weeks for a fraction of the cost of buying. However, figuring out what to rent takes a bit of specialized knowledge, so crowdsource your research and ask your knowledgeable friends.

For learning how to use a DSLR camera, Vimeo’s series of tutorial videos are invaluable.

– A tripod.

For steadying your shots, and one of the most important differences between a production that screams “amateur” and a production that doesn’t scream “amateur” quite so loudly.

– Audio equipment.

Good, clean audio is also one of the key differences between amateurs and pros. Find tutorials for rigging up boom mikes (the microphone on a long stick that you see in the making-of documentaries). You can record into the camera, or scrounge up a field recorder, which start around $100.

Substitutes, tricks, cheats, and tutorials for improvising more complex equipment (steadicams, glidecams, cranes) are just a Google away. Lighting is also important, but again, you’ll find plenty of suggestions for cheaper alternatives to the professional stuff.

FILMCRAFT:

Filmcraft is more than yelling “Quiet on the set!” and “Action!” (Though both are extremely useful phrases.) There is a reason why people go to film school to learn it, but as you might be beginning to suspect, there are now tons of resources online for learning good camera angles, how to compose a fight scene, making a shotlist, and so on.

Indymogul is a good start. Make sure to check out all of their Friday 101 videos.

Five observations:

– Analyze films and TV shows.

As you begin to learn the vocabulary of filmcraft, start analyzing all of the media that you consume. Take note of how many shots a single dialogue scene is composed of. Notice how cinematographers frame their subjects to create a mood or atmosphere. Analyze when directors choose to use wide-angle shots and when they use close-ups. Like in most art forms, copy your favorite directors. As you copy, you’ll improve your own skill.

– Set a schedule.

And stick to it.

– Scout locations.

With your cinematographer(s), go out to as many of your chosen locations as you can before the shoot day(s). The better you know the lay of the land, the better you can plan your shotlist, visualize your angles, and make backup plans for when you inevitably improvise. Otherwise, you may waste hours setting up on the day of, and you’ll almost certainly run into surprise Dumpsters or other eyesores you weren’t expecting.

Also, make sure your permits are in order.

– Make a shotlist.

This was one of the biggest timesavers for us when we filmed “Doomsday.” It cut a potentially 8-hour shoot day down to five hours, simply because we could just move along down the list instead of improvising angles on the spot. This is basic preparation.

Vimeo tutorial

– Delegate.

Trust your crew to do the jobs you chose them to do.

These observations are not intended to be comprehensive, just helpful tips that might speed your production along. And while I’ve emphasized the importance of research quite a bit here, I have to add that the best way to learn and practice is to simply pick up the your camera and do it. Don’t wait for your big masterwork – make plenty of small, short, practice projects to improve your techniques and make all your mistakes <i>before</i> you pour your soul into the Dream Project.

PUBLICITY

With the internet, you can publicize your production far and wide. Take copious notes from professional and amateur productions that you admire.

– Choose a platform to host your videos on.

Options include YouTube, Vimeo, and Blip.tv. Most people choose YouTube because it’s the most common, has a huge existing community, and has the potential for monetization. Vimeo is regarded more as “the artist’s” platform and does handle HD video beautifully. I don’t have any experience with Blip.tv, but hey, it may turn out to be the one for you.

– Social media.

The most common advice I’ve gotten is to build your fanbase even before you open your fundraising campaign or publish your production. To this end, it’s almost requirement nowadays to have at least a Facebook and Twitter presence. Register your username, spend some time on those accounts exploring the existing genre/film communities there, and get your name out there. Other social media include Tumblr, Pinterest, and (for steampunks) The Steampunk Empire.

– Be consistent.

The fastest way to lose your fanbase is to go on hiatus or become inactive for a while. Keep your fans updated on your progress, even small ones – we like to know how you’re doing.

– Crowdfunding.

This is the route we chose to try to get to a not-quite-zero budget. The most popular sites are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. You’ll have to consider timing very carefully – if there are too many crowdfunding projects going around your subculture, you may get lost in the noise. In any case, here are two articles to help you along.

http://johntrigonis.com/2011/06/27/the-tao-of-crowd-funding-three-ps-for-a-successful-film-campaign/

http://blogs.indiewire.com/tedhope/john_t_trigonis_on_the_tao_of_crowdfunding_twitter_tips_for_crowdfunders

Whew, I think that’s everything. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail us at info@airshipvindus.com (or Google us, we’re pretty contactable).

~Lady Jane

 

 

 

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It’s time for Steampunkapalooza–our annual month-long blog party filled with special guests, prizes, and mayhem.

It also means that Steamed is four. Yes, we’ve been running this blog for four years. Launch the cupcake cannons.

So, thank you so much for making this blog a success, and here’s to many more years of Steamed.

Here’s this year’s Steampunkapalooza schedule-check back often and enjoy!

Steampunkapalooza2013sm (1)

Monday April 1 – Kickoff

Tuesday April 2—Deliah Dawson

Wednesday April 3—Airship Vindus

Thursday April 4–Maureen O. Betita

Friday April 5–Seleste DeLaney

Monday April 8–PJ Schnyder

Tuesday April 9–Deborah Schneider

Wednesday April 10—Teen Librarian Toolbox

Thursday April 11–Kate Milford

Friday April 12—Maeve Alpin

Monday April 15—Zoe Archer and Nico Rosso

Tuesday April 16—Karina Cooper

Wednesday April 17—Cindy Spencer Pape

Thursday April 18—Theresa Meyer

Friday April 19—Colleen Gleason

Monday April 22—Caitlin Kittredge

Tuesday April 23—TBD

Wednesday April 24-Kassy Taylor

Thursday April 25—Veronique Chevalier

Friday April 26–Syfer Locke

Monday April 29—Raye Dean

Tuesday April 30—Closing Party

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This is the final post in Steampunkapalooza. Thank you so much for making it a success, once again.  Stay tuned for winners.   Don’t forget, our Gadget Contest ends tonight, so get your entries in.  Our signed book contest ends tonight as well–we have signed copies of two great books up for grabs.

Today we welcome author Nico Rosso.  Night of Fire will be available on July 10th from Avon Impulse.

Taking the “What If?” and Making it a Reality

by Nico Rosso

Steampunk was real.  In a way.  Imagine you’re a farmhand in the 1870s, taking a rare day off to visit the county fair.  And there you see a man on a steam-powered bicycle.  It would’ve looked like science fiction come to life.  The way technology was evolving, there was always a new and amazing machine just around the corner.  Now, the steam powered bicycle wasn’t very practical, but giant agricultural machines and new developments in trains were quickly implemented and brought into the world.  In a time when many people still made their own tools by hand, it must’ve seemed like fantasy made real.

So my job in writing steampunk is to create new technology that captures the same excitement and wonderment for a modern reader.  A steam train, or a Gatling gun, while groundbreaking at the time, are too familiar now.  The technology has to be pushed further.  The Gatling gun turns into a Gatling rifle, fired from the shoulder and wound with a clockwork mechanism.

The hero of my first steampunk western Night of Fire: The Ether Chronicles has one of these rifles.  Together with the heroine, they fight against a mining company that wants the land around their town.  But again, things need to be escalated beyond the familiar.  Instead of the evil mining company trying to buy up the land, they’ve sent a thirty foot rolling machine that can eat through the side of a mountain or level a whole town.

While my wife, Zoë Archer, and I were working on creating the world of The Ether Chronicles, we looked for new ways to let the steampunk elements drive the plot, while keeping the humanity consistent.  It had to be grounded.  If we were writing straight historical, then the inventions would seemantastic.  But for our characters, each development is consistent with the world they live in.  They can still marvel at the airships and motor-driven stagecoaches, just like that real farmhand in the 1870s, but because they understand them, it makes it that much more real for the reader.

And that’s the great fun of steampunk: taking the “what if?” and making it a reality.

So my question to you is: What real technology from the Wild West would you like to see in a steampunk setting?

Skies of Fire: The Ether Chronicles by Zoë Archer is available now.  Night of Fire, my western set in the same world will be available on July 10th from Avon Impulse.

~Nico Rosso

http://nicorosso.com

Follow me here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.gaslightgathering.org

 

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Get those gadgets in!  You don’t want to miss out on our really cool prizes.  Our gadget contest ends 4/30/12.  https://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/steampunkapalooza-prizeapalooza-ends-43012/

Also, our signed book giveaway also closes 4/30/12. 

Today we welcome a very talented author who writes under many names…

Kady Cross and Kate Cross are both pseudonyms for USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Smith. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and a pride of cats. She likes singing with Rock Band on the 360, British guys, Vietnamese food, and makeup (she’s hopelessly addicted to YouTube makeup tutorials!). When she’s not writing she  likes to catch up on her favorite TV shows, read a good book or make her own cosmetics.

I Love Writing Steampunk
By Kady/Kate Cross

Steampunk saved my career. That might sound overly dramatic, but it’s true! For years I wrote historical romance as Kathryn Smith – romance that got me on the USA Today list – and then something changed. I wrote 5 vampire novels that readers loved, but when I decided to go back to straight historical romance, my readers didn’t follow. People wanted more vampires from me, and I didn’t have any more to give. What was I going to do? I didn’t want to do more vamps, but I didn’t want to do straight historical either. I wanted to do something different.

Around this time I was approached by a former editor of mine who now worked at Harlequin. She asked if I was still interested in doing more YA novels because Harlequin had just recently launched their teen imprint. I said, “Heck, yeah!” and she asked what I had in mind. I really don’t know where it came from – I just asked myself what would be the most fun. I replied, “Teen X-Men meets League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” The Steampunk Chronicles was born that day. I renamed myself Kady Cross and set out to write Steampunk Young Adult fiction. The first book was The Girl in the Steel Corset. The second is The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, and it comes out May 23rd. It got a rare starred review from Kirkus and I’m terribly proud of it.

It wasn’t long after selling The Steampunk Chronicles that I started giving serious thought to what I was doing with my adult books. It was time to change. I’m not usually a brave person – impulsive, yes. Anyway, I made the decision to say good-bye to Kathryn Smith for a while and reinvent myself completely. Since I was already writing as Kady Cross, I decided to write adult Steampunk as Kate Cross. I put together a proposal for a Steampunk romance, gave it to my fabulous agent and… waited. Not for long, though. Next thing I knew I was writing for Signet Eclipse.

So there I was with a fresh start sprawled out before me. Terrifying and exciting. I let my fans know about the change and started writing. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. Everything was new and sparkling before me! It was also scary. I loved my former publisher and former editor, and now I was with someone else who didn’t know my quirks and neurosis. I’ve always sought to turn in the best book of my ability, but now I felt like I had something to prove. I wanted to write the most fabulous book I could – my career depended on it. I’d taken a huge risk to write this book, and I needed to make the risk worth it.  I needed to write a romance I wanted to read, and I needed to put my heart into it. I had to bring it.

And I think I did it.

On May 1st, 3 weeks before the release of The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, Heart of Brass will hit shelves with its gorgeous gold and purple cover. Romantic Times gave it 4.5 stars and called it ‘riveting from beginning to end.” I think it’s one of, if not the, best romance I’ve ever written, and I’m extremely proud of it. Was it worth the risk of starting over? Definitely. Steampunk has breathed new life into my career, while allowing me to continue writing in a historical setting. I think the genre is here to stay – at least for a good long while, and I cannot wait to write more of it!

~Kate/Kady Cross
KadyCross.com
KateCross.com

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Today we welcome author Kiki Hamiltom.

Kiki Hamilton is the author of the YA historical fantasy series: THE FAERIE RING, and a YA contemporary story entitled THE LAST DANCE.  Visit her at http://www.kikihamilton.com

Just the Facts, M’am….Blending Historical Fiction and Fantasy

by Kiki Hamilton

When writing my YA historical fantasy, THE FAERIE RING, my goal was to try to immerse the reader in Victorian London, make it as real as possible, but then add a slightly fantastical twist. To that end, I worked hard to make all of the historical facts accurate and true to London 1871.

My research was multi-pronged as I had to research both Victorian London and the history of faeries in the British Isles. Luckily, I found both to be fascinating topics! While I wrote the first draft of The Faerie Ring in a fairly short amount of time, I spent quite a bit of time in revision enriching the historical details and checking for accuracy.

I’d never been to London when I started writing, and actually didn’t know much about the City.  It was really quite fortuitous that I had set my main character living in Charing Cross railway station, which is the true heart of London and the point from which all distances are measured to this day.

The Faerie Ring is set in 1871 because that’s the year one of my characters, Prince Leopold, (Queen Victoria’s youngest son, was 18.) My research was conducted through a variety of sources – several books were a wonderful resource: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool (Simon & Schuster 1993) and Victorian London, The Tale of a City 1840-1870 by Liza Picard (St. Martin’s Griffin 2005). Additionally, I used online resources including Google Earth.

After I’d sold the book, but before I’d worked on any editorial revisions, I had the opportunity to visit London for the first time. It was a wonderful experience and so helpful in writing this book. As everyone knows, London is an ancient city with so much history oozing out of the buildings and sidewalks, it can’t help but to inspire a writer! I got to walk in my main character’s footsteps from Charing Cross to St. James Park to Buckingham Palace and more.  The trip was surreal and fantastic (!!!) and very beneficial in filling in some of the more oblique, but very important concrete details.

For faeries, I did a ton of research into the wide and varied history within the British Isles through a combination of online research and books. Additionally, part of the world is completely imagined – one that I’ve envisioned and created – based on folklore and the lives of my characters.

Of course, some of the challenges in writing historical fantasy is that the author is faced with writing about an era that they can never actually visit and in the case of THE FAERIE RING, a race (faeries) that are imagined.  But for a fantasy writer – that’s the fun part!

~Kiki Hamilton

http://www.thefaeriering.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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