Archive for the ‘victorian sexuality’ Category

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Or not.

Today is a happy day when you’re in love. Every shop has heart-shaped chocolate boxes and silly plush animals holding “I luv u” hearts. Jewelry stores have specials on diamonds and rings. Couples choose this day to get married or propose. My husband proposed on Valentine’s Day 14 years ago.

It’s all so very romantic…if you’re in love.

If you’re heartbroken or you’re alone or, worse, you’re recovering from intimate partner violence, nothing can seem more cruel than Valentine’s Day because cupid’s arrow has fractured your very soul.


Start with a short story for under $2.00, some less than $1,00! That’s less than a good cup of coffee (or any cup of coffee, really).

  • Clockwork Heart,” only $1.49 on Kindle, tells a story about a man who went to horrific lengths to keep his love alive. Written in the Victorian style of H. G. Wells.
  • Heart of Stone, Flesh of Ice,” only $1.49 on Kindle, is based in Japanese Mythology about a supernatural creature who punishes those who exploit, disrespect, and deceive women.
  • The Handy Man,” only $1.99 on Kindle, is an erotic Steampunk story about a man who goes into the business of pleasing women.
  • A Kiss in the Rain,” only $0.99 on Kindle, is an erotic Gothic love story about a man who couldn’t let go of his wife, even after death.
  • Of Aether and Aeon,” only $0.99 on Kindle, is the first short story I wrote. It’s a tragic tale of a woman trapped in a time loop of falling in love and watching her lover die.
  • Zeppelin Dreams,” only $0.99 on Kindle, tells the tragic story of a woman waiting for her phantom lover.

If you want to take a bigger leap, or if you already know you love my writing, please support my work by buying one of my novels:

  • Avalon Revisited. My first novel, and the Amazon.com Gothic Romance bestseller, not to mention Steampunk Chronicles Best Novel for 2012. Available in paperback, Kindle, and other eBook versions. $9.62 paperback; $5.99 Kindle.
  • Avalon Revamped, its sequel, of sorts. This horror steampunk novel follows Constance, a succubus who punishes men that hurt women. Perhaps Arthur is next. $11.66 paperback; $5.99 Kindle (or borrow for FREE with Amazon Prime)
  • The Zombies of Mesmer, the first Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter novel. Teen Steampunk Romance. $11.66 paperback; $3.99 Kindle.
  • The Ghosts of Southwark, its sequel. $11.28 paperback; $5.99 Kindle.

Additionally, more of my work can be found in anthologies and magazines on my Amazon Author Page.

May you all find love, ecstasy, or sweet revenge this Valentine’s Day.

See you in Denver next month at AnomalyCon!

Come up, shake my hand, and tell me you read me on STEAMED!  x0


OMG_2013Olivia 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 and its sequel Avalon Revamped. 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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GoS_WebBetween now and October 31st I’m giving away several Kindle copies of my works, including the new Avalon Revamped, the eclectic collection Caught in the Cogs, and the teen romance The Zombies of Mesmer. The last is in preparation of The Ghosts of Southwark (its sequel) release on November 1st.

A few of these giveaways have already come and gone. Those who “like” my FB Fan Page were the only ones in the know, so go “like” that page now. You wouldn’t want to miss out on future freebies!

For the others, stay tuned to my Amazon Author Page to see what’s free when between now and Halloween. You’ll get hints as to when the next free book is available on my FB Fan Page.

Additionally, I’ve put up several new, never-before-seen short stories on the Kindle, all for under $2. Steampunk readers will especially be interested in “The Clockwork Heart,” written in the style of H. G. Wells. Here’s what one reader says about it.

This author has captured the feel of a period piece and still engaged the reader in the manner of a modern piece of fiction. Very engaging, her writing casually sneaks in and demands your attention. I enjoyed this story thoroughly.

Here’s a list of all the short stories recently listed on Kindle:

“The Clockwork Heart” – Written in the style of H. G. Wells, this Gothic Steampunk story will make your heart bleed and your skin crawl. $1.49 (FREE with PRIME, as are the rest below)

Inevitable Enlightenment.” Trace the existential thoughts of a zombie after the apocalypse. $0.99

Come to Me.” Jason’s boring Monday turns into one full of adventure and horror when his mother’s strange affliction takes him and his sister around the world. Based in Scottish Mythology. $0.99

The Handy Man.” After losing his hand in a work accident, Linus Cosgriff adapts a new invention to please women and relieve them from symptoms of hysteria. Adult Content. $1.99

Heart of Stone, Flesh of Ice.” Several men mysteriously disappear after a night of passion during a ski vacation. Based in Japanese Mythology. $1.99

Hannah & Gabriel.” Dark Fantasy Steampunk retelling of Hansel & Gretel. $1.99 (This story is also available along with 11 others, poetry, and articles in the collection Caught in the Cogs: An Eclectic Collection for only $2.99.)


OMG_2013Olivia 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 and its sequel Avalon Revamped. 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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Goblin Market has been one of my favorite poems for a long time.  I actually quote part of it in my upcoming YA, Innocent Darkness. Goblin Market is an incredible Victorian poem full of double meaning.  Today I have invited my friend Cassandra Joffre, antiquarian book dealer for Dragon Books to tell us more about it.

“Goblin Market” — a booksellers point of view

by Cassandra Joffre


“She cried ‘Laura,’ up the garden,

‘Did you miss me? Come and kiss me.

Never mind my bruises, hug me, kiss me, suck my juices,

Squeezed from goblin fruits for you, goblin pulp and goblin dew.

Eat me, drink me, love me;

Laura, make much of me…”


My first encounter with “Goblin Market” was in my AP English class in high school. I was about 16 or so – just old enough to realize that there was some deeper meaning to the poem, but not quite old enough to really grasp what that meaning was. It left me uneasy – I had a vague notion that something sexual was being hinted at, and that they weren’t really talking about fruit and goblins, but my sixteen-year-old self just couldn’t believe that we would be reading something sexy in English, especially since the last book we read for class was the Odyssey.

It has been seventeen years (really??) since that English class, and I now find myself working as a rare book dealer- the absolute greatest job I can possibly think of (besides being an astronaut maybe). All kinds of amazing books and manuscripts pass through my hands, ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts and Shakespeare folios, to signed first editions by Charles Darwin and Ernest Hemingway. I literally see and learn something new everyday, and when I am eighty I may just have learned enough to finally get the nerve to audition for Jeopardy! I never know what new books I will find, and I had pretty much forgotten about “Goblin Market” until about three years ago, when we purchased a collection of books on drugs and erotica that included a first edition of Goblin Market and Other Poems. In the original blue ribbed-cloth binding with gold rules to the covers and gold lettering on the spine, the book runs anywhere from $1,200-$3,000, depending on the condition.


First printed in London in 1862 during the height of the Victorian era, it became Rossetti’s best-known book of poems, the book is now considered one of the most important nineteenth century volumes of poetry to be written by a woman. To the modern reader, the subject matter seems shocking given our view of the Victorian era as prudish and repressed. With its subtly erotic undertones, its thinly veiled allusions to drug addiction and rape, and its at times confusing themes of sisterly love and sacrifice, it truly is one of the most seductive and haunting poems of any period.

Born in 1830, Rossetti was the daughter of the Italian poet Gabriele Rossetti and the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet, artist and founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. At the age of fourteen, she had a mental breakdown, which some biographers believe was the result of sexual abuse, possibly at the hands of her father. She was plagued with debilitating bouts of depression for the rest of her life, and often sought solace in religion. She became increasingly devout, and even turned down two marriage proposals because of religious differences. She wrote Goblin Market when she was thirty-one years old, unmarried and living with her mother.

Since its publication, there have been over twenty-two different illustrators for “Goblin Market”, including Laurence Housman, Hilary Paynter, Willy Pogany, Dion Clayton Calthrop and Margaret Tarrant. The first, and my favorite, was Rossetti’s brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His illustrations are still what I picture when I think of the poem, with his slightly masculine but strikingly beautiful and sensual women, and his goblins in the shape of little animal-men.

Probably the most famous and collectible illustrator for “Goblin Market” is Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). Rackham was extremely prolific, illustrating numerous books of fairy tales, but also the works of Shakespeare and Wagner’s Ring Cycle. His illustrations have an ethereal quality, the result of a special three color printing technique he was fond of using. They truly are beautiful – you can expect to pay around $3,000 for a signed limited edition (1933) – $36,000 will get you a deluxe limited edition with an original watercolor by Rackham laid in.

Prior to Rackham’s edition of “Goblin Market,” the poem was never really intended for  children, and in fact Rossetti said as much in a letter to her publisher. Perhaps because most of Rackham’s illustrations had been primarily for children’s books, the “Goblin Market” has apparently ever since been considered a children’s poem! I didn’t really believe people when they told me this, until recently. At a bookfair a few months ago, I found (and bought for $35) an edition of “Goblin Market” illustrated by Ellen Raskin. The illustrations are definitely intended for children, and while Raskin edited many of the verses (including the one I quote at the beginning of this post), I still find it ridiculous that anyone would consider this to be a poem for children!

Whoever the intended audience is, the influence that the poem has had on poetry, art and film (Guillermo Del Toro is said to have drawn inspiration from it for his films “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy”) are undeniable. The poem’s ongoing popularity proves that sex and drugs never go out of style!

~Cassandra Joffre


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If you are into Steampunk, then naturally you’re into Victoriana of one kind or another. As a writer, research is one of my favorite things, and there are three books I’ve kept on my research shelf when dozens of others have been shuffled off to less stellar spots (read cardboard boxes in the attic).

One book is To Marry An English Lord – The Victorian and Edwardian Experience Tales of Wealth and Marriage Sex and Snobbery by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace. While it’s not your typical reference book I absolutely inhaled it. It looks at the idea of marriage from a distinctly Victorian view. It discusses things such as the bidding on American Heiresses to bring money to well-titled, but financially poor English families, the protocol of calling cards, how one gave the cut direct in high society and follows the likes of the American equivalent of Victorian royalty, such as the Vanderbilts and the Astors. It shows a glimpse of what life as a married heiress entailed from luncheons to dealing with one’s spouse. So much fodder for a mind bent on imaginative fiction!

The second is What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew – From Fox Hunting to Whist – the Facts of Daily Life in 19th Century England by Daniel Pool. From finding out how social rank worked, to when to yell “Tally Ho!” during a fox hunt, and how one ended up in debtor’s prison (like Charles Dicken’s father), this book covers the gamut of odd Victorian social norms and customs (for instance did you know that the “plums” in a Christmas plum pudding were really raisins?) If you plan on being one of the aristocracy in your Steampunk costuming or mannerisms, I highly recommend it.

Book number three is really more of a specific book to my current work in progress. It’s A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West – The Reminiscences of Mary Hallock Foote edited by Rodman W. Paul. It’s an autobiography written by a Victorian woman who moved West, and both wrote and illustrated western stories for such magazines as Century and St. Nicholas, but it is not a bunch of dull letters. Instead it is the vibrant account of the struggles of woman on the western frontier who longed for the cultivation and friends she’d left behind back East, but who adored the rugged beauty and opportunity the West offered. The book includes a number of her illustrations.

You see, while we writers do indulge in making up stuff for our fantastical fiction, we actually do research and immerse ourselves in the details of Victorian life now and again. Are there research books you particularly adore?

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Dear Reader,

I would like to begin by saying while I revel in the science and enjoy the Victorian splendor that is in today’s steampunk, I find that there is often something missing…and it’s not steam…it’s steaminess.

Now before you get your bustle in an uproar, take a look at some of the most celebrated authors of other science fiction and action genres, like James Rollins, Michael Crichton and James Patterson. More often that not, they include some relationship (dare I say romantic) element between their characters within the context of the story. And while steampunks are full of science and fantasy elements, I believe they would benefit from a heavier dose of the relationship aspects between the characters.

Why? Because it’s human nature to be interested in the human condition. That’s part of what makes even dystopian fiction possible. There’s been a long-standing tradition among those in the science-fiction genre that says too much steaminess in a story somehow lowers its quality. Why?

After all, when you read a book, is it simply because that character has the coolest raygun in existence, or is it because you actually are curious what will happen to the character once he shoots said raygun and mayhem errupts?

When you meet a couple, do you ask how they met, or do you want to know how often they polish their brass buttons on their captain’s jacket to get them to gleam so well?

Part of the reason I adore Gail Carriger’s steampunk Parasol Protectorate series is because of the relationship between her main characters. The first book especially got me hooked because there was an attraction between Alexa Tarbotti and Lord Macon that was nothing if not steamy.

While the Victorian era was indeed a little more straight-laced about the kinds of affections that could be touted in public, we must remember that this is steampunk. Perhaps being a little steamier requires us to be a little more punk about our perceptions of the era and let those relationships out in the open.

After all, if a woman can wear her undergarments on the outside without steampunk social circles batting an eyelash, why should we not have more steaminess in our steampunk stories? What do you think? Are you for more steam in your steampunk or not? 

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When I volunteered to blog here, I had a look around the internet for information on Steampunk fashion, since that is a subject that fascinates me. In several places, I came across a notion about Victorian fashion that I knew was wrong, and I thought it would be fun to blog about it. Somehow, the idea has gotten fixed in some people’s minds that Victorian fashion was dark and rather gloomy, with an emphasis on black and dark brown. This is simply untrue.

First, I’d like to point out that the Victorian era was a long one, with significant shifts in fashion. I’ve noticed that many Americans think of Victorian times as being limited to the end of the nineteenth century. Actually, the era began in 1837, when Victoria ascended to the throne, and ended in 1901 with her death. Women’s fashion, especially, underwent major changes during those years.

In the beginning of the era, women’s style emphasized sloping shoulders, tiny waist and full, bell-shaped skirts. Women wore enormous bonnets that partially obscured their faces, and their movements were hampered by the many layers of petticoats they used to create the full skirt effect. In the 1850’s, the crinoline was invented, freeing women from the weight of all those skirts, and by the end of the century women’s clothes had taken on aspects of men’s style, such as shirtwaists and tailored suits with exaggerated broad shoulders (although retaining the artificially tiny waist).  Color was used generously throughout the era.

A Victorian lady wearing all-black would generally be assumed to be in mourning. Victorian women loved color in their clothing. Aniline dyes were invented in mid-century, making it possible to create brighter colors than had been available previously, and women took full advantage of this. Even gentlemen wore colorful garments, although their choices were much more subdued generally than the women’s.

I Googled Victorian men’s fashion and found a site called Victoriana, which had some men’s fashion plates for viewing. For the year 1868, from Harper’s Bazaar, I found these colors described: brown, dark claret, blue, drab (beige or light taupe), and gloves of golden brown or maroon. For lounge jackets, the fashion was to make them of gray cloth lined with purple, crimson or green flannel, trimmed with soutache (a kind of braid) in the color of the lining. The magazine also referred to an English style of “full dress”, for evening entertainments, consisting of blue coat, white vest and lavender pantaloons and gloves. In the 1840’s plates, I noticed these colors: black, dark brown, medium brown or tan, navy blue, burgundy, dove grey, a very colorful red spotted or checked fabric on a waistcoat, and several pairs of pantaloons with either striped or checked fabric.

My copy of Mr. Godey’s Ladies (a compendium of the popular magazine) shows much color variation over the decades from the 1830’s to the 1860’s. From the fashion plates, I find rose, blonde (cream or ecru), blush, pale lavender, maize, blue, purple, maroon, black, gray, pearl, plum, and “tan d’or” (a golden tan, judging by the plate). This list comes from just two fashion plates from the years 1858 and 1860.

I also have a copy of La Mode Illustre, a French fashion magazine, for the years 1860 – 1914.  Technically not Victorian, in my opinion, since it’s French and we all know the French and English don’t appreciate being confused with one another, but a beautiful book for anyone interested in the bustle years.  Unfortunately, the pictures are all in black and white, but they do give color descriptions.

Here are the colors given for one plate from 1860: bright blue, orange-and-black striped, black, green edged with black velvet, violet, pale green, white blonde.  This plate describes day dresses, so the bright colors are not only for evening.  Here is another from 1881: “dress of white batiste and blue satin damask” . . . “white broderie anglaise percale dress, over plum surah underdress.”

And speaking of color, I found this amusing tidbit in a book titled Victorian and Edwardian Fashions for Women 1840-1919, by Kristina Harris.  She’s referring to the 1850’s here: “For some time having being (sic) virginally white, petticoats suddently became popular in scarlet red when Queen Victoria was reported to have switched to the color ‘to reawaken the dormant conjugal susceptibility of Prince Albert.’ ”  I had to laugh at that.  I wonder if a red skirt would awaken my husband’s “conjugal susceptibility?”  Not that his is dormant, of course.

Naturally, people working in laboratories and workshops would have worn more practical, and probably dull-colored, garments.  So, if you have a mad scientist, he might not want to be dressed in lavender pantaloons . . . unless he’s attending a party or ball.  Your girl genius might have a work apron over her dress, but if she’s going out in the evening, I say let her go in full color!  It’s perfectly period.

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You’ve got to love Victorian slang.  Who doesn’t love the idea of calling a leg “a limb”?

Recently I was trying to find out the racier slide of Victorian slang for a work-in-progress and thought I’d share a few of my favorite “naughty” Victorian slang and euphemisms.    Some of these are phrases that could be used between loving couples, others were used by polite gentleman looking for a romp separate from marriage, others were used by the lower class—who were much freer with their sexuality.  

Prostitutes—dollymop (an amateur or part-time prostitute), dancer, actress, entertainer, tail, great horizontal (high-class prostitute to the rich), night flower, harlot, toffer (posh prostitute), femme galante, covey (a collection of them), three-penny-upright (cheap and up againt a wall)

Woman of dubious moral virtue/forward girl— mollisher ( a villain/gangster’s woman), tart, bobtail/bangtail/wagtail, dirty puzzle (nasty slut), athanasian wench, quicunque vult, cockish wench, biter, cleaver

Mistress—one’s convenient, tackle, sweet heart (also a girl’s lover), wife in water colors (engagement easily dissolved), left-handed wife

Madam—Abbess, dame de maison, Aunt

Brothel maison de tolérance, bordello, coffee house, cab

Man who cheats—Abbot (favorite client of an Abbess), Corinthian (man who frequents brothels), Dark Cully (keeps a mistress and only visits her in the dark of night)

A woman’s privates—bite, cock alley/cock lane, fruitful vine, (old) hat (frequently felt), laycock (miss or lady), madge, muff, quim

Breasts—dairy, dugs, kettle drums

A man’s privates— arbor vitae, ballocks, bawbels/bawbles, lobcock (large and relaxed), plugtail, tallywag, tools, whore pipe

Backside—blind cupid, cooler, nancy

Sexual acts—beast with two backs (couple in the act), bedfordshire (going to bed), to dock, dog’s rig (to copulate until you’re tired then turn in), melting moments (a large couple engaged in sexual congress), prigging, roger, to ride rantipole (to do it with a tart), wap, tip the velvet (go down on a woman)

~What are your favorite historial slang words?   I have another tiara to give out to one lucky poster.  Who doesn’t need a sparkly tiara?~

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