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Archive for the ‘Visiting Lolitas’ Category

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.)

-_Q

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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1860RickettSteamCarriage_zpsf033c0ee

As promised last month, meet another piece of historical Steampunk technology: The Rickett Carriage. This steam-powered car was made in 1860 by Thomas Rickett, a Castle Foundry manager in Buckingham. His impressive work with steam engines inspired the Marquess of Stafford to order a steam carriage. It had a maximum speed of 19mph. Here is how Wikipedia describes it:

This vehicle had three wheels, the single wheel at the front, and a rear-mounted coal-fired boiler and two-cylinder engine. The boiler pressure was 110 psi, and the cylinders had a bore of 76 mm and stroke of 178 mm. Transmission was by chain to the right-hand rear wheel. A maximum speed of 19 mph was claimed. A boilerman was seated at the rear, and three passengers could sit side by side at the front with the one on the right operating a tiller steering and the regulator, reversing lever and brake. The wheels had iron “tyres”, with the brakes operating on the rear wheels.

Rickett made a second model with a slightly different style for an Earl who used the car to drive an astounding 146 miles in Scotland!

Historically, the machine was short-lived and not terribly many sold, even for the low, low price of £200, but in my novel, Nickie Nick the Vampire Hunter reads about them in the paper and even sees one for herself!

This magnificent machine made it into my teen paranormal romance novel in a chapter called “Nickie Nick Sees a Rickett.” My description of a Rickett in The Zombies of Mesmer:

The alley was quiet this time when I emerged, and the smell of the blood was fading in the freshly falling snow. I went up to the mouth of the alley and stood just out of the light from the nearby gaslamp. The night had barely begun and the streets were rather busy with carriages and full of the sounds of clopping hoofbeats. My mind went back to the beautiful stranger. Where had he come from? Where had he gone to? One hears stories about how something very bad could be happening in an alleyway just adjacent a very busy street, but no one comes to help. I found that hard to believe before tonight.

Yet he had come to help. He had probably saved Conrad’s life.

And he knew vampires existed, that was a definite benefit.

Then the strangest contraption caught my eye. It was a carriage without a horse, clattering down the street with the rest of the carriages. Being the daughter of industrialists, I certainly was not ignorant of modern machinery. After all, mother and father had some quite impressive steam machines that facilitated production in their textile factory. Even Franklin himself came up with truly ingenious inventions just from assembling junk and such, but this was like nothing I had ever seen up close. It looked every bit like a carriage, only instead of four wheels, it only had three, two large ones in back and a smaller one in front. From the large back wheels, chains ran from gears on the wheels to other gears extending from an axle beneath the carriage’s floor. A man sat on the right, fully dressed for the evening in a top hat and fine overcoat, holding onto the steering rod with his left hand and another lever with his right. A woman wrapped in a fur stole and earmuffs sat beside him.

Stepping up to get a closer look as the thing puttered by, I saw that there was a mechanism beneath the carriage floor that turned the gears, which in turn, turned the wheels. I stooped down to get a look of the thing from beneath, but it had already passed. There on the back sat the engine. It looked like a coal boiler and a long pipe extending up from it belched out steam.

“Interesting, no? A far cry from a penny-farthing,” a smooth voice above me said. I stood up quickly to find that it was none other than my beautiful stranger.

“Yes. It is a Rickett Carriage. I read about them, but I have never seen one before. Simply amazing,” I responded calmly, although some rather large fluttery things had taken up residence in my stomach.

“You read, do you? Also interesting. This evening is just full of surprises, is it not, Nick?”

“How do you know my name.” It came out as a whisper, for I was breathless. He filled my world. It was as if all of London fell away from my vision, and there was only him. Black eyes twinkling in the gaslight. One side of his cinnamon lips curled up in a half-smile. Pale skin covered in soot and jaw-hugging sideburns. I shivered, and it was not the cold December night that caused it.

“Your friend said it before. It is beneficial to pay attention to the details in life, don’t you find? I am called Ashe.” He offered a gloved hand. “We were not properly introduced before.”

I took his hand and gave it a manly shake, which was not too difficult with my new strength.

“Strong, too, for such a young lad,” he said, putting his hand back in his pocket.

I felt my brows furrow at this. He thought me a boy, and a kid at that. I was no kid. I was The Protector, after all.

“I’m not all that young.” I deepened my voice perhaps a little too much. My cheeks suddenly felt very hot and flushed, so I turned my face into the cold wind and let the snowflakes cool my no-doubt-rosy-cheeks down. “Bet I’m as old as you.”

Great. That sounded quite mature, Nicole.

“Do you now?” he said. “Thought I told you to stay safe and inside. This is no place for children. Where is your friend. Is he all right?”

I bit my lip to stop from scolding this infuriating man, and I turned back to him, ready to do so anyway. As soon as I caught his eyes again, however, I was unable to speak. Literally. The ability to form words completely escaped me.

Read the rest of the Chapter, or even more of the book, for free on my blog, Caught in the Cogs, or get your very own copy from Amazon.

Return again in two weeks to learn more about real history in fiction.

-_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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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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Today we welcome Bec McMaster.

Award-winning author Bec McMaster lives in a small town in Australia and grew up with her nose in a book. A member of RWA, she writes sexy, dark paranormals and steampunk romance. When not writing, reading, or poring over travel brochures, she loves spending time with her very own hero or daydreaming about new worlds. For more information, please visit http://www.becmcmaster.com/ or follow her on Twitter, @BecMcMaster.

What’s in a name?

 by Bec McMaster

Thanks to Suzanne for inviting me here! Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how my novel, Kiss of Steel, came to be.

One of the things that makes me smile since release is how many readers see Kiss of Steel in a different light. It’s paranormal. No, it’s steampunk. Its listed in the horror section. Um, someone put romance in it… So I’m here to clear up precisely what Kiss of Steel is.

Here’s the thing. I write the story that comes to me and worry about the genre specifics later. The one constant in my stories that it will have romance in it and belong in some sort of spec-fic world, whether that be paranormal-based, dystopian or urban fantasy. I didn’t actually know what Kiss of Steel was until I’d nearly finished myself. There was never a definite, “I’m going to write a steampunk or a paranormal romance”, though I do appreciate that it can fit in both camps and hopefully draw readers in who might not otherwise read it.

When the story and the world hit me (does anyone else get these movies-in-their-head too?), it was almost fully formed. It had vampires and a vague precursor to werewolves. It also had a ruling elite who were infected with a virus that made them crave blood (No, they’re not the vampires. Yet.). In order to protect themselves from the masses after the French turned on their blood-driven aristocracy, they turned to technology to create an enormous automaton army and weapons.

The world was definitely Victorian. I needed a time period when technology was coming to the forefront and certain medical theories were already in place. That was probably my first indication that I was heading down the steampunk path.

The thing with paranormal worlds is that I see them as based on some sort of magic or curse-driven mechanic. There is no magic or paranormal platform in Kiss of Steel, though I appreciate that I’m taking a paranormal-trope and running with it. My vampires are scientific-based, with a virus causing all of their ‘supernatural’ abilities. I had more interest in the craving virus being of a biological nature, rather than a magical one. Perhaps it’s my interest in the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type stories or Frankenstein. Mad doctors, experiments, monsters…

So as you can see, this is why I refer to Kiss as steampunk romance. There are no dirigibles (not in this part of the world or the first book) but technically there are no paranormal elements either by the definition I’ve provided. And the point is… that none of it matters. From what I can tell my readers come from diverse camps and enjoy different aspects of the story.  Some come just for the cover (seriously, you would not believe how many readers follow famous cover model Paul Marron!). As a writer the only time I truly needed to categorise was when it came to shopping to agents or editors.

One of the things that I love about the genre as a whole is that it can be so fluid and genre-bending. I’ve read steampunk with strong horror elements and enjoyed it. I’ve also read it with paranormal or fantasy highlights. The idea that the sky is the limit is incredibly appealing to me and that whole sense of adventure is what I love the most about steampunk.

So what about you? Any great steampunk stories out there with a dash of something else thrown in? Which genre mash-ups do you like best?

~Bec McMaster

http://www.becmcmaster.com/

KISS OF STEEL BY BEC MCMASTER – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2012

A brilliantly creative debut where vampires, werewolves, and clockwork creatures roam the mist–shrouded streets of London…

When Nowhere is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single–handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood–craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.

 

 

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Today we welcome author Candance “Candy” Havens.

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley and now writes for the Blaze line of Harlequin.  She is the also the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, and George Clooney. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1800 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. Find out more at http://www.candacehavens.com

A funny thing happened on the way to writing a Steampunk novel
by Candace Havens

A funny thing happened on the way to writing a Steampunk novel. I love reading them, but didn’t think I’d ever write one. That is, until one day, out of the blue, one of the coordinators for Dallas’ Fen Con asked if I would contribute a short story to their program for the fall con.

When I asked what the theme would be, he told me Southern Steampunk.

I didn’t know what that was.

Luckily, I was at another con in Oklahoma City, and there were several panels/classes about Steampunk. That’s when an idea for a female Sherlock Holmes flashed through my mind. She was on the run, and on the hunt. Boom! Dr. Maisy Clark was born. Her story begins in a cemetery just outside of Fort Worth, Texas, where’s she’s hunting down a paranormal killer. It’s kind of Sherlock Holmes meets the Wild Wild West, with a little Buffy thrown in. She’s tough, kick butt and she always gets her – um, creature.

The story was published in the con program and then a few months later I happened to see a tweet about someone looking for Steampunk stories. I answered back to see if the editor might like to see my short story. She said yes. About an hour later I had a deal to make the story into a novella. Then the next morning she wanted to know if I could do a four-book series with the character.

I’m Candy Havens, so of course I said, “yes.”

Never in my life have I done so much research. Luckily, I’m a big fan of science and gadgets. Some of the items in the book come from real sources – others are ones I made up that I thought might be appropriate for the time. And I’m learning to be a fan of that time period of history. So much happened in the 1890s and it’s fun to weave those facts into the fiction.

Maisy is a scientist, and has her lab on a steam powered train called The Iron Witch. I love trains, and she needed a fast way to get from one state to another. (The first full-length novel takes place in New Orleans.) I loved the fact that she’s searching for these paranormal creatures, and at the same time is a respected scientist. I may have thrown in a handsome U.S. Marshal for her to save. Oh, and there is Barnes, a Scotsman who is her trusty sidekick and former manny. The train is also her home, so each car has a purpose. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you like a paranormal mystery with some steampunk, you might want to check it out.

Iron Demon, the novella will be out in January. I hope you’ll give it a look.

I’d like to know some of your favorite steampunk gadgets, jewelry and stories.

And for the record, I’m now a steampunk addict. Don’t get me started on the steampunk clothing and jewelry on Etsy. (Smile)

~Candy Havens
http://www.candacehavens.com

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Today I welcome back Visiting Lolita Vivien to guest review THE RIFT WALKER, book 2 of the Vampire Empire series.

 

THE RIFT WALKER

Book 2, The Vampire Empire

Clay and Susan Griffith

PYR Books

Review by Vivien

After really enjoying the first book in this trilogy, The Greyfriar, I was very eager to sink my teeth into The Rift Walker. It immediately picks up exactly where The Greyfriar left off. So, if you don’t remember everything, I’d recommend a refresher.

While The Greyfriar was filled with technological advancements and a bloody war, The Rift Walker is more about political intrigue. The schemes and machinations of everyone involved is just utterly fascinating. It held my attention throughout. I can’t divulge any more without completely spoiling it all!

Getting a few different point of views this time around, The Rift Walker takes a slower pace than it’s predecessor. Having linear plot lines that all need to be told can seem tedious at times, but it really fills out the story. You need every bit of information that you’re given.

While the relationship between Adele and The Greyfriar wasn’t in the foreground in The Rift Walker, it still blossoms right before our eyes. Gone is the abrasive tension and replacing it is a more comfortable companionship. Towards the end I really felt their struggle as a whole with the world they live in.

A fascinating sequel to The Greyfriar. While some may not find The Rift Walker as engaging, I think it really adds to the depth of this trilogy. The Griffiths really built on the characters in this sequel. I am on edge for The Kingmakers, the last in the trilogy. I can’t wait to see how all the pieces that they have created, fit together to create one cohesive world.

~Vivien

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Hi everyone!  INNOCENT DARKNESS releases in a week and a half — in fact, pre-orders are already starting to ship!  I’m busy, busy getting everything ready for the blog tour, virtural launch party, launch party, etc. So, I invited Vivian to guest review The Greyfriar for me.  

The Greyfriar, Vampire Empire, Book 1
by Clay & Susan Griffith
PYR 2010
Review by Vivian

The Greyfriar is a standout in the steampunk genre. Set in an alternate world, vampires have taken over much of
the world. In 1870, they emerged as a vicious outbreak and dominated the humans. These vampires aren’t your
friendly sparkling variety. They are omnipotent and diabolical. Having invaded the Northern territories, the
human survivors were forced to move South. The fight for territory would be bloody and deadly.

Princess Adele of Alexandria is set to marry the American Senator Clark. An arrangement the would unify their
people so they can engage is an all out war against the enemy. As her ship is attacked by vampires, Princess
Adele is rescued by a mysterious stranger. The Greyfriar is her savior, but soon the masked crusader is overtaken
and unfortunately, she is kidnapped by the infamous Prince Cesare.

The world building was just magnificent in this novel. There is a lot of it, but it really sets the scene. You can
just visualize the death and brutality in every page. Incorporating airships and weapons to give it a steampunk flair,
The Greyfriar becomes a refreshing vampire novel.

This book really surprised me. I just fell for the Greyfriar. He was mysterious and enigmatic but vulnerable at
times to really draw you in. He is a very complex man and I can’t wait to get past his more of his layers. Adele goes through
her own transformation. She starts off as a naive Princess who grows some spine towards the end of the novel.

The Griffiths really hooked me in creating a world that could mirror our own. Captivating from the start, the action and
adventure will keep you riveted until the end. Blending a budding romance, political conspiracies and vampires, The Greyfriar
is unforgettable.

~Vivian

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As a mom, I love the idea of mother-daughter writing teams. Today we welcome my favorite, Belle and Nancy Holder. They decided to interview each other for this guest article.

New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder (Wicked, Teen Wolf: On Fire) and her daughter, Belle, have written two stories in a Victoriana-steampunk universe starring Lightning Merriemouse-Jones, a time-traveling mouse who devours the works of Jules Verne (literally.) Lightning appeared in Pandora’s Closet and Furry Fantastic, both edited by Jean Rabe and others. They’ve expanded their love of steampunk into cosplay, costuming, and appearing on steampunk panels. Nancy will moderate the steampunk panel at the Big Orange Literary Festival at Chapman College in September, and is writing several steampunk short stories for various anthologies. Belle has been creating a line of steampunk accessories featuring astrolabes.

 

 In Which Belle and Nancy Holder Quiz Each Other on the Subject of Steam

by Belle and Nancy Holder

Nancy’s Interview

Belle: What got you interested in steampunk?

Nancy: I went to the Adventurers Club at Disney world.  Now sadly gone, the Adventurers Club was a gathering of various eccentric characters from the 1930’s who were returning from their exciting travels to spin yarns.  I loved the costumes and the immersive experience. The night was full of whimsy. Steampunk is like that.

Belle:  What is your dream steampunk outfit?

Nancy: A maroon velvet fitted jacket over a black skirt with red lace. I’d like a proper big bustle, high button shoes, a small black and maroon hat, and my own private clockwork carriage.

Belle: Do you see steampunk as a long-lasting fad, or a permanent genre?

Nancy: A permanent genre. It is too fun to lose.

Belle: Whose steampunk world would you live in?

Nancy: Jules Verne’s.

Belle: Is writing steampunk harder or easier than any other genre?

Nancy: Easier, because it is so fun!

 

Belle’s interview

Nancy: Will you outgrow steampunk?

Belle: It’s not something you outgrow, but something you grow into. So, no.

Nancy: What is the appropriate place to wear steampunk clothing?

Belle: Obviously steampunk events and conventions. Really, anyplace you would be allowed. My school doesn’t allow hats, and huge skirts wouldn’t fit in the narrow doors. It really depends on the outfit.

Nancy: Do you see steampunk as a fad or new genre?

Belle: A fad, but a long-lasting one, like being a hippie. It will probably fade out of the public eye, get brought back, and I think then it will slowly transform into something else, sadly.

Nancy: Who is your steampunk persona?

Belle: She’s like Kaylee from Firefly, but with zeppelins instead of space ships.

Nancy: What is the best thing about steampunk?

Belle: It’s such a broad idea, there really isn’t a limit to the things you can do.

 

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Today we welcome Kate Milford.

 Kate Milford is the author of The Boneshaker, has written for stage and screen, and is a regular travel columnist for the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, visit www.clockworkfoundry.com.

Spin Round, Wooden Doll

by Kate Milford

I don’t exactly remember when I started to become obsessed with automata. I’ll have to ask my husband; he remembers this kind of thing, largely because it’s usually through him that I find the weirder stuff I become interested in. But somewhere along the way I found a book and two stories that have loomed in the background of everything I’ve written since. The book was the Penguin edition of Sigmund Freud’s essays on the uncanny; the stories were Hoffmann’s The Sand-Man and Automata.

I should explain that I’m not a fan of Freud, and I disagree with about 60% of what he says in his essays on the uncanny. But I love Hoffmann. In fact, if what I write is in any way interesting to fans of steampunk, it’s because I’m a Hoffmann fan.

Among the things that I most love about steampunk is the constant presence of mechanical stuff. I love clockwork and vacuum tubes and old metals with patina, and I think my grandfather’s hand-drawn circuitry diagrams are like art. And because, not being particularly mechanically gifted myself, even though I understand the basics of how a circuit and an escapement work, they retain an element of the wondrous for me. This is what has drawn me to the genre—not the Victoriana, not the inventors, not even the presence of spunky, sexy girl geniuses prevalent in modern steampunk. Nope, what does it for me is the frequent presence of richly-imagined machinery, the exploration of mechanics and what can be done with them, and the philosophical questions these things raise about what it means to be human, and part of society.

For me, one of the great beauties of writing about analog and mechanical technologies is that for many readers in the twenty-first century (and especially for my target audience of kids and teens) they are familiar and unfamiliar all at once. It is easy work to push things like clockwork just a little further toward the unknown and render them (to use one of Hoffmann’s and my favorite words) uncanny. Consider the escapement; in a world of smartphones that render even digital watches mostly irrelevant, most kids—heck, most adults—have no concept of the workings of the antique clocks in the shadowy halls of their grandparents’ homes. They don’t know that they’re made up of things that, like the components of a piece of music, are called movements, or that those movements are made up of things with beautiful names like ébauches and assortiments (the latter of which includes the escapement). Even the beautiful word escapement is strange, evocative, almost forbidding. Consider the automaton, the otherworldly oddity of any sort of human or beast-shaped simulacrum that winds with keys and moves with unnatural and often frantic gestures, slowing down to stillness in a brief parody of a human’s much slower decline…until it is wound again and brought back to life.

Consider how ticking is like a heartbeat. Consider how it is like a footfall. Consider how it throws the passage of time in your face.

Writers and readers are drawn to mechanical technology for more reasons than I dare guess at, but I can tell you exactly why it speaks to me. I grew up surrounded by men who understood mechanical things and spent time tinkering with them both for work and for fun. As an adult I married a man who makes his living in bleeding-edge information technology and automation and who is a reader of Ray Kurzweil, Charlie Stross, Neal Stephenson, and others who philosophize about or weave tales touching upon the increasingly blurry line between natural and artificial intelligences. I chalk it up to my father and my grandfathers and my husband that I like writing and thinking about mechanics and technology, and I think our innovations and interactions with those things reveal our humanity by constantly causing us to question what it means to be human. That’s why I love science fiction and fantasy as much as I do; to me, they are nearly always reducible in some way to interesting questions of identity. And if I can have those questions plus a world of bespoke gadgetry and oddball clockwork and steam-driven innovation where the transistor never happened, well, cool. Because according to my dad, we got the transistor by reverse-engineering stuff found in the Area 51 crash, so really, a pre-transistor world is a better place to discuss humanity as defined by human technology.

Just kidding. But back to E.T.A. Hoffmann, and the uncanny beauty of the mechanical.

Writing at the turn of the eighteenth century into the nineteenth, Hoffmann was an innovative and dizzying storyteller who made no apologies for leaping between different points of view, beginning stories with letters and ending them with third-person narrative, or pausing for pages in the middle of a very tense tale for one character to lecture at length on the subject of music and humanity. A few pages on, Hoffmann might just reveal that that everything up to that point has been a story being told by another character who then stops his tale to explain that he’d rather be left with absorbing questions at the end of a story that force him to muse over it than to have it end tied up so satisfyingly that he has no reason to think about it any longer. And yes, that’s where that particular story (The Automatons) ends.

Hoffmann’s tales are also replete with panic about the possibility of mistaking a simulacrum of humanity for a real person. In The Sand-Man, one of the most famous of Hoffmann’s “night pieces,” the passing off of an automaton for a real girl causes the complete breakdown of an impressionable young man; in The Automatons you get a lengthy panic attack from one character who’s horrified by the idea that a mechanical thing could be allowed to make music. To Lewis, the character in question, music is a thing reserved for nature and for men, and while attempting to duplicate the music of nature is the highest and most worthy challenge a (human) musician can undertake, for an unnatural thing like a mechanism to create music on its own is an abomination. Just two examples from two of my favorites; there are so very many more I could list.

In Hoffmann’s world, human identity is a delicate bit of machinery in its own right, a program that can be damaged beyond repair far too easily. In his world, things like doubles, automata, puppets, even spectacles and telescopes, are causes of anxiety—they present the appearance of something they are not. The arts, which Hoffmann’s protagonists often feel passionately about, seem to be the things they cling to in order to prove that they and those around them are “real” people. Hoffmann, a composer and music critic who lived in an era of tremendous musical innovation and a time during which some of the most famous automata were conceived and built, seems to have viewed the ability to create as what we might call a Turing test today. He also seems to have had a unique sense of the way that what is familiar can be utterly terrifying if it is suddenly suspected to be not quite what one thought it was, and the more completely at home you feel with something—as Hoffmann must have felt about music—the more terrifying it could potentially become. Dancing, for instance. In The Automatons, after his lecture on the dreadfulness of automatons playing music, Lewis has special words of horror for the idea of a man dancing with a mechanical woman and not having a clue about her inhuman nature. Sure enough, it is so scarring to Nathanael, the protagonist of The Sand-Man that not even dancing with the automaton Olympia tips him off to her mechanical nature that when he breaks down at the end of the book screaming, “Spin round, wooden doll!”

Two hundred years later, the uncanniness of his tales is amplified by the fact that his simulacra are made up of things that, for me, already inhabit that uncomfortable but wildly compelling place where beauty and familiarity and oddity intersect. They are made of pocket spyglasses and clockwork and instruments that sing in unearthly tones. They are made of things that wind up, of things that tick with mechanical heartbeats but sing like angels. They are made of things that, like those antique clocks counting quietly in dark and dusty hallways, are easy to take for granted today until it comes time to admit that most of us really don’t interact with them or understand them at all.

After reading E.T.A. Hoffmann, it’s not as easy to walk by that clock. We pause, then we look closer and wonder if we really know what we’re looking at. Then we look at each other, and try not to wonder the same thing.

~Kate Milford

Twitter: @katemilford

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First I have a winner to announce.  BBS Used Book Buyers  you have won a copy of Jana Oliver’s The Demon Trapper’s Daughter. Please email me to claim your prize. There’s still time to win God Save the Queen by Kate Locke.

Now, on to today’s guest. Today we welcome Coleen Kwan, who’s first steampunk romance Asher’s Invention just released from Carina Press on Tuesday! ~launches cupcake canonon~

Coleen Kwan has been bookworm all her life. At school English was her favorite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance whether it’s sweet or sensual. She lives in Sydney with her partner and two children. When  not writing,she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office. Visit her at http://www.coleenkwan.com

 

A Greek Inventor and a Famous Chef

by Coleen Kwan 

Thanks for having me on your blog today!

 When I started writing steampunk, I found I had to do a lot more research than I realised. Now, research is a great way to put off actual writing, and it can also be fascinating.  As I trawled through the internet I stumbled upon some intriguing tidbits which I’d never known about.

Take the steam engine, for example. From my school days eons ago I assumed that the steam engine was invented around the turn of the eighteenth century by a Scottish engineer. Turns out an ancient Greek is credited with inventing the world’s first steam engine. Hero of Alexandria lived in the 1st century AD. He built the aeolipile, a steam-powered turbine.

 

 The aeolipile consists of a sphere which can rotate on its axis and has nozzles bent in opposite directions. Water is heated, either inside the sphere or in a boiler below, and the resulting steam shoots out the nozzles, which creates torque and drives the sphere which then starts rotating. It’s not known whether Hero’s aeolipile was put to any practical use, or whether it was just an interesting curiosity, but it’s definitely a steam engine.

 The aeolipile wasn’t Hero’s only invention. He also created automatons which he used to mount a fully automated play complete with special effects like fire and thunder. He also invented a vending machine which dispensed holy water when a user deposited a coin into a slot! This man was seriously gifted.

 From steam engines to food. How much food did the average 19th century epicure eat? In Alexis Soyer’s ‘The Modern Housewife’ (published 1849) he details a list of average daily meals:

“BREAKFAST.––Three quarters of a pint of coffee, four ounces of bread, one ounce of butter, two eggs, or four ounces of meat, or four ounces of fish.
“LUNCH.––Two ounces of bread, two ounces of meat, or poultry, or game, two ounces of vegetables, and a half pint of beer, or a glass of wine.
“DINNER.––Half a pint of soup, a quarter of a pound of fish, half a pound of meat, a quarter of a pound of poultry, a quarter of a pound of savory dishes or game, two ounces of vegetables, two ounces of bread, two ounces of pastry or roasts, half an ounce of cheese, a quarter of a pound of fruit, one pint of wine, one glass of liqueur, one cup of coffee or tea; at night one glass of spirits and water.”

It’s also interesting to note the huge variety of food that was eaten in those times. They ate pigeons, partridges, grouse, plovers, teals, peacocks, deer, eels, turtle, hares, and a huge variety of fish.

Soyer was one of the most celebrated cooks in Victorian England. During the Great Irish Famine of 1847 he invented a soup kitchen in Dublin which dispensed soup for free to thousands of starving poor people.

So, a Greek inventor and a famous chef — just two of the interesting tidbits I uncovered during the writing of my first steampunk romance.

 ~Coleen Kwan

http://www.coleenkwan.com

 

Asher’s Invention

Five years ago, Asher Quigley broke his engagement to Minerva Lambkin, believing she was an accomplice in a scheme to steal his prototype for a wondrous device. Minerva swore she was innocent, though the thief—and Asher’s mentor—was her own father.

Now, sheer desperation has driven Minerva to Asher’s door. Her father has been kidnapped by investors furious that he’s never been able to make the machine work. Only Asher, now a rich and famous inventor in his own right, can replicate the device. He’s also become a hard, distant stranger far different from the young idealist she once loved.

Despite their troubled past, Asher agrees to help Minerva. He still harbors his suspicions about her, but their reunion stirs emotions and desires they both thought were buried forever. Can they rebuild their fragile relationship in time to save her father and their future together?

Purchase Asher’s Invention at

Carina Press http://bit.ly/KEP0io

Amazon http://amzn.to/IpClNx

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/Id8RZq

Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/IavZXG

iTunes http://bit.ly/M2VD0C

 

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Today we welcome Jana Oliver.  One lucky commenter will recieve a signed copy of The Demon Trapper’s Daugther.  (Open internationally, contest closes 6/27/12 at 11:59 pm PST).

Jana Oliver is the author various alternate history novels, including the award-winning Time Rovers Series. Folks are always welcome at her website (JanaOliver.com) or at her Facebook page.

Why Steampunk is like a TARDIS®?

by Jana Oliver

I am extremely fond of all things steampunk, but that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since I’m writing a post for a blog dedicated to the subject. So bear with me as I explain why the steampunk is a lot like a TARDIS. For those of you who are not Dr. Who fans, this is a TARDIS. One of the cool things about this handy machine, besides being able to travel through time, is that it is bigger on the inside than on the outside.

In many ways, that’s exactly what steampunk has become. Once a quiet niche for a few enthusiasts, it now encompasses a variety of expressions and has gone worldwide. Today there are a myriad of steampunk activities available: artwork, music, literature, technology and various types of social interaction.

The original concept for steampunk, the curious marriage of technology and love of Victoriana, have given us such fine offspring as Cherie Priest’s BONESHAKER, Clay and Susan Griffith’s THE GREYFRIAR, Abney Park and The Extraordinary Contraptions, Hugo and countless steampunk conventions.

So what is it about this “movement” that is so compelling? What lures new folks into its web (steel-plated of course) and holds them in thrall? Could it be that very TARDIS-like feature I mentioned earlier, that the inside of steampunk holds so much more room for innovation than other pursuits?

I would argue that steampunk’s very open architecture is what has made it as powerful as it is. There is no one steampunk, no rigid rules that all must adhere to. If you can’t sing or convert existing items to a new form, maybe you’re great at costuming or creating digital artwork. Maybe you’re good at putting words together and can tell a great tale of adventure or a delightful children’s story.

That’s one of the reasons I’m so fond of steampunk. Within its big tent, there is room for everyone, room for all forms of human expression. Innovation and creativity flow within steampunk’s metallic veins where one is not confined to the “we’ve always done it that way” mentality. Which is why steampunk will continue to evolve as those within its “walls” take it in new and interesting directions.

For an author, that means the steampunk I know today may be completely different in a year. Such fluidity allows for creative change which will flow into other parts of the participants’ lives. Already steampunk is affecting the “mundane” world in terms of design, entertainment choices and beyond.

We need creative and imaginative people and that’s what steampunk provides: a ready source of intelligent, unique and curious folk who are very happy to color outside the lines. The ability to look beyond the ordinary, to dream of new technology, outlandish solutions and workarounds is what put us on the moon and created such marvels as the Internet. Is it not possible that steampunk can also improve our chances of survival as a species?

At the very core of every steampunker is the echo of one of the masters of such innovation and I’m sure that Leonardo da Vinci smiles a little every time another cog is designed or another airship launched.

So don’t worry, there’s plenty of room inside this steampunk Tardis. We can go wherever we want, see new worlds or create them, for that matter. That is what steampunk is all about: there are no boundaries.

 ~Jana Oliver

Comment below to be entered to win.  One lucky commenter will recieve a signed copy of Jana’s YA The Demon Trapper’s Daugther.  (Open internationally, contest closes 6/27/12 at 11:59 pm PST).

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Today we welcome back author Christine Bell.

Christine Bell is one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. If she gets time off from her duties as maid, chef, chauffeur, or therapist, she can be found reading just about anything she can get her hands on, from Young Adult novels to books on poker theory. She doesn’t like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold ‘Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate…or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing fun and adventure-filled romance stories, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons.

The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale

by Christine Bell

Very excited to be back here at Steamed! Doubly excited because the second installment of my Stormy Gale series came out on May 28th! I’m celebrating with a big contest, so be sure to read the end of this post for details.

The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale starts off in Victorian London (in the steampunk tradition) but then takes us further back, to a time shortly after the Salem Witch Trials. Having grown up in New England, I’m fairly obsessed with this strange slice of American History. If you’ve ever been to New England during the fall or winter, the nights feel positively ripe for witches. The bare trees’ clawing silhouettes lit by a fat, milky moon that you almost expect to wink at you against from its perch in the inky night sky.  Man, it feels soooo witchy. I’m convinced that such an occurrence could never have happened in, say, San Diego. It required a perfect soup of events and the locale had to play a part. Aside from my proximity to Salem growing up, I also always felt that this phenomenon was both a fascinating display of vagaries of the human psychology and a heartrending tale of fear and loss. What better place for a story? And I always knew that if I did a time travel story that would be one of the places I’d take it. The most excellent part is that it feels like such a natural extension of the steampunk aesthetic. A dark, grey pallor hanging over a village in the wake of horror and mayhem. People not trusting one another or themselves. Throw into this historical period some gadgetry that shouldn’t be there and then sit back to witness the subsequent reactions of the townspeople as they search for a possible explanation.  It was like chocolate and peanut butter for the mind. Mmmm…Reeses.

*wipes drool*

At any rate, rather than be tied to the framework of the original trials thereby having to subject my characters to horrors I truly couldn’t stomach (I learned more than I ever wanted to know in my research and, friends, the word horror is an understatement), or being woefully historically inaccurate, I fast forwarded a handful of years. I found this allowed me to scale back some of the truly heinous behavior in an organic way as many of the townspeople would be more tentative at first for fear of making the same mistake twice still theorize that, if the stars aligned just right (or wrong, in this case), we could again fall victim to a similar situation.  I believe that is true. I believe that, in the right cauldron of fear and intolerance, the Salem Witch Trials could happen again because when people get into a pack state of mind? Well, we do stuff that is stone cold crazy sometimes. That’s the thing I kept coming back to. These people who had a hand in the atrocities. Were they ALL evil? I don’t think they were and I hope I did the townsfolk of Salem right in giving most of them some humanity, while still condemning the actions of many. So you tell me, steampunk lovers: Do you think something similar to The Salem Witch Trials could ever happen again? Do you think that steampunk and witches are a match made in heaven or do you like your chocolate sans peanut butter? And lastly, do you find the topic of Salem as fascinating as I do?

Check out an excerpt of the book, and don’t forget, stick around for the giveaway at the end!

The cold was relentless, and every frigid breath sent a bolt of pain through my chest. I huddled into the corner, curling myself into a tight ball. Only a few more hours until daylight. It would be warmer then. A rattling cough shuddered upward and I covered my mouth quickly with a trembling arm.

“Jayzus, will you stop with the bloody coughing, you inconsiderate bitch? I’ve been up half the night making the quid to buy you that loaf of bread, and this is what I get.” My mother’s voice was slurred as she called down from the bed.

Loaf, my arse. The crust she’d thrown me had barely been enough to bother chewing. If she’d made any coin on her back that night, she’d drunk the profits soon after. But I was sick, and my ear still rang from the blow she’d delivered the night before, so I held my tongue. The wind howled and sent an arctic blast under the rickety door. I tried to hold my breath, to keep it in, but it was no use. Coughs racked my body, ruthless in their intensity and seemingly without end. But even over the sound of my barking lungs, I could hear her shifting, moving…the impatient sigh, the muttered curse, and finally the bed rustling as she leapt to her feet.

Panic warred with the need for breath and I buried my face in my sleeve. It was no use. A moment and one swift jerk later, I was on my back staring up at her, silhouetted in the silvery moonlight. Her hair was a wild mass around her shoulders as her mad, almost feverish eyes burned into mine like coals. She gripped my shoulders, nails digging deep through my threadbare nightshirt. Her hot, foul breath washed over my face as she screamed, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!”

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. The mantra ran through my aching head as she shook and shook

and shook… My vision blurred and faded. Then I was Bacon, shivering on the stone floor of Ipswitch Jail. My mother’s features morphed into those of a crone, her sneering mouth twisting into a gaping maw, her nose a disfigured hook.

“Wake up, love. It’s all right now,” a gentle voice crooned in my ear.

Warm, familiar fingers replaced the icy talons on my shoulder. I surfaced, sucking in a breath that made my chest ache with remembered pain. My teeth chattered as I tried to speak. “We need more wood on the fire. P-Please.” The pitiful weakness of my voice sickened me and I turned my face away to peer out the window into the gray light of morning.

“Shhh. Give me one second. Let me hold you.”

Annnd, end scene! Now, if you want to enter the contest, all you have to do is comment on this post. Tomorrow at 8:00 pm EST, we’ll pick two random winners. One will receive the Stormy Gale gift pack which includes a digital copy of the series, a set of Stormy Gale trading cards, pen, magnet and a $10 Amazon or B&N gift certificate so you can load up on some more steampunk! The second place winner will get a digital copy of The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale in whatever format they prefer.

~Christine Bell
www.christine-bell.com

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Today we welcome amazing YA writer Lia Habel. 

Lia Habel was born in Jamestown, NY, and has lived there the majority of her life. Her first book, Dearly, Departed, is a sweeping tale of zombie-living romance set in a cyber-Victorian/steampunk future. When Dearly, Departed sold, Lia was swimming in debt incurred from her studies and years of un- and underemployment, with only a few dollars to her name. Miss Habel enjoys attending anachronistic and steampunk events, watching zombie movies (she has watched over a hundred of them), commissioning ball gowns, and collecting Victorian and Edwardian books. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunities she has recently been given.

Being a neo-Victorian/steampunk clothes horse 101

by Lia Habel

Being asked to write about steampunk always terrifies me, because I hardly consider myself an authority on the subject. In fact, my personal vision of steampunk is far from pure, as I tend to mash it up with cyberpunk, dieselpunk, and as many pretty, sparkly things as I think I can get away with. Rules never suit me, even in a subculture made for breaking rules – which is why, when I attend steampunk events, I tend to dress like a little Victorian princess rather than an airship captain or mad engineer-by-day-burlesque-dancer-by-night. I have the greatest respect for airship captains and mad engineers-by-day-burlesque-dancers-by-night, but I like being that pop of sugary sweet pastel in the middle of the room, the one who maybe looks out of place. Philosophically, you need the lady to define the plight of the urchin, and vice versa.

But let’s leave philosophy behind. Let’s talk about clothes. Today I want to speak to the fantastic teenagers I’ve met at the schools I’ve visited, the ones who come up to me afterward and whisper, “I need to dress like this.” Okay, darlings. This is what you do. This is Lia’s 101 level class on being a neo-Victorian/steampunk clothes horse. The first two suggestions will be very broad, everything else gossip.

1.     Experiment. Don’t box yourself into one style right off the bat. If you have the opportunity and the inclination, try wearing something Elegant Gothic Lolita-esque and adorable, try dressing like a dandy (I don’t care if you’re male or female – tuxedos are sexy), try being a construct or automaton, try playing a dark and alluring Victorian cabaret singer. Playing dress-up is the best way to figure out which styles speak to you, what works for your budget, and what sartorial direction you want to wander off in first. And keep in mind that you can go back to the drawing board at any time, and have more than one style of dress!

2.    Figure out who you want to become. I once heard an academic talk about something called “performative language,” which is basically the idea that certain types of language act like magic spells, forcing something to become true through sheer power of words alone – for instance, saying, “I do” at the altar. It is “when saying something is doing something” (J.L. Austin – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performativity). In steampunk the same holds true, for you can adopt any persona you like simply by saying it is so. Declare yourself a duke? Then I shall refer to you as, “Your Grace.” Want to be the head of some dark, esoteric cult? Fine, end the world, just don’t proselytize at my hotel room door. So you’re a young lady enrolled in the local boarding school? Is it true what they say about your literature professor, Mr. Brown? Everything can be done, and everything in a spirit of play. The whole wide world is open to you.

3.     EXPOSE! Visually wander through steampunk and Victorian fashion blogs and sites. I love doing this, as it gives me ideas for accessorizes to scout out, color combinations to try, and holes in my wardrobe I need to fill. Some of my favorite sites are http://treselegant.tumblr.com/, http://oldrags.tumblr.com/, and http://my-ear-trumpet.tumblr.com/. And if you can, visit a Victorian costume museum. They’re like candy shops full of delicious things you can never taste, but they’re a great way to educate yourself.

4.     MAKE! Alas, I used to make much more than I now do, but I’m very glad that I at least attempted a few outfits and suites of accessories. Making your own items gives you a sense of accomplishment and allows you to build a wardrobe that’s perfectly suited to your needs. Whether it’s by knitting, embroidering, welding, or sewing, there’s certainly some craft out there you can undertake. (And half the fun of thrift-store shopping and dumpster diving is repurposing the items!) If nothing else, maintaining a large steampunk wardrobe requires knowing how to properly repair and clean various garments. A few hours from now I’ll be sewing a torn petticoat by hand, for instance, and I see engineers fiddling with their mechanical arms and lighted top hats constantly at events, performing small repairs and adjustments.

5.    SHOP! I know some decry the fact that one can buy a suitable steampunk wardrobe, now, rather than being forced to make one – but I love it. I love knowing that my money goes to amazing artisans and seamstresses and designers, people who love the same things I do. I’m not the least bit ashamed. Now, certainly the best way I know of to expose yourself to these fantastic sources of frippery is to attend steampunk events with dealer rooms – normally there’s quite a good selection of corsets, hats, and accessories, which when added to a blouse and skirt will get you instantly on your way. Etsy.com is also a fantastic resource, and many steampunk brands with separate websites also maintain an Etsy presence, so you’re sure to find them. Etsy is also great for finding seamstresses willing to undertake custom projects, which is how I found the designer/seamstress to fill my first custom gown order. All in all, just talk to people – that’s the surest way to find what you want or learn how to build what you want to build.

“All right! We shall shop! What should we look for and what should we do with it?” My humble tips:

    – Corset and boots first. A good corset and a good pair of boots will form the foundation of any wardrobe. Try heavyred.com, clockworkcouture.com, corset-story.com, or fairygothmother.co.uk. For your first corset, I would recommend one in a color and material that can be worn on top of other items as your first layer of clothing. And be sure to get steel boning! Plastic looks cheap, will break, and won’t do anything for your figure.

    – Don’t try to find accessories for a gown after you’ve purchased the gown – you’ll end up scrambling and looking either too cute by half or hastily thrown together. I prefer my ensembles to build organically by purchasing what I like when I see it, regardless of whether it will go with anything I currently own. After a few months or a year, when I suddenly realize that I have an awful lot of navy blue items, that’s when I start searching for a navy blue dress to go with them. Suites of matching items can also usually be paired with a neutral-colored dress, thus freshening it up. So, my big hint: LIKE IT? BUY IT.

   –  Be sure you have the space and conditions to store your items. A lot of my gowns are heirloom-quality material, and I treat them as such. I store them in acid-free paper and boxes, or wrap them up with acid-free linen in storage. When I dry clean them, I insist that even the smallest items be dry cleaned to wedding gown preservation standards. (And then I dance for twelve hours in them, but at least I try to make up for it.)

     – What can you get cheaply? Long skirts, stockings, suitable-looking blouses (either from thrift stores or modern stores), some accessories (hit up craft store sales for fake flowers, ribbons that can be made into sashes and chokers, and interesting buttons to liven up plain jackets – and be sure to check out the wedding section for pretty white trims, usually insanely cheap), gloves and jewelry trinkets (believe it or not, some of my favorite gloves came from Hot Topic and Claire’s – you’d never know it to look at them).

    –  What should you TRY to get as cheaply as possible? Gloves, fans, and handkerchiefs. These are invariably lost, ruined, or stolen by shy, pining would-be suitors* after one long evening – I use my satin opera gloves once, usually. (*This has never happened.)

    – What should you spend the most money on? Your corsets (my favorite corset cost me $300, and I’ve had it for about 6 years now), your really high-class ball gowns (from places like Azrael’s Accomplice – http://www.azacclothingcouture.com/), your good black top hat, and your shoes (support! And buy them large enough to wear socks in).

      – What are some items no one ever thinks to buy but which are versatile or really punchy? Dickies/collars/sleeves – basically detachable shirt pieces that you can tie or pin into any dress you like in order to change up the style or fill in an area you’d rather be filled. Civil War shops are great for these, as they were a staple of 1860s wardrobes. Sashes and belts are a fantastic way to change up an outfit or cover an elastic skirt waistband (try Premier Designs Historic Clothing for the latter – http://www.premierclothing.com/Extra/21-home-page/). 

Now! Go forth and explore! And if you find a shop that’s really remarkable, point it out to me, will you?

~Lia Habel

http://liahabel.com/

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J.K. Coi is a multi-published, award winning author of contemporary and paranormal romance and urban fantasy. She makes her home in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and son and a feisty black cat who is the uncontested head of the household. While she spends her days immersed in the litigious world of insurance law, she is very happy to spend her nights writing dark and sexy characters who leap off the page and into readers’ hearts.  Also writing Upper YA Dark Fantasy as Chloe Jacobs

 

Why I like Writing Steampunk

by J.K.Coi

First, a great big thank you for having me on STEAMED today. I am so excited to be here!

I’m also very excited because it’s release week for my steampunk novella from Carina Press! I was very lucky to be included in a wonderful holiday anthology called A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS. All of the four stories are very different, and yet have a common theme – even besides the steampunk elements – forgiveness (which is really quite fitting for the holiday season).

FAR FROM BROKEN is the story of a man whose secrets and lies almost destroyed the most important thing in his life—his wife. Now, he’ll do anything for her forgiveness except put her in danger again, even though he may not be able to prevent it because danger has come looking for them both.

When the idea for this story hit me, I was afraid to write it. Not only did I know it would be an emotionally draining book, but the steampunk elements meant a lot of research and I usually shy away from research. But I just couldn’t let it go, and ended up writing it anyway. I learned quickly that writing steampunk isn’t about gears and gadgets and corsets, or ray guns, airships and steam trains (although the story has all of that and more). Steampunk is something that permeates through the entire story. It’s a feeling, a mood. It not only infuses props and setting and characters, but also theme and motivation.

One of the reasons why I loved writing FAR FROM BROKEN once I got into it is because I was learning so much with each and every word. I couldn’t get enough of that world, which seemed so ripe with possibility, energy and such depth of emotion. And I realized that’s exactly what steampunk is all about. That spirit of invention like the smell of burning coal churning on the breeze. The taste of potential and opportunity as a coppery tang. The feel of elegance like soft, rich velvet.

Which is why I had to write a sequel.

BROKEN PROMISES is a continuation of the story that began in book 1, but it also introduces a very interesting new character who is still talking to me, wondering when he’ll get a chance at center stage… which means I might just be visiting this wonderful world of steampunk again soon.

FAR FROM BROKEN

Soldier. Spymaster. Husband.

Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he met his wife. When the prima ballerina swept into his life with her affection, bright laughter and graceful movements, he knew that she was the reason for his existence, and that their love would be forever.

But their world is shattered when Callie is kidnapped and brutally tortured by the foes Jasper has been hunting. Mechanical parts have replaced her legs, her hand, her eye…and possibly her heart. Though she survived, her anger at Jasper consumes her, while Jasper’s guilt drives him from the woman he loves. He longs for the chance to show her their love can withstand anything…including her new clockwork parts.

As the holiday season approaches, Jasper realizes he must fight not just for his wife’s love and forgiveness…but also her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.

Far From Broken is available separately or in the anthology entitled “A Clockwork Christmas

We Wish You a Steampunk Christmas

Changed forever after tragedy, a woman must draw strength from her husband’s love. A man learns that love isn’t always what you expect. A thief steals the heart of a vengeful professor. And an American inventor finds love Down Under. Enjoy Victorian Christmas with a clockwork twist in these four steampunk novellas.

Anthology includes:
Crime Wave in a Corset by Stacy Gail
This Winter Heart by PG Forte
Wanted: One Scoundrel by Jenny Schwartz
Far From Broken by JK Coi

Happy Reading!

~J.K.Coi
www.jkcoi.com

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