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navajorug1** Please forgive the odd timing, we’ve been on hurricane alert in Hawaii and I admit prepping for the storm did take a little bit of my attention**

Last week we talked about continuing threads in story fiction… this week we get to continue the discussion.

I’ve been working on a story for Capes & Clockwork II – the follow up anthology to the popular Steampunk Anthology from Dark Oak Press – Author D. Alan Lewis is both an author in the anthology and the editor.

I had a conversation with him about a story in the anthology, Captain Amy and the Steam-driven Kittens of Doom.  In the story we are introduced to the intrepid Captain Amy as she struggles to defeat her arch-enemy, Professor Von-Dark… and then we are suddenly transported…

capesfcoverbigAmyLynn, a young girl needed at the dinner table, begs off for just a few more moments to finish the story…

What happened?

When I spoke with Alan, he was working on the follow up story to this one, and explained that AmyLynn’s family had experienced a loss and bringing these stories to life with her imagination is how Amy was working through her grief.

It wasn’t what he had in mind when he started, but the ‘twist’ was an inspiration that came to him while he wrote the story. AND, will carry on to more Captain Amy stories… perhaps a novel or collection. It sounds like a lot of great inspiration.

So, for more steam-powered superheroes and intriguing stories… keep your eyes open for more information on Capes & Clockwork II from Dark Oak Press!

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navajorug*First, I am so happy to be back from my trip. My first Vacation in seven-ish years!*

I had the opportunity to spend some time within the Navajo Nation studying their history and culture. Spending four days living in a traditional Navajo Hogan on a family ranch in Many Farms Chapter. During my travels I visited the Interactive Navajo Museum in Tuba City. One of the many ideas that struck my interest was the idea of continuing inspiration. My tour guide, a young lady born and raised in the area, explained that rug weavers, eager to keep their creative muse excited and inspired would weave a continuing thread into their rugs.

There are different ways that they can do this…
1) Weave in a different colored thread along a side or border that literally leads off the rug
2) Design a path of color that also leads off the edge of the rug, like a pathway in a maze
… incorporating either method or a combination of the two gives a weaver ample ways of continuing their creativity into their next project.

So, how do we do this in our own works?

The most obvious method is to leave open a storyline that might inspire a sequel to a story/novel.

Leave an unanswered question in the story. Not every question posed by the characters will end up answered with a pretty little bow at the end of your story.

A supporting character might create that link to another story. Readers may fall in love or in hate with that character and clamour to know what happens to them in a future installment.

Where is your thread? Where is your pathway out from the maze? Maybe you have more than one… enjoy it, write it, and then share it!

Capes & Clockwork, an anthology of Steampunk Superhero stories published by Dark Oak Press, has its own continuing path… a second anthology is in the works and next week, we’ll discuss how the stories, authors, ideas from the first anthology are finding new life in the second!

I’d love to hear how you, as either readers or writers, have been inspired by THREADS in stories? Comment below and let me know!

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If you are anything like me, one of the things you love most about comic and sci-fi/fantasy conventions is people in cosplay. I especaily love the crossover Steampunk versions of modern super heroes and villains.

Steampunk Poisin Ivy

Steampunk Poisin Ivy – Comicpalooza

Steampunk Dare Devil & Scarecrow - Comicpalooza

Steampunk Dare Devil & Scarecrow – Comicpalooza

Artist, Chet Phillips had created a trade card set of the Union of Superlative Heroes.  Here is a fun gallery of ten Steampunk versions of super heroes. And here is an image of Steampunk Superman.

Steampunk Riddler - Comicpalooza

Steampunk Riddler – Comicpalooza

Bill Willingham has written  a comic book serreis, Legenderry, for Dynamite, based on Steampunk versions of superheroes. Issue one and two include Steampunk versions of Vampirella, the

 at a booth at Comipalooza

at a booth at Comipalooza

Green Hornet, and Katot. I read

Steampunk Spider Man - HoustonCon

Steampunk Spider Man – HoustonCon

issue three and four where the villains included H. G. Wellls’ Dr. Moreua, Ming from Flash Gordon, and Kulan Gath form the Conan series. The heores in issue three are Steve Austin – the six thousand dollar bionic man and Captain Victory, who also is the captian of the Victory airship. In issue four the two superheroes listed above are joined by The Ghost Who Walks – a Steampunk version of The Phantom. The heroine in all four

Steampunk Wonder Woman

issues is Magna Spadarossa, who is looking for her adventurous sister Sonya, who vanished. This mysterious sister is a Steampunk version of Red Sonya.

In DC Comics Justice Society Allstars they have an actual Steampunk heroine, Anna Fortune. She uses the launcher mounted on her gauntlet to fire can-sized, bullet-like cartridges with magical contents. She calls it spell-casting. Anna mentioned to Atom Smasher once, “The only flying machines they have in my day are hot air balloons.”

Creating Steampunk super hero characters and their alter egos as well as the evil villains they are always  trying to thwart is fun and challenging writing. Dressing up like Steampunk versions of super heroes can be a blast as well. Please comment below – What super hero or villain would most like to steampunk?

Steampunk female Thor

 

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 Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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Marking The Passage

Hmm… the post about Mummies had me thinking…

The Egyptians prepared bodies for passage into the next ‘life’ and left monuments and tombs to protect the bodies of their departed.

What of other departings?
What is left to mark their passage?

Why am I even talking about this… on a site about writing Steampunk?

Characters live and die in our stories, but how are they remembered? What marks their passage from one world into the next?

cartwrightAlexander Cartwright, who some consider to be the Father of Baseball, was buried in Hawaii (see, you knew I’d get Hawaii in here somehow). Visiting his grave at Oahu Cemetery, you’re likely to find baseballs, gloves, and sometimes bottles of beer. All from athletes and fans hoping for a good season or a strong and accurate arm.

Military graves have been decorated with coins and research online has uncovered a number of ‘guides’ on what denomination of coin to leave behind to show your proper respect to those heroes that served their country.

benfranklinBenjamin Franklin’s grave in Philadelphia can be found easily on the grounds of Christ Church. Just look for the large slab dotted with pennies. Why such a coin? No, it’s not for the face on the coin, we all know that’s not Ben’s claim to fame… it’s for one of his adages. “A Penny Saved…” goes a long way, even though it doesn’t provide a lot of revenue for the church and historic graveyard.

pinterestdotcomeslashcgrenewaldslashA Ballerina’s grave in France is covered in heaps of shoes that are linked to her talent. Flat shoes and pointe shoes are left to weather the time on her grave. Perhaps there are young ballerinas hoping for divine inspiration… or merely to dance away the pain in their feet. Who knows what it is they think they will gain from leaving their shoes behind for the deceased dancer?

fergusonlearnncMy final example comes from North Carolina. I visited a dear friend that lived in NC and she took me to a National Park near her home. There, at Kings Mountain Park, along the hiking trail, is the grave of Col. Patrick Ferguson. An officer in the British Army, he made it his duty to secure the mountains for King and Country… the only problem was, he didn’t have a problem killing anyone in his way.

When the local settlements rose up against the British forces, they killed Col Ferguson. My friend noted that the stones piled up on the grave is not something to mark the death or honor the soldier. She tells me that the local mythos explains that each stone helps to ‘pin him’ to the grave.

So, what will your characters be remembered for?

What tokens will be left at their graves by generations to come?

Will their visitors seek otherworldly council or hope to prove that the deceased is still encased in stone and no longer a threat?

Is this a place of peace and hope? Or do those familiar with the area leave before darkness falls?

What is their story?

 

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two of our tour guides dressed the part

two of our tour guides dressed the part

42nd airborne battalion at the Houston Maritime Museum

42nd Airborne battalion at the Houston Maritime Museum

Recently with the help of the Steampunk group, the 42nd Airship Battalion, I organized an outing to the Houston Maritime museum. The tour included over 150 model ship exhibits, spanning the age of exploration to the modern merchant marines and several models of steam powered ships from the Victorian age. As you can see from the photos we all had an amazing time.

Steampunk outing at the Maritime Museum

Steampunk outing at the Maritime Museum

The museum exhibits included models of steam paddle ships. Riverboats conjure images of fun and adventure and are therefore a perfect setting for a Steampunk story. Paddle boats were highly popular in the 18thcentury for navigating well in shallow waters as well as up river against fierce currents. Prior to the development of the railways they were a favorite ways to travel. The interiors of the antebellum riverboats were luxurious with elaborate crystal chandeliers, lush hand carved furniture, oriental rugs, and so much more.  Of course one needs drama and trauma in any novel and there is plenty of opportunity for that on a steam paddle ship.

at the Houston Maritime Museum

at the Houston Maritime Museum

Fire is always s a great disaster for fiction. At the museum I learned the double steam stacks towered so high to keep sparks as far away from the wood boat as possible. Still sometimes an ember would hit the ship. Wood and paint are highly flammable so fire, panic, and catastrophe would ensue. If you want something even more dramatic, the boilers sometimes exploded in a huge, ear splitting, blast of fire and smoke, resulting in the deaths of many passengers and leaving even more injured.  Body parts were literary blown off.  In 1830 the US Congress funded research to end boiler explosions. Here is a website that even list River Boat demise with the reason and year of the loss.

The museum also had an exhibit on the Texas Navy which served the Republic of Texas when it stood as a separate country from 1836 into 1845 after gaining independence from Mexico. The idea of combing the wild west with Victorian nautical influences thrilled my muse. You can see more of these valiant fighting men in tiny but feisty ships on this youtube video.

To me the most important Victorian submarine was the Plongeur, simply because when Jules Verne saw it at the Exposition Universelle in 1867, it served as his inspiration for the Nautilus. However, the museum’s model of and news clipping about the confederate submarine the H. L. Hunley intrigued me. This combat submarine, named after its inventor Horace Lawson Hunley, was the first sub to sink an enemy warship. However, the Hunley itself sunk three times in its short career. The second time it sunk, Horace Lawson Hunley was among one of the men who drowned. After the Hunley’s successful attack on the screw sloop, the USS Housatonic the sub sank for unknown reasons and was lost.

Speaking of the confederacy and the U.S Civil war the museum included models of the ironclad ships, the rebel Merrimac and the union Monitor. Ironclads refer to steam powered warships of that era, protected by iron or steel armor plates. By the end of the U. S. civil war the Union was building triple turreted ironclads with twenty inch mounted guns. By the 1880’s ironclads were equipped with the heaviest guns ever mounted at sea and more sophisticated steam engines. Modern day battleships developed from these ironclad ships.

If you have a maritime museum in your local area, I encourage you to visit. Organize a Steampunk outing there if you are able, I guarantee you it’ll be a lot of fun and I’m sure you’ll gather inspiration for your Steampunk writing. After all, it’s sad to think of this, but if  Jules Verne had not attended the Exposition Universelle in 1867 and seen the Plongeur, we might not have 20,000 Leauges Under The Sea, which readers enjoy to this day, over 140 years after it was first published.

There may well be an exhibit at your local museum just waiting for you to discover it and gain inspiration for your next book.

Maeve Alpin

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Nautical Steampunk Attire

Nautical Steampunk Attire

Airships and Trains weren’t the only steam powered transportation the Victorians used, steam driven ships were a big part of the era. Keep in mind the nautical theme of one of the, if not the, most famous Victorian sci-fi books, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Perhaps the greatest historical steamship episode of the Victorian era is the battle of the  Ironclads during the American Civil War, the southern Merrimac and the northern Monitor,  shown in this youtube video:

Ironclads was the name given to steam powered warships protected by iron or steel armor plates.  By the 1880’s ironclads were equipped with the heaviest guns ever mounted at sea and more sophisticated steam engines, these ships developed into modern day battleships.

Another interesting steamship episode from Victorian history is the steamers that tugged the cigar shaped container ship, known as Cleopatra, which held the obelisk, called Cleopatra’s needle, all the way from Egypt. There were three steamers in all, the Olga beset by a storm rescued the survivors of the Cleopatra crew, six drowned, then they had to abandon the container ship, leaving it to drift in the Bay of Biscay. The Fillitz Morris rescued the cylinder and towed it to Northern Spain. From there the Anglia towed Cleopatra to Gravesend. Five days later Cleopatra was pulled up the Thames. On September 13, 1878 the obelisk was erected on a pedestal on the banks of the Thames. The names of the men who drowned due to Cleopatra’s journey are commemorated on the pedestal. The pedestal is also a time capsule representing Victorian Britain, it contains British coins, a railway guide, some daily newspapers, several bibles in different languages and a dozen prints of the world’s most beautiful women. You can see the obelisk here.

Here’s a fictional excerpt of the arrival of Cleopatra at London, from the Steampunk Romance, As Timeless As Magic:

The ship towed a long cylinder, about 200 hands long and about 30 hands wide, across the rippling blue water as the sun peeked through the clouds in the blue–gray sky. Heru was sure it was a royal boat when the whole crowd cheered at its approach.

“Oui, I’m dressed like an ancient Egyptian to commemorate the obelisk.” Now he understood. He fit in with the occasion. That ship hauled something important from his country to be erected along the bank of the river.

His eardrums ached with the bang of the soldiers’ sticks, weapons that blasted into the air, again and again, in praise and fanfare to the long white ship puffing steam out of the tall black pipe and tooting a loud horn. He clamped his hands over his ears.

Men in tall, black, pipe-like hats rushed forward with tools in hand and cracked open the lengthy cylinder. Using a cable from a towering machine, shaped like a barrel with wheels and cogs spinning and rocking, the men hoisted free what lay inside. The crowd all stepped back. As the tall machine clanked, rumbled and puffed steam, it lifted the obelisk to a standing position. The throng cheered.

Heru recognized the type of monument at once. “Oui, what you call obelisks are built in pairs to stand on either side of a temple, the priests use them to tell time by the shadows cast, but there is no temple and there is only one.” Confused, he shook his head.

“Egypt gave it to England in 1819, but neither Parliament nor the king, later the queen, could cover the expense of shipping it, until General Alexander took up the cause.” She cocked her head. “Sir Wilson, who, not to be crude, but honestly, is as rich as they come, paid all the costs of its voyage. They shipped the other one, its twin, to America.”

“America?” It must be another country that didn’t exist in his time, and now they too had an obelisk from Egypt. “Amazing.” The column carved out of a single piece of stone tapered into a pyramidion at the top. He peered at the beautiful hieroglyphics engraved on it.

“Not as amazing as all poor Cleopatra has been through.”

“Cleopatra?” Who or what was Cleopatra? Since he didn’t know anything or at least very little about the future he’d landed in, he shrugged as he watched her lips curve into a smile.

“The watertight cylinder. The first ship that towed her got caught in a storm and six men drowned. Cleopatra drifted in the ocean alone, until a different ship rescued her and brought her to a Spanish port. Then,“ Felicity pointed to the barge in the river, “that ship, the Anglia, brought her and the obelisk she carried, which everyone is calling Cleopatra’s needle, here.”

“This Cleopatra’s needle’s journey to England is almost as unbelievable as mine.”

“I doubt your adventure is more exciting than the obelisk’s.” Felicity set her hand on her small but defined hip.

“You would be surprised.”

Maeve Alpin & Pirate - Space City Con

Maeve Alpin & Pirate – Space City Con

Keep steamships, sea ports, and nautical settings in mind for your Steampunk tales. Also, if you live in the Houston Texas area there’s a great opportunity for maritime research and fun, Saturday, September 15that the Houston Maritime Museum. Here’s a invitation to all who can come.Please join me for an afternoon of nautical Steampunk fun at the Houston Maritime Museum, tie down the date of 09/15/12 at 3:00 PM. Don steampunk attire if you wish, in the fashion of a day at a Victorian yacht club or airship pirates may feel free to become maritime pirates

Captian Jack at Dickens On The Strand 2012

Captian Jack at Dickens On The Strand 2012

for the day, or a member of the Nautilus crew. All Steampunk garb and characters are welcomed as well as modern garb. Board the guided tour of over 150 model ship exhibits, spanning the age of exploration to the modern merchant marines and several models of steam powered ships from the Victorian age. Free parking is a shore thing at the large lot beside the museum. Museum admission is $5.00 per age 12 up, $3.00 for children 3 -11 and children under 3 are free.

Maeve Alpin

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Ancient Egyptian culture has had a major influence on the Victorian era and also modern Steampunk. As indicated by the titles, two classic Steampunk novels include strong Egyptian influences: The Osiris Ritual by George Mann and The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.

Pretty Miss with Parasol belly dancing at ComicCon’s Steampunk Ball

The Victorians were fascinated with Egyptian mummies and unwrapping parties were quite stylish. George Mann tied Steampunk with mummy unwrapping in a wonderful scene in The Osiris Ritual. Here’s an excerpt from a Victorian mummy unwrapping party in the Steampunk/ Romance, As Timeless As Magic: Heru peered within the sarcophagus, at a coffin shaped like a human figure, in a green headdress with a single yellow stripe and a jewel painted in the middle. His gaze lingered on the beautiful hieroglyphics in orange and blue, thinking of the power they held and the magic his mother created with them in her spells.

“Now, what we have all waited for.” Mister Mugrage opened the coffin. A gilded mask lay over a linen sheet wrapped around a human corpse.

Heru rubbed his brow, then fisted his hand, aching to punch Felicity’s father in the teeth.

Mister Mugrage removed the mask in the likeness of the mummy inside and held it up. “This mask is a wonderful treasure for the evening and I will do you all the favor of parting with it for the highest offer made.”

The crowd all sighed with “oohs” and “ahs.” Heru could tell by the gleam in several people’s eyes, they wanted to own it. This was all about money to Mister Mugrage. He had no love of the history, the art, or the spiritual significance his daughter seemed to understand. Heru vowed he wouldn’t blame Felicity for her father’s actions, but a throbbing surge of anger rose in him as she unwrapped the sheet from the mummy. The guests closed in like a mob and thrust forward. Heru could hardly breathe, the room felt void of air.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oui.” Mister Mugrage handed it to him.

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

“Give me that. Let me read it.” Felicity’s father reached for the amulet to grab it back from Heru. He gasped. His fingers fell limp. Mister Mugrage screamed, “My hands!”

Felicity rushed to her father and clutched his arm “What is it?”

“I can’t move my hands, not even to lift a finger. They are numb, I cannot feel anything.”

Steam Driven Belly Dancing

Even more than mummy unwrapping parties, the Victorians loved costume balls. Cleopatra influenced costumes were highly fashionable at these affairs. Steam Ingenious’ Steampunk Cleopatra fancy dress project is inspired by authentic Victorian fashion plates of Egyptian costumes. It’s a recreation of the Celopatra costume Lady Paget wore to the 1875 Delmonico Ball in New York City. The portrait and photo of Lady Paget in the costume along with several fashion plates of Cleopatra style gowns are pictured on the blog and the details of the pattern and the fabrics are included.

Another Egyptian influence on Steampunk is belly dancing, which has been big ever

Sword & Steampunkery

since Abney Park incorporated it into its live shows. Many belly dancers have been inspired to go steampunk adding goggles, corsets and pantaloons to their costumes. The extraordinary Steampunk Belly Dancers featured here are from the Osiris Dance Company. If they look familiar, they perform at the Steampunk Ball at ComicCon each year and they will also be performing at the Wild West Festival in Tucson next year.

A heroine who belly dances could add an interesting element to a Steampunk novel.

As you can see it’s easy to weave some exotic Egyptian influences into your Steampunk books.

If you liked the excerpt from As Timeless As Magic the novel is free as a kindle eBook from today until Friday, August 31st.

Maeve Alpin

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