Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Badlands’

Steampunkapalooza2013sm (1)

Seleste steampunk bustle

At a young age, Seleste deLaney discovered the trick to not being afraid of the monsters under the bed was to turn them into heroes. Since that time, she’s seen enough of human monsters that she prefers to escape to fictional worlds where even the worst demons have to play by the rules and the good guys might end up battered and bruised (or dead), but they always win. And really, isn’t that the way it should be 

She is in the process of relocating to southeast Michigan with her two kids (and a pair of fierce, attention-hungry slobber-monsters of her own) and is hard at work on her next book. In those rare moments when she isn’t battling terrorists, vampires, or rogue clockworks, she can be found all over the Internet, where she loves to interact with readers. To that end, you can find her at her WebsiteBlogFacebook ProfileFacebook PageTwitter, and Pinterest.    

The Big “What If?”

By Seleste deLaney

It’s been said that all the best stories start with “Once upon a time…”

Then of course, there’s the redneck version of that which says all the best stories start with “Hey, y’all, watch this…”

For myself, all the best stories start with a storyteller sitting back and thinking to themselves “What if?”

  • “What if vampires roamed Victorian London?”
  • “What if the Black Plague brought forth a mutant gene that turned nobles into monsters but let them live forever?”
  • “What if the monsters are us and a simple potion makes them come forth?”

SL_Badlands_250x400Sci-fi and fantasy are all based on the “What if?” And nowhere is this more true than with steampunk. It allows us to imagine a world where genetic manipulation, advanced prosthetics, and all sorts of wonderful things were created and perfected far before their time. More than that, though, it allows us, as readers, a glimpse of a world that might have been, if only tiny bits of history had changed and advancement had never been stalled.

When I first wrote Badlands, I knew I wanted a region run by women, but I didn’t know how it would have come about. Thoughts of Australia as an English penal colony came to mind, and I thought to myself, “What if the United States had done that? Sent all their criminals off to somewhere else?” For me, that question was the birth of Ever’s people. Criminals would be shipped across the Mississippi and their families would often follow. Eventually the wildness would need tempering, giving rise to leadership that wouldn’t automatically be distrusted by the Union—women. Not the criminals themselves, but their wives and daughters. (There were sons too, but with nameless and faceless criminals, they’d be more suspect.) Violence would spawn the need for control, resulting in the Border Guard.

The funny thing about questions is they tend to spawn more questions. Readers wanted to know more about the world Ever, Spencer and the Dark Hawk crew lived in, so I wrote more. The sequel, Clockwork Mafia, comes out at the end of the month, and I do hope you’ll all check it out.

But for me, the most interesting bit was how questions about the world that wasn’t led me (via questions from my children…go figure) to conversations about multi-verse theory and the possibility that all worlds imagined by authors exist in some other universe. And that led to time travel and dimensional rifts and…eventually it will lead to a new series very different from Badlands, but with that same heart of adventure and political intrigue.

That’s the joy of story telling—there are no limits but what can be imagined. And in the world of steampunk, the imagination has no limits.

More about Clockwork Mafia (coming April 29 from Carina Press):

Clockwork_Mafia_final

Inventor Henrietta Mason is retiring from airships and adventuring to return home to Philadelphia. Determined to erase all trails leading to her late father’s duplicity, she dismantles his lab and removes all records of the Badlands gold. While in the city, she can’t resist the lure of a charity gala but winds up regretting the whole experience. Well, everything except a heart-racing dance with a certain U.S. Marshal.

His career and vengeance on the line, Carson Alexander must prove a connection between Senator Mason and the mafia. He lucked out happening across Mason’s strikingly beautiful daughter, only to have her slip through his fingers. On a desperate hunt to track her down, he never expects his search to take him into the brutal Badlands.

With a mechanically enhanced enforcer after them, only Carson knows the extent of the danger they face. He’ll have to win over Henrietta’s trust, and her heart, before it’s too late…

Pre-order Clockwork Mafia at Carina PressAmazonBarnes & NobleAll Romance Ebooks, and Bookstrand.

Read Full Post »

When we made berth along the river, I snuck back to the engine room and gathered my things. It was time. I couldn’t go on like this anymore, not with so much weighing on me. With a sad glance toward the engine that I’d put so much blood and sweat into, I hoisted my pack and set off toward the bridge.

Everyone else was off, doing whatever assigned chore the captain had set them on. Only she remained, standing on the deck, hands clasped behind her back as she stared out over the water. My toe caught on a raised board and I hissed in a breath, breaking the fragile quiet.

“Lolita Seleste, I wondered how long it would take before you came.”

Maybe it was the stupid pain in my stubbed toe, but I really didn’t understand her words. “Ma’am?”

“You’re leaving. I’ve known for a while.”

Oh. “It’s not forever. At least, not if you’ll take me back when I’m ready.”

She still hadn’t turned around, but her fingers flexed as if trying to hold onto something–something that wasn’t there. “It has to do with whatever you found when I sent you on shore leave with Lolita Cindy, doesn’t it?”

“How did you…” I winced at the admission.

Her sigh was heavy and full of the kind of disappointment I’d never hoped to hear again after I left home. “There are a great many things that happen on this ship, Lolita. Few occur without my knowledge. And of course we’ll be happy to have you back, whether as a permanent member of the crew or not.”

There was no way in the world she knew how much it meant to me to have a place I could come back to, one where I was welcome, appreciated even. “Thank you, ma’am.”

Finally, she spun on her heel, her eyes meeting mine. The glimmer of tears there made me stop breathing. “I always knew our paths would only travel together for a time, Seleste. It is my sincere hope that they cross again.” She nodded toward the corridor. “Safe journeys.”

A strange part of me wanted to hug her–an urge I’d never had in regard to our stoic captain, but she wasn’t my captain anymore. I nodded at the dismissal. “To you as well, ma’am.”

And then I strode down the corridor, past my beloved engine room, and departed the airship Steamed.

~~*~~

I love this blog so very much, and it was with great difficulty that I spoke to Suzanne about my need to pull back from posting. I’m at the point where I’m stretching myself too thin, and since I write more than steampunk, it was getting harder and harder for me to keep my posts here even remotely interesting and still stick with the genre.

So, I’m moving from regular Lolita status to guest/fill-in Lolita. That means I will be back, and maybe I’ll even manage to keep up the silly little story I’ve been building into the beginning of my posts, but I won’t be here every other week anymore.

I do hope if I’ve entertained you that you’ll check out my published work. Badlands  is out now, and the sequel (Clockwork Mafia) comes out in April. I’m also still (periodically) hanging out on Twitter and Facebook, and my e-mail “door” is always open.

Again, a huge thank you to Suzanne for having me. Another to all of you for tolerating and upon occasion even liking some of my ramblings. Safe journeys to each and every one of you, no matter where life is taking you 🙂

Read Full Post »

Free from duty for a few moments, I made my way from the mess to the cargo hold. At the moment, crates and boxes stacked higher than the top of my head filled it with only a meandering path left between them. I dropped into the hold, fully prepared to lose myself in the maze.

“Hold it right there.” The voice was far too deep to belong to one of the lolitas.

Keeping one hand on the ladder, I turned slowly and stared past the barrel of the gun pointed my way to the man behind it. He was young and quite handsome with his shadowed eyes and chiseled jaw. The badge pinned to his chest, however, gave me pause.

“Who are you?”

“I’m in charge down here, and if you have concerns about that, feel free to haul yourself back up to the bridge and ask your captain.” He didn’t drop the weapon, but he did step back, allowing me room.

Now I remembered that the captain had mentioned a passenger traveling with our cargo. If I’d known he was a lawman, I would have avoided the hold like the plague. Time for a hasty retreat to anywhere else. “I only came down to lose myself in the boxes for a bit. The hold has never been this full, and I couldn’t resist the lure of a few moments alone.”

He lowered the weapon at last and scrubbed at his jaw. “Apologies, miss, but I can’t allow that. This crap is intel destined for the task force that’s–”

“It’s what for what?” I blinked at him, his words nothing but gibberish. “No. Never mind. I should return to my duties. Good day, sir.” I raced up the ladder and back to my station where things made some small degree of sense.

 

A couple days ago I finished up line edits on Clockwork Mafia. It was a huge reminder of the fact that research doesn’t end with facts and dates and names. The number of anachronistic words and phrases that had slipped into my narrative was… Well, let’s just say I became paranoid on my read-through that there were more.

In many ways, steampunk is anachronistic–modern technology and attitudes shoved into an older society. But that doesn’t mean that anything and everything goes. For instance, there is a flamethrower in Clockwork Mafia and, while I don’t think its existence is a problem (even though in our world they weren’t used until WWI), I did change an instance of the point-of-view character thinking of it as a flamethrower. (The totality of that part in the scene is more complicated than that, but it was adjusted more than once to correct reality with Badlands-reality.)

There were a few of those instances where the real-world use of a word or phrase wasn’t that far removed (in time) from the events in Clockwork Mafia, but they were changed in order to keep as much of my alternate reality consistent with the known world as possible. It does, however, beg the question of how much leeway do readers allow for such things. The mob was not known as “the mob” until prohibition era. In a story about pre-prohibition mafia in an alternate reality, would that bother you as a reader? Task force didn’t come into use until WWII. So, where is the line drawn?

(Note: This is in no way a negative comment on my editor. I changed all the anachronistic words and phrases because I want my reality to be as realistic as possible. It just made me very curious how others felt about such things in general.)

Read Full Post »

“Lolita Seleste!”

I snapped to attention as the captain strode toward the engine, her bustle sweeping through the soot on the floor. Soot I should have cleaned hours ago. “Aye, Captain!”

“I was under the impression you had some experience with steam engines when you requested to take up this post. Was I mistaken?”

My gaze darted to the left where turbines and pistons moved in much the same manner as they had when I arrived. Which meant they weren’t yet at full capacity. “No, Captain. The hitch in the works is a wee bit more complicated than I–”

“Excuses, Lolita I have no time or tolerance for them. We need to be at full power by nightfall. Get back to work.” Picking up her bustle as she spun around, she scowled at me. “And this place will be ship-shape by morning. Have I made myself clear?”

“Aye, Captain.”

As soon as she left the engine room, I kicked the offending turbine. “Work, blast you!”

When I said I could fix the steam engine, I’d anticipated a simple problem. Something quick. I’d been down here for three days, tinkering with the damned thing. By nightfall, she said. If I didn’t figure this out soon, I had a feeling my time on board might quickly be reaching its conclusion.

~~*~~

In other words, I am neck deep in revisions for Clockwork Mafia. They’re going fairly quickly (which is nice), but small changes have proved very invasive and have led to… a lot of changes. As I announced on Twitter last night, readers who felt Badlands was too short will be happy to know that this installment of the story is roughly twice as long. And… I got a release date last night! Clockwork Mafia will go on sale April 29, 2013. I know, I know, it’s a long way off, but I am hoping to have the third book out in 2013 as well. (As long as the writing gods cooperate at least.)

For now, however, I need to get back to Henrietta Mason and her rogue clockworks. I do promise a more infotaining post next time (that’s informational/entertaining for those who didn’t know :P)

Read Full Post »

I must admit, I’ve stowed away once or twice on the great ship Steamed! This last time though, your lovely Captain, Lolita Suzanne, said the ship was in need of some new crew members. Since she had the most adorable little pink and pearl gun pointed at my head, I didn’t bother to ask what happened to the others. Instead, I told her to point me to my new quarters.

Warrior women in a time of steam work, right?

After getting settled into a spot somewhat more comfortable than the back corner of the cargo hold, she informed me that one of my primary duties would be posting an update to our log once a fortnight. The topic, of course, needs to focus on all things steam.

“But what of vampires?” I asked.

“Are they clockwork?” she replied.

With no intimate knowledge of that sort on the vampires, I asked, “But what of gods and romance and warrior women and…”

She cut me off with a look that told me in no uncertain terms that her princess gun was close at hand. “Steam, Lolita Seleste. If it does not fit in the world of steam, it has no place here.”

To which I smiled, nodded, and wished desperately that the cat hadn’t stolen my knives. But, upon closer examination, I realized that with the exception of the vampires (who I’m fairly confident have no clockwork parts) I could indeed speak on the others if only I could work in the proper angle. As I’m bucking for the job of chief mechanic on this bird, I’m pretty good with angles…

To that end, it is with great pleasure that I announce that the story of the warrior women of the Badlands and the dirigible The Dark Hawk is not ending with Badlands. I have recently sold the sequel, (tentatively titled) Clockwork Mafia, to Carina Press. I do not have any information on release date yet. However, I can tell you a couple things. First, there are two more books planned in the series beyond this one. Clockwork Mafia focuses on Henrietta, book three will center on Mahala, and book four will wrap up the series by following Laurette.

And, as you may recall, the last time I stowed away (prior to the insanity of being caught…) I offered up a prize that included a digital copy of Badlands as well the opportunity to have a Badlands warrior in one of the future installments named after them (there is a SLIM chance this could still happen with Clockwork Mafia). This ingenious device known as Random.org drew from the twelve comments other than my own and came up with the number four. That devious Lolita Cindy obviously tampered with the machine. And as there is already a Spencer in all of the books, she and I are destined to have words over this. It took me a moment, but I repaired the machine, and the new winner is comment #5… CLOTHDRAGON! Congratulations! Please contact me at selestedelaney(at)gmail(dot)com to collect your prize!

In the meantime, if you are curious enough about this stowaway turned crew member, you may find me lurking in various places (as lurking is one of the things I do best), such as:

Website: http://selestedelaney.com

Blog: http://selestedelaney.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SelestedeLaney

Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/seleste.delaney

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seleste-deLaney/111903172206874

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4243796.Seleste_deLaney

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/selestedelaney/

Read Full Post »

Today we welcome back author Seleste deLaney.  One lucky commenter will receive a digital copy of Badlands as well as the opportunity (if they wish) to have one of the Badlands warriors named after them in a future story.  Contest ends April 15, 2012. 

Seleste deLaney never lost her love of the fantastic, and her stories now always reach into other realms. The worlds and people she creates occupy as much of her time as the real world, and she is most fortunate to have a family that understands her idiosyncrasies and loves her anyway.  Visit her website at http://selestedelaney.com/

Fashion in a Time of Steam

by Seleste deLaney

When I created the world of Badlands, I wanted four very definite regions: the Union, the Confederacy, Texas, and (of course) the Badlands. Along with their different social attitudes—about pretty much everything—I came to realize that each place would have different ideas about clothing.

Ever was easy. The Badlands is a place where life revolves around the necessary. Ideas like “decency” and “propriety” don’t mean a lot when you’re a woman dealing with violent criminals on a daily basis. Clothes for Ever are more for protection than fashion, which is one reason she viewed her dress uniform with such disdain. It was so fitted she couldn’t fight in it effectively and, in that scenario, fighting without “armor” became preferable. It’s an attitude women from the Badlands, including the Queen, share and respect.

Aboard the Dark Hawk, however, there were two other women. As a former slave, Mahala didn’t care about a little bare skin one way or the other. To her, clothing was a sign of choice, and choice was a sign of freedom. Though she grew up in the Confederacy around women of status who dressed like traditional southern belles, her tastes skewed in a different direction. She loved and appreciated having the right and the means to purchase her own clothes, but she wanted very badly to leave her past behind her, so she disdained anything that would make her feel “like a lady.” Frilly clothes and the accessories that go with them were things slave-owners wore. So Mahala chose utility in the form of fitted breeches and men’s style shirts in bolder colors than she would have been allowed in her past life.

One womann, however, clung to her past life desperately. Out of the Dark Hawk’s crew, Henrietta was the only one to really balk at Ever’s state of undress when she came aboard (and that included the men). Born to Philadelphia society, Henri was raised to be both a scientist and a lady. The traditional steampunk garb of corsets and bustles became something that were a part of her because of that history. Even rushing around to deal with crew injuries, she made sure to always present herself in such a way that she would feel equally comfortable walking into the halls of Congress to visit her father. For her, those articles of clothing were her nod to propriety on the Dark Hawk, they were the thing that linked her to the life she left behind.

For those of you who have read Badlands, you know I like to challenge the way in which my female characters view themselves. Ever had to accept certain conditions in order to fulfill her mission—one of them being clothes—just as Henrietta had to accept that sometimes clothes and a veil of propriety are nothing more than masks.

Discussion point: When reading steampunk, do you require the bustles, corsets, vests, and pocket watches, or does the lack of them make you look for the reason behind their absence?

One commenter will receive a digital copy of Badlands as well as the opportunity (if they wish) to have one of the Badlands warriors named after them in a future story.

 ~Seleste deLaney

Website: http://selestedelaney.com/

Blog: http://selestedelaney.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seleste-deLaney/111903172206874

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/SelestedeLaney

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/selestedelaney/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4243796.Seleste_deLaney

 Badlands

After a brutal Civil War, America is a land divided. As commander of her nation’s border guards, Ever is a warrior sworn to protect her country and her queen. When an airship attacks and kills the monarch, Ever must infiltrate enemy territory to bring home the heir to the throne, and the dirigible Dark Hawk is her fastest way to the Union. 

Captain Spencer Pierce just wants to pay off the debt he owes on the Dark Hawk and make a life for himself trading across the border. When the queen’s assassination puts the shipping routes at risk, he finds himself Ever’s reluctant ally. 

As they fly into danger, Ever and Spencer must battle not only the enemy but also their growing attraction. She refuses to place her heart before duty, and he has always put the needs of his ship and crew above his own desires. Once the princess is rescued, perhaps they can find love in the Badlands— if death doesn’t find them first…

You can read an excerpt here: http://selestedelaney.com/Seleste_DeLaney/Stories/Entries/2011/2/28_Badlands.html

Read Full Post »

Today we welcome Steampunk author Seleste deLaney who’s going to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart.

Seleste deLaney started on her career path as a young child. Stories of talking animals soon gave way to a love of superheroes and science fiction. Her first foray into the world of romance came at age twelve when she envisioned a sweeping epic love story of two people thrust together and torn apart again and again by fate. As she recalls, the plan was for them to admit their love on his deathbed. But, as is often the case with pre-teen girls, a story of that depth gave way to other pursuits, and sadly it is completely lost other than vague memories.  After that, she occupied herself with short stories for a while, and then poetry until after she had earned a degree in chemistry, spent time as a high school teacher, and became a mother of two. Then she delved into writing fiction once more.  She never lost her love of the fantastic, and her stories now always reach into other realms. The worlds and people she creates occupy as much of her time as the real world, and she is most fortunate to have a family that understands her idiosyncrasies and loves her anyway.

Gun-Modding for the Artistically Challenged

by Seleste deLaney

For the Romantic Times convention, I dressed as a steampunk vampire hunter for one of the balls. I was supposed to have a crossbow, but that plan fell through at the last minute and I was in need of weapons. Since they had to fit in my suitcase (and I am bad at spending money), I bought a cute little derringer from Etsy. But it was so cute and so little (and didn’t fire darts like it should), I decided I should have a second one and set about modding it myself.

Now I’m preparing to dress as Ever, my heroine from Badlands, for FanExpo in a couple weeks and she’d probably laugh if someone handed her a derringer. I checked out Etsy and found a fabulous gun…for $70 plus shipping. Now this isn’t to say the gun isn’t worth that. The thing is gorgeous (and big). But there’s that thing about me not liking to spend money coupled with the fact that my son had the base weapon on his loft in our basement.

So yes, I decided to give it another go. Only this time, I’ve learned a few things.

1)     The first thing I learned is practice weapons are good. Get some cheap ones and see what you’d do if you were just winging it.

2)     Apparently the cheap guns (non-Nerf) don’t hold onto the paint as well, so don’t expect your practice ones to hold up well.

3)     Basecoats are a beautiful thing. For the new one, I sprayed everything with a light brown Krylon to start. It’s a good color because even if it shows through, it kind of looks like it should be there.

4)     Paintbrush variety if you’re hand painting is good. I don’t like to take the guns apart, so spraying only works as a basecoat for me.

5)     I suck at detail work. When I mentioned artistically-challenged, I meant it. I don’t have the patience for detail work. What that means is:

  1. Embrace what I can do. I like adding a little bit of gold rubbing on places where more artsy people would do some detail work. It still adds interest without making me cry or pull my hair out.
  2. Work around what I can’t. The really nice lines between the raised pieces? I can’t do it in black because I will screw them up, but a slightly darker brown just for a bit of contrast will work.
  3. Strive for perfect imperfection. A lot of modded weapons have a “worn” look to them. Artsy people have to try to get that by doing extra steps. The artistically challenged people have it easier. If we try to make ours perfect, odds are it’ll have just enough imperfections to fall under this header. WIN!

6)     Don’t forget a finish coat. After all the paint is very dry, spray it with clear coat. If you’re adding little baubles, I’d spray before AND after. (Might be wrong, but if the bauble pops off, hopefully that way it won’t take all the paint with it)

7)     Don’t rush the drying process. For RT, I only had a couple days and things weren’t “finished”. For FanExpo, I’m getting it done well over a week in advance so I have time to let it sit before I touch it again.

Now, I won’t pretend that my homemade gun is going to rock as much as the one on Etsy, but I also didn’t spend $80 on something I may break or forget while I’m in Canada. Plus, my kids are going to want to play with it, so better it’s one of their toys in the first place.

Do any of you have advice for novice modders? Or horror stories? Or want to smack me over the head with a tesla because I’m being silly?

~Seleste deLaney

http://www.selestedelaney.com

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: