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Today is the last day of Steampunkapalooza.  Thank you so much for your participation, for your comments, for entering our contests, and your continued support.  This blog wouldn’t keep on if it wasn’t for each and every one of you. 

There’s still room in my May steampunk online writing workshop.  It’s different from the last one and I’d love for you to join us.  Info here.

We still have some contests going on.  Don’t forget that each day you comment during Carina Press week you’ll be entered to win a Carina Press prize pack of the four Steampunk e-books featured.

You can still win a $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, a Twisted Tale of Stormy Gail mug and trading cards,  or another swag and book bag from RT.

Today we welcome back Steampunk author Cindy Spencer Pape.

Author of over forty popular books and stories in paranormal, historical, and contemporary romance, Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader of romance fantasy, mystery, and even more romance. Cindy firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in Michigan with him, two adult sons & an ever-changing menagerie of pets.  Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her home.

Research vs. Reality in a Steampunk World

By Cindy Spencer Pape

When Carina Press asked me to write a novella that tied into my Gaslight Chronicles series, I was thrilled. I loved writing the first book, Steam & Sorcery, with its blend of steam technology, Arthurian legend, urban fantasy, and uptight Victorian society. What I needed though, were characters to hang the story on. I didn’t want to skip ahead to any of the street children from Merrick and Caroline’s story. I wanted something that would bridge the gap between the generations.

Since I had the whole Order of the Round Table to work with, I decided on the young Marquess Lake. (Does the name du Lac ring any bells to tell you who he’s descended from, LOL?) But he needed a strong heroine. Someone who wasn’t impressed by his title or his powers. Someone with a career of her own. Then the title Photographs and Phantoms clicked in my brain and I knew she was a photographer, a savvy career woman, troubled by ghosts, or something like them. And just like the click of a shutter, it all came together.

Now came the tricky part. Much of the steam technology in my world is made up, my own version of alternate history. But in the late 1850s, photography was already thriving and evolving as both a science and an art. So I decided to leave it alone. Gasp. Yep, the only difference is that Amy has a clockwork cart to carry her equipment when she goes down to photograph tourists on the beach. The rest of her techniques are authentic to the era. I figured why mess with something that was already in place? Thus began a couple weeks of reading books and websites on Brighton Beach, England, photography in the 1800’s, fashions, and even the invention of fire escapes on buildings came into play. I think adding the factual details when possible helps set the tone for the clockwork pets and steam-powered zeppelins.

All of this was during the last couple months of last year. Then, as serendipity would have it, at Christmas, my in-laws passed on to us a big pile of family photographs. Imagine me grinning as I picked out cartes-de-visite, wedding photos, death photos (ick!) glass-plate albumin negatives, and Daguerreotypes, not to mention guessing years by the presence of hoops or bustles. I guess research is never wasted, is it? (grin)

To find out a little about my plucky Canadian photographer and her very British Knight, check out Photographs & Phantoms, a FREE download from Carina Press, to help celebrate their Steampunk Week.

Photographs & Phantoms

A Gaslight Chronicles Novella

Available as a Free Download from Carina Press

Click here to order, or here to read an excerpt.

Blurb: Brighton, 1855

As a member of the Order of the Round Table, Kendall Lake is overqualified to be investigating strange phenomena at a seaside photography studio. But since the photographer is related to the Order’s most powerful sorcerer, Kendall reluctantly boards a dirigible to Brighton.

Amy Deland is haunted by a shadow that appears in some of her recent portraits. In each case, the subject died within days of the sitting. Does she have her grandmother’s gift of foresight, or has she somehow caused the deaths?

As Kendall and Amy search for answers, their investigation draws them together in a most improper way. But it seems the evil presence in the studio is determined to keep them apart…

~Cindy Spencer Pape

www.cindyspencerpape.com

Comment for a chance to win a Carina Press e-book prize pack.  Grand prize contest is open internationally.  One entry, per person, per blog post during Carina Press week (so, if you comment all four days, you get four entries).  Enter by leaving a comment in the comment box.  Contest ends May 8, 11:59 PM PST.

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Carina Press Week continues during our last week of Steampunkapalooza.  Don’t forget to comment every day for a chance to win a prize pack of Carina Press Steampunk e-books.

First we have the winner of one of Leanna Renee Hieber’s Percy Parker books:

Tina

Congrats!  Email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.  Didn’t win? You can still win a $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, or another swag and book bag from RT.

Speaking of Steampunk goodies, there’s an epic contest going on right now at the ARe Cafe sponsored by our friends at the ARe Steam Society.  They’re giving away twelve different Steampunk e-books  and steampunk hair stuff (and who doesn’t want steampunk hair stuff.)  Check it out.

Today we welcome 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. Christine loves to hear from readers, so please feel free to get in touch with her via the Contact Page.

The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale
by Christine Bell

First, let me say that I am SO excited about Steampunk Week at Carina Press! There is a great line up of books and authors, and I’m honored to be a part of it. The covers have all been gorgeous, and Carina made this cool video trailer so this has been a really fun month so far.

What I love the most, though, is the spread we’ve got. While all of this week’s books have steampunk elements, they also run the gamut of sub-genres. From erotic to paranormal, from western to time travel romance, the bases are covered.

Now, I know some purists who like their steampunk EXTRA steampunk-y, with nuttin’ else mucking it up. I’m not one of those people. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy straight steampunk. I truly do. But, as a reader, I also love seeing it mixed with other sub-genres to come up with something new and fresh. And, as an author, I like the freedom of taking the things I enjoy most when I’m reading and mashing them together.

When I was writing The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale, I knew I wanted it to be a time travel romance with a steampunk feel. I also had a loose outline of the plot. What I didn’t know was that my main character, Stormy, was going to be sarcastic and really funny. Since the tale is told from her point of view, I let her dictate the tone of the book. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with my character and, even though I knew I was veering a bit from the traditional, dark-ish, dystopian vibe that is so often present in steampunk, I couldn’t bring myself to change it. So, while there is a bit of grit (think medieval torture chambers and sanitariums) and it’s chock full of characters living on the fringe of society (think street urchins, fortune tellers and time pirates) my world is actually pretty much like real-world London and real world New England during the Victorian Era.

Instead, I chose to “get my steampunk on” through the invention of time travel complete with gears and goggles and wormholes, which only my characters are aware of. At the end of the day, I tried to deliver a really fun adventure story that both satisfies the steampunk craving, while still capturing a feeling of hope and happy-ever-after. I hope I succeeded!

So, how about you? Are you a purist, or do you like to see a mix of genres? Are there facets of steampunk you feel are integral to the genre that you just can’t live without?

One commenter will win an awesome mug featuring my book cover, plus a set of my Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale romance trading cards (which, I must say, are drool-worthy)!

~Christine Bell

http://www.christine-bell.com/

Oh, there’s still room in my May steampunk online writing workshop. This one will be really hands on to help you develop and finish your ms.  We may even get into pitching… Info here.

So how do you like your steampunk?  Straight up or mixed up? 

One lucky commenter on today’s post will win a “Stormy Gale” mug and romance trading cards.  Contest open until May 4th, 11:59 PM PST.  Grand prize contest is open internationally.  One entry, per person, per blog post during Carina Press week (so, if you comment all four days, you get four entries).  Enter by leaving a comment in the comment box.  Contest ends May 8, 11:59 PM PST.

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Carina Press week continues here at Steamed!  Don’t forget to comment on each post this week (Tuesday-Friday) for a chance to win a prize pack of all four featured Carina Press Steampunk e-books.  We still have other contests going on including a copy of one of Leanna Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful books , a $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, or another swag and book bag from RT.

Today we welcome Carina Press Steampunk Author Marie Harte.

 Marie Harte has been writing for as long as she can remember. Interest in the written word, no doubt spawned by her English teacher father, continues to this day. She’s a voracious reader, boggling everything from romance to horror to fantasy and more. She’s in love with the art of putting pen to paper…so to speak.  Marie currently has nearly fifty titles with Amber Quill, Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id, Samhain, Total E-Bound and Whispers Publishing.  Journeyman’s Ride is available now from Carina Press. 

The “Steam” in Steampunk

by Marie Harte

Steampunk is such a great representation for the kind of book I’ve always wanted to write. The rules are vague, the lines confining the genre full of gaps and crumbling mortar. Here, creativity rules.

There are certain tropes when one thinks of steampunk. Goggles, gas lanterns and steam locomotives, for example. Or Victorian ladies running amuck in London trying to avoid dastardly villains, who always seem to have a zeppelin at hand for some nefarious purpose.

The aforementioned are some of the images I envisioned when I heard the word steampunk, and that’s only after I researched the term. I’d heard of cyberpunk, but steampunk? Yet this niche genre is growing, and so are its strictures.

In my story, Journeyman’s Ride, I felt free to create wonderful inventions that shouldn’t exist where steam—and not electricity—is a major source of power. I used a steam locomotive to ground myself in the genre.  But take note: the train crashes early on, and my story is set in the West, a growing trend among alternative novels. I didn’t mind going there, as I’m a sucker for a good Western.

I’m also a huge fan of Norse mythology. And cannibals.  And mechanical monsters. I love the idea of juxtaposing civilization against raw wilderness, where both environments exist yet neither overrides the other. Where else but in fiction can you find a world teased with civility that isn’t overcome (or tainted) by it?

Ideas swirled, and my story became much more than just a romance with a steampunk backdrop. Was it less steampunk and more fantasy? Too much erotic fiction, not enough danger?  Where did I need to draw the line, or did I need to draw one at all?

When is steampunk not so much steampunk? 

When does fantasy or creativity test the boundaries of the genre?  I honestly don’t know, and I don’t think it’s an easy answer. My book has so many descriptions it’s dizzying. It’s erotic, romantic, Western, steampunk, and contains the mythic element of Norse gods.

All this might seem like a lot to throw into a novella, but it’s all just background. The real story centers on two protagonists who need to resolve conflict and grow together. That they do amidst a retro world that glues together several genres into one anachronistic story is half the fun.

This first foray into steampunk has addicted me, and I plan to delve into this world again in the future. More gods, more steam and gaslight tech, and more romance. I don’t claim to be the foremost authority on steampunk as a genre, but I do know romance. A splash of danger, a hero’s journey, and a rich world are nothing without memorable characters.

I’d like to think I—and my Carina contemporaries—have added to the steampunk experience from a romance perspective.  We’ve taken this gaslight/steam world, added a dash of love, and mixed it up to produce adventures that keep a reader turning pages.  Sexy, retro, and romantic. Think of it as even more “steam” in your steampunk.

Cheers!

~Marie
www.marieharte.com
http://marieharte.blogspot.com
Journeyman’s Ride now available at Carina Press

What do you think of the intersection of Steampunk and romance?  Anything you’d like to see? 

Grant prize contest is open internationally.  One entry, per person, per blog post during Carina Press week (so, if you comment all four days, you get four entries).  Enter by leaving a comment in the comment box.  Contest ends May 8, 11:59 PM PST.

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Thank you so much for making Steamed, and Steampunkapalooza, a success.  We’ve surpassed 300 posts and 2,000 comments (and 135,000 hits) in the two years this blog as been around.  Please keep visiting, commenting, and suggesting new guests and topics. 

It’s Carina Press Week as Steampunkapalooza draws to an end.  At Carina Press it’s also Steampunk week, where they’re promoting all their fab Steampunk books and authors and giving away a free Steampunk read.  Carina Press is part of Harlequin and they’re as excited about Steampunk as we are here at Steamed. 

This week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday), we’ll have a different Carina Press author on each day.  Each day you comment, you’re entered to win a prize pack from Carina Press, which includes e-books from all four of the Carina press authors featured this week. 

Today we welcome author Crista McHugh 

Crista McHugh grew up in small town Alabama, where she relied on story-telling as a natural way  to pass the time and keep her two younger sisters entertained.  She’s been a barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant, and autopsy assistant.  Currently lives in the Seattle area with her husband and daughter, maintaining an alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while writing on nights and weekends.  For the latest updates and answers to any burning questions, please check out her blog.

How Bruce Campbell Inspired My Steampunk Western

by Crista McHugh

I have a confession to make. I loved The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr when I was younger. Bruce Campbell played the title character, a lawyer turned bounty hunter with a perchance for great one-liners. I was so bummed when Fox cancelled it, but thankfully, I can still download episodes on You Tube when I need to get my fix.

The great thing about this show (besides Bruce) was that it combined westerns with touch of the paranormal. It was Cowboys & Aliens before Harrison Ford was ever cast for the film. So when I started plotting for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2008, I naturally thought it would be fun to write something like Brisco County. But instead of using Sci-Fi elements, I veered more toward Steampunk.

Like The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, the world of The Alchemy of Desire is part Wild West and part Wild, Wild West. It’s about two brothers on a quest to find the White Buffalo (not a golden orb) with a gang of bad guys (and their steam-powered inventions) hot on their tails and woman who has her own agenda for them. And there’s even a slightly roguish character that’s great with the one-liners.

You can buy The Alchemy of Desire from Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook retailers.

Where do you draw your Steampunk inspiration?

 ~Crista McHugh

http://www.cristamchugh.com/

In addition to being entered into our week-long drawing for a Carina Press Steampunk Prize Pack, one lucky commenter on today’s post with also win a $10 GC to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Contest closes May 1st at 11:59 PM PST.  For grand prize drawing, one entry per commenter per blog post during Carina Press Steampunk Week.  Contest for grand prize closes May 8th at 11:59 PM PST.

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Today’s Visiting Lolita is author Cindy Spencer Pape who’s new release Steam & Sorcery is now available from Carina Press.

Author of over forty popular books and stories in paranormal, historical, and contemporary romance, Cindy Spencer Pape is an avid reader of romance fantasy, mystery, and even more romance.  Cindy firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in Michigan with him, two adult sons & an ever-changing menagerie of pets.  Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the three male humans who share her home.

Steampunk Lite?

By Cindy Spencer Pape

One of the tenets that you often hear about Steampunk is that it has to be a dystopian, bleak setting, a worst-case scenario of the Victorian or Edwardian eras.

Oops. Now they tell me. I fell in love with the idea of Steampunk early on, but never quite managed to write a world as dark as I’d planned. Sure, in Steam & Sorcery, the slums of London are rife with poverty, prostitution, black lung disease and vampyres, (yes, vampyres—the nasty, smelly, evil kind!) but there’s also progress toward women’s rights, fascinating scientific advancements, and a glittering high society. Those of the upper class work diligently, of course, to pretend the bad stuff doesn’t exist. Even when it’s right under their noses. Just like they ignore the chambermaid and her automated sweeper. If they don’t acknowledge it, it can’t be there, right? To me, that’s not so much dystopian as simply the way things were (and are.) Mostly I don’t want to talk about the politics, I want to talk about the vampyres and robots and governesses and sex.

So there you go. Steam & Sorcery is a mash-up of steampunk, fantasy, and mostly romance. My working title for this book was Mary Poppins meets Van Helsing—with robots. That pretty much sums it up. A wealthy, titled vampyre hunter, the Order of the Round Table, a bunch of street urchins with automaton pets, and a plucky, not-quite-human governess. Add some steamy sex, some horrible villains, and shake well. Voila!

If you want to take a walk on the lighter side of Steampunk, I’d love for you to stop by the Carina Press website and check out Steam & Sorcery, the first in my new Gaslight Chronicles series. I’d like to thank Suzi for having me here today and letting me share the fun. To celebrate the new release, I’m running a contest. Comment on any (or all) of the blogs I visit on my blog tour this week. One entry per person, per blog stop. You can visit my blog to find the other stops. After the final stops on Sunday, March 13, I’ll draw one winner for a free download of Steam & Sorcery, or their choice of my other available titles. Happy Reading!

~Cindy Spencer Pape

http://www.cindyspencerpape.com/

 Steam & Sorcery, Gaslight Chronicles #1

Sir Merrick Hadrian hunts monsters, both human and supernatural. A Knight of the Order of the Round Table, his use of magick and the technologies of steam power have made him both respected and feared. But his considerable skills are useless in the face of his greatest challenge, guardianship of five unusual children. At a loss, Merrick enlists the aid of a governess.

Miss Caroline Bristol is reluctant to work for a bachelor but she needs a position, and these former street children touch her heart. While she tends to break any mechanical device she touches, it never occurs to her that she might be something more than human. All she knows is that Merrick is the most dangerously attractive man she’s ever met—and out of reach for a mere governess.

When conspiracy threatens to blur the distinction between humans and monsters, Caroline and Merrick must join forces, and the fate of humanity hinges upon their combined skills of steam and sorcery…

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