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Lolita Cindy, Gail Carriger, and I

By the time Lolita Cindy and I made it back to the dirigible, we barely had energy to stagger to our berths. As excited as I’d been for the opportunity, I hadn’t anticipated the excursion to be quite so draining.

From the moment we’d stepped inside World Steam Expo, my heart sank. Though I could indeed blend in as Lolita Suzanne had suggested, my quest seemed impossible. How was I supposed to find one item in this sea of finery, frippery, and outright nonsense? As daunted as I was by the immensity of my task, I refused to shy away from the challenge. Lolita Cindy seemed quite at home so, as I’d been told, I accompanied her for much of the first day.

We learned of villains and heroes and damsels-in-distress (who I feel are all best put out of their misery, thank you very much). In addition, we learned both trickery and attacks with a variety of weaponry. As soon as I felt comfortable enough, I set out on my own.

The Bawdy Boys

Oddly enough, it didn’t take long before I set my eyes upon my goal. In mere moments, however, it was snatched from my grasp and lost once more in the crowd. I spent much of the evening searching for it, from the battle room of Aegis to the thrummingly violent strains from The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing–all for nought. I retired, exhausted and dejected.

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Lead Singer of TMTWNBBFN

After an unfortunate delay, I returned the next day to resume my hunt. When every avenue brought me nothing, I turned at last to the lure of wormwood and the hope of second sight. Once again, music called to me, the siren songs of The Bawdy Boys as well as the musical displays from Steam-Powered Giraffe hypnotized me, lulling me into a strange sense of security and innocence as the drink took hold of my brain. I danced in a haze of clockworks and corsets until I woke with the sunrise…outside on the grass.

No one was near, but beneath the expanse of my skirts rested the sapphire beauty I’d come to claim. How I’d taken possession of the thing, I’ve no earthly idea. What the wormwood and music did to my mind…

Blasted evil scientists…

It didn’t matter. I had what I’d come for. At once, I secreted it away from pirates, scientists, and that little slip of a girl who delighted in showing off with her pistol. None there could be trusted, not even my fellow Lolita. Still, appearances had to be maintained, so after securing my treasure, I made my way back to Lolita Cindy, staying demurely by her side until we returned to the ship.

Though I detest the idea that I had to leave my prize, I am confident none will find it. For certain things have a life of their own–the sapphire chose me as its keeper as surely as I chose it. And I will return. I must. For this adventure has only begun.

Bloody Pirate (aka my partner-in-crime Maureen’s favorite pirate, Thee Bluebeard) trying to blend in with Steampunk Chicago

Needless to say, I had a fantastic time at World Steam Expo, and I can’t wait for next year. Also, if you have a chance to visit Ms. Martha’s Corset Shoppe, I highly recommend her work. I got a beautiful blue corset from her at the convention and am kicking myself for only buying one.

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Puttering amongst my old berth in the back of the cargo hold, I stumbled upon a scrap of paper. Since I hadn’t had the chance to sneak into the captain’s library, I salivated over the opportunity to read something not written  in the log book. I examined that piece of paper so long and so hard that my head began to throb with the implications. Even as I rubbed at my forehead in an attempt to dull the ache, I continued to stare and plot.

It’s there. Right there. If only I could–

“Lolita Seleste! Why aren’t you at your post?” The captain, Lolita Suzanne, rounded the stack of crates that towered over me, anger writ in the pinching of her brows and the tight line of her lips. I was in trouble.

“I came here for my break and–”

She pointed toward the ladder, not deigning to speak until I started that way. “You specifically requested boiler duty. If you want to make yourself indispensable to this ship, you cannot shirk your responsibilities.”

“Yes, Captain.” I still clutched the paper in my fingers as I climbed. This was, by no means, the proper time to ask, but if I waited I would lose any chance. “Captain, I believe part of the reason for my daydreaming is that I’m unaccustomed to so much time confined. Some time on the ground would do my state of mind a world of good. Re-focus my attention.”

She tilted her head, eyeing me in a most discomfiting manner. “Aye, Lolita Seleste. I can see where that might be of some benefit. The ship will touch down tomorrow in order for the crew to participate in something called #steampunkchat. Foolish beliefs about romance and airships. Nonsense really, but it will provide you the opportunity you’re looking for. You may accompany Lolita Cindy on her errand.”

Not at all what I had in mind. “But, Captain–”

“She is attending the World Steam Expo. Surely, someone with aspirations such as yours could benefit from joining her.” The captain tilted her head toward the crumpled paper in my hand.

My lips twitched, and I had to fight the urge to smile. “Aye, Captain. I surely could.”

“Dismissed.” The instant she turned away, I raced toward the boiler room. Then her voice pulled me up short again, “Oh and, Lolita Seleste, do make sure you dress the part. I will not allow any of my people to present our dirigible or crew in a negative light.”

“Aye, Captain.” She’d as much as told me to blend in. Surely she wasn’t giving me permission to… No. Preposterous…

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In case you haven’t figured it out, I will indeed be attending World Steam Expo in Dearborn, Michigan, this weekend, along with fellow Lolita Cindy Spencer Pape. If you happen to be there, I’d love it if you found me to say hi on Saturday or stopped by the Local Authors panel we’ll be part of on Monday at one. (I will have a limited supply of Badlands buttons and chapter books as well as postcards with discounts for ebooks at the Carina Press website.) In addition, don’t forget about the last #steampunkchat before the summer hiatus. It’s tonight at 9PM Eastern time. The topic is romance in steampunk, and I’ve heard rumors there will be book giveaways!

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Welcome back to Steampunkapalooza.  We now have a facebook page to replace our group that sort of went away.  Like it for the latest news.

Now, to welcome back author Cindy Spencer Pape.  She’s going to give away a download of Steam & Sorcery to one lucky commenter!  Contest ends April 15, 2012. 

Award-winning author Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Married for more than twenty-five years to her own, sometimes-kilted hero, she lives in southern Michigan with him and two grown sons, along with an ever-changing menagerie of pets.  Author of more than 40 books, Cindy has been, among other things, a banker, a teacher, and an elected politician, but mostly an environmental educator, though now she is lucky enough to write full-time. Her degrees in zoology and animal behavior almost help her comprehend the male humans who share her household.

A World of Gaslight

by Cindy Spencer Pape

In March of 2011 Carina Press launched a book that was very near and dear to my heart. Steam & Sorcery, first book in the brand new Gaslight Chronicles hit the shelf, and it’s been a roller coaster ride of fun ever since. Earning a 4.5 Star Review from Romantic Times and the EPIC award for Science Fiction Romance, it’s been, by far, my most successful book to date. In April of that year, we released a Gaslight Chronicles novella, Photographs and Phantoms, which is a FREE download from all major e-tailers.

Up this year? A longer novella, Kilts & Kraken, takes the Chronicles to Scotland in June. It will be available in print as part of Carina Press’s second anniversary celebration, in the Editor’s Choice anthology. In October, look for a second full-length novel, Moonlight & Mechanicals, and for anyone following the series, that will be Wink and Liam’s story. Also, the German edition of Steam & Sorcery will make its debut. This month, I’ll be at the Romantic Times convention in steampunk gear, talking about the genre, and having the time of my life. The blend of history, paranormal and technology is just the perfect fit for my wild imagination.

When I set out to build a world for the Gaslight Chronicles, I knew a few things. I wanted to start early in the steampunk era, and build the technology over the successive books. So in the first, we’re only a decade or so after the introduction of Babbage engines changed the world, and event a lot of traditional SF alternate history also hinges on. Computers, or engines, are still big and bulky and limited. By book 4, you’ll start seeing terminals connected to a larger machine—sort of where we were in the 1980s. Transportation and communications—airships, steam cars and telephones, are also changing, and as the series progresses, the difference from reality and my steampunk world becomes greater. Other aspects of the Victorian world haven’t changed. Dickens’ London is still a dark, bleak place to be poor. The gap between wealthy and poor is still enormous. Women are still forced into wearing corsets and hoops, and being chaperoned wherever they go. By book 3, though, we’re starting to see some changes as the first few classes of women graduate from Lovelace College, a school my fictionalized version of Lady Lovelace established at Oxford for ladies in the sciences.

I knew my first hero, Sir Merrick Hadrian, had to be part of a secret government organization hunting vampyres and other supernatural threats to the Crown and its people. The exact structure of that organization was one of the biggest hang-ups to writing the book. It was my husband who said, “Well if it’s in England, the logical group for paranormal enforcement is the Order of the Round Table.” Then it clicked and the entire series came together. I’d already used several names in the book that traced back to the original Knights. The MacKay family is obviously derived from Sir Kay. The Lakes? From Lancelot, of course. Devere from Bedivere. The Round Table mythos snapped into place and a series was born.

As the series has continued, I’ve become more and more lost in the world of alternate history romance. I have a couple of projects underway for other publishers, set in different worlds, but I think my first love in steampunk will always be a book I originally called “Mary Poppins meets Van Helsing—with robots.”

The Gaslight Chronicles are available in e-book format from Carina Press and all the major e-tailers, and in audio book from audible.com. And just for fun, I’m offering one free download of Steam & Sorcery to one random commenter below. If you’d like a risk-free taste of my Gaslight world, don’t forget Phantoms & Photographs is available for free.

 ~Cindy Spencer Pape

Website: http://www.cindyspencerpape.com

Blog: http://cindyspencerpape.blogspot.com/

Newsletter group: http://yhoo.it/ni7PHo  

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CindySPape

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/gjbLLC

 

Steam & Sorcery

A Gaslight Chronicles Novel

By Cindy Spencer Pape

Available from Carina Press

http://ebooks.carinapress.com/679C79D5-7079-4967-AAED-913CC2F6216A/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=6324BB13-8E23-45E0-A12F-AF43940FB808

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…

 

Photographs & Phantoms

A Gaslight Chronicles Novella

Available as a Free Download from Carina Press

http://ebooks.carinapress.com/416CE623-CF5A-4603-B75E-342C0B5D8B1C/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID={557C0099-E96D-4C73-A9A5-D2A79DDEF461}

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…

Kilts & Kraken

A Gaslight Chronicles Novella

Coming 6/4/2012

From Carina Press

Magnus, Baron Findlay, longs to bring the wonders of the steam age to his remote island home, but his hands are full fighting the vicious kraken ravaging the coast. When he’s swept to sea during battle and washes up on the shore of an isle in the Hebrides, he is near death.

Struggling to establish herself as one of the first female physicians in Edinburgh, Dr. Geneva MacKay is annoyed when The Order of the Round Table sends her north to care for an injured Highlander. To heal him,Geneva escorts the handsome warrior home, just in time to defend the villagers from another onslaught.

As the attacks escalate and they work together to fight off the threat, neither Geneva nor Magnus can resist the overwhelming attraction between them. But as their relationship deepens, a new threat arises – from within the village itself…

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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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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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