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Prudence for print -with trim -300 dpi -CMYKSibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award winning historical romance author Deborah Schneider. Sibelle writes sexy Steampunk and paranormal stories, filled with magic, witches, mad scientists, dirigibles, automatons, and creatures that would scare the panties off Deborah. In her spare time Sibelle enjoys dressing up in Victorian ensembles, modding play guns into something that looks a bit more sinister and wearing hats. Deborah/Sibelle works for one of the busiest library systems in the country and she’s been named Librarian of the Year by Romance Writers of America. Her first full-length Steampunk romance, Prudence and the Professor, will be released in May 2013. Visit her website at www.sibellestone.com to see what costuming fun she’s having throughout the year.
Steamcon – A Steampunk Adventure
by  Sibelle Stone
Steamcon III 052A few years ago I didn’t really know much about Steampunk. I’d seen some photos of Steampunk fashion and as someone who has written books set in the Victorian era as well as an adult who never, ever outgrew “dressing up” —I felt like I’d found my “people”.
Then, a friend emailed me and asked if I was planning to attend “Steamcon” in Seattle. Well, I live near Seattle and I was incredibly interested in the Steampunk sub-culture. So of course I said, “Damned right I shall be attending!” In my very best Victorian speak.How can I even describe attending an event where everyone seems to share an enthusiasm for all the wild, weird aspects of a pretend world? Better than Disney World? Well, there aren’t any rides but having the opportunity to be with like-minded folks who imagined, for even the expanse of a weekend, that we could be all be part of something bigger and better was intoxicating. (Not to mention the many social events at the bar).
steamcon2010-35There was amazing costuming, fabulous music—including ABNEY PARK and one of my favorite artists,UNWOMAN, plus workshops, a Victorian Tea, vendors, readings, gaming, and more. The weekend was packed with things to do, nice people to talk with and fun.
Since then, I’ve attended every Steamcon, including last year when the theme was “Victorian Monsters” which was perfect for the pre-Halloween experience. The costumes were even more outrageous, the workshops informative on a variety of topics, such as Victorian Mediums and Mortuary Traditions, plus the music, art, vendors and gaming.
2012-10-27_19-49-29_173If you can only afford to attend one Steampunk event this year, and you’re close to the West coast, I invite you toSteamcon V. It’s small enough to get to know people, but big enough for a variety of incredible programming choices.
The theme this year is “Around the World”. And say hello to me! I’ll be wearing the  Chinese silk jacket and amazing hat. There MUST always be an amazing hat!
~Sibelle
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If you’ve never been to a steampunk con, let me say, you’re missing something. It is emersion into the culture at it’s finest. Where do I even begin?

Just look at that arm!

How about Friday? Friday early I arrived at the location of SteamCon II, which was held between the SeaTac Marriot and SeaTac Hilton. (For those of you not familiar with the Seattle area, that’s right across from the Seattle airport, which means it’s great for people flying in, but not so fun to walk between the two up the hill and down the hill depending on which activity or workshop you were interested in.) The registration lines looped around a bit like Disneyland, and people in the pre-registered line were all in costume, and so were most of those who were coming in to register that day for the event. Unlike other conferences and conventions I’ve been to, the costuming is a huge part of the experience. There’s eye-candy everywhere.

Fabulously Dressed Ladies in Workshop

They gave us a newspaper-like program heaped with so many different workshops and events it was likely to make your top-hat spin. What a glorious array! Everything from steampunk modding and how real gun fights work to magic and steampunk, and chats with the likes of James Blaylock (one

Tuesday Lolita Theresa Meyers with James Blaylock

of the founding fathers of the genre), Cherie Priest, Gail Carriger, Jay Lake, Nick Valentino and the intrepid inventor Jake Von Slatt, and a set of Steampunk ghost-busting enthusiasts from The League of S.T.E.A.M.

Member of The League of S.T.E.A.M.

There was a Grand Mercantile with a huge array of things to be purchased – feathers, leathers, hats and tea, corsets, books and jewelry (oh, good grief, does that actually rhyme?) You could find numerous opportunities to practice your acting skills in live action role-playing events (LARP), or game away in the various game rooms. (I attempted to sit in on a card and dice game of The Good, The Bad and The Munchkin, and having never played any sort of Munchkin was still horribly newbie and lost despite the best efforts of my fellow players at the end of an hour. Thank you to those of you who were so gracious and patient.)

The devine Cherie Priest on her way to a workshop

Friday also presented us with the First Annual Airship Awards, where lovely little airship statuettes were presented for the best in written, auditory, visual and community support of the genre. (Winners and finalists in each can be found at the SteamCon II website if you are curious.) They had a lovely dinner, and big screen flashing various images of the finalist. A few funny speeches and a lot of fun talk around the tables with fellow steampunk enthusiasts.

Saturday saw more workshops and the hosting of a most memorable afternoon tea and fashion show. The designers had some absolutely stunning clothes (which I believe there might be pictures of at the SteamCon website shortly).

A good doggone answer to What is Steampunk?

Due to an unforeseen series of most fortunate events, I was invited to fill in for an author who had to cancel at the last moment, so I spoke on three different panels and gave a reading. May I say, if you ever get the opportunity to go to a workshop by Jay Lake, do so. He is a veritable fount of one-liners that are both groan-worthy and very humorous at the same time.

That is a HUGE hand, mister.

We talked about what is steampunk, dissecting the genre, as it were, and after an hour came to the conclusion that it’s as much time period and aesthetic as it is a particular feeling to the work which is based in the gilded age where excess reigned supreme and exploration was rather mandatory, vs. diesel-punk which has roots more firmly grounded in the dystopian elements of the great depression and world war, where scarcity rules the day and invention is out of necessity to use and reuse whatever one had on hand to survive.

A Teapot handbag! How brilliant!

I went to workshops on ghost hunting in the Victorian era, steam cowboys and one about Hoaxes perpetuated by newspapers of the time by the likes of writers such as Samuel Clemens and Edgar Allen Poe, who apparently made a decent enough showing of it to have their tales of airships being spotted over the city, and animals escaping zoos in the midst of busy down-town cities very popular – and gasp, news of the day. In fact, I found it most fascinating that fictional tales were often intermingled with actual news items in such prestigious publications at The Boston Globe, and not much was done to distinguish between the two. (Wait, how is that so different than today’s reporting?)

L to R Nick Valentino, Tues. Lolita Theresa and Wed. Lolita Elizabeth

I digress. I went shopping in the grand mercantile and purchased a new corset, some tea and some Christmas presents. I had fun lunch with fellow Lolita Elizabeth Darvill. Late in the day I gave a reading from my Weird West set steampunk The Hunter, which doesn’t even come out until late 2011. I let the audience choose, from two sections, action or spicy. They unanimously picked the spicy version. Unfortunately, we’d spent so much time chit-chatting to start that we barely even got into the spicy bit before my half hour was up.

They actually move up and down!

I also took time to visit the art gallery. Wow! Such creativity. (I didn’t know if we were actually allowed to take pictures, so I opted not to.) There were three-dimensional sculptures, prints, clothing, jewelry and more.

Saturday night was the esteemed Outlaw Concert featuring three different bands, including the well-known steampunk stylings of Abney Park. There were people crowded, spinning, dipping and doing what suspiciously looked to me like the Tango out on the dance floor in front of the stage. We were admonished at the beginning of the concert not to leap upon the stage due to the damaging of equipment in the past from such behaviors. While I had to leave early (because I was driving back and forth from home each day rather than staying at the hotel) apparently the high enthusiasm kept up until 3:30 Sunday morning.

Lovely use of top hat and corset!

Which made giving a workshop at 9:00 am Sunday morning a bit of let down. A few hardy souls trickled in to hear about Steampunk Young Adult books, but by far, I think people were likely still dealing with the affects of the concert the night before. I was part of another talk later in the day about Character vs. Setting which was better attended.

I also went to a workshop about the history of steam propulsion that was incredible. Who knew the first hybrid steam/electric car was actually introduced in 1903 and the Prius in 2003? Makes you wonder what the auto industry has actually be working on in the last 100 years, doesn’t it?

Hey, Zombies! Mad Scientist with Brain Pack over here!

My overall impression is that steampunk cons are a meeting of the mind, the creative, social and intellectual (not to mention the dancing portion of one’s anatomy). If you really want to have a good time, prepared to bring comfortable shoes and costumes. Not just one costume, but at least one for each day, and possibly a forth for dancing or going to fancier dinners and events. And don’t be shy about being a mad scientist with a backpack brain on one day and an aeronaut hottie with brown bolero-length bomber jacket and brown leather and wool trimmed hot pants on another, and a high-society vixen with an outrageous top hat and bustle on the third. Everything goes as long as it relates back to the genre. And the array of hats is very impressive. One person at a workshop put it best, “I’ve discovered something about steampunk, there is no such thing as excess. One can never have too much of anything.”

No such thing as excess, I tell you!

Be prepared to shop for those things you’ll find it difficult to get elsewhere. Have business cards so you can share with fellow steampunk fans, and for the love of all that’s decent, if you are going to give a workshop, at least provide some type of handout to go with your brilliant Powerpoint so people will have something to take with them. There’s just too much information to store it all under one’s top hat and I found myself scribbling like a jibbering idiot to keep up.

All in all it was a fantastic event, so worthy in fact, that I’ve already pre-registered for next year! There’s steampunk conventions aplenty out there. If you are interested in the genre, think you want to write in it or would just like something fun and crazy to do for a weekend go to one! And of course this isn’t ALL the pictures…if you are looking for more check out the SteamCon II album over at www.facebook.com/TheresaMeyersAuthor or go www.steamcon.org and check out their gallery.

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By Diana Vick

And Then There Was Steamcon 

I’ve been in science fiction fandom for a lot more years than I am going to cop to right now.  I’ve attended well over two hundred conventions.

 They have always been a great source of wonder, creativity and surreal adventure for me that I have never found anywhere else.  My husband and I met at a convention.  It’s still a shared love of ours.  We had been talking about getting more involved in running cons or maybe even beginning one, when we found ourselves swept up in a new community… steampunk . 

We knew that we had found the perfect new subject for our convention.  Up until that point, most steampunk events that I had heard of, had been music festivals or one day events or the theme of an existing general science fiction convention.  I saw a huge potential for a bunch of like minded folks to spend a weekend completely immersed in the world of Victorian science fiction, or steampunk. 

Steamcon was born. 

We based our convention on the armature of a science fiction convention, but we fully intended to expand the model.  Having attended anime cons, goth cons, furry cons and lots of general science fiction/fantasy cons, we had seen many different ways of running things.  We felt we could select some of the best aspects and combine them to the best advantage. 

We began to gather a crew made up of old con runners and some complete newbies.  We swore that the words “because that’s the way it’s always done” would be seldom heard.  Of course we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel either, so we got advice from many old hands at this.  Having not much starting budget, I went the route of viral marketing, using social networks on the internet, and creating communities specifically for Steamcon. 

I taught myself the skills and posted everywhere I could think of.  The veteran con runners told us not to expect to big a crowd.  First year cons in this area usually attract about 500 attendees, they said.  When our pre-registration numbers were almost double, we began to worry.   We suddenly found ourselves in the awkward position of needing to cap the membership so the space wouldn’t be too crowded.    

Our final numbers were 1350, which includes the small amount we could take at the door.  Amazing and gratifying.   The result of all our hard work was a bustling, lively, successful steampunk convention.   We had gotten the word out far and wide, and folks came from so many places.  New York, Texas, California… all over, even Europe. 

My greatest fear was that as the “face of Steamcon”, people would approach me to solve their problems all weekend long.  As the first few came up to me, I internally cringed, but they just wanted to say “Thanks!”  I spent the entire weekend meeting people and hearing about how much fun they were having.  Despite the things that went wrong behind the curtain, the audience was well pleased. They were having fun.  The best outcome a con runner can hope for really.   I am so proud of my fabulous staff and my wonderful husband, the convention chair.  I was the creative director or visionary but he was the details person.   It’s an unorthodox teaming, but it works for us.

As we gear up for yet another Steamcon, we are aiming even higher.  There were so many ideas that we simply didn’t have time for last year.  This year, with two hotels and twice as much space, I imagine we can be more than twice as entertaining. 

Our theme this year is the weird, weird west, a nod to our western roots, and it’s got so much potential.  From clockwork sharp shooters to Indian shamans, we expect the eye candy to be spectacular and that’s just the attendees. Many fun schemes are in the works.   Steamcon has come a long way from the fanciful idea we had to a fully fledged steampunk convention.  And we couldn’t have done it without our attendees.  You beautiful, creative, steamy folks!  Hope to see you all again in November at Steamcon II!  www.steamcon.org

(If you want to see some of the amazing attendees from last year: http://www.flickr.com/groups/steamcon/)

Diana Vick is vice chair, creative director, and co-founder of Steamcon, the largest steampunk convention held thus far.  For the past several years, she has been speaking on the topic of steampunk at many conventions across the country, beginning with the infamous “guerilla steampunk panel” that she instigated at Dragoncon in Atlanta.  She has been interviewed by Women’s Wear Daily Fast, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine and Marie Claire, and appeared on King Five News.   She has written many articles and guest blogs on the subject of steampunk and has many more in the works.  She has a few short stories and serials in the works as well.  One of her steampunk costumes took grand prize in the masquerade at Orycon in 2009.  Even her art has taken a decidedly steampunk direction lately and you can find examples of this on her Zazzle site at http://www.zazzle.com/artvixn*.   To find more of her art, costumes and articles, you may go to http://www.dianavick.com

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Thank you so much to everyone who entered the photo contest. I let the tot (the kid in the goggles in the last contest post) pick her personal favorite…

…and the winner is…

(drumroll please)

The “SteamCon Hussies” from SteamCon in Seattle, (Lolitas Deborah, Elizabeth, and Marie-Claude) as entered by Deborah Schneider.

Congratulations!

Deborah, as the one who entered the photo, you’re the one who gets the prize! Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

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Steampunk Lolitas: Deborah Schneider, Elizabeth Darvill and myself at Steamcon!

by Marie-Claude Bourque

With my new brand new goggles!

What is Steampunk style? I am probably the last one to know. That’s why when I headed for Steamcon in Seattle, I didn’t really know what to expect, expect for a bunch of brass goggles and a few corsets.

Steamcon 09: The Airship Pirate look?

So it’s with my own corset (laced tight and rescued from the Romantic Times Convention) that I sat down in the lobby of the Seatt;le Marriot  and sipped my venti nonfat latte doing what I like best (after writing) and… people watched.

I was glad I had read about all the various Steampunk spin-off  in Suzanne Lazear blog post at Steamed! Dieselpunk, Monsterpunk, Oilpunk, Clockpunk, coompleted with Steampunk fairies, I think I saw it all.

Steamcon 09: A Victorian Gentleman (courtesy of Chadwick Ayers) 
Steamcon 09: Steampunk Fairy (courtesy of ChadWick Ayers  

What striked me the most was that really all goes. As you long as you have your goggles on, you are good to go. I did expect the clockwork and victorian look but I have to say that I was surprised by the intrincacy of it all and by how well dressed everyone was.

I saw plenty of victorian ladies and gentlemen in full regalia, top hats and elaborate googles and ornate canes, beautiful skirts and expensive corsets (mine is a cheap one, be warned) but also feather in upswept hair, parasol and yes, fans! So many things I want (need?) to buy!!!

Steamcon 09: Dieselpunk? 

Beside the victorian look, was also the western look. Think of the movie Wild Wild West, with variation on steampunk  guns, cowboy hats. Some were on the goths or dark side with black and spooky outfit closer to MadMax that is probably what they would call Dieselpunk. And some ladies had on simpler dresses that wouldn’t have been out of place in Anne of Green Gables.

Steamcon 09: More Airship Pirates! 

All in all, I think the rule is to let your imagination run, and yes get those goggles and that corset! Can’t down too many lattes with it on but your waistline may thank you!

Steamcon 09: A Steampunk Gun! (courtesy of Chadwick Ayers)

 Steamcon 2010 is on! Get your tickets as soon as they come on sale! I bet they will fly really fast! (yep, stood in line for four hours  to get mine!). I’ll be there 🙂

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Steamcon!!

joandi

Baron Joseph and I

fashion1Hello everyone! I am excited to be here guest blogging at Steamed! They asked me here because I had the amazing opportunity of attending Steamcon 2009 in Seattle, WA. What could be better than a whole weekend devoted to all things steampunk? It was FABULOUS!! Every aspect of it was so much fun! If you wish to read my overview of the whole event you can read all about the insanity at my blog.  Today however I am just going to talk about the amazingly awesome tea and couture event. The feature of the tea and couture event was the steampunk fashion show and it was inspiring! I almost didn’t get to attend since procrastination is my middle name and I didn’t buy tickets before they sold out. However I met a very nice gentleman, the Lord Baron Joseph  C.R. Vourtequ who kindly offered me his extra ticket. We were seated with a wide variety of fascinating and lovely people including an Emperor, seriously how can you not love that? Before tea was served an etiquette lesson was given and I realized how very unsophisticated I am….oh well! I most definitely would have been shunned from polite Victorian society. fashion3 Then tea was served and the fashion show began! There was a wide range from sophisticated to sexy and everything in between for every age and both the male and female steampunk enthusiast! I have included a smattering of pictures, but if you follow this link….there are many more!! I had my camera glued to my eye the whole time!! There was even an adorable little steampunk child and you could hear the collective “awwww” sweep the room as he charmed his way down the runway. fashion5There were several different designers and it was fascinating to see their individual and distinctive take on the trend, each unique and FABULOUS!! I gravitated towards loving the darker, sexier take on steampunk and there were several lovely specimens! The tea and food provided was delectable and beautifully presented, all in all it was well worth attending and I can only foresee it being bigger and better next year! I am going to shamelessly plug Steamcon now and say if you get the chance next year…GO!! It is so worth it, you meet amazing people and have a ton of fun!! Thanks for letting me ramble! ~Elizabeth Darvill

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