Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shipwrecks and Ballads

I was listening my way through a playlist of Gordon Lightfoot's songs on YouTube when I ran across "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". This song reached out of my computer and grabbed me by the throat - as I type this, I think I've listened to it at least six times and am working on memorizing the lyrics.

I know I've heard of this wreck before, but I always assumed it had taken place at least a hundred years or so ago and on saltwater. I was shocked to discover it happened November 10, 1975 on Lake Superior. This is tremendously exciting because back in the spring 2005, I spent a week kayaking across the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior in order to run away from my thesis before my head exploded. The Outdoor Venture club at my college offered this kayaking trip and I was so stressed out from writing my thesis that I abandoned it to scamper off a vast, unknown land heavily peopled with bears, poison ivy, and more mosquitoes than any patch of earth has the right to commandeer.

Here I am in my fetching kayaking gear; note the jazzy pink wetsuit and the stylish blue spray skirt. I'm standing happily on a narrow spit of beach about 2:00 in the afternoon after a long day of paddling and after a week of eating dozens of energy bars, to the point that I won't be able to look at plastic wrapped food for a couple weeks. I'm covered with dozens of mosquito bites, about two gallons of sunscreen, and copious perspiration from a week of not bathing. My shoulders are screaming in pain, my hands are callused from the paddle, and I've been battling through 2-3 foot waves on choppy waters with a grey, vaguely ominous-looking sky overhead.

Little do I know that in a few hours, my entire fleet will encounter 6-7 foot waves that will toss us merrily about for several hours like toy boats in a hot tub until we finally push our way into a sheltered bay and collapse from exhaustion. This is, of course, after one of our members capsizes and two kayakers have to get him back on board in 50 degree water and vigorous waves. Note to all: when you tell God you are bored and want an adventure, he may drop you down in the middle of a storm at sea to concede to your wishes. Thankfully none of us drowned or froze, and the event became one of my best stories.    

For those of you who have yet to brave life and limb on Lake Superior, know that there is an official Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and if that isn't strong enough testament of how capriciously hazardous journeying through those waters can be, I do not know. The Apostle Islands are nowhere near where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, for that I am infinitely grateful because apparently the good ship encountered 35 foot swells during the last several hours before she sank. I shudder as I mentally try to picture standing on a ship and watching waves the size of a four story house roll towards me.

All of this is to say that ballads about ships, shipwrecks, trials at sea and others of that ilk are haunting, powerful, and alluring. Abney Park's "Aether Shanty" and "Wrath of Fate" put a wonderful twist on these types of songs by centering them on airships instead of marine ships. "Aether Shanty" gets my vote as the most masculine, stirring song I have ever encountered.

Hence, I have decided that I must write at least one ballad for the Horizon, something commemorating their adventures and struggles - Abney Park has "The Ballad of Captain Robert" so perhaps Gavin Roberts needs his own ballad too. So far, I am thinking that the Horizon needs a crew member who is musically inclined and pens a stirring, haunting airship ballad for the crew to sing as they pass the long hours in the air and when they are carousing in a local pub.

Writing this song should be an interesting endeavor, and I hope I can rise to the aspiration. I come from a casually musical family: Mom has an excellent voice and plays wonderful piano and guitar, and I grew up in a houseful of music. While us four kids don't possess a great deal of classical training, we all can dink around on the piano, sing well, and create goofy song lyrics on the spot. I have written dozens of songs for my Basset Hound, and last year Mom and I recorded a little Christmas album in a friend's basement.

However, writing a song entails both musical originality and versing skill, and I freely admit that my ability to write poetry and/or pack dense layers of meaning into a few verses is regrettably lacking. Now, give me an existing song or poem to parody, and I can spit out something clever and punchy when inspiration strikes. Starting with a tabla rasa is an entirely different matter, and currently I do not feel I have sufficiently grasped the essence of the Horizon and her story to write a suitable ballad. Perhaps after I have done some work on Book Two (tentatively entitled Opium Skies), the music writing muse will strike. For now, I will content myself to mentally chew over the matter and make subtle forays into the wild depths of creative inspiration.  

Tuesday, I set to work on Chapter 22, nowhere near my deadline of having all of Draft 2 done by the end of the month, but not daunted. Revising has been somewhat hampered by my return to the workforce; I've been waitressing the past month and will soon start a full-time job as a dispatch coordinator for a medical helicopter company. I eagerly anticipate learning an abundance of information about latitude, mapping, air conditions, and a multitude of other facts which will play excellently into writing my Airship Trilogy. I will be working 12 hour shifts alternating between a long week (5 shifts) and a short week (2 shifts). While I don't anticipate getting much writing done during my long weeks, my short weeks will offer days of glorious writing time and as a whole, I think this schedule will offer much more freedom than a regular 9-5.

While I am sad to have to give up writing full-time, I am exceedingly grateful for the three months I had where I was not working a job and could focus my attention fully on finishing Draft . I do strongly believe I will have Steam on the Horizon available by the end of February, and it's amazing how soon that date seems.

Despite the fact that I awoke a mere 11 hours ago, I find myself strangely fatigued. Bedtime!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Wholidays!

Hello all and I hope your holidays were wonderful! Christmas day, I went sledding with my brothers for the first time in over a decade, watched my 2 year old nephew get run over by a sled, and locked my oldest brother out of the house. He came home at 2:30 am and was unable to enter the house due to having forgotten his keys, so he ended up sleeping inside the cab of his pickup inside the garage. Luckily, I had a sleeping bag inside the garage and he's a Marine, so he survived!

On the writing fronts, I don't think I will meet my deadline of having Draft 2 completed by the end of the month. Currently, I am editing Chapter 20 and with 11 more to go, the deadline will not be reached. However, I am making some great changes and cutting out an abundance of superfluous stuff that does not need to make an appearance in the final draft. Chapter 20 sees the Horizon entering the Crimean for the first time, and I am dropping her right into the action: she is with the aether flyer Horus and both airships are bringing a load of Enfield Pattern 1853 musket-rifles to the front lines. Due to the happy juxtaposition of history and authorial omnipotence, the two ships are flying directly into the September 19th siege of Sevastopol and have to make a tricky drop while guns and cannons are blazing around them.

Currently pages 164-165 have enormous scribbles and skulls all over them, which I take to mean that this particular section should be taken out and mercifully put out of its misery. Reading over it, I see why. Thankfully Draft 2 will be nowhere near the 170,000+ words that Draft 1 clocked in at, and I am excited to see what the final word count will be.

Tuesday, I had the pleasure of sitting down with some friends to watch the Christmas special of Dr. Who and am now fixated on replicating Clare's dress.

The dress has a gorgeous gathered bustle in the back, and Clare wears it with such elegance and splendor. When she first appeared on screen wearing this dress, all of us burst into rapturous coos of admiration. This would be a spectacular dress to steampunk - I see so many possibilities. However, I am so enraptured with River Song's character that I do not know if I could ever cosplay a different Dr. Who costume!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Back from the Unknown!

Hello all, I have been terribly negligent in my blogging lately, and I do apologize. In the past few weeks, I have started a waitressing gig which has consumed time and metal effort, and I have been plugging away at editing Draft 1 of Steam on the Horizon. The editing process is going well: I left off Chapter 14 this week before a cold claimed all my strength and focus. All 240+ pages of Draft 1 are liberally coated with crossing out marks, questions, comments, ideas, and an abundance of "Yuck". "Yuck" is my ever-handy, all-purpose word for "This section is ridiculous tripe that would have been better scribbled by a neurotic monkey. Please vigorously renovate said section until it is something approaching decent prose."

As I have read through the draft, I've realized I've not made Captain Roberts' character as consistent as it should be. Roberts is supposed to be a level-headed, intuitive thinker who does not anger or fluster easily. In sections, I have him reacting too harshly or quickly and I usually annotate these sections with "Calm down, Roberts". I also am recasting Victoria's background because since I am writing historical steampunk fiction, I am trying to better keep in mind the regulations and deprivations of women of the Victorian era. Originally I had Victoria tramping all over the world with a quasi-adopted brother named Jules as a companion, but I have decided to make Jules an actual blood brother of Victoria, plus changed some other aspects of Victoria's background to make her more consistent.

There is a terrific mess spanning about 30 pages and located halfway through the book that needs either heavy revision or exorcism  and I'm not sure quite yet what would best befit it. I will be approaching this section sometimes next week, and it will be a sticky mess to wade through, that I know.

My goal is to have Draft 1 revised into Draft 2 by the end of the month, where I will then hand it over to a couple loyal beta readers to get some feedback. So far, I feel that I am on track to have a published version ready by the end of February, so keep your fingers crossed!

Right now, I am looking for full-time work after realizing quickly that waitressing is unlikely to support a mortgage. My brother Seth told me about an interesting job as a medical helicopter coordinator which I think would tie in quite splendidly with my steampunk writing because the job would entail learning about things such as latitude and longitude. As I was writing the cover letter for my application, I considered working this in but decided that it would look a trifle unprofessional to say, "I'm writing a fantasy book about airships and this job would really help me learn more about how stuff flies." If I get an interview, I will try to bring it up, but I didn't think I could express this in a one-page cover letter without looking like a total dweeb. Hopefully by the end of the month I have secured either a full-time job or an offer of one because I am broke as a clock right now!

Yesterday, I had a lovely 33rd birthday party with some great friends, and steampunks were in abundance. The wonderful Matt M, operates his own antique and parts-selling business and this was his gift to me:

Yup, these are awesome! I can't wait to make stuff out of this. I was glad to see the larger gears too as these are generally pretty hard to find, When I take apart the watch, there should be some nice tiny gears in there too. Okay, what shall I build first?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Draft Surgery Time

Here she is! May I introduce you to Draft One of Steam on the Horizon?

She weighs in at 245 pages of 10 point 1.5 spaced one-sided text - I ran to Office Max yesterday and had them print out a copy, happy to discover that at the amount I was printing out, it was only 8 cents a page as opposed to 11. At home, I set to work rediscovering the text, reading through things that I had forgotten I wrote and scoring the paper liberally with question marks, little corrections, blackout lines, and other editing marks to note areas that needed work, revision, or exorcism.

I honestly do not like Chapter 1, and I think the problem is this movie I made with a friend for my Kickstarter project. The video has me reading the first couple pages of Chapter 1 with accompanying images. It is not the greatest piece of cinematic theater, which probably explains why it only has 36 views to date.

Whenever I read Chapter 1 of my text, what I hear in my head is my voice reading the text out loud. I don't particularly care for the way my voice sounds (it's always a shock to hear your recorded voice, isn't it?) and it's frustrating that Chapter 1 sounds so different in my head than the rest of the book. Once I get past the section where I am reading in the video, then the story sounds so much different in my head and I stop cringing.

Also, Chapter 1 and 2 seem a bit rushed - Chapter 1 deals with a boiler explosion and the aftermath, so there is quite a bit going on and things don't really slow down until Chapter 3. I like the pace of the story once Chapter 3 rolls around but I think Chapter 1 will need some major revision, especially since it is so important. If you get bored or confused in the first couple pages, you likely won't keep reading!

So this is what occupied my time yesterday until I glanced at the clock and realized I had ten minutes to get out the door to my new waitressing job. Training starts Monday, and work is not too far from my house, so I think this job will work out quite well. I am hoping to pull in 30 hours a week, maybe a little more, and I am anticipating that weight loss will be forthcoming with all the rushing around on my feet. Endless hours of sitting at a desk is a recipe for weight gain even if you are diligent about the gym.

One of my side projects is mentally designing steampunk Christmas ornaments and decorations. In the Victorian times, it was common for people to affix actual candles on a Christmas tree and light them for viewing (with a bucket of water close by for flame dousing purposes). Since this was naturally a risky activity and with the invention of electricity, electric lights were created. Steampunk technology, however, could be useful for the application of Christmas decorations. Perhaps an alternate energy source could power the lights or maybe the tree could be artificial and the whole thing could be powered to shine, sparkle, and even rotate?

Suddenly, a steampunk mistletoe comes to mind. I have no idea what that would look like, but I want to make one and put it over my door. Okay, that sounds like a fabulous idea - I have some fake mistletoe that I bought the other day, and I will find a way of steampunking it and will post pictures!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's the End of Draft One as You Know It!

....AND I FEEL FINE!!!! Exceedingly fine, to tell the truth. Draft One of Steam on the Horizon clocks in at 171,719 words and I finished it three days before my self-imposed deadline of November 30th. Granted, I have no idea how many of those 171,719 words are worth keeping, nor how many will be summarily eviscerated from the text with a bleeding red pen before the final version is ready for offering to the public, but that darned draft is done! 

It is rather timely that I finished it the day before I start back to work, this time waitressing at a local restaurant. If anything, the last three months of unemployment have allowed me ample time to crank out this draft. Hopefully the revising process will be relatively quick and smooth, but I have a nasty feeling it will be longer and more in-depth than I planned, especially because I am working so much history into this tale. I'd rather not have hordes of historians irate with me because I got some dates and facts wrong, so I will clearly be needing better research sources than Wikipedia, which incidentally has been enormously helpful during the writing process. 

Tomorrow, I will hie myself off to the local Kinkos and print out 225 pages of 10 point 1.5 spaced text because revision always goes better when you have a hard paper copy in your hands and an artillery belt of red pens at the ready. I do have a few people who want to be beta readers but seeing as I currently have a four page list of revisions I know I already want to make, it is probably best if I don't let any eyeballs but mine view the text until Draft 2 when major errors have been hunted down and illogical inconsistencies brought to heel. 

While I will likely be at work for it, the Steampunk Society of Nebraska will be doing annual steampunk caroling on December 7th with lovely choruses such as...

Gears and cogs, are a jingle'n
On the street, boiler's whistle'n
A beautiful sight
We're steamy tonight 
Walking in a Steampunk wonderland. 

You can see more lovely steampunk Christmas carol lyrics by liking the Steampunk Society of Nebraska Facebook page and going under their Files section to access the The Official Steampunk Carol List. I am thrilled to know that there are other creative souls out there that enjoy nothing more than mangling lyrics to suit their own twisted amusement. 

Speaking of which, I have the entire River Song' Song finished and my friend is working on a Companion song for our Dr Who musical, but in the interest of possible future performance, I want to keep my lyrics from the public eye. Maybe we can produce a couple YouTube videos for all to enjoy! I'd love to impersonate River Song on camera. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nearing the End - And River Song Too!

Last week's writing brought me to Chapter 30 - Roberts and crew will soon be setting sail for London where an epic ending awaits them and Draft 1 will draw to a close. While I am seeing the glimmers of the end, I am well aware that it may be fools' gold and the revision process could easily stretch to much longer than I anticipated. However, courage is at my back and I am hopeful that revising will not be that arduous!

Although my River Song has been taking a hiatus as of late, I just stumbled across this wonderful YouTube video.

A friend of mine were discussing how much fun it would be to write a full-length musical of Doctor Who, blithely ignoring the fact that we would be attempting to cram about 50 years of TV shows into a 2-3 hour musical, a feat that I don't think even Handel could pull off. Nevertheless, this spurred my inward song parody skills and I set to work on a song for River Song. The tune "All that Jazz" from Chicago seemed apt for the Doctor's adventurous wife, and here is an excerpt of what I have so far -

Hello, sweetie, grab the TARDIS key
Let's time travel 

I don't recall, have we done Belize
In our time travels?

Come on, dear, let's take the time vortex
To 1755 in West Middlesex

No spoilers now, you'll find out why somehow
In our time travels  

Okay, so Broadway is not exactly pounding down the door to sign me up, but I do enjoy the occasional song parody since much of my creative skills with music and poetry consists mostly of creating ridiculous parodies of other songs. My mother and I between us have written over a dozen songs for our family dogs, and Erasmus has a compilation of "Songs for Basset Hounds" that may one day end up as a record. My magnus opus of poetry came one night when Erasmus spent a very restless time sleeping on my bed and I got maybe two hours of sleep. The next morning in a fit of delirious exhaustion and far too much caffeine, I wrote this poem, (with apologies to Mr. Poe)

Once upon a midnight dreary
As I tossed, bored and weary
Cursing the insomnia that did entreat upon my night's repose
As I lay there, irate and itching
Suddenly there came a twitching
As if some apparition was licking at my restless toes.
“Tis some night spirit,” quoth I “Only this and nothing more.”

But as I ripped the bed asunder
Hoping vainly to catch some slumber
The twitching did manifest again and shook the mattress to the core.
My hand reached out in trembling fear
And fell upon a silky ear
I cried “Alas! A Basset hath entered through my chamber's door!”

Long nails did tear the sheets in twain
As thumping tail did beat in vain
In hopes of gaining from my hand the promise of a belly rub.
Stubby legs did push against my side
As Basset spread himself out wide
Master of the entire mattress he himself did deem to dub.

Not content to lie in slumber
The hairy hound began to lumber
Stalking to and fro across the vast expanse of counterpane.
Lying down and rising up
The restless, roving, slobbering pup
Did pace and stride in endless movement as the night began to wane.

Desiring cuddles, the dog in haste
Lay drooling head upon my waist
As heavy frame across my own did overheat my feverish hide.
Groaning, grunting, the wriggling cur
With feet as rough as any burr
Raked scratchy pads and pointy nails direct against my other side.

“Fie on you hound! Lie down!” I said.
To squirming beast upon my bed.
Reaching out for downy pillow, I feebly hoped at last to sleep.
Alas, the sound of thumping tail
Told me my search was not availed
For curled up on my pillow was a Basset head in furry heap.

The night did pass and morning rose
Wide-awake, I had found no repose
Thanks to the scratching, licking hound that had joined me in my rest.
With red-rimmed eyes I saw the dawn
Come peeking, creeping over my lawn
As I cursed the hellish hound who had joined me at his own bequest.

“No more, you cur, will you share my bed,”
I said to the hound in voice most dread
“A kennel best befits a dog when nighttime comes and sleep is nigh.”
Soulful eyes did peer in mine
As sounded loud a pitiful whine
And Basset refused to leave the place where his stubby limbs and ears did lie.

And still today, in sprawling sleep
The Basset on my bed does keep
Himself in comfort, rest and ease, full loath to leave my chamber door.
Upon the couch in awkward pose
I seek some space to stretch my toes
Shall I reclaim my bed again? Quote the Basset, “Nevermore.”    

So, in summation, I can't write real poetry or song lyrics, but I can create crap like this with amazing skill and swiftness. If only I could turn these talents to financial profit.......

Back to steampunk - I WILL finish Draft 1 by the end of the month if I have to do a couple all night writing sessions. I also have a Christmas steampunk outfit to finish - I found a lovely tartan skirt and a silver velvet top which pair nicely with my black corset. Some holly and black netting on my tiny bowler would be a good touch. Hmm, what other steamy Christmas elements might be nice to add? A clock that points at midnight? Santa with a clockwork powered sled? What else can I do? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Germs, Gangrene, and Guts

In the course of my research a few days ago, I unearthed an excellent article about Florence Nightingale. Like most people, I grew up knowing vaguely that Nightingale was a courageous, brave nurse during a war but to my chagrin, it has only been in the past few months that I connected her with the Crimean War and began to understand the depth of her effort. What I have found fascinating is how common sense she approached her work and how very often this flew in the face of typical doctoring practices. She had the novel concept that keeping wounded soldiers clean rather than letting them lie in their own filth was a useful practice. Although she did not understand about microbes and germs, she insisted that her nurses use a fresh cloth for each soldier to prevent cross-contamination. She was an excellent statistician and a meticulous record keeper. Now, if Miss Nightingale could have had access to steampunk technology....hmm, story ideas? 

Roberts had a brief encounter with Miss Nightingale last chapter when he was bringing a load of injured patients down to the military barracks in Scutari. Here is what I have written:
Remembering Scutari, Roberts suppressed a shudder and turned his attentions back to the oncoming ships. He was not a man easily disgusted, but the sheer horror of the hospital was not easily forgotten. Then there had been the small, brisk nurse who had stormed up to the airship and immediately started directing the unloading of the wounded with the commanding air of a general. Roberts caught the name of Nurse Nightingale: she seemed a bit of both Victoria's and Molly's ilk - indomitable until death. If Roberts wasn't very much mistaken, conditions seemed to have improved a trifle at Scutari, and he wondered if the small, fierce nurse had any hand in it.

On a steampunk bent, my brother Sean is a security officer and he works quite a bit at Section 8 housing units. The other day he encountered a rather colorful individual who was busily fashioning a steampunk straight jacket out of seatbelts and gears. Sean told her a bit about my work with steampunk and the lady commented, "I don't understand this steampunk s...t. I just make it." This person's response was an interesting insight into the current state of steampunk in our culture. Not to put too fine a point of it, this particularly individual was in the lower echelons of society, not one who would have a detailed insight into fine arts, literature, and cultural trends. Yet she had heard of steampunk and was clever enough to understand that there was a market for steampunk-related items. 

However, that begs the question of if someone who does not "get this steampunk s...t" can actually make steampunk. Instead, that seems like it would lead to many more editions on the "Not Remotely Steampunk" section of Sure, anyone can "just glue some gears on it" but I think we can all agree that steampunk must, at heart, begin with someone who is interested in the genre for its own sake, not merely because of its coolness factor or commercial value. We may joke of "art for art's sake" but this is true on many levels: you should have a natural love and interest for the art you are creating or in essence you end up creating a lie. 

I have a feeling that steampunk is moving towards a zenith in popular culture, have its moment of popularity, then descend back into a niche subculture one again. Hopefully along the way it will attract a number of people who are genuinely interested in the genre and happy to learn more. The very all-encompassing nature of steampunk may very well end up being its downfall, but I think there are enough serious steampunks out there who are in it for the long haul, and it will survive more or less in its current state. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


My Indiegogo campaign ends at midnight, so there is still time to donate a few dollars and help keep me afloat financially while I write Steam on the Horizon. The money I have gotten through Indiegogo has helped keep me going financially, but that will be drying up soon and since I haven't reached full funding, it is back to work I go. So far, I have a waitressing gig lined up, but the reality of owning a house gobbles up a lot of income, and I am also looking for full-time work. However, what I am hoping to do is find another roommate - that plus waitressing should be enough to keep me out of the poor house. 

My friends, authors Tee and Pip, were kind enough to publish an article on their website that I wrote about my experiences with Indiegogo and Kickstarter. That and the article on Geek Life have been more ways of getting my name out there. It's always fun to see your name in print!

The past few days I have been digesting a book entitled The Crimean War: The Causes and Consequences of a Medieval Conflict Fought in a Modern Era. So far, this has confirmed what other researchers have said: the Crimean War was pointless from a political standpoint. Over half a million soldiers died in the war, about 252,000 Allied troops and 246,000 Russian. However, from this conflict rose an unprecedented level of growth and expansion. The war pushed the British military out of stagnation and forced it to adopt new innovations: it marked the last time British troops would fight in full dress uniform and march into battle with bands playing military music. The telegraph came into use for communication, the first news corresponder followed the troops and reported from the front lines, Florence Nightingale reduced the death rate at the hospital from 44% to 2.5% after being in the Crimea only six months. Alexis Soyer, a celebrated French chef of the exclusive English Reform Club abandoned his coveted position to take over the military kitchens in the Crimea and help better nourish the soldiers. Submarine science was being developed during the Crimea War. This entire time period was staggeringly innovative and despite the hundreds of thousands who suffered and died, much change and growth came out of this "pointless war" as many dub it. 

As I research and write, I can see how easily this trilogy could stretch to more than just three books - there is so much history and detail I want to pack into the tale, and I am just on the first book. In Books 2 and 3 when the Horizon starts sailing to India and the Far East, this brings in a welter of other historical opportunities. Just covering the Indian Rebellion of 1857 will be a prodigious challenge, not to mention opium production, the status of Chinese immigrants in England, laudanum, the list is endless. I don't want to skim or leave interesting possibilities alone, but then again, seven books of 400 pages each might be a trifle long to read, not to mention write. 

All this keeps me chewing on the question of, "Just how much technology do you need for it to be steampunk?" Much of the steampunk fiction I have read populates Victoria England with an abundance of Tesla coil toasters, self-rocking chairs, steam-powered guns, and as much futuristic technology as can be shoved into the tale. Steam on the Horizon, however, focuses on airships as the main technology and not too terribly much else: the spotlight is really kept on the story, not so much cool technology. Granted, without the advanced technology keeping the Horizon in the air and racing forward, the story would be pointless, but I've not put a lot of steam into my punk and I'm wondering if I need to greatly increase the amount during revision. However, I am reminded of Cheri Priest's book Boneshaker. She had a fairly tame amount of technology in her story, and the focus was more on the plot of the characters with the technology serving as a backup role. Also, The Sauder Diaries by Michel Vaillancourt has even less technology aside from absolutely spectacular and well-developed airships, and his book is unmistakable steampunk. In my estimation, both books are the better off for not being populated with high-tech gadgets, so perhaps Steam on the Horizon will as well.

Chapter 26 left Roberts on the last day of November with the snows coming. A few more chapters should suffice to get the Horizon and crew through the terrible winter in the Crimea then back to London in early March for the climax of this tale. I am looking forward to the revision process, partly because the earlier parts of the book are starting to fade from my memory; rereading everything should be an interesting discovery, one with red pen firmly in hand!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Random Rambles

Hello fellow steampunks! Nothing of astonishing merit to note, but I am beginning to see the light on the horizon (pun intended) as I write Chapter 25. Yes, indeed, the ending is near and I am fully planning to have Draft One done in the next few weeks and onto the exciting world of editing and revising.

However, on a heavier note, the reality of bills is even stronger and my Indiegogo campaign has stalled out at about $1,500 with only a few days left. In all reality, I will need to find full-time work, and I have been putting in applications. I began this fundraising endeavor knowing that it was highly likely that I would have to get another job, and I knew that even if I didn't get funding, this entire project was helpful and useful. If anything, the past couple months of financial insolvency has allowed me ample space to get the draft done, essentially the bulk of the work. Revising/editing should be easier to work around a full-time schedule than drafting. One way or another, I will get this trilogy done - it will just be a matter of time. We shall have to see how the next several months present themselves.

One of the interesting tidbits I have been researching is the use of heliographs - I came across this term a few times and started investigating it. Heliographs have so many interesting steampunk essentials. I am toying with the idea of setting up an advanced heliograph system from Constantinople to London as a way of relaying simple messages. Also, as I am revising, I might be working heliographs more into the story.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by one of the editors of Geek Life about "Steam on the Horizon". After discussing, we put together a QA about my book which was a good publicity piece. The wonderful authors Tee and Pip should also be publishing a short article I did about my experiences with Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It's always nice to see your name in print.

On a non steampunk note, I have been an unmitigated klutz as of late. I have managed to spill five drinks in less than a month, and two of them were spilled more than once. I had an absolutely spectacular fall off a treadmill, and my only regret was that no one captured my epic wipe-out on video. Today I knocked over a glass of water and then spilled gas all over my pant leg and shoe, and I do believe that this ruined the shoes as I have been unable to remove the gas smell from them. Perhaps this is all a sign that waitressing is not the job for me and that I should spend the rest of my life sitting in a chair with my hands on my lap.

Obviously, riding a pennyfarthing is not a stellar idea for someone with my accident-prone ways. Instead, I offer you a video of my younger brother Seth kicking butt on a pennyfarthing.

Yes, that is my brother in semi steampunk attire riding a pennyfarthing past IHOP. Admit it, that's pretty awesome.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Research, Pictures, and More!

Research begets research: that was the motto of my graduate thesis writing days, and it has never been more true than during my recent writing endeavor. In the past few months, I have researched these diverse and interesting topics as I draft Steam on the Horizon

1) Eunuchs in the 19th century (if you are not squeamish, this posting is graphic and informative)  
2) The use of telegraphs during war - check out this fabulous article that I found the other day 
3) The mechanics of steam-powered engines - gotta love Flying Kettle for all their great information
4) Ranking of 19th century medical professionals (there were physicians, surgeons, and pharmacists)
5) Mary Seacole - an unsung hero nurse of the Crimean War  
6) London slums during the 19th century 
7) The average weight and growth cycle of a Barbary macaque 
8) How many newspapers were available in London during the 1840's
9) Who controlled Tangier, Morocco during the 19th century 
10) The Rankine cycle 
11) How did sailors tell time on board a ship - leading to research about the chronometer 
12) The range of the average cannon 
13) How 19th century ships found other ships before GPS and satellite tracking 
14) Cholera epidemics 
14) The operations of a shipping wharf and the use of a gantry crane 
15) The history of Jewish people in England 
16) The ethnic makeup of London in the 19th century 
17) The plausibility and tactics of an airship battle
18) Potato blight and The Great Famine in Ireland
19) Food storage and preservation before refrigerators were common 
20) The scarcity of drinking water in Gibraltar 

And this is just highlights from my research and does not include other diverse topics I have either researched prior to writing this blog post or will be researching in the future. Writing this book is really a book-nerd's dream; I can hole up in my office and let my English major brain range freely across whatever flights of fancy and interested conjecture it dreams up. If one were to browse my internet history in order to gain an understanding of what I am doing or where my interests lie, I doubt that any clear assumption could be drawn, unless I had recently completed a research session on drug use in the Victoria era. That is when I grow slightly nervous that the FDA will somehow track down my numerous hits on sites dealing with opium production, cocaine injections, and laudanum preparation. 

Currently, I am working on a short story set in Tangier, Morocco: I was in Tangier several months ago, and it is really quite a fascinating place with a rich, colorful history. Roberts is walking through a souk on an errand, and he has an abundance of marvels to observe, seeing as Tangier was an international zone during the 19th century and loosely governed by a Moroccan ruler and a collection of European diplomats, which allowed all manner of brigadiers, gamblers, Mafia members, and other colorful characters free run of the city.  This story should be done in a week or so, and I'll post a link to it. 

I am also working my way through "Phoenix Rising" by the talented and wonderful Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris whom I had the great pleasure to meet at Emerald City Steampunk Expo. I blundered into a panel put on by Pip and Tee and although I had never even heard of their names before, they most graciously spent several hours with me offering an abundance of good advice and sharing their experiences. I told them that the entire con could have been a complete flop but just meeting them and learning from what they have done would have make the entire weekend a smashing success.

One of the many things I took away from my encounters with Tee and Pip is that there probably isn't enough steampunk in Steam on the Horizon. This occurred to me yesterday as I wrestled with how Victoria was to best get fresh news about the Crimean War to England. At the time, there was not a direct telegraph from Constantinople to London, and it took at least two weeks to get information there. The Horizon could fly that distance in less than a week, but I think I have been sticking too close to historical accuracy and need to let technology be more developed. Yet another thing to work on as I research. 

Where I left off writing yesterday was about October 28th, 1854, a few days after the Charge of the Light Brigade. So far, I think that the Horizon will be in the Crimea over the winter, then return to London in the spring where the climax will take place and the book will end. I had planned for each book to span approximately a year, and Steam on the Horizon opens up in late May, so this should work fairly well. I expect that the entire book will be about 35 chapters. I am currently writing Chapter 24 and I think another 10 chapters will see us to the end of Draft 1. Then the process of revision starts!

However, it is looking more likely I am going to need to find a full-time job. Funding for Indiegogo is coming in, but I have until November 15th to raise $3,500. Without full funding, I won't have much of a choice but to get a full-time job, since I can't keep living off of credit cards. This will mean that Steam on the Horizon will be put on the back burner and the publication date will be shoved into the future. I know I will eventually get the trilogy done, but working a full-time job will delay it. At the most, I hope I can survive with just a part-time one, enough to earn some money and help me stay afloat. Funny enough, I might be a little more productive with my writing if I have a part-time job because a time crunch tends to make me more organized and focused. You know what they say, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person." 

So, time to start writing for the day! Actually, more precisely, it is time to walk the fat, fluffy thing that is currently licking himself. Here he is in all his wonderful cuteness. 

Isn't Erasmus adorable? I love Basset ears: he looks like he has ham slices on his head. How can I possibly be grouchy, ever, when I live with this guy?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Emerald City Steampunk Expo Funny Quotes

Here are just a few of the many hilarious things I heard at the con

Captain Robert (at a table with Abney Park and Unwoman/Erica): "Erica was talking about her strap-on cello which reminded us of Kristina's strap-on keyboard. Erica said, 'When I first got my strap on, I practiced along in my room for a week.' Kristina replied. 'I need to practice with my strap on.' Erica said, 'We should practice together!' Every guy at the table was rolling on the floor."

Musician with crazy curls and enormously big hair talking to me: "You know, if we get together and it works out long-term, we gotta think about the kids. Would you really want to curse a kid with BOTH of our hair?"

Con goer to me: 'You just got mentioned on my Facebook update. I wrote, 'I just saw River Song bellydancing to Abney Park. My life is amazingly weird."

Tee during a panel: "Take Daniel Craig, put him in an Armani suit, and give him a martini and I'm like, 'Dude, I'm straight but I'd go to bed with you!"

Me and Charles (1:15 am at the tail end of a long car ride): Charles: "You should date Peter. He's a great guy, just turned 21." Me: "Have they dropped yet?" Charles: "Testicles don't actually drop during puberty. That's a common misconception."

I love cons. They are awesome!

Find me on Facebook for more madness!

Emerald City Steampunk Expo!

Enormous black circles lurk under my eyes, my blood sugar is raging with the force of a hundred Tootsie Rolls, my head is throbbing with a dull headache, and assorted costumes are scattered about my house. Yes, it was an awesome con, the best con I have ever attended. The good folks of Wichita put on a great show for Emerald City Steampunk Expo, and I am so glad I was able to attend.

You are welcome to see pictures on my Facebook page and if you happen to see yourself, please tag away. I am terrible with names and I contented myself with handing out my cards and hoping all the awesome people I met find me on Facebook.

The absolute best part of the con was Abney Park - we had a terrific meet and greet on Saturday and I got some pictures with them. Every single person in the group was gracious, personable, and polite, and I had some lovely conversations with the band members. They put on a phenomenal show and the only drawback was that it did not last fifteen hours as I would have happily stayed for and danced until I dropped.

That was, however, after a quick costume change. Lack of foresight on my part did not help me realize that a padded jacket was not quite the best attire to wear in the middle of a packed room full of sweaty bodies. I was somewhere in the middle of the dance floor with a few ladies and we were bellydancing our hearts out until extreme heat exhaustion demanded a change of attire. I waited until a song came on that was not one of my favorites and ran for it. The venue was tucked away in the back of the hotel, so I ended up sprinting frantically through the hallways in full River Song mode: gun belt flapping against my thigh, hair flying, boots clacking like mad. I made it up to my room, swapped out shirts, and ran back, only missing about 1 1/2 songs and was thus able to dance madly in the front row for the rest of the night without collapsing. Abney Park is awesome for belly dancing, and I had a pack of other ladies to twill and shimmy around with as we had the concert of our lives. 

Also amazing was meeting authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris whom to my chagrin I had never heard of before. A great panel lead to two separate conversations with this dynamic duo, and they had an abundance of excellent advice to offer me as a new writer. One thing I was convicted about is my need to drastically increase the writing I do each day. Pip told me that she can bang out 10,000 words a day, which is far below what I create. It also came to my mind that several years ago during NANOWRIMO, I was cranking out ten pages a day while I was working full-time. Granted, during this time I was not writing anything that required research and was not spending a lot of time increasing my presences on social networking, but still: I came to the conclusion that I have been far too lax as a writer and it is time to drastically increase my output. 

Another thing Tee and Pip helped me determine, along with the encouragement of other friends, is that I need to write a lot more short stories for Amazon and Smashwords: either offering them for free or at 99 cents a pop. What I thought about doing is offering short stories that are prequels or back stories to Steam on the Horizon: these can investigate side stories that my book could not detail and provide insight into characters. So, find your reading glasses, you are going to be seeing a lot more of my writing and getting some of it for free!

I told Tee and Pip that even if the entire con was a complete flop, just meeting them and hearing their words of advice would have made the whole con a smashing success. I am very energized and encouraged because of this new friendship, and I look forward to working with them more in the future. 

Speaking of friendship and encouragement, a huge shout out to Kristine and Charles who are amazing friends. They happily paid for expensive tickets so we could go to the con and meet Abney Park, carted me down to Wichita, paid for the hotel room and listened to me snore, put up with my crabbiness and fed me when I was too broke to do it myself. They have been my biggest supporters and fans, and I am so unbelievably blessed to have them in my life. Thanks, you guys!

My River Song costume got some major kudos from the Whovian Society of Wichita, and for much of Saturday and Sunday, I was addressed as "Hey River!" It was fun showing off my costume, and I very much appreciated the fact that I spent all day Saturday sans a corset. Much more comfortable!

Okay, I am deliriously happy and exhausted and have a ton of work that I am now very motivated to do. However, I am still the starving artist, so please check out my Indiegogo project to see what you can do to earn great prizes and support a starving artist!

Find me on Facebook for more updates!

Monday, October 29, 2012

River Song Final

So, yup. Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, my full River Song costume with some Photoshop assistance. Yesterday, I totally got to rock out this costume at madrigal practice, meaning that I showed up for my first practice wearing this and was ushered into a tiny living room crammed with people and much too hot considering all that I was wearing. I happily stumbled through the Latin phrases, trying desperately to remember singing lessons of long ago and leaning heavily into the soprano on my left to try to gain a sense for what notes I was supposed to be singing. After practice, I hied down to a set of apartments to join three other steampunk ladies for a fun photoshoot.

My amazing friend Barb, who is a whiz with both picture taking and photoshop, pulled this image together. We did some shoots in a room with white walls, and I had fun doing some flops and rolls. Photoshop added the other effects and I admit freely, this is the most epic picture I have ever had of myself. I am cherishing this sucker for the rest of my life so that when I am 57 and my knees are shot, I can entertain my grandkids with stories about how Grandma used to be a secret time-traveling agent.

My finished goggles ended up looking like this:
The one trouble spot is that I ended up with a bit of silver Rub N Buff on my forehead even though I had sprayed the rims repeatedly with acrylic coating. I surmise that my body heat warmed up the Rub N Buff (which is wax based) and it leaked through the coating. I need to fix this problem because I was actually considering making more of these goggles and seeing if I could sell them on Ebay. 

My gun was looking like this before I added a clear coat of acrylic:

However, the acrylic coating ate away some of the acrylic paint and you can see definite blue under the white. Also, using the gun yesterday for show caused some paint chips on it. I am not really sure what to do about this: I guess I need to research more steps for having a better paint finish on a steampunk modified gun.

On my left hip, I have a little bag I made out of leftover fabric that I used for my gaiters and a sheet of that sticky foam. I think the bag will work well to hold my cards and information about my Indiegogo fundraiser so I can hand them out during Emerald City Steampunk Expo.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the final results of my River Song costume. Here are some other pictures.

I need to make a few modifications and shore up a few loose parts, but overall, I think I am ready for the costume contest for Emerald City!

Today I am at work on Chapter 22 - things are rushing towards the Charge of the Light Brigade on October 25th, 1854. It only lasted 25 minutes but the British presented themselves with stupendous bravery and unmitigated disregard for the suicide charge they were rushing into. Yesterday, the friend I do madrigal singing with said to me after practice, "Shall we grab the Tardis and go?" I responded brightly, "Yes, let's go to the Crimea and watch the Charge of the Light Brigade!" He blinked and said, "From a safe distance, right?"  Well, writing about it is about the safest distance I can think of.

I've gotten some funds in through Indiegogo: thanks, everyone! I still need to get about 90% of my funding by November 14th, and I would be extremely appreciative of any further donations, plus you get prizes for donating!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

River Song Jacket and Gaiters

Costuming is coming along nicely! For River Song's jacket, I found an absolutely perfect jacket at my local Goodwill where I regularly find more steampunk-suitable clothing than my closets can manage. Since the zippers on the pockets detracted from the overall steampunk aspect, I ripped the zippers out, then sewed the pockets open so that they are usable. I tacked down the left collar to mimic how River Song's collar flops down on that side, and the collar is now adorned with a cluster of three gears to hold it into place.

For footwear, I have these significantly worn and tattered boots that a friend of mine tactfully pointed out were severely overdue for a refurbishing. 

Pretty gnarly, huh? Luckily, I also had purchased a swath of this wonderful fake leather fabric and decided that making a pair of spats to cover up the boots was in order. 

A quick search on the internet uncovered a great spats pattern to download. The problem was that I am completely out of ink and could not print it out, an issue I resolved via this method.

Yup, I did actually put a piece of paper over my monitor and trace it. It took a little finagling to get it right, but I got a rough outline, then cleaned it up later to ensure that the lines were straight. Following the carpenter's adage of "measure twice, cut once," I made a dummy spat out of some spare fabric and discovered the pattern was a wee bit snug, so I enlarged it to fit the DYI boot tree (a QT to-go cup inserted into the boot filled it out nicely) I was using to get a true measurement of the size of my ankle. 

I cut the faux leather pieces out and did some adjusting to fit my boot. The nice thing about this material is that it holds its edge without fraying so I am leaving the edges raw to give that leather, rough look. 

In the process of fitting the spat, I decided that a strap under the boot to keep the spats in place would be a good idea. 

A fastener device was the next order of business. I burrowed through my sewing supplies and considered options before I hit upon this combination: different gears glued to the back of buttons. A few weeks ago, I purchased a bag of random clockwork gears from an antique store, and three of them are pictured below. The other three are from the "Bag of Gears" sold by Amazon and other craft stores. I superglued the gears to the back of metal buttons and let dry.

The next step was cutting out the button holes and attaching the buttons and voila! My spats are done, they look awesome, and they cover up the fact that my boots are in wretched shape. Not bad for some fabric and a few hours of work. 

Today will see me at work on Chapter 22 and heading towards the failed Allied attack on Sevestopol on October 19th. Supplies are running chronically low and the British troops are suffering. In the historical Crimean War, an important merchant marine ship sank en route to the Crimean, and it was carrying thousands of winter uniforms for the soldiers. Thus in my book, the biggest of the Smothers marine ships sank a few days ago, taking thousands of uniforms and tons of desperately needed supplies with it. The Horizon is in the Crimea waiting to distribute supplies to camps around the battlefields, but with nothing to transport, Roberts is trying to figure out what to do next. 

Be sure to take a look at my Indiegogo campaign - a donation as low as $10 will earn you a free copy of Steam on the Horizon and help me get the book out on time. I've been living off credit cards and counting every penny, so every donation helps to get Steam on the Horizon written and published. 

I'll have more River Song forthcoming! Tune in next time!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

River Song Journal and Pants

Okay, my River Song journal is now complete and is ready for lots of scribblings inside.

The only thing I wish I would have done differently is not use oil paint. I just read that oil paint can take days to dry and my journal is still not quite dry yet: I get a bit of blue on my hands when I handle it. Hopefully by Sunday it will be completely dry as the Steampunk Society of Nebraska has a photoshoot and I want to wear my River Song costume then.

Making pants for River Song was easy - I simply took a pair of brown pants I had and added three black stripes on the side.

I glued the ribbon strips down to hold them, then put in a loose running stitch so that I can remove the strips in the future if I wish.

Next blog post will show the gaiters I am making and have a final view of the goggles, and then I am done! I'm registered for the costume contest at Emerald City, so we shall see if I bring home any prizes.

Exciting news - I am over 300 pages on my draft for Steam on the Horizon and am delving happily into an abundance of research sources, including a wonderful book entitled Soldier-Surgeon: the Crimean War Letters of Dr. Douglas A. Reed which has been an invaluable resource. While originally I was hoping to have the entire draft done by the end of October, that is not looking likely, not with my Indiegogo campaign and Emerald City Steampunk Expo coming up. However, the end is in sight, and I have a particularly interesting climax and conclusion planned for Captain Roberts whom, if he could read what was in my head right now, would likely wish to push me overboard. Luckily for him, he is too busy running supplies during the Crimean War and dealing with Victoria and bullets flying to be overtly worried about what his creator has plotted for him.

Tonight I will finish up my gaiters, then blog about their progress. I'm also at work on River Song's gun, but this afternoon will see me at the TV studio of the University of Nebraska at Omaha to sub in for a teacher. I used to be a teacher on an English learning TV show, and occasionally they need me as a sub, such as today. Time to get my camera makeup on!

Monday, October 22, 2012

River Song Journal

My River Song journal is almost done - right now the cover is finishing drying, then I will reattach it to the pages, and then I can scribble in it as I see fit. After some thought and some help from this great link on Tardis Builders, I came up with a good concept for how to make my own River Song journal.

I started with a trip to Hobby Lobby where I found this plain journal for $8. I removed the ribbon marker and the elastic strap in preparation for aging the pages. 

In case you don't know, tea is a great way of antiquing book pages. I made a bowl of strong tea and carefully dipped the pages into it, making sure not to get tea on the cover.

In the process, the glue binding the pages to the cover weakened and I ended up removing the cover. In retrospect, I should have loosened the cover first because it would have made it much easier to soak the pages. As it was, I had a difficult juggling process getting the pages wet and keeping the cover dry.

When the pages were wet, I did some distressing along the edges to wear them. I also took a wet teabag and daubed different pages to emphasize stains and discolorations due to long use.

When it was done, I propped the book up like this so that the pages would warp as they dry. Periodically I ruffled through the pages to separate them out and speed up the drying process. I wet the pages Saturday and by Monday the book was mainly dry, but it still needs a little more drying.

At this point, I removed the cover of River Song's journal so that I could prepare it. To make the embellishing, I bought a sheet of 88 cent foam board that was sticky on one side.

Using a ruler and my imagination, I created a template for my Tardis box and drew it on a sheet of white paper (the link to Tardis Builders has a printable template, but I created my own). I carefully cut out the template, and then glued it to the backside of the Silly Winks foam board.

Then I took a ruler and a sharp box cutter and cut all the pieces out. A ruler is advisable because you can slide the box cutter along it and make clean corners - the Tardis box is all angles and edges, so you don't need to worry about circles or curves. 

When the pieces were cut out, I carefully attached them to the journal, sticky side down, to create the outside cover details. 

Painting was next! The Winton Oil Colour Prussian Blue I had originally picked was too dark, so I blended it with a soft white until I had the Tardis color I wanted. I gave the cover one coat of paint. After letting it sit for several hours, I gave it two coats of Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic coating last night. 

Checking this morning, I saw that my River Song journal was still a bit tacky: I recommend waiting a full 24 hour period after painting to let the paint fully dry before adding the acrylic, but hopefully by tomorrow morning, both the cover and pages will be done. Then I can glue the pages back to the cover, and my River Song journal will be ready for writing! My plan is to have people at different steampunk conventions write in the journal so I can keep a creative log of the steampunk cons I have attended. 

On the writing front, Steam on the Horizon is plugging away - I last left the Horizon flying overland with the aether flyer Horus through a war zone to deliver a passel of Enfield Pattern 1853 rifle-muskets to the British ground troops. These particular weapons were used during the Crimean War and marked a change from the old smoothbore rifles to a rifling weapon that had much better range and accuracy. 

So, do you want a free copy of Steam on the Horizon? I now have a new fundraising campaign underway at Indiegogo that has even better rewards than my Kickstarter campaign. You can win some great prizes on Indiegogo, so please check out my link and contribute to the writing of my Airship Trilogy. 

I'll post a final image of my River Song journal once it is completed. More River Song fun to come!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goggles Modding

My fingers are currently stained in a palette of metallic colors and my craft room is smelling of paint fumes, despite the open window, all marking my first foray into using Rub n Buff, a product that many steampunk people use. I just looked down to find three smears of Rub n Buff what was recently a serviceable everyday shirt and now has become paint clothing, I am fairly certain Rub n Buff is permanently cemented to my fingernails, and I am somewhat light-headed from the fumes. Hopefully all is not in vain and that the result is a smashing pair of goggles.

For the past year or so, these have been my only goggles: cheap, badly-fitting, and patently generic. 

After attending a great modding workshop at Octopodicon, I picked up some great tips about how I could transform these pathetic, wimpy goggles into something I am proud to wear. Sadly, I neglected to take notes during the panel and the specifics on these tips have grown steadily hazier, but lack of knowledge has never prevented me from diving whole-heartedly into a crafting project. This was no different an occasion.

A trip to Hobby Lobby scored three shades of Rub n Buff.

From my vague recollections of the modding panel and through some internet searching, I decided my first step was washing the goggles to remove any residue that might cause the paint to not stick. This mean the elastic straps needed to come off, and tugging them off revealed that the brown frames had a snap piece on the side that, when removed, made it much easier to take the elastic band off.

I scrubbed the parts down and began the drying process only to realize that the lenses were glass and each eyepiece had a double layer. Due to the bath, water was trapped between the double lenses and would not drain out no matter how hard I shook. Some prodding revealed that the gold rims could untwist from the brown backing, freeing the lenses.

I thought briefly about wedging a decorative gear between the two lenses in each eye as I have seen people do, but an investigative attempt made me realize that I would hear an irritating rattle every time I moved, so I quickly abandoned that idea. Instead I dried the pieces carefully. At this point, I remembered that I needed to sand everything to make the Buff n Rub stick better. Luckily I had a spare sheet of sandpaper in my craft room, and some brisk stropping made quite a bit of the gold covering the rims flake off. I sandpapered away, then gave the frame pieces a roughing up too in order to help the Rub n Buff stick.

It was then that I realized another washing was in order to remove the paint flakes and sandpaper dust. A good drying and I was ready to add Rub n Buff. I picked the tube marked a color of Spanish Copper, broke the seal, and began spreading the pigment over the rim with my fingers. The end result was this.

Rub n Buff, I am learning, needs to be applied thinly for a smooth surface and preferably applied over a surface that is light-colored. Several thin applications are better than a thick coat. Because I used too much product, my rims ended up with a rough, textured appearance that actually looks pretty darned cool: weathered and well-used. I took a flat paintbrush and ran it around the bottom of the rim to make the edge defined.

Another revelation was that Rub n Buff likes to clog inside the tube. I was trying to squish out more when I applied too much pressure and about half the contents came shooting out, spraying liberal droplets of pigmentation across my work desk and getting on my shirt. The next tube I opened, I wisely squirted a puddle on a sheet of paper for use, then closed the tube up quickly.

Next was the brown frame. I decided on silver and used a flat paintbrush to mark the lining around the side as you can see below. However, the silver went on too thick and the end result looks like painted plastic, not metal - I think I need to sand off a little of it once it dries and bring up some of the brown to the surface to age it somewhat.

However, the silver is not going to show too terribly much because I found these awesome..well...I'm not really sure what they are.

Edges to a wooden chest would be my guess. Anyway, these are going over the frames of my goggles. The metal is pliable enough that I can shape them around the goggle frames. They look fine with the corner in the middle of each one, or I may beat that out so that each metal piece curves smoothly along the edge of the frame.

The end result of about 30 minutes of work was this....

Ha ha, I mean it was actually this...

The rims I like as they are. The silver frames are going to get the sandpaper, then maybe a few touches of copper to tone down the fake metal look and age them. I neglected to buy a clear fixative, so it will be back to Hobby Lobby next week so that my clever paintwork doesn't start flaking off during Emerald City Steampunk Expo.

Then I put everything back together and figure out what to do with the metal corner thingys. The original leather bridge that goes over the nose will be shortened and I think I have a few metal pieces that I'm going to string on the bridge for decoration. The elastic strap for the goggles is too cheap-looking, and I need to find some alternate things for it. I have some olive military-looking fabric. Maybe I'll make a tube of this fabric and run the elastic through it.

For now, the Rub n Buff is drying and I just discovered that I have neither paint thinner nor rubbing alcohol, meaning whatever I eat for dinner will likely be garnished with a generous coating of metallic pigmentation. Final note, if you scrub your hands with a  plastic nail brush after using Rub n Buff, you will end up with a decorated nail brush for your efforts. My nail brush is actually this soft-fingered thing that looks like a curry comb and was supposed to be for brushing pet hair off furniture and clothing. It has instead stood in as a world-class nail brush. It is now a world-class nail brush with an interesting abstract pattern of copper and silver on its handle. Oh well.