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. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

River Song Remix

After watching a few more River Song episodes of Dr. Who, I decided to steampunk this concept instead...

A lucky shopping trip at the Goodwill this evening yielded an awesome jacket and leather belt for $10. So far I have this pulled together.

I'm going to run three lines of black ribbon on the side of each pant leg and I'm currently ripping the zippers out of the two pockets of the jacket: not sure if I am going to sew the pockets shut or have them functional. I'll tack down a corner of the collar to mimic how one of River Song's collar flops down, and I need to get a hold of a holster. Her double-barreled gun will be a bit of a challenge, but I got some Rub N Buff today which apparently works well for steampunk modding. My goggles are entirely too plain and need some cool modding to work for this costume, but I am not sure what other steampunk elements to add. Suggestions? 

The fluffy, chubby thing in the background is sulking that I am messing around with costumes and not paying attention to him. Cold weather tends to make Erasmus frisky and today all he has wanted to do is play. When I ignore him, he gives me very reproachful looks. 

Today's shopping adventure also included Hobby Lobby which was having a 99 cent pattern sale. I finally bought this pattern I have been eyeing for months. 

I also picked up this pattern here, partly based on a costuming panel at Octopodicon. The presenter recommended going to the fabric store after Halloween and purchasing black and white prison stripe fabric. Make a skirt out of it, and arrange the pleats on the bottom so that one side is black and one side is white - that way, you "pop" color as you walk. I think that could be nicely arranged for the costume on the right. 

Of course, this is assuming my sewing skills are up for the challenge! I've decided I am begging my parents for an adjustable dressmaker dummy for Christmas: I'm doing enough sewing now to justify having one, I have a sewing/craft room, and I do not want to attempt either costume without a form to adjust since I never fit patterns cut to a single size. 

So far, I am at 7% for my Kickstarter project and I am investigating more options for advertising. Today I started a Facebook ad campaign for my Steamy Girl Publishing page after receiving a coupon for $50 in free Facebook ads. We'll see what happens. I have a posting on The Steampunk Empire about my project and I am hoping to connect with many people through this forum. I finished hanging up all my signs around Omaha - down to 5 signs from 100. The newspaper article should be out sometime this week, and I really need to contact local TV stations to see if I can get a spot. Anyone have any other advertising ideas? I'm hoping to make good connections at Emerald City Steampunk Expo since it will be bigger than Octopodicon. Maybe my River Song costume will be popular enough that I can really capitalize on it. 

Well, it is drawing late and I've done enough writing for now! Good night, all!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

River Song Inspiration

After 15+ people told me, "Oh my gosh, you look just like River Song" when I was wearing this Saturday...

I decided to take inspiration from this

and do a steampunk version of River Song for Emerald City Steampunk Expo!  So far, I am searching for a denim jacket to go over the white shirt and multilayer skirt hiked over ruffled white skirt I am wearing above. Someone told me that they think they have a holster I can borrow, I am bidding on a few replica guns on Ebay, and I have a leather pouch to hang from the belt. I can't quite tell what that white tube is River Song is packing on her belt, so I am going to paint a small flashlight white and call it good.

The other day I was wandering through my house and spotted this handy decorative box....

which is practically begging to be made into River Song's journal. The cover already has squares marked out like the Tardis, so I think I can get away with the bee motif and pass it off as steampunk as long as I paint the whole thing blue. The sides of the box need to be cut down, then I'll make a lot of pages, distressing them by soaking them in tea and worrying the edges.

Hopefully I have an awesome costume for the costume contest at Emerald City!

If you are a member of The Steampunk Empire, come find me! I just joined up, thinking to myself, "Oh fabulous, yet another awesome social networking site that will consume copious amounts of time and dedication." In an article I read somewhere, a mom compared Facebook to a pet, another darned thing to feed and care for. The Steampunk Empire, at least, seems far more informative and helpful than the general fare of political mudslinging and kid pictures that make up Facebook.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to have an interview with a reporter I know who works for the Council Bluffs Nonpareil. He and his photographer coworker took us to a train museum that was unfortunately closed. Instead, we took pictures in the archway and the photographer managed some distant shots of me standing near the chain link fence guarding the trains - in the shots you can vaguely see the fence, but the trains are more visible. The museum was in a deserted, somewhat desolate part of town and the building was slightly run-down; it was rather amusing to stand out on the street in full steampunk gear giving an interview, even more so when a train chugged past us and blew its horn steadily for about two minutes. Hopefully Mike got enough information for an article about steampunk, my work and Kickstarter project, and our local steampunk groups.

Speaking of Kickstarter, today marks 30 days left until the end of the fundraiser! I still have posters to put up in Bellevue and West Omaha and will spend tomorrow contacting local TV stations to see if anyone would be willing to do a news segment. Several months ago, the Steampunk Society of Nebraska were featured in a local news station broadcast and had a fine segment showing many different styles of costumes.

Well, lunchtime is approaching - time for a tuna sandwich and then jumping back into Chapter 17 - I had a few more pages to go, and then it's on to Chapter 18!
Twitter @Melissa_Conroy

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And Life Resumes as Normal

Octopodicon was a rousing success and definitely a great first-time con organized by the good folks of OKC. I met a slew of interesting people, sat through some informative panels, and discovered the particular bodily discomforts wearing a corset for 12 hours can bring. I've got pictures up on my facebook page, including one where I am riding a steampunk Segway that looks uncannily like a Dalek.

Speaking of Dalek, on Day Two, I had 15+ people tell me, "Oh my gosh, you look just like River Song!" There was a little boy running around in a red fez and somewhere a con-goer has a video of me shooting the boy's fez off. Since I have not seen that episode yet, I had little clue what I was actually doing. I simply asked the parents, "Do you mind if I torment your son?" and, being co-goers, they happily agreed. The poor kid had absolutely no idea what was going on and was probably thinking, "Who is this crazy lady?" I ended up going as a steampunk cowgirl-style River Song for the costume contest and though I didn't win, I knew the audience liked my costume. Now I am working on a kickbutt steampunk River Song costume for Emerald City in November! Any ideas or suggestions?

There were an abundance of published writers, soon-to-be published writers, and aspiring writers at the con, and it seems as if every other person I talked to was a writer to some degree. This was a tad humbling to realize that many people are in the same boat that I am. But then again, I imagine few of them were crazy enough to quit their jobs on the gamble that they could make it as a full-time writer!

A few things of particular note I picked up at the con: I sat through the panel on Airship Piracy, and one thing that was discussed in detail was air battles. The presenters pointed out that a marine ship could shoot upwards at an airship - however, gravity drag would do quite a number on the cannonball's range and impact. I read a few days ago that a cannonball could shoot a mile or more, but that is along a horizontal plane. Shooting upwards would be much different. The presenters also pointed out that an airship could simply drop a cannonball overboard and count on gravity to do the work on any attacking vessel below. I was thinking about this as I was writing Chapter 16 - the Horizon was sailing 1,000 feet above the water: she would likely still be in range for cannonfire, so I wonder how far up she would need to be to be out of the way of cannons. I may have to put her up higher to keep her safer.

I also attended a delightful panel about aerospace dynamics by a wonderful lady who has a long history of a glider pilot. She talked at length about thermals, lifts, drops, and retold amusing stories about problems gliders can get into, such as dropping down into some farmer's soybean field and having to pay for the damages the glider created. One thing she hammered on was the fact that for every lift there is a drop, so keep that in mind when sailing. Also, she said that clouds offer lifts, so apparently glider pilots go from cloud to cloud to gain extra lift.

Now that I am back home, it is time to pick up where I left off with drafting. I just finished Chapter 16 - the Horizon narrowly escaped a terrific storm over the Black Sea and made it through with just minor damages. Chapter 17 starts today! As I am working through the draft, I am realizing more and more that I am going to have to put in some major skips: the entirety of Book One takes place over roughly a year, and so far I am on page 238 but have only covered about three months of action. In the interest of this not being an 800 page book, there will need to be periods of routine activity that I choose not to inscribe so that I can get this darned thing done! I am aiming at having Draft 1 finished by the end of October, but we shall see what happens. Writing five pages a day gives me about 100 more pages by the end of October, so we shall see.

I picked up a few more donors for my Kickstarter project which is wonderful! I'm standing at 6% pledged, so please donate if you feel lead!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

To Con and Back

T minus three hours, and I am galloping out of Omaha for five days of a working vacation at Octopodicon. Meaning I get to dress up in steampunk costumes, talk to people, stay up way too late, and spend time with a good friend who lives with her husband in Oklahoma City. And hopefully bellydance - last year I was at Nebraskon and found myself in a room crammed with over 100 cosplayers in various garb and all of us undergoing a bellydancing lesson. Nothing says "surreal amusement" like watching people dressed as anything from Naruto to Evil Little Red Riding Hood trying to shimmy in time to Middle Eastern music. Generally what happens is a lot of bumbling around, various weapons and costume appendages smacking into each other, inane giggling, and a passel of men realizing that they had never consciously thought about moving their hips before. Needless to say, it was tremendous fun, and I hope that there is a steampunk-themed bellydance class somewhere at Octopodicon. 

Breaking news - I've hit $1000 on my Kickstarter project and counting! One of my campaign outreaches has been this amusing video of some of the bloopers that happened when my friend was helping me shoot some video footage for the main steampunk promotion video she helped me put together. 

The good airship Horizon is currently sailing around the Black Sea with a cargo full of armament and searching for a British marine fleet that is anxiously awaiting the supplies. I was doing some research the other day about how 19th century ships managed to find each other out on the water. The general consensus was that most ships made use of trade routes and the same winds, so a ship searching for another had a general idea of where that other ship might be. Also, a lookout standing on the top of the mast could see for several miles on a clear day. The Horizon has the advantage of height and clearly would have a much easier time finding a marine ship than a marine ship would have of finding another water-going vessel. I imagine that there is some sort of nautical formula that calculates how far someone can see into the distance depending on how high up he is. Most unfortunately for me, navigation relies heavily upon math, a skill I only possess in limited quantities. In order to make certain parts of Steam on the Horizon intellectual and correct, I will require the assistance of those far smarter than I am, particularly where math or engineering is concerned. 

Well, it is packing time! Generally I go with the backpacker's mentality which states if you can't carry it, you don't need it. However, steampunk costumes take up an inordinate amount of space in one's suitcase, so I am actually bringing two suitcases for a five day trip. Luckily I am driving and don't have to check all that baggage!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Adventures in Steampunk Fiction

Yesterday I received an Amazon recommendation via email to try out a new steampunk book The Sauder Diaries: By Any Other Name which is available via Kindle for just $4.99. I tried a sample and after just a page or two, bought the thing and devoured it over Sunday. What impressed me most about the book was its meticulous attention to technical details. Many of the steampunk books I have read gloss over the very pressing issue of "Okay, so just how exactly does that work?" but author Michel Vaillancourt did an excellent job describing his airship, The Bloody Rose, in great detail so that you ended up with an intimate understanding of just what went on to keep the airship in the air and flying forward (and at 80 knots at top speed - here I thought I was clever making the Horizon go 35 knots tops).

So yes, buy The Sauder Diaries and read it - this is a great steampunk book and Book Two in the series is soon to come out. Oh joy!

Today's agenda is to finish Chapter 15. I left Victoria and Roberts to their monkey problems as the Horizon makes its way to the Black Sea to do acts of derring-do and impressive flying right in the heart of the Crimean War. However, I am hindered by the fact that I have still not figured out if there is a way to sail a watership into the Black Sea - it looks like it is completely bordered by lands all around, so my question is how the heck did the English get their ships up there to fight in the Crimean War? One assumes that they had ships built and commissioned in countries bordering the Black Sea. Currently, I am having The Morning Star merchant marine sail to Istanbul, then the Horizon will take over from there. One of my revision exercises will be to find a history buff and ask him/her a million questions so I can get my details about the Crimean War down correctly. I was gratified to find out that The Sauder Diaries also dealt with the Crimean War also - thanks to this book, I have a lot of ideas and information to chew on. 

Today marks 40 days left to the end of my Kickstarter fundraiser  Funding has gone slow, and I am casting about for further ways of getting my name out there and charming money out of people's wallets. I know Octopodicon and Emerald City Steampunk Expo will be great places for me to get my name out there, and I am really looking forward to going. I've sent emails to many steampunk groups, posted posters, contacted some reporters, and sent a lot of emails. Granted, the fundraiser has been ongoing for just two weeks now, so patience is necessary. But I'm only at 3% funding, so I clearly need to do more promotion!

Also for today is decided which steampunk costumes to take to Octopodicon. I am thinking my airship officer costume, the steampunk cowgirl costume, and the one I wore for my pictures. My friend Marlene is coming over tomorrow to help me bustle the overskirt since I did a botch job last time. I now know I will be asking for an adjustable dressmaker dummy for Christmas; this will make costuming much easier.   
Twitter @Melissa_Conroy