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!

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