Saturday, November 16, 2013

Win a Free Copy of "Steam on the Horizon"

Care for a free steampunk book? Well, if you would like a chance to win an autographed copy of "Steam on the Horizon" delivered to your doorstep, then check out the new giveaway I am holding on Facebook through November 24th. To enter, 1) be a US citizen 2) like my SteamyGirl Publishing page on Facebook. That's it! Check out this link for more details!

More exciting news: the official SteamyGirl Publishing newsletter is now operational! Check out the first edition here to meet the graphic artist who created the coverwork for "Steam on the Horizon" and delve into some interesting steampunk-related info. You can sign up for the newsletter here to get lots of cool steampunk tidbits, updates on The Aether Saga series and other fun stuff.

Today, I will be wandering over to the house of Kira Gale, the CEO and almighty potentate of River Junction Press, an independent book publisher. After much sharing of ideas and investigating of books, Kira and I have decided to merge talents and interests, and her publishing company will be carrying The Aether Saga. That is right, I have a publisher! Kira is a long-term veteran of the publishing trenches and knows far more about the business than I do. I have full confidence that with her assistance, I can become far more of a successful author and reach the international steampunk community.

However, as anyone in the publishing business knows, getting a book out takes copious amounts of time and energy. Kira and I will be packaging and producing two books at once: both "Steam on the Horizon" and "Clouds of War". During the months that this project will entail, "Steam on the Horizon" will still be available on Amazon and Kindle as it currently is and I will still be running around hawking it at conventions and other venues. However, Kira and I will be repackaging it and putting it through a more more comprehensive and widespread distribution platform.

One of the most exciting aspects of working with Kira will be that she is very much pushing for The Aether Saga to be available as a series of interactive enhanced ebooks. Trying to explain these via text rather than a visual demonstration is quite difficult, and when Kira first talked about this books, I initially dismissed it as frippery. Then she hauled out her IPad and showed me an interactive ebook, and I was instantly hooked. The particular book was "History of a Pleasure Seeker" - essentially the ebook had the normal text like you would expect, but there were all sorts of other additions: extra notes and descriptions from the author, music, video files, etc. As I looked over some of these enhanced ebooks, I realized that The Aether Saga was a perfect fit for these books: I could incorporate so many awesome elements: voice readings from actors, sounds of engines and other mechanical noises, sidebars with historical and cultural information, pictures from the countries where I have traveled, etc.

So in a nutshell, the plan is that The Aether Saga will be offered under River Junction Press both as print and ebooks but Kira and I will also have the series available as interactive enhanced ebooks. I am particularly excited about the last part; enhanced ebooks are amazing! They are also cutting-edge technology and right on the cusp of publishing innovation - here is an article about these books.

Well, Captain Roberts and I have work to do - when I last left him, he was being talked into taking a shipment of cavalry horses from Balaklava Bay to the British camp. Now, anyone who has worked with horses before knows that they are fragile, dumb creatures that actively fling themselves towards peril, so putting a bunch of them on an airship is not the easiest or practical of tasks. Captain Roberts may find himself in a situation like this poor soul here:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

TeslaCon Part Deux

The good folks of the Steampunk Society of Nebraska have a rather odd tradition for every TeslaCon event: a post party on Sunday that is best captured in this image:

Yes, in case you were wondering, that is not tea in those cups. I believe most of the people in this picture are imbibing absinthe or other brews of an alcoholic nature. Because nothing says classy like a group selfie in a Jacuzzi. If our group continues to grow and our TeslaCon caravan continues to expand, we will need to find a hotel room with a bigger tub.

Since standing fully clothed in a bathtub with a teacup full of whiskey is not amusing enough, the post-party was capped off by a rousing session of group karaoke to Disney songs. My mother would no doubt be proud to know that four years of college French allowed me the ability to belt out "Le Poisson" from The Little Mermaid with rousing gusto and a near-perfect French accent. Another member of our group happened to have a fine pair of suspenders to act out "The Lumberjack Song" and a Phantom of the Opera mask for "Music of the Night".

While much of the con is somewhat of a muddle in my head at this time owing to fatigue and system overload, I have fine memories of Frenchy and the Punk delivering yet another wonderful concert, costumes galore, and hundreds upon hundreds of people. I had a panel scheduled on Thursday at 7:00pm entitled "The Pen and the Cog: Writing Steampunk" and I cherished few hopes that more than one or two souls would attend, owning to the day and time. To my surprise, about ten people showed up and we had a fine time talking about cliches in steampunk, character development, and self-publishing. For those who asked, here is a copy of my powerpoint presentation that I displayed during the panel.

Thus far, TeslaCon has been, by far, the best steampunk con and best con I have yet attended and I eagerly await to see if next year's con tops this one.

Back at the ranch, the Horizon has been cooling her heels in Constantinople waiting for me to get back to writing. When I last left off, she was undergoing a thorough winterizing to prepare her for the harsh weather that she will face as a military supply airship during the Crimean War. She will spend a nice portion of Clouds of War sailing over this:

Today I was out putting air in my tires in the face of a drizzling cold rain, enough to numb my hands and send me scurrying back into my car after a few minutes exposure. It was such a brief encounter with discomfort, but it made me think of how little most of us in the modern world fully understand deprivation and hardship. I briefly envisioned how my pilots of the Horizon, Barking Jack and Bloomberg, must stand on deck in the open air, steering the airship forward despite freezing rain, hail, tearing winds, and other weather conditions. The Horizon and crew are facing a bitterly cold winter of grinding work, chronic shortage, hazardous war conditions, and very little sleep: hard, tough men in a brutal world that chews up the weak and only leaves the strong alive.

While my characters struggle to stay alive, I think I shall leave them to their work and go have a cup of tea and curl up with a good book!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

TeslaCon and Some Musings on Gender Roles in Steampunk

I'm typing this in the middle of what appears to be a clothing store explosion: four women managed to cram at least twenty-five costumes into one hotel room. From my position on the couch, I spy eight hats, an enormous bottle of Advil, a box of my books, several packs of half-opened cookies, two hat boxes, a half-full cup of tea, seven boots, a corset, and the furled flag of the Steampunk Society of Nebraska, just to name a few.

If you have the slightest interest in steampunk at all, you simply must attend TeslacCon next year. In my years of con-going, I have yet to attend an event that can top it. The amount of intricate corsetry, the leatherworks, the gears, the hats. Sensational! Plenty of folks were strolling around in thousands of dollars worth of costuming.

I, alas, missed most of it as the majority of my time was spent at a vendor's booth. I think my face in this picture captures my general demeanor after eight hours in a booth on Saturday.

Note the waxy skin, the glazed eyes, the blank expression of utter fatigue, the mouth incapable of smiling, the brain floating blearily in a haze of exhaustion. Thankfully, not too long after this picture was taken, I was decked out in my River Song fatigues while riding a luggage trolly down the hallway at 2:30am so fun was had, just after the vendors room closed for the night.

The gentleman with the impressive gun goes by the handle of Jessie, and he and I partook of an interesting conversation based on my observations of the men and women of TeslaCon. In my two years of steampunk, I have come to the conclusion that the male of the species is more theatrical than the female. Steampunk gentleman take their steampunk personas with devoted sincerity and dramatics that is not often matched by the women. One stellar example was the head of security during TeslaCon. A former military man himself, this gentleman marched through the halls of the hotel with a squadron of impeccably dressed officers, all ramrod straight and spitting out commands into their lapel mics. Other gentleman strutted about proudly in their finest garb, their voices resonant and commanding, and every inch vibrating with theatrical pride and manliness.

As Jessie and I were discussing this, he commented that steampunk is one of the few realms where it is socially acceptably for men to comport themselves with assertive masculinity. Overtly masculine man are not often widely embraced in our current culture, but steampunk is a unique environment where it common (if not generally expected) to see a clear delineation between the sexes. For Jessie, and for other men, this seems to be much of the appeal of steampunk: the genre allows them to be the men that our culture has worked to suppress.

In a neat parallel, this also works to lure women into steampunk. One of the great appeals in steampunk to me as a woman is being surrounded by well-dressed, courtly gentleman who are men of action, not passivity. Military uniforms are in abundance, and the men carry themselves with pride and dignity. For the ladies, steampunk is the romance of lovely dresses, delicate social graces, and the freedom to let the men take the lead and free us from the burden of always being in charge, forthright, and assertive.

As much as our modern society works to eradicate gender roles, the growing appeal of steampunk is incontestable proof that we still find great allure in a world where men are men and women are women. In many ways, we are desperately hungry for this world, and steampunk is where we can exercise these desires and find the freedom to be the men and women we are born to be.

Meanwhile, this woman is happy back in jeans and sneakers and is agitating for a real meal after having survived mostly on grilled cheese sandwiches and cookies all weekend. For someone who is almost obnoxiously healthy, con life is a catastrophic dive into poor nutrition, even worse sleep, and sporadic grooming practices. My legs have not seen a razor in days, my teeth are clotted with the crumbs of random fried objects, and my digestive system is in catatonic shock. A three day juice fast awaits me back home to repair some of the nutritional damage wrecked on my exhausted frame.

For now, dinner at a German restaurant where I will drink about six gallons of water and hopefully track down something of the salad variety.

More TeslaCon updates to follow!