Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Just think...If I hadn't...

Yesterday was a banner day for LUMIERE, 4 new reviews in all, 3 - 5 stars, and 1 - 4 star (one 5 star from a reader with a very critical eye, so that's a huge win!) accompanied by a plethora of wonderful comments that still have my head reeling. (Thank you.) And to think this book would never have been read.

I'm not a fool, I know someone may come along and dash my party, sock me with a terrible rating and scathing words that I'll have to scrape myself up off the floor with a putty knife to get over, but we can't please everyone can we, nor should we try, and that is not the point. The point is, as of last march LUMIERE was destined to rot in a virtual drawer of my computer, after a final and unsuccessful round of sub left me with what I felt was no other choice. It seemed the only thing left to do was put it away and try again, as I'd done several other times.

Just think if I had, Urlick's charm and Eyelet's spunk would never have been discovered, raved about, found irritating, questioned, appreciated, nor adored. The "fast-driving plot"(readers words not my own) that one reader dubbed "perfect," the one I laboured over for a period of three long years to get just right, would never have been enjoyed. I think of all the secondary characters and contraptions I laid awake at night imagining and designing in my head, sketching them out on scraps of paper under the covers, as my husband lay sleeping next to me in bed. All of them would have been for not, as would the whole adventure. The intricate world I dreamed up then set to paper, would never have seen the light of day. It all would have been a huge colossal waste of time. A disparage of creative energy. Some, whose feet are steadfastly planted in the world and ways of traditional publishing, will be quick now to jump up and scold me for that last statement. They'll insist no writing is a waste of time, and they'll be right - that I'd learned something from it, that the experience was enough - but that's where they'll be wrong.

It wasn't enough to have the experience of writing a book for three long years, tearing it apart and starting it over again 8 times, re-working drafts, sometimes 16 hours a day, re-writing, re-imagining and crying over the opening I wrote 36 times. It wasn't enough just to produce this book, for it never to be read.

By the time I finished LUMIERE, I knew it was different. I felt it in my heart, and through the ravings of a great number of editors in NYC who read it on submission, then for whatever reason, (the economy, shelf space, saggy sales figures) were unable, or unwilling to take a chance on it. I sense their interest and heeded the parts that made them wary, and attacked my manuscript again. 3 more times I re-wrote the beast, and polished her to the best of my ability. As I did this, some steadfastly planted in that world of traditional publishing, baulked openly, stating the comments made by those editors in NYC weren't legitimate. They were not about my work but rather the musings of business people buttering each other up to ensure further business deals. Others went as far as to insist, if the book were 'good' it would have been purchased - like the only eyes in the world that counted were those of that handful of editors. Others warned I'd ruin my chances of ever getting a legitimate deal, from a legitimate house...like what I was planning to do had no legitimacy. It was with much pain that I forced myself to ignore these comments and pushed on with my plan, for I was determined, not to give up on Urlick and Eyelet and the fantastical world I'd created, not turn my back on the Iris and Flossie, and all the rest.

I would see the hydrocycle fly.

So, it was, with a loving nudge from one of my dearest writing friends (thank you again Rosemary) that I took the chance that none in the traditional world were willing. I pushed my baby from the nest, and like all good mothers I dressed it up first and pack its bags full of things I thought it would need to survive the trip, before guiding it out into the great big world. And like any parent, (as I said earlier) I'm not a fool, I know my child has flaws, but it has wonderful qualities, too. Overall I'm told the story is good. Hell, some readers even call it "GREAT."

And to think I considered letting this story rot in a virtual drawer inside my computer for all eternity...all because a handful of people wouldn't, or couldn't swing open the gate.

"If you can write like this, why are you still begging at the gates of publishing? Why not kick them open and walk on through?" A dear mentor and friend once said this to me. (Thank you Don.)

Lumiere might not sell a lot of copies. It may not win awards. I may not get rich. It would be nice if it did, and I could contribute to my family's financial well being again, sure...but as my wise father used to say...if nothing else I am rich with love. The love I've been receiving from the readers of this little book of mine, each and every day since it's release. (Thank you!)

To those of you sitting on efforts of great heart and toil I say, consider this...

Friday, February 7, 2014

STEAMPUNK WITH HEART WEEK CONTINUES...with...Romancing the Machine!

Steampunk with Heart: The Heartbeat of Steampunk: Romancing the Machine
with Jacqueline Garlick and MeiLin Miranda

**see bottom of post for steampunk giveaways**
**see Steampunk With Heart Page for Facebook Party schedule**

It's no accident steampunk has become so popular; here in the 21st century we're facing an information revolution, just as the 19th century struggled through the industrial revolution. The rise in wearables, Internet-connected everything and, perhaps most troubling, governmental and corporate mining of personal data can alienate one a little. Even as we depend on tech more, we feel less in control of it and the changes it's bringing to the world.

Enter steampunk and its beautiful, handcrafted machines of gilded cast iron and brass. So many of the stories in this genre reflect both the giddy hope of new technology and the fear of change. Steampunk tech seems more tactile and understandable: the boiler heats up, the steam goes round and round woh woh woh, and Science comes out here, right? It's a little more human.

Another fun and relatable element of steampunk is how the genre encourages writers to push boundaries, allowing the technologies of today to mingle with those of the past. Throughout the pages of steampunk novels readers are exposed to thought provoking themes, such as man versus machine, or man and machine, united. Or, as in the case of ìLumiËre,î machine as manís best friend and protector, as well as evil counterpart.

It is this license of creative freedom that makes steampunk such a tantalizing genre for writers, and such a rewarding and intriguing one for readers. Imagine worlds filled with outrageously crossbred contraptions, tied to epic adventures, laced with memorable stories of love. What more could a reader ask for, right?

In ìLumiËre,î Eyelet Elsworth searches for her fatherís prized possession, thinking it is the answer to all her problems, only to discoveróas with all things scientifically developedóher fatherís prized possession is capable of things far beyond her wildest expectations, and not all of them are good. Along the way, Eyelet finds love and acceptance in the strangest places, and from the strangest creatures, and learns to fight for what she believes in.

In MeiLin's "The Machine God," a mysterious island floats high above a city-state bustling with new industry. No one's ever been able to reach the island--until a wonder fuel is found, and an inventor uses it to power her gyrocopter to the island.

Even though the people there live in primitive conditions, once magic powered mechanical marvels so terrifying that their coming of age ceremony includes the oath "Magic and Metal No More." A professor discovers what really powered those marvels, and that human greed, not machines, may be the real obscenity.

All in all, steampunk novels offer readers an escape from reality into worlds filled with mysterious technology of incredible consequence. Steampunk readers are rewarded with lush depictions of times gone by, tinged with dystopian trimmings and characters brimming with heart!

I'm Jacqueline Garlick. Author of YA, New Adult, and Women's Fiction. I love strong heroines, despise whiny sidekicks, and adore a good story about a triumphant underdog. I love to read, write, paint (walls and paper) and plan cool writing events for cool writers (check out niagarawritersretreatandconference (dot) com.) I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate, grammar, and technology.You will always find a purple wall (or two) in my house (perhaps even a door) and a hidden passageway that leads to a mystery room. (Okay, so you wonít find a hidden passageway but a girl can dream, canít she?) Oh, and tea. There will always be tea. I love specialty teas...and collecting special teacups from which to drink them. (See website for collection, plus Facebook and Goodreads.)

In my former life, I was a teacher (both grade school and college-don't ask) and more recently, I've been a graduate of Ellen Hopkinís Nevada Mentor Program and a student of James Scott Bell, Christopher Vogler and Don Maass. An excerpt from LumiËre earned me the 2012 Don Maass Break Out Novel Intensive Scholarship. LumiËreóA Romantic Steampunk Fantasyóis my debut novel, Book One in my young adult The Illumination Paradox Series.

Lumiere (The Illumination Paradox)
Kindle | Nook | Print
One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything. After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her fatherís prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures, but just as Eyelet locates the Illuminator, itís whisked away by an alluring thief. She follows the boy, enduring deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the Illuminator, only to discover the miracle machine they both hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all. 

MeiLin Miranda writes literary fantasy and science fiction set in Victorian worlds. Her love of all things 19th century (except for the pesky parts like cholera, child labor, slavery and no rights for women) has consumed her since childhood, when she fell in a stack of Louisa May Alcott and never got up.

MeiLin wrote nonfiction for thirty years, in radio, television, print and the web. She always wanted to write fiction, but figured she had time. She discovered she didn't when a series of unfortunate events resulted in a cardiac arrest complete with electric paddles ("clear!") and a near-death experience. She has since decided she came back from the dead to write books. MeiLin lives in a 130-year-old house in Portland, Oregon with a husband, two teens, two black cats, a floppy dog and far, far too much yarn. You can find her at her website.

The Machine God (The Drifting Isle Chronicles)
Kindle | Nook | Print
Folklore Professor Oladel Adewole leaves his homeland for the University of Eisenstadt to pursue his all-consuming interest: the mysterious island floating a mile above the city. The first survey team finds civilization, and Adewole finds a powerful, forbidden fusion of magic and metal: the Machine God. The government wants it. So does a sociopath bent on ruling Eisenstadt. But when Adewole discovers who the mechanical creature is--and what it can do--he risks his heart and his life to protect the Machine God from the world, and the world from the Machine God.


Thursday, February 6, 2014


Steampunk with Heart: Steampunk FAQ
with Rie Sheridan Rose and Cindy Spencer Pape

**see bottom of post for steampunk giveaways**
**see Steampunk With Heart Page for Facebook Party schedule**

What to ask (or not to ask) your friendly neighborhood steampunk author.  Here are some of the mostly commonly asked questions, how Cindy Spencer Pape and  Rie Sheridan Rose usually answer and what theyíd sometimes like to say.

1) What the heck is steampunk, anyway?
Cindy: This is the big oneóthe one we hear ALL the time. My answers range from snarky (Jules Verne on crack) to oversimplified (science fiction set in Victorian times). For folks my age and over, I sometimes reference the old Wild, Wild West TV show. The long answer, which I never say, is that steampunk is a blend of historical feel and advanced technology. Itís not just a fiction genre, although it certainly is that, but itís also a mood, a feel, and a thriving social phenomenon. It embodies futuristic technology, sometimes fantasy elements, and a rebellious attitude, along with a return to pride in manufacturing and craftsmanship. Most of all? Itís a whole hell of a lot of fun.

Rie: I usually say science fiction/fantasy set in a Victorian time frame. What might have happened if Steam technology had been developed along the times that Verne and Wells postulated? Emphasis is often on adventure and romance, as those are very Victorian tropes.

2) Why write steampunk? And why do you mix fantasy and/or romance elements into your steampunk stories? Or donít you?
Cindy: Again, because itís fun. I like writing books that Iíd like to read. I love mixing history, SF, fantasy and romance. Itís not everyoneís cup of tea, but itís what I enjoy.

Rie: I started off writing Steampunk as a challenge from my writing partner, but I really enjoy it. I've always been an Anglophile, and the Victorian era is so rich in detail and history. Is there any period as romantic in retrospect? The clothing, the manners... Mixing in the concepts Cindy mentioned is very accurate to the period, and adds spice to the writing. It makes for a very fun, open, and exciting genre to explore.

3) Whatís the coolest gadget youíve invented for your books?
Cindy: Gee, Iíve had cybermen and networked computers in Victorian London. Typewriter, telephone, germ theory and dirigible are all there ahead of their real time. Rings that eject poison darts and clockwork powered artificial limbs. Beyond all of that, however, the coolest creation in the Gaslight Chronicles world is George, the mechanical dog. George is kind of like Mr. Data on Star Trek. Heís exceeded his components and programming to the point where heís really more or less a living creature.

Rie: My biggest and best invention is Phaeton, the Marvelous Mechanical Man. He is a nine foot tall automaton with self-awareness and superior strength and reflexes. I also have an airship, a Steamcar, and a "Mechano-Velocipede" which are integral to the plot.

Since I am only on book one of the series, I haven't been as creative as Cindy. J

4) How much research do you do, or do you make it all up?
Cindy: Short answer: Quite a bit. Long answer: I do a surprisingly heavy amount of research for my steampunk stories. I very carefully take the key incidents that changed my world from the one we live in, then I follow those changes and decide how they would have effected everything else in the world where the characters live. In my case, the tipping point is twofold: 1) Magic has always existed and been acknowledged, and werewolves, vampyres, etc. DO exist. Therefore the Order of the Round Table was never disbanded in England and still exists, Knights with extraordinary powers who protect England from supernatural threats. 2) The computer was invented in the 1840s, by a man called Babbage, and is called an analytical engine. (Thereís history behind this. Babbage in fact, did design this machine, but it was never built in our world.) Since a woman wrote the code for this machine, women in the sciences were catapulted ahead of where they were in our world. I also do a lot of research on clothing, settings, historical events and figures. In Cards and Caravans, I had to tweak the Scottish legal system, since they werenít really burning witches in the 1850s. But that means I had to know it before I could tweak it. And maybe, in a world where magic was a known reality, those laws might have been a little different.

Rie: Yes, I do. I research the technology to the point where I can make sure it is logical and not impossible. I check dates and events to make sure that I don't put something in that hasn't happened yet for no good reason. I research clothing, architecture, foods, etc.

Since I am set in New York City instead of the UK, it is a bit easier to find out some things.

5) Have you readÖ (insert your list of other peopleís books that are or may be close to my genre)
Cindy: Answer: yes, no, maybe. Much steampunk is YA, and I donít read a lot of that. I also donít read a lot of hard SF, where itís all about the technology and the world. I like my character-driven stories and my romance, so thatís most of what I read. I have read William Gibsonís The Difference Engine, which  is one of the seminal works of SF. Also, since steampunk is so maker-driven, there is a lot of self-published and web-original work out there. I read some, but may not have had time to read all of it.

Rie: I have read most of Gail Carriger's work (all of the Parasol Protectorate, but haven't started Finishing School yet.) Gale Dayton's Blood books were wonderful. I am way behind, but I will be reading a lot more!

6) Who are your favorite steampunk authors?
Cindy: LOL, besides myself? Snark. I love MelJean Brooks, Gail Carriger (except for the book where the main couple breaks up at the endóHATED that one) Kate Cross and Seleste Delaney. There are so many more I need to read, but havenít yet.

Rie: Mostly the two mentioned above, Tee Morris and Phillipa Ballentine, but I haven't read any of the Ministry novels, just the short story collection.

7) Where can I buy your books? Are they at WalMart?

Cindy: My steampunk series, so far, is only in e-book. Thatís kind of awkward in a community that wants everything to look like itís 1885. So yes, you can get them at Amazon, or B&N, or the Carina Press website. No, you canít get them at the grocery store. Sorry. I wish that wasnít the case, believe me.

Rie: My book is available in paperback, but you have to special order it to get it in a brick and mortar store. It is available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or through Zumaya Publications. It is also an ebook, and I believe can be gotten at Smashwords and Kobo as well.

8) How many more books will there be? When is the next one coming out? Which characters are in it?
Cindy: Truthfully? I donít know. It depends on a lot. Mainly, sales. Thatís the hard reality of the fiction business. The more they sell, the more there will be. A girlís gotta eat, you know? There are two more on the table with my publisher. Thatís all I know at the moment. The characters? Well, thatís up to the publisher, too. Letís just say thereís one more MacKay sibling and a whole bunch of Hadrians who still need happy endings.

Rie: I hope I am just getting started. I am currently working on Book Two of the series, but it is proving a bigger challenge than I thought! It's my first sequel. Theoretically, it will be out this year...but it has to be written first. All the main characters should be back. I love my characters, particularly my heroine, Josephine Mann.

9) Where do you get all your cool steampunk clothes?
Cindy: Thrift shops. (Iím short, so a lot of skirts are floor-length on me, so I cheat there.) Renaissance festivals. The vendors there tend to be awesome, but pricey, so build your wardrobe a few pieces at a time. Catalogs and online companies like Victorian Trading Co., Pyramid Company, Corset-Story and Holy Clothing. Finally, thereís the custom vendors. Thatís where things get really pricey, but really, really, cool. Iím not very crafty, but honestly, if you can sew, you have it made.

Rie: Most of my wardrobe is thrift store as well, with certain key pieces being bought at conventions. My main vice is hats. I have way more hats than logical...

10) Last question:  How do you come up with the ideas for all this far-out stuff?
Cindy: Usual answer: No idea. I just have a wild imagination. Snarky answer #1: Iím just twisted like that. Snarkier answer: The idea fairy leaves them in my shower and under my pillow, so I find them when itís least convenient.

Rie: Everywhere. A chance comment can lead to a bit of an idea. One thing follows on another. I might read something and file it away for later. Dreams sometimes. Ideas come from everywhere. You just have to collect them.

"To me, Steampunk is an alternate look at a period of history that fascinates almost everyone. What would have been different if technology had taken a slightly different direction? And it is fun to play with the gadgets."

Rie Sheridan Rose's short stories currently appear in numerous anthologies. She has authored five poetry chapbooks, and collaborated with Marc Gunn on lyrics for his ìDonít Go Drinking With Hobbitsî CD. Yard Dog Press is home to humorous horror chapbooks Tales from the Home for Wayward Spirits and Bar-B-Que Grill and Bruce and Roxanne Save the World...Again. Mocha Memoirs published the individual short stories "Drink My Soul...Please," and ìBloody Rainî as e-downloads. Melange Books carries her romantic fantasy Sidhe Moved Through the Faire. Zumaya Books is home to The Luckless Prince as well as her newest novel, The Marvelous Mechanical Man. You can find her at her website.

The Marvelous Mechanical Man (A Conn-Mann Adventure)
Kindle | Nook | Print
Josephine Mann is down to her last two dollars when Professor Alistair Conn hires her to work on a wonder--a 9-foot-tall automaton Jo dubs Phaeton. When an evil villain steals the marvelous mechanical man, Jo's longing for adventure suddenly becomes much too real...and deadly.

"Steampunk is being able to mix together all the things you love from the Victorian, modern and all eras in between, along with the addition of future tech and fantasy."

Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 18 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book. You can find her on her website.

Ashes and Alchemy (The Gaslight Chronicles)
London, 1860
Police inspector Sebastian Brown served Queen and country in India before returning to England to investigate supernatural crimes. Minerva Shaw is desperately seeking a doctor for her daughter Ivy who has fallen gravely ill with a mysterious illness when she mistakenly lands on Sebastian's doorstep. Seb sniffs a case and musters every magickal and technological resource he can to uncover the source of the deadly plague, but it's he who will need protectingófrom emotions he'd thought buried long ago.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Steampunk with Heart: Things We Love About Steampunk - Multicultural, Adventure, and More
with Jay Noel and SM Blooding

**see bottom of post for steampunk giveaways**
**see Steampunk With Heart Page for Facebook Party schedule**

Today we have S.M. ìFrankieî Blooding and Jay Noel on the blog. Jay is a sales warrior by day and a writing ninja by night who, as youíre about to find out, is a steampunk aficionado. Heís the author of Dragonfly Warrior, which is receiving rave reviews! Ms. Blooding is a huge fan of adventure and high-flying geekery. Sheís the author of her bestselling books, Fall of Sky City and Knight of Wands.

Theyíre here to tell you in their own words what makes steampunk awesomeófrom the multi-cultural new wave to geek-ridden adventure.

Frankie: When I first discovered steampunk, it was through the romance genre. I don't remember which one it was. I just remember reading it and going, "Dear Writing Gods, this is fracking brilliant!" Then I decided I'd take it into my own hands, throw out the dash of London, toss in a pinch of the rest of the world, and then kick us off the planet entirely. Rub it with a fair shake of adventure, severely twist the romance until it disappeared, and called it good. 

The excitement of discovery prevalent in the dawning of the Industrial Age was intoxicating. We're talking about an entire generation who dare to dare. That was what I wanted to take from it, the thing that drew me into the genre. What was it for you? 

Jay: Wow, my discovery of steampunk was quite different. I grew up reading H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (which I blame on my 4th grade teacher assigning The Time Machine for my book project). My love for this kind of literature never wavered even into adulthood, and I continued to read the classics. For me, it was the gorgeous mesh of old world and new. The scientific with the magical. I vowed that one day, I would write a novel with the same themes and settings I enjoyed.
One day, a fellow blogger used the word STEAMPUNK in a post. We've been following each other's blogs since 2005, and she had never used that word before. So I Googled it. It was an epiphany. I couldn't believe there was an actual term for the things I loved. Now, it sounds like you were attracted to the "modern magicians" of the Industrial Age. What is it about that time period you wanted to explore?

Frankie: I wish I could wear that Medal of Honor in saying that my structure was built around Jules Vern and H.G. Wells. I do. I'm still catching up, though. I gotta be honest. When I was a kid, I was so into high fantasy, I didn't want to read anything else. As long as there was a magician, a magic sword, or a dark prophecy, I was happy. LOL! 

The thing I love most about steampunk is the science, the ìmodern magiciansî as you called them. I've been reading the theories that formed from that era. There are a lot that were thrown out because tycoons couldn't find a way to make money from themólike sending electricity freely through the air. A lot of really fabulous inventions that never saw the light of day because of money. So what I enjoy is taking some of those theories and putting them into practice in my world. 

I'm really hitting it hard with the regenerative power. When people with money are at the controls, they want to sell you something that forces you to come back again and again and again. What happens if they sell you something that can basically run on its own waste? Those people lose power. 

In order to live in a world like this, I had to create a different governing system. Capitalism isn't it. They barely have money as a means to buy things. They have other measurements of power and societal survival. So when I think steampunk, I think "alternative technologies", not necessarily "alternate history". Looking at the historyówhat really went on and the real people who shaped the world we live in todayóreally gave me a lot of fodder. History is so neat. 

Just...OMW (Oh my word)! The fire and the passion and the sure faith that generation had. That was another thing I wanted to capture. They were a generation of rebels, ready to break away from the boxes that had been placed over their minds. They wanted to shoot for sky and they did. The people and what they accomplished are so inspiring.

What are some of your favorite steampunk elements? 

Jay: I love history too, so that has to be one of my favorite aspects of steampunk. But it's fun to create an alternative history, taking what really happened and taking it to a whole new place. That's really what speculative fiction is all about. The power of asking the question: "What if?"  The Industrial Revolution changed every single aspect of daily life for everyone. What if steam power technology continued to develop. Or what if machine-building had evolved at a faster pace? It's such a HUGE playground to create in.
Of course, I also love the aesthetics of steampunk. It's just so cool. I'm attracted to the anachronism of it all - blending high tech with the 19th century. Every science fiction/fantasy convention I go to, people are dressed in steampunk gear. I see more and more of it every year. Steampunk has become its own artistic movement. From sculptures to fashion, steampunk is its own category of art.

And it's continued to evolve beyond the Victorian. Exploring world cultures and combining it with steampunk elements gives this genre even more substance. Some call the movement "Beyond Victoriana." Many have moved beyond Victorian England as a setting for their steampunk stories, and placed them in other cultures. What do you think of this new wave of multicultural steampunk, and where do you think itís going?

Frankie: OMW! I'm ON that wave! There's a whole other part of the world, and they had some fairly brilliant people, too.
The whole Victorian thing, I think, was led by the clothes. The corsets and the spats, etc. You don't really get that in other cultures of steampunk because they had clothes that were much more sensible for adventure. Have you ever run in a corset? Try fighting on a sinking airship in one of them. I dare you. And high heels? Please! Yes, they're quite lovely and make your ruffle-covered butt look perky, but they're a disaster in the air. What about those adorably dashing top hats? Have you ever tried to wear one in a blustering wind? If you can't successfully wear one there, how in the world could you wear one on a ship that resides in air streams much windier than that? So, the "rest of the world steampunk" isn't as pretty in that manner, but it's so artistically gorgeous in other ways.  

Of course, I think I've taken this "Beyond Victoriana" wave and driven it past the industry norm. There are a lot of readers who think steampunk should only be Victorian, only be in England, and only be on this planet. My books are Asian and Middle-Eastern steampunk, and we're not even on the same planet. But it's fun. 

Well, we should probably stop there. We could go on and on and on about what we love about this genre! Thank you so much for having us! Weíd love to hear what you love about steampunk! Drop us a comment! 

Jay Noel: After doing some freelance writing and editing for more than a dozen years, Jay decided to stop procrastinating and pursue his dream of being a novelist. He's been blogging since 2005. Jay spends his days working in medical sales, but he can be found toiling over his laptop late at night when all is quiet. He draws inspiration from all over: H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Isaac Asimov. You can find Jay at his website.

Dragonfly Warrior
Kindle | Nook | Print
The tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and Zen must live up to his nickname, the Dragonfly Warrior, and kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six-guns. He is called upon to somehow survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, and Ms. Bird who is really a bird. The guitar and piano have temporarily been set aside. She's learning to play the harmonica. The bird is less than thrilled. Her real name is Stephanie Marie (aka SM), but only family and coworkers call her that, usually when theyíre screaming at her. Friends call her Frankie. You can find out more about her and her writing at her website.

Fall of Sky City (Devices of War)
When Synn ElíAsim is captured, his Mark is brutally awakened. He finds himself the most powerful Mark, and quickly becomes a coveted weapon in the war between the Great Families and the Hands of Tarot. However, only he can decide how he will be used to shape the lives of all the tribes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Steampunk with Heart: Steampunk IS Romance
with Susan Kaye Quinn and Scott E. Tarbet

**see bottom of post for steampunk giveaways**
**see Steampunk With Heart Page for Facebook Party schedule**

Susan Kaye Quinn: As I was writing my steampunk romance (ThirdDaughter, The Dharian Affairs #1), it struck me that the term ìSteampunk Romanceî is just a bit redundant. Yes, some steampunk stories have romance as the main driver of their plot, but to me, the entire genre is inherently romantic. These stories take place in a bygone era (or entirely fictional analogue of one), alleviating some of the oppressive ideas of the past while keeping the lush aesthetics and romantic ideas about relationships and love. How could that be termed anything other than Romantic?

I discussed this very issue with fellow Steampunk Romance author Scott Tarbet, over tea and fictional crumpets (the tea was real; tea is always real):

Susan Kaye Quinn: Scott, you suggested the title for our little chat, ìSteampunk IS Romanceî. How is it you think Steampunk is romance?

Scott E. Tarbet: Steampunk is all about goggles, right? We use them as a convenient symbol of the entire genre. Through our steampunk goggles we look at the world in a different way, a more romantic way. We get to reimagine reality (sometimes the Victorian past, sometimes alternative futures) without the fettering realities of modern technology and recent history. We get an imagined do-over.

Letís face it: from an historical perspective the 20th Century was horrible. Sure, there were rapid technological advances, but with them came the worst wars, genocides, and horrors in all of human history. What a wonderful thing it is to put on our Steampunk goggles and imagine a simpler, more romantic world without that 20th Century baggage!

Susan Kaye Quinn: I love the idea of using our magic googles of re-imagination! Speaking of imaginative retellings, your book, Midsummer Nightís Steampunk, is a Shakespearean love story retold in a steampunk setting. Itís like a multiplication of romances! Can you tell us a bit about it, and how the romance of steampunk plays into your story?

Scott E. Tarbet: Susan, youíre 100% right! A Midsummer Nightís Steampunk (AMNS) is just what you would expect from the title: a resetting of Shakespeareís beloved comedy/romance into the Victorian Era. Let me do a little stage-setting:

If you ask any three Steampunks for a definition of what Steampunk is, youíll get at least five different answers involving the clothing, the weaponry, and the literature. But common to every definition Iíve seen is the gender politics. Did the genders have equal rights and influence in the real life version of the Victorian Era? Not even close. Would the 20th Century have been very different if they had been? 
Ooooh yeah!

One of my favorite academic writers, who takes on Steampunk as a field of study, Dr. Mike Perschon, puts it this way: ì[W]e make the past in our image, as we do whenever a nineteenth century woman isn't slowly going crazy in a room with psychedelic wallpaper.î

Writing AMNS I had great fun projecting how history would have been different if Vicky, the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, who happened to be the eldest daughter of Britainís Queen Victoria, had been able to take that brat over her knee and straighten him out. There would have been no World War I, no Russian Revolution, no World War II, no Holocaust, no Cold War. Millions around the world would have lived out very different lives. The world we live in today would be a very different place.
Would the two young girls in Shakespeareís romance also have been different people? Yes, in fundamental ways. As a result many of the elements of their respective romances would have been different in interesting ways. My heroine, Pauline, is a Sorbonne-educated engineer, the epitome of the strong, educated woman.

So AMNS gave me the opportunity to play with this romantic concept, and bring these three strong women (and several others) to the center of the stage of world politics. It was a lot of fun.

My turn to ask you, Susan: the world you create in Third Daughter also has gender politics flipped on their ear, making strong female characters possibleóeven necessary. How did that feel for you as a woman, and as a writer?

Susan Kaye Quinn: Wow, thatís quite a question! Third Daughter definitely turns gender politics upside down, imagining an analogue India where Queens rule and society is very used to the fact that all women, especially the Daughters of the Queen, carry significant influence and power. As a writer, I loved playing with the concept of male courtesans, and how a princess who carries true power might have to wrestle between marrying for love and marrying to keep her country from war. That premise takes a classic political intrigue and interweaves a very feminine perspective into itówithout losing either the romance or the adventure. Add in the inherent lushness and romance of an east-Indian aesthetic, and I like that reviewers are calling it ìvividî and ìcrispî. It tells me that I got something right in the descriptions! 

Personally, as a woman who has worked in engineering but now writes fiction, strong female characters come naturally to me. But I know that female empowerment is a huge issue in India, and I hope that I can, through a small flight of fancy, give a taste of that empowerment to young woman, no matter where they live in the world.

Speaking of India, Scott, I hear you have an east-Indian character in your story as well! Can you tell us about her and her role in the story?

Scott Tarbet: I do! Her name is Lakshmi, and she is the Steampunk analogue of the character ëTitaniaí in Shakespeareís play. In the play, Titania and Oberon are the fairy queen and king. In my adaptation they are genius inventors.

Lakshmi is the daughter of the sultan of Golkondah, a physician, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist. Truth be told, not only is she my ideal woman, but she is everything I myself would like to beómy idealized feminine side. To me she embodies all aspects of love: romantic, filial, and godly. She is a profoundly romantic figure, in the best possible sense.

Her efforts to stave off the disasters that will befall the 20th Century worldóthe analogue extension of the conflict between Titania and Oberon over the ëlittle Indian boyíóare the heart of the political intrigues of the novel. Together with the other queens, she forms the heart (literally and figuratively) of the resistance to evil.

I think of Lakshmi as embodying all that is best and most charming in the Steampunk genre: she represents the bridge between unattainable magic and the good that can come from attainable technology. The spirit of Lakshmi is why I love Steampunk.

Now, I see that Third Daughter is part of a series, The Dharian Affairs. What can you tell us about the future of the characters we meet in Third Daughterówithout spoiling the surprises for us, of course.

Susan Kaye Quinn: The Dharian Affairs will be a trilogy: Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter. Aniri, the spunky Third Daughter who wrestles with love and duty, will be the main character throughout, but in Second Daughter, weíll get to see more of Aniriís beloved sister, the princess whose fate was sealed from the start by an arranged marriage to protect an alliance. In First Daughter, the adventure will continue closer to home, where Aniriís oldest sister and heir-apparent, the First Daughter, plays a prominent role in bringing the trilogy to a close. In fairy tales, the number three plays an almost mystical role, and I love the idea of exploring each daughterís role in the fate of the Queendom.

Will we see more from the characters you created in AMNS?

Scott Tarbet: Yes! Thereís a short story called Ganesh that tells the backstory of one of the characters in AMNS. It is to be part of anthology of AMNS short stories at some point in the future. Iíll soon be putting it online exclusively for people who have already enjoyed AMNS.

The next book set in the AMNS universe, Lakshmi, is well underway. Itís up to Xchyler Publishing whether it will come out before or after my novel Dragon Moon.

Susan, it has been a great pleasure chatting with you. All the best to you and your readers!

Susan Kaye Quinn: The pleasure was all mine, Sir!

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. The Dharian Affairs trilogy is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It's possible she's easily distracted. Her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can subscribe to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or stop by her blog to see what she's up to.

Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
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The Third Daughter of the Queen wants to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon force her to accept a barbarian princeís proposal of a peace-brokering marriage.

Scott Tarbet is the author of A Midsummer Nightís Steampunk from Xchyler Publishing, Tombstone, in the paranormal anthology Shades & Shadows, and the forthcoming Lakshmi, Dragon Moon, and Nautilus Redux. He writes enthusiastically in several genres, sings opera, was married in full Elizabethan regalia, loves steampunk waltzes, and slow-smokes thousands of pounds of Texas-style barbeque. An avid skier, hiker, golfer, and tandem kayaker, he makes his home in the mountains of Utah. Follow Scott E. Tarbet online at his website or on Twitter

A Midsummer Night's Steampunk 
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Immerse yourself in this Steampunk retelling of Shakespeareís classic, replete with the newfound wizardry of alternative Victorian technology, mistaken identities, love triangles, and deadly peril, set against the backdrop of a world bracing itself for war, and Victoriaís Diamond Jubilee.
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