Monday, February 24, 2014

It Aint Just About Victorian England Anymore

The Airship Ambassador, Kevin D. Steil turned an idea into a reality, and that's how Steampunk Hands Across the World was born. "Hands" is a month-long celebration of steampunk reaching all around the globe. Through blogs to videos to live events, it's been an amazing adventure forging new friendships with other steampunks from other parts of the world. And that's really what Steampunk Hands Across the World is about.

Jeni Hellum. Photo by Anna Fischer
Steampunk itself might have originated as a British-Victorian form of aesthetic expression, but it has evolved well beyond it's Eurocentric beginnings. For some "purists," they don't like the idea of such an evolution. But for the rest of us, such a progression is inevitable.

I say its evolution is inevitable because the people demand it. As the love for the pure aesthetics and beauty of steampunk spread all over the world, enthusiasts of the genre began to look at their own societies and cultures. After all, the 19th century happened all over the world, right?

Despite the cultural differences of steampunk across the world, there's still many common threads:

1) The exploration of global colonialism. Beyond the British Empire's expansion, you also have French,
Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, Mexico, Latin/South America, The Ottomans, Persia, etc. The 19th century is the beginning of a truly global society, and with that, there came a lot of societal/political upheaval and conflict.

2) Industrial and technological explosion. The true revolutionaries of the 19th century were inventors and scientists who dared to dream...and being those dreams to life. Gas lighting, steam powered locomotives, electricity, the telephone, the typewriter, the sewing machine...all of these were invented during this time period. And it changed the way the world worked forever.

3) Focus on the PUNK aspect of steampunk. With all the global revolution, there was also a dark side to all this progress. The 19th century also saw a lot of oppression. The powerful became more powerful, and the "punk" aspect of the genre focused on those on the fringe of society who challenged modern conventions. Punk can refer to the downtrodden, the enslaved, or the rebels fighting the powers-that-be for equal rights and opportunity.

Steampunk is taking history and turning it on its head. It's science fiction at its finest, because it relies on the power of "what if."

With the genre moving beyond Victorian England, it allows us to fully explore our own world today. By looking back at history and throwing some of the futuristic elements into the mix, what we're really doing is making statements about our contemporary world in an effort to understand ourselves.

And steampunk can be a bridge to that understanding.

-- Jay Noel

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bad Habits from Good People

Wow. I've been posting a helluva lot lately. But it's been fun, so thank you for visiting. I've been traveling for work recently, and it has been impossible to keep up with everybody. I promise to visit all of you and see what everyone's up to.

Couple quick updates:

1) My debut novel, Dragonfly Warrior, continues to sell pretty well. Just need to get some reviews to build up some credibility. If any of you have some suggestions on how to make that happen, PLEASE let me know. Interestingly, people have been buying my paperback more than the ebook version. Maybe it's because my paperback is so darn pretty (it really is). Not sure what to make of that, however.

2) I've decided to cancel my blog tour in March in support of Dragonfly Warrior. I'm busting my arse to: finish the third book in that same series, work with Miranda Hardy on another project and we have a deadline, and plan for publishing Shadow Warrior this June. So lots going on, and I really HATE doing stuff half-assed. I will, however, organize a legit blog tour this summer.

3) Lately, I've also been doing lots of beta reading and editing for several of my writer-buddies. I've noticed a few bad habits pop up, no matter the genre, and I think it's important to point five of them out. Maybe you are guilty of a few of these. I know I am.

Fancy dialog tags. I know, I really am good at beating a dead horse. I'm not a fan of descriptive dialog tags like whimpered, yelped, grumbled, barked, groaned, snarled, sighed, nagged...and all the other ones. These are a hindrance to your writing. They make the reader stop (kills flow), and it shows the writer's insecurity. Your dialog should be strong enough to help the reader know that a character is whining. In a 100K word novel, I might have three descriptive tags total. Use them sparingly and only when you have to.

Thought verbs. One of the author's main goals is to remove as many obstacles between the characters and the reader. That's how you get someone engaged in your story. Thought verbs just add a barrier between the two. Don't say: Jim thought about his mother. Doing so makes your reader have to think about Jim thinking about his mother. Just show us what he's thinking. Don't tell us that your character sees something. Show us what he's seeing!

The eyes have it. What's up with describing characters' eyes all the time. They gaze, they glare, they widen, they squint. They look here, they look there. If it's crucial to the plot, then go ahead. Eyes are a VERY important part of body language. They are the windows to the soul, after all. But just watch the over use of describing your characters eyes and what they're doing.

Character solitude. Nothing rings the death knell of a story like having a character contemplate life by herself. For cheesy 80s movies, having your character walk the streets in deep contemplation might work. But not for your book. I know that there are a few exceptions to this, but those are few and far between. Don't leave your characters alone. It's boring to the reader. Reading page after page of inner dialog is a better sleep aid than NyQuil.

As You Know, Bob. Often, I'll read some dialog where one of the characters is saying something PURELY for the READER'S benefit. We call these "As You Know, Bob" moments. The reader can sniff these out from a mile away. They know when the characters are trying to explain things directly to them. Watch out for these. It yanks the reader out of your world and back into reality.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Guest Post: Elizabeth Seckman

I'd like to welcome Elizabeth Seckman here today. Take it away Elizabeth!

Jay asked me, do I believe in fate? Leave it to the smart guys to ask the tough questions ;)

Well here goes...let's hope I make sense!

I'm a Christian, who believes in a benevolent, omnipotent God. I believe that God made each person for a reason; instilled a sense of destiny in us all.

But. Big but coming. I don't believe in predestination. We were also created with free will. The choices in this life are ours. From the decision to eat the apple to the choice of a doughnut for breakfast, the choices are ours...for the better or worse. And unfortunately, innocent people are subjected to other people's bad choices, like when a drunk decides to drive. That collision was because of the drunk's decision, not fate.

We wanted free will. We got it.

There is no mighty hand of God interfering in our lives punishing the bad and rewarding the good. This is our fallen world and it's ours to deal with.

A second big But.

But, I do believe we've been given principles for living (a moral code). Follow those principles and life can be smoother, more rewarding. Ignore them and suffer the natural consequences (cheat on your spouse...expect some stress and hardship). And I believe there is a Godly influence (or intuition) that we can tap into and consult with to keep our lives moving toward our greater purpose.

So, I suppose you could say that I believe fate intends for us to live a certain life, and fate can nudge, but it will not trump free will. Ultimately, it's up to us to seek and fulfill our destinies.

Fate Intended is the third book in the Coulter Men Series.  Trip is the last of the Coulter sons to find
love. He’s a handsome man with all the skills a young spy needs to succeed. But when it comes to love, he misses the target. Jane is a sweet beauty who may or may not be wanted for murder. She’s hiding out as a cleaning lady when chance brings her and Trip together. It looks like a happily ever after is in the cross hairs until reality tries to destroy what fate has intended.

Elizabeth Seckman is a simple chick with a simple dream…to write stories people want to read.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A-Z Preview and Moonless Book Release Blogfest

I hope you enjoyed the guests posts on here during our Steampunk with Heart celebration all last week. We had Facebook Parties every day, and they were a lot of fun. This was my first time doing such a promotion, and it's been great connecting with new bloggers and readers.

Believe it or not, the A-Z Challenge is only several weeks away, and many of you are already organizing and planning your posts. Last year, I enjoyed having all of my work done beforehand, and I could enjoy visiting everybody and commenting on people's blogs. My goal is to keep that level of organization up for 2014.

Last year, my theme for A-Z was everything 80s. That was so much fun, and I wanted to stay in the pop culture world for 2014. So this year's challenge with be an A-Z list of Musical One-Hit Wonders.

I look forward to putting my posts together and sharing my favorite one-hit wonders with all of you.

* * * * * * * *

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Her nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

So here's the question: If you lived in a society where arranged marriages were a la mode, who would you beg your parents to set you up with? Why? (Literary characters and celebrities welcomed.) 

This one is pretty easy for me. It would be Alyssa Milano. I had such a huge crush on her during her Who's the Boss Days. Apart from being gorgeous, she loves sports and has dedicated a lot of time to philanthropy. 

Plus, we have the exact same birthday: month, day, and year. So it'd be easy to remember her birthday. I'm all about efficiency!

Find the rest of the hop below!

And while you're at it, enter to win one of these great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 7, 2014

Steampunk with Heart Friday

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 “Lumière,” machine as man’s 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 “Lumière,” Eyelet Elsworth searches for her father’s prized possession, thinking it is the answer to all her problems, only to discover—as with all things scientifically developed—her father’s 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 won’t find a hidden passageway but a girl can dream, can’t 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 Hopkin’s Nevada Mentor Program and a student of James Scott Bell, Christopher Vogler and Don Maass. An excerpt from Lumière earned me the 2012 Don Maass Break Out Novel Intensive Scholarship. Lumière—A Romantic Steampunk Fantasy—is 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 father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures, but just as Eyelet locates the Illuminator, it’s 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 Thursday

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 they’d sometimes like to say.
1) What the heck is steampunk, anyway?
Cindy: This is the big one—the 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. It’s not just a fiction genre, although it certainly is that, but it’s 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? It’s 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 don’t you?
Cindy: Again, because it’s fun. I like writing books that I’d like to read. I love mixing history, SF, fantasy and romance. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s 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) What’s the coolest gadget you’ve invented for your books?
Cindy: Gee, I’ve 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. He’s exceeded his components and programming to the point where he’s 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. (There’s 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 weren’t 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 read… (insert your list of other people’s books that are or may be close to my genre)
Cindy: Answer: yes, no, maybe. Much steampunk is YA, and I don’t read a lot of that. I also don’t read a lot of hard SF, where it’s all about the technology and the world. I like my character-driven stories and my romance, so that’s most of what I read. I have read William Gibson’s 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 end—HATED that one) Kate Cross and Seleste Delaney. There are so many more I need to read, but haven’t 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. That’s kind of awkward in a community that wants everything to look like it’s 1885. So yes, you can get them at Amazon, or B&N, or the Carina Press website. No, you can’t get them at the grocery store. Sorry. I wish that wasn’t 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 don’t know. It depends on a lot. Mainly, sales. That’s the hard reality of the fiction business. The more they sell, the more there will be. A girl’s gotta eat, you know? There are two more on the table with my publisher. That’s all I know at the moment. The characters? Well, that’s up to the publisher, too. Let’s just say there’s 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. (I’m 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, there’s the custom vendors. That’s where things get really pricey, but really, really, cool. I’m 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: I’m just twisted like that. Snarkier answer: The idea fairy leaves them in my shower and under my pillow, so I find them when it’s 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 “Don’t Go Drinking With Hobbits” 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 “Bloody Rain” 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)
Kindle | Nook | Audio
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 protecting—from emotions he'd thought buried long ago.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Steampunk with Heart Wednesday (With ME!)...IWSG at the bottom

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 I have S.M. “Frankie” Blooding stopping by for a visit. Ms. Blooding is a huge fan of adventure and high-flying geekery. She’s the author of her bestselling books, Fall of Sky City and Knight of Wands.
This is an actual conversation we had about what makes steampunk awesome—from 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 “modern magicians” 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 them—like 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 history—what really went on and the real people who shaped the world we live in today—really 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 it’s 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! We’d 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
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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 they’re 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 El’Asim 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.
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It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group time! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click HERE and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. 

Many of you know I'm organizing a "late" blog tour. My goal is two-fold. I want to reach bloggers/readers outside my little circle AND to gain experience with doing this. So far, it's been very TOUGH. No wonder so many writers outsource blog tour organizing.

Hopefully, I'll be able to network and meet new friends through this tour. And I'll be wiser for my next book's release this summer.