Posts Tagged ‘steampunk’

Throwing virtual confetti here today in celebration of two clients up for the Scribe Award for Best Original Novel – Speculative: David Mack for Star Trek: DISAVOWED and Keith R.A. DeCandido for Sleepy Hollow: CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION! For those who don’t know, the Scribe Awards are given out by The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers to honor excellence in the field of licensed works. The winners are announced in July at San Diego ComicCon. The full panel of nominees, including great editor and writer Greg Cox, is here.

I’m also thrilled to wish P.N. Elrod a happy book birthday for her wonderful novel THE HANGED MAN, the first in a new gaslight fantasy series from Tor Books!

the hanged man THE HANGED MAN by P.N. Elrod (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Books-a-Million)

On a freezing Christmas Eve in 1879, a forensic psychic reader is summoned from her Baker Street lodgings to the scene of a questionable death. Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury (named after her godmother, the current Queen of England) is adamant that the death in question is a magically compromised murder and not a suicide, as the police had assumed, after the shocking revelation contained by the body in question, Alex must put her personal loss aside to uncover the deeper issues at stake, before more bodies turn up.

Turning to some choice allies–the handsome, prescient Lieutenant Brooks, the brilliant, enigmatic Lord Desmond, and her rapscallion cousin James–Alex will have to marshal all of her magical and mental acumen to save Queen and Country from a shadowy threat. Our singular heroine is caught up in this rousing gaslamp adventure of cloaked assassins, meddlesome family, and dark magic.

“Murder, mayhem and tea–a well-bred Victorian urban fantasy thriller. Prepare, o reader, to be enthralled.”–Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times Best Selling Author of the Mercy Thompson series on P.N. Elrod’s The Hanged Man

“Elrod has a marvelous feel for Victorian times and a deft turn of phrase. All her characters are deliciously lively and Alex is an immensely appealing heroine. I hope we see a great deal more of her… not to mention Lieutenant Brooks.” — Gail Carriger, New York Times bestselling author of the Parasol Protectorate series

“Rich in setting, romance, and action, The Hanged Man is a brilliantly told, involving blend of the paranormal with classic Victorian literature. I devoured it in one sitting and can’t wait to see the next installment with these fascinating characters!”
— Rachel Caine, New York Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampire series

“A whip-fast, deadly smart mystery in a steampunk British Empire–I loved it!”  — Lilith Saintcrow, author of To Hell and Back

“The Hanged man is a rousing historical mystery, full of magical twists sure to keep the pages turning. A must-read!” — Faith Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series

“Solid genre-mixing mystery … enjoyably headstrong protagonists surrounded by supporting characters who entertain while complicating the plot. This well-constructed novel will please fans of alternate history, fantasy, and mystery.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Elrod’s formidable imagination is given free rein in this dark and intriguing series opener. A twisting, tricky mystery rounds out this series debut in impressive form. 4 1/2 stars!” — Romantic Times

First, HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to Rachel Caine, Steven Harper and Karen Whiddon for their new releases!!!

fallofnightFALL OF NIGHT by Rachel Caine

New novel in the internationally bestselling Morganville Vampires series

Praise for the series: 

“Rachel Caine is a first-class storyteller who can deal out amazing plot twists as though she was dealing cards.”—#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Charlaine Harris

“Fast-paced adventure….Claire’s tough-girl attitude may remind adult readers of Rachel Morgan and her world of human-vampire interactions. A tremendously popular series.”—Booklist

“Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series is my all-time favorite. I love love love the characters, the town, and the surprising plots.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Maria V. Snyder

“Thrilling, sexy, and funny! These books are addictive. One of my very favorite vampire series.”—Richelle Mead, International Bestselling Author of the Vampire Academy Series

Cover Copy:

Thanks to its unique combination of human and vampire residents, Morganville, Texas, is a small college town with big-time problems. When student Claire Danvers gets the chance to experience life on the outside, she takes it. But Morganville isn’t the only town with vampire trouble…

Claire never thought she’d leave Morganville, but when she gets accepted into the graduate program at MIT, she can’t pass up the opportunity. Saying good-bye to her friends is bittersweet, especially since things are still raw and unsettled between Claire and her boyfriend, Shane.

Her new life at MIT is scary and exciting, but Morganville is never really far from Claire’s mind. Enrolled in a special advanced study program with Professor Irene Anderson, a former Morganville native, Claire is able to work on her machine, which is designed to cancel the mental abilities of vampires.

But when she begins testing her machine on live subjects, things quickly spiral out of control, and Claire starts to wonder whether leaving Morganville was the last mistake she’ll ever make…

havoc machineTHE HAVOC MACHINE by Steven Harper

New novel in the acclaimed Clockwork Empire series

Praise for the series:

“Steven Harper has an extraordinary writing talent and his characters, human or not, are all addictive as sin. An eclectic story that I cannot recommend highly enough.”   —Huntress Book Reviews

“This series has really grabbed a hold of me to the point where I’m desperate to find out what happens next. The characters and their plight are so easy to become invested in, and I found myself rooting for them every step of the way. So I cannot recommend the books in The Clockwork Empire series, especially The Impossible Cube any higher. Whether you are a fan of Steampunk or not, these books promise to be an exhilarating roller coaster ride from start to finish that you won’t want to miss!”   —A Book Obsession

“This is a good mix of science fiction and fantasy, action, with a bit of romance as well. Since steampunk has grown in popularity over the years, I see this one being picked up by many fans of the genre.” —News and Sentinel

Cover Copy:

In a world riddled with the destruction of men and machines alike, Thaddeus Sharpe takes to the streets of St. Petersburg, geared toward the hunt of his life….

Thaddeus Sharpe’s life is dedicated to the hunting and killing of clockworkers. When a mysterious young woman named Sofiya Ekk approaches him with a proposition from a powerful employer, he cannot refuse. A man who calls himself Mr. Griffin seeks Thad’s help with mad clockwork scientist Lord Havoc, who has molded a dangerous machine. Mr. Griffin cares little if the evil Lord lives or dies; all he desires is Havoc’s invention.

Upon Thad’s arrival at Havoc’s laboratory, he is met with a chilling discovery. Havoc is not only concealing his precious machine; he has been using a young child by the name of Nikolai for cruel experiments. Locked into a clockwork web of intrigue, Thad must decipher the dangerous truth surrounding Nikolai and the chaos contraption before havoc reigns….

millionaire cowboy THE MILLIONAIRE COWBOY’S SECRET by Karen Whiddon

Wonderful romantic suspense

“Strong, efficient writing and heartfelt romance” – Romantic Times Book Reviews

Cover Copy:

Undercover Seduction Undercover ATF agent Skylar McClain dreams of justice and lives by the law. She always gets her man. Armed with a killer smile and an undercover identity as a photojournalist, she should have no problem bringing down any criminal—even a sexy millionaire horse breeder. But no assignment has ever tested her boundaries like Matt Landeta. His connection to Mexican drug cartels makes him dangerous. Only, what if there’s more to this case than right and wrong?

All Matt wants is revenge. Not a gorgeous distraction like Skylar, whose hunt for answers will complicate things. Yet an unexpected enemy is about to bring Skylar closer to the truth…and to Matt. And letting go of his darkest secrets might be the only way to protect her.

I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating, since it’s one of my more colorful “how I met my author” stories.  Years ago, Steven Harper, aka Steven Piziks, came to me with an offer on the table.  It was the week before my wedding.  Was I interested in taking a look at his material?  If it hadn’t sounded so intriguing, sanity would have reigned, and I wouldn’t have wedged in reading a new submission in the midst of arguing with the caterer, coordinating guest arrivals and doing all of the last minute things that had to be done.  Sanity and I have never been close, and I was very glad for it that week.  I fell in love with Steven’s work and added “haggling with the publisher” to my To Do list.  I think you should add “reading his work” to yours!  Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of one of his steampunk novels or run out and be certain to get one today.

Steampunk by Steven Harper

I recently realized that when I finish THE HAVOC MACHINE, I’ll have written four novels and two novelettes.  That’s about 385,000 words of steampunk.  In other words, by the time September rolls around, I’ll have put more words into steampunk than any other genre I’ve touched–and I’ve written 17 books now.

I still don’t know what the hell steampunk is.

No, seriously.  My non-writer friends often ask me what kind of book I’m working on.  I say, “Steampunk,” and they quite naturally say, “Steampunk?  What’s that?”  And I have no idea what to say.

Maybe steampunk is fantasy.  My publisher seems to think so.  My contracts call the Clockwork Empire books “works of fantasy.” Nowhere on any piece of paper I’ve signed does the word “steampunk” actually appear.  (It occurs to me that this could be the source of some serious weaseling at some future date.)  Certainly a lot of steampunk has a paranormal element or three.  Gail Carriger and Cindy Spencer Pape both rather famously write steampunk about werewolves and vampires and warlocks, for example.  We often have the big, world-shaking events fantasy is famous for.  In THE DOOMSDAY VAULT, the clockwork plague (which I based on the medieval bubonic plague) reshapes humanity.  And we have zombies, a fantasy trope, though mine are more objects of pity than of horror.  In THE IMPOSSIBLE CUBE, a mad scientist uncovers the power to stop time itself and destroy the entire universe, which again sounds like fantasy.  In the upcoming third book THE DRAGON MEN, I use winged men and clockwork monsters taken from Chinese mythology.  But my steampunk books don’t actually use magic.  Neither do Cherie Priest’s, who set her books in nineteenth-century America and who uses zombies of her own.  So as an overall genre, steampunk doesn’t quite qualify as fantasy.  That’s okay–we love it anyway.

Maybe steampunk is historical fiction.  Well, alternate reality fiction.  A lot of steampunkers start by saying, “What would have happened if Charles Babbage had actually built his difference engine and, as a result, the Victorians had embarked on a computer age before micro-processors?”  Of course, there are a lot of other alternates as well.  What if Victorian women were given more independence than they actually were?  What if the Victorians were more tolerant of racial and religious differences?  What if the Victorians didn’t care so much about sexual orientation?  What if Victorian women wore corsets on the outside of their dresses?  And what if the Victorians were enough like modern people to allow modern readers to find them likeable instead of finding them really racist, scornfully sexist, and casually cruel?  So many alterations don’t just nibble at the edge of actual history–they collapse it entirely.  No, steampunk doesn’t quite qualify as historical or alternate reality fiction.  That’s okay–we love it anyway.

Maybe steampunk is science fiction.  I mean, you do have big machines that work with pistons and steam and brass.  And you have computers and robots and sometimes even spaceships and stuff.  For my steampunk, I created a bacillus-borne plague that nearly destroys humanity and a virus that cures it.  All straight-up SF.  Except none of this stuff has a hope of working in the real world.  The robots would collapse under their own weight.  Boilers are inefficient and unreliable sources of energy for anything smaller than a building.  A brass computer processor that poked out even basic computations would weigh several tons and be completely unsuitable for controlling the little spiders and mechanical horses that make steampunk so much fun.  So it doesn’t quite qualify as science fiction.  That’s okay–we love it anyway.

So maybe a better question is, why define it at all?  Steampunk is more of a movement than a genre.  It involves not just literature, but fashion, music, games, role-playing, philosophy, and even movies.  How can you define anything that shows up in all that? Sure, it makes my publisher’s marketing division nervous, but let them deal with it.  I’m in it for the awesome stories, the thrilling adventures, the powerful themes.  To define it is to pin it down like a butterfly on a board.

Once it’s pinned down, it can’t move anymore, and it dies.  Why would we want to do that?

_________________

Steven Harper is, among other things, the author of the fabulous Clockwork Empire series for Roc and WRITING THE PARANORMAL NOVEL from Writers Digest Books.  Check him out on his website or follow him on Twitter.

Fun fact of the day: Steven Harper (aka Steven Piziks) and I go way, way back to the week of my wedding, ‘lo these many years ago.  He had a debut novel and an offer on the table.  I fell in love with the novel (IN THE COMPANY OF MIND) and ended up negotiating his contract and tying the knot with my husband all in the same week.  Needless to say, it was a pretty good week.

In honor of his latest release, the wonderful steampunk novel THE DOOMSDAY VAULT, I’ve asked him to come guest blog for me.  I present to you:

GEEK OF THE WEEK: FANFICTION

Enter “fanfic” into Google and you get about 9,900,000 results.  These results include fan fiction sites for Harry Potter, Twilight, Zelda, Naruto, the Jonas brothers, Lord of the Rings, and yes, even Star Trek.  Fanfic writers spend hours laboring over their own stories about Harry’s post-Hogwarts adventures or Bella ditching Edward or Sam declaring his undying romantic love for Frodo.

And some people snort in derision.  Such a waste of time.  What an utter lack of creativity.  You’re stealing someone else’s work.

Yeah?  Bite me.

I’m what people call a “real” writer, in that I’ve written and sold a dozen-odd books to New York publishing houses.  And I started by writing fanfic.

When I was in college in the late 80s, I joined a group called Stellar Operations Command, a group that combined fanfic with role-playing. We used the Star Trek universe, but not the Star Trek characters themselves. You created a main character and assorted minor characters for yourself, and you were put on a ship with about six other people. Every month, the captain sent out “orders,” basically an overview of what was happening on the ship, and then you wrote a story about your character’s adventures. You could also include other people’s characters, but you couldn’t kill or otherwise change them.

You mailed a copy of your story to everyone else in your group, and they mailed their stuff to you.  (This was before e-mail, so everything was done on paper.)  Stellar Operations Command was huge, with hundreds of members nationwide.  Weirdly, it didn’t survive the Internet, and it faded away in the late 90s.  Such a shame.

My character was the communications officer on his ship, and his name was Rusty.  He had several friends–a med-tech named Randy, a security officer named Nora, a Kaatian science officer named Mrrit.  I must have written 300,000 words about them during my tenure with SOC, enough for three novels.

And by god, I loved every minute.

Why?  SOC fanfic granted me freedom.  Since the setting was already created for me, I could concentrate on character.  I had a dump truck of fun developing Rusty.  He was one of the first long-running characters I created, and still I miss him sometimes.

SOC also forced me to write.  With a monthly deadline, I had to get to that keyboard on a regular basis.  Between SOC and my job at a local newspaper, I learned to write to a deadline, a skill that has served me well over the years.

Finally, fanfic was a safe place to romp around in.  I could do nearly anything I wanted, write purely for myself, tell stories on paper just for fun.  I could take risks, be silly, stupid, or outrageous, safe in the knowledge that the other members of my ship would still read every word.  That meant a great deal to me.  In the process, I learned how to write realistic dialogue, describe people and places, set a scene, build suspense, add plot complications and foreshadowing.

Eventually I started writing my own short stories, and editors bought them.  I moved on to novels, and then novel series, including the Clockwork Empire, of which The Doomsday Vault has just come out.  (Go buy a few dozen copies for the kids.)

And then I sold a Star Trek book.  And a Battlestar Galactica book.  And a Ghost Whisperer book.  Know what?  They’re all freakin’ fanfic.  And they paid very nicely, too.

Still think fanfic is a waste of time?

Since my writing went pro, I’ve been forced to give up fanfic for the simple reason that I only have so many writing hours per day, and I have to choose the one that will support my family.  But a waste of time?

Never!                                                                  ___________________________________________________________________

Steven Harper usually lives at http://www.theclockworkempire.com and http://spiziks.livejournal.com .  His steampunk novel THE DOOMSDAY VAULT, first in the Clockwork Empire series, hits the stores in print and electronic format November 1.