Steampunk inspiration and resources

My Projects

Join me for the Edwardian Ball Mar. 25 in New Orleans

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As an Editor for Steampunk Journal, I’ve been offered the chance to report on the Edwardian Ball charity event in New Orleans. The Edward Gorey Trust has been holding a fantastic Steampunk event in California for years, but for the first time they’ve expanded into a brand new city.

I am desperate to go and report on the event and bring you exclusive photos and stories, but New Orleans is a long way away. The Steampunk Journal is driven by passion, not money, so I have to pay my own way, and with the short notice cheap plane tickets are out of the question. I need the support of my fellow Steampunks if I’m going to make it, so I’ve created a small Kickstarter campaign to help me pay for the transportation (room and board will still be paid out of my own pocket). Visit the campaign page.

Here’s a taste of what’s to come!

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I am offering early content, extra content, postcards, prints, and discounted advertising on Steampunk Journal to support the campaign. If we reach my stretch goal of $1000, I’ll be able to upgrade my hardware and LIVESTREAM FROM THE EVENT!

Find out more


Onwards and Upwards! To The Steampunk Journal and Beyond

Hiya Gearheads

I know, I know, I’ve been really quiet lately. For people who have been following me a while, you may have seen this happen before, and it’s a good sign there’s some sort of big announcement on the horizon…Today is no different.

I’ve been writing For Whom The Gear Turns for over three years and I have loved every minute. I’ve got over 500 posts under my stylish Steampunk utility belt, and in recognition of my hard work, I was recently approached by Matt Grayson of the Steampunk Journal. He was looking for a co-editor to help him run the world’s most popular Steampunk website, and when he made the offer to merge our sites into one super site I knew I had to accept.

You heard right folks, I’m moving on over to the Steampunk Journal!

Starting in February, you’ll be able to find my new articles posted at the Journal alongside updated versions of old reviews and articles you may have missed. For Whom The Gear Turns will stay up for a few months during the transition, but eventually I will move completely into my new digs at the Journal.

And I hope you’ll join me!

You didn’t think I’d leave you out in the cold now, did you? There are more ways than ever to hang with me on the interwebs and share in the growing Steampunk community. Pick your favorite or do all three; each has a different focus.

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  1. Follow the Steampunk Journal – It’s a WordPress site just like this one, so it is easy to subscribe via email or your WordPress reader. This site began within a few months of my own, but Matt and I cover very different topics. I love history, books, and movies, and Matt does interviews, music and game reviews, and photography, so we have a really complementary balance of all things Steampunk to offer! So if you are in it purely for the Steampunk, follow me at the Journal.
  2. Check out my new author page and subscribe to my newsletter. I’m still setting up this site and editing excerpts to share, but if you are interested in hearing about what is going on with my fiction writing and appearances at conventions, this is the best way to follow along. I won’t inundate you with emails, either. The plan is to create a monthly newsletter that includes excerpts and news about my book-length projects like No Rest For The Wicked, Riftmaker, and my blog-to-book project, The Steampunk Handbook.
  3. Pinmart artJoin the United We Steampunk, Divided We Fall group on Facebook! There are weekly threads devoted to fun topics and tips, plus opportunities to post links to items for sale. The goal is to act as means to get makers and writers in contact with the fans and bloggers they need to succeed, but there’s plenty of fun and silliness there, too! If your goals involve connecting with the greater Steampunk community, then I highly recommend getting in on the ground floor of this new group.

Thank you all for sharing this journey with me, I couldn’t have done it without you!

I’ve loved running my little corner of the internet, and I appreciate your ongoing support of my projects and writing. I spent weeks struggling with this decision, but ultimately I believe this is the best way to ensure the future of the content I’ve already created, and to reach the largest possible audience moving forward.

Was there an article I wrote or something I recommended that has really stuck with you? Do you have concerns about the transition or not sure how to keep getting the type of content you want? Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!


Voting is Open NOW for the Collaborative Writing Challenge’s Steampunk Project

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That’s right! The top three contenders for Project 7 have been chosen, and now it’s up to the people to choose which Steampunk novel I will be coordinating. Only people who are signed up for the project get to read the excerpts and unedited entries, but I do have permission to share a line from each story to whet your appetite…

          …They were a silent congregation of frozen warriors, just waiting for battle to come and call on them, the Army of Brass… (Army of Brass)

          … There’s only one time period it would have gone to, and we’re going to go back and stop it.”… (Temporalis)

          … The passengers on the beach froze, silent, staring into the trees… (Enigma Isle)

Any of them get your gears going? Sign up on the CWC’s website and we’ll send you the username and password you need to read the starter entries in full. There are only 30 spaces left in the whole project, and the more chapters you attempt the more chances you have to get chosen!

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There’s Still Time to Sign Up for the Collaborative Writing Challenge! Begins Dec. 30

I learned a lot of things from participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo- Pre-writing is a godsend, I need to stop deluding myself into thinking I can write after 5pm, and I can write over 3000 words a day for a week straight if I have to.

But I also got a real taste of how very lonely being a writer can be.

Which makes me even more excited for the novel I will be coordinating with the Collaborative Writing Challenge! This is a chance to build up a really cool community of writers that I hope will go above and beyond this individual project.

The deadline for possible first chapter submissions is today, and so far we’ve got 7 submissions. I’ll be reading those submissions and talking over the potential for growth with the rest of the CWC over the next few weeks to narrow it down to three, then it will be time for people to vote on their favorite.

Didn’t write a starter chapter? No problem! I think writing the parts in the middle are the most fun, personally, because you wield so much power over the rest of the story. I’ll be starting my try for Project, 6, Esyld’s Awakening, Chapter 16 this week. It’s been 10 chapters since I saw the story last and I am really excited to see where it has gone when I wasn’t looking. Wish me luck!

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Here’s a quick reminder of how the whole project works.

  • Writers sign up for a chapter try by December 30. (We’ve reached our minimum number of authors to get the project going, but the more the merrier!) Sign up by filling out the form here
  • 3-5 Writers attempt each chapter, one week at a time. You’d have access to the following:
    • The chapter immediately before the one you attempt
    • detailed chapter summaries of any chapter that came before
    • detailed notes about characters, places, and any special objects or magic schema that may be at work
    • prompts and questions from the coordinator to help you decide which direction to take
  • The coordinator (me!) chooses the chapter(s) that moves the story along the best (and/or is my favorite for whatever reason. Sometimes we also combine multiple chapter attempts).
  • At the end, we have a 30-chapter book with at least 30 contributing authors who all get to put another book on their resume
    • 10% of proceeds go to charity!

These pins are available through my Kickstarter campaign!

And don’t forget, if your chapter is chosen at any point during the challenge, you’ll also receive a United we Steampunk, Divided we Fall pin by yours truly.


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I Did It!

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Collaborative Steampunk Novel Update and a Few Thoughts about NaNoWriMo

Collaborative Steampunk Novel Update

When I announced that I would be coordinating Project 7 for the Collaborative Writing Challenge starting in Dec. I admit I was a little worried about recruiting people. Steampunk has become a lot better known in recent years, but there are still plenty of people who don’t really know what’s it about, or at least aren’t comfortable enough with the genre to feel like they can contribute.

On the one hand, I complete understand and obviously I’m not going to push and say someone should do it if it doesn’t interest them. On the other hand, I see Steampunk as less of a genre with distinct borders and rules, and more of an overlay that can be added to a mystery, romance, or any other sort of story.

It looks like there are a lot of people who feel the same way! 70 slots have been filled so far by 30 writers, and there’s still over a month before the project begins. Each project has a minimum of three authors in each slot, and up to five, so there is plenty of space if you haven’t signed up yet. Just don’t wait too long!

Remember, the project starts in December but runs until August, so even the prospect of starting a project after the bustle of the impending holidays has you seriously considering if a string of lights is sturdy enough to hang a person by, just keep in mind you could sign up for a chapter way out in March when you’ll just be twiddling your thumbs.

NaNoWriMo Update

A typical science fiction or fantasy novel for adults comes in around 100k words (~350 pages depending on the size of the book). YA books tend to be closer to 70k, but even that word count is higher than the goal for the National Novel Writing Month of 50k. So why the discrepancy?

Writing a book is at least 80% revising.

Let’s face it, the first pass is going to be bad. Some people’s bad is a lot worse than others, but generally speaking there are going to be plenty of issues to fix on even the structural level, not to mention at the specific word choice level. Personally, I am finding it incredibly difficult *not* to be doing revisions as I go, which has been my pattern in the past. I know that what I wrote yesterday is rubbish and I want to make it at least refined enough to be just regular or old ‘bad’ before I move on, but that won’t help me reach my word count goal. Grrrrr.

revising-memeSo rather than be annoyed, I decided to change my mindset and embrace the utter craptitude of the firstest, roughest draft. I am writing whole scenes of dialog with just the words the characters say but with no dialog or action tags. I am leaving myself notes and giving myself permission to move on from problem passages to press on to things I know for sure. And I am not reading over things I wrote a week ago and painstakingly looking to see if I used “she” to begin too many sentence. (Though old habits die hard and I know many would already say I pay way too much attention to that sort of thing when I should just be writing.)

I am also doing a ton of pre-writing exercises to help me get really focused when it comes time to sit down and write. Pre-writing can mean anything from answering character and world-building questionnaires to writing a summary of what you want to accomplish in a chapter. But before I could wrap my head around that level of detail I made a spreadsheet with a separate page for each of the 6 parts of my story that I used to outline down to the scene level and projected word count.

I’m about 1/3 of the way into this whole NaNo experiment, and I’ve written 14,369 words on Mistress of None so far this month, bringing the total words for Part 1 to over 25,000. This has been a very different way to approaching novel writing and I can’t say I like everything about it. On the other hand, I have also gained some invaluable new methods and most importantly, the confidence I’ve gained in myself.

All writers go through times where they feel like poseurs or like they can’t possibly succeed, and I was having one those dark periods in August after the dour advice and attitudes of the folks at the Writer’s Symposium at Gen Con. Now, I feel like I’ve proven to myself that I have the drive and the tools to make a real go of this.

Now I’ve just got to convince the rest of the world…

 

 


Happy National Novel Writing Month!

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_participantI’ve been wanting to do NaNoWriMo for years, but November has never worked out to be good timing in the past. This year, I finally get my chance!

The goal is to write 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days. Most novels are between 70-100k words, so if you get technical 50k is more like 3/4 or half of a novel, but it is plenty of words to serve as a foundation. I started my project in October so I could hit the ground running yesterday when it began in earnest.

If I’m going to do a thing, I like to do it well. I’ve got lots of outlines and notes to help carry me through, but I’m also going to need lots of time. So for the month of November, forgive me while I slack off a bit on my posting schedule here on For Whom The Gear Turns. I still plan to be posting regularly on my Facebook author page with excerpts and quirky facts I learn about America in the 1870s, so don’t forget to follow me there as well.

All month long I’m spinning the yarn of Viola Thorne, a con woman who is forced out of retirement when her past comes back to haunt her…Literally. Her story will take readers from the Old West across America on the Transcontinental Railroad and down the Mississippi on a steamer ship, and that’s just to get her back to New Orleans where she must solve a deadly mystery to atone for her twisted past.

Here’s a little piece of Chapter 1 of Mistress of None to wet your appetite.

A gentle sensation as light and dangerous as hornet wings fluttered on the back of her neck and slowed her hands. Miles away from anywhere anyone might possibly want to go, she should have been safe from prying eyes in the hot spring even in broad daylight, and yet she could feel someone watching her. Unwilling to let the peeping Tom know she was on to him, Vi went back to washing her hair but listened for the telltale the crack of a twig or the whisper of cloth to give her an idea of the infiltrator’s approach. If it came down to it, she could always reach out with her other sense, but only as a last resort.

She leaned her head back to rinse, the lather tinged a dull red from the henna she used to muddy her identity. The chance of being recognized out here in the territories was remote, but she still preferred to distance herself from her old life where she could and her chestnut hair was a small sacrifice for obscurity.

Though the frontier night continued to stretch out quiet and undisturbed before her, the presence was somehow drawing nearer. Her fingers brushed against her garter and the knife she always kept strapped to her thigh for just such an occasion. The chance it was a jack rabbit was as good as it was some poor soul wandering in from the gold fields, but naked and alone out in a distance corner of her ranch, she wasn’t in much of a position to take that risk. With a deep breath, she reached deep into herself and quested for the feelings that always tickled at the edges of her awareness.

After spending most of her life pushing the sensations away they were dull and distant, like the embers of a fire banked and left to be rekindled in the morning. She let her mind wash over and through the waiting coals and her long-repressed senses suddenly flared to life.

Even though her audience was over her shoulder, his outline burned bright and blue inside her skull. In one swift motion, her blade flashed moon-bright and hurtled toward the place he stood. A hollow thunk told her it had hit the tree behind him, just as she’d expected from the color of his aura.

“Are you crazy? Throwing around knives without looking,” the ghost cried in alarm and patted his chest where the knife had passed straight through him. “You could kill someone like that!” He took a few noiseless steps away from the offending blade as if it was going to jump out of the tree and bite him.

Vi’s mouth curved up in one corner. “You’re already dead,” she mocked. “What are you so worried about?”

Good Luck to All NaNoWriMo Participants This Year!!!


Steampunk Writers, I WANT YOU! The Submission Window Opens NOW

Oh man, oh man, oh man! I am ecstatic to announce an exciting new opportunity for anybody who loves Steampunk and story-telling. I’ve been going back and forth about what sort of project I wanted to do to celebrate the anniversary of Steampunk, and once I discovered the Collaborative Writing Challenge I knew I’d found a match made in heaven.

(Please note: I am still interested in creating a collection of short stories in 2017 as well as this collaborative novel. Read more about it here)

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The CWC runs projects to bring authors together to create a collaborative novel. I just had my submission accepted for their 6th Project, a fantasy called Esyld’s Awakening, and I was so impressed with the organization and the whole idea of collaborative fiction that I signed up to coordinate Project 7. I love the idea of pulling together several voices to celebrate Steampunk together, and I hope you will join me!

You can get all the details on the CWC website, but here’s the quick explanation for how it all works.

  • Writers submit a potential first chapter by Dec. 2 and the CWC staff chooses the three they think has the most potential to grow into a full novel. Anyone who signs up (see below) gets a chance to vote on which first chapter they think is the strongest.
  • Starting now, writers sign up to be a part of the collaboration and soon will be asked to sign up for chapters they’d be interested to write based on the schedule (first chance starts the week of Dec. 30). There are usually 4-5 people trying for each chapter, but lots of people sign up for more than one as well.
  • When it is their turn, each participant gets to read the first chapter, as well as the one the is right before the one they signed up for, and they get 5 days to attempt to write the next one. Everyone has access to chapter summaries, character profiles, and notes about places and objects to help them along.
  • At each step, I’ll choose my favorite chapter and handle the first round of editing for continuity to make sure the voice and flow of the narration all works together.
  • And eventually you’ve got a 30 chapter book written by dozens of people! You don’t have to be experienced, just eager to join in on the adventure 🙂

Pinmart artI absolutely encourage anyone who enjoys the genre to give it a shot. It’s simple to sign up here, and you’ll be contacted soon about the schedule (which goes from Dec-Aug) and which chapters you’d like to try. Anyone who attempts a chapter, even if it is not chosen, gets a free e-copy of the completed book and a chance to buy 2 copies at cost. As a bonus, I am going to send one of my spiffy United We Steampunk, Divided we Fall pins to anyone who has their chapter chosen.

If you’d like to try submitting the first chapter, the submission window is open now! (See details in the graphic below) Remember, it will need to read like the opening chapter of a novel, not a standalone short story. So feel free to hint at things even if you don’t know all the details yourself to give your fellow writers different directions to go in. As we all know, Steampunk is a very wide genre, so don’t feel constricted by the Victorian era, the British Empire, or specific trappings of the aesthetic.

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Feel free to connect with me on my Facebook author page or on Twitter (@GearTurns), or leave me comments and questions below.

Looking forward to building something great together!