NaNoWriMo Wrap Up: Viola’s Second Journal Unfolds.

A few years ago, when I first decided to tackle a writing career, my dear hubby bought me a t-shirt. Emblazoned across its perfect purpleness was the word: WRITER. It was modeled on the 'Writer' flack jacket worn by Nathan Fillion in the television series Castle. Being a Castle (and Nathan FIllion) fan, I was stoked. And, even better, my hubby supported my writing! Perfect. writer T (Did I mention the t-shirt was actually a Valentine's day present?)

Monday was the last day of NaNoWriMo. I had yet to reach the half-way mark of the challenge. I donned my WRITER t-shirt. I was determined to make last ditch effort to increase my word count - no matter whether I officially 'won' or not. And that is what the challenge was really about. NaNo is not just about aiming for a high, sometimes impossible, word count (I really only had 19 days of writing time this month due to ill-health, family commitments and an opportunity to sell books and meet readers). It is about getting off my butt (well, when at my standing desk at least), putting pen to paper and getting down that first draft.

If I have an empty page, I have nothing to edit.

Looking back, I may have only achieved just under 20,000 words this round of NaNo  - but I have more than half the first draft of my novella, Eye of the Beholder. I have rough plots for the accompanying short stories. Viola is set for some interesting adventures. Eye of the Beholder has a plot, a determined heroine, a scheming protagonist and a loyal friend. It has mummies and curses, and the threat of the Asylum hovering over our characters.

nanowrimo Nov 2015

Here's a hint of last month's work. Our story opens...

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER (c) 2015 Karen J Carlisle

The grinding of the gate set Professor Clarke’s teeth on edge. The iron bars rattled as it slammed shut and encased them in gloom. Far off cries and screechings echoed through the empty hallway.

Keys chinked at the Warden’s hip as they trudged further into the bowels of Bedlam, leaving the sane world behind them. The stench of sweat and urine gripped/tugged/ clawed at his nostrils as they passed heavily bound doors with large locks and small barred windows.

Intermittent moaning, clawing, hissing greeted them. Thuds rattled the hinges to herald their passing.

The way ahead was barred and locked. The Warden paused.

Clarke’s hands trembled. He had not set foot in Bedlam since...

He clenched his fingers and straightened his shoulders. It was louder than he remembered.

“Are you certain?” asked the Warden.

Clarke closed his eyes and relaxed his fingers. He was a man of science, of facts. He opened his eyes and nodded.

Beyond the portal lay rows of barred cells, each with its own litany of fetors, spectacles and disquiet. Clarke stared at the back of the Warden’s head. It bobbed along the corridor then turned and jerked toward one of the cells.

(This is a first draft and subject to rewrites, edits and re-ordering).

For more updates on Eye of the Beholder or The Department of Curioisties, follow me on Twitter:@kjcarlisle or Facbook:Karen J Carlisle.

#6: Through the Looking Glass

Steampunk Hands Around the World: Our Workshop - Creating the Steampunk Aesthetic

Steampunk is not just a writing genre or a series of philosophies (encompasing the reuse, recycle and repurpose ethic, its promotion of hand-made craft and positive outlook on life - Back to the Future). It is also an aesthetic, encompassing style, clothing, jewelry. It is an expression of individuality.

Google defines aesthetic as a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.  So how does steampunk actually look and feel?

Look into the mirror and what do you see?

Are you wearing comtempory clothing or are you garbed in a steampunk outfit? Steampunk attire may have a Victorian look but there is more.  Historically, clothing can denote social rank, wealth, associate links with specific groups or project a desired image. (Keeping up with the Medicis - historical re-enactment article 2006. pdf) Throughout history, sumptuary laws have attempted to restrict the lower classes masquerading as their betters or to control the economy.

Subtle changes in the cut or design of Victorian clothing can earmark the wearer as a wannabe or the genuine article. Accessories can reveal (or betray) a vocation. It can tell the outside world who you are, and possibly how you feel about the world around you.

Do you prefer the appearance of a toff, a socialite or an explorer - a mechanic, a pirate or a street urchin? It is up to you. Do you love the feel of silk, the practicality of leather or the shine of bronze?  How do you want to express yourself? Steampunk allows you to decide. You can recreate yourself in whatever guise you wish.

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How do you achieve the steampunk look?

25 tea box canary victoria 3 explorers beltImagination is the key. In 2011, I participated in a Steampunk Panel, expounding the virtues of accessories. They are my passion. Any outfit (or costume), no matter how spectacular, can be unmade by the use of inappropriate accessories. Conversely, well chosen accessories can elevate a plain outfit into something amazing and rememberable.

Last September, I showcased some of my accessories - More pictures can be seen at September Steampunk Accessories Roundup.

IMG_6251Think about your character (or persona). What could they afford - or want to afford? Is there anything interesting they may collect? What is their occupation? What items would they use? Do you wish to be historically accurate or is that only a starting point? Do you want to mashup another fandom - steampunk Tinkerbell, steampunk Doctor, steampunk Disney princess? Do you prefer an original idea? Again, it is up to you? What do you desire? How does Steampunk feel?

The steampunk movement is not restricted to clothing. The look is popular right now. We may have been decorating (at least some of) our houses with Victorian and/or steampunk items and furniture for some time, but now it is becoming mainstream - even renovation and home improvement websites and television shows are dedicating articles on how to steampunk your house. 

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Steampunk can be a philosophy, fashion, decor or a lifestyle. It can reflect your desires, your hopes. It is what you make it. You choose. Enjoy. Photographs (c)Karen Carlisle 2014-2015

#4: Back to the Future

#4: Steampunk Hands Around the World: Our Classroom

What have I learned from the steampunk movement? The aspects and philosophies of steampunk encourage my desire to learn:
  • re-imagining the past as the inspiration to build a better future
  • optimism about human potential, encouraging individuals to explore their creativity
  • the spirit of freedom
  • science with beauty (seen in the wonderful crafts, machinery and inventions).
  • rejection of mass marketing and encouragement of hand-made individuality
  • Reuse. Recycle. Repurpose.
  • encourages individualism and self-reliance, allowing us to break free, to be creative, unique and express ourselves (the punk part).
  • the acceptance of others

On a practical level, I have been inspired to do research on people and events of the 19th century. I have learned things I was not taught at school; we learnt about Darwin, Edison and Freud. But where were the lessons on Tesla, Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Blackwell or Margaret Eliza Maltby?

I have researched 19th century transport, communications and historical events (being a writer of steampunk, this was inevitable). I have investigated the inner workings of Queen Victoria's household and servants. I have attended lectures on tintype and daguerreotype photography and gained insights on the Victorian mindset via research on post-mortem photography. My bookshelves are now groaning under the weight of extra books. (I can never have too many!)

I have delved into the construction of 19th century clothing (being a costumer, this was also inevitable). I have visited museums, studied extant items and searched the internet for information on the fashions of the era.

Some useful books are: 

Fashion, art, philosophy, economy, society -  all are available for us to study. The good, the bad and the ugly. Bad things happened. We know this. With history at a safe distance, we can choose to emulate the best of the past. We can learn from past mistakes.

We have a choice. We have the opportunity to improve the world. We can choose to rekindle loyalty, manners. We can choose to help those in society who are less fortunate than us. We can make medical care available to all. We can reflect on the 19th century's impersonal industrialisation and its repercussions on the environment. We can choose to work to protect the environment by conscientiously designing our scientific advancements and encourage sustainability. We can learn from the philosophy of make do and last by not perpetuating our throw away society. Reuse. Recycle. Repurpose.

On a More Personal Level

I have a dual life - my art/writing and science. After high school, I chose University - a Bachelor of Applied Science. I chose a safe, secure career. I denied my artistic side. Steampunk has taught me to embrace all of my passions. It has reminded me I all allowed to have both; science can be artistic. Creating - whether it be writing, art or costume - is cathartic. It is teaching me to deal with anxieties of the modern era, via my writing. When I create, I am free. Anything is possible.

victoria visual Welcome to my classroom.