Steampunk 30th Anniversary (and a giveaway!)

This April, it's official; steampunk celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of its naming day. It was in 1987 that the term steampunk was used by KW Jeter in a note to the Locus magazine, for their April edition.
"Dear Locus,
Enclosed is a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I'd appreciate your being so good as to route it Faren Miller, as it's a prime piece of evidence in the great debate as to who in "the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter fantasy triumvirate" was writing in the "gonzo-historical manner" first. Though of course, I did find her review in the March Locus to be quite flattering.
Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like 'steam-punks', perhaps."
—K.W. Jeter
 
Of course steampunk had been around much longer - emerging in written and visual form, such as:
  • Morlock Night  (KW Jeter, 1979)
  • The Anubis Gates (Tim Powers, 1983)
  • Homunculus  (James Blaylock, 1986)
  • Infernal Devices: A Mad Victorian Fantasy  (KW Jeter, 1987)
And earlier still: Michael Moorcock wrote stories with steampunk elements, enshrining the airship in the, as yet unnamed, genre. His stories were alternate histories, not necessarily set in the Victorian era.
  • Warlord of the Air (1971)
  • The Land Leviathan (1974)
  • The Steel Tsar  (1982)
Television tinkered with steampunk as early as 1965, with the Wild, Wild West television series (starting on my birthday. Oh, it was meant to be!) and later with QED, set in Edwardian London. Since then many series, including Castle, CSI:New York and NCIS:LA, have flirted with steampunk (with varying results). More recently we've had Warehouse 13, Sanctuary and Murdoch Mysteries. Pre-1987 movies include 1958's The World of Jules Verne, Time After Time (1979) and others. Since 1987, the list of steampunk works has been growing. (I've previously listed some works, articles and groups HERE) You can also find a list of steampunk works on wikipedia. Many groups are celebrating the thirtieth anniversary: I'll be celebrating by reading, watching steampunk movies and tv show DVDs, meeting up with my writers' group for tea and bikkies. Come join me and Lynne, from Steampunk Sunday, Queensland Australia, on the 21st April for a Facebook event: Celebrating 30 years of (official) steampunk. To add to the celebrations, I'm hosting a giveaway, starting today!

Steampunk 30th Anniversary Giveaway

You can win an eBook copy of each of Viola Stewart's adventures (four eBooks in total), currently available via Smashwords and Amazon:
  • Three Short Stories
  • Doctor Jack
  • Three More Short Stories
  • Eye of the Beholder.

  

How to enter: Sign up for my newsletter/email list by 11.59pm, 19th April (Australian CST). The winner will be randomly selected.

Subscribe to mailing list for your chance to win:

EDITED: Seems the original link is not working properly. PLEASE USE THIS LINK TO SUBSCRIBE

MY APOLOGIES.

There are technical issues with auto signup (and internet provider today). If you've issues signing up for my steampunk 30th comp or are unsure if it registered - email me TONIGHT with yr email and details, to add manually. karen(at)karenjcarlisle(dot)com.

The winner will be announced in Tea & Tidings newsletter and on this blog on Friday 21st April. So watch this space!

Photo Friday: Eat, Write, Play.

Eat: One of the great things about conventions are the people you meet - con buddies, line buddies and fellow artists. My booth buddy, for the second time, was Kimberley Clark who travelled down from Brisbane for the Oz Comic Con. We had dinner on Friday night at Little NNQ Vietnamese restaurant in the city - a generous serving of delicious food and a photo opportunity showcasing the eclectic mix of old and new architecture in Adelaide.

 

Write: I completed my latest short - Mrs Hudson Investigates - and submitted it to an upcoming anthology. Wish me luck! I now have another story series percolating through my brain... 

My talk for the local writing group today: Plotting for Non-Plotters

Play: Last D&D session was intense but we survived! Tomorrow we get to play our alternative milieu. And a few more photos from last weekend: I helped my daughter make a 'Chat Noir' ring from sculpy. Unfortunately it was a tad large and was lost after only a few hours. If anyone found it at the event, please contact me.  

Any one for a game of chess?

I didn't buy much at the convention - but couldn't resist Neil Gaiman's Death or the Elfquest book and t-shirt.

Photos © 2017 Karen Carlisle.

Writing through Writers’ Block

"What?" you ask. "How can you write through writers' block? Doesn't it mean you're stuck, and can't write?"

Well, yes... and no.

Here's how Cambridge dictionary defines writers block: the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

I'm currently in the middle of writing the third (and last book) in the Adventures of Viola Stewart, The Illusioneer & Other Tales. The first story rolled onto the page. In From the Depths, Viola is in Scotland, recovering at a beach resort after her ordeals in Eye of the Beholder.  Of course, she is swept up in a series of unexpected events. We meet a new character. This story ended up twice as long as previous shorts. I didn't want it to end.

I started on the next short story, Tomorrow, When I Die. This is a more convoluted story, requiring fiddling of ... (spoilers!) and some fun research on Victorian Christmas traditions. Then it happened. It crept up on me, taking me by surprise; the realisation that this was to be Viola's last set of (traditional) adventures. ("Gasp!" I hear you say.

Never fear, dear Reader, I have a few plans up my sleeve - but that's for another time, another blog.)

About this time, a late bout of dust-induced summer bronchitis hit. I felt like shite. Being ill is certainly not helpful when trying to build up the will-power to wade through the dreaded marshland I designate Writers' Block. I see it as a marshland as it is inconvenient, an impediment to moving forward and I must plan my way to proceed or sink further down.

First find the cause: why do I get writers' block?

I've thought about this in depth (perhaps way too much!). It seems to strike me at two different stages:

  1. When I'm staring at a blank page. I know the gist of the story. I can usually see the end scene in my head, the mood I want to create. But the words refuse to flow from my brain onto the screen. At this point, I am usually working pen on paper; words seem to flow better with a pen or pencil in my hand.
  2. when I am nearing the end of a story. I'm finally having fun. The characters are co-operating, even enjoying themselves. Then the penny drops; it has to end. I panic. I don't want it to end. I don't want to leave my characters behind. But I must. Perhaps if I don't write those final words...?

These are things I have to deal with. They are not new. In 2014, I had almost finished the first draft of what I thought would be my first novel, The Department of Curiosities. I had about four scenes to write. Crunch, the writers' block hit me.  What was I to do? I started on a short story, (reviving) a character from An Eye to Detail, short listed the year before in Australian Literature Review's murder and mystery short story competition.

The block shifted. I kept writing Viola's s adventures with gusto (There were minor blocks but nothing as long-lasting as that with DOC.)  I'm now ready - and can't wait - to return to The Department of Curiosity - my next project after The Illusioneer. 

How do I Tackle Writers' Block?

I have a box of story ideas. I keep getting them. Not all are worthy of a full story, but they are there. I usually have at least three (sometimes four or five) stories on the go. When I hit the wall, I redirect my energies toward another story and let the original one bubble away in the background - ensuring I move forward, and not wallow.

This time I was side-tracked onto a story to submit to a (absent) Sherlock Holmes anthology: write a story in the Holmes mileaux, sans Sherlock himself.

Bang! The main character was there. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I could see, hear, smell the final scene. This short is now being polished with final edits and about to be submitted. Wish me luck. (And another series is born. I can't wait to write another story with my new detective and her soon-to-be-drafted side-kick. Though I need to finish The Illusioneer and the DOC first.)

Short stories are fantastic. They give me a brief holiday from my main project, just enough time to let the original story gurgle back up to the surface.

April is Camp NaNoWriMo and I'm ready to plunge Viola back into her adventures. I hope you'll join the ride.

Photo © 2017 Karen J Carlisle. All rights reserved.