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Playing Dress Up

Today I drove back up to Granny’s (my Mom) and helped put the finishing touches on the outfits.  I. Am. Amazed.  My Mom did such an incredible job!  The pieces are gorgeous.  They mix and match, with interchangeable bustles and boleros.

Here are a few pictures.  Warning:  sans makeup and my hair is messy.  The fancy beaded corset is harder to put on, so I stuck with just the white one for now.


This one was taken in Mom’s sewing room.  The bustle is detachable, simply buttoning onto the black taffeta skirt’s waistband.  I thought this would be my favorite bolero, but I actually like the red one (below) better.  It might be hard to tell what’s in the pattern on the bustle, but it’s black feathers, skulls, spider webs, etc.  Wicked cool and definitely not “usual” Victorian wear!







This one was taken once I got home.  This bustle is much more complicated and ties onto loops sewn into the back of the skirt AND buttons onto the waistband.  I’m starting to understand why ladies had ladies’ maids, because MAN it’s going to be hard to dress myself at RT.  I have to tie the bustle on first, but leave one side undone so I can slip into the skirt.  Then tie and button it once on.  It’s almost as hard as fastening the busk on the other corset!

The monsters helped me make the hat.






Here’s the same one from the front.  That apron thing beneath the corset is also detachable, so I can choose to wear it with either bustle.  I adore the flash of red satin in the cascade!

I’m still working on finding the right shirt to wear beneath the corset.  This cami works, but the straps are a little too big and I’ll be constantly checking to make sure nothing’s sagging out the side.

The pattern had a lined vest that looked a lot like this cami, but Mom was having problems with it.  I told her not to worry about it – the show stoppers are done and are gorgeous.  I can find something to wear underneath!

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Coyote Con Live

The website is live and we’ve also got a tentative schedule.  I’m so thrilled that Lynn Viehl, aka Paperback Writer, will be taking questions from the SF/SFR panel and blogging her answers later in the month!  Also Heather Massey and Nathalie Gray will be talking about Steampunk!  woot!

It’s going to be such a great month!

I turned in the blurb sheet for Victor tonight and finished a late critique.  All the MayNoWriMo and Coyote Con stuff has totally derailed me — so it’s a good thing I took the whole month off!  I may not actually get much writing done in May, either, not with all the moderations, guest blog coordination, etc. but it’ll totally be worth it.

I already know what my MayNoWriMo goal will be:  a complete synopsis for Maya #2.  More posts will come this next week about what I need to do to make that goal happen.

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Post a Story For Haiti: Free Read

I was going to save this story for next month since it involves Valentine’s Day, but then I saw the Post a Story for Haiti project sponsored by Crossed Genres, and I knew I had to participate.  Ta ke a look at all the free stories and art dedicated to help the people of Haiti, and if you can, please donate to help them.

My contribution is a short steampunk horror story:  My Clockwork Heart.  Eventually, I’ll put it into a pdf on the Free Reads page.

ifrc dwb rainbowwf

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Friday Snippet: My Clockwork Heart

So far this month, I’ve written a whopping 3,700 new words (although I’ve been editing other completed manuscripts).  I’m pretty proud of those words, even though the count is so small.  What, you say?  How can less than 4K be an accomplishment when I’ve written that much in a single day?  

Because it’s a new short story and interesting, engrossing shorts can be so difficult to write.

I saw a horror anthology call a month or so ago and immediately got an idea for it.  However, as I worked through the storybuilding process, the idea fell apart on me, tattered beyond recognition.  The fire burned out.  As of two weeks ago, I wasn’t going to write anything for the antho after all. 

As soon as I said nevermind, my Muse snickered and hit me with the REAL idea, laughing with wicked glee that I only had 10-14 days to write a 2-6K story by the deadline (today).

I finished the story last night.  The first several sections have been polished several times, but I need to edit the last section today over lunch, and then I can fire it off to the editor.  If it’s not accepted for the antho, you’ll get it as a freebie next month, which has particular significance in the story.  *winks*

So here is the opening section of a horror (creepy not gory) story:  MY CLOCKWORK HEART.

A gentleman took note of Mary’s dishabille, peering down his long aristocratic nose with a cruel, sensual curl to his lip. Then he noticed the splatters on her nightgown: mud, no, surely not blood… and his top hat fell into the gutter.

Yet he did nothing to help her. No one did.

She ran through thick, suffocating fog from island to island of dirty gaslight, muttering out loud, “One more light. One more step.”

Even the street urchins who typically jostled for a passerby’s attention by waving the latest news could only stare at her with a knowing horror in their eyes. Too many women had ended this way, especially in this part of London. They would be shocked to know that she was Lady Aurum, wealthy enough to purchase each and every ragged shack on this crooked narrow lane. The only building that had managed to obtain her notice, however, had been the large abandoned factory in the deepest, darkest warren of streets just off the wharf. Her laboratory; her refuge.

Her heart gave a weak stutter. The knife had sliced deeply, surely more injury than a bloodletting doctor could ever hope to mend. She laughed, a wet cough of blood in her mouth. I have no more blood to let.

Her leaden arms were numb, but she kept her left fist buried hard in the gaping wound in her chest to staunch the flow. Perhaps she could use her fingers to manually pump the damaged organ if her heart ceased beating before she reached the laboratory.

Barefoot, she staggered onward. The loud clang of her left foot echoed eerily in the endless night. A particularly vicious case of gout had crippled her father, until she’d managed to construct a new golden foot for him. Then she’d contracted the same debilitating illness, giving her incentive to improve on the prototype.

Despite the failing weakness of her injured heart, the foot of delicate gears and gleaming metal still worked to balance her weight perfectly, arching and pushing against the treacherous cobblestones to propel her another pace closer to her sanctuary. If she died on this filthy street, she daren’t guess how long it might take for one of the poor to gain the courage to cut off that golden limb.

She shoved the door open so hard the wood rebounded on the wall. Her assistant, Mr. Moreland, whirled around with a copperwhirl in one hand and a magnifying glass in his other. “My lady! Anne, come quickly!”

With a swipe of his arm, he cleared the high table, heedless of his project. Mary glimpsed only bits of wire and cogs before the construct shattered on the floor. He scooped her into his arms and gently lay her on the table.

“Heart,” she gasped out through frozen lips.

With a comforting squeeze to her shoulder, he smiled. “Never fear, my lady; I know exactly what to do. How fortuitous that you were already experimenting on a replacement!”

The clockwork heart had been the natural progression of her work. After she’d accomplished foot replacements on her father and herself, she’d returned precious music to a violinist whose hand had been crushed in a carriage accident. His tearful gratitude and charm had been so considerable that she’d married that handsome young—but extremely poor—Italian. Not only had she returned his music, but she’d also gifted him with her heart.

She’d never intended to make the latter a physical exchange.

As calmly as though his mistress stumbled through the door every day requiring massive surgery to preserve her life, Mr. Moreland strode to the cabinets and began selecting the tools he would need. She heard the muted, frightened questions from Anne, the maid-of-all-works they were training to be an assistant, and his soothing response, although their words made little sense.

Fog still enfolded her, cold and heavy. Too heavy to breathe. Too cold to ever be warm again. Her heart beat out a ponderous dying waltz. She counted a slow twenty, chest aching with agony, until the next beat.

Tears trickled down her cheeks. Love had blinded her. Love had killed her.

Her heart gave one last desperate painful thump in her chest and she sank into the billowing fog.

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Revision Xibalba

The project that never dies, even when I chop off its head!

Thanks to some incredibly insightful comments from May, I have a few more things I want to tweak in the Maya fantasy.  The opening still isn’t strong enough.  I need to make it more personal from the first line.  I think I have an idea for that.  She also thought Geoffrey was a useless character, and yeah, he is, sort of.  So I need to make him matter in a way that’s currently missing.  I have an idea, there, too — I just need to put the pieces together.  She made similar notes about One Death and Dr. Reyes.  They’re a little too shallow compared to the other more intricate characters.

This story is all about crossing lines.  Everyone is forced to cross a line they swore they never would.  I failed to do so for these three characters in particular.  They weren’t POV or major characters, so I got lazy.  *slaps self*

And the synopsis is still on my list, as well as a hook/blurb.  I really want these done this week — I can’t stand all these details hanging over my head.  I want to be DONE and moving with the next project.  I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of Xibalba!! 

In other news, I finished reading Clockwork Heart.  I don’t think I’ll write up a full review, but I’ll be happy to chat in comments or e-mail if anyone wants to.  It was a good story, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as New Blood by Gail Dayton.  I really liked some of the elements of the worldbuilding, but the characters….meh.  Just didn’t blaze on the page if you know what I mean.  I thought the archaic programming of the Great Engine with punch cards was very interesting (remember, I’m a computer programmer for the Evil Day Job), and I was intrigued by the social structure. A good read, especially if you like clockwork and engine elements of Steampunk.

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Thanks to my growing interest in steampunk, I added this animated movie, Steamboy, to my Netflix queue and watched it a few days ago.  I have to admit that I wasn’t nearly as impressed as I was with Howl’s Moving Castle.

The Steams are a family of inventors:  James, his father Dr. Eddie, and his grandfather, Dr. Lloyd.  They’ve been working on a brand new “sphere” that can withstand an unbelievable amount of pressure, powering larger and more fantastic engines.  When not well received in Britain, the two older scientists move to American funding, and that’s where things start to fall apart for me.

The anti-American, anti-war themes were just a little too heavy handed.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, Howl’s Moving Castle had an anti-war theme too.  I loved it.  In Steamboy, there were no layers or nuances.  Everyone except James, the boy, was a money-hungry, war-loving fool, or so it seemed.  Except maybe his grandfather, who was more crazy than anything else.

And oh, don’t get me started about the only major female character in this movie, young Scarlett O’Hara.  What a total parody.  She was a despicable character, hitting her dog, nasty from the very beginning, and certainly too rich and powerful to have any sort of “morals.”  They tried to pull off a hint of a romance between her and James, and it failed miserably, because she was so unlikeable.  She never changed, either.  Although she did try to help James at the end, it was more like a spoiled tantrum than anything else.

A real disappointment for me.  If you’re looking for a steampunk animation, I highly recommend Howl’s Moving Castle instead.

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Steampunk, Howl’s Moving Castle

I suppose it was inevitable that eventually I’d stumble into an interest in steampunk, especially with my recent sci-fi Regency spoof idea.  I’ve never gone out searching for steampunk before, but the more I learn, the more intrigued I am.  Part of my research involved picking up Howl’s Moving Castle — although I admit I got it for the kids, and at the time, I didn’t really know what it was about, just that it was highly recommended.

Oh.  I *loved* this movie!  We watched it today in bits and pieces (Princess Monster has been home sick all week and I snuck in some lunch time with her).  I guess it’s not strictly “Victorian” but perhaps closer to Edwardian or even WWI in feel, but I loved it just the same.  It’s definitely one of our Netflix tries that I’m going to add to our family collection.  I could watch it over and over.  Next in my queue is Steamboy, which I specifically added because of the steampunk themes.

I’ve also added Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti to my wishlist, and my current non-fiction read is Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders.

Do you have any other Victorian or Steampunk recommendations to share?

[Don’t forget to keep checking for the free reads at Drollerie Press in honor of E-Book Week — two new books are up each day for free download!]