Mary, Maria, Murray, no, MARK! Wait. Jim.

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That’s cute, Shakespeare… now, can anyone tell what those other names actually are?

Did you just blink and draw a blank? You’re in good company. Let’s say you’re a writer. You’ve just conjured up a skinny teenaged boy with an incredible backstory, anger issues, perfect hair and an allergy to squirrels. That’s all well and good, but what’s his name? There’s nothing like being at a loss for the right name when writing an otherwise meaningful character, and I know for me, the quest for a name has often stopped my writing dead in its tracks.

I’ve browsed nearly every name site on the web at one time or another, and eventually I manage to scrape a name or two out and run back to my manuscripts, but it’s rarely been a fun experience.  And never a social one. Now, that’s all changed . Meet Nameberry! This cheery, interesting, sociable site focuses on choosing baby names, but isn’t your story your baby, too? Next time you get stuck trying to name a talkative grandmother who can’t bake but still lifts weights, give Nameberry a go.Nameberry Logo

(From Nameberry’s ‘About’ page) the What’s a Nameberry? Think of it as a baby name….only juicier, smarter, cooler, better. Nameberry is the site created by experts Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, coauthors of ten groundbreaking books on baby names widely quoted on the subject around the world. Nameberry includes an authoritative 50,000 name database developed over two decades, a daily blog on baby names, unique lists and features , and a vibrant community of expectant parents and name lovers. With two million monthly visitors and ten million page views from every country around the world, the Nameberry family includes a daily email newsletter, a popular shop selling personalized products, an active Facebook group, and a wide Twitter following.

Schroedinger’s Rat Lives!

Helen Sarros works new pneumatic tube system to take cash at the Marshall Field s store. Queen of Mighty Basement Consoie November 26, 1947) Sun-Times files

I wrote the first draft of Down The Tubes in November of 2013, for NaNoWriMo. I had such a great time, too! I loved my concept, utterly and completely. I’ve always been fascinated by pneumatic mail systems and had a great time hauling them into my universe. I felt so very clever, and especially enjoyed launching the adventure by killing a rat.

Now, approaching two years and two drafts later, that initial thrill has worn off, and I’m seeing the manuscript through more critical eyes. Earlier this year, I had distinct plans to have Down The Tubes finished by the end of spring. After wrestling mightily with the first two chapters, I adjusted those expectations to late summer.

rat with cheeseThen it was decided that the rat should live. And that notion led to an entirely new chapter two. Suddenly, chapter one looked awfully boring in comparison. You see where I’m going. My new mantra is, ‘Do you want it fast, or do you want it good?’ Down The Tubes will be ready when it’s ready. I’d like to say by the end of the year, but really, it will be done when its done and I’m not able to predict when that will be right now. I will probably write more short stories about the adventures of various kids in my land of Industralia now and then too, whenever I need a break from the Tubes.

lettersBut the good news is, I still love my concept. Once I get the first three chapters re-hammered out, I think the entire middle section flows well and is filled with interesting people and situations.  Lots of people from many walks of life and a variety of attitudes and priorities.  Due to a letter mix-up with the pneumatic mail service, many of them end up crossing paths,  which creates some unlikely new partnerships and friendships. It’s a big cast of characters, and I like em all. I hope you will too.

And I hope you will be happy that the rat lives, this time.

Olive

A new film project has caught both my eye and my heart. It’s called “Olive”. I’ll be talking more about Olive in the weeks to come, and I hope you’ll stay with me for the full ride! Let me introduce you to the film and some of the people working hard to produce it. There’s a very good chance you will also be charmed by this story of life and hope, against the odds.

I’d like to introduce you to three good people who are helping Olive to thrive.
Aaron MartinezWriter and Director Aaron Martinez
We will be sending $60 Kickstarter supporters a real baby Olive tree to promote environmental awareness and help fund our film.  This was a big priority for me. I am not just making the film, I want the world to be beautiful for my children!
 Cinematographer  Sara Ross-SamkoSara Ross Samko
Fairy tales, hairy tales, children on the run, lovers on the run, runners on the run, rumors of a gun, hitting home, running home, lonely hearts, lonely hunters. Floating weeds, sumptuous flowers, voices in the water, heart music from space, a ring in her ear and a fly in your beer. Ghosties, gullumphs, buffoons, mad monks, kings and punks, jesters and skunks. There isn’t a soul you couldn’t learn to love if you only heard their story, and we all get to meet at the movies.
ProducKitStolention Designer Kit Stolen

To be an Anachronism is to be out of place for the time-period a person, object or idea currently inhabits… Naut is indicative of a profession that involves travel… A Chrononaut would be a ‘Time Traveler’ [Chronon being a unit of time]. As an Anachronism isn’t a substance, or space; one does not travel through it in the physical sense. Therefore Anachronaut is not a literal word. It is an abstract concept that implies a person who makes a journey through that mode of concept and style.

Stay tuned for more news about Olive soon!

Misrembered Quasi Italian Peruvian Salsa

Misremembered SalsaA million years ago, I enjoyed a ‘Peruvian Salsa’ as made by an Italian. Long story. I loved the stuff! I’ve held it in my memory for many years, and never wrote it down till right now.  I’m sure it’s warped a lot being stored in my brain so long. My brain does that to things.

 

(Measurements do not need to be exact. Adjust to your liking.)

1 Cup finely chopped red onion
3 Cloves finely chopped garlic
2 Tbsp oregano (chopped fresh leaves if possible)
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup red wine vinegar
1 Lime – juiced
Approx. 1 Tbsp Ground fresh pepper

Combine everything in a container with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate a few days. Let it warm to room temperature so the olive oil smooths out, and enjoy!

UPDATE! After hearing from the daughter of the one who taught me this recipe, I am corrected. GET THESE PEPPERS.  She says, “Its only red onion, small amount of garlic, toreador chili peppers, a splash of the pepper juice, wine vinegar, and oil but only a little oil. Love this stuff.”

 

 

Who Will Be King, Queen and Chancellor of Fantasy Faire?

(I am sharing this post from the official Fantasy Faire blog, in hopes of getting the word out! )

In the run up to Fantasy Faire, we asked you to select your favourite characters from fantasy to be chosen as King, Queen and Chancellor of Fantasy Faire.

Well, the nominations are in – and your five top selections are ready to move forward to the vote. Let’s find out who they are!

Vote for the King!

FF-KING1-BKWulf FF-KING2-GILGA FF-KING4-HAVELOCK
FF-KING3-LEGOLAS FF-KING5-TYRION

As you’ll see, we have two characters from the Girl Genius universe – the Wulfenbachs, father and son. Will they split the vote and let another candidate in?

From Discworld we have the Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. All powerful and more than a little sinister, will he be the people’s choice?

Lord of the Rings supplies the Elvish candidate for King, Legolas, while our final candidate is Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Fire and Ice / A Game of Thrones. Tyrion is the sole representative of this fantasy element – but with Lannister gold to back him, no-one would rule him out!

Vote for the Queen!

FF-QUEEN3-AGATHA FF-QUEEN4-GALADRIEL FF-QUEEN2-GRANNY
FF-QUEEN5-MALEFICENT FF-QUEEN1-ZANTA

The Queens represent a similar range of fantasy genres – but now we have fairy tales popularised by Disney – or is that the right term for the anti-heroine Maleficient?

From Girl Genius we again have two characters – Agatha Heterodyne and Queen Zantiabraxus. Will they split the steampunk vote?

From Lord of the Rings we have our second Elvish nominee – Galadriel. And last, but definitely not least, we have Granny Weatherwax, that source of common sense and magical skills (not to mention headology) from Lancre in the Discworld.

Vote for the Chancellor!

FF-CHANC4-GENIE FF-CHANC2-GREEBO
FF-CHANC1-KROSP
FF-CHANC3-TREEBRD FF-CHANC5-VONPINN

The Chancellors are drawn from a similarity variety. There’s the Genie from Aladdin (immortalised by the late, great Robin Williams in the Disney movie), and there’s Greebo, Nanny Ogg’s cat from theDiscworld (nursing a secret passion to be ginger).

Once more, there are two Girl Genius characters nominated: this time Krosp (our second cat nomination!) and Vonn Pinn – looking human but really a clank – that world’s robotic forms.

And finally, from the Lord of the Rings, we have the Ent, Treebeard.

Which will you vote for?

You can visit the vendors and place your vote in a special gallery under the waves at Poseidons Abyss.

OR you can pay via Convio.

Read more about how to vote here.

I’m A Contender!

45 of 267 books officially cut in the first round so far in The Great Self-published Fantasy Blog-off – And The Flight To Brassbright is still in the running. Even if the book doesn’t make it to the next level (this is like a playoff series for indie authors), I made it through a round! This makes me so happy. My book was assigned out to Bibliotropic, and I’m really enjoying checking in there to see how it’s going. The blog posts are interesting, thoughtful and educational, all about reading, reviewing and writing. Do check it out (And follow along to see how I do in the next round).

Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: Strong Contenders

Gears, Beards, and Beers

GB and B 2
(Image belongs to the Facebook Capitol Steam group)

Good times do not get better than this. I had such a wonderful time last night! Here’s a highlight moment: As I was pausing in a doorway, just soaking up the eye candy, a young, cute wisp of a girl skittered up to me and laid a gentle hand on my shoulder. She said, “You are wonderful and adorable and awesome!” and then she skipped off. In a nutshell, this is My Steampunk. Happy, open, welcoming, creative people of all backgrounds and ages with one common dream. I can’t resist it.

At some point, I was tapped on the shoulder by a roving costume contest judge and told I was being entered in the contest. Didn’t win at any level, but as they say at the Academy Awards, it was an honor just to be nominated!  For the record, I was wearing my crocheted Gibson Girl wig, sorta matching crocheted bootwarmer-spats over utilitarian black biker boots, this black and silver corset from Corset Story (You gotta love Corset Story. Really. You must), a long sleeved scoop neck shirt, lots of flashy silvery jewelry, and a black western dance hall  style above the knee skirt, with black leggings beneath. And as usual, I had that little item that 98.5% of steampunks own, a jeweler’s loupe. Seriously, under $10 buys your glasses some steam-cred. And I know I can’t live without my glasses. Can you? I scribbled all over the metal on my loupe with a blood red marking pen. Love the effect. It will rub off so I’m careful, but it’s not that hard to avoid.

Yes, I am a very low budget steampunk. It’s more fun to warp items from my closet than to buy off the rack ‘looks’. Though I do spring for good corsets, cause…. CORSETS.

Hopefully pics will be forthcoming. I don’t know what’s out there but I will share as I find.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE LINKS! Explore and get to know these groups. They are each and every one wonderful.  Kudos and thank you to all!

 – My favorite set of pics from the evening.

Fantastic pics at Jacksonopolis.com

Mid Michigan Magnificent Steamy Sponsor!  Capitol Steam (Lansing area Steampunks Facebook Group)

Hirsute Hunks that Sponsored.  I love these guys! Jackson Beard and Moustache Club

Proceeds Benefiting! Cascades Humane Society

Venue! The Grand River Brewery in Jackson, Michigan. Perfect setting and extremely brave and tolerant waitstaff.

Vendors & Artists! Look for these places online – try Etsy.com – and support steampunk artistry.

Poison Ivy Designs
Steampunk Eddie
Errant Knight Photography
Detroit Beard Collective
The Spectra Nova
Spooky’s Geek Boutique formerly known as Spooky Designs
Off the Beaten Path Books
FiendishWear
K3 Creations Artworks
Lush Lapel
Steampunked

I dropped a bit of cash at FiendishWear, as their items were too good to miss. I’ve needed something to hold my needfuls. I’ve been using a clutch purse made from 1920’s fabrics, and it’s fun, but I get tired of the clutching. So now I have a leather accessory hip case to hold what I need on a belt slung around my waist, and to keep it company and increase the collective coolness factor, I snapped up a 6″ brass extendable telescope with leather holster. It works, very nicely. Good for examining beards close-up.

And lastly but not leastly, our musical inspiration. Raven Song sounded so great, and yes, I sang along with “Whiskey In The Jar”. Here’s a random tune from Youtube so you can catch a bit of their sound:

Review: The Robot Scientist’s Daughter

The Robot Scientist's Daughter Front CoverThe Robot Scientist’s Daughter
by Jeannine Hall Gailey
Mayapple Press
Paperback, 9781936419425, 82pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2015

It’s hard to resist a book with the title The Robot Scientist’s Daughter. Those four words send the mind in a myriad of directions. Is this science fiction? A child’s tale? A woman’s story? A cousin of Frankenstein? And the answer would be, ‘yes, it is, and more. Genre be damned.’

The story unfolds via poetry—little glimpses of life pressed to each page like butterflies pinned to a board. And, like life, it can’t all be told at once, nor in order, and not always in the same mood. The days of the life of the Robot Scientist’s Daughter can be peaceful and beautiful, yet burdened by the price that must be paid. Other times, the nightmares are close to the surface and not always hidden behind sleeping eyes. It’s complicated to be the Robot Scientist’s Daughter.

She lives amongst the clutter and ruins of a Project called Manhattan, quite literally within a notable hot spot. Atomic bombs, nuclear reactors, softly dying plants and animals (and people), weapons grade uranium, idyllic meadows, these are the puzzle pieces that make up the landscape of her childhood.  It’s where she grew up, learning, as children do, about their surroundings. She knows the birds and the strawberries and is a true child of nature, such as it is. Her realities are our nightmares, and her dreams are our history.

I wavered as she charmed, terrified, soothed and disturbed me. I often stopped to stare at the palm of my right hand—the same hand that, as a child, I would cup to hold a large blob of mercury and roll it around, watching how pretty it was as it sparkled and undulated, before easing it back into the little tube I would carry around in my pocket.

My hand looks smooth and healthy, after all these years. I can’t help but feel a kinship with the Robot Scientist’s Daughter. We are survivors, we are the products of our time, and we are strong and clever, knowledgeable in the ways of unnatural nature. We survived in the worst of times, how can we help but thrive in the best of times?

Visit Jeannine Hall Gailey’s website to learn more about her.

Pre-Order The Robot Scientist’s Daughter

Fantastic!

If you’ve dreamed of owning Jess Nevins Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana but weren’t willing to take out a second mortgage to get the collectors edition (or your landlord nixed the idea), or if your floorboards couldn’t handle the sheer weight of that tome… good news! It’s now light as a feather in Kindle format, and cheaper than lunch at Applebees.

My review of the hardcover copy (now a decade out of print, very expensive, and let’s face it, big enough to require a wheelbarrow to de-shelve), is reads thusly:

“This book is big. Really big. Vastly and hugely big. You may think it’s a long way down to the chemists, but that’s peanuts compared to The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana. I’ve looked up so many entries and each time I do, I find myself wandering about to other random entries. Cracking into this book requires time (and a wheelbarrow), but it’s time well spent. Rather like wandering through an information maze and finding little prizes at the end of the dead-stops throughout. Jess knows his stuff, and now thanks to his encyclopedia, so do I.”

The official description is probably more helpful.

“This enormous volume is the first comprehensive encyclopedia of fantastic literature of the nineteenth century. From detective fiction to historical novels, from well-known authors like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, to Russian newspaper serials and Chinese martial arts novels, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FANTASTIC VICTORIANA is a truly exhaustive look at every aspect of fantastic literature in the days of Queen Victoria.”

Countdown: One Day To Brassbright

In 1 day you’ll meet someone who doesn’t just mangle the spoken word—but twists them till they squeak, turns them inside out, and forces them into meanings that make Etymologists hurl themselves off cliffs.

“The Flight To Brassbright” publishes January 31, 2015 and is available for pre-order in electronic form for the Kindle, the Nook, or all other formats (except print) from Smashwords, for $4.99.

words