Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hard at Work

As you can see in the picture I'm hard at work on the novel (that's me with the tail).

Well I will be, once the new year strikes. Things settle down for me and hopefully I can find some time to write every day again. 2,000 words a week-day, 10,000 words per week or bust. That's my resolution. If I can hold to that I'll have the first draft finished by some time in February. Right now I'm shooting for 100,000 - 120,000 words and I'm almost 10% finished.

Then with re-writes, edits and such, with any luck I can have a query together by April or May.

I'll share a few snippets from the book when there are more people visiting to share with. I'm especially happy with the chapter where the villain Otto (Octavian in his home-country) Dragomir first comes to the fore and you can get a taste for who he really is.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book art

I love Victorian era book art. When I get this novel published I intend to do my best to have at least a dozen technical drawings and a few etchings like the examples above. When I have free moments between writing and other commitments (ha!) I'll be working on sketches, Adobe Illustrator and CGI renderings of the various inventions and steam powered contraptions which appear in my book. If there are any which I'm particularly proud of I will post them here.

In the meantime I need to get writing, so many ideas occurred to me over the break and I didn't have the opportunity to write. I need to get all these ideas down before they start to spill out of my ears.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Clockwork transformer.

Sorry, no long post today, Christmas and all that. Enjoy this movie of a pocketwatch transformer instead.

Merry Christmas. May you all wake up to your very own steampunk pocketwatches on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Steampunk and High Fantasy

Does anyone else out there feel that the room to explore within the steampunk genre is as broad and as deep as it was for high fantasy around the time Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings?

Essentially the limitations which place a work within the genre of high fantasy are as broad as those that define steampunk. They have magic, we have technology and pseudoscience, they have dragons and mythical monsters, we have airships, steam-men and all the fantastic creations derived from them. Ancient myths and the Arthurian legends act as a distant backdrop, a source of ideas and inspiration which parallel the works of Jules Verne and HG Wells for steampunk.

All of which leads me to conclude that there are vast worlds out there yet to be created. There's room for the Terry Pratchets and the Raymond E Feists of steampunk. Every corner you turn there's a wide open universe, just waiting for the right person to come along and breathe life.

So, get out there and create! When you do, drop me a line, I love to see what's happening out there.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The first powered flying machine was created in Greece, in 400 BC. It took the form of a steam powered mechanical pigeon which flew approximately 200 metres. Some observers claimed it was on a string or wire. Logically, it must have been suspended on a wire or something, but the thought that it might have actually flown stirs my imagination. That it was powered by steam is just icing on the steampunk cake.

In the Victorian era balloons were extremely popular. In 1783, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier became the first human to fly in a balloon. His balloon was lifted by the heat generated from a wood fire and he travelled eight kilometres before landing. Dozens, if not hundreds of different models of heavier than air flying machines were designed and built, most of them were, of course, complete failures.

The idea that people would, one day soon, be using aircraft to travel around the world fuelled the imaginations of writers like Jules Verne, and the love of fabulous flying machines has become a cornerstone of steampunk.

Air travel is so commonplace these days, it's almost dull. It takes some work to dig down and remember what it was like to be a kid, dreaming of flying my own helicopter or running around, arms extended Rrrraaawwwrrrr! a P-38 diving through the clouds. That's what fires me up.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cogs, gears and getting your hands dirty.

Here is part of the reason I love steampunk. When I was in the Army I was an FCS Technician, FCS stands for Fire Control Systems and does a terrible job of explaining what FCS techs really do. Essentially I was responsible for every electronic piece of kit in the Army which wasn't used for communications (Radio techs or Crypto techs handled those) as well as optical and fine mechanical gear. The things I repaired during my time ran the gamut, Night Vision goggles, field photocopiers, massive generators, delicate compasses and tank turrets. I wasn't especially fond of the Army but I did love fixing things.

These days I don't see the inside of machines as often as I used to, so, when the opportunity presents itself, as it did last weekend I tend to dive in. Getting my hands into worm-drives, gears and sprockets, oiling them and watching as the stiff parts loosen up, figuring out what all the bits do without manuals or instructions and making it all work with only oil and simple tools. I even had to fabricate a replacement for one plastic bit that was broken, they don't make those parts any more.

Steampunkers are a community of bodgers and tinkerers, sometimes I think it's the glue that holds the whole movement together. Does everyone who's into steampunk love to get their hands dirty and figure out exactly what that spring over there does?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Weekend odds and ends.

I've figured out what kind of desk I want when I hit the big leagues.

Naah, on second thought, it would distract me from my work. I'll just continue to work in my dreary corner, boxed in between my Warhammer models in progress and a truly excessive number of external hard-drives, cables and electronic miscellany.

Dale Mathis is the creator of the desk in the video, along with a bunch of other steampunk conversions. Most of us can't afford his work, but it's fun to look at, if only for the drool factor.

The second video speaks for itself. I must visit that clock one day, even if they won't have the light show when I get there.

Friday, December 17, 2010


What is it about Ghostbusters and steampunk? Well I suppose the first isn't really steampunk per se, it's a retro-refit. What if they'd made Ghostbusters in the '50s?

Here we have the ad for the League of S.T.E.A.M. a bunch of clever gents who have combined their love of steampunk with a ghostbusters theme. I've added a link to their homepage on the sidebar, have a look, there's a lot of other cool videos there.

Writing for different age groups.

My first novel, "Valkia's Gift", was a middle grade fantasy. I enjoyed writing it immensely and I found the editing and refining process extremely edifying. I wrote it partly for my son and partly because my wife and I are finding it harder and harder to come up with good, age appropriate books for him, so I knew there was room in the marketplace. I kept the language simple, the concepts and plot relatively non-violent and accessible for him. Now that I'm writing a Young Adult book I find myself stretching out as an author, filling up more space, taking my time and exploring ideas, using bigger words and feeling my way through adult situations. It feels good to stretch, I didn't realize how much I was limiting myself until today.

I just finished writing a fight sequence between Konrad and a group of well-heeled gentlemen with swords. Konrad wins naturally, he's always known he was different from other people, but for the first time realizes just how different. This is the sort of thing I love to read, or watch in a movie, Hong Kong choreographed flashy action, like The Matrix, or A Better Tomorrow. I'm finding that I love writing it as well.

I'd intended Konrad and this world I'm creating to be a one off, but now I'm thinking, maybe I should leave room for sequels. I hope when it's done you will enjoy reading it as much as I'm enjoying writing it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Steam Trek

A re-imagining of Star Trek as if the series were created at the dawn of the moving-picture. Enjoy!

Prologue, starting with a bang.

I just finished the first draft of my prologue. I'm pretty happy with it. Looking back at it I appear to be awfully bloodthirsty. Two people died in my first novel now I've killed one major character and a few million strangers in the space of four manuscript pages. Things ought to quiet down somewhat for the rest of the book. More people will die certainly, just not in such numbers.

I spent part of the morning doing research on Napoleonic wars, Austrian emperors and steampunk. I found The Steampunk Empire a steampunk community full of blogs and forums and such.

Why does steampunk resonate with some people? Is it the style? Certainly a hoodie from Wal-Mart does not compare to a brass-buttoned trench coat with piping and epaulettes. Is it the attention to detail? Hand crafted brass and steel as opposed to injected plastic lead-painted crap from the Far East.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I will begin writing, "Going Down", my second novel, tomorrow. It will revolve around the life of Konrad Adler, his decent from the sky-city Himmelberg, his adventures on the ground and his eventual return to the skies.

In this blog I will chronicle my efforts, track my progress, share some anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of a new author and explore the world of steampunk.