Month: March 2016

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Avoiding Cultural Appropriation in Steampunk

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Avoiding Cultural Appropriation in Steampunk

Chronicles of Harriet

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Avoiding Cultural Appropriation in Steampunk

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In 2013, at Dragon*Con, I had the pleasure of being a panelist on the Around the World in 80 Minutes: Steampunk Multiculturalism panel, moderated brilliantly by Diana Pho, founding editor of Beyond Victoriana. My esteemed (eSTEAMed?) co-panelists were Cherie Priest, bestselling author of the Clockwork Century Series, which includes the wildly popular Steampunk novel, Boneshaker; Marina Gurland, Kimono historian and collector and Steampunk afficianado; and Kathryn Hinds, Steampunk, Fantasy and YA novelist, poet, editor, author of over fifty nonfiction books for adults and children and teacher of Middle Eastern Dance.

The conversation was powerful, engaging and interactive and had the feel of a bunch of highly intelligent, well-informed, but really cool and down-to-earth- people getting together to discuss – and find solutions to – some serious issues.

The theme of the day? Research!

From the infamous "African Queen photoshoot. The model is 16 year old, blond-haired, blue-eyed North Carolinian, Ondria Hardin.From the infamous “African…

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Teleportation: Science fiction or science fact?

Marcha's Two-Cents Worth


The first time I read Lawrence M. Krauss’ masterpiece, “The Physics of Star Trek”, was in January 1996, which is hard to believe. Time, among other things, definitely does fly, but doesn’t diminish my memory of how much I enjoyed that book. Being a physicist and a life-long science fiction fan, I absolutely devoured it, even though some of his conclusions were disappointing. For example, he virtually discounted the possibility of teleportation. He recounted the basic steps as defined in the Star Trek Next Generation Technical Manual as follows:startrekbeam1

  1. Transporter locks on the target.
  2. Scans the image to be transported.
  3. Dematerializes the item (or person).
  4. Retains the information in a “pattern buffer”
  5. Transmits the “matter stream” in an “annular confinement beam”.
  6. Reassembles it based on data retained in the “pattern buffer.”

Krauss then proceeded to explain in meticulous, often amusing detail, what the requirements would be to create both a…

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Take Bad Reviews with a Dash of Salt

Michelle Proulx - Author

A few weeks back, I mentioned something called the “Immerse or Die” report — which is basically where this guy gets on his treadmill and starts reading a book. If he finds three glaring errors that pull him out of the story, he stops reading and marks the book as failed. If he makes it all the way to the end of his 40 minute treadmill run, the book passes. Simple enough, right?

I was a bit hesitant about sending in Imminent Danger, since A) harsh criticism makes me sad, and B) the reader is a 50 year old man, and thus not exactly my target audience. But then I thought “what the hell” and sent it in anyway.

Which was an … interesting decision. Spoiler alert: Imminent Danger did not survive the Immerse or Die report. You can read the report for yourself here.

So here’s where we…

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Interview of Ascha, by Shauna Sheets


Shauna Scheets has written many books, stories, and poems set in alternate worlds. This blog post contains an interview of the character Ascha from the book Ascha, in the Caillte Cycle. I hope you enjoy it.

Ascha interview:

1. Do you miss anything from when you were a little girl?
I miss only having to worry about the small things.
2. How are you changing as you grow up?
Sadness haunts me where acceptance is for other people.
3. What scares you the most?
I used to be afraid of being alone, and I used to be afraid of getting in trouble with others. Very little scares me anymore.
4. What has been the hardest struggle for you?
Getting people to listen to me has always been very hard.
5. How do you handle really difficult challenges.
Patience, determination and knowledge can fix most things, in my experience.
6. What is the most important lesson you have learned?
I have learned how important it is to think about things before telling anything to anyone else.
7. Is there a secret about yourself you can share?
I do not share secrets.
8. Who do you hope stays in your life?
That is something that I do not hope for anymore. Life has a way of putting people in different places than they think.
9. What do you need to be happy in the future?
Define happiness.
10. What do you think the future holds for you?
 Life, and lots of it.
Thanks Ascha!
Read more about Ascha and other writing from Shauna Sheets at:

Railroads in history

Raillines began as horse-drawn conveyances on wooden tracks. Some early ones were established in the 16th century. The Penydarren Tramroad in the Penydarren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales is considered the first steam locomotive line.

Railroad lines transformed society in the 17th and 18th centuries in dramatic ways, like cars and computers have more recently driven social changes.

In a strange synchronicity of history, there are coincidences in the development of the internet and the railroads in America. The Atlantic  has an article about How Railroad History Shaped Internet History

In fiction writing, railroads can have an important place in historical novels, steampunk stories, or dystopia future tales which have returned to older technology. This blog post is an homage to the age of rail.

Henry George wrote a 1868 essay that asked how railroads would transform the future of California: “What the Railroad Will Bring Us

Hardback book
Pratima’s Forbidden Book

In my book Pratima’s Forbidden Book, the rescuing army arrives by rail. Pratima and her new friends must protect the railhead, at all costs.

Pratima’s Forbidden Book, in ebook, paperback, hardback, and soon in audiobook.

The Change: Incorporating Magical Realism into our Writing

The Change: Incorporating Magical Realism into our Writing

Kill Your Darlings, Writer


1. I seem to be / But really I am
This is a writing exercise by Kenneth Koch. Write a series of statements that begin with “I seem to be…” I seem to be a one-eyed dog. I seem to be thunderstorm. I seem to be a broken heater. I seem to be a flowering cactus. Once you have your statements, write another series that begins with “but really I am…” Feel free to make these statements as outrageous or fantastical as you can. Combine your statements together, mixing and matching. If you’re writing with a partner or group, try exchanging statements.

2. Go back and read your connected statements. Is there one that surprises you or stands out more than the others? Choose one and use it a first sentence for a 10 minute freewrite. The result may be quite surreal, but see where it takes you. Let…

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