National Motor Museum wins 2017 Collections Trust Award — ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH TRANSPORT & ENGINEERING MUSEUMS

The National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu has won the 2017 Collections Trust Award for its Keep CALM and STEAM Ahead project. The award recognises the achievements of those who manage museum collections – the teams who are often behind the scenes and whose work can go unnoticed. This year the award celebrates projects that […]

via National Motor Museum wins 2017 Collections Trust Award — ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH TRANSPORT & ENGINEERING MUSEUMS

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Shared from Karyn’s Domain

I’ve never been one for fashion; self-expression in the form of clothing and exterior, bedecked with personalized accoutrements hasn’t been “my thing” but… these photos of “steampunk” outfits really appeals to me (courtesy of “pinterest”). Daily Prompt: fashion

via STEAMPUNK FASHION — Karyn’s Domain

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Karen Carlisle: Steampunk Goddess

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Even among the high quality of Australian Steampunk Authors. Karen Carlisle is a standout. She is an expert cosplayer, Steampunk crafter, Vlogger, as well as an author. She is currently having a blog tour, and this blog is part of her tour.

All of the Viola Stewart narratives are excellent, but I wanted to review the first in the series, Doctor Jack. This is the story that intoduces the series protagonist, Viola, and when what an introduction it is. Viola is not your typical Victorian woman. She like cars and wants one of her own. She breaks off her relationship with an abusive beau – though his behaviour would not have been considered out of place in the era. Best of all, she is active and curious without being ‘feisty’, and a woman of science with a medical background. She is also disabled, because she is missing an eye, but she never lets that slow her down.

The antagonist is her ex-beau, Doctor Jack, a cad and a bounder, and a member of the Men In Grey (I can’t say anymore in case of spoilers). Her actual romantic interest is Doctor Collins, who is rather dashing and interesting, but personally I think Viola could do better. It isn’t that Collins isn’t lovely. But Viola would lose so many of her rights if she ever got married.

The actual story for this book is excellent … a mystery and a thriller. Viola has a talent for finding trouble. It isn’t that she is a meddling busybody. Her active lifestyle means that she knows a lot of interesting people and attends many events, and things happen. She doesn’t faint at the thought of danger and her skills set as a detective means that she is often the best person to investigate the occurrence. Men often try to protect her – both literally and figuratively – but she is quite cabable of looking after herself and rescuing the men, if needs be.

However, she is sensible enough to accpet help when she needs it.

Viola grabbed the door handle. It jiggled/rattled in her hand, refusing to turn. That would have been too easy.

Doctor Collins joined her on the low step. He motioned, with a quick flick of his head. “Keep watch.”

Viola turned, then scanned the street. The sun was almost directly above them, shrinking the long shadows. Only fine wisps of mist lingered now. The street was deserted.

The handle rattled behind her. There was a loud click. Viola turned to face her friend. He stood in the open doorway.

Viola stared at him. “How did you…?”

“With all of your detectiving, I had to find a way to keep up with you.” He raised his eyebrows and grinned.

That is one of the reasons I like Viola Stewart. She gives credit when credit is due. She doesn’t need to be in charge, but she isn’t scared of taking charge if she has to. She gets things done without making a big fuss. However, if a big fuss is needed, she is quite ready and capable of kicking one up.

I would recommend Karen’s books to anyone who enjoys reading in the Steampunk genre, but I think they would appeal to any keen reader.

 

Viola has gone on to have further adventures. They are available here for purchase:

The Viola Books

Karen Carlisle does more than write. She is a keen cosplayer and an active member of the Steampunk Community in Adelaide. She is a keen vlogger, see Karen J Carlisle on Youtube

Karen J Carlisle is an imagineer and writer of steampunk, Victorian mysteries and fantasy. She was short-listed in Australian Literature Review’s 2013 Murder/Mystery Short Story Competition and published her first novella, Doctor Jack & Other Tales, in 2015. Her short story, Hunted, featured in the Adelaide Fringe exhibition, ‘A Trail of Tales’.

Karen lives in Adelaide with her family and the ghost of her ancient Devon Rex cat.

She’s always loved dark chocolate and rarely refuses a cup of tea. She has a compeition running every day this week, so visit her website after reading this article!

 Where to find Karen:

Web: www.karenjcarlisle.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kjcarlisle

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenJCarlisle/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/KarenJCarlisle

For info on where to buy Karen’s books: www.karenjcarlisle.com/shop

 

KJCarlisleicon2S (002)As an added bonus – an excerpt from the novella, ‘From the Depths’

© 2017 Karen J Carlisle

 

A shriek pierced the air. Viola flinched. Brine filled her mouth and rushed up her nostrils. She spluttered, thrust her legs downward into the deep chilly water and kicked to keep her head above water.

Men shouted, their cries unintelligible through water-logged eardrums. The other bathing machine thundered into life. Chains rattled, the engine strained. Frenzied splashes of water accompanied its retreat.

The water trembled around her, pounding on her chest. Viola gasped for air. A new undercurrent tugged at her legs. She rubbed the salt from her eyes and searched the surrounding water. Nothing.

Bubbles tickled her body and erupted on the surface. Something solid grazed her calf. Viola’s heart jumped. The Lurker? Goosebumps crawled over her skin.

There’s no such thing as monsters.

Water rumbled and churned. Waves sloshed against her torso. She jerked her knees up to her chest, struggling to untangle her limbs from the snarl of the heavy woollen skirt of her bathing costume.

There’s no such thing as monsters. There’s no such thing as monsters.

Viola shivered. She had drifted further from the bathing machine than she had thought; the candy-striped change box was nearly eighty yards away, the shore even more distant.

A crowd was gathering on the shoreline, waving their arms and shouting.

“Get out of the water!”

Two men swam toward her. Another bathing machine trundled in their wake. The sea hissed. Too close.

Spurts of water burst from the surface. A large shadow lurked beneath her.

Viola’s heart raced, her breathing shallow. She wanted to run, to flee, to swim to the safety of the change box, but her arms refused to move.

There’s no such thing as monsters.

The shadow turned and glided southward towards the headland. A trace of bubbles marked its course, fading as the shadow disappeared into deeper waters.

The two men splashed closer. Uncomfortably close. Their bare arms glowed white against the dark water.

“Get out of the water!”

Viola spun to face them. The weight of her water-logged pantaloons dragged her downward, slowing her movement. Her skirt swirled up in the current, floating up around her thighs. Balloons of fabric surfaced on the water, leaving her legs exposed…

Viola pulled the skirt below the water, yanking low to cover her legs and cursed under her breath. Big mistake; salty water caught in her throat. She sputtered and caught her breath and swam hastily back to the bathing machine. She dove headlong onto the steps and dragged herself into the change box. The skirt clung to her legs; her loose hair wrapped around her neck like tentacles.

The splashing outside stopped. The walls shook with a thud. Viola jumped, skidded in the growing puddle on the floor. She grabbed the hook, draped with her stockings.

“Are you all right, Miss?” The voice was deep, and close to the doorway.

Viola steadied herself. “Yes, I am well.” Her voice was a bit shakier than expected.

“You’re not injured?”

“No.”

“Did you see it?” asked a second, reedier voice.

“See what?”

“The Lurker? It was right under you.” There was a pause. “Did you see the monster, Miss?”

“Shut it, William,” replied the deep voice. “We don’t want to scare the lassie any more.”

There was a shadow on the step.

Viola snatched her robe and flung it around her shoulders. “What monster?” she asked, as she peeked through the doorway.

A tall redheaded man stared back at her. Deep furrows etched his forehead. A sandy-haired man appeared at the bottom step. His eyes widened. His gaze lingered on Viola, tracked down a drenched tendril of hair, fell to the puddle at her stockingless feet, and flicked back to the dark water surrounding the change box. His cheeks reddened.

Viola pulled her robe tight.

“You’re a long way from shore, Miss,” said the sandy-headed man. “Do you not know of the legend of The Lurker?”

“Willam!” The redheaded man’s deep voice echoed through the change box.

“There’s no such thing as monsters.” Viola cleared her throat. “It’s just a story to titillate the tourists.”

“If you say so, Miss.” William scoffed. “Come on, Mr Fraser. We know when we’re not wanted.”

Fraser nudged William and lowered his voice. “Perhaps it is time to return to shore, Miss?”

Viola stared down at the water. Ripples formed a few hundred yards away. Something glinted just above the surface. A dark hump broke the waterline, turned seaward and slipped back under the surface.

Viola nodded.

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Greetings from Novel World

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Greetings and Felicitations. I’ll bet your wondering where I’ve been?

I’ve been spending more time out in the garden, exercising, and writing. Yes. Writing. Writing short stories and sending them off to market, writing articles, writing job applications (still no luck), volunteering for the Queensland Writers Centre, and getting ready to write my new novel – nicknamed the Train Book. I started writing it this week, now that I have enough reseach under my belt, and I have written my timeline and outline.

But what about my Steampunk novel, you ask?

It is ‘resting’. There is a point in the editing process when need to stop. I could edit forever. The Steampunk novel still needs work, but at the moment I need to step away from it and gain some perspective again. I was ‘fussing’ rather than editing. I keep wanting to add in new stuff. I need to look at the story, write a new outline, and STICK TO IT!

I hope to have the Train Novel’s first draft written by Christmas. I’m aiming at 120,000 words. (And no, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, even though I could). I’m looking writing at 10,000 words a week for twelve weeks. That is approximately 1500 words a day, which is doable. I’m on a writing high at the moment.

However, I know I have severely neglected this blog. And I can’t promise that things are going to change too soon. However, I will TRY to update you all once ot twice a week.

In other news … my hair is now green-blue. I am losing weight, but I still have no neck and no waist.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, glasses, selfie, close-up and indoor

 

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My ongoing relationship with comics and graphic novels

One of my ambitions is to write the script for a comic book or graphic novel. I do not see the comic book genre as second rate when compared to prose books or poetry. Indeed, I would argue that some graphic novels are at the same level as many literary classics; works like Maus, or V is for Vendetta. Of couse, I didn’t start out reading such wonders of fiction.

My first comic book experience was with the Harvey Comics of the 1960s: Casper the Friendly Ghost and his friend, Wendy, with an entire cast of spooky friends and family; Richie Rich; Little Dot and her best friend, Little Lotta; and that ilk. They don’t make comics for such a young audience these days. I doubt anyone would print a comic like Little Lotta these days because of her size and eating habits, which is a shame.

Lotta broke most of the stereotypes of the ‘fat girl; Lotta’s storylines fulfilled two childhood fantasies: the satisfaction of unrestricted eating without embarrassment or shame, and enormous physical power. When you realise that Lotta was empowered girl, in an era where most media followed strictly patriarchal discourse, I often wonder why she isn’t a feminist icon. You have to admire Harvey Comics for publishing just as many female character comics as male ones.

As an aside, was Little Dot the original fangirl, with her obession for all things spotted, doted, and maculated?

Image result for donald duck 1960s comics

As I grew older, I started reading the Disney comic books. Seriously, the were the best! My favourite characters were Scrooge McDuck – odd when you consider I hadn’t been a big fan of Richie Rich – and the inventor Gyro Gearloose (and his little Helper). I often found Daisy and Grandma too conventional, but the wicked Magica De Spell was everything I wanted from a female character, Goth clothing like Mortica Addams, powerful magic, she was her own person and in charge; and she was Italian (and when I was nine, I thought everything Italian was the very best).

Image result for archie comics 1970

I flipped straight into Archie comics well before I understood the love triangle. Betty was my favourite character (and still is), because her storylines often included writing, reading, and journals. As I’ve grown older and I am the mother of two women, I often wish I could give Betty a good shake. Archie just isn’t worth all her heartbreak! And it annoys me that a clever girl would waste her time with such an oridinary boy. But here is the rub – the Archie universie is contantly being reinvented. Here we are in the Teens of a new millenneum, and even though the television show, Riverdale, only bears a loose resemblance to the comic, it is successful and popular with fans of all ages. (I was horrified when I realised who the actor was playing Jughead. Lordie, I’m getting old.)

bettyveronica9.jpg

Even though the Archie comics gave lip service to Second Wave Feminism, even now it is quite mysogynistic. The competitive relationship between Ronnie and Betty is the worst offender, followed closely by the Archie-is-always-right-in-the-end discourse. However, they did have little gems like The Double Standard pop up once in a while. It might be due to the fact the comic was originally meant to be a platform for the Betty character, but at least two of the three main characters of the Archies are girls.

The Double Standard

At the same time I ‘grew’ into Archie comics, I discovered superhero and horror comics. I didn’t see the sexualization of the female forms in just the same way I didn’t understand the Archie-Veronica-Betty relationship. I did wonder why there were so many more male superheroes than female. I did wonder why Lois Lane preferred Superman to Clark – Clark could write! I also wondered if Cadbury (Richie Rich’s butler) and Batman’s Albert ever got together to bitch about their wealthy playboy charges – now there is a movie I’d pay to see!
Tales from the Crypt.

I inherited most of my horror comics from my male cousins, who collected them secondhand shops. These comics were often decades old. I was already a nervous child with an over-active imagination, and these elderly, dusty comics were the nitro added to my glycerine. I quickly became addicted to the thrills provided by horror comics, while at the same time loathing the nightmares they seemed to inspire. The stories in the horror comics were often better written than anything in the superhero comics, and even as a preteen I preferred a good story over anything else. I was reading books at this point, books like I Robot and A Wrinkle in Time, but comics still interested me.

I discovered Tintin and Asterix in Grade Seven, and read every single copy in our school library in a month.

At university, I was still reading comics. Archie digests, Batman, Superman, they were a great way to wind down after some intensive study. Yet … I didn’t consume them as much as I had as a highschooler. It didn’t help when I went to a so-called comic convention and was pretty much rejected by my comic-reading peers for being a girl. So, I read the odd Mad magazine and collected random Archie digests at secondhand bookstores. I was no longer a major comic consumer.

Then, in my late thirties … I discovered graphic novels.

 

 

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The Book Club by Alan Baxter – a book review

The Book Club by Alan Baxter

As soon as I read the first paragraph, I knew that Mr Baxter wasn’t going to pull any punches in his novella The Book Club. Without giving too much away, this is the story of man whose wife disappears on the way home from her weekly book club meeting, written from his perspective. It could be classed as a horror, or a paranormal thriller, but the main character isn’t hard-bitten or cynical or a terrified teenager as you might expect, instead he is a husband and father caught up in the nightmare of not knowing what has happened – or might be happening – to be wife.

I liked Jason, the protagonist, immediately. He wasn’t too perfect, but his love of his family shone through everything he said or did. He did a few dumb things, but why he did them was believable. Unlike other books I’ve read in this genre, at no point did I feel like yelling at Jason for doing something obviously insane or against his motivations. Nothing annoys me more than a character who is doing things because the author wants the plot to move along.

The secondary characters also had more depth than the average thriller. Alan Baxter made sure than all his ‘cast’ were ambiguous in some way. The police helping him hunt for his wife weren’t angels in blue and weren’t heartless drones. The crew of antagonists weren’t even mildly evil, though they did do some morally and ethically bad acts to protect their reputations. The one person who was poison mean and deliberately cruel was also given believable motivations, even if they were twisted and strange.

The only unexplained phenomena are the supernatural elements. In the context of the story, this makes sense and is even utilised as a major plot point. The supernatural elements don’t dominate the plot; the story is about Jason’s journey and we only see those elements that relate directly to him and his missing wife. My one real problem with The Book Club is that this supernatural element isn’t explored more. I came away with a feeling that the events pertaining to the supernatural elements hadn’t been ‘tidied away’. This might have been a deliberate move by Alan Baxter to heighten the horror, but I still would have liked to have seen more repercussions from Jason’s encounters with the weird and dangerous.

Alan Baxter tends to write dark urban fantasy. In his books I have read, his protagonists have been tough and confident men and women who know how to handle themselves in a rough situation. The Book Club surprised me with both his flawed human protagonist and with the unusual plot twists that the novella took. I would recommend it to the same people who read and enjoy Charles De Lint and Angela Slatter.

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Adverb Liberation Front

I don’t know why, but the ‘don’t use adverbs’ rule irritates me. Abverbs are just another thingamajig in a writer’s toolkit. Yes – they can be overused. Yes -they should be replaced by strong verbs when the strong verb is more appropiate. But adverbs can be just as useful as any other word family of our modern syntax.

adverbs

I suspect the real reason why adverbs are viewed with suspicion is that they are usually crutch words. Everyone knows to avoid ‘very’ and ‘really’. ‘Actually’ is one of my crutch words, and is an offender for a lot of other people. I now run ‘actually’ through my word search function when I complete a story; even though I am aware of the problem, it still turns up.

crutch word cloud

Crutch words – the usual suspects

Some people work on the rule ‘one adverb a page’ Some writers refuse to use adverbs at all. It is time to change this outdated way of thinking! So I have formed the ADVERB LIBERATION FRONT. Writers should be able to use any word they want! With confidence! Lovingly.

The only time a writer should avoid adverbs is when a writer is feeling lazy and using them to do all the heavy lifting in their prose. Think of adverbs as a condiment; a few adds to the flavour, but too many ruins the dish.

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