Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “technology

Soup f The Day: With Army Of Brass Author Jeremiah Rickert

 

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is Army Of Brass author Jeremiah Rickert, good morning Jeremiah and what a beautiful sunny one it is! Here, let me take your coat and hat and you can have a seat here by the window and put your feet up while I make the soup for the orphans.

There now, I have heard so much about the Collaborative Writing Challenge and your marvellous book Army Of Brass, tell me how did you first get involved with the CWC?

I believe I saw a solicitation on the CRWOPPS listerv and was intrigued by the idea of both collaborative storytelling and the idea of writing some steampunk fiction.

And what is your favorite part of working collaboratively?

It takes a lot of pressure off of worrying about macro-storytelling.  You get to focus a lot of energy on just your chapter.

Yes I imagine that must be a refreshing and unique experience. Who is your favorite character?

I had the most fun with Captain Davenport.  I like the idea of a gentleman swashbuckler with a strong well of pragmatism inside of him.

Oh yes I believe he made quite an impression on Max and Collin yesterday! Did you have a favorite setting in the story?

I usually would be seated at the keyboard with a goofy grin on my face whenever the characters were on one of the airships.

Ah yes, airships – I have seen some of my visitors arriving in those although we haven’t quite reached that level of technological advancement here in Lancaster. Did you have a favorite gadget or technology?

The airships with their gas bags and propellers have always been my favorite aspect of Steampunk.  They are a ubiquitous in the genre, but they are pretty cool, so I can see why.

Indeed! Did you have much experience with Steampunk before the collaboration?

I had read a few books, but I’m not super dedicated to the genre.

I see, would you mind passing me that sack of onions, Dear? Thankyou, goodness I’ve so much to do today! How often do you sit down to write?

Not with any regularity.  I write when I feel like I have something to say.

And what is your ideal setting for writing? 

I did most of my writing for this project at a local all-night diner.  I have headphones on, but often they are just there to filter the noise a bit.  After two hours, I would pause and have a snack, then write until I started getting sleepy.

Oh that sounds marvellous! What is your favorite genre to write?

I like all genres.  The key to me is just to have fun characters to play with, no matter what the setting.

Perhaps the reason you write such strong and memorable characters! Are there any genres you haven’t tried but would like to?

I have been sitting on an idea for a pulp-style Space Opera story for a long time.  This project has loosened up a lot of the machinery inside me that feels compelled to create.

That certainly sounds like a project that should see the light of day! Who is your favorite character that you’ve created?

I have a finished novel about a noir-style detective who happens to dress like a clown when he’s on the job.

Oh marvellous, perhaps he would like to meet our own anchorite clown Freddy Payne some time! Where do you get your inspiration for these wonderful characters?

Being observant and people watching typically serves as my inspiration.  I tend to take a lot of notes with snippets of conversations I’ve overheard or thoughts that have occurred to me.  A particularly fertile period for me was when I worked a graveyard shift in a 7-11. I saw a lot of people and things that I am still mining for inspiration to this day.

And are there any writers who inspire you?

The first that comes to mind is Mark Helprin, author of A Winter’s Tale, Soldier In The Great War, and others.  I don’t know how he produces such beautiful, descriptive prose, that never seems like a slog to read through.  It is sorcery. I am also a huge fan of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, particularly the recent translation by Edith Grossman.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

There are two tips that come to mind:  First, read everything you can, as much as you can stand, across all genres, and don’t be afraid of the classics.  Second, get yourself some deadlines. The one thing I missed most about college after I graduated was having deadlines.  They are highly motivating.

Yes indeed! And speaking of deadlines, our soup here is nearly done and I can hear the urchins clamouring in the street outside so we had better start serving this up. But before we do, where can we find more of your writing?

Most my print and online material appeared in the late 90s/early 2000s and is no longer accessible unfortunately.  The Army of Brass collaborative project has re-awakened the urge to write, however, so I anticipate more material appearing soon.

Well I hope you will come back to the soup kitchen some other time and tell us about your next work when it is published! 

Thankyou everyone for joining us in the kitchen today and if you would like to find out more about Army Of Brass or purchase your own copy you can follow the links below.

Blessings on your brew my dears! 

 

Order your ebook copy of Army of Brass for $.99 and receive it on Friday, April 27!

 

Take a sneak peek at the full Chapter 1, read an exclusive excerpt, or check out another interview with writer Jason Pere or Jean Grabow as part of our blog tour, now until May 13. If you want to find out more about collaborative writing, Army of Brass contributors and CWC veterans Crystal MM Burton and Kathrin Hutson shared articles for the tour about the pros, cons, and rewards.

 

Plus, Join us on Facebook April 28-29 to meet some awesome writers, participate in a giveaway that includes a $25 Amazon gift card, and more!
Speaking of giveaways, we’ve got one going on for the entire blog tour, so between April 13-May 13, enter to win ebooks from our writers.


Elevenses: With Captain Jack Davenport of Army Of Brass

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s rambunctiously ridiculous and chi-chi to the core parlour located somewhere within the lower intestines of the splendidly steampunk’d city of Lancaster.

 

Our tentacles are all of a quiver this morning and our china cups are chattering because joining us for elevenses this morning we have our favourite character from Collaborative Writing Challenge’s Army Of Brass Captain Jack Davenport (is an octopus allowed to swoon?) of the Capital Cartographer’s Society.

 

Do please have a seat Captain (Max, get off the chaise and let the Captain sit down … hm? … no he can’t sit on your lap, just move aside.)

Would you like tea Captain? Earl Grey? Lapsang? Assam? Darjeeling? Oolong? (Max don’t be rude)

Just Darjeeling is fine, thankyou.

There you go. Now then , do tell us more about this Capital Cartographer’s Society you are a member of, what is its purpose?

 

Why, exploration of course! We use our fleet of airships to take us all over the world and we map the places and ideas we find there.

 

Oh did you hear that Max? Doesn’t it sound exciting and exotic and… hm? Oh yes, wait a minute, Max says  ‘did you say you map ideas?’

 

Er, well, yes. In a sense. The CCS is concerned with which way the wind is blowing, both real and figuratively. We pride ourselves on understanding the way information travels and being able to predict events as much as to report on them after the fact. We have agents who are stationed in different cities, and as captains, such as myself, travel from place to place, we always spend a day or two catching up on what has happened there since our last visit. That information is compiled in Mailderet’s capitol, Antikythera, and our agents sometimes act in an advisory capacity to the king.

 

Hm, we’re not overly fond of Royalty and their advisors around here Captain, do you act in that capacity yourself?

 

I never stay in any one place for very long, so I’ve never had the pleasure myself. Journeyman Cartographers rarely have the opportunity to rub shoulders with royalty.

 

Even a Journeymen as famous as you?

 

Though the general public has certainly become familiar with some of my more daring exploits through the press and the occasional novel penned in my honor, the CCS’s feelings on the matter are rather more…complex. Lord Whithorne, the Seneschal, says he would prefer I spent less time giving interviews and more time in the skies, at least officially. But between you and me, I think he secretly enjoys the favored place the Cartographers occupy in the imaginations of the people. Our image as heroic explorers can open doors for us that the king’s seal simply cannot.

 

As your presence in our parlour this morning testifies, Captain. Battenburg?

 

Er, thankyou … is that octopus slime on my plate?

 

Maybe…. Being a CCS captain must  keep you on your toes – Any time for finding that special someone?

 

[Clears throat] As in love and marriage you mean?

 

Not necessarily…

 

Well, as you say, my work keeps me rather busy and on the move. There is one woman who…that is to say, I have met many interesting and lovely ladies on my travels,

 

What about cephalopods?

 

God no! I mean …. no one can compare to The Wayfarer. She is my love, my constant companion, and my gateway to the skies. I don’t know what I would do with myself if I ever lost my ship.

 

Did you hear that Max? The man is in love with his ship. Our hearts are broken.

Oh well. So which decadent delights are you and ‘The Wayfarer’ off to sample next?

 

Unfortunately, I’ve got serious work to do at the moment. We’ve known for some time that the Hunter Baron has been gathering his forces. The rough seas around Maildaret have protected us for some time, and the mountains inland protect the capitol and the House of Lords in Brasshaven, but he appears to be mobilizing all the same. His Marksmen army certainly outnumber our forces, and we must be prepared. Personally, I believe the key rests in the hands of the Master Tinkerer, but she will need some assistance. So, when I leave this way-station, I am going to Brand to consult with the Forgemaster and convince him to travel to Brasshaven to lend her a hand. Then, I must deliver the news of Fairport’s fall to the House of Lords and the Master Tinkerer.  

 

Have you ever met the Master Tinkerer before? She’s rather new to the position, isn’t she?

 

Elaina? Er…I mean… Mrs. Gable? Yes, we’ve met before. In Corkshire, during the massacre. She lost her husband there, but also got dozens of people to safety. She’s one of the bravest, most competent people I’ve ever met.

 

Oh Max, I think we have uncovered something! Captain Davenport, are you blushing?

 

What? No, of course not. It’s just warm in here. Wouldn’t you say it’s warm in here?

 

I certainly feel some of us are rather hot, would you like me to relieve you of your coat? Shirt? Anything at all?

Ah, no I…

Hm? I am not ‘pestering the Captain,’ Max, I’m just being hospitable! Max says that the involvement of Tinkerers and Smiths makes it sound like you’ve got something mechanical brewing to fight the Hunter Baron?

 

That’s astute of you. Perhaps you should consider becoming a Cartographer as well.

 

It sounds like a delightful proposition, but I can’t help but notice that you didn’t answer our question.

 

Oh, I’m fully aware of that, my friend. But one mustn’t tip one’s hand completely. Especially not when war is brewing. Fairport fell far quicker than anyone would have guessed, and I suspect the Duke had a traitor in his midst.

 

Why Captain if my sensibilities were more delicate I’d be offended! Are you insinuating I could be a spy? How deliciously dramatic of you! But, seriously, you must have some idea what sort of strategy the king will take in fighting the Hunter Baron?

 

As I said, I don’t really know his majesty personally. Though he may turn to the CCS from time to time, her prefers his circle of lords to any of us commoners. Once I have all of the pieces of my own plan in place, I hope to convince the Seneschal to arrange an audience with him to present the idea. He won’t like it, but I think it’s the best shot we have at keeping the people of Mailderet safe.

 

I see, then all we can do is wish you the very best of luck, Captain, and hope that the king can be persuaded.  And we must be getting back to the devious business of financing our own revolution which is desperately disorganised and underfunded. Do give lavish amounts of love and kisses to ‘Elaina’ from us both won’t you?

Oh dear Max I fear your overly dramatic advances have scared him away, I’ve never seen an airship weigh anchor as quick as that. Oh well, onward to the next conquest… and if you, dear friends, would like to find out more about Captain Davenport’s adventures you can order your copy of Army Of Brass here:

 

army of brass

 

Mrs Baker will be in her soup kitchen tomorrow with the next stop of the Army of Brass tour and we shall be back next week with some Steam Wizard magic so until we see you again, please remain always

Utterly Yourself


Morning Cuppa: Who Murdered Dr Damien?

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen! A very warm welcome back to Max and Collin’ s ravishingly refreshing and zestily zany parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have called it too piquant for their tastes, but we consider that such individuals are simply sour that they have not yet received an invitation.

Well you find us this morning safely returned from our inter-dimensional jaunt to MCM Comic Con in London (for some reason your London is not a clockwork city run by Land Pirates as ours is but nevertheless our tri-cornered hats, fake mechanical limbs and crys of ‘arrrr me hearties!’ did not seem to be out of place)

Unfortunately operating the photographic device we had brought with us whilst preventing our small hoard of street urchins from half-inching shiny things, assaulting aliens with their lethal balloon-swords and getting themselves locked up by the security team meant we didn’t actually take many photographs, but here is a small taste of some of the steampunk splendidness that was on show in case you weren’t able to make it there yourselves …

WP_20170528_034WP_20170528_040

But now the excitement is all over and we  are very pleased to be home and able to kick our tentacles up on the table with a splendid pot of Lady Grey tea from Mystic Brew Teas and an excellent book… like this one…

blackwood

 

Katie is a 28 year old woman in crisis; her relationship (if you could ever call it that) has crumbled and she’s back at her father’s house popping pills and drowning her sorrows while her demonic step sister is trying to win the world’s worst tantrum award. But when the little brat falls down the stairs, breaking her neck, Katie is blamed for her murder and sent to Greystone Asylum… a dark and terrifying place where death stalks in a black hood and no one is quite what they seem. Who is the mysterious murderer? What secrets are the doctors harbouring behind their office doors? And will Katie survive long enough to find out?

To call this book a contemporary lesbian murder mystery would be accurate but not do it justice. The raw reality of Susanna Kaysen meets the gripping horror of Paul Hoffman in this dark and twisted tale which, amongst the sexual intrigue and the pervading tension, has at its heart some deep questions about humanity, our concept of self and our judgement of others.

Overall, a gripping page-turner which horror and mystery fans will adore.

Now our oracular cephalopterois is straining at the leash to tell us something so let us pop him into his teacup and what his far seeing spines have plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

Oh ho! Well, that makes sense because it is indeed lemonade season here in Ire and our meticulously maniacal landlord Montmorency has been badgering us again about getting out there and selling the stuff so, for the next few weeks we will be All Over Lemonade; its history, place in Victorian culture and lots of luscious recipes for making your own.

So, we invite you back to join us tomorrow for some lusciously lemony elevenses and until then, please be always,

Utterly Yourself.

 


Morning Cuppa: When We Are Vanished

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome back to Max and Collin’s exuberantly ostentatious and divinely deliquescent parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True, some have called it a cracked pot, inhabited only by the dregs of society’s teacup but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find me all alone this morning, my Very Quiet Gentleman Friend having dressed himself as a Gypsy Queen and set himself down at the docks in an attempt to earn some rent money… Hm? What’s that you say? Oh no, nothing like that, he is attempting to sell all those flower remedies we made last week…. Hm? Then why does he have to dress as a woman? …. I… well, that is I…. look, I’m sure Max has his reasons for doing the things he does, I just don’t always have the stamina to enquire.

Whatever the case, I hope you will join me for a criminally delightful cup full of Moriar-Tea from Cottage Botanicals, inspired by Conan Doyle’s arch villain, and stay and take a peek at the marvellous book I am reading, which this morning is

vanished

 

You may already be in love with Nimue Brown’s acts of Steampunk Splendidness, you may have been seduced by the uncanny wisdom of her books on Druidry and Paganism… but did you know she is also the queen of Magic Realism?

In a world not so different from our own, a vigilante group of techies have shut down all the computer systems on the planet in an attempt to put an end to the war and destruction orchestrated by technology. But where there’s a will, there will always be a way and a new ‘cellulose tech’ has now been developed. But using living plant cells in communications technology leads to some disturbingly sentient systems… and then the people begin to vanish…

This book is for the intelligent, the deep thinking, the ones who like to reach the end of a novel and gasp “oh my I must read that at least a dozen more times until I have absorbed everything it is saying!” There is a cunningly woven mixture of darkness and light, dystopia and paradise, becoming lost and found / discovered and vanished  which fans of writers like Iain Banks will immediately comprehend and appreciate. A definite must for lovers of dystopian science fiction and magic realism.

Now I suppose I ought to see what our little oracular pet has plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

Well, there you have it, you could all be taken over by trees much sooner than you think! But I hope you aren’t vanished away too quickly or I shan’t have anyone to talk to. Except Max of course… I wonder how he’s getting on?

I hope you will join us for elevenses tomorrow, until then please, be always,

Utterly Yourself


Morning Cuppa: The Adventures Of Viola Stewart

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to Max and Collin’s enterprisingly entrepreneurial parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster!

True some have called it a festering flophouse filled with felonious fences but we consider that such individuals are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning on an upbeat, having cunningly devised a way of paying our dues which does not involve quite as many illegal or immoral actions as our previous attempts at earning money. Yes, that’s right, we are crying ‘out with the lemonade! Out with the lace garters! And in with the tenants!’ as we try our hand at a little sub-letting. Max has penned a beautiful notice for the morning paper…

for rent

We’re certain that folks far and wide will be queuing up to take advantage of our plush zabutons so, whilst we wait for the eager mob to descend, let us pour ourselves a celebratory brew of butterfly pea tea from Lannacafeorganics and open a marvellous book like this one..

 

 

 

viola

 

These three brilliant short stories take place at different intervals throughout Viola’s timeline and fans of the steampunk detective will be thrilled to discover these little gems – Discover how Viola first encountered the Men in Grey, how she lost her eye and more about her developing interest in optography. These beautifully crafted shorts can be enjoyed at any point in the series or even by newcomers to Viola’s adventures and we highly recommend getting your tentacles on them.

 

And speaking of tentacles, let us see what our oracular pet has plucked from the aether for us this morning…

Well that certainly is a beautiful contraption, but a water pump? What exactly is our little friend hinting at? It’s not as if we are either in need of water or inundated with it in this mild spring weather! Oh well, the creature never does make much sense to me..  we wish you a provocatively productive m in which all your endeavours prove prosperous and we invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses so until then, please be always,

utterly yourself


Morning Cuppa: Intelligent Designing For Amateurs

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Max and Collin’s marvellously meretricious parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True some have called it a brummagem quagmire  brim full of the ashes of mortal hopes and dreams… but we consider that such individuals are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning wading through a slough of self pity, shuddering sporadically with shame as we remember the horrors and humiliations of the past two weeks.

Montmorency waved his straw-stuffed hand breezily as he assured me that exploitation was not a word in his vocabulary, that everyone in his employment was over sixteen and by opening his burlesque club to employ “Men, Women and Everything In Between” he is “pioneering a new era of equality in workers’ rights and flying high the flag of anti-discrimination.”

But nobody likes being referred to as a non-descript entity lost between the two poles of normality, especially not myself… or Max, and we suspect that merrily making money out of the bodies of those with tentacles alongside the bodies of those without is not the sort of equality and anti-discrimination The New World should be aiming for.

Somebody needs to get a handle on that scarecrow and, in the meantime, we need to find better methods of making money.

But now the long dark teatime of the soul is over, the rent is paid and we can sink into our imaginary silk cushions and brew ourselves a reviving pot of Molly’s Morning Magic from DesertSageNatural and open something splendid to take our minds off the trauma…

intelligent

 

Yet another utterly ineffable piece of steampunk splendidness from Nimue Brown, this mischievous tale is jam packed with druids, pirates, undead biscuit bakers, inventors, archaeologists, industrialists, circus performers, preachers, pesky kids and one fabulously formidable grandmother to keep them all in check and make sure they wash their hands before tea.

Little Temperance is terribly excited when an archaeologist moves in next door – she can’t wait for them to start unloading the dead people! But socialite Justina Fairfax isn’t ‘that sort’ of archaeologist, and even when she does discover ‘something’ she needs to call on the skills of would-be-inventor  Charlie Rowcroft to re-construct the broken pieces and figure out what it is before she can claim the fame and glory. Enter Temperance and her dead cat and suddenly Charlie’s house is overrun with reanimated corpses. Before long the quiet and unsuspecting town of Bromstone is awash with chaos, beards and mortless mice…

This is a wonderfully witty and marvellously magical tale which fans of Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman will absolutely adore.

Now then, our oracular cephalopterois is straining at the leash to bring us some news from the aether so let us plop him int his tea cup and see what his tentacles have tuned into this morning…

 

Mechanical animals eh? Well I don’t know what it is trying to tell us but I do know that I have had quite enough philosophy for one morning. We wish you a very easy and taxless morning free from exploitation, discrimination and copromise and we invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses so until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself

 

 

 


Morning Cuppa: Grigory’s Gadget

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s delightfully diluvian parlour located within the splendidly slippery-when-wet city of Lancaster!

True some have called it a soggy slop house full of wet blankets but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find me this morning balancing precariously on lemonade crates and sheltering under parasols whilst Max attempts to plug the holes in the roof, walls, widows and doors with histrionic napkins. Yes that’s right, the frost is thawing all over the parlour, the biscuits are soggy and the tea set is afloat… on the plus side Montmorency is unable to get in and terrorise us into paying rent because scarecrows and water don’t get on apparently.

You may be wondering why an octopus like me is desperately trying to keep his tentacles dry during this deluge  but please take a moment to consider that this is not beautiful briny sea water we are talking about here but the foul rooftop runoffs of a hundred or so ramshackle tenement buildings fashioned from old fish factories… I rest my case.

So, while Max screams and curses and tries to keep the parlour from falling apart at the seams, let us try and drown out his torrent of expletives (not at all appropriate for someone who insists on using the epithet of Very Quiet Gentleman.) by read at volume from a very good book. And fortunately I have one right here…

gregorys

 

This is a fast paced steampunk adventure aimed at the teen / YA age range. Zoya and her friends set sail for university, hoping to leave their troubled lives in the harsh city behind. But their journey has hardly begun when they are kidnapped and forced to join the crew of a pirate ship. The pirates hope to get their hands on Zoya’s apparently useless heirloom  and the friends soon find themselves fighting for their lives as they try to escape and fathom the truth behind the mysterious mechanical gadget.

This is a wonderful, action packed tale for younger readers which we are sure fans of The Jupiter Chronicles or the Everland series are bound to enjoy. It features an excellent mix of strong, intelligent, thoughtful, crafty, sword wielding, academic female and male characters and some of the little street urchins we shared it with are very keen to get their grubby hands on the sequel.

Now then, joy of joys, the tea has at last defrosted and we can enjoy a warming cup of chai after so many weeks of ice chips… so what better brew to kick off this season of new possibilities than this Chocolate Voodoo Chile tea from Mortar and Petal.

And now there is little left to do except see what our oracular pet cephaloterois has plucked from the aether for us this morning…

 

 

Hm, you know I have the disturbing notion that the spiny little beast is trying to develop a sense of humour…

We wish you a very dry afternoon, filled with pleasant things and invite you back to join us for elevenses tomorrow so, until then, please be always

Utterly Yourself

 


Elevenses: Wizmas Witch Hunt Wagonettes

 

Wizmas! Hurrah! The jolliest, snowiest, most expensive and pointless day of the year is just around the corner: The day all citizen MUST (that is, LOVE TO) celebrate the victory of the awesome ruler of the universe, Wiz, over the inferior, primitive powers of the green goddess and all her ridiculous minions. (Are we doing well? We think we are doing well)

 

This morning you find us sketching plans for our Wizmas Witch hunt Wagonette. Every Wizmas, up and down the country, locals band together in fantastical contraptions and chase down any suspected witches, capture them in cages or sacks and lock them in the stocks where they are pelted with hot plum pudding until they confess. They are then transported to The Witch Holes in Slakeland.

 

So, poor Mrs Baker, we’re no sure what she is going to do – hopefully not try to disguise herself as Albert again, that caused untold difficulties last time…

 

But enough of the worries of others, we have our own necks to consider! So, on with the show…

 

Our Witch Hunting Wagonette Design…

IMG_0047.JPG

As for the engine it is a simple four stroke powered by gunpowder tea which we saved from our recent visit to the Temple Of Heaven on the Jentacular Landmass.

But of course we wanted something that looked and sounded beautifully complicated and fabulous so we opted at first for the Daimler 1889 V12 design …. but then we got carried away and modded it up a bit to look a little more like the 1914  V8 because well, being an octopus eight seemed more natural…

But before we hoist on our goggles and roll up our shirt sleeves…sorry? Well how very dare you, of course an octopus may have shirt sleeves!… we simply must have a little music to tap our tentacles to as we tuck in to the delighful treats that our lovely werewolf butler Klapka has nosed out for us this morning… Oh my goodness! Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake made by Ashley at Baker by Nature click on the picture to go to her recipe…

salted-chocolate-caramel-cake

 

 

 

 Wish us luck! We wish you all a very exhilarating morning and hope everything you catch brings you good fortune and plenty of cake. We invite you back to join us for Tea @ Three on Thursday so until then please be always,

Utterly Yourself


Soup Of The Day: Steampunk Adventuring With Bone Shaker Boxes

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is Shannon, creator of the steampunk adventure boxes at Bone Shaker Boxes. Good morning Shannon, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Tell me, have you brought along some soup to share with us?

Here is a simple Bean Soup made from an old Ham Bone you can get at the local butcher!

  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 8 cups hot water
  • 8 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen corn
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

  • Melt bacon grease in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in hot bacon grease until vegetables are slightly tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir potatoes into onion mixture; cook and stir until golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir hot water and chicken bouillon together in a large pot until bouillon is dissolved; add onion mixture, ham bone, diced tomatoes, corn, tomato sauce, black pepper, and salt.
  • Cook soup for 4 to 6 hours. Remove ham bone from soup and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from ham bone and stir meat into soup.
  • Serve hot with biscuits

 

Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we take a look at these amazing boxes that you make, have you brought some along to show us today?

Yes I did! I brought along the Tea for One box, the Radio Box, Father Mike’s Vampire Kit, and the Traveling Tea Set so we could share a pot or two, and it serves 6 so if anyone else is about they can join us!

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Oh yes please a cup of tea would be marvellous and I’m sure the urchins would like some to! It is such a brilliant and original concept, do tell me, what inspires you when you begin to create a new box?

I am a very practical person and usually a need is what starts the process. An example would be the Tea for One boxes I make. When you travel, especially here in America, hotels cater to coffee drinkers and if you are a tea drinker you usually have very poor, if any, choices for teas. I decided to make a portable box that if you can get 8 oz. of water you can make a pot of tea anywhere (as long as they allow open flame), so the Tea for One box was born. It comes with its own teapot, cup, stove, and fuel. Then I have created areas to keep tea, sugar, spoons, strainer, and everything else you need to make the perfect pot of tea. Once you set the pot on the flame it takes about 10 minutes for it to reach 185° (F) or 85° (C), the perfect temperature for tea.

I have also created boxes from the story I have about Queen Victoria’s Secret Service. I create the boxes they would need to protect her and her family. The Radio Box and Father Mike’s Vampire Kit is from that series. You can read all about it and the stories that go with the boxes on my website http://www.boneshakerboxes.com/ and go the “About” section.

I try to make the boxes as practical as I can. The radio box has an MP3 player in it and you can listen through the headset or the built in external speakers. Other boxes have been portable bars, backpacks, and lap desks, just to name a few.

My boxes are usually very functional and are built to a quality standard that I expect you to use them and with a minimum of care should last you a lifetime. I want these passed down to your children so they can create their own character or use the same box they grew up watching you use.

I’m sure there are many adventurous souls out there who are already imagining the splendiferousness of toting around their very own Bone Shaker Box! Tell me, do you make each box as a custom order and, if so, how do you work with your clients to get a box that’s ‘just right’ for their Steampunk alter ego?

All of my boxes are one of kind! I will not repeat them, I built it once, why would I want to do it again? Now with that said, I will keep a good design idea (Tea for One boxes), but I always change something including the theme. So you never have to worry about someone having the same item as you. I started out making boxes for myself or for friends and now it is about 50/50 on original design (mine) or custom box for a client’s specific design/need.

I work very close with the individual, I provide pictures and feedback all through the process. Customizing the box to the individual is what makes it fun for me because it usually adds a level of complication. “How am I going to fit this into the box and make it look like it belongs there?” is a question I have asked myself many times.  It all works out in the end and I usually get to see tears when I present the finished project because the person was involved throughout the process and seeing their personal items displayed how they imagined (or close) just brings out all the emotion, and that can’t be priced into any box. Seeing the person fall in love with something that I made, is just the greatest thing.

Besides the boxes themselves, are there other Steampunk props and curios that you create?

Yes, I started out with a jewellery line as well. It was very popular and I got a bunch of complaints when I dropped it, but it was tough to get raw materials in the quality I wanted and keep pricing down. I also do leather work, and have made leather armour, belts, flask holders, restraints. I am a reasonably competent seamstress and have made a few costumes, but the boxes are my passion, I just love making them.

And besides your online store where else can we find your work displayed, featured or for sale?

I do have an Etsy shop, and I have been a featured artist at DragonCon’s Altered History Museum for the last 4 yrs. My work has been in multiple blogs and online magazines, plus I was featured in “Just Steampunk” magazine last year. I just filmed an episode of Ghost Finders (My first TV show) that will feature a new box called the Clairvoyant’s Box based on Georgiana Eagle the Queens Clairvoyant. She reportedly did upwards of nine readings with the Queen to try and contact Albert, so I made a box that she could have used during these readings.

I also travel the Southeast U.S. doing different conventions every year and just love meeting people and seeing the reactions when I show them the boxes are actually functional. Plus I have the usual social media sites as well:

https://www.facebook.com/BoneShakerBoxes/

http://boneshakerboxes.tumblr.com/

https://www.pinterest.com/boneshakerboxes/?etslf=8756&eq=bone%20shaker

 

And now the all-important question, on which the fate of the world may hang…  which do you prefer, coffee or tea? (and how do you take it?)

I am a mood person when it comes to hot beverage. If I want to relax or I am feeling a little blue I prefer tea (English Breakfast is my favourite). However I do start every day with a cup of coffee, and both are with cream and sugar.

Splendid! Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Shannon, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready and the little urchins have their rosy noses pushed up against the glass in anticipation so shall we start dishing it up?

Thanyou so much for having me here and I am so glad I could help with the children. Hopefully you will have me back again and we can talk more about The Queen’s Secret Service and I may even have a tale or two for the urchins while they eat.

Oh that would be wonderful Shannon, thankyou I… but wait a minute I think… is that an octopus hurrying down the street towards us? Why yes it’s Collin! It’s not like him to leave the parlour without Max I wonder what could be the matter?

Oh dear! Collin informs me that Wizmas – the season of Witch Hunts and ill will to all women over the age of thirty  – has begun! I had no idea! I must find my toupee and false moustache at once, please excuse me, I have a lot of arrangements to make and a large bottle of brandy to buy…. 

blessings on your brew my dears!

 


Morning cuppa: Wizmas in the parlour

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Max and Collin’s Wonderfully Wizard parlour located in the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster, Mor Ire.

True, perhaps, some have called it a house of ill manners, ill repute and illicit tiffin, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning in something of a panic-fuelled frenzy.

Wiz being the usual, run of the mill egomaniacal dictator that he he is, has decreed that for  at least six weeks of the year every New World citizen must drop what they are doing and spend every waking moment celebrating his rise to power and general magnificence.

And of course being the paranoid loon that he is, the date that this ‘Wizmas’ is to be celebrated changes every year, nobody knows when it will strike or who exactly decides on the date but Wizmas cards and wrapping paper will suddenly appear in shops over night and then the mad rush to buy presents and arrange parties will begin because if The Good Folk or The Watchers catch anyone displaying a ‘Lack Of Wizmas Cheer’ …well…

So, as we’re both rather fond of our necks, we will, over the next few weeks, be celebrating Wizmas with all the flamboyant flare that only an octopus and his Very Quiet Gentleman Friend can muster. So, if the Turkeys and Nativity Plays, the Tinsel and the Wassailing of your own world is driving you insane, you can rest assured that The Parlour will remain, throughout December, a veritable haven of sanity.

Hm? Oh, Max says ‘There is a phrase that is not likely to be heard again.’

Here you will find only witch hunting, wig sporting, spurtle wielding, soup reading and other New World shenanigans as we attempt to push subversion, parody and insubordination to the limit…without being arrested and hanged.

But before we begin rampaging about wrapping eachother in foil and wotnot, we really ought to start the thing properly; and that means a cup of tea and a good book and fortunately we have both…

den

 

This charity collection of steampunk stories arrived in the parlour a few days ago and we were immediately taken on a roller coaster ride of mysterious happenings and high adventure. Every story has something different to offer so whether you like your steampunk to put a fresh twist on something older or to hand you something utterly new, whether it is airships or parlour tricks that floats your boat you will find something to delight you in here. Our personal favourite was The Complications Of Avery Vane by Bryce Raffle which, without giving too much away, puts a delightful twist on something very familiar… but we also adored The Reluctant Vampire by Neale Green, All That Glitters by Karen J Carlisle, An Evening At The Marlon Club by Kate Philbrick and Brass and Coal by Jack Tyler. These stories particularly captured our hearts and imaginations but the others in the collection were no less well crafted and engaging. If you are looking for steampunk stocking fillers then this would make the perfect gift.

And our tea this morning is something rather special and splendid – gunpowder and ginger from We Are Tea

gunpowder+with+ginger+small.jpg

This smokey, spicy blend reminds us of our recent adventures in The Temple of Heaven and how lucky we are to have survived all that and be safe and snug here in our lovely cozy parlour…hm? …. oh, sorry, Max says ‘Don’t go too far old man’ … was I going too far? Well…

As I am apparently being censored this morning, there seems nothing left to do except consult our oracular cephalopterois and see if it has any Wizmas cheer for us this morning…

 

Thankyou Mr Colin Furze. Ah, how enlightening! So that is how you do this ‘Christmas Dinner’ thing in your dimension? Well it puts our hum drum Wizmas Salmon to shame indeed.

And on that slightly warped note, we had better pour a nerve-settling brew, kick our tentacles up on the table and say ‘chin chin, pass the tin, open the book and lets begin’

We wish you an utterly splendid morning, filled with tranquillity and calm, and we invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses so, until then,

please be always, Utterly Yourself