Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “wizards

Lovely Library: A Wizard’s Quandary

Good evening and welcome to my awe inspiring athenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets – or as that ridiculous octopus calls it, my ‘lovely library.’

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I am the ghost of Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect, catalogue and review every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler of the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.

 

But I have not always been a bad tempered ghost in charge of an underground library. Once upon a time I was a bad tempered gentleman who had devoted his life to the collection of evidence which might perhaps one day bring about the downfall of our oppressive overlord, Wiz.

 

Not to be put off by death, I have struggled to find a way to continue my work and I have indeed found a method by which I can sporadically leave this library, to which I am otherwise bound, and travel abroad.

 

This method is known as The Opprobrious Pith Helmet.

 

By securing the services of a less than reputable Wizard I have had my soul partially bound to an ancient piece of explorational headwear and am therefore able to possess the wearer for short periods of time, with their consent…hm? Did I have to drug them first? Well how very rude of you of course I did not have to drug them…I mean the very idea!

 

So, this evening I am most honoured to be occupying the form of  authour Guy Donovan and I… no those are NOT blood stains on his shirt. It is red paint. I may have had a very minor altercation with a disgruntled barge woman who mistook my innocent enquiries about leather bound tomes for something else entirely, but I managed to set her straight in the end… after I’d clambered out of the canal and removed most of the pond weed.

 

Anyway I do not have time for an interrogation on the moral use of other people’s bodies, can you not see that I have just returned from a most important business trip? I have new books everywhere and I must review and catalogue them  and… what’s that? What are you wittering about? Help? You’d like to help me transcribe? You’ve brought along some single malt to keep out the chills as we work?

Oh.

Well, I suppose that puts a very different slant on things doesn’t it? Very well then, I will dictate a short extract of each story and a review, and you can pour…I mean type… a-hem…

A WIZARD’S QUANDARY BY JAQ D HAWKINS

The story concerns the wizard Lesana, who is employed by her local king to keep him in potions that preserve his youth. She lives alone in her tower far from the capitol, unless of course you count the small, green dragon in her keeping that she found as a hatchling and named Khadri. No one but Lesana knows about Khadri, and they both intend to keep it that way. If the king found out about him…well, you can guess what would happen, right?
Then one day, a soldier comes from the capitol with orders to take Lesana to the king and teach him how to make her magic potions for himself. Naturally enough, Lesana isn’t very interested in doing anything of the sort, so she and Khadri abscond, with the soldier pursuing them into the mountains—the same mountains in which Lesana found Khadri. The mountains where the dragons live.
What I liked most about the story is the relationship between Lesana and Khadri. It’s very playful and touches on maternal without ever getting cloying. The below sample shows that very well, I think.
*****
Lesana peered carefully into the crucible, closely observing the swirling, black mass within.
“If that pops, you could lose an eye.” Khadri, Lesana’s miniature green dragon companion, hopped onto Lesana’s shoulder, causing her to brace herself against the weight of an animal the size of a full-grown wolverine. He glanced at the churning elixir.
Lesana pulled her head back a little, but continued frowning at the crucible.
“Your eyes see more colours than mine,” she stated aloud. “Can you see any hint of vermilion?”
Khadri danced around on his shoulder perch, pretending not to notice when Lesana steeled herself against the new claw punctures in her partially healed, damaged skin.
“I see the red glowing crystals forming rapidly, as always. You’ve never failed in your efforts to make the Philosopher’s Stone to my knowledge.”
Lesana smirked.
“You should have seen my early efforts, when you were just a hatchling,” she replied. “It’s more by luck than judgement that I never blew up the entire tower.”
“It’s a dangerous business,” Khadri acknowledged. “I don’t see why the king doesn’t just send you to Egypt to retrieve the cinnabar from mummy wrappings.”
Lesana guffawed, pushing herself away from the table where the crucible continued to send sulphuric vapour into the close space of the uppermost tower room where she kept her laboratory, just in case. Fire and explosions tended to travel upwards.
“I can just see the Egyptian Department of Antiquities allowing a foreign wizard to help herself to the preservatives in their precious national tourist industry. Last I heard they didn’t even know the nature of the red ochre. I’d rather not be the one to explain that they’ve had the key to immortality within their relics all this time.”
She wandered to the arched window that looked out over the dead forest to the north. The elevation provided by the fifth level tower room allowed Lesana to see the Crystal Mountains in the distance. A wistful note entered her voice.
“Besides, if I ever leave the king’s employ and travel somewhere, I’d like to go back to the Crystal Mountains.”
“Where you found me?” Khadri gasped. “The dragons would eat you!”
“Perhaps,” Lesana admitted. “But they didn’t before. I felt something while I was there. Something…magical.”
*****
Being a writer of dragon tales myself, (I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey’s fantastic Pern series and the influence shows) I think it’s very important that they be treated as characters in their own right, rather than simply bestial antagonists. Now that’s not to say that dragons can’t be the bad guy! I just think that they’re better storywise when they are presented as more than mere powerful animals. Besides, being that us humans are so good at being bad, I prefer stories where the dragons are more noble. Jaq D. Hawkins did that very well.

 

And I think we had better leave it there for this evening don’t you? The bottle is dry and I must be getting this body back to its rightful owner… hm? What’s that you say? You don’t think I should give it back in this state? Well we’ve only had a few haven’t we? It is hardly my fault if Guy can’t hold his liquor… hic…

 

MANY THANKS TO AUTHOUR GUY DONOVAN FOR BEING A FABULOUS SPORT AND SHARING HIS REVIEW IN PERIL’S LOVELY LIBRARY! YOU CAN FIND GUY HERE

AMAZON AUTHOUR PAGE

FACEBOOK PAGE

AND YOU CAN READ THE REST OF A WIZARD’S QUANDARY IN THE DREAMTIME DAMSELS ANTHOLOGY HERE:

 

library image courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com


#FridayFilk: Banned From Hogwarts

What the hell, it’s cold outside, the days are dark here so I thought I’d bring back the old Friday Filk posts for a while – a series of silly songs perfect for getting you kicked out of your local pub, library, place of worship or geography lesson. Mostly old stuff, just for a laugh, but maybe some new things will raise their heads as well, let’s see.

Not sure what Filk is? Well, thanks to a typo in a magazine waaaaaayyyyyy back, ‘Filk Music’ is the folk music of the geek community. Legend has it that it started at a con with WGGL (We’re Going to Get Lynched for doing this!) and now has spread world wide. There are many respected Filk artists from Leslie Fish and Heather Alexander to Not Literally and Random Encounters.

 

You know Leslie Fish’s Banned From Argo? Of course you do. If you don’t, it’s here:

 

So, here’s my HP version 😉

 

Banned from Hogwarts

 

When we pulled into Hogsmead station on the red express 

Bushy tailed and bright eyed in our robes dressed to impress

We had high expectations of the things we would achieve

But poor Hogwarts was not prepared for wizards such as we 

 

But now we’re banned from Hogwarts every one 

Banned from Hogwarts just for having a little fun 

We did our best to fit in there and please old Dumbledore 

But Hogwarts doesn’t want us anymore 

 

We are the Weasley twins there is no trick that we won’t try

To make filch pull his hair out or to make old Umbridge cry

Our skiving snacks, of which we’re proud, are famed throughout the school

And with our fireworks as well we’ve flouted every rule 

 

But now we’re banned from Hogwarts every one 

Banned from Hogwarts just for having a little fun 

We did our best to fit in there and please old Dumbledore 

But Hogwarts doesn’t want us anymore 

 

We’ve fought snakes, spiders, trolls, dragons and we think we’re pretty cool

There’s not a rule together we’ve not broken in this school

We crashed a flying car into an ancient willow tree

And there’s no point in doing homework coz we’ve got Hermione

 

But now we’re banned from Hogwarts every one 

Banned from Hogwarts just for having a little fun 

We did our best to fit in there and please old Dumbledore 

But Hogwarts doesn’t want us anymore 

 

I really cannot see that I have done anything wrong

Alright I served the dark lord, but it wasn’t for that long

I may have let a few death eaters in through a secret door

And set a few classrooms ablaze and threatened Dumbledore

 

But now we’re banned from Hogwarts every one 

Banned from Hogwarts just for having a little fun 

We did our best to fit in there and please old Dumbledore 

But Hogwarts doesn’t want us anymore 

I really didn’t think that it would end this way it’s true 

I think the trouble all began the day I started SPEW 

And then I formed a secret army to defeat the ministry

Now I’m on the run stuck in a tent with Ron and Harry 

 

But now we’re banned from Hogwarts every one 

Banned from Hogwarts just for having a little fun 

We did our best to fit in there and please old Dumbledore 

But Hogwarts doesn’t want us anymore 

 

It’s Remus’ fault if he’d not been a werewolf we would not

Have become animagi all and added to this plot

Although we always would have made Snape’s life a misery

And showed the world his underpants so James could have Lilly 

 

But now we’re banned from Hogwarts every one 

Banned from Hogwarts just for having a little fun 

We did our best to fit in there and please old Dumbledore 

But Hogwarts doesn’t want us anymore 

 

My name is Tom but I prefer The Dark Lord, that’s more cool

You amateurs can’t match the things that I’ve done in this school

Killed mudbloods with a basilisk, let it out through a porthole

And murdered to make horcruxes and become immortal 

 

But now we’re banned from Hogwarts every one 

Banned from Hogwarts just for having a little fun 

We did our best to fit in there and please old Dumbledore 

But Hogwarts doesn’t want us anymore 

 

 

 


#Rainbow Snippets: Jack and Marjory

 

rainbow-flower-1394714-640x480

Happy Saturday! Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here 🙂

So, here is the next snippet from Jack and Marjory – my novella-in-progress which gives two of my Bi-Gendered characters a chance to tell something of their own little side-adventure, which actually had a massive impact on the history of Ire in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ kind of way.

If you missed last week’s snippet you can catch up here: #Rainbow Snippets: Jack and Marjory

If you want to start from the beginning you can do so here: https://blakeandwight.com/2018/09/29/rainbowsnippets-jack-and-marjory/

Jack and Marjory have landed themselves with an unwanted travelling companion and, in a sudden fit of paranoia possibly brought on by too much tea, they are trying to figure whether he is more than he seems…  Apologies that this one is a cheeky bit over 6 sentences to keep things neat for next week…

 

“Demerara devised a chamber in which sugar-loving microbes were fed a solution of sweetened tea (also a left-over from the tiffin tables of the elite) and kept at a constant temperature of 131 degrees Fahrenheit. He then added the resulting sludge to the rancid cream in a second chamber, where the new mixture was deprived of oxygen and kept at a constant neutral ph. In just one week, the cream had yielded over eight times its mass in utilisable hydrogen gas! Can you imagine it?!”

“Not just now.” We was too busy imagining ways of escape… garotting the infuriating cretin with his own boot laces being one of them… no one, we felt strongly, had the right to hold us in such a quandry. But what to about it ? If he really was just a pitifully boring cove, murder seemed, perhaps, a little excessive (we should make it clear, Pal, that at this point we was naive in the ways of the world, had never actually dealt death to anyone and was subsiquently quite glib about contemplating it) On the other hand, if he really was one of Her Majesty’s Good Folk, or worse a wizard in disguise , we’d little chance of besting him no matter what we tried.

He shook his head “Here we are in the age of cream – locomotives, skyway trains, what next eh?”

We shrugged, “What next?”

He laughed, “Never a bad question that is it?” There was that disconcerting smile again.

JACKANDMARJORYCOVER

being an entertaining and informative piece of travel writing by a couple of rogues on the run as they attempt to avoid the machinations of wizards, monarchs and a ruthless band of beatnik poets, deflect a civil war and deliver a priceless, historical tea set before the owner finds himself at the gallows.

 

Wishing you all a most splendiferous week and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction 🙂 

 

rainbow flower image courtesy of mariah22 at http://www.freeimages.com

book cover image by Renphoto 


Aether Egg Hunt: With Ichabod Temperance

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An Egg of Temperance

“Yoo hoo, Mr. Temperance, are you about the gardens, eh hem?”
~boingy, boingy, boingy~
“Happy Easter Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am!”
“Eep! Great Leaping Lepus! What on Earth, Mr. Temperance?!?!”
“Don’t be skeert, Ma’am, I’m just dressed up for an Easter egg hunt. We got a special invitation from our pal Penny!”
“Mr. Temperance, One cannot be seen in public with you if you choose to wear that ridiculous garb.”
“But I thought some big floppy bunny ears and a fluffy tail would be festive.”
“Perhaps.”
“I got some for you, too! Take off your hat and put on some bunny ears. They’re fun!”
“I most certainly will not!”
“Will you at least stick a fluffy bunny tail on your bustle?”
~sigh~ “Very well, if it will make you happy.”
“Yay! Thanks!”
“One is compelled to correct you on a misunderstanding. Mrs. Blake has invited us on an ‘Aether’ egg hunt, not ‘Easter.’ The hunt in question is to find some clever positioning of specialized information that only One with ‘insider’ intelligence will glean, thus revealing a hidden message in an otherwise innocent scene, eh hem?”
“Uhhhbb…”
“Oh dear, well, perhaps I can demonstrate the meaning this way: Do you remember the episode in which our Earth was invaded by Martians, bent on colonizing our fair home?”
“Yes, Ma’am! That adventure came to be known as ‘For the Love of Temperance’”
“Quite so. In it, you and a compatriot commandeer a Martian War Machine. Once within, it is realized that there are no windows. An artificial portal is duly discovered. Readers that are of an age to remember tubed, black and white televisions might recall a similar warm up period before the grainy, pixelated image, scrolling endlessly up the screen becomes fixed.”
“Oh, okay, I getcha. Sort of like that time you got kidnapped by a band of Native American, Pirate Ninja, Middle Eastern, Samurai and I had to make chase in a borrowed Handsome cab.”
“Hansom.”
“Thank you. Anyway, that stand behind buggy had a mechanical horsie. Readers that are familiar with mid-twentieth century American muscle cars might recognize what they would know as a ‘Four on the Floor’ manual transmission.”
“Just so, Mr. Temperance, however, were we to share an instance with our good friend Mrs. Blake and her wonderful following, then I should choose a selection from the novel, ‘A Journey of Temperance’”
“Oh my Goodness! That there adventure is a Fantasy Saga of Epic Proportions!”
“Yes, rather. In it, there is a chapter in which our intrepid band is assailed by monsters and devices during a perilous trek that reads not unlike a vibrant game of ‘Dungeons and Dragons’. It is the final scene of this outrageous section that shall be our parting, ‘Aether Egg’ excerpt to share.”
“Okey dokey Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am. Happy Reading and Happy Easter, everybody!”

 

Excerpt:

“Mr. Temperance, I see a structure up ahead stretching out across this interminable gulf. It is an arched bridge, my friends. This must be the way out of this calamitous cavern.”
“Harumph. That long, slender bridge doesn’t look safe to me. Send the Temperance boy across first, to make sure it’s safe.”

“I say, there is no time for that, Mr. Morganstern. Let us all fly across this stony segue to sanctuary, eh hem?”

“Golly, we are all running and running, but it is still a long way across. Hunh? Do y’all notice an updraft? Do y’all detect an unidentifiable smell that is accompanying it? If I didn’t know better, I’d say that something inconceivably large were coming up out of this bottomless crevasse that we are desperately running across, what do you think? I’m gonna take me a quick peek over the edge, just to satisfy my curiosity. Well, what do you know, I was right! Way down deep, I can just barely make out a faint, pale glow in the distant depths. Hunh, I think it is getting brighter and bigger. No, it just appears
that way because it is getting closer. Oh my Goodness, maybe we should keep running, y’all.”

“Verily, we are caught out. Running will avail us not. The Great White Wyrm of Impossible Revulsion has us and there is no escape.”

“I’ll give it a lick with my magic pick!”

“This would be a noble last gesture, halflet, but this fabled monster is of an enormity that will engulf this entire cavern. Your best attack would be negligible at best.”

“Gee whiz, Mr. Legolamb is right! This big old worm is gonna gobble us up all gone! I sure am sorry that I allowed you to become grub for a giant grub, Ma’am.”

“Come now, Legolamb my dear, is there no spell you can cast that will stay this beast?”

“No Persephone, there is nothing I can do to stop it.”

“Dang, y’all, he is here! We are about to get gobbled up!”

“Could you stop time, perhaps, eh hem?”

“No, I’m afraid not. Wait, I may have an alternative! Great stores of raw magic, as is loose in these mines, will sometimes develop an id, if you will. I have a spell that will force the collective consciousness of these mad mines to manifest itself!”

Mines of Madness and Deceit.
Lord of Labyrinth Despair.
These adventurers demand a receipt.
For tolls taken in your lair.
Traps and armies and devilish schemes,
we have answered all.
We have a token we would redeem,
You cannot refuse our call.
By Elven right and Elven might,
manifest for me, spell caster.
Your game is paused, in position tight,
we would parley with Dunjeon Maester!

“Burbity. The stalagmites have ceased to fall.”
“Stalactites, sir.”
“Blast it, Temperance, I’ll call them anything I want!”
“I say, how extraordinary! Our surroundings hang in suspension. Oh, dear, so do we, apparently. We enjoy very little range of motion, eh hem?”
“Ach, the freakish white glow of the colossal wurm sends strange beams of light up from below, illuminating us all in staerk contrasts.”

“Verily, the spell is working! Behold, a swirl of light inside our five person party reveals our other worldly host.”
“My word, a humanoid head is manifesting in strange turquoise hues. I say, are you our host and Dunjeon Maester perhaps, eh hem?”

“Silence! This is not thy turn to speak. Who would be so insolent as to dare this maneuver? Who hast the gall to summon me?”
“I do, Dunjeon Maester! I, Legolamb of Upper Austeria. Legolamb of the Elven High Council. Legolamb of the High Arts!”
“Ha, ha, ha, foolish elf! This mighty wurm is moments from snatching you into its bottomless gullet! You are caught out and you have failed in your quest to pass through my domain!”
“Verily, I challenge thee by the Rites of Probability!”
“Dost thou carry the Artifacts of Probability, elf?”
“I do. Behold, Dunjeon Maester, they are here!”
“By my Omnipotent Mind, I didn’t see those coming! I haven’t seen a set of those in Ages! Where did you get them?”
“In my time, they were quite common. Any Enthusiasts’ Emporium was likely to have them. These, though, may be the last in existence.”
“I will use thine occult artifacts to cast your fate.”
“I say, small objects of varying polyhedral design float from Legolamb’s hand. Apparently, they are in control by our host’s telekinesis. The multi-sided pieces spin in a furious whirlwind before being hurled to the bridge’s deck. Our disincorporated Dunjeon Maester’s head does a quick calculation in his blue-green mind.”
“Inconceivable! I have never heard of such luck. You will be allowed to cast for your fate.”
“Verily, this is not fair, Dunjeon Maester! We have successfully passed the Rite of Probability! You must let us pass!”
“Quiet, elf! I am the Dunjeon Maester and I make the rules. It is my decision that you must all cast for your passage! First, you, wizard. My reading of you suggests a robust constitution, but low charisma. You possess moderate strength and wisdom but an extraordinarily high intelligence quotient. You will throw three, ten-sided Artifacts. Thou requires a sum of fifteen or greater to survive this confrontation.”
“Verily, my sweet Artifacts, Big Daddy Wizard needs a shiny new staff. Come on, Artifacts, don’t let me down. Go do thy magics, now! Yeah baby, yeah! Verily, seven, four and eight! I succeedest!”
“Next, the dwarf will cast. Strongenfight, I read that thou art of hearty constitution and amazing strength. Moderate wisdom, intelligence and charisma follow. Thou shalt have two, twenty sided dice to cast.”
“What! That’s absurd, that dwarf having more die points to cast than I!”
“Silence, elf, it’s not thy turn! Strongenfight, thou must cast a sum of twenty five or greater.”
“Ye don’t mind if I spit on them for luck, do you?”
“Verily, yes, I do!”
“Too bad, elfie me lad. ~huh-whock a patooey!~ Now then, pull me beard out of the fire, lassies, poppa dwarf needs to buy some baby boots. Aye! A fifteen and a seventeen! I’ve doone it!”
“Next, I choose the strange little creature in the odd black hat. I do not recognize thee as a creature of Middle o’ Earthhe. Tell me, what art thou?”
“Verily, it’s a halflet.”
“Ach, nae, it, I mean, he’s a dwarf! You are a dwarf, are you not, Ichs of the Bod?”
“Eep! Um, yessir, I reckon I’m a dwarf, all right.”
“Thou art a pathetic excuse for a dwarf, Ichs of the Bod. I read thee as possessing low levels in all the major characteristics, with the exception of unusual dexterity. Tell, me, pseudo-dwarf, how didst thou survive this long?”
“I have lots of enthusiasm, sir!”
“You are entitled a cast of two, four-sided Artifacts. Thee must achieve a sum of eight or greater.”
“How do I get greater than eight with two four-sided Artifacts?”
“Thou canst. I merely said that to amuse myself.”

“Oh, okay, well, I’m gonna let Miss Plumtartt blow on them for luck. Thanks, Ma’am. Now come on, Artifacts, don’t fail me now, Icky needs a new pair of gaiters! I done it! Double quads, Mr. Dunjeon Maester, how do you like them apples?”
“Silence, fool, thy turn has passed. Female, you are next. What is your name?”
“I say, I am delighted to introduce myself. My name is Plumtartt, Persephone Plumtartt.”
“Plumtartt, Persephone Plumtartt, thou art a beautiful creature, yet thou art not an elf. Of what race are you?”
“I say, I am proud to say that I am of the human race, good sir.”
“And a better example of humanity one could not hope to meet. Incredible, your aura radiates with the astounding levels of your delightful characteristics. In every category, you are as a beacon of perfection, my dear. You will be asked to cast four, eight-sided Artifacts for a sum of twelve or greater to survive.”
“Normally, I do not approve of gambling, outside of church charitable events, though I suppose one must if our entire party is risking larval digestion in the balance. Yes, hear, hear, come along, Artifacts, mumsy wishes to avoid aforementioned appetizer status. Hoiy-yaw! Brava! I have achieved the requisite amount! Jolly good, hear, hear, I say!”
“You are a human also, J. P. Morganstern. Your aura is unlike that of the Plumtartt girl. Yours is a dun-coloured morass. Your major characteristics are abysmal. You will cast a single, six-sided Artifact. Thou needs a sum of four or better.”
“Harumph. I am well versed in removing monies from my companions by way of gambling sport. Whether by cards, dice, or betting on racing and boxing, I have amassed massive fortunes in just this sort of play. Give me that blasted Artifact. Come on, sweet dollar signs, daddy wants to return to my riches! Burbity! A snake eye! That won’t do. I demand to throw again!”
“The Artifact cast has failed! You shall all perish! I suspend, this suspended animation! You are returned to your gruesome deaths, still in progress!”

 


#RainbowSnippets: Jack and Marjory

rainbow-flower-1394714-640x480

Happy Saturday! Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here 🙂

So, here is the next snippet from Jack and Marjory – my novella-in-progress which gives two of my Bi-Gendered characters a chance to tell something of their own little side-adventure, which actually had a massive impact on the history of Ire in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ kind of way.

If you missed last week’s snippet you can catch up here: #RainbowSnippets: Jack and Marjory

If you want to start from the beginning you can do so here: https://blakeandwight.com/2018/09/29/rainbowsnippets-jack-and-marjory/

Jack and Marjory are trying to remain inconspicuous as they traverse the Lancashire countryside to rescue the smuggled teaset for the leader of the revolution… I’ve skipped a few bland paragraphs in which they almost fall asleep, forget the time and have to run for the station like a bat out of hell before they miss their train to bring you to this point here…

 

The one train that passes through here is a treacle carrier, bringing black gold up from Crumbria to York, but it has a couple of carriages too, just enough seats for the odd commuter, travelling business man or visiting aunt. Or the occasional teaset smuggler.

We steamed into the station just as our gleaming stallion was steaming in himself. Nothing – stone cold nanty – could have prepared us for the noise and the heat, the cock-sure venting of power all over the by-standing populous, the smokey breath, the hot sweat beading on his bulging muscles, the oiled up masculine beauty of this incredible beast … Marjory caught her breath.

Never ceases to impress me!” The body who rudely broke our reverie was plain, something almost contrived about its ambiguity, but for one small detail ; a powder blue bowler perched above his amicable and instantly forgetable face.“The power of steam, eh ?” He smiled pleasantly, the way no stranger ever does to a young gentleman travelling alone, and offered us his hand,“The name’s Markham, Henry Markham.”

 

 

JACKANDMARJORYCOVER

being an entertaining and informative piece of travel writing by a couple of rogues on the run as they attempt to avoid the machinations of wizards, monarchs and a ruthless band of beatnik poets, deflect a civil war and deliver a priceless, historical tea set before the owner finds himself at the gallows.

 

Wishing you all a most splendiferous week and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction 🙂 

 

rainbow flower image courtesy of mariah22 at http://www.freeimages.com

book cover image by Renphoto 


Pipe and Slippers: Tales From Steampunk’d Lancaster

 

Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of  praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

I am the ghost known as Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.

But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of that incorrigible octopus and its unnerving  Gentleman Friend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by strange creatures promising  cake. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here;   here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!

But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? A bottle of vintage port eh? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,

like this perhaps… I have been tirelessly working over the summer, interviewing, stalking … I mean studying… the Hex Slingers of Lancaster, compiling an anthropological study of the lives of those who use magic illegally in the curated back-alley fight clubs – why and how have they come to their present situation? What are their stories? Well, here at least, is one of them…

TALES OF STEAMPUNK’D LANCASTER

SERIES 1: TALES OF THE HEX SLINGERS 

TALE THE FOURTH:  by ALLISON SHEPHERD

 

“My brooch!” I yelled as Mariah’s twinklepuff slam hit me full force in the chest

and sent me hurtling backwards into the wooden crates at the makeshift

gayelle’s edge. I hadn’t anticipated Mariah’s last pattern and was now

scrambling to catch my breath and get back on my feet. My brooch had ripped

off my bolero as the twinklepuff spell had infused the fibres of the old velvet.

My grandmother had made that brooch for me from the cogs of a broken toy

train and an old yuletide ornament. She’d fashioned the cogs into an owl tying

them together with copper wire, and using tiny emerald crystals pulled off the

bauble for the eyes. Every afternoon after school I’d go to her rag-and-bone

shop tucked away down a narrow cobblestone alley to wait for my parents.

She’d make a pot of Earl Grey with leaves from her “secret supplier” and tell

me stories of when her mother baked double-layered sponge cakes with

strawberry jam filling, and lighter-than-air profiteroles filled with sweet gooey

cream. “Earl Grey.” “Strawberry jam.” “Profiteroles.” I hadn’t heard those

words in almost a decade. My owl brooch had become my talisman, my

connection to my past.

I tried to stand but sat down quickly as my vision blurred. Mariah? This

powerful? I couldn’t understand; she was a third-rate slinger at best, over

estimating both her charms and her spells. Something was different. The

sophistication of the twinklepuff weavings and glitter were not her. Someone

was helping raise the level of her usually amorphous, sloppily put together

concoctions. Who? And why?

It was odd when Mariah had drawn the wildcard for our slingoff but I had

missed a few of the preliminary fights when I had gone out of town. Maybe

she’d improved and been bumped up a couple garnets, I thought. This was my

livelihood, and sometimes it’s better to shut up and sling. Now, as I sat

befuddled trying to clear my head and weave my threads, I saw a glint of silver-

black emanating from Mariah’s perfectly poised hands. Mariah who could

barely make a pattern for a pink-and-gold unicorn spell slinging an

onyxmirrorpearl? With advanced finger positions? I sat spellbound and the

omp smacked me flat. Blood gushed out of my nose, ruby red against my white

pin-tucked shirtwaist. Before I lost consciousness, I saw Emily, the bookie,

collecting from the disgruntled gamblers.

Gill found my brooch, the emerald crystals winking in the twilight-find spell he

cast. The healers had tried to revive me right away but the omp had proved

beautifully formed and knocked me out for hours. I lost my deposit and got

nothing for the night. According to Gill, Emily had been apologetic but could do

nothing as an unexpected large bet against me had her scrambling for gilt. Gill

had taken me home and tucked me up in bed with a hot water bottle, three

pillows and my favourite fluffy wrap. I was still in bed when he came back with

my brooch. I tried to sit up but the wave of nausea had me lying back gingerly

on the pillows. I closed my eyes clutching my owl, my fingers tracing the

notches along the cogs, and started to cry.

My parents were wizards, of course, fighting for Queen and country. They truly

believed that magic should be controlled and out of the hands of ‘ordinary’

people. My parents were strong weavers but by the time they disappeared (of

course) my abilities were rudimentary at best. I’d become a trope: orphan,

living with my grandmother, no magic. But as with my favourite fairy tales, this

was simply the beginning of the story.

My parents had taken an assignment to escort our Queen to Boss Town for a

diplomatic sojourn, or that was what the official correspondence claimed. We

knew better: an excuse for the elite to sample new-fangled sweet marvels and

magiscience tea twists. Mum and dad couldn’t say too much but they were

more tight-lipped than usual as they hugged me goodbye and dropped me off

at Gran’s. We never saw them again. I was fourteen.

Gran moved in with me. I finished school at sixteen and tried out for the

apprentice wizard programme. I didn’t qualify even though my parents had

been senior civil servants. Apparently, according to the report, I didn’t have the

“right attitude, and my spells were nonexistent.” Gran and I eked out a living

from the shop. I met Quelin her “tea supplier,” a jovial smuggler who was able

to find the choicest leaves for us, and sometimes, just sometimes, the tiniest

silver-sprinkled cupcakes. He’d never tell where he got them but always

tapped the side of his nose with his forefinger, “It’s best you don’t know, my

darling,” he’d say, “because if anything happened to me, you might be running

for your life from some nasty bits.” He’d glance across at Gran, who would

pretend to be engrossed with a length of glitterwool handicraft, or checking

her numbers in the accounts book. They thought I never noticed but I always

did.

I had turned seventeen the year of the Youshallnevereatcake Spring, a short-

lived, half-hearted coup d’etat by a handful of boisterous youngsters. It was

quashed by the wizards within hours, the rebels marched through the streets

to the palace courts. I rushed home to tell Gran only to find her in the garden,

sitting in her favourite chair under the willow tree, a cold cup of Earl Grey in

her lap. She looked as though she were taking an afternoon nap, the breeze

ruffling her mop of curls. I clasped her inert hands, and wept.

I started hex slinging in the underground circuit soon after.

Of course my latent abilities eventually showed up, stronger than either of my

parents but without proper training and guidance, it was a mess. My early

slingoffs were either a triumph of a knockout, or me vomiting an endless

stream of bile in a dank corner, a side-effect of using pure, raw magic. Through

practice, and more practice, and much much more vomiting, I learnt to control

and weave almost beautiful hexes. I found a circle of friends who helped me in

the nine years since Gran died: Gill, Emily, Jendra. And I still ran the shop. It

didn’t make much but had become a safe place for us to meet to try out new

patterns and concoctions, catch up on gossip and, yes, of course, find a way to

bring back tea, cakes and magic: we’d been denied our right to a free life for

too long.

***

As I clutched my brooch in my hand, tears streaming down my face confusing

Gill to no end, I realised that Mariah’s win tonight had shifted our timetable. It

hadn’t been subtle, literally a punch to my gut. Someone had wanted our

attention. No longer was our light-hearted, drinking-after-a-slingoff chant of

“Tea, Cake, Magic For All!” a someday cake-in-the-sky dream; someone, or

someones, wanted us ready now. And I was terrified.

 

Allison Shepherd enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction, especially paranormal romance. She teaches at the medical school at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and has had her work published in bmj Medical Humanities, Tales From the Fluffy Bunny, and is upcoming in Lycan Valley Press Publications “Darkling’s Beasts and Brews”. https://mh.bmj.com/content/43/3/e33 https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Fluffy-Bunny-Various-Authors/dp/1942450699

 


Pipe and Slippers: Tales from Steampunk’d Lancaster

 Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of  praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.

I am the ghost known as Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.

But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of that incorrigible octopus and its unnerving  Gentleman Friend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by strange creatures promising  cake. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here;   here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!

But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? A bottle of Bruadar malt whisky liqueur eh? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,

like this perhaps… I have been tirelessly working over the summer, interviewing, stalking … I mean studying… the Hex Slingers of Lancaster, compiling an anthropological study of the lives of those who use magic illegally in the curated back-alley fight clubs – why and how have they come to their present situation? What are their stories? Well, here at least, is one of them…

TALES OF STEAMPUNK’D LANCASTER

SERIES 1: TALES OF THE HEX SLINGERS 

Tale The Second By LESLIE SOULE

 

“Your writing – I’d like to see it,” he says, hopeful like a child getting candy. I don’t

want to open up that book and show him the horrors of a past I’d care not to remember – most of it I’ve already shared, but that book opens wounds afresh, even though I had to write it, to tear the little imps from my heart, force their tiny legs between the pages and stamp out their pokers onto the sheets of print.

It was part of a healing ritual, a ceremony, and maybe instructions for someone else who needs them. One never knows these things. But all I do is smile, and nod, in the way that you’re supposed to do, when confronted with such gestures of interest.

This fellow is my friend, a banker from the gentrified part of town. He rarely travels downtown. There is no tea, here. Maybe one day I’ll tell him the truth, or he’ll discover it. But for now, the coffee steams between us, and the silence speaks volumes, and I feel disheartened. I don’t want those imps to escape again, and plague my beleaguered heart anymore. It needs a rest.

“So what brings you here?” I ask, adjusting my knitted scarf. I see his eyes trace the tattoos on my hands as we converse.

“I have some business with Montmorency,” Christopher explained, sipping his coffee, and I watch those lips for a fleeting moment, hoping he doesn’t notice. I am reminded of the strange night we spent together, with kisses and cuddles, before he discarded me for getting too close to him emotionally, the way men do – the way they’ve always done, when it comes to me.

I nod, drinking my mocha as though it is the water of life that can save me, and mentally, I am far away, back at the hideout, hanging out with the rebel hex-slingers and talking shop with them.

I’d spent most of yesterday practicing martial arts with Delvan, admiring the bright blue eyes he pinned me with. It was my day off.

I look down at my watch, knowing that I have to be at work by 10am and put in a full shift, transcribing records onto the mega-typewriter in the Office of Records, and file them away into folders, and into drawers, into rooms.

What business can Christopher possibly have with Montmorency? It interests me, but I dare not approach the subject. I knew Montmorency to be a slumlord, directing his army of street-urchins selling their illegal lemonade.

Tea, cake, lemonade – the governments of Lancaster strictly controlled their use and prohibited their sale on the streets.

“Well it’s good to see you again,” I say to Christopher, and that was no lie. It really was good to see him – he tended to keep to himself and to his hobbies of making money and brewing beer. The government Wiz-goons hadn’t outlawed beer…yet. But give them time.

“Have you ever thought about leaving the Office of Records?” Christopher asked. Well I’d certainly considered it – it was boring, repetitive work and not everyone could do this kind of job. But the real reason, was that I’d become addicted to the fights and the resistance, and the feeling of power that I’d get from those late-night street duels. I never fought alone. Eros, my morph corn snake who looked white with pink patches, always joined in, channeling the mystic power that emanated from my hands in neon rays.

No one asked any questions when I walked into the office bleary-eyed, and the Wizards hadn’t yet thought to look for resistance fighters in the Office of Records – and who would? What kind of danger would lurk in such a bland atmosphere?

“Yeah, I’ve considered it.”

***

When I arrived, my desk looked exactly the way I’d left it – pens sitting there in the wooden holder, notebooks stacked off to the right. My co-workers sat patiently at their desks, some of them sipping from mugs of coffee, waiting for the work bell to ring, and indicate the official start of the work day.

“Long night?” asked Erin, my blue-haired, bespectacled co-worker.

“Yeah,” I admitted.

You have no idea.

Last night, I’d found myself cornered in an alley, three Wiz-goons heading my way. One of them wore a pink carnation in his lapel. I wondered at that strange symbolism.

I didn’t kill them. I’m no murderer, though this is a war, and I have no love for the Wiz-goon overlords who rule our lives down to the very foods that we are allowed to eat, or not. And there was something strangely intriguing about that pink carnation – it didn’t belong there, on those smelly, authoritarian streets covered in cold lamplight. It took all I had, to project the aether toward this one and knock him off his feet.

In the end, I followed through, because that was the way of the world – we stood on opposite sides of a battlefield that neither of us created, but both had to fight on, this unfair chess board of life.

“I’ll be alright as soon as I get some coffee from the break room.”

The work bell rang. I seized my timecard and dutifully punched a hole in the correct spot, grabbed my nondescript white coffee mug, issued by the Office, and walked over to the break room. This place ran on coffee – the life-blood of office work, surely as gasoline runs a horseless carriage or water runs a steam turbine. I poured the coffee from its decanter, a feeling of completeness filling my heart as the coffee poured, black as sin, dark as the deepest confessions of my soul.

Armed with it, I walked back to my desk, opening its drawer, to search for a copy of the procedure manual that I’d forgotten to toss out.

Instead, I found a pink carnation, and a small card – From Your Secret Admirer, was scrawled on it, in black ink.

 

LESLIE SOULE Infamous Fantasy Author I am a fantasy/sci-fi author from Sacramento, CA. she has an M.A. in English and is currently working on the final book of her fantasy series, The Fallenwood Chronicles.


Elevenses: Join The Ministry Of Steam Wizards!

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen!

Welcome back to Max and Collin’s marvellously magical parlour located somewhere within the bowels of the splendidly scenic city of steampunk’d Lancaster!

True some have called it a house of illusion and deception where strange creatures wait to lure unsuspecting travellers to doom, but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

This morning we have some exciting news to share with you all! As well as our wonderful Hopeless Shenanigans at Time Quake Steampunk Festival last month, we had the very great honour of meeting The Ministry Of Steam Wizards, being sorted into our steam wizard houses by Aethelred The Pigeon Of Pigeonholing and taking part in their wand making, potions and wand duelling sessions!

WE CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH, THE ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF AWESOME THAT IS THE MINISTRY OF STEAM WIZARDS!

steam wizards 1

But if you were not at Time Quake, fear not! You can join us at The Ministry Of Steampunk Wizards right now and become part of this fabulous, friendly, supportive and super-splendiferous steampunk society!

GET SORTED INTO YOUR STEAMPUNK WIZARD HOUSE HERE

Just like the Harry Potter houses, there are four Steampunk Wizard houses which Aethelred the pigeon of pigeonholing can sort you into. A quick questionnaire (which of course, just like the Hogwarts sorting hat, takes into account your own personal preference) will determine whether you would be best placed in

 

Shackleton : The best house to be in and not just because it is the house that we – and by association Penny – were sorted into! Named after the great polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, some may call us bold, pigheaded and obstinate but we know that is just the green eyed monster speaking.

Here’s a word from our head of house:

“Good evening everyone I shall take this opportunity to introduce myself and the next school house.

My name is Professor Albert Vastin and I am the head of Shackleton house, I am also the Duelling instructor at our school. We of Shackleton house are said to be Persistent and strong willed to the point of obstinacy, I prefer to see us as determined in all our endeavours. It’s a fact that we are the more likely of our brethren to put our magic aside and get our hands dirty be it adapting non magic gadgets to meet our own needs or expanding our knowledge of far flung corners of the world, it’s no wonder many of the great explorer of the last century came from our house, after all one of the greatest is our founder and patron! Our house colour is blue and house song is Nimrod. (At least it will be when I persuade the other heads that we should have house songs!)

Our house motto is “Exultemus in faciem adversis.” Which means “Triumph in the face of adversity.”

Our house founder Earnest Shackleton lived these qualities in abundance. A wizard of iron will he lead several polar expeditions braving sub zero temperatures and hard ships that would make most of us tremble, he managed all this without magic. (He lived too close to them to hide it). He greatest achievement was the saving of his crew while they were trapped in ice and their supplies ran low.

I look forward to greeting those who join our endeavours to discover just what is beyond the horizon, we can equip you for that journey in Shackleton House.”

steam wizards nightigale

 

Nightingale : Named after the famous founder of nursing Florence Nightingale, never cross a Nightingale they say, for the only difference between medicine and poison is the dose!

Here’s a word from their head of house:

“Felicitations my good people! Welcome to the next House in The Steam Wizard School- Nightingale 🙂 I am Queenie Goldsteam, your Head of House and Matron. We are inspired by the great heroine, Florence Nightingale, the lady of the lamp (who was, of course, a light magic user). A pioneer in her field. Our attributes are that we are caring, considerate, patient, helpful but ruthless. We are resourceful and respond well to crisis and change. We are leaders and specialists in any field we choose.

Our House Colour: Red (for the blood of life)
Symbol: heart

I look forward to meeting fellow Nightgalians! Do you have what it takes to:

“A cool head and a warm heart light the way” ? ”

steam wizards edmonstone

Edmonstone Named after John Edmonstone the taxidermist who taught and inspired  Charles Darwin, Edmonstonians are persistant in the face of adversity and prefer to work quietly behind the scenes supporting and encouraging the endeavours of others – a bit like ninjas really… only more kind-hearted and possibly bearing cake… cake ninjas?

Here’s a word from their head of house: 

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen! I am Professor Solis Dark and I am here to introduce the final of our four houses- Edmonstone.

Edmonstone house is known for perseverence. We will not give up no matter the odds, and grow in the face of adversity. Our quiet strength comes from our rigour, and we apply ourselves thoroughly to any task. We are often most comfortable behind the scenes, providing knowledge and support.

We are a creative house, learning and growing together (as our symbol would suggest). In Edmonstone you are encouraged to be the best you can without judgement. Education is valued in Edmonstone in all forms, as is creativity. We are creators, in science and in the arts.

Our founder was John Edmonstone, the freed slave who taught Charles Darwin, ultimately encouraging him to move from medicine to naturalism. He inspired Darwin with tales of his time in the deep rainforests of South America and was a talented taxidermist. He was a learned man, who achieved great things in time, and we are proud to bear his name.

Our house motto is ‘gutta cavat lapidem’, inspired by his perseverance. It translates to “a water drop hollows a stone” or “constant dripping wears the stone”. I look forward to welcoming new members of Edmonstone!

A small admin note for any prospective Edmonstonians: I am primarily based on Venus for field research and am often away from my office for long periods. My Acting Head of House is Lauramavic Caradonna who will be representing Edmonstone at some events we attend. Feel free to direct queries at us both.”

steam wizards earheart

 

Earheart Named after Amelia Earheart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic, ask an Earheart where they’ve been and you’ll likely be told “Where haven’t I been? WOOOOOFF!”

Here’s a word from their head of house:

“Good evening, fellow Steam Wizards!

The first house that I proudly present to you is the House Of Earheart. Named after the great Amelia Earheart, female pilot (and secret witch of the Ministry), Earheart has inspired the qualities of our House: Bold, adventurous, and lovers of derring do! Outgoing and brash- not afraid to break convention and fly with ideas!

I (Korbynn Talon) will be your head of house and I look forward to meeting fellow Earheartians! Do you have the derring do to be one of us?

On Wings We Fly!”

 

SORTED! WHAT NEXT? …. 

Once you’ve sorted yourself, you’ll need to make a wizard name for yourself, you might have one in mind already but if you need a little help you can use this WIZARD NAME GENERATOR

Once you have your name and house you’re ready to come and introduce yourself on the facebook forum!  

Here you can meet the staff and your fellow wizards, post anything pertaining to your steampunk wizarding adventures and create a personal Chronicles file which can build up over time as an on going in-character diary of your magical adventures!

Wizards and witches of all ages are welcomed at the Ministry Of Steam wizards and their ‘outreach programme’ seeks to encourage and support youngsters by sending them a letter of encouragement and support or congratulations for an achievement ( you can ask them to put a specific thing in the letter if you wish) along with a steam wizard certificate. This is a heart-meltingly wonderful idea which they are providing for free so if you know a young witch or wizard who could do with a boost let the steam wizards know!

Once you’ve settled in you’ll no doubt want to get yourself kitted out in some top wizarding tweeds so pop along to Madame Warpweft’s Academic Outfiters and pick up your wand, robes and official house badges, pins and hair bands, all at super-affordable prices (our little urchins were able splash their pocket money on plenty of fabulous things!)

Practical Magic…

Besides contributing to the online community there are plenty of fun and practical things you can do at home or at conventions which The Ministry Of Steam Wizards are present at.

The Ministry has devised an excellent system for wizard duelling with steampunk spells! The actual spells to be used will change at each convention or event, making it fair for newcomers, and the system works with a core of 5 spells where each spell defeats two others (exactly like rock, paper, scissors!) at the duelling master’s word the two duellists shout their spells and the judges determine who has won. Anyone can duel for fun or in the training workshops but formal competitors must be aged 10 years or over.

The spells used at Time Quake (so that you can have a go now at home!) were:

Coglito Totalis! (Beats Steamulto and Punkus)

Steamulto! (Beats Automata and Tenebitur)

Automata! (Beats Punkus and Coglito Totalis)

Punkus! (Beats Steamulto and Tenebitur)

Tenebitur! (Beats Automata and Coglito Totalis)

 

If you’re more of a potion brewer than a wand waver, we also had fun at Time Quake brewing colour changing potions of love, healing and death! our little urchins enjoyed this so much they had a potions day at home and devised their own simple system for naming steampunk potions, which you are welcome to borrow:

Take a Latin prefix which describes the type of potion you are making, add any word associated with steampunk, end with any Latin suffix that sounds cool!

 

So there you have it, what are you waiting for?! Come and join us at the Ministry Of Steam Wizards and look out for them at your next Steampunk convention!

 

We will be back in the parlour next week with a review of Selkie Cove by one of our favourite authors of all time, Kara Jorgensen, so until then please remain always

Utterly Yourself!

 

PS: It shouldn’t need to be said but, just in case: ” Intellectual copyright of everything in this post – rules, names and spells, competition and games etc. are the intellectual copyright of the Ministry Of Steam Wizards and not to be used elsewhere without prior agreement. Ministry of Steam Wizard (MoSW) and Mme Warpweft’s Academic Outfitters logos, house emblems, products and prizes belong to the group as intellectual property. The admins/staff reserve the right to refuse third parties to reproduce and access to MSW logos and emblems. Logos/ emblems/ names/ Houses/ intellectual content must not to be used for profit and resale. Use of logos in re-creation for personal use is permitted (and indeed encouraged- we love to see what you can do for your and your families outfits!) with copyright credited on anything shown online (physical produce, art work ,writing for instance).”

 

 

 

 

 


Getting back to normality! (And the ridiculous route we took to it!)

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen! Firstly I think I owe everyone  a massive apology  that it has taken me so long to get back to the blog. When I signed off for a while we were poised to move into our new house and I was poised to have a small but necessary operation… well the best laid plans as they say!

The house turned out to be falling down and had illegal building work done on it so the sale fell through – which left us sofa-surfing while we scrabbled around trying  to find another house! On the plus side we got to spend lots of time with family and friends, visited some unusual places and had some fun caravan in the snow and wrestling with frozen pipes, no heating, filthy accommodation and all sorts of funnish things! We made some lovely memories saw some beautiful landscapes and wildlife and, looking back, our lives are undoubtedly richer for those experiences – but it is very, very, very good to finally have a roof over our heads that is ‘ours’ !

We have now settled into a lovely little house which suits us perfectly and our first house warming present arrived yesterday which I have to share with you…

 

THE FLUFFY DOOM! Made for us by the most talented, awesome and beautiful woman in the world Nimue Brown of http://www.hopelessmaine.com

We had the very great privilege of spending time with Nimue and Tom at the Hopeless Maine Tourist Information Booth and Time Quake festival in Manchester last month and you can read all about that on the Hopeless Maine website here:

https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2018/04/06/hopeless-maine-comes-to-time-quake/

We also joined the Ministry Of Steam Wizards and there will be more about that in the coming months.

As I’m sure you can all appreciate, moving house and getting a truck load of little coglings back into their routines takes a lot of time and energy and I’d like to make sure I do that bit right, so there are going to be some temporary changes to the blog schedule to allow me to catch up with everything and not let anyone down.

My review list has grown slightly insane! So I’m not taking on any new books just now and any books I have promised to review will be done between now and December, when the list will open again with the usual Recommended Christmas Reads.

In order to make all this happen, elevenses and the soup kitchen will stop until either September or December, with the exception of very special and worthy promotions (ie folks doing non-profit, good cause  or exceptionally cool low budget / indie things). However if you are missing our kitchen witch and her culinary wisdom, if you feel you desperately need advice on housekeeping, moral living and general wholesomeness, you may want to keep an eye on the Hopeless Vendetta over the next few weeks … I will say no more but there will be links when links are available…

The lovely library will open as usual in the autumn and authors whose work has been reviewed or featured are, as always, welcome to submit short stories / extracts for this (see submissions above).

So things will be a little quieter than usual around here but the wheels will continue to turn and slowly gather speed as we settle in and whenever I get the chance I will continue with the Rromani Steampunk posts and Notes From Penny as well.

Next Friday (yes I know that’s weird)  Max and Collin will be back for the Army of Brass blog tour which begins today on Steampunk Journal  and continues across the web until the 13th May. You can join us all for the Facebook Launch Party on 28th – 29th April as well to chat to the authors and take part in giveaways and such but more about that next week.

For now I will just say thankyou so much to everyone who has continued to be patient and supportive and inspiring and awesome through this ridiculously uncertain and disorganised period of our lives.

Blessings on all your brews, whatever they may be

Penny 😀