Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “YA

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

 

 

 


Soup Of The Day: With Ichabod Temperance

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 are the magnificent monster fighting duo, Miss Persephone Plumtartt and Mr. Ichabod Temperance. Good morning to you both, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Can I take your hats and offer you a cup of… oh, goodness me what on earth is that?

“Good morning, Miss Mrs. Baker, Ma’am, please do not be alarmed, she ain’t near as dangerous as she appears.”

“Mr. Temperance!”

“Not you, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am! I was talking bout this here contraption I’m lugging around. It’s a universal-trans-dimensio-temporal-type-o’grapher. I use this to communicate with the alternate dimension of an Earth in the far-future year of 2017.You ladies just wait until the condensors are charged and the vaccuum tubes get warmed up, then I’ll show you what she can do.”

“This may not be the appropriate time to engage this wonder of information transportation, eh hem? One is concerned at the unusual amount of errant electrical discharges, sir. Not only have the organic felines of the house been frightened away, but the clockwork cat has fled in fear of the dread device as well.”

“Oh my Goodness, I did not mean to scare the kitties! I can show off the temp-o-graph another time.”

Oh not to worry my dears, the cats are only after my secret stash of illegal cream and as for that dreadful clockwork contraption it is an awful piece of gutter wizardry! I really cannot stand it snooping about. So, now then, do have seat, how was your journey here from your own dimension?

“Boy, oh, boy, we sure ‘nough had us a humdinger of a trip, Miss Mrs. Baker, Ma’am! I bought a ‘build your own dirigible’ kit from an advertisement in the back of a Greater Britanicacaca Scientific Journal for Kids catalog. We made it here all the way from Irondale, Alabama, USA in it!”

“No, not quite, all the way, Mr. Temperance. Unfortunately, the aircraft did not survive the journey. Moreover, One maintains the craft was woefully under-sized and ridiculously impractical for such a trying voyage.”

“It looked a lot bigger in the catalog picture, Ma’am. I still think that we could have made it all the way if those Portuguese sky pirates had not gotten after us.”

“Perhaps, Mr. Temperance, nevertheless, I think my own prudent caution of packing an inflatable dingy in my bustle saved us from certain drowning when you wrecked our own vessel’s steerage whilst disabling our foes, eh hem?”

“I didn’t have no choice, Miss Plumtartt, Ma’am! I didn’t have so much as a slingshot aboard to fight with!”

“With which to fight.”

“Nor that neither.”

“You lost my newest parasol, sir, during the engagement.”

“But I needed it to hook the rudder what sent our Portobellan Buccaneers into a nice, neat spiral. They didn’t like being upside down worth a flip. So to speak. I sure did hate crashing our little ship into the ocean. I’ll never see that $7.95 again. At least we ran into a friendly herd of psychic porpoises that pushed our safety raft all the way into Morecambe Bay. We hired us a pony cart to get us from Heysham to Lancaster. I think that mean little horsie over-charged us, though. I’m sure this is a lovely area, I’m just waiting for the fog to lift, to let me have a look. I know this is an invite to a soup kitchen, but this here pea soup fog is more substantial than what I have planned.”

Oh dear me, it sounds like you have had a dreadful journey! Thank goodness you are such a resourceful pair, it would not have done at all to let sky pirates get in the way of a nice cup of tea and a sit down.  I can only apologise for the fog, I’m afraid at this time of year it is dreadful but Lord Ashton is working on a set of turbines to blow it further inland (along with the toxic gasses from his factories.) Now then, what is this soup you intend to share with the orphans? That’s not it there is it?!

“‘Kudzu Gumfoo’! This here is a real life magic soup! Its primary ingredient is the magic vine of Alabama, ‘Kudzu’. I just had a small root of it with me, but as soon as I planted it outside, it took ahold like it was happy to be here. We already have plenty to make soup for all the kiddies. Just remember, you have to keep eating it. If you don’t eat the Kudzu, the Kudzu will eat you.”

 

“Oh! My goodness! How … unique! I think I will just ask one of the street tuffs to wrestle it into submission so that we can cook it. Now then, while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we put the kettle on? Max and Collin have told me so much about your exploits battling monsters and such it all sounds thrilling but tell me, Miss Plumtartt, how did a nice genteel lady such as yourself become mixed up in such awful events ?

“Good morning my dear, I cannot say what a delight it is to be welcomed into your abode. My thanks to Max and Collins for sharing our adventure. As to my acquaintance with Mr. Temperance, I confess that a rather unlikely set of extraordinary circumstances brought him and me together. Mr. Temperance and I come from disparate backgrounds. I am of the family Plumtartt, famous throughout Britain for our production of capital ships. Technically, I am from Elderberry Pond, of Crimpenmestylenshire and of the famous Plumtartt Manour there, but in truth, I am the product of many and varied educational environs. My involvement with the unassuming Mr. Temperance, who bears an under-educated rural Alabama resume, borders on the edge of improbable to impossible, yet, somewhere, in that little fellow is an ineffable essence of charm that I find difficult to deny.”

Indeed? And you, Mr. Temperance, you are an inventor from America, is that right? How did you come to be involved with Miss Plumtartt?

“Oh, yes, Ma’am, Miss Mrs. Baker, Ma’am, I surely am an inventor. In the world that Miss Plumtartt and I inhabit, our Earth is visited by a comet, that apparently, did not visit any of the other multitude of universes out there. In the summer of 1869, the Earth passed through the tail of a comet. Well, what do you know, ever since then, there have been sprinklings of varied genius popping up all over the world. There have been all sorts of amazing advances in spring and steam-powered mechanicals. The advances in electrical products are shocking!”

“Mr. Temperance!”

“I couldn’t resistor, Ma’am. It is now the year 1877, and this here planet is just awash in fantastic contraptions. Things have gotten a little out of hand in the paranormal sections of our world too. It seems like Miss Plumtartt and I can’t swing a holiday possum without hitting some kind of devious monster bent on subjugating our unsuspecting planet. It ain’t like we go out hunting for monsters, they just sort of plop into our laps and it is up to us to set things right.”

It sounds like your adventures are far from over, where can we read more about your exciting battles to save the world?

“Golly Gee Whillikers, you can bet your pointy hat we have more adventures to share! We have ten of them published so far. Each themed, stand-alone adventure is a full length novel, yet is reasonably priced at .99. It is even free to read on KDP for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The universal-trans-dimensio-scripto-temporo-graph is all warmed up, so here is a link to my alternate dimension Amazon author’s pages”

Amazon US

https://www.amazon.com/Ichabod-Temperance/e/B00J71862M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Amazon UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ichabod-Temperance/e/B00J71862M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1487094544&sr=8-1

Amazon AU

https://www.amazon.com.au/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D2496751051&field-keywords=Ichabod+Temperance

Oh marvellous, I know that Max and Collin are very keen to follow along with the fun, which reminds me, Mr Temperance, I did promise Collin that I would ask you a question; I’m sure you have very little time for making goggles these days but Collin uses a specially made pair of gill-goggles to ‘breathe’ on land, sadly they are leaking and he wondered if you might be able to fix them before you go? (tinkers are few and far between in Lancaster you see, unless you count the Spoon Smith and the Time Keeper – who we are all a little afraid of…)

“I was wondering what that was on the floor. You know how it is with pets. I am relieved to know that it is just seawater. I can fix Collin up in a jiffy! I always have lots of tools and general repair supplies on hand. I will probably need to employ my micro-tools, and utilize my macro-goggles, but that’s why I carry that stuff around.”

Oh that is so kind of you Mr. Temperance, thankyou!

Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, my dears, it’s been wonderful to chat with you and learn about your adventures! I must say that soup smells…. interesting. I think it must be about ready now so shall we attempt to serve it up before it devours somebody?

“It has been our pleasure! Thank you for having us!”

“Hear, hear, I say, good show!”

“We better let them kids in. That Kudzu vine is coming on strong, and I don’t want them urchins to get ette before they can do the eating.”

“Mr. Temperance, I wish you to convey an unusual quality of your writings to our host and her guests. You see, little by little music has crept into the books. Before we depart, will you share a sample of your singing with Mrs. Baker, eh hem?”

“Oh, yes, Ma’am, Miss Plumtart, Ma’am! You see, in this latest adventure, we are up against a ruthless gang of pirates! Strangely, though….

 

My pirates get to sing

I let their voices ring!

It might be wrong, to write in song,

but I don’t give a ding-a-ling!

Splendid Days, everybody!

Your pals,

~Icky and Persephone. 🙂 “

Oh how marvellous, come on children, join in the song! We do love a good sing song while we eat, and singing pirates bring back such happy memories of my time with the Chronic Agronauts..

thankyou all for joining us today and do come back again next week for more soup-based fun, until then,

Blessings on your brew my dears!


Morning Cuppa: The Quest Of The Prodigy

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to Max and Collin’s Temptingly Temporal parlour located within the splendidly scenic city of Lancaster.

True, some have called it a anachronistic abomination and an scandalous misuse of time and space but we consider that such people are merely embittered that they have not yet received an invitation.

You find us this morning deep in philosophical debate with our dear friend Dodge Charleston on the possibilities of time travel.

If you are a Parlour Regular you are no doubt aware of Dodge and his fabulous theories however if you are rather new to our little world, let us offer you an introduction..

During recent years, several scientists have tried to create a theory to explain and understand the universe using the analogy of cake. The most promising and widely accepted of these has been Universal Fruitcake Theory, because it adheres most closely to the rule of Occam’s Slice, which states that ‘the theory which gives one the same comfortable satisfaction as a large slice of Victoria sponge is usually the most correct.’

Universal Fruitcake Theory states that the universe is like a fruitcake and was first formed when the All-Mother added all the necessary universal ingredients to her enormous cauldron and stirred it all together with a big wooden spoon. The ingredients came together in places and formed matter, which Dodge likened to the sponge parts of a fruitcake. This formation of matter left holes in other places which were immediately filled by high-energy, pan dimensional currants. Lastly, and this was perhaps what made the theory so comfortably satisfying, Dodge suggested that aether was like the half teacup of Earl Grey topped up with one part cherry brandy and one part ruby port, and poured over the top of the cake, thus soaking through the entire universe and pervading everything.

This gorgeous mouthful of a theory was first proposed in Dodge’s fictional children’s book written in 1835 and titled ‘Sallis In Plunderland.’ The story tells of a group of street urchins who are adopted by an elderly but destitute baker, who teaches them to make cakes and sell them on street corners and in Tiffin Dens, whilst skillfully avoiding capture by The Good Folk and The Watchers. The orphans accidentally manage to create a new universe in their large copper cake cauldron and are immediately sucked into a world where logic and reason appear not to exist.

Max’s mother was so outraged by the book that she ordered every copy to be confiscated and burned. Needless to say, this has made Sallis In Plunderland many times more popular than it would have been without the queen’s stamp of disapproval and bibliophiles and young men wanting to impress their sweethearts will go to any lengths to procure one of the few copies which have survived the flames. We believe even old Peril has a copy in his Lovely Library, alongside Dodge’s later work ‘Through The Cooking Class; an analogous approach to understanding the universe.’

Enthusiastic fans of Dodge have even gone so far as to make hand-written copies of the book and sell them for exorbitant sums of cash, but, sadly, Dodge has never seen a penny of the profits and, although his social calendar overflows with invitations to dine in the student quarters of various universities he has never heard of, or give speeches at various Tiffin Dens where the clientele were always so reluctant to let him leave that he has taken to carrying a Nock’s Sugar-Bowl Revolver, his finances do not reflect the popularity of his work.

Still here he is, lapping up our milk ration with the impunity of a Parlour Cat and devouring all our ill-gotten tiffin at a most ungentlemanly rate as he raves about his latest ideas for building a time machine out of a giant teapot…

I think I shall leave Max to do the polite nodding and smiling and instead attempt to lose myself in a good book…

prodigy

 

We first read this book a few years back under its first edition and we love the new look of the cover design on this one. This fast paced adventure is classic steampunk scrumptiousness with a cast of larger-than-life characters we instantly fell in love with.

When Mimi discovers a mysterious book in her local library she finds herself pursued by the ruthless Ambassadors Of Time who will stop at nothing to retrieve the book and gain its secrets for their demonic king.

Fortunately Mimi and her brother are saved by the adorable time-travelling thief Sebastian ‘Bas’ Barkley who introduces them to his marvellous space-time-dimension machine the ‘Bas House’ and a world of alchemical and scientific wonders where Mimi begins to unfold her wings, growing in self confidence and belief in her own worth and abilities. Ever looming is the threat of the king and as Mimi and her brother become more involved in Bas’s world Mimi discovers that only she has the power to protect the people and keep the secrets of time safe.

There are a lot of laughs in this adventure from some very witty character interplays, but be prepared for some tears too and even a little romance as the rich story line develops. We really really hope the series will continue with another instalment soon but in the meantime you can keep up to date with Claire E Smith’s news and writing tips via her blog at  https://lifemusecoffee.wordpress.com/  and youtube channel

 

Oh my goodness, Dodge is still ranting on, plastering the walls with cake crumbs in his frenzy and poor Max has fallen asleep, face down in a pile of cats and cream… Hm? No no I said cats… I suppose I had better put the kettle on and prepare our tea, which this morning is Blue Box Time Lord Tea (what else?) from Amiteaorganics 

The cephaloperois has hidden under the fainting couch and so there seems nothing left to do except bid you a very splendid morning and invite you back to join us tomorrow for elevenses (when we shall be hopefully free-loader-free) so, until then,please be always

Utterly Yourself.

 

 

 

 

 


Soup of the day: With Charity Tahmaseb

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.

Helping me this morning is one of my favourite authors, Charity Tahmaseb, writer of ‘Coffee and Ghosts’ which Max and Collin recommended to us all on Monday. Good morning Charity, 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?

“I do have some soup, although my husband is the soup expert in our house. That being said, my daughter’s favorite is the matzo ball soup I make (and to be honest, I use a kit–still, she loves it). “

Mmm, it smells delicious, I’m sure the little urchins will enjoy it immensely. Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t you tell us all a little more about your book series, Coffee and Ghosts?

“Coffee and Ghosts revolves around the adventures of Katy Lindstrom and her business partner Malcolm Armand in which they use coffee (and sometimes tea) to catch ghosts.

The first season begins with Katy and her grandmother using coffee to catch ghosts and storing them in Tupperware containers, an idea which I (and probably most of your readers) found instantly adorable, where did the inspiration for such a brilliant idea come from?

A long while back, I wrote a mystery from the point of view of a ghost. While the novel never went anywhere, during my research, I came across an anecdote about people catching ghosts in jars.

That idea percolated for years until I saw the call for submissions for Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic, and I used that to write a short story about catching ghosts with coffee. Glass jars seemed too dangerous for that task, so I substituted Tupperware containers.

That story, Ghost in the Coffee Machine, became the pilot episode for Coffee and Ghosts. Early this year, The Drabblecast produced the story in audio. It’s so much fun. It even has sounds effects! It’s not very long and you can listen to it here:”

http://www.drabblecast.org/2016/01/01/drabblecast-375-ghost-coffee-machine/

And have you ever seen a ghost?

“I have not. Can you believe it? I even did a “haunted London” tour when I went to England several years back. No cold spots, no slamming doors. Nothing. I was so disappointed.”

Well, never mind my dear, you must be sure to pop along and visit our own resident ghost, Perilous Wight, in his Lovely Library some time! Now then, several readers have commented on the beautiful coffee pot illustrated on the front of your books, do you have a special coffee pot or other piece of chinaware that inspires your writing?

“The samovar that Malcolm uses is based on the one my in-laws have, as is the tea he brews. I love incorporating a little piece of their heritage into the story.”

Oh that is wonderful to know! I must say I did love the samovar description and the gorgeous smell of the tea he brews, how wonderful! Malcolm is a splendid character and Katy is a very lovable character who I think most readers can identify with but, if you had to chose, who is your personal favourite in the first series?

“Although he doesn’t get a lot of page time in season one, I do like Police Chief Ramsey. He changes a lot over the next two seasons, and has his reasons for being so grumpy. But there will always be a generation gap and some antagonism between him and Katy.”

Hm, reasons to read on then and discover more! Each series is made up of fairly self-contained ‘novelettes’ which makes them very convenient reading for a busy witch like me, rather like a biscuit tin which can be dipped into during sneaky tea (or indeed coffee) breaks! Did you set out to write like this or was it more of a ‘happy accident’?

“It’s a little bit of both. When I started, I thought I would write a handful of self-contained stories. But as I was writing, a larger story arc appeared, one that encompassed the entire season. Then, it evolved into a multi-season arc.

I make a point to wrap up each story (even if not all threads are resolved) and try to make each one a satisfying read. It’s a fun way to write. It’s more flexible than a standalone novel, and I can take time in various episodes to explore subplots and secondary characters.” 

And do you have any plans to write another season?

“Seasons one and two are already out, and I’m getting season three ready to go, with the first episode available on or about Halloween. I recently released both seasons on all vendors, so you can find the series on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.”

Coffee and Ghosts has totally captured my heart as a reader and I really hope you will continue to write about Katy’s adventures but what other projects are you working on right now? Do you have any new releases we can look forward to

“Certainly! Season three of Coffee and Ghosts is almost ready to go. This season wraps up all major story threads and was a blast to write.

For 2017, I’m hoping to launch two new series, a fairy tale one and another paranormal one.”

Wonderful news! Well I will be sure to keep an eye out for those next year and perhaps when they are out you’ll come back and tell us a little more about them. But now the all important question, on which the fate of the universe may very well hinge,…you are obviously passionate about hot beverages but which do you really prefer, coffee or tea?

“I must–must–have my coffee in the morning, and I take it with half and half, no sugar (in fact, I dislike sweet coffee so much, I don’t even like coffee ice cream).

In the afternoon? Well, that’s a different story. Then I’m all about tea. I love all sorts of teas, but generally drink green tea and the hot cinnamon spice tea from Caribou Coffee. (My go-to drink when I’m writing at the coffee shop.)”

Well thank you so much for coming to help out in the soup kitchen today, Charity, 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?

“Thank you for having me! I’ve enjoyed our chat. Let’s eat!”

I will be back in the kitchen next Wednesday with another helpful guest, Karen J Carlisle who will be telling us all about her steampunk series, The Adventures of Viola Stewart, but Max and Collin will be back in the parlour tomorrow with some tremendous Tea @ Three.

Blessings on your brew my dears and if you’d like to read Charity’s lovely series for yourselves you can find her books by following the links below…

https://www.amazon.com/Coffee-Ghosts-Complete-Season-Seasons-ebook/dp/B015VOROGM

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coffee-and-ghosts-charity-tahmaseb/1122728290

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/coffee-and-ghosts-the-complete-first-season

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/coffee-ghosts-complete-first/id1151183045