Friday, February 28, 2014

Her Ladyship's New Hat Box

For giveaways here at Disenchanted & Co. over the last year I've been using as a prop a pretty pink floral hat box. While it has been very helpful I wanted to retire that hat box, as it was part of a Valentine's Day gift from my guy to me.

During my recent research rounds of antique shops I've been also looking for a suitable replacement, and finally found one:



It's not an antique, but it has the look of one (a real vintage hat box would likely be too fragile to use for any length of time). I also like the colors and design, as both would fit very comfortably into Kit's universe, and it's a bit bigger than the pink floral so there is more room for giveaway items. I think it makes a perfect giveaway prop for 2014, but we should probably test drive it first:



If you'd like to win the first giveaway from Her Ladyship's new hat box, in comments to this post name something vintage (or vintage in style) that you treasure by midnight EST on Sunday, March 2, 2014. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner a signed print copy of Disenchanted & Co. and Cynthia Hart's 2014 Victoriana calendar. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet so please join in.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chasing Paper

I thought it would be fun to show you another peek at my writing research materials; the time we'll look at some recent additions to my collection of Victorian papers:



Clockwise from the top: two three-cent handmade Valentines; four pages from an 1871 edition of Harper's Weekly; three pages from a 1909 edition of American Beauties by Harrison Fisher; and two cabinet card photos. Total I spent to buy them: $25.00 (the cabinet cards were the most expensive at $7.50 each; the Valentines were $4.00 each and the rest cost me $2.00.)

At first glance it doesn't look very impressive, I know, but let's open the Harper's Weekly pages and look on the inside:



This delightful spread of sketches by Theo R. Davis depict work on a Victorian-era American farm in Illinois. Aside from the fact that I'm thrilled to have the original printing of this art, which cost me all of one dollar, the visual details about the land, the men who worked it, their livestock and equipment and even the clothing the people are wearing in these sketches are priceless to a storyteller.

Looking for Victorian-era newspapers, magazines and other papers is part of the fun for me, too. It's exciting to rummage through a box of such things in an antique store or at a flea market, and often you find the most astonishing things. Take this pair, for example:



I'm still building my Victorian photo collection, and these two cabinet cards reminded me very much of Gert and Wrecker from the series. While it's not strictly necessary to have such models for my characters -- I can see them quite clearly in my head -- I love putting together things like this that fit my books. It's hard to explain, but when you find a real-world match for what you do see in your head, collecting it can be really wonderful.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Wolf Arrives



Today is the official release of The Clockwork Wolf, the second novel in my Disenchanted & Co. urban fantasy series. Also, if you missed it last week, here's the video for the book:



I think that's all the promo I'll throw at you this time. Besides, I have to talk about some people who helped:

My editor, Adam Wilson, deserves much for every wise and amazing thing he did to bring the world of Toriana to publication. I also wish I could name all of the other folks at Pocket Star who put so much creativity and wisdom into the series production, because they did a fabulous job, too.

I am very grateful to author and filmmaker Jeff Somers for creating yet another superb video trailer for Kit and her crew; it was everything I wished for and then some.

Last (but never least) I must somehow thank NYT bestselling author and my dear friend Darlene Ryan for her nonstop support and generous encouragement during this entire adventure. Until I can think up something better, Bubba, know that you are the best writer friend on the planet.

Places where you can purchase The Clockwork Wolf (click on them to do that and keep me writing this series):

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

iBookstore

Indiebound

Nook

S&S.com

Amazon

Kindle

Monday, February 24, 2014

More Antique Research

As I did last week I'm importing these pics and notes from my photoblog to share some insight as to how my world-building is inspired by antiques:



This three-in-one antique bench seat (I've also heard it referred to as a guest lounger) could serve a number of purposes in my universe, especially as a furnishing in any place where multiple people are obliged to sit and wait together. I also think it might work as a kind of child-safe public seating; Mum and Da can be seated on the ends with the little one tucked between them.



Since Rumsen is on the West coast of Toriana I imagine the people and culture are influenced by the sea and all things marine; I've already worked some of that into my world-building. I was thinking about how I can do more of that as I examined this glass-topped table filled with sand and shells -- the sea brought into the home, so to speak.

Storing things in the Toriana universe is always an issue; I've borrowed some real-world furnishings like armoires and closets, but I have an idea for a story that will require something partly invented, too. Looking through the shop I saw some lovely storage solutions:



I love the colors of this hand-painted wooden chest, and a marble or jasper version that is spelled to serve as a neutralizing safe might make a good place to keep one's charmed stones.



This trunk caught my eye because of the lovely silver metal panels. If I mechanized it, a fictional version might have those panels geared to cover secret compartments.



This is simply a wooden tool chest turned on end for creative display, but that skewing gave me a different perspective on it, and with some retuning may actually resolve a major story issue for me.

Friday, February 21, 2014

As Promised

My surprise today is the reveal of the newest Disenchanted & Co. video; RT book reviews is hosting the online debut of the trailer for The Clockwork Wolf. They also very kindly selected my book as one of their Top Picks for their March issue.* To have a look click here.

Added 2/25: I've finally seen the issue myself and turns out the info I was given is wrong; RT gave the novel 4-1/2 stars but it was not selected as a Top Pick for March. I'm quite happy with the rating, however, and my apologizes for passing along the misinformation.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cross Posting

I'm running a series over at my photoblog this week to show part of what I do when world-building; as I've mentioned before I often go out and look through antique shops for story inspiration, and photograph things that catch my eye. I thought I'd cross-post the pics and my notes over here for those of you who are interested in my process:

While my Toriana universe does not have telephones (and will not as long as I have something to say about it) I thought this ornate boudoir version was quite interesting:



Smart phones may be able to realign the Hubble, but they will never have this sort of overblown charm. What I took away from the piece is how important it used to be for things to be as decorative as they were functional -- a good reminder for me when I'm crafting gizmos and gadgets for my world.

Three lamps in particular caught my eye while I was looking at different types of vintage lighting:



Elegant and rather stately for such a feminine piece, too -- I think when lit by flame the cut crystal globe chimney must have looked amazing from across a room. If it were amber instead of pink I think it would fit nicely into one of the bed chambers at Morehaven (Lord Dredmore's lair.)



The murano glass base of this lamp dates from the 1960's, so it's a bit too modern for my world, but I love the pagoda styling and the orangsicle colors of the glass.



Kit's best friend Carina probably has a pair of these lamps in her office with sculpted bronze bases. She'd probably commission them to feature a couple of handsome dudes versus the lady you see here.

This gaudy but adorable example of papier mâché folk art had me riveted for a few minutes; it's exactly the sort of primitive art that would be at home in my Toriana universe:



Already the primary components of this piece -- the lady with the lantern riding the fox - simply beg for a fable to be written about them. What I found especially interesting is the snake draped around the lady's neck:



I think she might just be Toriana's female version of Paul Revere, if I can figure out how to work in the snake!

Also, just a note to cross-post from my writing blog: The Reading Cafe is offering a print copy of The Clockwork Wolf along with some other neat reads for some lucky reader. If you'd like a chance to win them, head over and enter their giveaway.

Finally I have a surprise for you all which should (Lord willing) go live at the end of the week. If you'd like to find out what it is, stop in on Friday the 21st and see.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to all my Toriana readers! Today I'm over at Under the Covers book blog to talk about some alternative gifts for your Valentines who (like me!) who can't have sweets. Stop in if you have a chance and enter to win this nifty tote packed with goodies and signed print copies of Disenchanted & Co. and The Clockwork Wolf ARC.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Steaming Along Elsewhere

Today I'm over at XOXO After Dark, my publisher's blog, to talk about some of our technology that might be improved by adding steam power. Stop by if you have a chance and enter to win a print copy of Disenchanted & Co.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Your Mark

I have been so busy promoting the new print books I've been neglecting the blog -- my apologies. While I get my act together here, check out this delightful short animation from Digital Light Studios, featuring a steampunk train race that I could see taking place in Toriana:



(Video link nicked from Gerard at The Presurfer)