Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

The “Guide to Creating and Protecting Fictional Characters” 2nd edition, was released at the Steampunk World’s Fair last weekend during a workshop entitled “Girl Genius(R) versus Sherlock Holmes: Character Development and the Law.” It is now available in Kindle format!




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Diversify! The watch word for business, life, investments – and publishing! Sometimes you don’t know what works until you try a little bit of everything. In the midst of a busy gallery schedule and upcoming Art Walk, a serialized steampunk story is in the works. Why a serial? Perhaps it is a great way to determine whether or not a story is compelling – if the first few installments don’t attract attention, why continue? A novel is a full-time commitment as well as a huge risk. However, that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t experiment with different formats.

Here are two recommended resources for authors in general, and steampunk authors in particular. Get your hands on the February 2014 edition of Writer’s Digest and read the article “Best of Both Worlds” by Chuck Wendig. This no-nonsense article addresses issues that many authors face who find themselves navigating through various publishing format options. There is a statistical insert based on an author survey conducted by Digital Book World in 2012, identifying not only approximate income for three types of writers (self-published, traditionally published and hybrid authors), but show how much work goes into self-marketing. There is also a useful article about outlining and story mapping “7 Steps to Creating a Flexible Outline for Any Story,”  by K.M. Weiland and recommendations about which publishing experts to follow online, “10 Top Publishing Insiders (& Outsiders) to Follow Online,” by Jane Friedman.

The other resource is the book “Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction,” by Orson Scott Card, Philip Athans, Jay Lake, published in 2013. What is great about this book is how it breaks down not only the differences between these genres, but the conversational writing tone. The history, culture, glossary of terms for fantasy and science fiction makes this a nice reference book. In addition, the authors’ first-hand experience with these writing styles is invaluable.

Find steampunk and science fiction books and comic books at Steam at Harper’s Ferry, as well as our soft cover “Guide to Protecting Fictional Characters.”

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On August 15, I did an introduction to steampunk literature presentation at the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library. I had a great time and hope the attendees did too!  There were some great questions and the library pulled together a wonderful collection to check out!

Here are some photos from the event (photos provided by Charlma Quarles with permission, copyright 2013).

Library Steampunk Event 1 - (c) Quarles 2013 Library Steampunk Event 2 - (c) Quarles 2013 Library Steampunk Event 3 - (c) Quarles 2013  Library Steampunk Event 5 - (c) Quarles 2013

Steampunk Literature event at Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library August 15, 2013

Steampunk Literature event at Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library August 15, 2013


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Deadline is approaching!

Phileas Fogg’s Itinerary:

London to Suez (السويس as-Suways) via Mont Cenis & Brindisi by rail and steamboats – 7 days

Suez to Bombay (now called Mumbai) by steamer – 13 days

Bombay to Calcutta (or Kolkata) by rail – 3 days

Calcutta to Hong Kong (香港)by steamer – 13 days

Hong Kong to Yokohama (横浜市 Yokohama-shi) by steamer – 6 days

Yokohama to San Francisco by steamer – 22 days

San Francisco to New York by rail – 7 days

New York to London by steamer and rail – 9 days.

William Hall's Tellurian Clock with globe

William Hall’s Tellurian Clock with globe

Where would you like to go?

Map from 1872 version of "Around the World in 80 Days."

Map from 1872 version of “Around the World in 80 Days.”

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Current Exhibit – “Aware Amusings” by T. Jason Edwards

Through June 23, Steam’s Resident Artist, T. Jason Edwards will be showing some of his work from hisJason's_Spring_Show_2013_With_words_WEB_versionAware Amusings” collection. If you have been to the gallery, you may have seen samples of his work, but this is the first time that seven pieces from the collection have been shown together.

Around the World – Call to Artists

The next exhibit at Steam will have an “Around the World in 80 Days” theme. A “Call to Artists” has been posted on the website. Submissions for consideration are due June 15, 2013. The Exhibit opening is scheduled for June 29, 2013.

What’s New at Steam

Steam has released another publication under its SciFi/Steampunk imprint, Steam at Harper’s Ferry Press, entitled “Guide to Creating and Protecting Fictional Characters.” The Guide was released on May 19 at the Steampunk World’s Fair at a seminar called “Character Development and the Law” held by Cynthia Gayton. Here is an excerpt:

“This is an exciting time to be a creative in any enterprise. You can develop stories, illustrate and publish your work with great speed and minimal expense. Doing things on your own is both liberating and inhibiting. Yes, you can do it all – from start to finish – the product, distribution, display, advertising and promotion are all controlled by you . … This legal guide identifies five categories of things a creative should consider before putting her or his hard work out there for public consumption.”

This Guide, as well as the story “Of Steam and Spring” are available for sale at the Gallery as well as Amazon.com in a Kindle version.

Artomatic in Jefferson County – October 2013

If you have heard of the DC Artomatic, which has been held almost every year since 1999 in Washington, DC you know it is quite a spectacular art event.  Last year, Frederick, MD held its first Artomatic. This October, Artomatic comes to Jefferson County! It will be held at the Rock & Tile Building off of 340 (9154 Wolfcraft Way, Charles Town, WV). Please see their website.

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The ‘Guide to Creating and Protecting Fictional Characters” by Cynthia Gayton with illustrations by Jason Edwards was released at the 2013 Steampunk World’s Fair. This guide is for those who want to protect fictional literary and illustrated characters, generally, in the comic book and graphic novel fields, specifically. Here is an excerpt:

“This is an exciting time to be a creative in any enterprise. You can develop stories, illustrate and publish your work with great speed and minimal expense. Doing things on your own is both liberating and inhibiting. Yes, you can do it all – from start to finish, the product, distribution, display, advertising and promotion are all controlled by you. On the other hand, it could be a problem that all these things are controlled by you. Do you have the skills necessary to bring your product to market, including the knowledge to protect your creations?”

Guide Cover

The guide is available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry.

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by Teresa Barth

Sapphire Blue, by Kerstin Gier, published by Henry Holt & Co (English), 2012

Categories:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Time Travel

I enjoyed Sapphire Blue much more than Ruby Red, the first book of the series by Kerstin Gier. Sapphire Blue goes into more detail about Gwen (the main character), Lesley, her best friend, and Gideon, her time travel partner (or enemy?) as well as Xemerius the ghost Gargoyle. I like the character, Xemerius, and how he helps Gwen. I could not put this book down! Now I need to find a copy of Emerald Green, the next book in the series.

(This is one of a review series of those books either available for sale at Steam at Harper’s Ferry, or steampunk or Victorian Themed books, in general. Want to submit a review? Send an email to info@steamatharpersferry.com with the book title and proposed review (not to exceed 250 words) for consideration.)


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In addition to the great covers, all of these comic books

1.  Feature women with guns

2.  Have full color illustration throughout

3.  Have compelling story lines

4.  Are about the “Wild West”

5.  Have a steampunk feel

And they are all available for purchase at Steam at Harper’s Ferry!

Get your Oz on with the Legend!

Maybe there will be a Lady Mechanika movie!

I love the colors scheme in this comic book!

Steam at Harper’s Ferry has Lady Mechanika Nos. 0-3; The Legend of Oz, Wicked West No. 1; and Next Town Over Nos. 1 & 2, available for purchase in very limited quantities.

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At the September Shameless Steam event, Larry Gillick referred to an author I hadn’t considered in many years – Marshall McLuhan. Way back when, in Wired magazine’s Patron Saint’s distant past, I felt incredibly cool knowing who he was thanks to an undergraduate communications class. He comes to haunt me in the steampunk realm with his book, “The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man” copyrighted in 1951. In his preface to the original edition, McLuhan writes, “[o]urs is the first age in which many thousands of the best-trained individual minds have made it a full-time business to get inside the collective public mind.”  He continues, “Why not assist the public to observe consciously the drama which is intended to operate upon it unconsciously?” Then he uses Edgar Allan Poe’s work “A Descent Into the Maelstrom” to illustrate how the main character studied the whirlpool in to avoid personal catastrophe.

I made, also, three important observations. The first was, that as a general rule, the larger the bodies were, the more rapid their descent; – the second, that, between two masses of equal extent, the one spherical, and the other of any other shape, the superiority in speed of descent was with the sphere; – the third, that, between two masses of equal size, the one cylindrical, and the other of any other shape, the cylinder was absorbed the more slowly.

The version I have is the Fiftieth Anniversary edition. If you are not familiar with his work, consider these quotes:


To what collective prayer is this amalgam of noble savage and the aristocratic sleuth an answer?

Is it just an accident that Tarzan, the nature force, is unclogged by family life? Just another cowboy?

The Boy Scout to end Nature Lore?

Is Superman’s jungle of criminals nearer to us than Tarzan’s jungle of beasts?

Do I think a lot about Sherlock Holmes? Not really. But I can’t seem to get enough! Why? McLuhan thought enough about him to offer his own analysis.

From Da Vinci to Holmes

Why are both scientist and artist crackpots and pariahs I the popular imagination?

Holmes, Renaissance titan or Last of the Mohicans ?

Watson, wife or mother of the virtuoso of crime?

The sleuth cult foreshadows the arrival of the police state?

Wow. That hadn’t crossed my mind at all.

Then he goes on to embarrass me with that which I have not read:

The popular sleuth thus offers a window onto a complex psychological landscape. This landscape includes the figure of the superman as he has taken his stand on all the moral, political, and scientific issues of the West from Da Vinci to Holmes. It also includes the platform at Elsinore and the ghost-stricken figure of Hamlet. Hamlet the Dane saw one ghost. The modern Hamlet stares at a whole assembly. And not least among these is Philip Marlowe, Chandler’s echo of Christopher Marlowe’s supermen Tamburlaine and Dr. Faustus, that Nietzschean politician and scientist.

Steam at Harper’s Ferry invites you to write a 500 word blog post on along the lines of McLuhan’s book “The Mechanical Bride,” either fiction or non-fiction. Please contact Steam via email for further information.

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This past Sunday, February 5, there was a gathering of folks from near and far who came to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony and hear about Harper’s Ferry’s role as it pertains to American History, and in particular African American history. Local historian and well-known member of the Jefferson County community, George Rutherford, gave an interesting talk about Martin Delany, who was born in Charlestown, Virginia in 1812.  There are few books written about him which may be explained partially because his papers were destroyed in a fire Wilberforce University of Ohio in 1865. The Harper’s Ferry Historical Association Bookstore has books about him.

In addition to his being trained as a physician, he achieved the rank of major in the United States Army during the Civil War. He co-edited the newspaper The North Star with Frederick Douglass. In apparent response to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Delany wrote his own serialized novel entitled, Blake, or the Huts of America in The Anglo-African Magazine, and later in The Monthly Anglo-African Magazine. His achievements are too numerous to show here, but his life warrants further study.

In addition to several Park Service employees, officials from the Jefferson County Commission were there along with local businessman (his office is next to Steam’s gallery!) and candidate for the 66th District in the West Virginia House of Delegates, John Maxey.

As usual, the sherbet punch and cookies were excellent! 

The exhibit, Running to Freedom: Fighting for Freedom, is open to the public and is located on the 2nd floor of the John Brown Museum.


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