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Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows Trailer 2011 HD

13 Jul
Looking good! I enjoyed the first film and this trailer looks very promising.
Sherlock in drag for the win. Also like the gypsy character. Bring it on!

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In Search of Setting

16 Jun

I’ve finished the first two chapters of Residue (working title). Not bad for a week, eh?

However, I am giving my setting some second thoughts. Dru Pagliasotti has graciously sent me a link to an article he wrote on Steampunk and it entailed some of the clichés in the genre.

I am guilty of one: setting the story in Victorian London. What can I say? I love England and since I am a great Jane Austen fan, I imagine it as the epitome of elegance for my characters to go there and immerse themselves in the Season.

So, should I change it? I can. I’ve only written a few pages. But then what should I change it to?

Right now, I am considering Paris. That place where fashion was born, the courtesans were powerful and painters gather on the Montmartre. It has a little something, doesn’t it?

I ran it by my Mum and she also had a few suggestions: Dublin, Vienna and Prague. Obviously, having lived in Dublin, I could easily transport the story to that place. It will always have a special place in my heart. Vienna and Prague I have never visited and know little about.

What do you guys think? Steampunk Egyptians? Highlander air pirates?

Or should I stick to London?

Steampunk novel opening excerpt

12 Jun
London, 1888
Chapter 1
Usually, the only enjoyable aspect of the Season was the underground boxing matches. Men were never as agreeable as when they were bloody, sweaty and out of breath. But there was no boxing tonight. Instead, they had been invited to a ball. Everyone who was anyone was present. Unfortunately, every nobody in the radius of 50 miles had bribed a way in as well.  Many miscreants weaseled about the room, begging for a dancing partner. Siobhan MacKenzie beheld the spectacle from the safety of a secluded corner. A light tap on the shoulder made her turn. Her dearest friend and accomplice, Cecilia Stayn. They exchanged a curtsy and a knowing smile.

 “I just arrived. Please tell me I did not miss the compulsory debutante blunder,” Miss Stayn said.

Cecilia had an everlasting smile. Golden locks escaped her fashionable hat and she wore an exquisite red gown with plunging neckline. Siobhan often envied the looks of her friend, especially her fair complexion and light figure. In contrast, Siobhan was rather freckled and curvaceous – though many suitors admired her for it. Sadly, her lack of fortune had prevented them from showing a serious interest. The world could be a mercenary place and in the industrious London, the marriage market mostly consisted of snobs and factory workers. Siobhan was a respectable woman and her father was a devout clergyman. As such, she visited the poor for charitable purposes and had her reputation to think of. Now, as a 25-year old singleton, she was considered a spinster, though she had not lost her bloom; her fiery hair attracted attention wherever she went, though some Englishmen treated her unkindly due to her Irish ancestry. But, having been born and bred in Yorkshire, there were no traces of an Irish accent. She had been brought up a true English lady. Her governess had seen to that. She remembered the many hours of punishment she’d endured at the hands of that woman.

“I am very curious about this scientist we were promised to meet. If it weren’t for him, I would have stayed at home.”

“Gregory Striker? The inventor of the dirigible?” Cecilia asked.

“Yes, indeed. The most brilliant scientist of our time. Allegedly, he will show us his latest discovery. Can you imagine? An exclusive.” 

Siobhan glanced at the door. Sadly, it did not open. She rather hoped for an introduction; perhaps his genius would rub off on her. Siobhan’s genius was in designing her own wardrobe. Most dresses she wore were of her own making and she amused herself by adding brass trinkets to her hats, gloves and belts. She also favoured feathers, beads and unusual colour combinations. Her style was far more conspicuous than her friend’s.

“I wonder what sort of discovery it will be. Everyone expects such great things from him it’s bound to be disappointing,” Cecilia remarked.

But Siobhan had faith in his abilities. Secretly, she hoped it would aid their personal pursuits. A few months ago, a mermaid washed ashore and caused quite a stir. Politicians struggled to decide the best cause of action. Should she be treated as a human or as a fish? Being both, they sent her to the zoo – to be seen by all the world and make them rich. A tradesman invaded the chamber and brutally shot the mermaid; he later claimed that selling mermaid tails would be a lucrative business. The man was executed but that was not the end of it. Local fishermen started hunting for other mermaids. Siobhan and many others feared for the their safety and sympathized with her plight.

As such, they formed the Alliance for Protection of Mythical Creatures and campaigned for equal rights. But the government did not act and snatchers captured dozens of creatures. Their tails were said to be worth thousands a piece. With the black market overrun by their criminal activity, the Alliance started fighting back. The hunters had now become the hunted. Siobhan, Cecilia and her fellow-hunters were committed to their training. They had a club house underground for shooting practice, fencing spars and meetings. Siobhan her favoured weapon was a brass whip that slithered around its target like a snake. Her father did not know she was a Protector. Nor that she wore trousers, suspenders and boots. She did not feel the need to justify her actions to him. Men went boxing. She went hunting. Few encounters with snatchers had a violent conclusion. Protectors always brought their pistols and snatchers were but impoverished fishermen; most could be dissuaded from their present course with a beer.

Still, some were more reluctant to surrender their cargo. Protectors were fast, strong and well-equipped. Vanity caused the occasional hunter to retaliate against them; but without any weapons or wits about them, fights were brief and easily won. Siobhan was still caught in reverie when the doors swung open and a gentleman tall, dark and frowning entered the room. There was no mistaking his authority; he walked with confidence and a sort of intellectual greatness. His dress fashionable and sophisticated, he exuded strength. This was no man to be trifled with. A woman’s lapdog winced and crawled underneath the pillow.

“He does not look like a scientist. Who is he?” Siobhan whispered to her friend.

The stranger found himself the centre of attention but moved through the crowd with the grace of a panther, his dark eyes lively and calculating.

The host, a chubby fellow whose name Siobhan never remembered, hastened to his side to bid him welcome.

“How glad I am you are here, Prof. Striker. We’ve been expecting you.”

The stranger raised an eyebrow.

“I’m not Mr. Striker. Sorry to disappoint you.”

Book Research and Facebook Author Page

10 Jun

Alrighty!

I’m busy with research for my book. I will soon share a short excerpt so you can all get a taste of what is to come. At this point, I’m still exploring all the possibilities of my steampunk adventure so if you have any suggestions, leave me a comment and I’ll take it into consideration.

There are some Victorian books I’d like to read (about Victorian asylums, hospitals, cemeteries, homes, etc) for inspiration and ideas. I love history and my book will be a mixture of history, humour and plenty of steam and spunk. 😉

Apart from airships, what is your favourite steampunk element? What absolutely NEEDS to be included?

In the meantime, I’ve started looking up agents interested in the genre so I can start sending out queries sometime soon (read: when I have written more than 1 page). This weekend will be dedicated to fleshing out the plot, potential characters and hopefully finishing chapter 1.

I will also try to keep my Facebook Author Page up-to-date. I just created it and it can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Renate-Linnenkoper/125803740834565

All ‘Likes’ would be greatly appreciated.

A new start

9 Jun

It was going well. I had 18 sales, a 3-star rating on Goodreads but something was missing. At first, I didn’t know what it was. Somehow, I wasn’t completely happy with the book.

But the literary consultancy helped me figure it out. They assessed my manuscript and had many useful comments and suggestions. One of the suggestions was that I change the time period. They observed that I have an old-fashioned writing style (from reading all those classics) and some aspects of my story had a period vibe. Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary literature and that showed in my writing.

Well, I gave it some thought and initially considered changing it to the 50’s. They mentioned the 70’s but I have no connection with that decade – too much orange and green for me to cope with. But the 50’s prevented me from using the technology that had become an important part of the sequel (which, I had started writing in my mind).

Then I remembered how I had actually wanted the story to be Victorian. That’s when it struck me. Steampunk! I should set the book in the Victorian age as I had always wanted to and add steampunk elements for technology. This way, I could still write a paranormal fantasy and it would fit perfectly. I could be myself, write period.

I also ended up agreeing with the editor about another comment: there were too many characters. So I started over with the plot outline and eliminated the characters that weren’t crucial to the plot. I gave my main character her mother back (in Exogenesis, her parents were divorced) and reduced the love interests from two to one. Much better. I scrapped a few nosy neighbours and resolved to remove the early focus on the police investigation and instead, work on building a credible relationship with the love interest.

I’m really getting somewhere now and my best friend and illustrator already supplied me with a fabulous drawing of Siobhan in steampunk attire. I kept the opening of the story and picked up after the first paragraph. So far, I’m pleased. I love history and as a retired re-enactor I feel knowledgeable enough to paint an accurate picture of the time. That being said, I fully intend to do the necessary research. Amazon has some excellent Victorian books I will explore.

>Fashion Fantastic: Pucci Fall 2011

2 Mar

>You regularly see historical influences in modern fashion. That’s usually the only kind of high fashion I enjoy. Pucci unveiled their Fall 2011 collection yesterday and I was very pleased to see elegant designs and a combination of old and new. I gathered a few photographs from my favourites.

Black can be classy and sophisticated. Don’t go for mini dresses. It’s tacky.

Not everyone can pull off brown successfully. But if you can, go for it.


I love this coat. The dress on the right reminds me of Austrian folklore.

A bit gothic with a hint of Victorian glamour.

Two coats with fabulous detail.

>Creating your Own Vintage Wardrobe

13 Jan

>I’m sure I’m not the only one who admired the wardrobe of Downton Abbey. I’ve always had a thing for historical clothing – they’re classy, sophisticated and unique. Back in the day, the rich had tailors and fashion was still an art. Ladies put in the effort to be stylish and sleek. Sometimes, their style became a part of their reputation and attracted men. That has become a rarity.

In today’s world, we all dress alike. Not many still design their own clothes or peruse vintage stores for that one jewel. Sadly, classy isn’t en vogue anymore. Quite the contrary. Tacky is. Ironically, Dita von Teese is an exception. Although I don’t condone her lifestyle or profession, I greatly admire her fashion sense. Vintage can be beautiful and it makes us stand out.

                                                          Edwardian fashion in Downton Abbey

Nowadays, pencil skirts and fishnet tights have become the norm. Sure, the secretary look can be sexy, even pretty. But not nearly everyone has the figure to pull it off. Many women suffer from chunky ankles and flabby thighs. Modern clothing does us few favours. So, how can we get our hands on vintage designs with their long, flowing gowns and puff sleeves? Every now and then, Victorian influences creep into today’s fashion. But most of the blouses are transparent. What do you wear with that? Other tops have an unusual cut that doesn’t flatter us. I’ve given up on high street stores (well, with some exceptions as listed below). So I’ve turned my attention to other resources instead.

Class, accessories and style are united in this striped number

As I like to say: Google is your friend. Many websites are dedicated to vintage reproductions to fulfill our every need. If it is an antique’re looking for, Ebay might be the answer. I spent a large portion of this morning searching for Victorian and Edwardian items and stumbled upon over a dozen original outfits – some dating back as far as the 1880’s. And of good quality, too! So, I put in a bid or two and fingers crossed, I will soon be the owner of an antique Victorian jacket. Naturally, they cost rather more than a reproduction but they’re certainly worth it.

Another alternative is Etsy – more suitable for those who, like most of us, live on a budget. You’d be surprised at the amount of vintage inspired clothes and accessories people have made and put up for sale. It is relatively cheap, innovative and you’ll be hard-pressed to run into someone wearing the same outfit.

                                                          Ruffles galore in Anne of Green Gables


Fashion tip:
Notice how in Anne of Green Gables a simple blouse and waistcoat combination instantly gives you a classy, vintage look. I’m sure everyone has a white blouse somewhere hidden in the corners of their wardrobe. Waistcoats are easy to come by in regular stores. Try different styles for different results. Experimentation is key so start mixing and matching! Couple it with a long skirt in neutral tones and you could end up with a Victorian/Steampunk looking fashion hit on your hands. Notice how in the picture below Anne has a small watch on her waistcoat; you can also try a small brooch or pin. Adding that little accessory will liven up your wardrobe and keep things fresh.

                                                          The classical blouse/waistcoat/straw hat combination

Accessories:

Try adding a choker to your dress for a little extra sparkle. See how Mary spruced up her dress by accessorizing. Otherwise, a subtle string of pearls might do the trick. Pay close attention to period drama to see just how effective a well-placed necklace or headdress can be. Gloves are also a real eye-catcher. Nothing says elegance like the evening gown – elbow-length gloves combination. For outside strolls and picnics, you should give a straw hat a try. They come in many different styles, with all sorts of ribbon, feathers and even fruit. 

                                           Mary’s choker might be recycled but it’s a stunner.

                                               The very definition of puff sleeves.