Saturday, April 16, 2011
Since I've had several of you ask for steampunk book recommendations, I thought I'd put together a little list. So, if you like Victorian alternative history adventures with dashes of the supernatural, airships, and plenty of gadgetry, read on!
Note: I'll just be telling you whether I liked each title one or not, so hit the individual links for more info and plot summaries over on Amazon.
That said, I can't recommend the rest of the series nearly as enthusiastically. I've read the first three, and felt books 2 and 3 just went downhill. The things that happen with the main characters also made me mad. ('Cuz I take my fictional characters seriously, dang it.) That said, if you simply ADORE the first book, then by all means keep going and judge for yourself.
Next up is one of my all-time favorites in any genre:
Next up is a book by one of my favorite authors:
Those are the steampunk titles I've read thus far. Now here's one Epbot reader Teabunny recommended:
The Iron Duke, part of the Iron Seas Series, by Meljean Brook
This has great reviews, and - in case the cover didn't tip you off - is a steamy alt-universe romance. Hubba hubba.
I've also heard good things about this one:
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
It's on my to-read list, so I'll let you know how it goes!
Have any of you read it? How do you like it?
So check that out, and then share your own steampunk reading recommendations in the comments!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Plus, after spying that little ray gun in the top left, I'm thinking a completely sci-fi themed one would be awesome. Or what about Lego? Or little green army men? Or marbles? Or...well, you get the idea. :)
Here's an oldie but a goodie for us Labyrinth fans:
And speaking of England: Monty Python fans, prepare for much rejoicing.
Here's some Muppet art that really pops:
Bork bork bork!
Susanne Ritchie (the artist) has set out to make all the Muppets out of balloons. And they're awesome. You can see the rest at her blog, Black Cat Balloons (Found via @GlennzTees)
Stop everything. Watch this. Cry a little. Squee a lot.
Ok, now your weekend can officially begin.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
So...the next Cake Wrecks book is just about done.
(I'll pause here for a little "dancing around the office" time.)
Yep, the layout and design are still being tweaked, but soon I'll be able to check "Write a *holiday* goofy cake book" off my life's to-do list.
Now, however, comes the hard part:
Now, I know I don't talk about CW much over here, so you might be wondering why I'm bringing this up. Well, here's the thing: I'm in a quandary. A conundrum. A fix. John and I have spent the past several days talking it over and puzzling it out and sharing a lot of dramatic, brow-furrowed glances, and yet we *still* can't figure this one out. So maybe you guys can help.
Here's the problem: John and I don't want to fly for this tour; we want to road trip it.
In an RV.
'Cuz we're nuts.
Or that's what most of our friends and all of our family keep telling us, anyway. So, before you jump on board with the "seek professional help" team, let me list for you what *we* see as the positives for a road trip across the U.S. (and perhaps a bit of Canada):
- No airplanes
- No security lines/screening/indignity
- Less hassle: no constant packing/unpacking/rushing to meet flights
- Faster (for shorter trips, of course, and taking into account airline delays & such.)
- Less exposure to sick travelers, plague, ebola virus, etc.
- More tour stops (we'd strive to make no more than 6-hr hops between cities when possible)
If that last point seems sarcastic, it's not. John and I love the idea of an extended road trip, and considering that we spent the first two years of our marriage working and living in a 45o square foot condo together, we're used to tight quarters. Plus as a teenager I once lived in a motorhome with my grandparents for a few weeks, and it's one of my all-time favorite memories. I loved it.
However, my list is also in order of importance. I've never been a huge fan of flying, but the recently increased "security" measures (and resulting personal rights violations) have made me swear it off completely wherever possible. I'm not trying to start a debate on politics here; I'm just telling you how I feel, as an anxiety-prone individual with a history of things I don't want to relive while a government employee gropes me, sees me naked, or both.
Still, I know many people have no problem with the nude scanners and pat-downs, and those people tell me, "If you don't like it, don't fly." Well, I'm not flying. Or at least trying not to! However, there are times when people simply don't have a choice in the matter, whether it's for work or family emergencies or what-have-you. And, when it comes to this book tour, I honestly don't know if we'll be able to avoid the less-than-friendly skies.
- The cost
- The risks (one fender-bender could throw the whole tour off, and, no matter how you look at it, flying IS safer.)
- The cost
- Getting around town (would we rent a cab, or drive the RV to the bookstore?)
and, of course:
- The cost.
See, renting an RV is amazingly expensive. I mean, AMAZINGLY expensive. One RV guy told us it's actually cheaper to just buy one and sell it again when you're done with the trip. Um. Yikes? And then there's the gas, which John estimates would cost nearly $4,000 for a round-the-country trip. FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS. Just for gas. Now, our publisher is willing to pick up the tab on quite a lot, but I can't ask them to pay more than they would for regular ol' flights and hotels.
A few more negatives:
- A road trip would take a bit longer, though hopefully not much if we plan the route right. (Also taking into account that, if we flew, we'd allow extra days to rest between stops. I don't want a repeat of our first tour disaster!)
- Since John is the one with experience driving large trucks, he would be the only driver. Meaning if he were to get sick, we'd be up the proverbial creek without a literal driver.
- We also have to consider the physical toll driving and hooking up an RV each night would take on us. Before we usually had a taxi waiting at each airport to take us directly to the store or hotel, meaning we didn't have to worry much about directions and driving and disposing of our own poop. (TMI? Heh. Sorry.)
The good news is I have the World's Most Amazing Publisher, aka Andrews McMeel. The lovely ladies there are open to just about about any and every crazy idea John and I throw at them. Road trip across the U.S.? Sure! Twenty five stops? Why not? John made a joke about including Australia the other day, and I think they were even on board with *that.* (Now I'm trying to brainstorm ideas just to mess with them, but I have a sneaking suspicion they'd be unflaggingly enthusiastic about a hidden camera show punking bakers with ridiculous cake orders.)
So here's where I'd like some input, if you readers have any to offer: who out there has RV experience? What aspects of this kind of travel am I missing? Are trailer parks hard to find/awful to stay in? Is it a massive amount of work? Do you like it better than flying?
Our hope would be to find a relatively small RV to save on gas and maximize maneuverability in-town. Our dream would be to find an RV manufacturer willing to rent us one in exchange for some kind of sponsorship deal. I've never done anything like this, of course, and more than likely the motorhome companies won't give us the time of day, but it's worth a shot, right? Especially since you know I'll be posting and tweeting and generally yammering on about the trip when the time comes anyway. Heck, maybe we'll become the new poster-children for the American Road Trip!
Or maybe we'll end up in another Dallas ER.
Who can say?
Right now we're looking at the month of November to hit the road, so we still have a little time to figure out what we're going to do. So, please, chime in with your thoughts! I want any and all advice/ideas you readers have to offer.
UPDATE: Wow, you guys are bringing up some excellent points and making great suggestions. To save on the comment deluge, let me list the most common issues I'm seeing:
- "November? ARE YOU CRAZY??"
Ok, good point on the snowy road conditions. However, I think we could leave in early October and wrap the tour by mid November, visiting the frozen North first to avoid the worst of the blizzards and such. Plus John was raised in Maine, so he's not unfamiliar with driving in the snow.
- "Why not just take a car and stay in hotels?"
Another good point, and one we're considering. The downsides I see are a) it's a lot less fun, b) you still have to unpack & repack every night, and c) if, God forbid, we get in a wreck, the risk of bodily harm seems much higher in a small car vs a large RV. (As a compromise, we're continuing to research small RVs and/or large vans.)
- "What about trains?"
Good question! Not sure if they go everywhere we need them to, but I'll look into it.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I love art, and I love artists who put their own spin on characters I already know and love. So when that artist is a geek, things *really* get cool.
This little Big Daddy (gotta love that contradiction) is the work of InkyMcStapleFace, who, in addition to having a user name that made me guffaw, is a rockin' geek girl with some mad Munny-modding skills. (For those unfamiliar, Munnys are art dolls used pretty extensively in the art world as modifiable blank canvases.)
And it gets better: Big Daddy lights up!
And because every Mr. Bubbles needs his own little sister:
Anyway, here's a final shot of Inky, giving her creation a cuddle:
Go check out all of her in-process shots here, and a big thanks to my fav blog SuperPunch for the link!
Monday, April 11, 2011
Mary B. shared this great photo with me from WonderCon last weekend:
If you've never heard of it, "crossplay" is a form of cosplay that involves dressing as a character of the opposite gender. Often you'll see the costumes tweaked a bit to be more feminine or masculine, which is what makes it so fun. Of this group, I love Aqua(wo)man and Super(wo)man the most, but they're all great.
Anyway, I love crossplay for its creativity and double-take-inducing fun. For me, the best ones are those that re-imagine a character as if s/he had been born the opposite sex, as opposed to dressing exactly like the original. At it's worst, crossplay can be just slapping on a pair of thigh-highs and stilettos to make the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "sexy." [eyeroll] I have no problem with sexy, but, c'mon, ladies! Get a little more creative!
Or how about the lady Link I posted from MegaCon?
Oh, and crossplay obviously goes the other way, too, with boys dressing as girls, but I just get a bigger kick out of seeing my fellow geek girls 'playing it up.
UPDATE: I've since heard from more experienced cosplayers that this kind of crossplay - where the gender change is played up - is more accurately known as "gender swap." Sorry for bungling the terminology, guys!
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