Monthly Archives: March 2013

“Victoriana Lady” Lisa Griffiths Publishes Book on Steampunk Fashion

I’ve been following Victorian/Edwardian devotee Lisa Griffiths on Facebook for some time now, both in her “Victoriana Lady” persona and on her deliciously dark “Victorian Mourning” page (which focuses on Victorian/Edwardian traditions, attire, artifacts, photography, etc., as related to funerary/mourning practices from the Gilded Age). Lisa is an expert in her field, so I was thrilled to discover recently that she was applying her wide-ranging passion to the exploding steampunk movement.

ISF CoverGriffiths has just published a book on the subject entitled International Steampunk Fashions, “…a fashion-backward collection featuring hundreds of intricate, creative, and visionary steampunk designs from top names in the business and fans from around the world. Presented in high-quality fashion photography, the looks in this compendium include head-to-toe Victorian-era style coupled with futuristic, sci-fi concepts, as well as hats, jewelry, and other accessories. With fashions from as far away as Europe, New Zealand, and the Americas, this volume celebrates the diversity and innovators of this international phenomena and showcases works by contributors such as G.D. Falksen, Jon Magnificent, Kato of Steampunk Couture, Lex Machina, Lee Ann Farruga, Daniel Proulx, The League of S.T.E.A.M., Cris Ortega, Jema Hewitt, Dim Horizon Studio, Starkall, Empire Art, Abney Park, Brute Force Studios, Veronique Chevalier, and many more. Complete with a foreword and “Steampunk 101″ by G.D. Falksen, this is the book for designers, fans, and collectors.” (*official book description)

“Two years ago I was asked to do a Victorian & Edwardian fashions book at Schiffer Publishing” recalled Griffiths in a recent interview. “By this time I had discovered steampunk online, through blogs and Facebook. I absolutely fell in love with its Victorian roots, and planned a steampunk chapter for the book.”

Surprised, however, at the overwhelming amount of submissions she received from all over the world, Griffiths quickly realized that her “planned chapter” on steampunk had outgrown her book-in-progress. The popular topic deserved a publication of its own.

“I called my editor and asked if I could do a steampunk book exclusively, and they said yes. That’s how International Steampunk Fashions came about.”

Compiling the book was easy, due to ready support from the steampunk world. “I researched the internet for photos that I liked, then contacted the model to ask if he or she would like to be included in the book. They gave me referrals as well. I contacted blogs, and joined a number of steampunk-related Facebook groups. I had amazing support from the very beginning of the project, and I’m very excited to be able to give them a platform where their vision and talents will be appreciated.”

Working on the book, however, was not without its hurdles.

“I was writing International Steampunk Fashions while going through a divorce,” she said. “Many days I wanted to just quit, but I didn’t want to let the contributors down. So I just pushed myself. It was like therapy for me, and kept me focused and sane. In the end, this book is a victory for me.”

"Victoriana Lady" Lisa Griffiths

“Victoriana Lady” Lisa Griffiths

This victory is certainly not her first, however. “Victoriana Lady” Lisa Griffiths is a nationally-acclaimed professional speaker/reenactor. She’s had a cameo appearance on one of the top-rated reality shows, Oddities, where she wore her antique mourning clothing and jewelry. She’s been featured in Victorian Homes magazine, a Pennsylvania Bed & Breakfast magazine, as well as numerous newspaper interviews. She also has released a DVD, Victorian Fashions At The Mansion, filmed at the nationally-acclaimed Stegmaier Mansion Bed & Breakfast, and she portrayed the highly respected nurse Esther Tinsley, circa 1900, in a DVD film entitled Haven On The Hill. (Both DVDs are sold out.)

Griffiths has a talent for transforming her passion for 19th century Victorian fashions into a romantic and memorable portrayal of life and times during the Gilded Age. She has also been a caterer of authentic afternoon Victorian tea parties for women and children, where homemade pastries are presented on family heirloom China and lace linens.

“I have loved the Victorian era since I was in grade school, when my great-grandmother showed me a photo of her grandfather who was a quartermaster sergeant in the Civil War. I was intrigued by the photo and asked if she had any more old family photos. She pulled out a box full of Victorian family pictures and I immediately fell in love with the fashions. So much, in fact, that even in college I was already adding Victorian pieces to my clothing. I guess I was steampunk before there was a name for it!”

International Steampunk Fashions can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets.

Self-Publishing 101: How to Make an eBook

Formatting and publishing your own eBook can be an intimidating experience for a novice self-publisher. That’s why services like Smashwords are so popular: they can take a standard Word document, convert it into all popular eBook formats, and publish them to a bunch of venues for you. They take the hassle out of independent publishing.

But, for those of us who want bit more control over their publishing experience, formatting and creating eBooks by hand can be a rewarding experience. Why would you want to do this by hand, when there are services out there that can do it for you?

  • Microsoft Word is a pain. Basically, it is overkill for the eBook writing process. Most Word features are either not needed in an eBook (e.g., margins, padding, page numbering), or won’t translate during the eBook conversion (e.g., font selections and footnotes). And, your Word document has to be meticulously formatted for it to convert cleanly. (If you’ve glanced over the Smashwords style guide, you know what I’m talking about.) Most people default to Word because it’s what they’re used to using, but I find that other options are much simpler, elegant, and conducive to the writing process.
  • Formatting by hand gives you greater control over the look of your final eBook. I’m a typography snob, and I love the control that formatting eBooks by hand gives me. I can embed fonts, change the way that paragraphs and headings are formatted, even include drop caps into my opening paragraphs. While there is a bit of a learning curve involved in tweaking eBook output, I find the result to be well worth the effort.

In this three-part series I’m going to go over writing and formatting your eBook file, converting it to popular eBook formats like ePub and MOBI, and tweaking the output with a bit of styling. You’re resulting eBook files will be ready to upload to popular outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble for sale and distribution.

Ready to dive in with me?

Read More!

Nine Muse Press Wants YOU for our Affiliate Bloggers Program

As a blogger myself, one of the most frustrating things is to be bombarded with authors who ask (take) and never give. REVIEW MY BOOK, LIKE MY BOOK, LIKE MY PAGE, TWEET MY LINK, SHARE MY PROMOTION, etc.

As someone who promotes for a living, I have to ask: why would I?

Yes, free books are nice, but I am GLUTTED with free books. I have far more digital books than I could read in six months.

So why would you partner with Nine Muse Press? Well, our idea is to sweeten the pot, to get you excited about partnering with us to share our books and promotions, to offer you exclusive content for your blog. Your opinion is highly regarded.

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last year meeting and talking to authors, bloggers, media people, etc. to get the best idea of what YOU would like.

If you share the love, you get the love, so I’m designing this program with bloggers specifically in mind. You work for hours for essentially free because you feel so passionate about books and you deserve to be rewarded for it.

As a member of our Affiliate Bloggers Program you will get exclusive content, first access to unique events and all manner of other goodies. Affiliates will also have the opportunity to “vote” for books that they think would be a perfect fit for Nine Muse Press. You can vote in the Nine Muse Press affiliate forum for up to 3 books — we want to know what you think. We don’t accept submissions from authors, but we know you’re reading the best books out there. Support your favorite indie author and vote for them!

So join our affiliate program today, and see how much we love our bloggers!

Contemplations at two days and counting…

March 21 is my birthday.

I’ll be 45 years old. 45 times around the Sun, as my custom-made t-shirt says. When you say it like that, it doesn’t sound that long. Hell, I still get carded. But still, halfway to 90 as well, so I guess quite a distance after all. And I’ve now lived longer than some of my favorite creative forces — Freddie Mercury, for starters. Jim Morrison, obviously. Karen Carpenter…

When I wrapped up my goth/rock opera CD Veil & Subdue, in 2009, the occasion was so incredibly exciting and suspenseful. I’d been working on the project for three long years — libretto, plot, lyrics, instruments, vocals, package graphics — and seeing it come to a closure of sorts was thoroughly gratifying, but sad too. I didn’t know what was about to happen with the project, but I had a definite feeling that I’d never work on something “that big” again.

Edgar Wilde started with a block and a spin. The “block” was the sudden reshaping of my world due to the arrival of my beautiful daughter, Sofia Alafaire, which I’ve talked about in a previous blog post. The “spin” was a horrifying hydroplane-on-the-wet-Interstate near-miss in late 2011. I’d thrown out a few sentences of what would become Edgar Wilde by then, but surviving such a fishtailing skid between a guardrail and a speeding semi added a definite imperative to the new project. I’d lived to see another day. My family was unhurt. What was I waiting for? What I still needed to do in my life, I needed to do it NOW.

Six months later, my hands raised from the keyboard to find I’d completed the first draft of Edgar Wilde. There was so much more work to be done on it, but that was okay. And so the past year has been spent editing — endlessly editing — but also coasting on the fact that I’d captured the tale. I knew I had it. It was just a matter now of shaping it and working it until it found its final form.

And here we are. In two days I’m launching my book, my first novel, the first (I hope) of a series of grand, mysterious, exciting Edgar Wilde adventures. Few of you will read this until days later, as we are keeping the book’s release — and my brand-new publisher, Nine Muse Press — under wraps until our big rollout on Thursday at 5:30pm. You’re most likely reading this blog entry post-release, and I hope you’ve bought my book, or are going to. More importantly, I hope you love a good mystery as much as I do, and that this tale takes you on a tantalizing journey through cemetery clues, rumors of witches, and the pursuit of a lost book of spells — The Lost Grimoire.

I can’t think of a better gift to receive to help celebrate my 45th trip around the Sun.

One Spark. Boom.

There is that moment, the moment when you interface with your own creative waves, passing through a wall of sheer determination, patience, and passion. And suddenly you are no longer throwing things out to in front of you, but are instead ahead of them, being pushed by them, being caught on a crest of momentum.

In the air, this is known as the Sound Barrier. Here in our little corner, it is Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire.

From countless months of editing and re-writing, suddenly – within the last two weeks – a profound swath has cut its way through, bringing my novel to an exciting, resonant culmination. It’s time to publish!!!

The release date is now set: March 21. My birthday. My 45th birthday, to be exact. And here I’ve been sitting around, trying to figure out how best to celebrate. It was only the day before yesterday that I realized that the realistic publication date for Edgar Wilde was about to intersect with the beginning of my 45th trip around the sun. How perfect! What better way to celebrate? (well, there are ways, but let’s not dawdle on that…)

But I’ve got to mention something else, another “sonic boom” that has propelled EW forward, and that is the splendid dovetailing that is the publication of my book and Jacksonville, Florida’s One Spark (www.beonespark.com) event in April. One Spark brings businesses together, asks them to sponsor various creatives around the city, and for a week in April people get to check out your wares, vote on them, and possibly leave your pot of gold much more bountiful than before. When Tina, Sofia and I stopped by Bold Bean Coffee the other day for some Curry Lattes, a chance meeting with someone involved in this project led to me checking it out. It was enough to inspire me to register my book as a creative project worth consideration. But it was another friend – someone else who’d signed up as a musician for the event (Joe Little, folks, of Red Pill Prophet! Check him out!) – who stayed on my ass enough to make sure I found the right vendor, and that I met all the deadlines. SUDDENLY, my novel, Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire, is going to be a featured creative project at Urban Grind Coffee Co., on the ground floor of the Bank of America bldg. in downtown Jax (that’s the closest thing to a skyscraper we have in these parts)! As an added bonus, I get to pitch my book project to the world on one of those days in mid-April, broadcasting Edgar Wilde over the Net to anyone out there who thinks it’s worth any sort of investment. The book could walk away with a few bucks and some nice press coverage…or quite a few thousand, which would be enough for Nine Muse Press to stake a claim in the PRINT arena and get Edgar Wilde a first HARDCOPY press run! I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this event, and am thoroughly using the energy from it to focus this e-book version of Edgar Wilde into a solid reality. by the time One Spark happens, we’ll have published the book online, hopefully gotten some impressive sales numbers, and received some glowing feedback as well. Stay tuned for all that!

So we are (counts fingers with giddy exhaustion) 13 days away from the official release of Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire! As I’d contemplated how and when to release the book to the world, I never could have imagined it would be just now, and just like this. The timing has given my 45th time around the sun a beautiful chiming, and One Spark has created a megaphone of incomprehensible impact. The wind is at our back, folks. Clear sailing toward dawn.