Book 5 Episode 4: You Can't Get There From Here

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Why can't our heroes just have a quiet, romantic, little picnic?

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Clockwork Alchemy 2016

It's Memorial Day Weekend and we're at Clockwork Alchemy again! Woohoo!

How about we start this convention bloop with costumes for a change? The first pic is of
Professor Pepper and his Musicalodium. It actually makes music! The next picture of the convocation of bobbies reminded Drake that he should always take his Mall Copper costume to Clockwork Alchemy so he can join in.

Professor_Pepper Coppers_at_CA
Fifties_DC Harley_Quinn_Victorian
Recycled_ties Marshal_DrakeThena_in_purple

So Much Costume Fun!

We've always wondered what one does with funky, old, out-of-fashion neckties… and here it is. So.Much.Silk. Next: There's a new marshal in town and he's making Sparky think twice about robbing the bank (you know…on purpose). That's Drake wearin' his new custom cowboy hat from
O'Farrell's in Santa Fe (the same nice folks who made the Sparky del Pecos hat). If the style looks familiar, it might be because this is the same style O'Farrell's designed for Sheriff Longmire. Of course, no Clockwork Alchemy costume bloop would be complete without at least one picture of Thena MacArthur in something magnificent. This regal purple ensemble was designed for the fashion show. After the show, she wore it around to make everyone in the Author's Alley jealous.

The really big news is that the Treehouse Writers released a joint anthology again this year,
Thirty Days Later! Twelve Hours Later was such a success last year, we decided to do it again this year, but with stories separated by 30 days instead of just 12 hours. If you enjoyed Twelve Hours Later last year, catch us at a con in the coming year and get a copy of Thirty Days Later.


Thirty Days Later

A wise man once said that you have to celebrate the victories because that's how you differentiate them from the defeats. (Okay, Drake said that.) And the release of
Thirty Days Later was definitely a victory. The authors had a spectacular release party at Spencer's.


Thirty Days Later Release Party

We first learned about
splendid teapot racing while researching our 2015 Comic Con panel, "Steampunk as a Global Phenomenon." Clockwork Alchemy was the second convention in the US where we saw it included. We're super excited to see this sport take off.


Splendid Teapot Racer

Random diversion: a friend recently asked me if there are steampunk tattoos. He said he'd searched the web and hadn't found any good ones.


Yes, Chris, There are Epic Steampunk Tattoos

Our regular readers will know that Clockwork Alchemy always coincides (more or less) with Sparky's birthday. It's become a delightful excuse for weekend-long celebrations with friends which are Sparky's favorite birthday present always. The Messenger-
Sikes Cabal organized a small soiree in their room complete with birthday wine (we swear that's a "thing"). Dover Whitecliff exercised her artistic skills to render this scene from "The Hawaiian Triple-Cross" on a birthday card. Vive la France!

Birthday_wine ViveLaFrance_card

Birthday Fun

Dover's author table was one of the stops on the scavenger hunt. At some point in the weekend she switched from requiring the scavengers to read from the back of a book in Author's Alley to making them sing a birthday song to Sparky. This resulted in some truly interesting birthday tunes. Who knew there was an apocalyptic birthday ditty?

Okay, it really was a
real convention, where we did presentations, and some performing and everything.

Clockwork Alchemy 2016 Schedule Fancy

Our Busy Schedule

First up: Character Creation Laboratory with the Messenger-Sikes Cabal. A few of the teams wound up producing stories that integrated all their characters. Sparky thinks her team should actually write up their story and get it published.

Character_Creation_1 Character_Creation_2

Character Creation Laboratory

What? You were thinking there was no Hot Potato School of Writing™? Oh, you read the schedule, so you know we weren't going to leave you hanging. The Messenger-Sikes Cabal is getting to be old hands at this, so we threw them a curve with new plot points. “We told you not to flush that cephalopod; they will just breed in the sewers.”


Hot Potato School of Writing™

And last, but not least, we sat on
Anthony Francis' panel on writing Victorian science fiction. Although we've known these fellow authors for several years and written two anthologies with them, it's still interesting to hear how our perspectives on our chosen genre vary.

Writing_Victorian_SciFi_1 Writing_Victorian_SciFi_2 Writing_Victorian_SciFi_3

Writing Victorian Science Fiction

You might have noticed that most of our pics were taken in Author's Alley. We spent most of our time going between our table and the Author's Salon for panels. So while we didn't get to see a lot of our friends perform, like the
Aether Brigade


O Aether Brigade, Where Art Thou?

…our efforts did result in this.


Sold Out!

By now we know that we don't have to say this, but - see y'all next year!

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Wild West Steam Fest 2016

First, a big shoutout to Noelle Shannon for reviving Wild West Steam Fest at a beautiful new location, the Heritage Museum of Orange County. The whole place looked like this.


View from the Porch of the Kellogg House

It was picnic perfect.


Pickanick Basket Anyone?

Lots of friends were there, enjoying the programming and the shady elegance.

Jacaranda_boys Kellogg_House_porch Kellogg_House_port_pano

Pausing for a Brief Respite on the Kellogg House Porch

The Wild West Steam Fest added regularly scheduled gun fights (wonderfully played by the
Guns and Garters Old West Reenactment group) that were sprinkled throughout the day.

Look_What_You_Done Body_count

Look What You Done!

What’s that you say? Were there shenanigans? Really, do you even need to ask?

Masked_Crusaders_2 Masked_Crusaders_3 Masked_Crusaders_1

Which One is the Sidekick?

Masks by the
Brass Wardrobe. Thanks to Bob Mogg for these comic pics of our masked heroes and for the cool panoramic view of the Kellogg House porch above. And speaking of Bob, also known as the Iron Tailor, he gave an incredibly educational bandolier workshop. It was really clear and informative. Even Sparky got to feeling like she might be able to tackle one of these projects.

Iron_Tailor_explains Bandolier_workshop

The Iron Tailor Explains Bandoliers

Star Wars Steampunk Universe was out in Force….ahaha. And Sparky won a patch by answering one of Dude Vader's trivia questions. It will straight onto her steampunk denim jacket.


Star Wars Steampunk Universe

Deus Ex Vapore Machina was there playing sets in the gazebo throughout the day, so we stopped by several times in between shopping and panels to hear several songs.


Deus Ex Vapore Machina

And you know we can't resist a few pics of cool costumes we spotted.

Witchy_steampunk Backpacks_WWSF Metal_shoes

New Costume Creativity

Because it was a one-day event, we had a short presentation schedule; we just did Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Thanks to
Debra Brunner for being such a good sport and participating in both the skit and the sock-puppet reading.

Sparky_directs ECM_WWSF

“Green Grass, Brown Well” and “The Evil Cheesemonger”

Like many steampunk conventions, this one had a costume contest. What was special about this one was the number of girls in amazing adventure costumes. Seriously, doesn’'t the one on the left look like a young Sparky McTrowell? But they all looked incredible and steampunky.

Young_Sparky Dont_mess_with_mini_steampunks

re Never Too Young to be a Steampunk Adventuress

Here’s hoping that the Heritage Museum saw the benefit of the event and lets Noelle do it again next year.

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Festival of Fools 2016

As our regular readers are aware, we’re huge fans of the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum and the Dreadful Punks, so we were super excited when they came together to produce the First Annual Festival of Fools, and delighted to be asked to headline.


Who's Ready for Some Foolishness?


Festival of Fools Poster

We started the festivities by appearing on San Diego Living on the local CW station. We steampunked the hosts, Lynda Martin and Clint August.


San Diego Living

Drake pitched in by creating the brochure and map.

FoF brochure

Festival of Fools Brochure

We thought we were in 2016, but it’s possible we were in 1885.

Back_to_the_Future_III D+McT_Back_to_the_Future FoF_Steam_Engines

Back to the Future

Because it was outdoors with lots of open space, we took the opportunity for some sporting and busking shenanigans. We broke out the croquet set.

Croquet_on_the_Green Extreme_Croquet

Extreme Croquet


Let the Wookie Win


Even Doc Phineas Paid our Pitch a Visit

We did lots of juggling; Drake even taught a few lessons. We spent so much time busking and performing that we didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures. We’re grateful to Bethany Jackson, Hybrid Realities Cosplay, Michael Watson, and Debbie Boyd for many of the following pictures.

Canonical_Sparky_Juggling Canonical_Drake_JugglingJuggling_Lesson_1 Mystery_Drake_Juggling_1 Mystery_Drake_Juggling_2 Mystery_Drake_Juggling_3
Seersucker_Juggler Sparky_Jester_Juggling

Juggling Fools

And another in our continuing series, “Separated at Birth…”


Separated at Birth?

We ran not one, but two, full sessions of Drake & McTrowell's Hot Potato School of Writing™. The first one was on the main stage. Judging by the pics, it had more than even our usual level of shenanigans.


Hot Potato School of Writing™ on the Main Stage

The second session was in the more casual setting of the Dreadful Lounge.

Casual_HPSoW_1 Casual_HPSoW_2

Open Air Hot Potato School of Writing™

Of course, no convention would be complete without a little music and dancing, compliments of Frenchy & the Punk.


Frenchy & the Punk


Plus Dancing


Um, Whats Going on Here?

We hope to see you all there next year!


Until Next Year

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Book 5 Episode 3: Leaving San Francisco

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In this episode, Drake and Sparky address the issues of leaving Sparky's hometown.

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Iron Horse 2016

Con season is in full swing, so we spent Saturday in Perris, CA, at the Orange Empire Railway Museum for the Iron Horse Family Steampunk Carnivale. We were even on the marquee for this one!

Iron_Horse_entrance_2 Iron_Horse_entrance_3

Our Names in Lights…Sorta

We were traveling light, so we only did a couple of things. First, we participated in Joyce McCarthy's “Over 30 Cosplay” panel. A lot of our favorite “usual suspects” were there and we had a lively discussion.

Over_30_Cosplay_1 Over_30_Cosplay_2

Over 30 Cosplay Panel

We did another round of Drake & McTrowell’s Theatre of the Historically Improbable™. Even with a completely different company, it was completely wacky.

Sera_does_Sparky Bethany_and_Sera ToTHI_company_in_action CI_Drake_explains Do_not_mess_with_the_crew Separated_at_birth

Don’t Try This at Home, Kiddies; We’re Rank Amateurs
(Carol Silver, thanks for taking these pictures!)

Okay, we did squeeze in a couple of other shenanigans. We hung with the
Atlantean Foundation for quite a bit of the afternoon, complete with singing on the train because…Atlantean Foundation. It’s what they do. The other thing they do is set up an awesomely detailed encampment and bestow superbly gracious hospitality on their friends.

Atlantean_Foundation_IH1 Atlantean_Foundation_IH2 Atlantean_Foundation_IH3

Attending Iron Horse, Atlantean-Style

And it seems like it’s been forever since we managed to catch one of
Poplock Holmes’ shows. Sparky danced to her heart’s content, but skipped the "signing directly on the fans" fun at the end.

Poplock_IH1 Poplock_signing


And it wouldn’t be one of our convention bloops without some nods to the costumes that really tickled our fancies.

Wired_hat Accompanying_octopus Steampunk_guard_dog Iron_Horse_family

It Wouldn’t Be Steampunk Without the Costumes

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