(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Photo Friday: Life and Death(?), and a Flash Fiction Bonus

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2017/02/24/photo-friday-life-and-death-and-a-flash-fiction-bonus/

Rumours of my impending doom have been wildly exaggerated. This week I got the results from my twenty-four hour cardiac monitoring I've tried new strategies to curb the heart palpitations and flutterings. Nothing devastating but I do need to have further investigations. (If only I could control anxiety.) I'm working on new strategies - and I've managed five nights in a row without an episode.
  
Writing (and not discussing my previous career) has helped distract me from counterproductive thoughts. I've almost finished rewrites for the first (longer) short,  From the Depths, in Viola's third journal of adventures and am reworking the second story, Tomorrow, When I Die.
We've had record summer rains and everything is so green and full of life (usually everything is dry and brown this time of year).  We've had a few chill nights (huzzah!); I've even finished another octoscarf to sell at the Salisbury Secret Garden markets tomorrow afternoon.
 

And now for a bonus flash fiction.

The girls at the pbafm Words Out Loud radio show have a tradition. They randomly choose five words from a book of their guest for the day. The challenge is to write something, using all five words, in just ten minutes. Contributions get read out on air in the following session. On my visit on the show, the words were from John Malone's latest book of poetry, Seeing Things.
The words were: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo. They challenged me on the day; this was my contribution.

Enjoying the View

©2017 Karen J Carlisle
Humphrey was a fashionable snail. At least he thought he was. He'd recently taken up residence by the river. He lounged under his brand new red gazebo and surveyed the spectacular view. A wooden sign by the water shaded the yard from the midday sun. A fine crop of broccoli provided an abundant yield for his supper. Ripples glistened on the water. Perfect.
He just couldn't understand why his friends hadn't joined him.
Water splashed. He crawled out of the shade and edged toward the water.
So cool. So inviting.
Why had his friends been so concerned? Humphrey, don't go near the water, they cried.
Humphrey leaned closer and touched the water. It shuddered.
A large eye blinked under the surface.
The piranha licked his lips, flicked his tail and swam away from the bank.
THE END
 
Why don't you have a go at the five word challenge? You have ten minutes to write something containing all the words: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo. Post your stories or poems in the comments below. I'd love to see what you come up with.
 
Photos ©2017 Karen J Carlisle

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Firing the Imagination: Steampunk Hands Around the World #3

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2017/02/19/firing-the-imagination-steampunk-hands-around-the-world-3/

Certain groups seem to have a higher percentage of creative types. And steampunk is no exception. It's a creative culture. It nurtures the imagination - through a good book, a stunning costume or breathtaking images. But this is no cookie-cutter culture. Steampunk fosters individuality. Give a group of steampunks a box of similar items, and they will create their own, unique masterpiece; no two things alike. Writers, artists, costumers. We have the lot.
And you don't have to spend a fortune. I found a second hand 'Nickelodeon Slime Blaster' (water gun). It resembled the old Mortein fly spray pump-action squirter. My imagination took over and, voila! A Pump-Action Fairy Eliminator. And hence was born my Steampunk Fairy Catcher outfit. It's so much fun wearing this outfit to conventions! Just let loose your imagination; what would you have made?
  
I started doing photography in high school. (What better way to get out of PE than joining the photography club and taking photos for the school magazine? Back then we did it all in a dark room, with enlargers and smelly chemicals). Steampunk has re-kindled my passion for the art form. It's not just portraits. There are some gorgeously intricate gadgets -themselves inspiring - with intriguing shapes. Or the way the light catches on the brass...
   
Then there's my greatest passion: writing. Where would I be without steampunk?
Over the years, I've started writing. Stopped. And started again. I just couldn't find my niche. I'd been a member of the steampunk community for about six years before I tried again. But what to write? They say: write what you know. So, I started writing a fantasy novel; a story that had been mulling around in my brain for over fifteen years. I got sidetracked by Viola. She wanted to tell her story. And her story was steampunk. I've now expanded my steampunk world, with two more planned series. Each is different. The Adventures of Viola Stewart were darker, Victorian mysteries (closer to gaslamp). The Department of Curiosities is a rollicking adventure. Then there's The Wizard of St Giles, set in the shadowy world we rarely see.
I can ferret around in familiar settings (like Victorian England or Colonial Australia), meet interesting historical characters (Tesla, Queen Victoria, Jack the Ripper), throw in a few of my own and see how they interact. Like costuming, I can immerse myself in history and indulge my passion for science and fantasy. I get to play the ultimate 'what if?' I get to cross-pollinate genres, postulate on alternative theories leading, or resulting, from historical events. I get to twist history. Or, if I prefer, I can create my own world, complete with steam-powered engines and cog-driven sentient beings.
Want some first-hand inspiration? Check out these drawings of how 19th century envisioned the year 2000 (in full steam) and what they imagined future space ships would look like: Science meets art in Le Sortie de l'opéra en l'an 2000 and Maison Tournante Aérienne (both from 1800s) can be found on the Library of Congress webpage.
So how has steampunk fired my imagination? Ideas come more readily and I speculate in many directions - adventure, paranormal, fantasy and science fiction - all enhanced through steampunk goggles.
Photos ©2013-2017 Karen J Carlisle All rights reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Photo Friday: Words and Colour

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2017/02/17/photo-friday-words-and-colour/

Words:
Did a radio gig. Gave away some books. Wrote an on-the-spot flash fiction in ten minutes. Survived the 42 degree heat. Thanks to Jo, Marilyn and Carolyn who made me feel at home.
And a new set of dice (Story Cubes) for conjuring up words (looks like a Doctor Who story to me).
and then I got these for Valentine's Day; my Dearheart knows me well - writing and Doctor Who!

Colour:

Got my hair coloured - finally got the courage to bleach some of my hair to achieve the coveted purple!
   
   
Photos ©2017 Karen J Carlisle All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Sense of Wonder: Steampunk Hands Around the World #2

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2017/02/12/a-sense-of-wonder-steampunk-hands-around-the-world-2/

Bear with me, Dear Reader.
I'm about to tell you a tale - one that will offer you a glimpse into the circuitous route to my present mindset and how steampunk has made my life better by restoring a sense of wonder (1) to my life.
I'm a research addict. I crave it. I accumulate it. I hoard it. You can often find me spiraling down endless rabbit holes, in search of that one elusive fact, that last piece of a puzzle I've been chasing. The one thing that makes everything fall into place. It's the curse of a writer (or scientist, or quiz night-o'holic, or... ).
But there's more to it than that.
Imagine you're an explorer of uncharted lands:
Dust whips your face, lodging in your nostrils, scratching your eyes. You dig your fingers into the rock, ignoring the stinging pain as blood beads on your palm. You drag yourself up the precipice, thrust your arm over the crest of the mountain and spy the wonders of an undiscovered landscape.
Imagine the pure delight of such endless new discoveries. Researching my books is not unlike being an explorer. It starts me on my journey, inspires the landscape (setting) and encourages me to explore for new worlds, complete with wondrous gadgets for my characters to discover.
But there's still more.
It seems Sir Francis Bacon predicted our future: Knowledge is power (Meditationes Sacrae and Human Philosophy,1597) . Everyone wants a bit of the action. No one is willing to share.
Let's face it. Life can be a grind: Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Sleep. Repeat. (Though waking up can be optional). Endless days of monotony, in a seemingly uncaring world where we are either invisible and insignificant or vying for control.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
The Empire may have wanted to plunder the spoils of exploration but we - the explorers - can revel in the pursuit of knowledge. We can search for understanding and inspire wonder for others. We can trek into the unknown, searching for the wonder and mystery of life, of people, of experiences. And we can share them.
So how has steampunk made my life better?
It has inspired my research beyond the confines of my writer's chair, beyond the internet, beyond the library. It has encouraged me to discover the wonders of a community of supportive people. It has inspired me to explore the wonders of my world - past and present. It has given me the courage to wrench myself (sometimes literally), from the safety of my comfort zone onto that mountain side, defying my anxiety - to try new things, a new career and to experience life as I search for the hidden wonders in our broken but beautiful world.
 

Photos copyright Karen J Carlisle and MJC

(1) Definitions of Wonder (Oxford Dictionary):
  • A feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful, remarkable, or unfamiliar.
  • A thing or a quality of something that causes wonder.
  • A surprising event or situation
  • Having remarkable properties or abilities.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Photo Friday: Costumes, Books and More!

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2017/02/10/photo-friday-costumes-books-and-more/

A New Corset

I started making a new corset for events. (Thanks to Lynne for helping to fit my toile.)
  
Finished toile

Up to adding spiral boning.
New books arrived at the post box:

Announcing my first short story collection.

I've also been editing, formatting and computer wrangling. I've just published my first collection of fantasy, science fiction and steampunk short stories - written between 2013 and 2016 - With a Twist of the Nib.

Available now on Smashwords and Amazon

  
And here's the cover:

And More February Events

And another event this month! I'll be at the Salisbury Secret Garden on Saturday 25th February. Salisbury council presents bands, movies, family fun and, this year, they also have a creators' market as part of the Adelaide Fringe. I'll be there, with my books, t-shirts, mugs and badges! There's also a free concert by Thirsty Merc and other Aussie bands.
Don't forget to tune into PBS community radio (Salisbury, Adelaide) FM 89.7 (or online at www.pbsfm.org.au) on Tuesday. Listeners get an opportunity to get a free eBook copy of With a Twist of the Nib.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Photo Friday on Sunday: This Week's Wins.

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2017/02/05/photo-friday-on-sunday-this-weeks-wins/

Wow, what a difference a week makes; this one ends on a more positive note. After a health scare (second ECG and blood tests were normal - phew!), it seems anxiety was one of the major causes. So I went on a tea cup shopping spree (well, T2 had a sale).

Of course, I had to buy some replacement tea balls.
More sales provided an opportunity to get this cool mug.
Each time I drink from it, I am reminded though things are still hiding under the surface, I can work on some new methods to cope to drown out escalating stress.

Photos and video  ©2017 Karen J Carlisle All rights reserved.
February is here and so is Steampunk Hands Around the World. You can read blog posts from steampunks from many countries on how steampunk makes life better for them. (Read my first post, A Whimsical Notion: Steampunk Hands Around the World #1) or check out Airship Ambassador's listing of daily posts HERE.
Also in February (confirmed this week) are two events on the same day! 14th February. At 10.30 am (Australian Central Daylight Savings Time) Jo Baker (Adelaide poet and champion of indie writers) will be interviewing me about my books and writing.  You can tune in on your radio at FM 89.7, or listen online at www.pbafm.org.au
And at 10.30 pm  (Australian Central Daylight Savings Time) I'll be hosting a spot on the Facebook virtual author event: Our Books Are not Free.
It's been a busy week. I think I need a cup of tea (in one of my new cups!).

Regular readers are probably wondering: Huh? What is Photo Friday doing on Sunday? February is Steampunk Hands Across the World - a month of posts from steampunks from around the world. My first Steampunk Hands post was on Friday (instead of Sunday) to kick off the month.  Next week will return to normal programming.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Whimsical Notion: Steampunk Hands Around the World #1

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2017/02/02/a-whimsical-notion/

Greetings from Australia, and welcome to Steampunk Hands Around the World.
(This week's Photo Friday will be posted on Sunday 5th Feb)
Over the next month I'll be sharing my thoughts on how steampunk makes my life better. You can also read the thoughts of other steampunks from around the world - from the UK, Germany, Mexico, US, Sweden, Spain... and more. You can find a list of all participants at the Airship Ambassador's pages.
Today I start with an important lesson I re-discovered, thanks to steampunk:
to look at the world with the wonder of a child and embrace whimsy (1)
When I look at the state of the world today, it makes me shiver. Literally. I shiver, my heart palpates. The constant bombardment of negative news, posts, tweets feed discontent, feed anxiety, feed the fear - with tumultuous results. Our world  is in crisis. Our Earth is dying. Our people, crying.
The world needs something to smile about; I need something to smile about - something, however small, to look forward to. Embracing whimsy is not frivolous. It is a form of protection. Ever wondered why we rally to fantasy movies and books in times of recession? When reality is unbearable we search for escape.
That is one way steampunk has made my life better. Look at some aspects of steampunk:
  • looking back to an era of etiquette and manners.
  • recreating history (well the good bits - like quest for knowledge and wonder of discovery), with a fantastical or fictional twist.
  • turning even the mundane items into individual works of art by
  • encouraging imagination, individuality,
  • and recycling and/or up-cycling unwanted items into artistic items of wonder.
  • whimsical cross-overs - steampunk pirates, steampunk fairies, steampunk Star Wars, steampunk Doctor Who - you get the gist.
  • Tea. There's lots of tea.  (All those antioxidants are good for you.)
So, how has steampunk made my life better? It's taught me to focus on the little things, the beautiful things and beautiful people. It's given me another strategy to cope with anxiety. I write, I create art and costumes. I socialise with supportive, like-minded people.
We need to discover the wonder and inspiration of the glinting treasures below the steaming pile of coal. We can strive to find ways to access that treasure and show the world it's beauty.
So here are Karen's Rules of life:
  1. 'Be excellent to each other'.
  2. Look for the hidden treasures and beauty in life.
  3. Encourage imagination.
  4. Rediscover how to have fun.
  5. Don't let the tyrants win.
  6. Drink tea.

  1. Definition: Whimsical: "Playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way." - Oxford Dictionary. Synonyms: fanciful, playful, mischievous, waggish, quaint, fantastic, unusual, curious)