Monday, May 3, 2010

Guest Post by Aria & a Giveaway

*Contest is closed*

For Day 3 of my Giveaway-A-Day Countdown to My 25th Birthday Bash, I’m handing things over to Aria from Aria’s Dark Musings! Take it away girl!

So, here I am…sitting down, getting ready my first guest post (which I must say, is really crazy. I mean, really, who wants to hear what I have to say, right? But, hey it’s Amanda’s birthday, and as the Birthday Girl Extraodonaire, its her party! So on I ramble…even if she‘s the only one who really reads it!)

There are a few things that really piqued my interest in my subject matter (to which, when said Birthday Girl liked the subject matter, I actually jumped up and down a little. No one saw, thank goodness.) But I must backtrack to make it clear why…

As some of you may or may not know, I am also a tribal fusion belly dancer. As far as the art form, what makes its so appealing, not only to myself, but to others in general, is in fact the fusion aspect. Think of your favorite cookies…a little peanut butter, the ooey gooey dark chocolate chips…maybe some cherries (getting hungry, huh?) or thin mints….Now imagine the best parts in any way you like them. Yummy, right? Well, for me, that’s what tribal belly dance is. And the costuming…even more ingredients. Now, maybe you’d like to throw in a little flavor. Because this is where my journey took root. The fashion, and its influence by Steampunk. Like Black Lotus. Warning, here, addictive and gorgeous. Drool worthy even.

All right then…

Unbeknownst to me, I had already dabbled a bit in the Steampunk flavor before I even shimmied for the first time. Doctor Who, anyone? Yeppers. My mom used to torture me (I let her think that, anyways). Loved the ties, the hats, even the technology…British accents, Victorian influences and sometimes, those girls wore…corsets!! (At least, in my little girl memory). Flash forward…my first hand made glue together costume. Beautiful gold brocade with a rich wide deep burgundy stripe halter top. There‘s that tid bit of Steampunk influence, barely there. Hmmm…and then there’s the music. Beats Antique, a zany mutli-layered style of music created by a belly dancer (the fantabulous Zoe Jakes) for belly dancers. She’s not the only one, so I suggest a little field trip to youtube if you are so inclined.


Then….I did it.

I turned to Wikipedia. And that’s a can of worms that I still, to this day, reference.

Now, the Steampunk genre, at least in my humble opinion, is as young and varied as tribal belly dance. Well, Jules Verne did come before, I admit it.

So close your eyes…

WAIT! How will you read this? (Silly me, I know. Sounded good at the time, though!)

How about, use your imagination…and let yourself sink back to the Victorian Era. Imagine a dirigible…maybe bowler hat or two, corsets, traditional Victorian garb with all its pinstripe glory. (okay, maybe I like the pinstripe glory.) A dashing set of goggles perched high off your forehead (because you love adventure and exploration in all forms), giant gears, exposed levers and rivets with sheet metal plates, steam driven technology…maybe even a steam powered man. Gorgeous dark wood, heavily shellacked lit by exposed flames or bulbs, or ornate colored glasswork lighting your way…maybe a little dusty. No transistors (okay, had to look that up, not lying.) Your fingertips touch leather, felt, mica, ivory, maybe even some glass or hemp. No plastics, nylon, Styrofoam…fiberglass. Maybe a little under the sea voyage. Feeling me, yet?

Add in that feeling of exploration, of discovery…imagine being high in the air in a giant dirigible, and your intelligent, witty, and even at times a little proper (with the proper dose of sarcasm or snarkiness thrown in for good measure). Because, at its roots, Steampunk is English, after all. In origin, anyway. (BTW, the whole “punk” in steam punk should reject the codes and conduct of that of which it portrays, at least in some way. Hmmm….I always liked a little rebellion.) In case you’re wondering, there are in fact off shoots that are considered somewhat American in their substance, called Edisonade…which I could go on and on about, too.

Now, while I don’t even pretend in the slightest to be an expert, lets just say I am a very interested party. As a matter of fact, there is much debate on the purity of the whole genre, and how its splits into different off shoots (cyber punk, steam sci fi,gaslight romance etc.). You can literally spend hours looking into it. And I so encourage you…you may be pleasantly surprised…or confused…or even inspired.

So, how does all this relate to a book blog? Well, let me tell you…

My first encounter with Steampunk lit that was a conscious effort began with my favorite mall bookstore closing in favor of the outside version across the street. Every single book was *gasp* on sale (yep, I spent far too much, and still haven’t made a dent in the pile), and on what must have been my fifth or so trip that week, I had been browsing the shelves, picking up, putting down, and picking up. The sweetest little old man, who must have been in my mind what my granpa had looked liked, smiled at me and handed me a small paperback book. After telling me the pretty girl on the cover reminded him of me, I had to buy it. I am so easily flattered. Plus, it seemed to make him happy. Did I mention the sale? So I added it to my pile.

It was Soulless by Gail Carriger.


And to my happiness, she had combined this new interest with…PARANORMAL!! So witty, full of historical facts woven with fiction. Okay, sensing the whole fusion thing here? Needless to say, I now want my very own parasol. And possibly a werewolf. Maybe a lovely corseted dress in…*shakes head*. Trying to stay on topic, promise.

But, what about other books, you may ask? Well, I have to say, my very first Kindle edition is in fact Avalon Revisited by O.M. Grey. Another Steampunk Paranormal, but entirely different. To say that I have been savoring this one would be an understatement. Because what I have discovered, is not just the setting, or clothing, or even the technology about Steampunk attracts me, it’s the tone and pacing. Sigh…and O.M. Grey has me, hook, hemp line, and copper sinker.

On my short list, and maybe a few will land on yours, too…Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Love this cover), Changeless by Gail Carriger, Steampunk Anthology(a gorgeous mini tome full of information)…and I would love any suggestions to further explore my new discovery.

Now, please remember, I’m just dallying, and while I did do some research, I am so not infallible. So, if I made any mistakes, please forgive me…and don’t be mad at Amanda over anything I did. Because its her party, remember?

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll add those goggles to my next belly dance costume!!


Thanks so much Aria! I’m so glad you could join us for my Bday Bash!

You can find Aria at her blog or on twitter!

Now on to the 2nd part I know you’ve all been waiting for! Today’s giveaway is going to be Steampunk related!

~1 winner will receive one book Aria mentioned in this post. Book will be from either Book Depository or, so in order to enter this, one of those places must be able to deliver to you.

~1 winner will receive one surprise Steampunk handmade item. What is it? Who is it made by? All part of the surprise!

This is international! You must be a follower. Contest ends May 31st. For any other questions, please refer to the rules.

To enter fill out the form and leave a question or comment for me or Aria (hehe Did I mention I was going to do that to you Aria? mwah!) or about Steampunk in general.

Don’t forget to check out the giveaways that have already happened & see what’s still to come on the schedule!

*Contest is closed*


mbreakfield said...

I have Soulless in my TBR pile, I really need to read it.

Beth said...

Great guest post Aria! Belly dancing def sounds fun!

I really didn't know steampunk really existed until recently. I've got Soulless sat on my shelf waiting to be read and didn't have a clue it was part of this genre.

I'm a Doctor Who fan, and until you mentioned it I would never have put two and two together!

Reading this almost makes me want to throw aside (ok I lie, I could never throw a book, even one I didn't like lol) and start on Soulless! I shall certainly be bumping it up on my TBR list!

I really enjoyed reading this. I always enjoy reading about how people discovered certain books and genres!

And yes, you should wear the goggles for your next dance! ;)

Great post Aria & thanks Amanda for choosing a great guest blogger! :)

Tori [Book Faery] said...

And now I want to go take belly dancing classes even more than I did before. THANKS A LOT ARI! <3

Cherry said...

I already got Soulless in my "to buy" list... now, all I am waiting is to have a bit of money to buy it with :)

Giada M said...

Love this post and LOVE Steampunk! Thank you for posting this! This giveaway is amazing! And thank you for making it international!:)

Giada M.
fabgiada @

Elise said...

Aria, how long in general does it take for someone who has never had belly dancing lessons to learn the basics of tribal fusion belly dancer?

Palindrome said...

That was awesome. And made me love steampunk all the if that were possible.

Nastassia said...

You really love steampunk don't you? I haven't read a steampunk novel yet but from raves its getting , I think I should start now. I think I'm too self-conscious for belly dancing though it sounds fun.

Emmagan said...

I loved your post Aria. It was so much fun reading it. I too love steampunk,The fashion is very cool looking. i also think belly dancing is great, (though not for me i don't have the body for that lol). I love the outfits, with the shiny stuff on it. I big fan of this shiny, glitter XD.

Manda (Manda's Movements) said...

Whenever I hear the word Steampunk, the cover of The Boneshaker always pops up in my head. It has such an appropriate cover.
I always cringed whenever Doctor Who came on. I never even gave it a chance. One looks at the sets and costumes and my mind went "Eeek!". Haha I'm sure I'd appreciate more now though.
Your really good at painting a picture for the reader!
I've got Soulless Changeless sitting on my shelf and I'm so eager to read it soon!
Thanks for the lovely post!

Jessica said...

Thanks for the post Aria. How fantastic that I got to learn of something new. I had no idea that steampunk even existed. The belly dancing is an added bonus. I hadn't yet heard of Soulless either so getting my hands on it will be a real pleasure. ;) I'm a research kind of gal so you also just gave me something to do for a few hours. :)

Thanks again ladies and good luck to all.


Aria said...

Oh, boy, am I blushing!!!!!!!!! Thanks for all the love, ladies! And to my so awesome host for having me. And those Bellydancers above are some of my faves.....just to be clear, Bellydancers come in all sizes. It's a celebration, and you need something to shimmy, lol! We also have some booty going me!
The main requirement is a sense of humour. Cause sometimes, you look a lil a good way!!

Amanda Leigh said...

@mbreakfield- Oh yes! I love me some Soulless! It's one of my favorites so far this year!

@Beth- I'm glad she was able to help you learn about Steampunk!

@Tori- LOL Me too!!!

@Cherry- I <3 Soulless! Now I just have to read Changeless!

@Giada M- I'm glad you liked it so much! And I'm so happy that we came up w/ a giveaway you enjoy! It was a joint effort! :)

@Elise- we are waiting for Aria to fix some technical difficulties...

@Palindrome- Yay for Steampunk!!!

@Nastassia- I'd say it's worth a try if you haven't read it. :)

@Emmagan- So I'm not the only one attracted to shiny things... lol

@Manda- Boneshaker does have a perfect steampunk cover to it. I was thinking that last night when I was going through the links. Just testing... Not getting distracted...

@Jessica- I'm so happy Aria's post opened you up to the steampunk world! It's a fantastic place!!

@Aria- <3<3<3 Sorry for your technical troubles... hope you have better luck later!

MissBohemia said...

I really enjoyed reading your guestpost Aria :-)

I can totally relate to your love for steampunk! I love the merging of fashion from the Victorian era mixed with fantasy, scifi & technology & the way Gail Carriger fuses it with the supernatural in 'Soulless' is both magical & refreshing :-)

Belly dancing sounds like a great expression of dance & fun too!

p.s. Happy Birthday Amanda :-)

Jen N / Miss Bohemia

Robin K said...

WOW! Tribal fusion belly dancing sounds hot! I wish I had the opportunity to see more shows like this. Great post!

robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

GABY said...

I love belly dancing. Its a shame i'm not the "dancer" type.

Great post. I haven't read Soulless by Gail Carriger, but its on my to-read list :)

Amanda Leigh said...

@Miss Bohemia- Yay for Steampunk again! And yay for jewelry from you! I got my package today!! I need to start keeping track how many times you say Happy Birthday! lol

@Robin K- I totally want to learn to belly dance now. Well, I always have, but now I REALLY REALLY want to again.

@GABY- I'm glad Soulless is on your to-read list. It's fabulous!

Barbara E. said...

I've read Soulless and Changeless, both fantastic books. If you haven't read Steamed by Katie MacAlister, you should because it's a wonderful steampunk romance. I'm dying to read Boneshaker myself, I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet.

Aria said...

WAHOO!! Technical difficulties are temporarily over and my laptop and I have made up!

@Elise...I started as a cabaret bellydancer (which is what yo probably the image you normally get when you hear bellydance), which had its pros and cons. Everyone learns differently and teaches differently. Most beginners classes are usually 6-8 weeks, and will give you a solid foundation. I wouldn't recommend your first instruction to come from a dvd only because the posture is very critical to not hurting yourself. I will say I laughed A TON at myself at first, just because it feels kinda wonky and weird and DEFINITELY will give you the giggles...Ooohh, and if you like yoga at all, it will give you a slight edge because of the isolations.

Everyone who mentioned Boneshaker...That cover is so iconic, I think!!

Its scary how big my steampunk pile has been growing!!

Miss Bohemia, *wink wink* I will be visiting you and treating myself to a little ornamentation for love love!!

Anyone can Bellydance (did you know it was created by women for women?), but if you are kinda the shy type (I ws, believe me) check out any local troupes/bellydancers in your area!! I guarantee you will have a great time...

Amanda, you rock, Happy Birthday!!

I can't wait to see the rest of the Bash!!

throuthehaze said...

I've know about steampunk for awhile and I am glad that there is a lot of interest in it now. Soulless was a great book, I can't wait to read Changeless

Amanda Leigh said...

@Barbara E- Steamed is on my list too actually. Ah, so many books to read!!

@Aria- yay! Your back! Must learn to bellydance... And thanks for the bday wishes again! lol

@throughthehaze- Another steampunk fan! Soulless is fantastic, and I also need to read Changeless...

EVA SB said...

Ok so living in the Middle East I understand about Belly Dancing but what do you fuse it with to make it Tribal?

I am dying to read Soulless but it just hasn't reached here. Thank goodness for Book Depository (and my credit card)

Paper Cut Reviewer said...

Hi Aria! Great guest post and very interesting. I have always wanted to learn how to belly dance. I love Shakira:)

Hi Amanda! Wow what an awesome B-day Bash Giveaway! I love the prizes:)

Great job ladies!
Happy Birthday!


Amanda Leigh said...

@EVA SB- Soulless is such a unique read, and unlike most of the books I read. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but then I couldn't put it down. Like Aria said, I also now want a parasol.

@Steph- Thanks so much! I've tried to make it something great for my followers and a fun bday for me too! So far it's been a lot of fun!!

misskallie2000 said...

Great contest. To be 25 again. On well..
Happy birthday and have a blast.

Great job ladies. This will be one to remember..

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Andrea I said...

I enjoyed the post with belly dancing and Steampunk. I've seen a lot about it, but have never read any.

MissBohemia said...


Feel free to drop by my etsy shop :-)I'll be sure to include a few goodies when you do!

I was planning on going to a bollywood fusion class but maybe I can check out some bellydancing too!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Great post on steampunk. I know I was curious at times about what steampunk when I first started looking into the genre. It has really started to take off lately. :) Thanks!

jewelknits said...

I feel really behind the times, but I HONESTLY only heard of Steampunk for the first time less than two weeks ago. I heard (or more likely read) it in passing, then again, then again, and NOW I get to read a whole LOTTA info all at once and I MUST ... READ .... SOME

Thanks for a very cool and informative post!

jewell330 at aim dot com

Amanda Leigh said...

@misskallie2000- lol thanks so much!

@Andrea I- I'm glad you enjoyed it! I love me some steampunk! But then I guess everyone figured that out already....

@MissBohemia- So jealous of the dancing classes!

@Melissa- Yeah, steampunk is sure on the rise. I don't see it slowing down anytime soon. Too many people are fascinated by it.

@jewelknits- It's ok, your not the only one. I've talked to a lot of people recently that are just finding out about steampunk. That's one of the reasons I was so happy Aria wanted to do this post!

Linda Henderson said...

I have not read any steampunk, I've been wanting to try it out.

seriousreader at live dot com

Jennifer Mathis said...

I hope i'm not too late . I haven't really read alot of steampunk but I'm get on board cause i adore the styles of it

Aik said...

This contest is so great! I'd love to enter! Thanks!

Amanda Leigh said...

@Linda- I hope you do try it out! It's fabulous!

@Jennifer- You're not too late, all contests run until the 31st!

@Aik- Glad you like it!

vvb32 reads said...

cool perspective on steampunk!

bianca_riot said...

I havent read much of steampunk but i've been given a new perspective. Great Post!

Amanda Leigh said...

@vvb32- Glad you liked it!

@bianca_riot- Glad you enjoyed it! :)

donnas said...

Great post. I have Soulless and Steamed in my TBR pile. Thinking I need to move them up the list.

What other Steampunk future releases are you looking forward to?

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I just discovered Steampunk last year and felt like I was reconnected with part of my soul! Thanks so much for this chance to win!

CrystalGB said...

Great post. I am a newbie to the steampunk genre. I find it fascinating.

Kristen said...

I'm really digging steampunk myself and am surprised by how much they are popping up now. :)

Amanda Leigh said...

@donnas- I still need to read Changeless, and in O.M. Grey's interview she mention's a few, which have now all gone on my wishlist!

@Sweet Vernal Zephyr- It's wonderful isn't it! I didn't realize what I was missing either until I found it!

@CrystalGB- I hope you like what you find!

@Kristen- Yep, steampunk is definitely a trend right now, which makes me happy. More to read!!

skyla11377 said...

Great Post Aria. I Am New To This Steampunk Craze And All I Can Say Is Were Have I Been All This Time Not To Notice The Awesomeness Of Steampunk.

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

Hi Aria and Amanda! Great post, thank you for your recommendations! I am a newbie to steampunk, but as I love the different genres it mixes, I'm sure I will love it! I already have Soulless on top of my TBR pile! Oh and thanks to Amanda's Saturday shopping I always stare at the amazing beautiful steampunk jewellery! I'm so glad this genre exists and that I discovered it! :-)

heatwave16 said...

I am just jumping into Steampunk, but it looks like I made a good choice with Souless. I loved Sherlock Holmes, and that movie is part of the steampunk movement and motivated me to try something new.

Have either of you seen the new Sherlock Holmes?

draconismoi said...

Did anyone else scream in frustration at the end of Changeless? It is incredibly possible that I threw the book across the room in rage and woke up my beleaguered roommates. They just don't understand book obsessions.

Spav said...

Great post! I have to confess that I haven't read any steampunk book yet, but they're definitely on my wishlist.

R.E.B. said...

Have you ever combined brass and gears into a bellydance outfit or fused other costume ideas?