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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Obligatory End of Year 2015 Post

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2015/12/27/obligatory-end-of-year-2015-post/

My social media feeds are full of the obligatory end-of-year-round-up posts.
Regular readers will have read what I have done through the year (here is a list of events I have attended). The best part was meeting some of you at these events. Thank you for your support, your comments. I really appreciate you taking your time to give me feedback and tell me how much you liked Doctor Jack. (Squee!)
And yes - I am working on Journal #2 of Viola's adventures right now! Newsletter subscribers have had already sneak preview of the first scene. (You can sign up here for Tea & Tidings -monthly newsletter if you want some exclusives and scoops.)
Some of you may have noticed I now have a Work-in-progress bar, for both Eye of the Beholder and The Department of Curiosities, on my website. Now you can check their progress. (It also gives me a kick in the butt to get moving). workinprogressWEBSITEbar2015
As a thank you, here's an end of year present for you:
The blurb and a hint for the upcoming cover:
COVER BACK HINT 1511 Eye of Beholder and OTher tales Icon OPTION 2 with blurb version 1
I will be sharing my plans for 2016 in upcoming posts.
Thank you for following my travails throughout the year. I hope you all had a pleasant Christmas holiday and enjoy what the new year brings.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tea & Tidings Newsletter Sent

Tea & TIdings Newletter Sent

This month's newsletter is on its way to subscribers, a few days late due to the silly season and two heatwaves. My apologies.

For new subscribers and readers, it is usually sent to you around the 20th of each month.

If you want to know the news first up, sign up today!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Excellent End to a Chaotic Week

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2015/12/20/excellent-end-to-a-chaotic-week

Yep, this blog is a few hours late.
I blame the heatwave - and those hateful north winds that carry down dust storms and trigger my allergies. Our air conditioner died Monday, was fixed Wednesday evening. We thought we were safe. Not so. We swealtered through Saturday morning after a local power outage. We celebrated with a D&D session, with friends, when the power was restored.
So what did I do over the week while I was hiding from the heat and north winds? A little writing and sewing - at least when the power was on.
Here is my latest steampunk fashion statement - squeezed into almost inadequate amounts of randomly bought material on Spotlight sale.
keys back keys front
Four days of over forty degrees Celcius - in December! Monday and Tuesday weren't much better - both over mid thirties. A record (since1897). Why can't we break a record like most chocolate consumed over the holidays or largest lightsabre battle?
Instead we joined the throngs to watch the much anticipated Star Wars Episode VII. I enjoyed it. A good balance between action and humour. Enough nods to the old series, for the long-time fans. That's all I'll say - or spoilers, Sweetie!
Have a cool week everyone. Enjoy your Christmas/Holidays.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Website Updates

The battle, with electronics hellbent on making me feel like an idiot, is won. And by me. (Well, by my Dearheart actually.) There was much nashing of teeth and utterances of certain words - some of which were in French. So pardon mine.
The absconding costume post has now been reblogged. If you have bookmarked it, please resave.
According to the beta testing you should now be able to access my newly rehosted website via the new address:
(If you use the old address, the pages should be automatically redirected. )
website banner online pic
Please leave any comments or issues below, so we can troubleshoot. Thanks for being patient.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Costume Upcycling

One thing I love about costuming is the challenge of creating something from materials already in my cupboard or, even better, upcycling something to make it useful again.
A few years ago I discovered 'pocket belts', made from old jeans. A great idea - especially if I could steampunk it up. I prefer carrying things hands free - around my hips or waist - as it puts less strain on my back and neck (home to all my stress and anxiety and have never been the same since a car accident, many years ago).
In the past I have bought cargo pants to cut up and make the pocket belt but, alas, I never had the courage to destroy a perfectly good pair of comfy pants.
1 ripped cargo pantsUntil now.
Well, they made the decision for me. My favourite cargo pants finally died; caught on something and ripped along the seam. Perfect opportunity for a new steampunk accessory just in time for the Time Travellers' Picnic today.
How it was made:
1. cut away everything except the waistband and pockets. To make them look less like saddle bags, I cut it unevenly. The second back pocket was repositioned to fill in the space between one of the front and back pockets. Leave a few centimetres 'hem' to turn over and pin.
(Tip: The transferred pocket overlapped the front pocket - don't forget to hand sew this so it does not go through all the layers of the existing pocket and close it up.)
2 cut cargos
2. These were summer weight cargo pants, so I cut out a lining of linen to stiffen the belt. Fold over the seam, pin to back and sew it down.
3 lining to stiffen 4 pinning lining 5 sewing
3. This is the fun bit. Decorating.
I pulled out my boxes of cogs, buttons and bits and bobs - many from Spotlight (I buy many on the half-price sales) or garage sales. I replaced the existing pocket buttons with something more steampunk-ish. Position them and sew them on. I used cubed beads to hold many of the cogs in place
6 decorating with stash bits 7 sewing on cogs and replacing buttons 8b small pocket 8c large pockets
4.  I edged the belt with braid to hide the stitching, to dress it up and stiffen those edges so they sat flat. The braid was the only specific purchase for this project. I had only black braid left in my stash - too much contrast for this project. I finished off the last roll they had in store - with only 6 centimetres left after I was finished! (phew).
9 adding braid to hide edges 9b adding braid to hide edges
The finished product, ready for the Time Travellers' Picnic later today, complete with an octopus - of course!
10 finished belt

Sunday, December 6, 2015

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up: Viola's Second Journal Unfolds.

original post:  http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/12/06/nanowrimo-wrap-up-violas-second-journal-unfolds/

A few years ago, when I first decided to tackle a writing career, my dear hubby bought me a t-shirt. Emblazoned across its perfect purpleness was the word: WRITER. It was modeled on the 'Writer' flack jacket worn by Nathan Fillion in the television series Castle. Being a Castle (and Nathan FIllion) fan, I was stoked. And, even better, my hubby supported my writing! Perfect.writer T
(Did I mention the t-shirt was actually a Valentine's day present?)
Monday was the last day of NaNoWriMo. I had yet to reach the half-way mark of the challenge. I donned my WRITER t-shirt. I was determined to make last ditch effort to increase my word count - no matter whether I officially 'won' or not. And that is what the challenge was really about. NaNo is not just about aiming for a high, sometimes impossible, word count (I really only had 19 days of writing time this month due to ill-health, family commitments and an opportunity to sell books and meet readers). It is about getting off my butt (well, when at my standing desk at least), putting pen to paper and getting down that first draft.
If I have an empty page, I have nothing to edit.
Looking back, I may have only achieved just under 20,000 words this round of NaNo  - but I have more than half the first draft of my novella, Eye of the Beholder. I have rough plots for the accompanying short stories. Viola is set for some interesting adventures. Eye of the Beholder has a plot, a determined heroine, a scheming protagonist and a loyal friend. It has mummies and curses, and the threat of the Asylum hovering over our characters.
nanowrimo Nov 2015
Here's a hint of last month's work.
Our story opens...
(c) 2015 Karen J Carlisle
The grinding of the gate set Professor Clarke’s teeth on edge. The iron bars rattled as it slammed shut and encased them in gloom. Far off cries and screechings echoed through the empty hallway.
Keys chinked at the Warden’s hip as they trudged further into the bowels of Bedlam, leaving the sane world behind them. The stench of sweat and urine gripped/tugged/ clawed at his nostrils as they passed heavily bound doors with large locks and small barred windows.
Intermittent moaning, clawing, hissing greeted them. Thuds rattled the hinges to herald their passing.
The way ahead was barred and locked. The Warden paused.
Clarke’s hands trembled. He had not set foot in Bedlam since...
He clenched his fingers and straightened his shoulders. It was louder than he remembered.
“Are you certain?” asked the Warden.
Clarke closed his eyes and relaxed his fingers. He was a man of science, of facts. He opened his eyes and nodded.
Beyond the portal lay rows of barred cells, each with its own litany of fetors, spectacles and disquiet. Clarke stared at the back of the Warden’s head. It bobbed along the corridor then turned and jerked toward one of the cells.
(This is a first draft and subject to rewrites, edits and re-ordering).
For more updates on Eye of the Beholder or The Department of Curioisties, follow me on Twitter:@kjcarlisle or Facbook:Karen J Carlisle.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Thankful Jar

Original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/11/29/the-thankful-jar/
Early last year, following a harrowing year of anxiety, I was down. The black dog was biting at my heels. I needed a boost - something to cheer me up. Something to put things into perspective. A friend directed me to an article; it was then I discovered the wonder of the thankful jar.
It's simple.
  1. Find a jar, or a bowl or a box. Whatever. The container is not the important thing. It is what you put in the jar that counts.
  2. Through out the year, write down those little things (or big things) that amuse you, uplift you, make you smile. Feel good things. Things that you can be thankful for. (Hence the name: Thankful Jar.) This is a long-term project. It is also a private project - unless you want to share it. It is up to you.
  3. Keep adding notes whenever the moment takes you.
  4. At the end of the year release those feel good moments. Find a quiet corner, pour out the notes and read them. Remember the good times. Revel in them. Smile.
  5. Start filling the jar the next year.
thankfuljar2015This is my second year filling my thankful jar. I really needed it last year. It reminded me of the happy moments that outshone the dark days. It banished the black dog for a time.
With only a month to go, it is almost full.
I can't wait to relive the wonderful moments of 2015 - all over again.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Super Time at Supanova Adelaide

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/11/23/super-time-at-supanova-adelaide/

The sun blasted my eyelids. I opened one eye. Nope. Too early. I rolled over, pulled up the covers and waited until my stomach rumbled. Mega post-con fatigue. But what a blast!
I have just finished my first stint as a merchant at a full-sized pop culture convention - Supanova Adelaide. This year they moved into the larger of the Adelaide Showground pavilions. The aisles were wider. It was easy to move amongst the crowds with enough room to get some full costume photos and see the merchandise without getting jostled.
There were some fantastic costumes - Helena's Cleopatra, Snape being devoured by Nagiri, Ben's 'Aunty Snape', Aadams Family group, several Doctor Who groups, the Disney villians and Aragorn (he smocked the shirt himself!) - just to name a few. More photos are on my FB page: Karen J Carlisle.
BenAuntySnape_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle aadamsfamily_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle Helena2_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle Helena_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle doctortrio2 drtrio_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle 
firesofpompei_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle Doctortrio_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle aragorn_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle villlians_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle
12227729_10153751747967937_154658861173701637_nI was pleased with my position - at the end of one of the major fairways from the front door to the signing area. My booth neighbours were friendly. Poor Kimberley Clark had flown down from Queensland, unprepared for the chill - with the milder weather (we had mid-thirties earlier in the week) and frosty air conditioning. (I loved it!) Thanks for the tips, Kimberley.
Thanks to  my cohorts, Ruth and David, who helped on the booth over the weekend.
 Kimberly Clark_photo_copyright2015KarenCarlisle IMG_1782
Thanks to Mike from Firebear Armoury for my pressie. And thank you to those who stopped by for a chat or to buy a book. I appreciate you spending time with me. I had many queries about more of Viola's adventures (squee, thank you!). I am currently writing the first draft of a new novella and short stories for Journal #2: Eye of the Beholder.  I am aiming for a May, 2016 release - all going well.
photo by scott hallandall permission to usePhoto: Scott Hallandall
It's Monday. Everything is quiet. I shuffled to the kettle, sorted out a cup of tea and scrounged in the fridge for any remnants of chocolate. You'll find me curled up in the corner, trying to get some words on paper and eyeing off the couch. I might surface by Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Words Fail Me.

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/11/17/words-fail-me/

Dear Reader,
This, as you have guessed, is a very late post. My apologies.
The weekend has been a long one, fraught with high emotion, personal disappointment and sadness. Tension had been increasing during the week - resulting in physical symptoms and loss of valuable writing time. Several issues surfaced on Sunday. They've been bubbling away for almost a year now. I thought that had been dealt with. I was wrong. Now I am dealing with the aftermath.
I am so far behind on my planned word count; so many words lost.
Then there was Paris.
How can someone hate so much - especially those not even met? Not only the perpetrators of the attacks, but those who now abuse others online - hidden behind the anonymity of social media? They abuse and accuse innocents just because of their colour, race or religion. These are hate crimes - their trigger is the keyboard.
Words fail me. My heart aches.
Sometimes I wish I could escape into my favourite book, join the characters and not deal with the everyday disappointments or tragedies. If we all did that, the haters would have free reign.
But there are glimmers of hope in messages of peace, not hate. Please, keep shining into the darkness.
And be excellent to one another.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/11/08/its-nanowrimo-time/
Greetings dear Reader,
This month is NaNoWriMo (National Nominated Writing Month). For those who have not heard of NaNo, it is a personal challenge to write like the wind (gratuitous YouTube link here) and aim for 50K words in one month. For me, it is a regular kick in the pants and anti-procrastinating tool.
The first week is now behind me. How did I fare?
The Good: This time round I had actually pre-planned the basic plot points of the story. This is a big thing for me. Usually start with without the vaguest hint on where the story will take me and no plan to guide me.  I have pulled myself out of the non-productive hole where my muse had tossed me, and with a maniacal grin, had forsaken me for the past few months.
The Bad:  I am 7000 words behind the ideal word count for a 50K target. I have been sidetracked by research - into autopsy procedures of the nineteenth century and The British Museum of the nineteenth century...
The not-so-Ugly: I have written 6439 words. That's 6439 words I had not written last month. Or the month before that. It's 6439 words of my 35K word novella - two and a half scenes, with several hints laid down, characters introducing themselves and two new subjects to add to my trivia knowledge lists.
I have also written rough outlines for the accompanying short stories for The Adventures of Viola Stewart Journal #2: Eye of the Beholder and Other Tales. A new cover design is already coming together.
Here's the blurb:

Eye of the Beholder

Viola Stewart is dectectiving again. With her friend, Doctor Henry Collins, at her her side, Viola runs foul of mummies, curses and the paranormal. But this time, the threat of Bedlam hangs over them all. Eye of the Beholder and Other Tales: The Adventures of Viola Stewart Journal #2 is due out in 2016.
Check out my Pinterest page for more hints on what I am working on.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Destination: denouement: Why do we need to work so hard?

Destination: denouement: Why do we need to work so hard?: The question asked by a fellow writer today:  If 85% of everything that’s published today is crap, why do we need to work so hard to improv...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Denizens of Steam

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/10/31/denizens-of-steam/

Here's an extra treat for Halloween - an extra post and a eBook mini anthology of steampunk flash fiction , featuring my latest flash fiction, Right on Time - for free.
It all started with a tea party to celebrate the first anniversary of Scribblers' Den, a group of steampunk writers on the forum, Steampunk Empire. I love this group; the members are supportive and just a bit cheeky. Our founder and enabler, Jack Tyler, has also set up the Empire Booksellers with links to publications featuring works by members of Scribblers' Den (or Denizens as we call ourselves).
Part of the celebration was an invitation for members to write - resulting in a variety of flash fiction steampunk stories. These tales have now been published in a short eBook anthology, Denizens of Steam.
denizens of steam cover anthology shorts SMALL1_2015
Like the title? It's mine. Like the cover? That was designed by Katie Alford.  Featured writers include: Steve Moore, N.O.A. Rawle, David Lee Summers, C.L. Zeitstück, Katie Alford, William J. Jackson, Bryce Raffle, Alice E. Keyes, Albrecht von Saarbruchen, Jenny Jobe, J.P. Paradise (and me). The foreword was written by Scribblers’ Den founder, Jack Tyler.
Follow the link to secure your very own (free) eBook copy of Denizens of Steam.
Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The State of Affairs

original post at: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/10/28/the-state-of-affairs/

Why is it that the last few months of the year seem to be the busiest? And that's not contemplating Christmas shopping. Not only have I been soul-searching and kicking myself up the butt this week, but I have also found a new burst of enthusiasm. The daily task of producing a new piece of artwork has notched my creative brain up a gear.  Over the past week I have:
  • ordered some new bookmarks (giveaways for Supanova - mid November) They should arrive next week
  • almost finished another octoarm scarf for this weekend's Adelaide Mini Comic Con
  • packed up my books and bits to sell this weekend
  • helped my daughter to finish off a costume
  • proof read an ebook short story anthology (more on that in a later post)...
  • finalised the theme for an event (like a mini gallery) to showcase my books and artwork in Mad March next year (more when things are confirmed)
  • started a new set of inks to  sell at said event
  • Set to work and almost completed the cover for The Department of Curiosities
  • and finished another chapter in the same manuscript first draft.
And just when I get back into the heads of The Department's characters, NaNoWriMo looms: 50000 words on a new project, in one month. Thirty days. That's 1666 words a day, if I don't take break days. I have started outlining (that sounds like a planning thing! This pantser is slowly learning) a new set of adventures for Viola Stewart.
Last year I completed over 27000 words - over half the 50000 word target. My record is 33000 words in one month (without any pre-preparation). The first journal of Viola's adventures was approximately 44000 words. This is my goal - to get the first draft down for journal two.
MagicLantern-sit still sir_copyright2015_KarenJCarlisle
Inktober has been great for me - a very welcome, but unexpected, boost of creativity and enthusiasm. I just hope I can keep up the pace for next month: NaNoWriMo, a mini convention and my first booth at Supanova. Come and find me in The Alley. Just look for the posters. I'll be the one writing furiously.
lp (1) lp preview

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Decisions, Decisions.

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/10/25/decisions-decisions/

I've been mucking around for the past two months. Lots of crocheting to get Octoarm scarves ready for sale for upcoming events. A bit of writing here, a bit of writing there. Most of the writing has been on blog posts - with time spent on research, rewrites, photos.
Today I realised I have been using blog writing to procrastinate on my story writing. I have only managed one short story (and jotted down some ideas for two others) since August. This is significantly down on previous efforts. Frankly, I am out of practice and in a rut. The main victim has been my novel manuscript. Time spent blogging and social networking has taken its toll. This is not a good thing, given I am trying to make a career out of writing. Even my costume making has suffered.
It's time to take stock. Do I want to get my book completed? And what do I need to facilitate this? The answers were: Hell yeah and spend more time working on my manuscripts. If I want to make my deadlines for The Department of Curiosities and the next set of The Adventures of Viola Stewart, decisions had to be made: less time writing personal blogs and only scheduled time on social media.
November NaNoWriMo is looming  - the perfect opportunity to get a big chunk of writing done and the perfect time to start my new regime:
From November I will be only blogging once per week. On Sundays (Australian time) I am all yours, blogging here as usual. I hope you stick around and keep reading while I continue to work on my next books, so you read them early next year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Inktober Update

orignal post at: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/10/21/inktober-update/

It has been wonderful flexing my finger muscles. It has been too long since I picked up a nib or ink pen. This week I bought a white gel pen and played with coloured paper. I like it. Need a bit more practice before I will be satisfied with my results.
These are my favourties over the past couple of weeks. And yes, they do feature octopuses.
Day 8
day11 feather attemptred_copyright2015KarenCarlisle
You can see all my inktober sketches on Flickr or Pinterest.
All artwork (c)2015 Karen Carisle. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

This Steampunk Did Go to the Ball

original post: http://karencarlisle.purplefiles.net/2015/10/18/this-steampunk-did-go-to-the-ball/#comment-1705

Avast, ye hearties! There be pirates ahead.
Yesterday our local costume/cosplay group, Cosplay for a Cause Adelaide, held a Steampunk Pirate Ball (we couldn't make up our mind, so we went with both!) to raise money for Variety Club SA. Money was raised from ball tickets and items donated for the silent auction. I donated a copy of Doctor Jack and Other Tales and an octoarm necklace to the auction. A big thank you to everyone to attended, had a ball and spent money for a great cause.
Of course, it gave me an excuse (do I really need one?) to make that steampunk pirate costume I have been talking about for two years. I ferreted out my collected my op-shop finds and sorted through my costume material cupboard.
Out came my striped skirt, from a previous 2010 pirate party costume, my favourite underbust corset and a peasant top found earlier this year at the local Savers second-hand store.

skirt orig costume_copyright2010KarenCarlisle + peasant blouse + mine 2011 mortlock = piratesansacc_copyright2015KarenCarlisle

But I needed something more... Accessories!
hatfinalFirst - a pirate hat! A cheapo flock cardboard hat left over from previous costumes provided the base. A rummage through my findings box gave me a few keys, cogs, feathers (purple, of course!), button bases (to glue cogs on) and a cog-fob thing. An afternoon of glueing and wiring gave me this:
beltcompleteSecond - a cool hip belt, with left over leather bits and a cool cog buckle from the local leather shop, featured last year on my steampunk accessories posts.
Next - a weapon. Every pirate needs something to ... defend themselves. Something I have wanted to do for ages is a steampunk lightsabre. I have a Force FX Master Replica lightsabre but that was out-of-bounds. But a preloved $2.99 plastic knock off? I'm in! Here's how it happened: 
sabre1masking sabre2undercoat sabre3tape for black sabre4 rustlayer sabre5 gold layer sabre6 paint buffs gold silver sabre7 gears sabre8 grearssabre9 finished
  1. Mask off bits not to be painted.
  2. Black matt undercoat.
  3. mask off bits to stay black.
  4. Rust/gold (We ran out of bronze) spray paint coating.
  5. Rub and Buff to age and add more colours.
  6. Glue on bits (I know, I just stuck gears on. Sometimes that happens)
  7. Clear spray paint to seal the handle
  8. Added a tassle from my haberdashery stash. It's the little things.

Finally: Every pirate has a parrot (since I didn't have time to make a fake prosthetic, steam-driven leg!) I searched the local second-hand stores and garage sales for a plastic parrot suitable to spraypaint and steampunk up. Nothing. But wait! Even better - I found a toy octopus. A glued a cog-bit and chain became it's monocle.
His perch was made from left over leather from a previous project - and lots of riveting. (And thanks to my Dearheart for saving my bung wrist from certain jarring.)
DSC_8409 shoulderaccessory_copyright2015KarenCarlisle
Putting it all together for charity - and having a ball!
final outfit_copyright2015KarenCarlisle
All photos copyright 2015 Karen Carlisle and D Carlisle.