UPDATED 75% OFF-So Out with the Old, in with the New

NOTE CORRECTIONS!! NOTE! Corrected code is NEWYEARS75 thru 12/30.

The Countess

SPECIAL UPDATE-I wanted to update this blog with a quick thank you to the HUNDREDS that downloaded my free books AND to announce that through 12/30/14 ALL items in my Etsy store are 75% OFF with code NEWYEARS75. Please feel free to share it. I have everything from steampunk fashion, art and antiques that MUST go in order to make room for new items I have ready to add, including photo prints, more steamy and fun hats, and of course more dog items.

Thank you as always for reading and your patronage!

Victoria

______________

I hope that you are having a most lovely holiday season! If you aren’t, I hope things get better soon.

And maybe some FREE downloads will help? OR 50% OFF in my Etsy store? Read on!

Today, 12/26 only, the whole Vampire’s Little Black Book Series is FREE for the last time, for volumes 1-10…

View original post 162 more words

UPDATED 75% OFF-So Out with the Old, in with the New

SPECIAL UPDATE-I wanted to update this blog with a quick thank you to the HUNDREDS that downloaded my free books AND to announce that through 12/30/14 ALL items in my Etsy store are 75% OFF with code NEWYEARS75. Please feel free to share it. I have everything from steampunk fashion, art and antiques that MUST go in order to make room for new items I have ready to add, including photo prints, more steamy and fun hats, and of course more dog items.

Thank you as always for reading and your patronage!

Victoria

______________

I hope that you are having a most lovely holiday season! If you aren’t, I hope things get better soon.

And maybe some FREE downloads will help? OR 50% OFF in my Etsy store? Read on!

Today, 12/26 only, the whole Vampire’s Little Black Book Series is FREE for the last time, for volumes 1-10. The covers are redone and I am working on a compilation to be released next year. I hope you will share this with friends and feel free to comment/critique on amazon and goodreads. My link to my author page (and all my titles) is here:

http://www.amazon.com/Victoria-L.-Szulc/e/B00CDFDIBI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1419620251&sr=1-2-ent

10 The Vamp Hit List

Not a big reader? Like to shop, like dogs, unique fashion and jewelry? Use code XMAS50 for 50% in my Etsy store. Offer good for a limited time, so please check out the store, link below:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheHauteHen

K7

As always, thank you for reading!

-Victoria

________

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

 

 

Shooting Steam

Part of my steampunk project has been photographing my art, fashion and book covers. I love this outlet for my creativity. I rarely pass up the opportunity to be a chameleon or show my work.

When I first starting looking at steampunk as an art form, I had an iphone 4s. Previously I’ve had throw away cameras, a 35mm and a Kodak digital. The camera on my phone blew me away. The ability to edit on the spot, send pics instantly and a long battery life suddenly made shooting pics exhilarating.

The cover for “Strax and the Widow” is a good example of this process. I already had a good logo from a graphic designer, I just needed a decent image. I was going to “play” my main character Kate Church, but after a while I decided I needed something powerful. An pic that would demonstrate Kate’s strength and the antique setting of the Wild West. I finally settled on some objects that represented key plots in the book which were assembled on a repro Victorian chair. One of the props is an eight foot bull whip that I actually know how to use. And somehow lost in my 600 square foot apartment. Fortunately I work for a costume shop and picked up a replacement. I shot it in color and liked the composition, but it just didn’t click…

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…until I filtered it to black and white. Then, magic:

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Add the logo, a graphic background and voila, cover done:

Strax Book Cover

Another benefit to all this self portraiture has been a tremendous morale booster. I’ve never been the thinnest girl in the room, but expressing myself through the characters in my book has been liberating, to say the least. When I started “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” series, the covers had kind of cute illustrations of objects related to the book. As the series has progressed, I realized that the covers needed some sophistication. I had found a model/actor, Patrick Renfrow, to be Will, my vampire, and used him for a couple shots (one of which is Patrick’s own self portrait). Other than those two volumes that feature “Will” on the front, only one other “Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers” is not me. Yep, I’m on the remaining seven covers, or parts of me. Wigs (I’ve now added 2 new ones to my collection), make-up and some ham acting have resulted in some really nice shots.

This last couple of weeks, I had only three more covers to reshoot as I prepare to put all ten vamp stories in a compilation, “The First Ten Bites”.

First up, was “Emma” from “The Long Moonlight”. A week ago, on late Sunday eve, the lighting was perfect with dusk settling in with a mix of blue Christmas lights. Emma is a werewolf and the moon enchants her. She comes undone. I let my auburn hair fly. I really liked how this set came out, even with the light distortion. First the actual cover and cover shot, then other takes from this set:

1 The Long Moonlight

The Long Moonlight

Moonlight 1A Moonlight 2 Moonlight 4 Moonlight 5

Next up was a reshoot, just a couple days later, for “Mabel” and “Roarin’ 20’s”, two of the older stories in the series. “Mabel” became much more of a challenge than I thought. This episode of The Vampire’s Little Black Book is different from many of the others in that Mabel is not a raving beauty. She’s an older, plump woman, a shy and stubborn farmer in 1930’s. This character hits close to home for me.

Back in 2010, I hit an all time high with my weight. Despite working out and occasionally dieting, I was, quite frankly, enormous, bordering on morbidly obese. I started training harder. I did the trendy but effective Beach Body Insanity. I managed to keep most of what I lost off, but after a couple of back injuries I started to regain some of the weight. The good news is some of that weight was a non cancerous tumor/herniated umbilicle (I blogged about it here: https://www.google.com/#q=How+to+repair+a+herniated+navel+and+use+it+for+vampire+material ). After I had emergency surgery last year, not only am I lucky to be alive, but I am celebrating it by continuing to take care of myself and get more fit. I am almost 60 lbs. lighter than I was five years ago. Got a long way to go on getting super fit, but I’m on that road.

Mabel was easy to write. I’d been in her shoes. So back to the session and how to get that on film…

How do you shoot yourself, while not so pretty but still make a good cover? I thought that this would be easy. It wasn’t. I ended up taking about twenty shots until I was finally satisfied with one single piece. I didn’t save any others, here’s the winner:

Mabel

I needed to feature a locket (a key component to the story) and show the essence Mabel as a good hearted, plus sized woman. I think I succeeded, here’s the finished cover:

4 Mabel

In stark contrast, I shot “Roarin’ 20’s” cover immediately after Mabel, and it was easy to get into character. I had gathered up my props and costume. I darkened my make up and did test lighting with some LED Christmas lights:

 

20s 1 20s 2

With a new super white wig, and multitudes of pearls, I was ready to cosplay “Sadie” the poor little rich girl flapper of “Roarin’ 20’s”. Well, I thought I was. Part of the props were two real cigarettes which I’d bought from a coworker. I haven’t smoked since my teens. A bad episode of strep at sixteen pretty much cured me of smoking anything forever. So with one cancer stick placed in the cigarette holder, I started shooting. But it wouldn’t stay lit (after three relights) and I couldn’t get the smoky club feeling I wanted. Down went the holder and I lit up for real.  The noir filter worked incredibly well. I actually got a little nicotine high, and the good pics came quickly and easily. Here’s a sample:

20s 6 20s 11 20s 14 20s 17 20s 22 20s 25

And the winning shot and cover:

Roarin' 20's

2 Roarin' 20's

My cover redos for the upcoming compilation are complete. Soon I’ll have autographed prints available in the Etsy store and standard prints of the photos and covers on FineArtAmerica. Here are all ten covers of The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series:

1 The Long Moonlight2 Roarin' 20's3 Esme4 Mabel5 Creating Anna6 Thirty Three Forever7 Can You Hear My Heart Beating8 Everyone Looks Better Undead9 Svetlana Red and the Chevaliers10 The Vamp Hit List

PLEASE DON’T FORGET! You can download all titles for FREE on 12/26 from amazon/kindle. This will be the last time I’ll offer them for free. Please share and feel free to critique and comment on amazon or goodreads.

A quick update, the steam trunk has found a home, a local steampunker bought it. My Etsy store is almost at 5,000 views! Thank you so much for your patronage.

And as always, thank you for reading.

-Victoria

The Vampire’s Little Black Book series is always FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

 

 

 

Fall 2014

I wanted to do this blog much sooner but I crammed so much into this Fall, that I am just now catching up to other things-just in time for Christmas.

The weather here was pretty much the usual. Beautiful foliage, nice days, cool evenings.
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The costume/party store was insane. But the best part of Halloween and work is dressing up. Which I did frequently:

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I also went to auburn from blond and loved the results:

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My beloved Cardinals lost another player to driving while intoxicated. My heart broke.

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But Halloween in the Central West End was the usual dose of awesome! I did Katniss to keep it simple.

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And the crowd did not disappoint:

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I did two shows in November, both great crowds at The London Tea Room and The Heavy Anchor. It snowed 3″ on the day at the Tea Room which made it so festive.

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Unwoman came to town, she was spectacular.

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I saw MockingJay on opening night. Awesome.

Ferguson erupted and the city I love went into turmoil.

Met someone who broke my heart a little. And now someone I’d like to know more.

This Fall flew by. I can’t believe Christmas is in two weeks. Good stuff is definitely coming. The Etsy store is loaded. The sequels to Strax and the Widow are well on their way. Will and Anna’s vamp adventures will continue. This coming winter may be cold, but my heart is warm.

As always, thank you for reading!

-Victoria

Last Call for a Steam Trunk

A little over a year ago I stumbled upon a most wonderful antique-see a previous blog “Gratitude and a Steam Trunk”, link: https://mysteampunkproject.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/gratitude-and-a-steam-trunk/

I couldn’t believe my luck at this beautiful find. Yes, it needs work, but it’s a gorgeous piece of steam/Victoriana deliciousness. I debated keeping it, but put it up in my Etsy store. Well now, it’s been a year in the store and the trunk is lonely. It’s seeking a permanent home. I took it with me to a summer art show. I couldn’t help but notice it looked pretty lovely with art draped over it. And I did have space for a coffee table/storage piece in my living room….

I’ve reduced the price and have had several inquiries. So now it’s up for renewal in the store, only I won’t list it again. I had to make a decision. The trunk sells by 12/19 or I keep it and refinish it, end of story. So, if you should want to take a gander, the link is here:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/172315146/antique-steamer-trunk?

Trunk 1 Trunk 3 Trunk 2

Upcoming events:

-The Vampire’s Little Black Book Series, v.1-10, will be FREE for one last time on December 26, 2014. Please share and comment on amazon/goodreads. The compilation of all ten stories will be available later this winter in “The First Ten Bites”.

-The Creating Anna Series spinoff is in the works and the first volumes should also appear in the New Year.

-The sequels to “Strax and the Widow” are also well underway. Be prepared for more steam adventures of Kate Church. More information and links are below.

Thank you for reading,

Victoria

The Vampire’s Little Black Book series is always FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon

When Life Imitates Art

I recently met my vampire. Really. Someone who embodied my main character Will the Vampire before he met Emma, the love of his undead life that changed him forever. And like Will, he broke my heart a little, at least temporarily. Please note this blog contains some scenes/language that might offend some readers, but hang with me for a bit.

In my series “The Vampire’s Little Black Book” I wanted to explore what makes an undead tick. Through Will’s adventures and flashbacks the reader learns that he’s pretty much a stud, a philanderer, even before he’s changed. From “Thirty-three Forever” v.6:

The day of my change had started like any other. I had overslept after a night of reckless carousing. I awoke with not one, but two ladies of the evening, still in my bed. Only a blinding noonday sun drove me from a drunken slumber. I sleepily ran my hands over the naked bodies of last night’s lovelies. One awoke with a naughty smile. I pulled her to me and kissed her deeply. This would be the last time I would kiss a woman as a full blooded human.

Will is pretty much, well, a player. And it gets worse after he is changed, as Will admits in “Creating Anna”, v.5

But who was I to judge. I’d been a hellion in my younger years, even before I had been turned. I had been with scores of women of all kinds. I reveled in their beauty, their wealth and passions. I hurt some of them badly; I was quite the cad. I took other men’s wives, girlfriends, daughters, and even someone’s mother. I had bedded some, devoured some, and sometimes did both without care or responsibility.

A few months ago, I would have never believed that I would meet someone like this in the real world. Then I discovered a man I’ll only call “G” and my life suddenly imitated my art.

I mean, I have met opportunists before. Will is very loosely based on a real doc I know (for the medical parts only), people I met in the bar scene when I used to dance all night and one very bad dating experience in my early 20’s. Things are different now. I’m wiser. I’m a cougar. I usually lead with confidence. That’s what I thought…

So when G. messaged me on FB this summer about working on some book and collaborative ideas, my guard was down and my creative juices were up. I was writing and creating every spare moment I had. He was attractive, smart, and funny. But he was half my age. I put the cougar leanings away even though I wanted to pounce. I was in a state of employment flux, getting fired from a job, looking for a new one, hating the new job, and finally doing a creative retail job so I could continue doing my art. I was distracted.

But fast forward to November, G. started messaging, which lead to texting, which lead to flirting, which lead to some serious attraction when he showed up at my work. I was flattered. He was hot in a kilt. My inner cougar roared loudly, almost uncomfortably so. Then Ferguson happened.

The city I love exploded in chaos. I worried for G. Only hours after I’d met him in person, he was called into service through the Guard. I worried. I pined worse than the main characters in Jane Austen novels. And I had to work all Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend. I was fried and I jokingly put out a FB post for a rescue. Of course G. offered (big into the Ren scene). Finally after an ice storm on Monday, things calmed a bit.

By Tuesday I was craving normalcy. G. had been checking in on me. But something wasn’t right, just couldn’t put my finger on it. We began a marathon evening of texting, which turned into well, intimate fascination is how I’ll put it. Then suddenly silence.

I had to check FB, I hadn’t really been on much. Apparently during our texting G. received a post from his fiancee. Yeah, you read that right, like marriage is imminent. My response was pretty much WTF? But I didn’t panic. I thought clearly. I messaged someone with some info (nope won’t revel a source). After a few lengthy messages, I had scoop and proof. G. was a catfish. A player. Lies. Pink songs started going through my head. Dump text and message sent.  One pissed off post on FB made. Why hadn’t I listened to my intuition?

As I sat on the couch still in shock, I realized that G. was Will my vampire before he meets Emma. How ironic that just a few weeks ago I was starting on one of the new volumes of the vamp series titled “The Cougar”? And more irony that only a couple hours before, G. joked about me writing him into one of my stories. Mind blown.

I managed to sleep despite being pissed. Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” was the first song in my head this morning: You chewed me up and spit me out like I was poison in your mouth. NOOO kidding. I still have no idea what was real, but I got played. I’d been taken by a real human vampire.

What is interesting though is Will himself gets played as in “Do You Hear My Heart Beating?” v.7:

On most nights during our affair I would feed before heading to the Woodbridge manor. But one day a few sailors had become very ill. The plague had invaded their ship. I decided to extend a little undead mercy and I ended their lives quickly. So I was sated by the early evening and I went to see the Lady a bit prematurely. When I approached her balcony I heard voices. One was the Lady, the other a male, but not Lord Woodbridge. I eavesdropped as another lover spoke elegant words to her. She giggled delightfully in response. I listened as he made love to her. I watched as he left. He was a young soldier, tall and strong. I wanted to kill him, but could I blame him?

Was I not as bad as he? Suddenly I realized my favorite plaything had been taken by someone else. I was furious as I entered her chamber. She stood naked at her basin, wiping off any trace of her other lover. Her stunned expression revealed everything. My Lady was no longer mine.

“William?” she whimpered. She no longer resisted me. Instead she was begging for forgiveness. She stepped towards me. “I was just washing up.” She lied. I wanted to kill her. I had to leave, right then. If it were possible, my eyes penetrated her soul with hate.

“Why are you lying to me?” My voice echoed with anger.

“I am sorry.” She winced, tried to cover herself and stepped back. I could hardly stand to look at her.

“How many others are there? Are you so bereft that you must fuck every knave in town save for your Lord?” I was vicious. My Lady had become like a common whore. Gone was the enchantment, the sweetness. To be taken by one who does not own you is thrilling. To be taken by more than one is deviant. What should I expect though? I’d promised her nothing other than I’d be back to sleep with her again.

How funny that I’d written what I now felt almost seven months ago? Gone was the enchantment, the sweetness. I would imagine at some point this will happen to G., if it hasn’t already. It’s late afternoon and I’ve moved on. It’s a beautiful day and there is art to be made, more creative words to be written.

I still believe in love. He doesn’t have to be a white knight on a fine steed. I still believe that there is a soul mate for me. I’m glad that Will my vampire does too. From “Creating Anna”, v.5:

Despite my wicked ways, I had redeemed myself through one human. A woman, who would become one of the most valiant and honorable vampires known on this planet; I had sired Anna.

The whole The Vampire’s Little Black Book series is available on amazon/kindle and will be FREE to download for the last time on 12/26/14. Enjoy. My links are below.

Thank you for reading,

-Victoria

The Vampire’s Little Black Book series is always FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

-A new photo/comic book/essay “The Heroine” is coming soon to Amazon/Kindle.

-THE LADY HAS ARRIVED AT HER DESTINATION-“Strax and the Widow” is an ebook on Amazon/Kindle. Please take a peek, enjoy and review on amazon and goodreads! The sequel, “Revenge and Machinery” is coming soon!

Image

-Like on Facebook-The Countess, Official Fanpage of Victoria L. Szulc

-Follow on Twitter-@TheCountessSP

-On Pinterest-Victoria Szulc (nee Schultz)

-Etsy-TheHauteHen

-Instagram-Steampunkcountess

-Tumblr-thesteampunkcountess

-Fine Art America-store coming soon