In Which Your Intrepid Author Takes A Balloon Ride In The Interests Of Steampunk

Details for Writers of the Floating Persuasion

So as you may have guessed, Gentle Reader, from the time frame, the Finishing School series involves a lot more balloons than it does dirigibles ~ oh, dirigibles are there too, but of a more primitive persuasion than in the Parasol Protectorate. So I decided for my birthday I'd recruit five friends and go up in a balloon to see what it was really like. After reviewing Yelp I selected Napa Valley Balloons, Inc and I was very satisfied with my choice. What follows are some photos of the jaunt as well as my notes, from a steampunk writer perspective, on the trip. (There are no photos of self because we had to get up at 4:30 am in order to get there in time, and darlings, I do not photograph well at that time of the morning.)

Basket is made or wicker (need the flexibility, old technology is still good) with a frame of suede wrapped steal and weights 1000 lbs. People stand in baffles, like beer bottles in a six-pack. This is so that when we land and the basket goes on its side we don't crush each other. If the baffles weren't there it would still be un-advisable to move around in the balloon all that much that quickly, if even one person jumps the whole basket vibrates.

Wicker is in for spring, so we were right on trend!

Ears popping.

Feel breeze = sheer, means the balloon is in one wind while the basket is in another. If the discrepancy is too severe the balloon starts to cave. Must then point the burner at the cave-in. (This might occur in my universe when a balloon rises up far enough to hit an aether current.)

Since balloons move with the wind they can also get stuck inside a cloud using the same wind. (He he, cloud cover!)

Balloon's like cold weather.

Shadow of the balloon bellow is pretty cool looking. Multiple balloons are rising at once all looking for different winds at different rates, this looks like bubbles in champagne. It feels faster if you are going up while another balloon is going down, otherwise there is very little sensation of movement.

Pilot not captain. (Pilot a little perturbed to be asked things such as, "What if you mounted a cannon on the side of the basket and fired, how would the kick back effect flight?" And, "How fast would we fall if I pulled that vent cord?" The other passengers were also a little upset, much to my surprise.)

1200 feet a minute is as fast as it will drop, but you still won't feel anything, no sinking feeling.

There is a scoop sale attached to the bottom of the balloon over one half of the basket, for when you hit the ground, you face the scoop to gather wind and stabilize the basket.

Can attach things to the edge of the lower part of the balloon on pulley systems.

Balloon is equip with rotation vent. Pulling on the cord to one side opens the vent on the other.

The basket and balloon are constantly spinning around slowly, no sense of front or back, let or right, only up and down. Could only stay facing the same direction by constantly opening and loosing vents.

The pilot raises and lowers the balloon looking for different wind directions at different altitudes. Make note of each direction as they go through the levels and then return to one they want to use. (Could dangle an inflated blowfish over the side to test the direction of the winds bellow.)

Upon landing must keep knees bent as basket may bump up and down a couple times. Also might fall on its side and get dragged along. (Why not build the basket with a curved side like a webby-wobbly so it's very hard for it to tip over?)

Near the end of landing, in order to deflate the balloon completely, the entire top middle of the balloon contracts inward (looks like a parasol) at 35 feet across.

If you come down over an area where you don't want to land, you just stay hovering about 8 feet up and cast out a line to a crew on the ground who will drag you to a better patch for landing.

The End

A few of the above tidbits of information have already been used for Timeless, Book the Fifth in the Parasol Protectorate series. Thank goodness I went when I did because I was at exactly the right point in the writign process to still make edits concerning the reality of balloon travel. Most informative and useful . . . oh, and fun!

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:
Love Elie Tahari Fall/Winter 2011 and here.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Query donts.

Timeless: Second draft back, working 3rd draft. Yes it's shrinking, that's what we want.
Secret Project F: It is ALIVE! (But sleeping while I finish edits on 5.)
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!

Madame Lovely reviews Soulless, "So, I typed "steampunk" (what else. really??) into the search engine at the library and found Soulless by Gail Carriger. I checked it out, and to put it simply, you should be VERY flattered that I was even able to tear my gaze from that fabulous novel of hers!!"

Quote of the Day:
"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other comes from a strong won't."
~ Henry Ward Beecher


Dear Lord Akeldama: The 2011 Edition, Part Six

Lord Akeldama

Dear Lord Akeldama . . .

Mary D asks:
What is your considered opinion on the nature of *sparkling* vampires?
Everyone should sparkle darling, not just vampires! I suggest diamonds are a good beginning or possibly sapphires. Then you can move into the arena of more strident colors such as emeralds and rubies. Really, my darling girl, the more sparkle the better!

Aik asks:
Hi Lord Akeldama, what is your main hobby besides dressing up as a stylish gentleman?
I do adore a little spate of flower arrangement now and then, and I am a great theater and opera aficionado. I wouldn't say no to a good symphony or two when the mood strikes. Now don't let it get out, but I may have also involved myself in a business concern over the invention of a new ablution potion that I am rather whimsically calling bubble bath. Sounds delightfully fun, now doesn't it?

Susana Ricardo asks:
What was your favorite neck of all time?
Now now, my dearest child, a gentleman never bites and tells.

Joana Dias asks:
I think I would just ask "Do you want to be my vampire?".
Why how flattering! My little squash blossom, there are some who have said that I would be anyone's vampire . . . for an evening or two.

PinkStuff28 asks:
What's really like to be a vampire? Are all of those myths true?
It is a whirl of endless parties, long nights, and sweet compliments. All the myths are true, pinky my precious, and a few more I haven't invented yet! Except for the one about the mirror. Can you imagine, me, unable to see my own reflection? Heaven forefend!

Lord Akeldama is delighted to mention that his creator, Gail, will be launching a new blog, Retro Rack, devoted entirely to his favorite pursuit of all time . . . fashion. The first entry will officially drop June 1, and she is considering offering a small bribe in the form a of a very cute little brown plaid purse and a signed book to those who choose to follow her there.

Your moment of parasol . . .

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
Roman Romb Found Under Naples Toxic Waste Dump
Your Writerly Tinctures:
How not to respond to a bad review in three links. 1. The beginning of the kerfuffle, 2. the book reviewed on Amazon: The Greek Seaman (You MUST check out the sarcastic 5 star reviews ~ hilarious), and 3. the author's blog.

Timeless: Second draft back, working 3rd draft.
Secret Project F: It is ALIVE! (But sleeping while I finish edits on 5.)
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!

Manon Goudreau's lovely sketches of a certainly newly minted werewolf from Book 3. I think they could reasonably be Professor Lyall also.

Quote of the Day:
"Why oh why must editing always take twice as long as you think and be twice as hard as it should?"
~ Gail to Dan at a Recent Writing Date


Manga Art Launch: Felicity and Evylin Loontwill

Welcome to a new blog series, Gentle Reader! Every other Monday for the next two months I'll post a new character sketch from the up-coming Soulless Manga launch.

Today we have Felicity and Evylin Loontwill!

The unfortunate by product of Mrs. Loontwill's second marriage, both Felicity and Evylin were markedly different from their older half-sister. No one upon meeting the three together would have thought Alexia related to the other two at all. Aside from an obvious lack of Italian blood and completely soul-ridden states, Felicity and Evylin were both quite beautiful: pale insipid blondes with wide blue eyes and small rosebud mouths. Sadly, like their dear mama, they were not much more substantive than 'quite beautiful.' Breakfast conversation was, therefore, not destined to be of the intellectual caliber that Alexia aspired to. Still, Alexia was pleased to hear the subject turn towards something more mundane than murder.
~ from Soulless

The artists name is Rem. She is an internationally acclaimed illustrator known for her work on the manga adaptations of Harper Collin's popular Vampire Kisses series as well as NHK/Nickelodeon's Domo. Her one-shot titles, Devil's Candy and Kage no Matsuri have won awards in both America and Japan. In addition to her work as a comic artist, she has also provided character and environment designs for video games by Acclaim and Oni-Soft.

The Soulless manga is coming out via Yen Press. It launches officially at Comic Con in San Diego July 21. It will be available serialized in Yen Plus, a monthly online anthology. starting July 11, and as a full book next spring!

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Tisane of Smart:
High Fashion On Parade in Paris, 1855
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Reviewing the Reviewers.

Timeless: Second draft back, working 3rd draft.
Secret Project F: It is ALIVE! (But sleeping while I finish edits on 5.)
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!

The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature is now out!

Here's Pip Ballantine investigating a picture of self taken by J. Daniel Sawyer.

Quote of the Day:
"Those who write clearly have readers. Those who write obscurely have commentators."
~ Albert Camus