Friday, January 23, 2015

Guest Blog and Giveaway: A Heart for Copper by Sharon Lynn Fisher


Why Steampunk Turns My Crank

When I think of steampunk, I think of gorgeous costumes, nifty props, tough heroines, and romance. Why romance? Just browse through Google images on the topic. If that's not a flight of romantic fancy I don't know what is.

But steampunk is also about science. Oftentimes improbable science that's really a lot more like magic, but you can't define steampunk without talking about science. Here is the shortest definition of steampunk I've ever seen, from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences[SF1] :

Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel—powered by steam and set in the 1800s.

Steampunk is earthy and weighed down by Newtonian physics. Even those balloony dirigibles look like they’re about to drop out of the sky. So why do we find the aesthetics so appealing? Possibly because our modern world has been overtaken by sleek, sophisticated, and cold tech that makes us both more and less efficient.  

A few years ago, the Aether Emporium wiki posted a collection of steampunk definitions [SF2] that included this from a contributor identified as Datamancer:

I see it as a reaction to the utter soullessness and disposability of modern tech. There are only so many garish space-eggs and tech. bubbles you can look at before you just stop appreciating them. Steampunk harkens back to a time when technology was still novel and romantic, when the world was still marvelling at its own cleverness with childlike pride and wonder, looking hopefully toward a strange and wonderful future.

I’m on the pep squad for science. Despite hailing from a family of engineers, my math was never strong enough to go into a scientific field myself. But I’ve always loved science and science fiction (I’m a total geek over quantum physics). I’m also a romantic at heart, and I love how steampunk combines that pioneering, inventive spirit with an aesthetic beauty that manages to feel both inspiring and grounding. (There’s nothing more Newtonian than gravity[SF3] !)

A HEART FOR COPPER was my first steampunk story, though I’ve been admiring the genre from afar for years. I love that it’s a Pick Your Path story, inviting you to examine its parts and understand how it all fits together. To work it like a puzzle, in a sense, unlocking the path to an eventual HEA. And COPPER’s hero, William, is an inventor who married an interest in aesthetic beauty with his love of mechanical tinkering to create an actual being — a being he hopes will understand him more than the “real” people in his life do.   
COPPER also features an archetypal character called Hephaesta, named for the Greek god Hephaestus, an inventor and blacksmith who created automatons to assist him in his workshop. Hephaesta is part alchemist and part philosopher, but she too is a tinkerer at heart. She considers herself “a woman of science,” and she can rock a steampunk gown:

That she was old I did not doubt, but I could not have said how old. Her silvery hair was pinned neatly atop her head and crowned with a tall black top hat. Her black corset showed her figure was still quite neat, and yards of satiny, patchwork skirt flowed around her hips and legs. Her eyes glinted through a pair of wire spectacles that rested on her dainty, curved nose.

So what is it about steampunk that turns your crank?

Image By Eugene ivanov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


A Heart for Copper
Sharon Lynn Fisher

Genre: Steampunk romance

Publisher: SilkWords

Date of Publication: May 9, 2014


Number of pages: 67 pages
Word Count: 14K

Cover Artist: Indie Designz

Book Description: 

An automaton created by an inventor's son, Copper has finally been given a heart by her young master. Her choice of whether to keep the key or give it to him will determine what happens next in this "pick your path" steampunk fairy tale.

Will she join his family in their English country manor, where she'll be forced to consider the question of whether she's really human? Or will she search out the quirky alchemist responsible for giving her life?

Will her master hold onto her heart, or will she be tempted by the charms of an automaton man?


I have a heart-shaped hole. Like an empty bird's nest, it rests among marigold-hued ruffles above the topmost hook of my corset.

The hole was not left by something removed, but for something anticipated.

I am an automaton. I have never moved of my own volition — never lifted so much as a finger, save by the power of the windup mechanism at my back. Never felt a chill-bump, or the orange yarn rising on the back of my chicken-wire neck. My amethyst eyes follow my young master without motion. The dead, glass eyes of a doll. My face no more than a bone-colored mask with faint pink smudges where my cheekbones would be.

If I were alive.

My brain is sacking stuffed with cotton, my torso salvaged from a discarded mannequin. My limbs are dark, spindly things, like they belong on crows. But my master has wrapped them in ivory silk, and in the dim light of his workshop, I can pretend they are arms like his.

I am not a living thing, but the work of man's hands. Man does not give life. Not since The Regression. The Digital Age machines are all dead. My master was born into the Neoclassical Age, named not for cultural or artistic reasons, but for the laws of science to which all citizens are required to conform. Post-classical physics are banned. Reserved for the gods, the only ones fit to wield them.

How does a stuffed-head, cobbled-together, life-sized doll know all this? Know anything at all? Because my master talks to me. Reads to me. From the time he was a schoolboy, he has shared every lesson with me, from The Odyssey to odious French (his descriptor, not mine). I was his schoolmate. Watched him grow to manhood while I remained the same, unless he himself wrought change — replacing dingy fabric with fresh, tinkering with moving parts, shifting my head so I could watch him work.

I spend many lonely hours in my master's workshop, when he is away at school or in the city with his family. In those hours I feel empty and soulless, and I have often prayed that when he loses interest in me — which he inevitably shall —he will also unmake me, rather than leave me collecting dust in my chair.

For my master is the only light in my life, though I am no more to him than the toy ships he played with as a boy. Less than the pup who licked his heels, followed his footsteps, and finally sank into a straw-stuffed bed near the fire, from which, occasionally, I still hear the thump, thump, thump of tail against floorboards.


"Hullo, Dutch. Hullo, Copper."

Thump, thump, thump.

If I could have wagged, I would have. Master William entered the workshop, light beaming from his every feature. I knew the expression well. He'd been out in The World. He'd encountered something — or someone — interesting. Something he wished to share with me. You'd think he'd tire of my colossal implacability.

"I have something for you," he said, sinking onto the stool in front of me.

At moments like these I almost imagined that the hole in my chest had been filled. I could feel an ache there — an ache that should not have been. His eyes were green as the ribbons of my corset. His hair black as the coal in the bin. His lips were soft and expressive, like the women of the house — his mother, his elder sister, the chambermaids. Master William was everything lovely, everything beloved, in my dust, dark world.

He slipped a bronze chain from his pocket. A necklace, with a heart-shaped pendant — the shape of the symbol, not the visceral, beating thing itself.

The shape of the hole in my chest.

Tiny metal gears and copper springs were encased behind a small glass window embedded in the crimson resin. It was beautiful, a work of art. As I watched, he slid open a small compartment in the back of the pendant and produced a key. He held out the pendant in the palm of his hand.

"Happy birthday, Copper," he whispered.

The echo of my nonexistent heartbeat sounded in my cottony brain, behind my porcelain mask.

If my lips had breath, his proximity would have stopped it as he moved to slip the chain around my neck, letting the heart fall into its readymade grave. Pinching the key between his fingers, he inserted it into a tiny keyhole in the tapered bottom of the heart.

Bolts sprang from the sides of the pendant, penetrating the stuffing in my chest, locking the heart in place. I felt it as if I were flesh and bone.

A loud, dry, sucking sound came from my throat as I took my first breath.

Master William's eyes widened — with shock? with horror? — as the change took me over. The pain was excruciating.

"The old woman was right," he murmured, aghast.

I could barely hear him from behind the wall of pain — or over the very real pounding in my chest. His face blurred, and I was sure I felt moisture seeping from the holes in my mask. What was happening to me?

"You must choose, Copper," he continued. "Hephaesta said if you want to be like me, you must give me the key. If you want to be like you, you must keep it."

I glanced down at the tiny thing of brass still lodged in the base of my heart. 

What did it mean? A riddle, perhaps? What was I to do?

"Quickly," he said, worry dimming his brightness. "The heart will stop beating without the choice."

Pain spiked up my arm as I raised it from my side. My wooden, wire-jointed fingers wiggled to life. I grasped the key and removed it. 

1. I've waited all my non-life for this. I give him the key.
2. I want to find out who I am. I keep the key.

About the Author:

An RWA RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher writes stories for the geeky at heart — meaty mash-ups of sci-fi, suspense, and romance, with no apology for the latter. She lives where it rains nine months of the year. And she has a strange obsession with gingers (down to her freaky orange cat). 

Sharon has written three science fiction romance novels for Tor Books — Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8(2015) — and she's indie publishing her erotica series Fantasies in Color. 

She’s also the editorial director for (and a partner in) SilkWords!

SilkWords is the go-to source for interactive romance and erotic fiction.

With gorgeous custom covers and a clean, sophisticated design, the SilkWords site offers a secure, upscale reading environment. In addition to content on their web site, they offer stories for purchase in the standard e-book formats.

SilkWords is owned and operated by a full-time mom with a background in genetics and an RWA RITA-nominated, multi-published sci-fi romance author.

Their technology guy and site designer was the founder of Microsoft Xbox Live.

SilkWords features two formats that allow readers to choose how the stories will proceed.

Pick Your Path:

Will she or won't she? With which man (or woman) in which location? With Pick Your Path romance, you decide. Romance and branched fiction are made for each other, like picking your favorite flavor of ice cream...positions, partners, and paraphernalia, oh my!

Reader Vote:

Readers vote at choice points and decide how the story will continue. These stories are a great way for readers and authors to connect. It’s exciting to be part of a developing story!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No comments: