Writing steampunk requires a healthy amount of research on numerous subjects, from historical events to period clothing to urban development. It also helps to have access to reference material on various machines and vehicles, especially trains, submarines and various aircraft designs. But inventing the gadgets for my stories, big and small, is by far my favorite part of this genre.
Here's a list of helpful references when you need some inspiration for your steampunk creations. Several of these books, authors and series include modern technology and materials, but the ideas can still be retrofitted for the past (or alternate future, if that's the case *g*).
John Austin - Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction 2, which released on October 1st, is the latest in Austin's entertaining series of books on pranks and office warfare. Yes, these are somewhat silly toys constructed out of common items like pencils and scotch tape, but I dare you to read them without coming up a few good ideas.
William Gurstelle - If you like pyrotechnics and ballistics, this is the guy for you. He's got several books out, and the ones I've gotten hold of are incredibly fun.
Inventing the 19th Century: 100 Inventions That Shaped the Victorian Age, From Aspirin to the Zeppelin by Stephen Dulkin - This book really impressed me and is filled with great information, including lots of detailed illustrations of the various gadgets along with their patents. I can only assume that it's predecessor, Inventing the 20th Century, is equally enlightening.
The Dangerous Books For Boys and Girls - OK, these might be for kids, but there's still some great stuff in here. Some of this stuff can also be found in Boy and Girl Scout manuals, nifty resources for any budding steampunk.
There are also a number of explanatory tombs with similar names that can come in handy: The (New) Way Things Work, How Stuff Works, National Geographic's How Things Work, Cool Stuff and How it Works, etc.
Of course, the steampunk aesthetic has also rubbed off on our modern gadgets. Here's a link to some of the best examples: Steampunked Gadgets
Finally, some of the best steampunk out there is written for younger readers, so I've got some new releases for kids and young adults that are not to be missed:
All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen
The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont by Victoria Griffith
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments 3 by Arthur Slade
What would you like to see covered for Steampunk Week? Let me know if you've got any other books to suggest or steampunk news to share.