My Writing Process: A Blog Meme for 2014

iStock_000021621315XLargeAs you all know, I’m always game for something new online, and last week I got an invite for something new—a blog meme. The concept is I go on and share with you all what’s happening in my writing life. I then introduce two people where, next week, they post their own answers to these questions. Hence the blog meme—from my answers, you jump to two new authors who will take you along on their journey.

While our intern-of-awesome K.T. Byski had a hand in making this happen, the invitation come from author Emily Swartz, a recent graduate from USM’s Stonecoast MFA program in Creative Writing. She has a work-in-progress called The Midnight Thief, a drama set in Appalachian Kentucky, but a freelance writer’s life is peppered with experience and it is that experience she brings to her work.

Thanks, Emily, for this invitation. This should be fun. 

1. What am I working on?

Well, okay, that’s kind of complicated. And quite involved.

logicproXI’m still working the promotion for my recent release, Dawn’s Early Light, which began in late February and will continue until early May. That means I’m bloggity-blog-blog-blogging a lot while editing and producing new episodes of Tales from the Archives. I also make time for The Shared Desk, a writing show I produce with my wife, Pip Ballantine. And with all this audio equipment around us, Pip and I are working on the audio release of Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.

In the middle of all this, and preparing for the imminent release of The Ministry Initiative, I’ve got an urban fantasy in the work under the working title Wolf in the Fold, and a book on Social Media for writers. The non-fiction book Pip and I premiered at The James River Writers Master Class which was great fun. The feedback was so positive, we’ve decided to pass the idea on to our agent and see if we can turn it into a title for the shelves. All this, and Pip and I continue work in the fourth book in the Ministry series, running under the title The Diamond Conspiracy.

And then there’s One-Stop Writer Shop that Pip and I launched last month, offering a network for indie authors new and experienced to choose from.

So yeah…it’s a full dance card over here.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Steampunk can easily fall in to an aesthetic, where the advanced technology and weapons tend to be nothing more than a set piece. It “looks cool” in print but the characters trust it without question. Science back in the Industrial Revolution really was a crap shoot, and interaction with that technology was a big deal. With my steampunk, be it the short stories, novellas, or the works I pen with my wife, we strive to show that connection—both on a mechanical and a visceral way—in our characters and the stories we tell. There’s also the ripple effect of history that I don’t think some writers look at, something we directly look at in Dawn’s Early Light. If this technology were readily available, how would it affect culture, affect people? We remain true to the historical figures, but we also show how advanced technology like airships, analytical engines, ornithopers, and ray guns would have on them. I think it makes our steampunk stand out.

3. Why do I write what I do?

It’s all J.R. Blackwell and Jared Axelrod’s fault.

At least, that was how I discovered steampunk as I know it today. I was supposed to have been writing a book when I first heard author and podcaster Mur Lafferty mention photographer J.R. Blackwell. I sought J.R. out on Flickr, and lost myself for hours in her work. It was in this journey through portfolios that I came across some really cool photos of people in 19th century style clothing, but there was something different about what the models were wearing. The accessories were intricate. The accessories were stylish. The accessories were artistic.

Steam Tee II

The accessories were badass.

I asked them both what this was, and they proceeded to tell me all about steampunk. The more I found out about steampunk, the more I came to discover this was something I’ve always been into, just that I knew it as science fiction set in the past. My earliest memory of steampunk are the films Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The game-changer for me was Time After Time, a film marked the directorial debut of Nicholas Meyer (who went on to direct Star Trek II and VI), and stars Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells and David Warner as Dr. John Leslie Stevenson whom we find out later is Jack the Ripper. This movie stuck with me, and even inspired a short story for my wife’s erotica podcast. I still hold J.R. and Jared responsible for getting me into steampunk, but it was Time After Time that offered me a hint of what was possible.

4. How does my writing process work?

iron_writerIt’s different with every book. Sometimes, it can start with a title, and I build on that. Other times, it’s an idea and I start writing. I admit without fail that I’m a “pantser” or the kind of writer that will outline and refine the world during the editorial processes. In other words, i’m flying by the seat-of-my-pants. I get things done when I strap myself into a chair, fire up the iTunes, and start writing. I’ll admit that depending on the scene or tone I’m trying to reach, I will write to scores that capture the mood. I hop back and forth between the light whimsy of The Great Train Robbery and the darkness of Dredd. I’ve got a background in music, and I get certain inspirations from various artists and motion pictures scores. When I get deep into a project, I will have playlists for each title.

When it comes to getting work done, I need to get my butt in the chair, and get to writing. I go dark on social media (unless I’m doing a little on-the-spot research) and I get in my daily word count. “Butt in Chair” is the best way for me to accomplish works-in-progress and meet deadlines.

Next up on the writing blog meme:

Stacia D. Kelly, Ph.D., is a bodybuilder, health advocate, consultant, and writer. Her non-fiction work includes Reduce You, Muse, and Nine Months In, Nine Months Out while her fiction works include Phyxe: Goddess of Fire, Ichi, and the upcoming Gaian. Read more at

Nick Kelly is a veteran musician, trainer and speaker. His musical travels have taken him all over the United States, singing with the band Division, or entertaining local DC-MD-VA crowds with the energetic cover band, Just Wanna Play.  He has played everywhere from the Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Nick’s public speaking engagements have helped hundreds of business owners to understand the necessity of “Communicating Effectively with Purpose” and “Developing and Understanding Your Vision.” He presents to coaches and parents on the importance of health, understanding of the glycemic index, and the massive energy drink market. Nick is an Internet Safety advocate, and an ambassador for Enough is Enough online safety. He has written on the subject for Prince William Living and Fredericksburg Parent magazines.

He is the author of the Leon “Catwalk” Caliber cyberpunk series, which debuted in the 2001 comic, Independent Voices 3 and continues in novels with 2013′s Catwalk: Messiah. He co-authors the Urban Samurai series, beginning with 2013′s Ichi.


  1. Hey, Tee.

    Great post! I found myself wanting to read more of your energetic type prose. You sound like you go a hundred miles an hour. I look forward to reading more of your work. I’m so glad K.T. Bryski pointed me in your direction.


  2. Tee, I am surprised you didn’t mention the 60’s TV version of The Wild Wild West for steampunk influences.

    See you at Raven.


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