Unexpected Monday Surprise: A Cover Reveal

steam_teeIt’s been a month.

I’ve been trying to get back into a groove, what with the new job (nearing a month being here and it’s been great!) and how that will affect my writing calendar. We’ve managed to get in a steampunk tea in Shepherdstown, West Virginia (photos from S4 by Bruce Press Photography are available for viewing and purchase) and a fantastic weekend at Steampunk unLimited (thank you to everyone who stopped by and said “Hi!”), all of which has kept me from getting back to the blog. My wife-of-infinite-awesome may need a cooler title, as Pip is keeping me in check with a variety of things, and finally I stole a pocket of time to talk to you about one of them. We’ve got some great news coming down the pike; but last week we were (pleasantly) surprised by our publisher-of-infinite-awesome, Ace/Roc Books, as they revealed to the world the next cover in the adventures of Books and Braun.

I now present to you The Diamond Conspiracy, the fourth installment in the award-winning Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series: Continue reading

A Game of Wait and See: The Hullabaloo over “Hullabaloo”

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I’ve been getting tagged all week on social media platforms about the successful IndeGoGo-finded project, Hullabaloo. I was originally going to respond to this via Facebook, but it started to get too long, and thought this better suited for a blogpost.

First off, this definitely needs to be said — congratulations to the animators and creative team behind this project. After my own experience with Kickstarter, both the positive and the negative, it is always awesome to see brilliant, passionate crowdfunded projects not only hit their goals but surpass them. Well done, Team Hullabaloo. You kicked ass, and even grabbed the attention of io9 in the process. That is tremendous work, and I admire that.

Second, it’s nice that when people think of steampunk, they think of me, my wife, and the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. We’ve been working hard since breaking into the genre and it means a lot to me that people are curious as to my thoughts on steampunk creations.

So, what are my thoughts? Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XXIX

Four days of Photoshop. Eight lessons with a few bonus skills added into the mix. I have to work a bit on Day One of Level 2; but once I took a lesson from Kacy Catanzaro and took a steadier pace, Day Two more than made up for my stumble.

Did you see this woman rock the American Ninja course? #MightyKacy indeed.

I’m digging Photoshop CC a lot. Good program. Now I need to take a serious look at Lightroom. I’d like to see if we (that’s Mike Witherall and I) can turn it into a class. I don’t see why not.
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So the people behind Snowpiercer‘s Facebook page put that image online this morning. It’s a stitch, especially when you consider the film. Lot of “in” jokes here, so kudos to the fan who created it. Inspired works like that just remind me of how incredibly talented people are everywhere, and I’m lucky enough to get to share my stories. I’m gearing up to do it again, too. The edits for The Diamond Conspiracy arrived today, so it’s time to level up and work on the next adventure of Books & Braun. We are dealing with a lot in this one, so I look forward to returning to that world…

…Monday.

First, I need a nap. A really big one. Photoshop is a demanding mistress.

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Snowpiercer: The Best Science Fiction Film of the Year (that Hollywood wanted to fail)

snowpiercer_ver20_xlgIf you’re a fan of film, especially science fiction and film, you may have heard of this low budget “art” film, Snowpiercer. Describing it as an art film may insinuate this dystopian action-suspense film carries with it an air of pretension, but give me a moment here. Based on a French graphic novel, a South Korean director assuming the big chair, and featuring an international cast including Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Kang-ho Song, and Ah-sung Ko, Snowpiercer could be one of the most outstanding films of the year. Terrifying, daring, and compelling, this stunning work of science fiction, hailed by critics and science fiction fans, was initially released in eight theatres.

Yes. Eight. As in, not ten.

What. The Hell?!

At the end of this review, this dark tale—in its own way—offers you, the moviegoer, a happy ending. So read on. Continue reading

Tales from a Shock Jockey: We See Them Rollin’, and Hatin’…

truck_rollinCoalWhen I first heard about it, I was convinced it had to be a joke.

It had to be.

No, this is a thing.

On Facebook. On Tumblr. On Instagram.

And now, in the air.

As reported by Vocative, a new protest against President Barack Obama and environmentalists has taken to the streetsRollin’ Coal. The Facebook page reads as “for all the diesel lovers out there” but this community has apparently evolved into a statement against green drivers. How Rollin’ Coal works—keeping it to the basics here—is modifying a pick-up truck to intentionally spew thick soot either from massive exhaust pipes or smoke stacks. The Rollin’ Coal folks call this “Prius Repellant” and post both video and memes celebrating their “victories” on the road. The kits and the modifications, Slate reports, are legal (although the EPA disagrees); but as one Wisconsin vendor tells reporters:

“I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all. If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”

Modifying your truck to protest clean air initiatives? That’s about as smart as staging a protest of “I don’t like khakis, so I’m going to wear my blue jeans and fart in your face because khakis.” Such is this the latest protest against our President and environmentalists.

Okay, setting aside the American Cancer Society’s findings to diesel exhaust attributing to adverse effects to one’s health, let’s look at another possible reason why people choose EVs. Continue reading

Edge of Tomorrow: Concerning Tom Cruise, Pacific Rim, and Something Original

Last Thursday, Pip and I went to see Edge of Tomorrow, currently playing in theatres. This is the latest summer blockbuster featuring Tom Cruise in what may are calling a sci-fi spin on Groundhog Day. One look at the trailer might make you think that, but there’s also some influences of Starship Troopers, Aliens, and even a nod to D-Day.

hr_Edge_of_Tomorrow_9Yes, the Allies’ Invasion of Normandy. In a Tom Cruise summer science fiction blockbuster.

Edge of Tomorrow, based off the novel and manga, All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, follows Public Relations officer Major William Cage. Tom Cruise’s Cage is the Tom Cruise we know very well—very polished, brilliant smile, and slick in his approach and handling of situations thrown at him. He’s the “face” of the war against Mimics, alien invaders who seem to have an uncanny ability to predict exactly what the United European Forces unleash on the battlefield. This Tom Cruise graces the movie with its presence…

…for about ten minutes.

Much like Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Cruise’s Major Cage is suddenly thrown a curve that lands him in the middle of battle, something his Public Relations job allows him to avoid. After finding himself on the wrong end of a taser, he wakes up at Heathrow Airport, the training camp for the United European Armed Forces. Strapped into an exo-suit, Cage joins J Company in a massive amphibious landing happening on the western coast of France. Led by the inspiring “Full Metal Bitch” Rita Vrataski (played by Emily Blunt), Cage stumbles through the battle only to find himself out of ammo and facing a Mimic up close and personal. The monster leaps on top of him, but (more out of futility and desperation than heroism) Cage takes the alien (and himself) out of commission with a landmine sandwiched between them… Continue reading

Barbecue Zen: A Life Lesson from a Cookout

(photos from Nutty Nuchtchas and Bruce F Press Photography)

10385393_10201495629506364_381941092020939126_nThe week following Balticon 48, my social media feeds could easily be broken down to two topics: retrospectives of the event (which was awesome, by the way, and if you weren’t there—think about being there in 2015) and a variety of perspectives on the #YesAllWomen hashtag. While nostalgic and contemplative the looks back to the Memorial Day Weekend were, it’s been equally disheartening reading stories from people I admire and hold in high esteem like Dr Pamela Gay, Jared Axelrod, Chris Miller, either being victim of or watching others victimized by people who think they are cast in a season of Mad Men. Sure, there are men who behave badly in our culture but I had no idea just how deep this dark, twisted rabbit hole reached.

In this post I want to talk about both. In particular I want to talk about that amazing cookout you may have heard Balticon talk about on Friday night, and what we all can take away from it. Continue reading

Tales from a Shock Jockey: Making EV Courtesy a Common Courtesy

Back in March, Pip and I pulled into the Omni Hotel of Richmond, Virginia for 48 hours of awesome with the James River Writers. I had no doubt we were going to get star treatment from the writing group, and also from the hotel. We have stayed at the Omni of Richmond before and it is a terrific hotel. What happened after I handed over Sterling’s fob, though, made the Omni my favorite hotel in Richmond:

Valet: “I see, Mr. Morris, that you drive a Volt. Would you care to have us plug it in to our charger for you?”

Me: “Why, yes, yes I would!”

Unbeknownst to me, the Omni Hotel had a Level 2 (240v) charger on the property and were offering it to me as a guest. It was a delight to get offered that little perk. An unexpected reward for driving green. Continue reading

Balticon 48: The Return to Hunt Valley and Revenge of #GymCon

Last year, Pip and I were not in attendance at Balticon, the premier weekend of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. We had been given Featured Guest status at Up in the Æther (now called Steamtopia) so we figured after years (a decade for me!) of attending Balticon, it was time for a change of pace. Detroit was a fantastic town with awesome people, and it was a good weekend all around…

…but yes, it was weird not being in Hunt Valley, Maryland, on Memorial Day Weekend.

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This year, Pip and I are excited to be returning. Unlike other literary events, Balticon offers a track specific to New Media (blogging, podcasting, Facebook, etc.), originally started up by Paul Fischer back in 2005. From that single panel on what a podcast is, the New Media track (which covers production, fan discussions, and live recordings) grew, even earning the nickname “The Other Balticon” which I think is a bit unfair as some of the most talented people — not just the writers, but the creative artists that also speak on the track — I’ve met are all on this track. Over the years, though, Balticon’s amazing staff have integrated the New Media track with other tracks; and this year’s 48th incarnation of the event promises to be a fantastic time!

Here’s where you can find me this weekend… Continue reading

Achievement Unlocked: My First Con (DemiCon 25) as Guest of Honor

IMG_0556So Monday was the snap-back from my return to Richmond — RavenCon. It was a great weekend with an additional bonus of Pip and myself hijacking award-winner Elizabeth Bear to show her a few sights from my hometown. We left the con at 2 o’clock and didn’t return her until 6:15.

What did we do in four hours?

It was not only quality time with a friend, but a good sampling of what Richmond had to offer.

I plan to write about the weekend — especially on the exceptional KidsTrack which followed a S.H.I.E.L.D. Training theme — but presently I am looking ahead to this coming weekend: the Silver Edition of DemiCon. I’m feeling the butterflies kick as I’ll be reuniting with old friends, meeting new ones for the first time, and fulfilling a role I’ve never held before at a convention.

IMG_0271At DemiCon 25, I am being welcomed as the event’s Guest of Honor, or GoH.

Following my first year experiencing the con scene, I made the GoH distinction one of those “That would be cool…” goals in my career. Why? It would have been an indication that to the organizers and staff of a particular convention, my stories held a special place. Not a bad benchmark to reach for, I figured. After a few years of con-hopping, I assumed my first GoH would be an event I frequented. Maybe? Then, on going full time in writing, the notion fell to the bottom of my priorities list, beaten out by other items like new title development and paying bills.

Imagine my surprise when it was DemiCon, an event I attended only once, that would be the first to extend this distinction to me. Imagine my surprise growing when I found out it would be for their 25th anniversary.

No pressure there, Morris. Continue reading