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

Paying Attention: A Secret Behind Inspiration

iStock_000006201684XLarge “How do you get all those ideas?”

I rank this question up along with “How do you learn all those lines?” when I was the actor. It was a question actors dreaded, but I rarely think we were asked it when we had a “Meet & Greet” with the audience. It’s a fair enough question, though; and since I never got it when I was an actor, I’ll answer it here. “Rehearsal and repetition.” That’s the key in learning your lines, be it for a play, a presentation, or for a very important one-on-one you have on your books.

Now, as a writer, the ideas question tends to be the one that earns an eye-roll, but I don’t think it’s fair. People are genuinely curious how authors come up with what they put down on paper. Maybe it’s because they wonder how someone can think up Victorian secret agents investigating the unknown, or a dwarf-detective solving crimes in the Prohibition Era; and it’s a sincere question. I know that when I’ve read books I love, or enjoyed an episode of Almost Human or True Detective, I marvel at the air tight dialogue or incredible situations these talented writers come up with and wonder what drives them. It’s good to know where ideas come from and what makes them happen because inspiration keep you busy as a writer.

If there was a magic bullet in finding great ideas, it actually ties back to a trick I had with acting: Pay attention. The world around you is teeming with ideas, and inspiration can happen at any time. With technology, jotting ideas down has been made insanely easy, so now instead of carrying around the writer’s notebook, journal—or ledger as The Taxman does—you can whip out the smartphone and take notes. What’s key though in finding inspiration is paying attention to what’s around you. Many times, that’s all you need to get an idea going. 

Case in point, today the third season of Tales from the Archives launched; and I’m particularly proud of this story that Pip and I put together as it came from the unlikeliest of places: church. Now church is probably not the place where I should be in “Writer’s Mode” but Trinity Episcopal of Manassas prides itself on being a different kind of church. This particular day, Dennis Reid, was giving a sermon on Judas Iscariot; but not the kind of sermon you would think. He said something that struck me hard: Continue reading

From Rock Star to Ronin: The “True Dat” of This Writer’s Life

Closing in on the end of the summer, I’m looking back at the year with a cockeyed perspective. First, I’m trying to figure out what happened to the summer. Second, I’m trying to gauge how this year will come to an end. You would think with the launch of my second steampunk novel, The Janus Affair, I would think this was the banner year, especially with the showing Tales from the Archives is having at this year’s Parsecs.

It’s been a ride, safe to say.

For those of you following us on Facebook, you know that Pip and I returned from New Orleans just last week. What brought us to The Big Easy was an unexpected invitation to an unlikely match for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. We promised ourselves a priority of 2012 would be to make each appearance count, attempting to reach more steampunk-centric events like the Steampunk World’s Fair, a nice introduction to our target audience. Continue reading

From the “Coming Out of Left Field” Department: The 2012 Parsec Awards

Holy Hanna on a hotplate!

This past Thursday, it turns out, was the day the 2012 Parsec Awards were announced. Now if you have never heard of the Parsecs, don’t sweat it — you’re about to get schooled on one of the most prestigious awards in podcasting and Science Fiction.The Parsec Awards, now in their seventh year, is awarded to podcasts featuring Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Whether it is fiction, fan news, or even geek-a-licious music, the Parsec Awards celebrates the best in speculative fiction and do so as part of the wild ride that is Dragon*Con.

(Pictured here is the 2011 Parsec brought home by Technorama. Good on ya, guys!)

It’s been a while since I’ve been up for a Parsec. In 2008 Billibub Baddings and The Case of the Singing Sword won that year for Best Audio Drama (Long Form), although you could argue last year I was in the Parsec Run as Tales from the Archives gained a nod for Best Short Story with “The Astonishing Amulet of Amenartas” by Nathan Lowell.

Nah. Pip and I produced that episode. “The Astonishing Amulet of Amenartas” was all Nathan, and more of a nice feather in the cap for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.

Now we’re up to this year’s Parsecs. I was chatting with Veronica Giguere when the announcements went live. I know this because she started chuckling and then said, “I’m laughing about the Parsecs, and about you in the Parsecs.”

I’ll say it again… Continue reading

The Janus Affair: A Sneak Peek and a Balticon Bash!


Hey, everyone!

Well, here we are — the week it all happens! Balticon!

Before I forget, I do want to give you all a little something to enjoy, audio-wise…

James Langton, you might recall, gave his voice to us for Harper Audio’s kicking production of Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel. He’s back for The Janus Affair, and we could not be happier about it. Harper Audio gave us this preview for our podcast (you DO know about the steampunk podcast anthology Pip and I do, right?), and after hearing it, Pip and I can’t wait to hear what James comes up with next! We are so stoked to have him bringing Wellington and Eliza to life, and hopefully we will hear him again when Book Three is green-lit for production.

Now, onward to Balticon… Continue reading

Set your pocket watches! New Steampunk Fiction coming soon…

Contrary to popular belief that steampunk is dead, and thinking that maybe you missed the recent announcement on The Shared Desk or the Ministry website, I wanted to bring the news and the official launch date for the next project from Imagine That! Studios

10 April 2012

 

Continue reading

The Ministry MAY-hem Wrap-up at Balticon 45!

So, I’m all rested up and recovered from an amazing weekend at the Steampunk World’s Fair (review in the works). What’s next?

Why, another con appearance, of course…

Concluding The Ministry MAY-hem Tour (at least, this part of it) is an old favorite of mine — BALTICON. It was nearly ten years ago when I first arrived at this event with Morevi.  I looked something like this back then…

This was before the time of facial hair, before the days of podcasting, before the days of Facebook, Twitter, and Social Media. Right now, I’d love to go up to that guy and say “You have no idea what’s in store for you, bro.”

What a long strange trip it has been. And with the premiere of Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, it may just get a wee-bit stranger at Balticon 45 as tea parties, time traveling dances, rock-and-roll courtesy of Ditched by Kate, and panels-panels-panels are all in store! Here’s my schedule for the next few days… Continue reading

A Steamy Treat for Tuesday…

Hey, everyone!

Just in case you missed the big launch last week, Pip and I premiered Tales from the Archives,  a collection of short stories from the Victorian England of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. With original theme music composed and created by Alex White, we are featuring original steampunk short stories from…

Last week, Pip kicked things off with “The Evil that Befell Samson” and this week we present the supernatural steampunk “Dust on the Davenport” by author O.M. Grey. Continue reading

A little something for #SteamTuesday

Hey, everyone!

You might have heard about this on Twitter last week when Pip and I premiered the first episode of our anthology podcast (more on that in a moment), there is a pretty strong showing of steampunk on Twitter, and one writer in particular started up a movement that have become a weekly event I always look forward to on Twitter.

Meet Nancy Overbury, the creator of #SteamTuesday on Twitter.

Nancy is a graphic designer and artist located in Montreal, Canada, and has nursed over the past few years a passion for steampunk. She promotes on Twitter a variety of  links — literature, film, art, fashion, music — you name it! If it’s steampunk and she hasn’t mentioned it on Twitter, you’ll find it on her blog.

So when Pip and I were trying to figure out when we wanted to drop episodes of Tales from the Archives, I immediately thought of Nancy’s special day on Twitter dedicated to steam, gears, and cog. Last week, the first episode “The Evil that Befell Samson” written by Pip Ballantine, went live:

It is revealed just how Miss Braun ended up being exiled from her native country, New Zealand, and working for the Ministry in its London Offices. It’s a tale of nefarious doings, stalwart ladies, and the sound of clockwork.


With original theme music composed and created by Alex White, Tales from the Archives will be featuring original steampunk short stories from these talented authors:

You can subscribe on iTunes (and leave us a review there) or with your podcatcher of choice at the Ministry website. If you hear a short story you particularly like, go on and feel free to syndicate it on your own blog or podcast.

And make sure when you are on Twitter, give Nancy a tweet and consider tracking the #SteamTuesday for some incredible finds out there in the aetherwebs!

The Tough Choices (Part III: Great Expectations)

And this is it.

You’ve heard why new computer books, while bringing in a bit of the greenbacks, is no longer my thing as a writer; and you’ve finally got an idea of what I have been dealing with in a writing partnership that went so south, the relationship is in Antarctica right now. (Considering this next section, there a touch of irony for you.) You also know that Billi and the crew are taking a “big sleep” as well. It’s time for me to move forward.

Granted, when I was told this was the next step, I had no idea this was going to be such a giant leap.

This wild ride starts in May of last year…

The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences

2010 could be best summed up by Charles Dickins’ opening line from A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” While working through the worst of times, May ushered in the best of times with a two-book deal from Harper Voyager. What had started as a podcast-for-pay with Pip Ballantine became my big break, and my top priority.

The series is called The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and we describe the series as a steampunk take on the BBC’s espionage romp The Avengers. Our first book, Phoenix Rising, will premiere this Spring with its follow-up, under the working title Of Cogs and Corsets, planned for a 2012 release. Since the contract was signed, we have been moving at a blistering pace between quick turnarounds on edits, cover art production, and development of the sequel. Add to all this mayhem unanticipated international sales to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and (just this month) Russia, it’s no lie: Expectations are high, particularly with the book’s premiere scheduled at The Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey.

There is one reoccurring thought running through my mind during this whole period of time: Holy crap, this is really happening. Continue reading