Five Things I Learned When Writing a Young Adult Book

curseofthesilverpharoah_smallRecently, The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh went live on Amazon, print editions premiering this week at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, provided we get no unforeseen whammies from CreateSpace. (Thanks, Hurricane Matthew!) Silver Pharaoh is not my first novel, nor is it my first foray into steampunk, as many of you know. The thing about this book that has me fidgeting nervously as reviews start to trickle in is that Silver Pharaoh is my first step into the realm of Young Adult fiction.

And that terrifies me. Greatly.

I’ve got a lot of feelings about Y.A. Fiction, one being that those reading Y.A. are not necessarily “young” adults. Think about it—while Harry Potter could be easily dismissed as a “kid’s book” and is found in the Children’s sections of bookstores and libraries everywhere, just as many adults devoured the adventures of the Boy Who Lived just as ravenously as its target audience.

So, yeah, working in the wild and woolly world of Y.A. for the first time, I picked up a few things… Continue reading

Writing Is Not a Solo Sport


photo credit: Arne Parrott

Striking a hero’s pose here is Drew Mierzejewski. I briefly met him two years ago through Alyson Grauer. Now if Aly’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you can find her lending her voice to one of my podcasts here, hear her rock the steampunk here, do it again here, and then giving good panel at DemiCon 25. Aly’s got game. So does Drew. That might be one of many reason these two got married.

Check it out, Chicago. This is an up-and-coming power couple to watch. I’m just sayin’.

Thing about Drew—I wish I knew him better. Something just tells me we’d be talking to the wee small hours in the morning about…stuff. Deep stuff. I especially got that impression when I saw a random Facebook post from him yesterday about the road creatives walk. The entire thread is here, and you really should check it out or even chime in if you like, but this was the part that made me stop and think…

Therefore, I would like to place a hypothetical to each of you. Why do we do walk this road alone? There are many of us! Why do we not band together in a great bonfire of creativity and make art? Is it impractical? It is idealistic? Is it too terrifying? What is stopping us from creating a massive company that makes art year round, in which we pool resources and talent to make the best of what we have to offer? Now, I want to reiterate that I ask this in hypothetical but I do want to hear your thoughts on this. So please take a moment and tell me in the comments what you think. Tell me why.

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Just Not Feeling It: The Lack of Sympathy for Seth Grahame-Smith

PPZIt had been a while since I’d been able to blog and I wanted a topic that would get back on writerly advice. This morning, I was intending to blog a bit about the beauty of research. It’s something I was reminded of when I penned for a response to WIRED on the history of podcasting fiction. So “Research” was to be my topic du jour until I saw in my feed this morning the story of author Seth Grahame-Smith and his current battle with New York publishing house, Hachette. The Guardian reported that the author inspiring a string of mash-up novels (his being Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which led Quirk Books to publish other works such as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Android Karenina) is being sued by Hachette for delivering a manuscript that claims is an appropriation of a public-domain work.

Just let that kick around in your brain for a minute: A New York publisher is suing a guy who took a Jane Austen classic, threw in a few set pieces from The Walking Dead, re-packaged it for a zombie-hungry market, and made a metric fuck-ton of money off of it, for writing a book that was a knock-off of a public domain work…like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Hold on a minute…KandP-seriously

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Walk the Walk: Actions over Prayer in Light of the Orlando 49

trinity_churchYou’ve probably seen on my Instagram images of Trinity Episcopal Church. Really nice place. Good people there. Trinity are located in Old Town Manassas, headed up by Stuart Schadt and Vinnie Lainson. Apart from sharing the occasional photo, I tend to be tight-lipped about my church, my faith, and my walk with Christ.  I have a lot of reasons why. If you are ever curious about it, and you have some time, I can tell you all about it; but my faith is a personal journey…

…and with the recent events in Orlando, I feel like that journey is being tested.

The trend of “thoughts and prayers” in light of tragedy, once upon a time, was a beautiful thing. I can remember regarding it as a beautiful way of solidarity online. However, when the same people condemning marriage equality and gay rights now extend “thoughts and prayers.” the sincerity was gone. No, as a Christian, I shouldn’t be passing judgment, but it was hard to take a high road when one politician who tweeted “Jesus wept.” on the upholding of marriage equality suddenly is offering “thoughts and prayers” the day after Orlando.

I am done with “thoughts and prayers.” I want action. I want change. And with so many religious leaders offering “thoughts and prayers” I had to wonder if there was anything more beyond that.

Then I got an email from Trinity Episcopal today: Continue reading

Overwatch: A Heartbreaking Adventure of Heroes

A few weeks ago, Blizzard Entertainment released Overwatch, a new game that I’ve been seeing gamer friends repeatedly posting their anticipation over and over again in my social media feeds. The artwork online and preview videos on YouTube promised striking anime inspiration in its character design, a world of wild and wicket combat tactics, and a wide array of maps based on real-life locations. Pretty cool, I thought.

Then I watched this short film…

Now I wanted to play this game.

If you skipped by the animated short, what are you doing?! It’s only six minutes and so worth it! But if you can’t watch the short film, let me bring you up to speed… Continue reading

Something to send you into the weekend…

It’s been a weird April 1. I’ve been a bit distracted as I’ve been thinking a lot about my friend, Joe, stressing out over getting into the Dogfish Dash (I got in), and prepping for a big event in Vegas. I’ve just felt a little out of sync.

Then I found this quote. Makes me feel ready to face the weekend, and things to come…

Wise words indeed.

This weekend, embrace this gift we have been blessed with.


What You Do When Your Book Gets a Bad Review


You know, I wish we didn’t need to have this conversation, but yeah, we do.

GOT-pleaseEveryone has their own way of dealing with reviews, and let’s be frank—not everyone will like what you do. Reviews, good or bad, are part of the territory. Reviews are a rite of passage for authors, the objective points-of-view that sit down with the final product and say, “Holy crapbuckets, this is the best book I’ve ever read!” or “Many trees died to make this book. Avenge them.” Whenever a new work hits the shelves, virtual or literal, I am always on edge. You have been working closely with editors and peer readers who all invest a part of themselves in your title because they believe in what you do; and if you are fortunate, these voices because they believe in you are going to be blunt, honest, and sometimes cruel to be kind. “My job as an editor is not to change a book,” I heard Ellen Datlow say on a podcast. “My job is to take a good story and make it great.” Continue reading

Remembering Alan Rickman

Alan-Rickman-zv-alan-rickman-6916293-1280-1024I honestly have no words.

No, wait. I do.

Fuck cancer.

I am still processing the life and death of David Bowie, and then this morning I saw it pop up on Facebook. I was trying to confirm it before I said anything to Pip, but then it downed on me: the news was just breaking. Alan Rickman, star of stage and screen, had died of cancer at 69. Identical to David Bowie.

I’m going to say it again. Fuck cancer. (#becausePGH)

I’ve been a fan of Alan Rickman’s work for decades. He raised the bar for villains in Die Hard, and sure, that’s what everyone knows him best for; but I still recall watching him in Sense and Sensibility and thinking, “This is Hans Gruber…and this time, he’s totally stealing this movie!” As I recall, Sense and Sensibility was marketed more as a vehicle for Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. The movie also gave Kate Winslet a lovely introduction to American audiences. It was Rickman’s Colonel Christopher Brandon, though, that completely won over hearts everywhere. Any movie Rickman appeared in could be promised at least one solid performance; and when you read his biography and see the amount of accolades he received for his work over the decades, it’s no surprise whatsoever as to why we loved him.

This is really too much. I’m at a loss.

So I’m going to let Alan Rickman speak for me… Continue reading

The Stars Look Very Different Today: A Tribute to David Bowie

IMG_5998Usually when an artist, actor, or celebrity of note dies, the alert gives a quick one line explanation of exactly why you should know this person. “John Q, backup singer for the Flying Wallabees…” or “Adele McManohan, artist of the painting Godzilla in Spring…”—something like that.

This morning, I looked at my phone and read the alert.

David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69.

No preface. No lead-in. No explanation as to what he was famous for. Just—boom.

And not under “Entertainment” but “Top Stories.”

That’s how big Bowie was. The man lived a life in the arts for five decades. He pushed boundaries, lived a life both dangerous and glorious, and he continued to do what he loved right up to his death.

And yet I have not always been a fan of David Bowie. Continue reading

Don’t Make Resolutions. Make Commitments.


iStock_000013954253_LargeHere comes the end of 2015. How was it? I’m hoping the year was kind to you. I know that, maybe, there were highs and lows; but I hope the highs were up there and lows not too shallow.

Right now, you’re seeing a lot of blogposts either looking back through 2015 or looking ahead to 2016, and as we close in on the countdown, I wanted to ask you all a favor: Knock it off with the New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s focus on getting shit done. Let’s make commitments for 2016. Continue reading