May Madness: From RT to Balticon

Memorial Day weekend. You know what that means?

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Grill time.

It also means showing respect for those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have cookouts in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Sometimes, you can forget why we enjoy the extended weekend. This particular one comes with a pretty powerful price tag, regardless of what the sales at Macy’s and Bed, Bath, & Beyond advertise.

But I digress…

AWARDThis May, as you saw in my previous post, has been pretty eventful. Pip made it home safely Monday morning, and when I got home Monday from the day job I was presented with the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Steampunk of 2014. Wellington, Eliza, Dr. Sound, Professor Axelrod & Dr. Blackwell, Tesla & Edison, and new friends Wild Bill Wheatley and Felicity Lovelace brought home the gold (or in this case, the crystal) with Dawn’s Early Light. It doesn’t feel quite real, you know? Two of the finalists have written for me and Pip, and another was a New York Times Bestseller; but we were presented with honors. It’s a little humbling and immensely rewarding.

The best part? No puppies of any demeanor were involved with this distinction. We earned this award. I’m more than good with that. Continue reading

Making the Cut: The Pure Joy in Editing

Three men in an office hunched over a typewriter

Editors, man. Editors.

I love ‘em. Love ‘em hard.

That might come across as a shock to some of my fellow writers. There are authors who truly loathe the editing process, or believe their work is so dead-solid-perfect out of the box that editors need not apply.

This is your first warning sign, Sparky — you need an editor.

Continue reading

It Never Gets Old: Musings on Release Day, One Month Later

I was on the other side of the world when it happened. Day Four in New Zealand and Wellington is turning on the charm as she usually does…

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You might be led to believe my random posting of photos and video meant I was taking it one day at a time in Aotearoa, not a care in the world to be seen nor any fucks remaining to give. Trust me, the stress of 2014 was now and truly in the rear view, my new day job reinforcing my ability to do what I do and perhaps push the boat out and try adding new skills under my belt. A daring thing to do when you are south of 45 years, but that is what life is all about, isn’t it? Discovery and learning new things. Then off to New Zealand to kick off the 2015 convention year. Enjoy the ride, as I like to say…

Truth be told, I was really walking a knife’s edge on Day Four, the day that I blogged about last year (around the same time) on Chuck’s blog: The Diamond Conspiracy was out in the wild and reaching the hands of readers. Continue reading

RavenCon 2015: Ten Years of Geeking Out in Richmond

Ten years ago, on the way to Stellarcon in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was asked by Nth Degree Magazine creator and editor Mike Pederson to help him start up a convention in a city was in desperate need of a convention: Richmond, VA. At that time, there was nothing happening in the area. It would be the first time in a long time that Richmond would have seen a scifi con.

Naturally, this was my reaction:

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After several years of attending conventions, I was being invited (as much as you can be “invited” when you are in a moving car) to step into the wild, weird, and surprisingly wonderful world of convention organizing. (Either that, or walk the rest of the way to Stellarcon.) Thus, with boyhood hero Terry Brooks as our Guest of Honor, RavenCon launched.

Ten years later, RavenCon is still going strong. Continue reading

Authors & Self-Promotion: Why This Isn’t Someone Else’s Job

delilahThis week has seen a week of self-promotion posts. Not necessarily a week of authors hardcore-pimping their latest book or sounding from the rooftop news about their latest work-in-progress—and it should have been as Delilah S. Dawson released Hit while Pip and I kicked off the fourth season of Tales from the Archives—but a week of writers blogging about self-promotion. Two authors of infinite awesome—Chuck Wendig and the afore-mentioned Delilah Dawson—posted strategies on what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to talking about your own work. Continue reading

Writing Is Hard: Not an Excuse, A Challenge

delilahYesterday, the steampunk-romance-let-me-creep-you-out-to-the-edge-of-your-skin dynamo, Delilah S. Dawson, posted on her blog a column about being a writer, about getting off your ass, and about doing what you tell people you do. When I read the title of her blogpost, I was ready to mix it up with Big D because I’ve lost nearly twenty pounds all while editing an anthology, editing the fourth book of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and writing up a new social media book, specifically geared for writers…

Instead, I read the article, proving that, yes, it is better to comment after you’ve read a blogpost instead of reading only the headline. The best part about Delilah’s blog is that, after meeting her, you can hear her in your head when you read her blog. So now I hear Delilah S. Dawson in my head…

I am terrified. Just so you all know.

Delilah’s a stitch. We’ve broken bread with her, been on panels with her, and she’s one of my literature spirit animals. I say “one of” because I have many. There’s my wife Pip, Chuck Wendig, Myke Cole, Mur Lafferty, Erika Napoletano, Kate Cross…I swear, I am building a Noah’s Ark of spirit animals over here. Thing is, D drops the mic hard in this blogpost when she says: Continue reading

Cover Reveal — Nick Kelly’s Catwalk: Lineage

IMG_4643Nick Kelly is no stranger to this blog. You may have remembered his blogpost back in March when he talked about “crossing the line” in writing. The book he was talking about then was Catwalk: Messiah, his first novel and one I had the pleasure of reading this summer.

Best described as “cyber-noir” or perhaps Blade Runner if Marvel Studios produced it, Catwalk: Messiah follows Leon “Catwalk” Caliber, a former Washington D.C. cop, now hired hit man on the west coast of the United States. You would think being a gun-for-hire in a sprawling megapolis of the future would be complicated enough, but Catwalk is good at what he does on account of the cybernetics that not only keeps him alive but also enhances his physical abilities.

The cost isn’t too bad…until you take into account that every enhancement replaces part of his humanity. Now, Cat has to keep hold of what makes him human lest he becomes what he hunts.

Nick and I have talked a lot about his first novel; and never at a loss for words, Nick and I will probably be talking over a scotch or three about what’s coming soon from his dark, twisted imagination… Continue reading

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

Finding that Perfect Pitch

YSP_003The 2014 World Fantasy Convention is fast approaching (Yeah, I know, it’s not until November but when you think that next week, it’ll be August. The season of pumpkinfying everything will soon be upon us!) and is a very different experience compared to other cons. In fact, calling World Fantasy a “con” is innacurate. Sure, there are panels, Guests of Honor, readings and signings, and even a few fun get-togethers, but this convention is a place where business, serious networking takes place, and where new novels find a home.

Representing your novel, along with showing how marketable your novel could be, you think would be easy for writers. After all, writers can put words to thoughts, weave then into gripping stories and engaging characters, and easily create heroes, villains, societies, and worlds where readers happily lose themselves.

But pitching a book? It might surprise you how many writers can’t do this. Continue reading

Villains and Why We Love Them

Peter Capaldi as Cardinal Richelieu in the BBC's The Musketeers.Last night, I was watching The Musketeers, the new BBC series featuring Peter Capaldi rocking the Van Dyke and redefining diabolical as Cardinal Richelieu. He’s pretty badass in The Musketeers, but not chewing the scenery or twirling his mustache (which I would imagine is hard to resist because dat stache!) kind of way. Capaldi is working the dialogue like a boss and creating a foil against our heroes that makes you sit up and take notice. There’s a mind and a motivation you connect with on a visceral level, and sometimes it’s difficult to take a side against Richelieu as he makes villainy look really, really good.

That and the wardrobe. And did I mention DAT STACHE?

Watching Capaldi in this role has me of late considering villains, what makes them compelling versus comical characters, and why they are so important in writing.

Your villains—or antagonists, if you want to use the fancier term for “bad guys”— are as high a priority to develop as your heroes. They need to resonate with you, lest they reduce themselves to nothing more than set dressing hell bent on destroying said set along with any major players that happen to be in the vicinity. Continue reading