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 →
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.
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…
First, I need a nap. A really big one. Photoshop is a demanding mistress.
Well, it’s not really a petition as a petition is defined as “a formal written request, typically one signed by many people, appealing to authority with respect to a particular cause.” This it is more of an open letter to Amazon saying “You are a winner, bro! Keep that up!” with an appeal to independent authors everywhere to sign this, acknowledging why Amazon is so star-spangled awesome.
“It is fitting that Independence Day is upon us. Amazon has done more to liberate readers and writers than any other entity since Johannes Gutenberg refined the movable type printing press. With the advent of e-books and the ability to ship paper books to your doorstep in record time and at affordable prices, Amazon is growing overall readership while liberating the voices of countless writers, adding to the diversity of literature. A large percentage of the e-books sold on Amazon are from independent authors. You have validated our decision to write and to publish. Don’t let the wealthiest of writers convince you to turn away.
We urge you to support the company that supports readers and authors. Amazon didn’t ask us to write this letter, or sign it. Amazon isn’t aware that we’re doing this. Because in the end, this isn’t about Amazon. It’s about you, the reader, and the changes you’ve helped bring about with your reading decisions. You are changing the world of books, and you are changing our lives as a result.”
“Many of us supported Amazon from when it was a struggling start-up. Our books started Amazon on the road to selling everything and becoming one of the world’s largest corporations. We have made Amazon many millions of dollars and over the years have contributed so much, free of charge, to the company by way of cooperation, joint promotions, reviews and blogs. This is no way to treat a business partner. Nor is it the right way to treat your friends. Without taking sides on the contractual dispute between Hachette and Amazon, we encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business. None of us, neither readers nor authors, benefit when books are taken hostage. (We’re not alone in our plea: the opinion pages of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which rarely agree on anything, have roundly condemned Amazon’s corporate behavior.)”
If you remember back in 2012, Pip and I were engaging in an experiment. We never really mentioned what that experiment was all about, and that was on purpose. We wanted to step deeper into the waters of self-publishing and write outside our genres, see how works way out of our known expertise would perform in the wild frontier of digital do-it-yourself storytelling. I created for myself the pen name of “Jonathan Carter” and set out to write stories that—I hoped—would keep people up a night, make readers afraid of the dark, and check the house to make sure they were truly safe.
I’ve never been one for pen names but after two years and little-to-no activity, I went on and said to Pip “I think we’re done with the experiment. How about we go ahead and just kill Jonathan Carter, and I claim those short stories.”
So, I sat down with Photoshop, edited the eCovers, and re-released them into the wild. Within the first twelve hours of being live, one sold.
I’m thinking the loss of the pen name was a good idea.
How would I categorize my horror? I don’t think of myself as a horror writer heavy on the “squick” factor (if you are curious of what the “squick” factor is, think of the works from Clive Barker or film like the Saw series, or Hostel); but I would say the element of a setting or a situation slowly unraveling, and watching what the players do to try and solve or salvage it but wind up making the bad even worse, makes for good horror. It’s a feeling of helplessness, that wild tailspin of trying to make a situation right while knowing there is nothing that can be done, that I believe horror derives from.
So 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.
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.
At 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.
This week has been one temptation after another to rant a bit on topics ranging between Game of Thrones to pretentious nitwits in steampunk, but I have chosen a different direction for my weeks blogpost:
That’s right — RavenCon! Finally, after years of trying to make my hometown event happen, I am finally coming back to the weekend in April that I helped kick off seven years ago alongside Con Chair Michael Pederson. I, for one, am looking forward to the weekend!
It’s been a little frustrating not being able to make it, mainly on account of things like the lack of a day job; but after balancing the books and making sure the numbers weren’t misleading me, I can finally come back to my hometown (the second time within the month!) and enjoy some good old-fashioned geekery alongside such terrific people like Bill Blume, Gail Z. Martin, Michael A. Ventrella, the Geek Radio Daily crew, and Guest of Honor (and all around great lady!) Elizabeth Bear!
As 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.
Depending on who you talk to, stepping into the publishing industry today is something akin to tap dancing in a mine field. There are the seasoned veterans who are struggling along with some publishers against changing technologies and market demands. Meanwhile, the independently published continue to rattle their sabers and proclaim without question “Our way is the only way!” in an militant fashion frighteningly similar to the traditionally published authors of less than a decade ago.
As for myself, I have seen this “Us Vs. Them” nonsense back when “Social Media” was referred to as “New Media” and the ambitious creators behind this bold, cutting edge content were aiming to topple Old Media. I remember these days well as Apple had just opened the door to podcasters and it looked like these mavericks of media were going to fulfill their self-proclaimed prophecy as the featured podcasts were all people I knew, all shows either on my iPod or in my listening cue.
Within a year, the Featured Podcasts on iTunes were HBO, Discovery Channel, ESPN, and Oprah Winfrey. Oh, and those mavericks were either working for Old Media or contracting with them.
I look at what is happening now in publishing and think “Good Lord, here we go again.” Continue reading →
What a ride! Over $11,500 raised, reaching 77% of the Billi Kickstarter. I even had three $500 backers and one $1000 backer.
Wow! Just… wow! Above and beyond what I expected.
Before people start pounding my Comments with all the things I did wrong, it might be better if I just share some popular thoughts people have already shared on this Kickstarter. It may seem hard to believe, but there was a plan here. Now is a good time and place to review the strategy behind what I did, how I did it, and why I’m okay with the way how all this played out over the weekend. Continue reading →
You may have heard, if you’re friends with writers, that Amtrak, inspired by an exchange on Twitter, has come up with a really cool program called #AmtrakResidency where writers can catch a cross-country train (with Amtrak picking up the fare) and trek across the states while working on their next big novel. Truth be told, there is something very cool about writing while on a train. The world is your television, and seeing the country rush by you—given the atmosphere of riding the train across our majestic landscape—is nothing short of inspiring.
No, “rush by” is not the right description. From the window of your Amtrak observation desk or sleeper car, a cross-country odyssey unfolds all around you.
It all sound very poetic, which is why some crusaders of truth, justice, and “Your Content is YOURS” did a massive deep-dive into the terms of the #AmtrakResidency Program and speculate there is trouble at mill when it comes to your content. Nuzzled within the terms of giving you, the author, free train fare in exchange for this opportunity to write, Amtrak reserves “the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy the name, image, and/or likeness of Applicant and the names of any such persons identified in the Application for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing. (taken from #6. Grant of Rights of #AmtrakResidency Program)”
This sent some in the writing community into a right tizzy. New York Times Bestseller Diane Duanne warns on her blog“Never sell anyone world rights to any of your writing. Ever. Ever. Because who knows if that one piece of writing is the one that would have made you famous worldwide and rich beyond the dreams of avarice? Or more to the point, what if they later do something with your writing that is absolutely opposite to your intentions and which you find harmful or offensive? You’d have no recourse there either.”