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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Reflections on a Rebellion:  Another Book Release That Is Something Entirely New


Woah! Three blogposts in a week?!

It’s been that kind of week, I guess.

Today, a new book comes out. You would think on the fifth book in a series, this would get boring. It doesn’t. On this go-round, honestly, I feel like there’s more riding on this title than the previous ones. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove, and yet I feel like I have a lot at stake.

I knew that going into it. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel as anxious as I’ve been in the past. I’ve been on edge for well over a year.

The fear started with making the decision. Pip and I could have gone ahead and wrapped everything up with The Diamond Conspiracy, but we stopped and asked ourselves “Are we done?” The answer: We were having way too much fun with this series. We knew we could have wrapped up the story arc beginning at Phoenix Rising. Wellington’s and Eliza’s story? That was a different matter altogether. We knew two more books were in store for the two of them, and we knew if we wanted them to happen then we would have to fund them independently. I could still recall how hard my heart was going when we said “Let’s do this.” It would mean returning to Kickstarter, a whole new level of stress. Continue reading

Where Have I Been? (A #TeaserTuesday from the TeeMonster)

Hey, everyone.

It breaks my heart to look at how long it has been since I have blogged, and yes, it matters a great deal to me. This blog is my getaway, my soapbox, and my coffee shop where I enjoy a heart-to-heart with you.

So where have I been?

Bonus points if Lord Flashheart’s reply
popped into your head…


So yeah, it’s been Crunch Month, and on top of all that, Pip and I hit the 2016 Steampunk World’s Fair (which was great fun, I can tell you…). When not getting ready for the Fair and continuing our streak with the podcast (recording tonight!), it has been recording the audiobook while checking the layout of the new book.

In other words, I have been here… Continue reading

In need of a pick-me-up this Tuesday…

Been groggy all morning, and on my first cup I was reminded of this delightful mantra…


This parody of “The Mentat Mantra” (first heard in the 1984 film version of Dune) called “The Programmer’s Mantra” apparently was originated by Mark Stein at Sunday morning at Boston’s Arisia in 1993.

Words to live by, I’m telling you.

Cover Reveal: The Ghost Rebellion (Book Five of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences)


Welcome to Cover Reveal Day, and I can tell you this, we are very, very happy with the end result…


When we kicked off that Kickstarter back in October, today seemed very far off but we’re here. This means we are one step closer to the release of The Ghost Rebellion, the fifth book in the award-winning Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. Kickstarter Backers will be getting their copies in May, but the book will be available to the general public (in both digital and eBook formats) on June 8th.

Today, you can pre-order the ebook now.

The amazing creative team that made this cover possible:

And here it is… Continue reading

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

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