The End of a Beautiful Friendship: Lessons Learned from a Kickstarter

BB1_front_Aug108_wallWhat 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

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

Two Detectives: A Case of Lightning Striking Twice

peter-dinklage-lightbox-1As you all know, I have a thing for the Dinklage. 

When I first saw him in the *ahem* EMMY-AWARD-WINNING PERFORMANCE of Tyrion in Game of Thrones, I knew that if Billi were ever optioned for the big screen or for cable, Dinklange would be my first—and only—choice for the role of the dwarf detective. The wise-ass attitude. The swagger. The confidence. He was Billi in the best suits Westros could offer. This, of course, was a pipe dream as The Billibub Baddings Mysteries were settling comfortably as bygone titles in my career. I hadn’t really given the dwarf detective much thought until January when my better half and the rest of the Smoky Writers’ Retreat convinced me a Kickstarter to fund a third Billi—regardless of both my agent and other publishers showing no interest in the series—was a good idea.

So since Valentine’s Day, the dwarf detective and Dinklage have been in the forefront of my mind recently…

…and that why I was completely thrown for a loop when this bomb dropped in my lap: Dinklage is in talk for a new HBO series where he plays a dwarf detective.

Wait. Come again?! Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day from Billibub Baddings!

ind-ratpackToday marks the seventh anniversary of the first episode of The Case of the Singing Sword: A Billibub Baddings Mystery. I still remember when I first put together the first episode, and then moved along to create the following four episodes. I remember the email to the creative mind behind Rubber Band Banjo who was gracious enough to offer his music as the theme to Billi’s podcast. It was 2007 and still podcasting was a wild frontier. Back in 2005, it was me, Scott Sigler, and Mark Jeffrey as the Three Musketeers of Podiobooks. Two years later, it was me, Scott, and new guy J.C. Hutchins, and we were dubbed “The Rat Pack of Podcasting.”

I was Dean.

So how does one celebrate a podcast’s anniversary? For me — I launch a Kickstarter. Continue reading

I Dream of Peter Dinklage: A Dwarf Detective Returns

This weekend was a productive one, started with Pip building a case (pardon the pun) for dusting off a manuscript that disappeared into the sunset back in 2009. It has been, of all of my works, the most requested of my works for a sequel.

It was a pretty intense conversation between Pip and myself…

PIP: Tee, I really want to get Billi out in a digital format.
ME: Okay.
PIP: *blink-blink* Um…okay….

Yeah, pretty gripping, I know.

So now, after two years of being out of print, Imagine That! Studios as part of EXPERIMENT 2012 brings you…


I did say last year that I believed I would return to this alternative Chicago where a dwarf detective would stand toe-to-toe with Al Capone, and now it is happening. The story is still the same. We just have the book in new formats now. Kindle? Nook? Kobo? Yeah, we got you covered.

Why now? I was asked by Myke Cole in a recent roundtable discussion on John Mireau’s Serving Worlds podcast when you know it’s time to release a title on your own. Could it have anything to do with this rakish gent? Continue reading

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

The Tough Choices (Part II: Concerning Dwarf Detectives and Swashbuckling Pirates)

Last week, you got the behind-the-scenes look at how a lot of work can go into books and how a publisher can change their minds without telling you. We also got a look at how I’ve been making some rookie flub-up’s and probably need to go back and listen to my own podcast on writing and what not to do. This week, Part II of “The Tough Choices” goes into the characters people know me for and the questions people have been asking me since 2005…

The Billibub Baddings Mysteries

“So, are you ever going to podcast Pitcher’s Pendant?”

Two of the best things a writer can ever hear about their work is:

  • I read it again, and it gets better every time.
  • Where’s the next book?

While my podcasting and Twitter books are the bigger financial successes, it is my print and podcast novels that people ask me about the most. In particular, when is the next one coming? I suppose that would make the novels from Dragon Moon Press artistic successes. Continue reading

I Remember Joe: 2010

I’m not the biggest fan of April Fool’s Day. Never have been. The history behind April Fool’s Day is quite cool, but that’s about it. I don’t like pranks played upon me and playing pranks on others I’m not too crazy about. (I do remember one prank, though, where a college suitemate covered another suitemate’s doorway with newspaper. Guy opens the door and sees a wall of headlines staring back at them. I had a hand in that, and that was funny. Not to mention, harmless.) April 1st Is also crappy when you have to report news or stay on top of current events, and too many news outlets now think it’s “fun” to throw in gag stories. And now, on Twitter, tweetpranks are running amuck.

Yes, I hate April Fool’s Day.

I hate it all the more as one of my best friends, Joe Murphy, passed away on this day in 2007.


Every year, Jack and I ask that you remember our fallen friend, Joe Murphy. From the reaction on Facebook to my profile picture already (only posted an hour ago, and Robin Hudson, Marc Bailey, and Robert Goshko suggest Root Beers to be drank in his honor), the Community keeps Joe in their minds and hearts.

For those of you new to podcasting, you might have missed the audio wit and always-clever banter of my friend, Joe Murphy. He was (and still is) an amazing guy, his voice now part of the history of such podcasts, as Wingin’ It, Slice of SciFi, The Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas, and the award-winning The Case of the Singing Sword: A Billibub Baddings Mystery. He was taken from us too soon, and on April 1 we remember him.

I got to see Joe a month before he died, and it was hard. He was sick. You couldn’t deny that. On April 1, I remember my friend, Joe, in memories like the one I have posted above. I remember his banter against Michael, Evo, and the crew of the original Wingin’ It. I remember his loyalty. He pushed me to be a better writer, and he never pulled punches on how I carried myself, both as a writer and as a person. This is how I remember Joe. A smile that can turn around a bad day. An honest opinion that you could grow from. He was an amazing guy, and I miss him terribly.

Please syndicate this tribute show (originally produced in 2008 as part of the Give Us a Minute podcast.) through your feeds, blog about Joe Murphy, tell a friend today about Joe, show your support in an avatar change (be it a picture of Joe or a candle in remembrance), and let the Community know that you also remember Joe.

Litopia Daily: Tee Morris Staves Cabin Fever via Podcasting with Peter

The day after the Great #Snowpocalypse of 2009, I felt the walls closing in a bit…and the twins inviting me to play with them really wasn’t helping. Fortunately, saving the day was Peter Cox all the way from Central London when he rearranged his schedule to sit down, open up the mics, and talk with me about podcast fiction. Seems that Litopia has opened a floodgate in talking about podcasting, Social Media, and the modern writer, and Peter wanted to sit down with the guy that started it all.

If you don’t know Litopia, you should. Lipopia is  run by writers for writers. It’s a podcast, it’s a blog, it’s a forum. It’s an inside look and a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing industry, and what was supposed to be a fifteen minute podcast…well, we went a little longer…

Enjoy this bit of time travel through the history of podcast fiction, and looking at the present day and possible tomorrows of Social Media in the publishing industry.

Listen. Comment (here and at Litopia). Share.

Feeling the Love from across the pond!

In this picture are two people that I hold very dear in my life. One of them is my daughter. I will let you try and figure which one of them is her…


The other “bloke” is Martyn Casserly, a journalist, an accomplished musician, and now he is an award-nominated podcaster with his one-minute Movie Mantras podcast. (Martyn is also a dad and a good mate to boot…although his opinions concerning the new Craig-Bond films and recent Doctor Who are completely wrong, but I digress…) With the many endeavors he had going, Martyn approached me this Spring to talk about an article he was penning on podcast authors. He was optimistic that Wired Magazine (UK) would pick up the column. So I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

This morning, I checked my Twitter stream and found this waiting for me:

My article about Podcast Authors is up on Wired ! @scottsigler, @sethharwood, @jchutchins, @teemonster all appear.

Now live on the site, Wired Magagine (UK) picked up  “Novels by Podcast” where Martyn discusses how we authors are giving away our hard work in audio format for free. He also goes into the genesis of the podcast novel and why we do what we do.

“Giving away your stories isn’t a risk… it’s a competitive advantage,” explains Scott Sigler. “If a reader who’s never heard of me has $25 to spend and they’re looking at my book next to a Stephen King book, who are they going to choose? They take King. He’s a proven storyteller. But if King is $25 and my story is free they may try me out first. Why not? It’s no risk to them. If they like me, they buy me. If they don’t they buy King. Whatever happens the customer gets what the customer wants.”

It is a tight article covering successes and milestones; and while many who follow us on Twitter, on blogs, and through podcasts, may consider what we do “old hat” after four years, podcasting — and more importantly, podcasting fiction — is still a brand-spanking new concept to the mainstream market. Articles like Martyn’s and venues like Wired are getting the word out about what we are doing. That’s what is important here: getting people to listen.

Show Martyn appreciation by blogging about this article (and yep, I got it covered from the business perspective over at Imagine That!), syndicating his link in your feeds, dropping him comments on the article’s page, and talking it up on your podcasts. Let Wired know we’re paying attention and appreciate their support, and let Martyn know both on Twitter and on Wired that his words ring true.

Thanks, Martyn. Well done!