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

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

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

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

My Writing Process: A Blog Meme for 2014

iStock_000021621315XLargeAs 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.

Thanks, Emily, for this invitation. This should be fun.  Continue reading

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

Much Ado About Nothing: The Brouhaha over #AmtrakResidency’s Terms of Service

bildeYou 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.”

She used bold AND italics. Wow. This must be serious. 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

Endless Possibilities 2014 Blog Tour: An Introduction

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Yes, the blog has been quiet, just like the podcast. I hate it when things like that happen, and this time it was for reasons good and bad.

Instead of delving into the bad (which was all the chatter on my Facebook, if you were curious), I want to hold on to the good. Oh now, don’t you worry — I will always have room for a good, old-fashioned rant here, but this blogpost is more about rising to challenges and keeping a hold of what works…

This blogpost is also to welcome those of you new to my side of the blogosphere. S’up?

Yes, I’m on board at the opening of this new year with a blog tour aimed to introduce myself to new reader, be they readers of my blog or readers of my works. And what a day to introduce myself to people — on the ninth anniversary of the MOREVI podcast going live. Where did the time go?

But I digress. Let me start from the beginning. Introductions? By all means…

Continue reading