Counting down to one wild weekend ahead…

Yes, it has been a little quiet on my blog…but that doesn’t mean I’ve been standing still.

The 2011 Steampunk World's Fair

Our first steampunk exposition, The Steampunk World’s Fair in Somerset, New Jersey, is happening this week; and they are making us feel welcome! The guest list is mind-blowing, and yet we — the steampunk rookies — make their Lovecraftian promotional poster.

I think this is a sign of a FUN weekend ahead!

Both Pip and I will be there as part of “Ministry MAY-hem” and there are more details about the weekend to be found at the Ministry website. Track the weekend on Twitter by following the #SPWF hashtag.

We hope to see you this weekend as we get our steampunk funk on!

A Crossroad Remembered

This weekend, Pip and I took off for a Valentine’s Day weekend. Instead of getting our lovey-dovey on today, we dropped off the Boom with grandparents, and enjoyed a quiet pre-Valentine’s Day weekend in Staunton, Virginia. If you are not familiar with Staunton, this is truly one of the crown jewels of Virginia’s crown. It is a fantastic town nestled within the Shenandoah Valley, just about 20-30 minutes away from my alma mater, James Madison University. Why I chose Staunton as our getaway weekend, though, wasn’t for its historic architecture, quiet setting, or quaint downtown shops. It was for The American Shakespeare Center.

You probably don’t think “Staunton, Virginia” when you think of William Shakespeare, but you should. The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) is located in downtown Staunton, and they manage the Blackfriars, the world’s only reproduction of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. This weekend, the ASC was putting on The Comedy of Errors, a show that holds a very special place for me. As Pip had never seen a production of Comedy nor a show at the Blackfriars, I thought this would be a great opportunity. Better still, the Frederick House offered a Shakespeare Package that included tickets and a backstage tour. As you can see by the photos (click on them to view in full), the Blackfriars is gorgeous, and how you see the stage—even with the lights up—is how the ASC does Shakespeare. The show itself was tremendous, and Pip and I are still talking about it. The actors (including an old friend from JMU who is still performing with the company, I am proud to say) gave high energy with every line and every comic moment, making the less-than-two-hours traffic fly by. So yeah, when you think of Shakespeare, you should also think of Staunton, and you should make it a priority to catch a show here. It was a terrific choice Pip and I made, and we’re heading back to Staunton in May. (More on that trip to come…)

What I didn’t expect from this trip to the Blackfriars was a memory from the past, back when I was a professional actor and facing a tough call. 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

Come on, Baby, Cover Me!

Final Covert Art for Phoenix Rising

click image to view full size

We’ve been sitting on this cover art for months!

When Pip Ballantine and I first saw it, we were over the moon. Imagine the heartbreak when our editor, Diana Gill, told us “You can’t post this anywhere just yet.” To watch the evolution of this cover, from the earlier drafts to the final product, has been a real trip; and while this is my fifth novel, it feels like my first. Continue reading

Tee Morris Cooks Up Erotica ala DARK!

At the end of 2009, I was invited by The Chef to return to the Erotica ala Carte kitchens for another round of saucy, spicy fun. My menu items on this go-round were:

  • Female P.O.V.
  • Time travel
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Leather and Lace

The end result was “Dagger of the Mind” and my return to podcasting fiction. In light of so much talk and controversy concerning it and coupled with the way my year has been, I have been ready — so very ready — to do this.

But be warned…this story goes dark. WAY dark. Darker than I imagined I could ever go in my writing. This is not safe for work, kids, queasy dispositions, or those new to Pip’s podcast. I’d recommend working up to this one by listening to early episodes, and then having a listen to what the Chef describes as “the darkest we have ever gone…”

Something terrible is in Anna’s mind. Something alien that uses desire as a whip, but is it trying to drive her mad or is something even more nefarious going on?

This is my return to writing, and I can’t thank Pip enough for being my Muse (or Swift-Kick-in-the-Pants, whichever you prefer) in this setting. This story has been receiving a lot of traffic on Twitter, and I’ve been pretty humbled by the reactions. The inspiration behind this stems from one of my favorite movies of all time — Time After Time. (It’s on my AppleTV Wish List.) The film marked the directorial debut of Nicholas Meyer (who went on to direct Star Trek II and VI), and stars a young Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells and a young David Warner as Dr. John Leslie Stevenson whom we find out later is Jack the Ripper. I love time travel stories, but this one stands out as a favorite. I also wanted to try something different, something the EalC Kitchens had never seen before. I went into fetishes that haven remained unexplored, and then there was the Horror angle I dedicated in following. I was told in one harsh critique that “Horror and erotica simply do not mix…”

Someone didn’t tell Clive Barker that. Twisted as it is, Hellraiser is an incredibly sensual, erotic work. (And yes, terrifying.)

What has surprised me the most about this short story is that, for the first time as a writer, I’m discovering the possibilities. This world, these characters, and this situation are far from done. I’m thinking I may have my first erotic thriller in the works, and I am thrilled at where my ideas are leading me.

Oh my Muse, you are the dark, delicious, and saucy temptress…

And while people have been talking about it, I should point out that both my Erotica ala Carte dishes are eligible for the 2010 Parsec Awards. So if it hasn’t happened already please consider nominating:

If you shared your thoughts (good or bad) concerning my “Erotica ala Dark” on Twitter, thank you! Feel free to leave comments here, or go to the Erotica ala Carte site and share your review with the Head Chef.

And feel free to share this twisted tale on your own blog….if you dare….

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.

GUEST BLOGPOST: In Which a Delivishly Clever Archeologist Writes with a Most Scandalous Flair!

Hey, everyone! You may all think I’m suffering some sort of steampunk kick; but as you heard in my previous podcast, it is the focus of my attentions. My current work-in-progress now circulating the market is a steampunk romp entitled Books & Braun: Volume One — Phoenix Rising, co-written with Philippa Ballantine. I have always been fascinated with this sub-genre ever since hearing about it from two of the most creative people I know, J.R. Blackwell and Jared Axelrod.

And it was another creative type, the incredibly-witty, and delightfully-sultry Gail Carriger who — in a ways and means of promoting her paranormal steampunk romance, Soulless — made the offer to write guest blogpost.

Gail is my first. You always remember your first…

So I’m bumming about the internet, as you do, and Tee tweets me…

“Wanna guest blog?” says he.

“Delighted,” says I. “Got a topic?”

“What makes Steampunk so sexy?” says he. Continue reading

PREVIEW: Books & Braun (Recorded LIVE at World Fantasy 2009)

readingI admit that my blog (both of them) have been a bit quiet since taking on the Day Job and working through a busy October, but hopefully this sneak peek at what I’ve been up to will make my pockets of quiet worthwhile.

Recorded before a live audience at World Fantasy Convention, award-winning podcaster and award-nominated author Philippa Ballantine and I unveiled (with the blessings of our agent) our work-in-progress now working its way through submissions: Books & Braun, our Steampunk take on The Avengers. This is the first time that we have revealed to the public any selections from the work (apart from the odd quotes and teasers in our respective tweet streams), and we had a blast with this presentation. Our plan is to eventually podcast it in this fashion: Pip and I supplying the respective narration, a “few” (HA!) production elements, a musical score, and artwork featured by Carrie Seidman. We hope you enjoy this listen at what we have cooking in the creative kitchen.

BLOGGERS & PODCASTERS: We are releasing this reading under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Both Pip and I encourage you to syndicate this episode and point your subscribers to this endeavor of ours. We also would love to hear your feedback on this preview both here and at Pip’s website. Thank you for giving us a bit of space on your mp3 player of choice, and we will keep you posted on what happens with our daring duo from the clandestine organization that is The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.

The New Gig: What I’m Doing and How I’m Doing

IMG_0584With a whopping 42 comments to it (and as that is the big answer, I thought the time was right for this post…), I think it’s pretty much common knowledge by now that I got a new job. I didn’t really consider how quickly the wheels got rolling on getting me in there; but on retrospect, this place did not diddle around. I was offered the job on August 4, taught my final class on August 14, and then on August 17 I walked in, filed paperwork, went through the orientation, and was then literally thrown into the thick of it. I didn’t hit the ground running. I bitch-slapped the ground, made it call me a pretty girl, and had it beg for more when I was through with it.

And the really frightening bit? After a week, I’m still not sure how my voice mail works.

But what exactly is the job? I didn’t really go into detail on that in “Perseverance and Peter Gabriel” as that post was less about the job itself and more about the job hunt. Amidst the comments of congratulations and inspiration, a few of you have wondered “So what is this job you got?” I wanted to wait until I finished the first week before I shared details, and I’m glad I did. Last week was overwhelming, amazing, and eye-opening, on a lot of levels.

I was also beat at the end of every day. Slept a lot. Now, with some of the blur that was last week processed, here it is…

Intersections is a security firm, based out of Chantilly, VA. Since 1996, Intersections has dealt with credit history and digital identity protection. They are in the business of making electronic transactions, be they financial or personal, safer; and I have been hired as their Social Media Manager. (I’d like to point out that this job falls under Corporate Communications, not Marketing. That thrills me like you wouldn’t believe.) They were looking for someone who could not only apply Social Media, but understand the different initiatives out there and what they offer.

They were also looking for someone who could write. Yeah, I think I got that covered, too.

What I’m particularly excited about with this job is the angle Intersections takes with Social Media. Obviously, I’m being called upon to manage blogs, create podcasts, edit video (which I’m doing right now), and manage an outreach program with Twitter and (soon) Facebook; but I am also being asked to investigate and research security in Social Media, something I’ve touched on in Bird House Rules but only scratched its surface. On Friday, I was forwarded some news about Social Media from a security perspective and I was floored. The ironic bit is, that morning I was catching up with The SpyCast and listening to a fantastic interview with Dr. Terry Gudaitis who specializes in cyberintelligence gathering. (That’s the June 15, 2009 show if you’re interested.)

I feel as if I am starting all over again in Social Media, this time from a new perspective I hope Blogworld will let me speak on this year. I am officially on their schedule. I’ve confirmed “But Honey, It’s For the Studio” but am working to change topics concerning my second talk. So, if you’re at Blogworld this year, stop me and say “Hi.” It should be good fun in Vegas this October!

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A cublicle in transition

So in the end, I am using my knowledge and background on Social Media for good, not for evil. While I will help in the promotion of what Intersections does, I will also be their on-call specialist in Social Media while I find out more about security matters with Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, and the like. My brain has been firing on all cylinders since Day One, and I’m soaking it up like a thirsty sponge. The first week just blinked by, and I’ve not slowed down yet.

If you were wondering, though, how the day job will affect my writing, it will only make me more productive. Now that I know my hours, I can regiment and manage my time efficiently. I’m still writing for AppAdvice; and this weekend Pip and I completed the first draft of Books & Braun: Phoenix Rising, our Steampunk CSI peppered with hints of James Bond. I’m also planning to dust off Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and start working on that. I’ll give up details with an upcoming Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy…and yes, that will be its final episode.

It’s a long story and a hard decision concerning The Guide, and I’ll save the rest for that show.

My job at Intersections is now underway, and my writing is moving forward. From here, all that I have to face now are the possibilities.

Tee Morris (that naughty boy!) on Erotica ala Carte

Back in December, you might recall a blogpost proclaiming my love for New Zealand smut. Well, Chef Ballantine appreciated my kind words so much concerning the podcast too hot for iTunes, Erotica ala Carte, that she invited me to cook in her kitchen. The ingredients this naughty Gordon Ramsey (with help from her listeners) threw at me were:

  • Alternative History
  • Government Bureau
  • Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down

The end result is the short story (borderline novella) “Release Me” which dropped just before Balticon. As I mentioned, the story seemed to write itself and really took on some serious momentum, surprising (if not, disturbing) me. The end result, though, I am quite happy with:

In an alternative America a superhero learns a lesson in control.

Inspired by my favorite film of the year so far, Watchmen, I went with a government bureau of superheroes instead of something along the lines of The X-Files. (I think that is what folks were expecting.) There are also a few nods to the Twitter community and a homage to one of my Geek Chic heroines. This was a lot of fun, and a terrific exercise for me as a writer. So as it stands, J.C. Hutchins has challenged me with writing a thriller and Pip has tapped me for erotica. What’s next? Horror?

Scott Sigler? Phil Rossi? Any of you guys wanna throw the gauntlet?

Have a listen, and let me (and Pip) know what you think.