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

A Fiddle for My Funk: My Night with Lindsey Stirling

meet_greetYou might have caught the Instagram from Monday but it has been one of those weeks.

I’m going to side-step the details because I want to focus on the positive. I want to focus on tomorrow. I want to focus on a lesson I got from someone who hit a few brick walls in her time (and she’s all of 26, you know…) and now she’s pwning the world one sold out venue at a time.

This week, I got served by Lindsey Stirling.

Before the events of the week hit, I paid for a V.I.P. evening with Lindsey Stirling. Now if you don’t know this performer, you really should take a look at her videos on YouTube. Here’s a favorite of mine…

When she went on tour and offered V.I.P. tickets which included a meet-and-greet, I immediately whipped out the credit card. A chance to meet Lindsey Stirling and maybe enjoy a little bit of V.I.P. treatment? Absolutely! Little did I know how well-timed this indulgence would be.

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Lightning Strikes Twice: THE JANUS AFFAIR on Goodreads’ 2012 Choice Awards

As you have probably caught on TwitterFacebook, and the official website of the Ministry, our repeat appearance in the book readers’ social network, Goodreads, has been the subject of conversation. The first round was comprised of selections from title activity and reviews, and the second round included write-in nominations with the original nominees. This is not new territory for Pip and me as Phoenix Rising landed the eighth top slot for Best Science Fiction of 2011, but still…

We asked for your votes.

We watched the deadlines come and go.

And this week, you all made it official — The Janus Affair is a Finalist for Best Science Fiction of 2012.

Goodreads and its community of readers have spoken and here is (by author, in alphabetical order) their Top Ten Best Science Fiction of 2012: Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Four)

And here we are — the final part of the mini-series blogpost! (See? Aren’t you glad I broke this up into segments?)

Now as I mentioned, I have saved the best tip for last; but before getting to what I believe is the most imperative thing you can do in planning out a book trailer, let’s quickly recap those previous 10 tips from Parts 1-4:

  • Know what you’re shooting. You’re shooting a book trailer, the emphasis on trailer. Not book.
  • You don’t have to understand the process, but take time to understand the process. A book trailer doesn’t just happen in your basement one weekend afternoon. There’s steps to follow and processes to adhere to.
  • For your first book trailer, keep it simple. You might want to go full-on epic for your first book trailer. Don’t. This is your first step. Think smart.
  • Set up a budget. Best way to avoid going broke.
  • Figure out ways to stretch the budget. Did I mention “avoid going broke” earlier? Yeah. I did.
  • When the trailer needs artwork, imagery, or music, make a financial investment. When it is time to spend money on your trailer, particularly in stock audio and video, do’t flinch or take shortcuts. Do it.
  • Be patient and understanding with your talent. Cast and crew. Especially if they are giving of their time and talents, roll with the challenges and make things work to the best of their abilities.
  • Make sure your cast and crew understand their responsibilities. Remember though that your trailer is the top priority, not hanging out or chilling out. That happens after the work is done.
  • Trust your editor, especially if he or she has a track record. Sometimes the toughest thing is to surrender your work to an objective party, but it also the best thing you can do in order to make it shine.
  • Never forget: It’s YOUR trailer. Don’t let others render your vision so blurry that it’s no longer yours. It’s your book’s first impression. You make the final call.

It’s all been leading up to this one key piece of advice I’ve been sitting on since Part One. You all have been patient and (for this, I am really thrilled!) attentive on what makes a good book trailer happen. Now comes the most essential thing you need to know before making that jump from the printed word to a visual medium in order to help your book sales reach a wider audience.

Are you ready? Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Two)

Two days before previewing the trailer at Balticon 46, I began a series on what has been my life for the past seven weeks: The Janus Affair book trailer. While there has already been a lot invested into this project and critics dismiss book trailers as trendy gimmicks that hardly sell books, I truly believe that it has been a worthwhile and educational ride.

The crowd reaction this weekend to the preview was payback, indeed.

But what is it about book trailers that make authors, agents, and publishers so skeptical? I got a few ideas, and a lot of those ideas came from this project, this idea that has evolved into a glimpse at a fantasy realized: Adapting a book and making a movie. Look, I know something like that is a longshot, especially having an idea of how things work in Hollywood, but it is still pretty neat to see this coming to life.

So far my own experiences between Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair have taught me a few things in making a book trailer; and in what I thought was going to be a three-part series (but is probably going to go to four), I thought I’d pass along a few ideas to keep in mind when deciding to shoot and produce your own book trailer. Continue reading

Set your pocket watches! New Steampunk Fiction coming soon…

Contrary to popular belief that steampunk is dead, and thinking that maybe you missed the recent announcement on The Shared Desk or the Ministry website, I wanted to bring the news and the official launch date for the next project from Imagine That! Studios

10 April 2012

 

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Tee’s Top 5 from 2011

Looking back on 2011Recently, J.C. Hutchins asked across various social networks for people to sum up their 2011 in one word, and then sum up their hopes for 2012 in another. I responded with three.

Yes, I’m a rebel. Screw the rules, ‘cause that’s how I roll.

Man, I really need to make “avoid talking street” a New Year’s Resolution. Now where was I? Oh yeah, Hutch’s “Sum Up Your 2011” question…

I responded with “The Small Step” because I’ve started looking ahead already to 2012. Planning for appearances. Pre-production for a book trailer. Considering a posting schedule for Volume Two of Tales from the Archives.  And, of course, the release of The Janus Affair. It just feels like everything is piling on already, and I’ve still not put away Christmas decorations.

Not sure what it was about this week — maybe the storm front breaking, maybe the sunrise, maybe the unusually smooth commute to work, who knows? — I started to look back. 2011 has been one astounding year. A year of change. A year of direction. Some of these items may some across as a touch trivial, but they defined the year for me, and are helping me work through tough spots and dark times. I stopped to think of those high points and put them out there on this blog, my intent being that you might find five things to be thankful for at this time. Continue reading

Full Court Press: Harper Voyager Puts My Steampunk On Sale

It's a sale!Just a quick bit of news before the holidays — the 99¢ sale of Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel is now officially on! And here’s where you can find it…

Kindle — http://amzn.to/o31YFI
Nook — http://bit.ly/rBBrT7
Kobo — http://bit.ly/ulBPet
iTunes — http://bit.ly/uuQ0XS

That’s right, Harper Voyager has lowered the eBook price of Phoenix Rising down to 99¢ for a limited time, and this isn’t just for Kindle, but all ebook readers out there. We’re getting the word out today, so if you’ve been curious about steampunk, or how I write in novel-length with Pip Ballantine, or just in the need for something new to read, here is the 2011 Airship winner for 99¢. Feel free to leave us a review and tell a friend!

Something tells me this is hint of things to come. Pip and I are working on a new trailer, bigger and badder than the last one. We have a Christmas Special in the works for both The Shared Desk and Tales from the Archives. And we’re looking ahead to 2012. All this before Christmas.

I need a vacation.

The Goodreads 2011 Choice Awards (or How Much I Love Gravy at Thanksgiving)

Phoenix Rising, available in bookstores everywhere!This month, on Twitter, Facebook, on the podcast, and even at the official website of the Ministry, we’ve been talking up the recent accolade from the book readers’ social network, Goodreads. The first round was comprised of selections from Goodreads, based on activity and reviews. The second round included write-in nominations. Both were voted on by members of the Goodreads network.

Today, it’s official — Phoenix Rising is a Finalist for Best Science Fiction of 2011.

Goodreads and its community of readers have spoken and here is (by author, in alphabetical order) their Top Ten Best Science Fiction of 2011:

  • Ann Aguirre, Aftermath
  • Ilona Andrews, Silver Shark
  • Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris, Phoenix Rising
  • Earnest Cline, Ready Player One
  • James S.A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes
  • Hillary Jordan, When She Woke
  • Stephen King, 11/22/63
  • China Miéville, Embassytown
  • Rob Thurman, Basilisk
  • Daniel H. Wilson, Robopocalypse

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Going for Goodreads Gold…well, okay, how about Silver?

There’s a real two-edged sword when it comes to honors and awards. I remember reading about the “importance of awards” when reading titles about getting published, grabbing an agent’s attention, and even marketing a book once it is out there. Across the board: Awards and distinctions help sell books. At least that is what the pros I was reading were telling me.

For a while, though, I’ve been giving awards a sideways glance. yeah, they’re nice and all; but did The Case of the Singing Sword go gangbusters when it won a Parsec? No, not really. Picked up a few more listeners, sure, but it didn’t really give Billi a boost in print sales. So, yeah, awards — nice, and it was very cool going home with that trophy…but I can write without them.

Then Pip and I won the Airship Award for Best Steampunk Literature of 2011. Regardless of what it did for Phoenix Rising sales, I won’t lie to you — it felt good. Really good. I mean, coming-in-from-playing-in-the-snow-and-having-Cream-of-Tomato-soup-with-a-bagutte-side good.

Then, two days before heading out west to Blogworld and ComiKaze Expo, we received word from Goodreads that Phoenix Rising had been short listed for Best Science Fiction of 2011.

At first I was just happy with the nod, but then I took a closer look at the company we were keeping: Continue reading