Sometimes, It’s Not About Making the Sale

New York City at nightNext week, my wife of infinite awesome and I are heading up north to New York for a writer’s conference. It is the Writers Digest Conference, and we are heading up there to talk about two things we do very well:

  • Steampunk
  • Social Media & Content Marketing

Now, here’s the thing. There are going to be a lot of writers at this conference. This is an event where writers of varying backgrounds—fiction, non-fiction, beginners, seasoned veterans—go to pitch their ideas and perfect their approach to business. This isn’t really a “con” like RavenCon or Balticon, but this is an honest-to-God, professional, industry conference. No cosplayers. (But we will get punked up for the Steampunk panel, sure!) No panels on who would win in a fight—Batman or Superman. (Supes.) Less fans of our writing and more people who want to be professional writers. (Awww yeah, it’s business time!) This is a very different dynamic than a book event at a teashop or a steampunk convention. This is an event where writers are learning about the business of books. Continue reading

Wide-Eyed Wonder: A Review of Tomorrowland

spa224653LARGEWhen Walt Disney Studios revealed that coming to theatres this summer was a movie called Tomorrowland, a feeling of dread (equaled only by my level of anticipation) welled inside of me. Tomorrowland—the park, not the movie—was a place that, even in my teenaged visits to Walt Disney World, I would hold my breath, make a wish, and lose myself in science fiction come to life. Tomorrowland was not just a special place, it was sacred. I remember visiting Walt Disney World when Space Mountain was under construction. (I’m old. Shut up.) I remember when their first spaceflight simulation “A Voyage to the Moon” convinced me had launched from Orlando and were en route to Tranquility Sea. Yes, I know—Walt Disney World is an amusement park. An expensive amusement park. Walt Disney World, I’ve always believed, has been less about the rides and more about the experience; and for me, nowhere else in the park embodied that more than Tomorrowland.

Now, it was a movie with George Clooney at the helm. And all I could think about was The Haunted Mansion.

Oh. Crap. 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

Musings Over a Pint

IMG_4191.JPGToday reaches the end of what has been one of the fuck-craziest weeks of my existence on this rock hurtling through time and space. Not since high school or college can I recall a week where everything felt like it was happening all at the same time, and what would start as a busy week of ALL TEH THINGZ deteriorated into a countdown to when ALL TEH THINGZ would come to an end.

I’m enjoying a Cafe Vanilla Porter from Old Bust Head Brewery, officially declaring a highly-anticipated (from me!) conclusion a full-on week wherein the day job exploded on account of a new website launched in the same week when Pip took off for RT in Dallas to accept and award and, standing as Best Man, one of my best buddies got married, all while preparing for a 5K run I agreed to do with our daughter. Not even my visit to the Man Cave of Old Town took off the week’s edge.

This beer is my first, truly solitary deep breath. Continue reading

It Never Gets Old: Musings on Release Day, One Month Later

I was on the other side of the world when it happened. Day Four in New Zealand and Wellington is turning on the charm as she usually does…

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You might be led to believe my random posting of photos and video meant I was taking it one day at a time in Aotearoa, not a care in the world to be seen nor any fucks remaining to give. Trust me, the stress of 2014 was now and truly in the rear view, my new day job reinforcing my ability to do what I do and perhaps push the boat out and try adding new skills under my belt. A daring thing to do when you are south of 45 years, but that is what life is all about, isn’t it? Discovery and learning new things. Then off to New Zealand to kick off the 2015 convention year. Enjoy the ride, as I like to say…

Truth be told, I was really walking a knife’s edge on Day Four, the day that I blogged about last year (around the same time) on Chuck’s blog: The Diamond Conspiracy was out in the wild and reaching the hands of readers. 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

Unexpected Monday Surprise: A Cover Reveal

steam_teeIt’s been a month.

I’ve been trying to get back into a groove, what with the new job (nearing a month being here and it’s been great!) and how that will affect my writing calendar. We’ve managed to get in a steampunk tea in Shepherdstown, West Virginia (photos from S4 by Bruce Press Photography are available for viewing and purchase) and a fantastic weekend at Steampunk unLimited (thank you to everyone who stopped by and said “Hi!”), all of which has kept me from getting back to the blog. My wife-of-infinite-awesome may need a cooler title, as Pip is keeping me in check with a variety of things, and finally I stole a pocket of time to talk to you about one of them. We’ve got some great news coming down the pike; but last week we were (pleasantly) surprised by our publisher-of-infinite-awesome, Ace/Roc Books, as they revealed to the world the next cover in the adventures of Books and Braun.

I now present to you The Diamond Conspiracy, the fourth installment in the award-winning Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series: Continue reading

A Game of Wait and See: The Hullabaloo over “Hullabaloo”

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I’ve been getting tagged all week on social media platforms about the successful IndeGoGo-finded project, Hullabaloo. I was originally going to respond to this via Facebook, but it started to get too long, and thought this better suited for a blogpost.

First off, this definitely needs to be said — congratulations to the animators and creative team behind this project. After my own experience with Kickstarter, both the positive and the negative, it is always awesome to see brilliant, passionate crowdfunded projects not only hit their goals but surpass them. Well done, Team Hullabaloo. You kicked ass, and even grabbed the attention of io9 in the process. That is tremendous work, and I admire that.

Second, it’s nice that when people think of steampunk, they think of me, my wife, and the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. We’ve been working hard since breaking into the genre and it means a lot to me that people are curious as to my thoughts on steampunk creations.

So, what are my thoughts? 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

Stranger on a Train XXIX

Four days of Photoshop. Eight lessons with a few bonus skills added into the mix. I have to work a bit on Day One of Level 2; but once I took a lesson from Kacy Catanzaro and took a steadier pace, Day Two more than made up for my stumble.

Did you see this woman rock the American Ninja course? #MightyKacy indeed.

I’m digging Photoshop CC a lot. Good program. Now I need to take a serious look at Lightroom. I’d like to see if we (that’s Mike Witherall and I) can turn it into a class. I don’t see why not.
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So the people behind Snowpiercer‘s Facebook page put that image online this morning. It’s a stitch, especially when you consider the film. Lot of “in” jokes here, so kudos to the fan who created it. Inspired works like that just remind me of how incredibly talented people are everywhere, and I’m lucky enough to get to share my stories. I’m gearing up to do it again, too. The edits for The Diamond Conspiracy arrived today, so it’s time to level up and work on the next adventure of Books & Braun. We are dealing with a lot in this one, so I look forward to returning to that world…

…Monday.

First, I need a nap. A really big one. Photoshop is a demanding mistress.

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