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

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

MINISTRY PROTOCOL: The Cover Reveal (and other stuff that I’ve been up to…)

IMG_0450So yeah…I do this on-the-edge post about OSC, get the traffic, get the comments, and then…I disappear.

All right, let me explain…

No, is too much. Lemme sum up…

Shortly after that post, the Kickstarter for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences’ anthology and role playing game launched. Pretty much, that was my life. It was a new world of stress, of statistics, and of sensational results, the sum of it all that we made 152% of our goal. We did it! Yay us!

Oh crap, we did it — better get cracking on that anthology.

So I hunkered down with new steampunk from Delilah S. DawsonLeanna Renee HieberAlex WhiteJared AxelrodTiffany TrentPeter WoodworthJack ManganJR BlackwellDan RabartsLauren HarrisKarina Cooper, and Glenn Freund from The League of S.T.E.A.M.

How’s that for a line-up?

Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences promises to take readers across the Empire and around the world, introducing new agents and delving deeper into the organization’s history. I’m not only thrilled with this collection, but I’m excited to present it to everyone.

So hold on, it’s coming. Soon.

Until then, allow me to tease you with its cover from the far-too-talented-for-his-own-good renaissance man, Alex White… Continue reading

Parsec Awards Finalist

There may be a good possibility you are new to this blog this week. If you are — I hope you had fun in New Orleans! I hope to see you again in Savannah!

(If you are curious as to what I mean by that, stay tuned. I have another blogpost in the works about that.)

Being new to the blog, I’d like to bring you up to speed on some good news from the podcasting front, made official on receiving this badge:

If you are not enjoying podcasts because this is the first time you have heard of them, a podcast is some sort of online media (usually audio or video, but really any kind of file) automatically delivered using iTunesJuiceBloglines or some kind of app that can subscribe to its feed. It sounds complicated, but trust me — it isn’t.

The 2012 Parsec Awards, now in their seventh year, honors podcasts featuring Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, celebrating the best in speculative fiction. I’ve not been up for a Parsec since 2008 when Billibub Baddings and The Case of the Singing Sword won that year for Best Audio Drama (Long Form).

This year, however, I’m apparently making up for lost time…

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form)

Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast

Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation

What makes this year’s Parsecs so special for me is that this year marks the first time Pip and I are appearing as producers, not just podcasters. Tales from the Archives also appears twice in the Best Short Story (Large Cast) category, and I don’t know who is more excited — Starla, Paul, or Pip and myself. We are so proud of the talented authors appearing in the Tales from the Archives (all of them — even the ones that weren’t nominated), but the Ministry’s presence at this year’s Parsecs only validates what we already knew. Thank you, everyone!

And to everyone in the Final Round, congratulations. To make the finals in the Parsecs is practically standing in the Winners’ Circle as far as I am concerned, and it’s a nice place to be. I wish you all the best of luck!

Onward to Dragon*Con…

From the “Coming Out of Left Field” Department: The 2012 Parsec Awards

Holy Hanna on a hotplate!

This past Thursday, it turns out, was the day the 2012 Parsec Awards were announced. Now if you have never heard of the Parsecs, don’t sweat it — you’re about to get schooled on one of the most prestigious awards in podcasting and Science Fiction.The Parsec Awards, now in their seventh year, is awarded to podcasts featuring Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Whether it is fiction, fan news, or even geek-a-licious music, the Parsec Awards celebrates the best in speculative fiction and do so as part of the wild ride that is Dragon*Con.

(Pictured here is the 2011 Parsec brought home by Technorama. Good on ya, guys!)

It’s been a while since I’ve been up for a Parsec. In 2008 Billibub Baddings and The Case of the Singing Sword won that year for Best Audio Drama (Long Form), although you could argue last year I was in the Parsec Run as Tales from the Archives gained a nod for Best Short Story with “The Astonishing Amulet of Amenartas” by Nathan Lowell.

Nah. Pip and I produced that episode. “The Astonishing Amulet of Amenartas” was all Nathan, and more of a nice feather in the cap for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.

Now we’re up to this year’s Parsecs. I was chatting with Veronica Giguere when the announcements went live. I know this because she started chuckling and then said, “I’m laughing about the Parsecs, and about you in the Parsecs.”

I’ll say it again… Continue reading

A New Look and a New Venture

As you may have noticed, in the midst of edits for Of Cogs & Corsets, planning the trip to FenCon in September, and launching a brand new podcast (more on that later), I have decided to finally upgrade my blog to Thesis. So please, mind the dust and ever-growing changes as I try to get this site into some kind of order.

A lot is going on with me right now, hence the lack of blogposts here. Right now, one of the biggest developments for me as a writer (and now, I guess, independent publisher?) is my jump into the digital arena.

Well more like push. Between Pip and Laurie, they both got sick of me waiting at the end of the high dive. Continue reading

A Steamy Treat for Tuesday…

Hey, everyone!

Just in case you missed the big launch last week, Pip and I premiered Tales from the Archives,  a collection of short stories from the Victorian England of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. With original theme music composed and created by Alex White, we are featuring original steampunk short stories from…

Last week, Pip kicked things off with “The Evil that Befell Samson” and this week we present the supernatural steampunk “Dust on the Davenport” by author O.M. Grey. Continue reading

A little something for #SteamTuesday

Hey, everyone!

You might have heard about this on Twitter last week when Pip and I premiered the first episode of our anthology podcast (more on that in a moment), there is a pretty strong showing of steampunk on Twitter, and one writer in particular started up a movement that have become a weekly event I always look forward to on Twitter.

Meet Nancy Overbury, the creator of #SteamTuesday on Twitter.

Nancy is a graphic designer and artist located in Montreal, Canada, and has nursed over the past few years a passion for steampunk. She promotes on Twitter a variety of  links — literature, film, art, fashion, music — you name it! If it’s steampunk and she hasn’t mentioned it on Twitter, you’ll find it on her blog.

So when Pip and I were trying to figure out when we wanted to drop episodes of Tales from the Archives, I immediately thought of Nancy’s special day on Twitter dedicated to steam, gears, and cog. Last week, the first episode “The Evil that Befell Samson” written by Pip Ballantine, went live:

It is revealed just how Miss Braun ended up being exiled from her native country, New Zealand, and working for the Ministry in its London Offices. It’s a tale of nefarious doings, stalwart ladies, and the sound of clockwork.


With original theme music composed and created by Alex White, Tales from the Archives will be featuring original steampunk short stories from these talented authors:

You can subscribe on iTunes (and leave us a review there) or with your podcatcher of choice at the Ministry website. If you hear a short story you particularly like, go on and feel free to syndicate it on your own blog or podcast.

And make sure when you are on Twitter, give Nancy a tweet and consider tracking the #SteamTuesday for some incredible finds out there in the aetherwebs!

“You Can’t Give Up. You’re Not Allowed.”

I never like seeing friends stressed out. Whether it is intensely stressed out or just out of their groove, it just kills me. It is amplified more when I feel the bumpy ride of Life’s rougher patches. Last week, snapping back from what can only be described as an “emotionally charged night” between me and the World, I read up on a writer and friend I admire and hold dear. Turns out he was also hitting a rough patch of road.

Phil Rossi, the multitalented man with the flowing hair of awesome, began a series of posts called “Paralysis.” He’s working through a writer’s dry spell; and in “Part I: Stranded,” he went “All In” like the rock-and-roll badass that he is:

“Another truth–I’ve never been in this place before. I don’t recognize the countryside.  The air here is different—heavy and overwhelming. Talk about a wrong turn. In the past, I’ve been able to work through any creative block. This is different.”

It was in this passage from the second posting in this series entitled “Part II: Patience” where I felt like I clicked with Phil on the raw fear now gnawing away at him: Continue reading