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

You Know I Can Hear You, Right? — Revelations about the Internet and the Lesson of St. Fu

“I think the Internet is a grand arena for poorly thought out words.” — Philippa Ballantine, 2/18/2014, on Facebook

1000px-Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895Presently, The Science Fiction Writers of America are at odds with one another once again, its members still in a brouhaha over the divide between men and women in the business. It’s hard to say when this rift started. I know this debate has raged for a long, long time as I remember people engaging in spirited conversations about this when I first entered the publishing game in 2002. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about feminism, misogyny, old guard mentality, new blood in SFWA, and the like, especially in the wake of the 200th issue of the SFWA Bulletin which attempted to harken back to nostalgic days of the Red Sonja-esque fantasy covers.

It all boiled to a fever pitch yesterday when John Scalzi posted this quote on his blog:

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.”

— (name withheld) on SFF.net, during the recent unpleasantness.

 Wow. Just…wow.

I have a lot of opinions about SFWA, about the Bulletin, SFF.net and LiveJournal (where a lot of this discussion has raged), and about women in the business; but that is not what is driving me bananas. What I find to be completely and utterly nuts is this fallback position “professionals” (and when you think comparing your experiences with a celebrated Science Fiction author to “your irrational fear of dogs” is a good analogy I use the term “professional” loosely.) are taking. These defensive crouches range from a First Amendment-“I have the right to freely express my opinion on this…” argument to “I’m calling my lawyer!” which, I bet, the lawyer is thrilled to know you’re pulling them up on speed dial.

I have a piece of free advice for these professionals: Please, for the love of God, shut the fuck up. You’re making asses of yourself on many levels, the highest of these being—and let’s be blunt—that you honestly don’t know how the Internet works. Continue reading

Tales of a Shock Jockey: A Decision to Drive Green

EV-carsWhen it comes to celebrating Earth Day and working towards green initiatives, Pip and I do what we can. I don’t think I’ve become completely and totally green, but I do think my carbon footprint has gone down a few sizes. We’ve got the dual trashcan for our recyclables. We’re turning off lights and conserving power when we can (although being the digital family that we are, that’s a challenge); but since a Plug-In Day event held in Manassas, I had been wanting to go all in. That was why when, back in November, it was time to seriously start shopping for a new car, I said “I want to go electric.”

At this alternative fuel event sponsored by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and Electric Auto Association, I got a closer look at the rock stars of consumer electric vehicles (or EVs, as they are commonly known by) which included the Tesla Roadster and Coupe, the Chevrolet Volt (an EVs that had a nine-gallon gas tank as a “reserve” for when the battery is low), and the Mitsubishi MiEV. While I didn’t find the looks of Mitsubishi’s EV appealing, they were offering test drives so I took the MiEV for a spin. The first thing I noticed — the car truly sold itself, not just in how it handled but in how quiet it was. I mean, whisper silent! (A little unsettling, but in a really good way.) Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XXII

It’s still the grey of twilight, but here I am, on the train, heading in…

Trying something a little different this time — using the personal hotspot instead of the phone itself to blog. Yeah, it dawned on me the last time I did this segment (which, I admit, has been a while…) that I could do this and why not? After all, I got that ability, why am I suddenly limiting myself to the screen of my smartphone.

I blame the lack of coffee in the morning. Gets me every time.

You know what else gets me? Bad dreams. And lucky me, they like to hit me just within the hour before I wake up. I then hit the morning routine wondering “What brought that on?” It tends to make for a distracted morning, something I really can’t afford. This week, August commences and it’s going to be one of those months akin to May where time will be fleeting, book events will be upon us (me and Pip, that is), and I’m still trying to sort out the mechanics of a life.

What does that mean? Come on, you know this segment — completely off the top of my head. Also, I can’t elaborate because I know as modest as this blog may be, I’ve got people watching and reading. I need to pay attention to what I say, and all I can say at this point is that nothing feels set or secure. I need to make some judgment calls in August. That is crystal clear to me. So right now, I am what I am. Like Popeye, only without the squint, pipe, and unnatural spinach fetish.

And next week, Pip and I hit Authors After Dark. Let the mayhem commence.

This weekend, I kicked back with Sonic Boom and the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. I think that show gets more epic each time you watch it. I blogged a few months ago about Kenneth Branagh and my man-crush on him. So nice when he appeared in the midst of this spectacle. I nearly wet myself when he recited from The Tempest. He’s been there and back again, it seems; but watching him at the Opening Ceremonies?  Oh yeah, he’s still got it.

Kenneth Branagh. Working the Olympics. Like a mill boss.

The Big Question: What Is Steampunk?

While putting together The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences blog and hopping around from steampunk site to steampunk site, I noticed a similar page at current online resources that Pip and I needed for our own. I also thought this would be a nice kick-off for the blog tour that we will be undertaking between now and May to promote Phoenix Rising, a post that begins with the basics: What is Steampunk?

Depending on which website you visit, be it the Wikipedia entry (featuring our good friend and creative talent, Jared Axelrod in this photo by Kyle Cassidy, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0) or Steampunk.com, you will get a variety of answers and interpretations to this creative movement that has been growing in popularity, but also capturing mainstream curiosity.

So I put together for the Ministry a page that gave several descriptions of what we thought constitutes steampunk. So, when you hear me talk about it and you still remain curious as to what it is, I present an “elevator pitch” to start off with, eventually work up to the “deep dive” that not only touches on the foundations of the genre, but even touches on the debate making rounds online and at the cons. Continue reading

INTERVIEW: Tee Morris on Blog Talk Radio’s Breakthrough Business

I’m starting to get my groove back (like Stella) in producing ideas, writing (seriously), podcasting, and playing with Sonic Boom. This road has been difficult (and no kidding, a blogpost is written, but I am not ready to drop it just yet. Bear with me…), but I’m taking everything one step at a time, one day at a time…

One of those positive steps is getting back into the interview circuit. Recently, Que Publishing contacted me concerning All a Twitter. The book is being featured again in Barnes & Noble Bookstores everywhere, and Que is hoping to get the first Twitter guide written from a user’s perspective (and when my byline says “written by Tee Morris” it means it!) into new readers’ hands. They asked me “Whatever you can do to get the word out…” and so I sent out a query to my Twitter networks.

Meet Michele Price. She queried me before I tweeted!

Michele is the host of Breakthrough Business, and on her BlogTalkRadio show we talk about Twitter, about my job at Intersections Inc, and about approaches that go against the grain of the marketing books. We talk about how “old school marketing” just doesn’t work with Social Media, and how businesses need to understand that Twitter (and Social Media, on a whole) is about people.

We had a blast on this interview, and there are more slated for the month. The geekier ones I’ll feature here, but if you want to hear more about the Social Media, take a trip to Imagine That! Studios for the full blogosphere-podosphere interview tour!

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

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.

Feeling the Love from across the pond!

In this picture are two people that I hold very dear in my life. One of them is my daughter. I will let you try and figure which one of them is her…

martyn_kiddo

The other “bloke” is Martyn Casserly, a journalist, an accomplished musician, and now he is an award-nominated podcaster with his one-minute Movie Mantras podcast. (Martyn is also a dad and a good mate to boot…although his opinions concerning the new Craig-Bond films and recent Doctor Who are completely wrong, but I digress…) With the many endeavors he had going, Martyn approached me this Spring to talk about an article he was penning on podcast authors. He was optimistic that Wired Magazine (UK) would pick up the column. So I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

This morning, I checked my Twitter stream and found this waiting for me:

My article about Podcast Authors is up on Wired ! @scottsigler, @sethharwood, @jchutchins, @teemonster all appear. http://bit.ly/Pv53w

Now live on the site, Wired Magagine (UK) picked up  “Novels by Podcast” where Martyn discusses how we authors are giving away our hard work in audio format for free. He also goes into the genesis of the podcast novel and why we do what we do.

“Giving away your stories isn’t a risk… it’s a competitive advantage,” explains Scott Sigler. “If a reader who’s never heard of me has $25 to spend and they’re looking at my book next to a Stephen King book, who are they going to choose? They take King. He’s a proven storyteller. But if King is $25 and my story is free they may try me out first. Why not? It’s no risk to them. If they like me, they buy me. If they don’t they buy King. Whatever happens the customer gets what the customer wants.”

It is a tight article covering successes and milestones; and while many who follow us on Twitter, on blogs, and through podcasts, may consider what we do “old hat” after four years, podcasting — and more importantly, podcasting fiction — is still a brand-spanking new concept to the mainstream market. Articles like Martyn’s and venues like Wired are getting the word out about what we are doing. That’s what is important here: getting people to listen.

Show Martyn appreciation by blogging about this article (and yep, I got it covered from the business perspective over at Imagine That!), syndicating his link in your feeds, dropping him comments on the article’s page, and talking it up on your podcasts. Let Wired know we’re paying attention and appreciate their support, and let Martyn know both on Twitter and on Wired that his words ring true.

Thanks, Martyn. Well done!