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

From Rock Star to Ronin: The “True Dat” of This Writer’s Life

Closing in on the end of the summer, I’m looking back at the year with a cockeyed perspective. First, I’m trying to figure out what happened to the summer. Second, I’m trying to gauge how this year will come to an end. You would think with the launch of my second steampunk novel, The Janus Affair, I would think this was the banner year, especially with the showing Tales from the Archives is having at this year’s Parsecs.

It’s been a ride, safe to say.

For those of you following us on Facebook, you know that Pip and I returned from New Orleans just last week. What brought us to The Big Easy was an unexpected invitation to an unlikely match for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. We promised ourselves a priority of 2012 would be to make each appearance count, attempting to reach more steampunk-centric events like the Steampunk World’s Fair, a nice introduction to our target audience. Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XX

I don’t believe in coincidence.

I do believe in God.

And this morning, I got a talking to through the radio…

And when you wake up in the morning 
With your head on fire 
And your eyes too bloody to see 
Go on and cry in your coffee 
But don’t come bitchin’ to me 

Because you had to be a big shot, didn’t ya
You had to open up your mouth 
You had to be a big shot, didn’t ya, 
All your friends were so knocked out 
You had to have the last word, last night 
You know what everything’s about 
You had to have a white hot spotlight 
You had to be a big shot last night

Billy Joel. Pre-Uptown Girl. Shit don’t get more real than that. Thanks, God. I needed that.

See, last night I got what had to be the weirdest, most conflicted feedback I’ve ever received on any of my endeavors. In turn, I’m feeling conflicted about it. It all comes on the heels of a tiny rant I had concerning The Janus Affair book trailer. Yeah, I know — you’re probably think I’m obsessing over it, and maybe I am. A bit. Look, the point is I got this complete curveball right before hitting the sack and I’m asking myself “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?” even the following morning. There’s a bigger blogpost in here, I think, for another time; but there is a lesson learned here: Be careful what you wish for.

Sometimes, being a Big Shot isn’t easy.

This isn’t a rallying of the troops, mind you. It’s been a week, safe to say; but I got a groove with By Dawn’s Early Light and an audiobook in the can. As the conductor just said, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

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 Three)

So, two weeks ago, I started this mini-series of a blogpost. Honestly, I thought I could encapsulate everything I wanted to say about this experience in about 1000 words, maybe 2000 if I was feeling eloquent.

Yeah…um…Part Four will drop next week and wrap everything up. I promise.

No. Seriously.

Stop laughing.

The thing is this blogpost is a lot like the book trailer itself (which, if you look up in the right-hand corner of the blog, you will see it there…). This is the biggest blogpost I think I’ve done since ending my two-year job hunt. This mini-series blogpost is epic…but so was the education I received on the set. There were a lot of lessons I walked away with this time, and already within the trailer’s first 24-hours on YouTube I have people asking me about what it takes to make something like it.

So, let’s continue with these 11 tips I’ve been sharing, starting off with one that I think is essential when marshaling your creative troops together to make magic happen… 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

Stranger on a Train XIX

Heading home…finally.

Yeah, today was rough. I’m snapping back from the weekend at the Steampunk World’s Fair. It was beastly getting up there, but coming home was a snap. Because of that cluster-fuck journey through traffic hell, I’m planning an EARLY departure for Balticon.It torques me slightly that I’ve got to work Thursday night, but it’s a job. I’d rather have a minor inconvenience than unemployment, and this job’s keeping everyone sane…well, everyone but me seeing as I’ve got two ACX titles awaiting production, a book trailer nearing completion (so close…), and Blogworld NY looming in the distance. How did things get so overbooked?!

Oh yeah. Unemployment. Feast or famine, right?

So, in eight days, The Janus Affair happens. It feels completely different as Pip and I had copies of the book waiting for us at SPWF as giveaways. I have no clue if those attendees (some who knew us from both the book and the podcasts) really grasped that they were getting free copies of the book before its release but there you go. Harper Voyager, it feels, has an entirely different attitude about this title. Are their hopes up? Are they thinking this could be a breakaway title? Who knows…

We sure don’t.

What we do know is that our book trailer is closing in on completion, we got Balticon closing in fast, and I’m trying to keep everything on track. All this, and I have two books to get cracking on. (Writing, I mean…not the ACX titles…)

And technically, Summer still hasn’t even begun. Hoo-boy.

The event this weekend was good fun. Pip and I shopped and socialized. That P.J. Schnyder…what a dynamo. And this book? Yeah, I think the trailer does it justice.

You think I would have this “new book” thing down. I don’t. That fear before a launch — it never gets old.

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5 Things to Do after You Lose Your Job

Tee Morris, Adventurer...for hire.It’s hard to believe, but last Friday marked a month since my last day at Intersections.

For the past four weeks, I’ve taken in a lot. Good and bad. Of course, the irony of all this is that when I was hired by Intersections, the Recession was in full swing. And at the beginning of 2012, where a variety of news outlets from around the world were all noticing an economic turnaround at the beginning of 2012, I was downsized.

In this month, from the day I was let go to now, I’ve learned a lot. Granted, each layoff is different. Some involve severance packages. Others do not. Some employers treat you with respect. Others waste no time in getting you out of the door. It’s hard to predict how bad news like this will come, but I can say — after a month of letting the dust settle — there are at least five things to keep in mind when Corporate America pulls the rug out from under you. Continue reading

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

Chuck Wendig, You Magnificent Bastard!

Chuck Wendig, authorYou’ve heard me talk about him on The Shared Desk, tweet about him, and pledge my undying love to him on Google+; but now I’ve got to give this man a shout-out on my blog.

He got me writing flash fiction today.

I found author Chuck Wendig through Mur Lafferty, and have found a kindred spirit in this man. Why? Because he rants. He rants with a balletic grace. He tears through topics with the precision of a SEAL Team performing dark ops. He drops profanities easier than Eddie Murphy in his heyday. And something Chuck does on a regular basis that I’d never caught before was his Penmonkey Challenge (Chuck calls us writer-types “penmonkeys.” I admit, the term is growing on me.) of flash fiction. Today’s challenge was to pick one of the following words:

  • Frog
  • Powder
  • Seagull
  • Tower
  • Scissors

…and  write up some flash fiction (something I didn’t think I could do) using only one of the offered words and tell a story in 100 words. Penmonkeys were invited to post their works into the Comments for the post.

I answered the call. Here’s the result… Continue reading