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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Achievement Unlocked: My First Con (DemiCon 25) as Guest of Honor

IMG_0556So Monday was the snap-back from my return to Richmond — RavenCon. It was a great weekend with an additional bonus of Pip and myself hijacking award-winner Elizabeth Bear to show her a few sights from my hometown. We left the con at 2 o’clock and didn’t return her until 6:15.

What did we do in four hours?

It was not only quality time with a friend, but a good sampling of what Richmond had to offer.

I plan to write about the weekend — especially on the exceptional KidsTrack which followed a S.H.I.E.L.D. Training theme — but presently I am looking ahead to this coming weekend: the Silver Edition of DemiCon. I’m feeling the butterflies kick as I’ll be reuniting with old friends, meeting new ones for the first time, and fulfilling a role I’ve never held before at a convention.

IMG_0271At DemiCon 25, I am being welcomed as the event’s Guest of Honor, or GoH.

Following my first year experiencing the con scene, I made the GoH distinction one of those “That would be cool…” goals in my career. Why? It would have been an indication that to the organizers and staff of a particular convention, my stories held a special place. Not a bad benchmark to reach for, I figured. After a few years of con-hopping, I assumed my first GoH would be an event I frequented. Maybe? Then, on going full time in writing, the notion fell to the bottom of my priorities list, beaten out by other items like new title development and paying bills.

Imagine my surprise when it was DemiCon, an event I attended only once, that would be the first to extend this distinction to me. Imagine my surprise growing when I found out it would be for their 25th anniversary.

No pressure there, Morris. Continue reading

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

Endless Possibilities 2014 Blog Tour: An Introduction

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Yes, the blog has been quiet, just like the podcast. I hate it when things like that happen, and this time it was for reasons good and bad.

Instead of delving into the bad (which was all the chatter on my Facebook, if you were curious), I want to hold on to the good. Oh now, don’t you worry — I will always have room for a good, old-fashioned rant here, but this blogpost is more about rising to challenges and keeping a hold of what works…

This blogpost is also to welcome those of you new to my side of the blogosphere. S’up?

Yes, I’m on board at the opening of this new year with a blog tour aimed to introduce myself to new reader, be they readers of my blog or readers of my works. And what a day to introduce myself to people — on the ninth anniversary of the MOREVI podcast going live. Where did the time go?

But I digress. Let me start from the beginning. Introductions? By all means…

Continue reading

Behind the Secret Identity: “What’s in a Code Name” Now Available from Kindle Worlds and Valiant Comics

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 8.26.24 PMThis summer was a bit of a blur. The afterburners kicked in at the end of June when I got a phone call from the agent of awesome, Laurie McLean. I received an opportunity to write for properties from Valiant Comics as part of  Kindle Worlds  from Amazon. This would be my first foray into media tie-in’s so I had to bone up on my lore behind several properties: Harbinger, X-O Manowar, and Bloodshot.

As this writing gig centered around comic books, I asked myself “WWBD?” or “What would Batman do?” Well, if Bats needed help, he’d ping Oracle. In Batman’s world, that’s Barbara Gordon.

In mine, it’s Jared Axelrod.

This novella is one or two fruits of my summertime labors from a long “at the feet of a master” session with Jared, purchasing a fistful of comics from my local comic book (and gaming) store, and downloading even more for my iPad. “What’s in a Code Name” found its inspiration from two pages of Harbinger Wars # 2, just after Toyo Harada gets served (and served hard) by a savage attack from Bloodshot. Those two pages sent me back to the beginning of the Harbinger story arc to dig deeper into the Harbinger Institute, assemble my cast of characters, and—as odd as it may sound—better understand and practice school protocols. Continue reading

Capclave: A Celebration of Short Stories, Anthologies, and the Business of Books

photo by P.J. Schnyder

Are you in the Washington D.C. are this weekend? Because if you are, Pip and I are going to be out and about at Capclave, on Friday and Saturday at the Hilton of 620 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877.

Capclave, if you have never attended, is not a bustling event like Balticon or RavenCon; but a more intimate affair that focuses more on the art of short fiction.

And yes, short fiction is an art.  You might not think it with my releases this year, but short stories have always been a challenge for me. It’s only been recently I’ve felt comfortable writing short stories, and Capclave is a rare event indeed as short stories take center stage. Discussions range between  the challenges of the market to the big question “Is there still a market for short stories?”

Oh yeah, and did I mention George R R Martin is the Guest of Honor this year?

Now for anyone who thinks I’m going to corner him, take him down with a Hapkido throw, jam my boot in his throat, and demand that he gets me an audience with Peter Dinklage, I’m just going to say for the record that I’m not going to corner him.

So, yeah, that.

But if you are looking to corner me at Capclave, you’ll get your chance here… Continue reading

Heroes of Cosplay: Cautionary Tales of Competition

syfy-heroes-of-cosplayI am not a fan of reality television. There are few exceptions that keep my attention; and with friends I have in the reality television business, some of the scripting and direction behind supposed slice-of-life docudramas is just painful to watch.

But enough about Amish Mafia. I want to talk about the latest reality show that has gotten many a geek and especially that sub-culture within the subculture that I love supporting — cosplayers — into a close-on-rabid uproar. I speak of SyFy’s latest offering, Heroes of Cosplay. 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

STEAMPUNK GOES MAINSTREAM…and other things for geeks to panic about. Again.

First off, I’m sorry everybody. It has been far too long. Where in the name of clocks, gears, and cogs have I been?

Let me drop a few quick teasers as to what has been going on in my life:

  • Got a new job. Social Media Coordinator. And the best part, it’s very close to home with telecommuting thrown in as a bonus.
  • After a month, got a promotion at the new job.
  • Then, conducted interviews for the job that I was originally hired to do. (Being on the other end of the interview table? Woah…)
  • Got a new car. I’m driving a Nissan LEAF right now. LOVE IT!
  • Jumped back on to the Medifast train. My weight was out of control again.
  • Christmas.

Some of these things I intend to talk about later on this blog. (Stop laughing. Seriously. I am!) I also have to keep in mind, though, I have a novel to finish. I’m still on board with a steampunk reboot of MOREVI, so Rafe Rafton will be returning to the oceans this year.

It is this very subject — something that, I’ll admit, people are coming to me more and more about for an opinion which feels pretty good — from where this rant finds its core. So let’s turn back the clock to January 15, Tuesday, 10 a.m. At my new day job, a friend sends me a link to AdAge about IBM’s fascination with steampunk. I ran the article on my Facebook page as this truly was the convergence between my day job and my writing career. IBM is tracking “steampunk” in order to find patterns between trends and fads. I also posted it on the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Facebook page and between the two, I got a whopping 6 shares. So maybe it wasn’t as cool as I thought.

Continue reading