Five Things I Learned When Writing a Young Adult Book

curseofthesilverpharoah_smallRecently, The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh went live on Amazon, print editions premiering this week at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, provided we get no unforeseen whammies from CreateSpace. (Thanks, Hurricane Matthew!) Silver Pharaoh is not my first novel, nor is it my first foray into steampunk, as many of you know. The thing about this book that has me fidgeting nervously as reviews start to trickle in is that Silver Pharaoh is my first step into the realm of Young Adult fiction.

And that terrifies me. Greatly.

I’ve got a lot of feelings about Y.A. Fiction, one being that those reading Y.A. are not necessarily “young” adults. Think about it—while Harry Potter could be easily dismissed as a “kid’s book” and is found in the Children’s sections of bookstores and libraries everywhere, just as many adults devoured the adventures of the Boy Who Lived just as ravenously as its target audience.

So, yeah, working in the wild and woolly world of Y.A. for the first time, I picked up a few things… Continue reading

Writing Is Not a Solo Sport

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photo credit: Arne Parrott

Striking a hero’s pose here is Drew Mierzejewski. I briefly met him two years ago through Alyson Grauer. Now if Aly’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you can find her lending her voice to one of my podcasts here, hear her rock the steampunk here, do it again here, and then giving good panel at DemiCon 25. Aly’s got game. So does Drew. That might be one of many reason these two got married.

Check it out, Chicago. This is an up-and-coming power couple to watch. I’m just sayin’.

Thing about Drew—I wish I knew him better. Something just tells me we’d be talking to the wee small hours in the morning about…stuff. Deep stuff. I especially got that impression when I saw a random Facebook post from him yesterday about the road creatives walk. The entire thread is here, and you really should check it out or even chime in if you like, but this was the part that made me stop and think…

Therefore, I would like to place a hypothetical to each of you. Why do we do walk this road alone? There are many of us! Why do we not band together in a great bonfire of creativity and make art? Is it impractical? It is idealistic? Is it too terrifying? What is stopping us from creating a massive company that makes art year round, in which we pool resources and talent to make the best of what we have to offer? Now, I want to reiterate that I ask this in hypothetical but I do want to hear your thoughts on this. So please take a moment and tell me in the comments what you think. Tell me why.

Continue reading

Reflections on a Rebellion:  Another Book Release That Is Something Entirely New

 

Woah! Three blogposts in a week?!

It’s been that kind of week, I guess.

Today, a new book comes out. You would think on the fifth book in a series, this would get boring. It doesn’t. On this go-round, honestly, I feel like there’s more riding on this title than the previous ones. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove, and yet I feel like I have a lot at stake.

I knew that going into it. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel as anxious as I’ve been in the past. I’ve been on edge for well over a year.

The fear started with making the decision. Pip and I could have gone ahead and wrapped everything up with The Diamond Conspiracy, but we stopped and asked ourselves “Are we done?” The answer: We were having way too much fun with this series. We knew we could have wrapped up the story arc beginning at Phoenix Rising. Wellington’s and Eliza’s story? That was a different matter altogether. We knew two more books were in store for the two of them, and we knew if we wanted them to happen then we would have to fund them independently. I could still recall how hard my heart was going when we said “Let’s do this.” It would mean returning to Kickstarter, a whole new level of stress. Continue reading

Where Have I Been? (A #TeaserTuesday from the TeeMonster)

Hey, everyone.

It breaks my heart to look at how long it has been since I have blogged, and yes, it matters a great deal to me. This blog is my getaway, my soapbox, and my coffee shop where I enjoy a heart-to-heart with you.

So where have I been?

Bonus points if Lord Flashheart’s reply
popped into your head…

 

So yeah, it’s been Crunch Month, and on top of all that, Pip and I hit the 2016 Steampunk World’s Fair (which was great fun, I can tell you…). When not getting ready for the Fair and continuing our streak with the podcast (recording tonight!), it has been recording the audiobook while checking the layout of the new book.

In other words, I have been here… Continue reading

What You Do When Your Book Gets a Bad Review

 

You know, I wish we didn’t need to have this conversation, but yeah, we do.

GOT-pleaseEveryone has their own way of dealing with reviews, and let’s be frank—not everyone will like what you do. Reviews, good or bad, are part of the territory. Reviews are a rite of passage for authors, the objective points-of-view that sit down with the final product and say, “Holy crapbuckets, this is the best book I’ve ever read!” or “Many trees died to make this book. Avenge them.” Whenever a new work hits the shelves, virtual or literal, I am always on edge. You have been working closely with editors and peer readers who all invest a part of themselves in your title because they believe in what you do; and if you are fortunate, these voices because they believe in you are going to be blunt, honest, and sometimes cruel to be kind. “My job as an editor is not to change a book,” I heard Ellen Datlow say on a podcast. “My job is to take a good story and make it great.” Continue reading

Remember the Post I Made Two Days Ago?

Things have been moving pretty fast…

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So how am I feeling right now?

Well, after this, ESPN hanging out at my alma mater, and an amazing All Blacks game

psyche

It’s official: The Ghost Rebellion is happening without question, slated for a May 2016 release.

Now, with 22 days remaining, we look ahead to some of those exciting Stretch Goals we talk about in our Kickstarter video, and some killer Add-Ons we weren’t expecting to roll out for another week such as…

  • Leather keychains from Brute Force Studios
  • Autographed prints from Verena Vorsatz
  • Tee-shirts from the Ministry proudly commemorating this incredible Kickstarter
  • …and much more!

With our base goal met, we now look ahead. Let’s make the most of the time remaining and make this a Kickstarter people will talk about. For now, thank you, one and all, for not only taking Pip and me on a wild seven-day roller-coaster ride, but for believing in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. The success of this Kickstarter and this award-winning series would have never happened without you!

Now—onward to those stretch goals. Share this Kickstarter on your favorite social media networks and check-in with us on Periscope for the latest news.

Kickstarting a New Project on a New Social Media Toy.

So, over the weekend, this happened…

In a nutshell, Pip and I attended Steampunk unLimited 2015, launched a Kickstarter for the fifth book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, and had a blast with friends and fans throughout the weekend.

12005665_10207806377498556_512412240_oYes, I know I said “Steampunk unLimited 2016” in the video and all I can do is blame my lack of coffee and the desire to time travel, but I digress…

This Kickstarter really has come out of the box strong. We were already at the 50% mark within four days. I don’t think we saw that kind of love even for The Ministry Initiative. We’re doing all we can to keep the momentum going, and are optimistic that not only will we meet the initial goal for The Ghost Rebellion but we may also see some of those stretch goals come to fruition. There’s a lot of possibility ahead, and we are pretty stoked.

So’s one of our stretch goals—V’s Cosplay—who put together a quick little doodle here of Eliza using “grenade incentives” to get people to pledge.

Since we are talking about possibilities, how about we chat a bit about that video posted above.

IMG_5524If you’ve been paying attention to me on Twitter (as well as Books and Braun), you may have noticed a few tweets taking you to the official website for Periscope. If you haven’t heard of this new platform, here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve learnt in two weeks of testing, filming, and posting. Periscope offers you the ability to stream video from your smartphone or tablet, and opens your live broadcast up for comments and “Hearts” (Likes) that  interact with you and your content, all in real-time. You can video for as long as you like, and Periscope will continue the stream for as long as your data connection remains.

So you can see how much fun an app like Periscope would be at an event like Steampunk unLimited.

As for what you can do with Periscope from an author’s point-of-view, there’s a lot of ideas I’ve been kicking around, and if you want to read about those ideas, swing on over to One-Stop Writer Shop where I take you on a deep dive with the app. It’s a lot of fun.

So we are off and running with our Kickstarter. Please make sure to let people know about what we are up to!

KS_checkin

5 Things to Help Keep Your Works-in-Progress in Progress (and Avoid Overcommitting to Other Projects)

 

IMG_4191.JPGIf you have been listening to the podcasts, you may have heard that I’ve got a few ideas percolating in the brain. This week, with the close of the summer rapidly approaching, I’m looking at the following projects:

  • Various short stories for the final season of Tales from the Archives
  • A novella for a special collection of science fiction, available only at RT 2016
  • A new fantasy epic, co-written with Pip
  • The fifth novel in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series
  • An urban fantasy novel (that has been sitting on a back burner for WAY too long…)

These works-in-progress are just that: in various stages of progress. That sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Five projects, and today I got an invitation from this guy… Continue reading

Watch That First Step: Starting New Projects (and Yes, It’s Okay to Be Scared Shitless)

TheDiamondConspiracyI’ve been writing in The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences for almost five years now. Five wonderful years. Every time I sit down at the keyboard to reconnect with Eliza, Wellington, Bruce, Brandon, and the crew, it’s like reconnecting with old friends from high school and college. No time has passed. We’re cracking jokes. It’s a real synergy that—I won’t lie—is a tad addictive. I feel as if this world has become my port in a storm, an oasis in the desert; and I genuinely love these people and this world.

Here’s the thing, though—Pip and I are starting something new. Amidst a flurry of D.I.Y. projects undertaken while the Boom is away at summer camp, we started a title that is a complete departure from steampunk. Yes, that is what people know us for, but a solid writing career isn’t based on hitching your wagon to one series and then you’re done. Do you want to be the writer known for that one series, or do you want to have one of those careers where people love your work no matter what world it is set in? This is why Pip and I have taken those first steps in developing a new series, and I am scared shitless. 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