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

Musings Over a Pint

IMG_4191.JPGToday reaches the end of what has been one of the fuck-craziest weeks of my existence on this rock hurtling through time and space. Not since high school or college can I recall a week where everything felt like it was happening all at the same time, and what would start as a busy week of ALL TEH THINGZ deteriorated into a countdown to when ALL TEH THINGZ would come to an end.

I’m enjoying a Cafe Vanilla Porter from Old Bust Head Brewery, officially declaring a highly-anticipated (from me!) conclusion a full-on week wherein the day job exploded on account of a new website launched in the same week when Pip took off for RT in Dallas to accept and award and, standing as Best Man, one of my best buddies got married, all while preparing for a 5K run I agreed to do with our daughter. Not even my visit to the Man Cave of Old Town took off the week’s edge.

This beer is my first, truly solitary deep breath. Continue reading

Making the Cut: The Pure Joy in Editing

Three men in an office hunched over a typewriter

Editors, man. Editors.

I love ‘em. Love ‘em hard.

That might come across as a shock to some of my fellow writers. There are authors who truly loathe the editing process, or believe their work is so dead-solid-perfect out of the box that editors need not apply.

This is your first warning sign, Sparky — you need an editor.

Continue reading

Writing Is Hard: Not an Excuse, A Challenge

delilahYesterday, the steampunk-romance-let-me-creep-you-out-to-the-edge-of-your-skin dynamo, Delilah S. Dawson, posted on her blog a column about being a writer, about getting off your ass, and about doing what you tell people you do. When I read the title of her blogpost, I was ready to mix it up with Big D because I’ve lost nearly twenty pounds all while editing an anthology, editing the fourth book of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and writing up a new social media book, specifically geared for writers…

Instead, I read the article, proving that, yes, it is better to comment after you’ve read a blogpost instead of reading only the headline. The best part about Delilah’s blog is that, after meeting her, you can hear her in your head when you read her blog. So now I hear Delilah S. Dawson in my head…

I am terrified. Just so you all know.

Delilah’s a stitch. We’ve broken bread with her, been on panels with her, and she’s one of my literature spirit animals. I say “one of” because I have many. There’s my wife Pip, Chuck Wendig, Myke Cole, Mur Lafferty, Erika Napoletano, Kate Cross…I swear, I am building a Noah’s Ark of spirit animals over here. Thing is, D drops the mic hard in this blogpost when she says: Continue reading

Villains and Why We Love Them

Peter Capaldi as Cardinal Richelieu in the BBC's The Musketeers.Last night, I was watching The Musketeers, the new BBC series featuring Peter Capaldi rocking the Van Dyke and redefining diabolical as Cardinal Richelieu. He’s pretty badass in The Musketeers, but not chewing the scenery or twirling his mustache (which I would imagine is hard to resist because dat stache!) kind of way. Capaldi is working the dialogue like a boss and creating a foil against our heroes that makes you sit up and take notice. There’s a mind and a motivation you connect with on a visceral level, and sometimes it’s difficult to take a side against Richelieu as he makes villainy look really, really good.

That and the wardrobe. And did I mention DAT STACHE?

Watching Capaldi in this role has me of late considering villains, what makes them compelling versus comical characters, and why they are so important in writing.

Your villains—or antagonists, if you want to use the fancier term for “bad guys”— are as high a priority to develop as your heroes. They need to resonate with you, lest they reduce themselves to nothing more than set dressing hell bent on destroying said set along with any major players that happen to be in the vicinity. Continue reading

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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You Wanna See Something Really Scary: A Fresh Horror from Tee Morris

twilightIf you remember back in 2012, Pip and I were engaging in an experiment. We never really mentioned what that experiment was all about, and that was on purpose. We wanted to step deeper into the waters of self-publishing and write outside our genres, see how works way out of our known expertise would perform in the wild frontier of digital do-it-yourself storytelling. I created for myself the pen name of “Jonathan Carter” and set out to write stories that—I hoped—would keep people up a night, make readers afraid of the dark, and check the house to make sure they were truly safe.

I’ve never been one for pen names but after two years and little-to-no activity, I went on and said to Pip “I think we’re done with the experiment. How about we go ahead and just kill Jonathan Carter, and I claim those short stories.”

So, I sat down with Photoshop, edited the eCovers, and re-released them into the wild. Within the first twelve hours of being live, one sold.

I’m thinking the loss of the pen name was a good idea.

How would I categorize my horror? I don’t think of myself as a horror writer heavy on the “squick” factor (if you are curious of what the “squick” factor is, think of the works from Clive Barker or film like the Saw series, or Hostel); but I would say the element of a setting or a situation slowly unraveling, and watching what the players do to try and solve or salvage it but wind up making the bad even worse, makes for good horror. It’s a feeling of helplessness, that wild tailspin of trying to make a situation right while knowing there is nothing that can be done, that I believe horror derives from.

While I have just opened up my own private shop here, you can find my works of horror on Amazon: Continue reading

Stranger on a Train: XXVII

After three days of coding and teaching, I’m still walking. I was kind of hoping for that Nick M.F. Fury rescue because, let’s talk real, moments of badassery like that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale are always welcome in life.

I can’t complain (though I did) about the class. Sharpened skills and money through the door, I guess. Not enough, though, for the trip to WorldCon, I’m afraid. Sucks, too, as I wanted to see some friends I’d not seen for a spell, show the Boom the Tower of London and the Globe, and just give Pip and me a moment’s peace.

Maybe things will change. It’s so damn close to call.

Next week is Balticon. Always a good time. I have a schedule in need of posting and I’ll probably get to that over the weekend. Since March, everything’s felt blurry, but Pip and I did all we could for that steampunk title of ours. Now we just have to hope people are still wanting more.

I know I do. I like this ‘verse of cogs, gears, and spies. I don’t want it to end. Not now, anyway.

Almost home. Ready to hit a weekend well-earned with family. Maybe a quick detour to Proper Pie Company on the way back home. And speaking of badassery, I’ve got my weekend off to a good start with this…

What about you? What’s your read this weekend?

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Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014: Katherine Gotthardt Goes where Few Dare to Tread

And welcome back for the Endless Possibilities Blog tour 2014, presented by Write by the Rails. Today, I am pleased to host Katherine Gotthardt. If Katherine’s name looks familiar, it is because she gave everyone a sneak peek at “Silver Linings” from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. I have a lot of respect for Katherine as she does what I find to be a golden unicorn for me as an author: Poetry. She’s got several collections out there, and that takes moxie. She’s bringing some of that bravery and talent here today.

Welcome to the blog, Katherine!

katherine-gothardt-2-2012-chipI am honored to be hosted on Tee’s blog today.  Tee is a talented, unique author who manages both to write and motivate others.  Tee, thank you for having me and for all you do for Write by the Rails!

Below is a brief poem for your consideration.  It’s one of my few, less-serious pieces.  If you want serious and enjoy poetry, feel free to check out my books at www.katherinegotthardt.com. Enjoy!

Declaration

When in the course

of human events

it becomes necessary

to love and be left,

we want to believe

’tis better to have loved and lost,

but ’tis really better

(I think, when I recall,

the smell of your socks in the hall)

’tis much better to have told you

where to go.

Katherine’s poetry and prose have appeared in various online and text journals.  Poems from the Battlefield, a collection of her Civil War themed poetry, original and archival photos and period quotes, was published in 2009.  Katherine’s children’s book, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, was published in 2010.  Approaching Felonias Park, a novel focusing on predatory lending, was released in November, 2011.  Weaker Than Water, a second collection of Katherine’s poetry, came out in April, 2013.

When she is not writing creatively, Katherine freelances as a writer and editor, sets up websites and blogs, teaches blogging and writing and reports for Haymarket Beat.