Who is Tee Morris?


tee_onstageTee Morris has been writing adventures in far-off lands and far-off worlds since elementary school. Inspired by numerous Choose Your Own Adventure titles and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he wrote not-so-short short stories of his own, unaware that working on a typewriter when sick-from-school and, later, on a computer (which was a lot quieter…that meant more time to write at night…) would pave a way for his writings.

His first published work was at James Madison University where he received his degree in Mass Communications and Theatre. In 1990, during his semester abroad in England, Tee covered London’s Poll Tax Riots for JMU’s newspaper, The Breeze. While an accomplishment, writing—whether it was journalism or fiction—was just a fun departure from his first love: Theatre.

“I always saw myself as an actor. Still do. I continue to enjoy the new and exciting experiences that my writing has introduced me to, but I do miss taking the stage. As a writer, I try to find excuses to bring in that theatre training. I learned a great deal as an actor, and those experiences give me an advantage to writing dialog, creating characters, and setting locations and moods. That’s what acting and writing are all about: telling a good story.”

It would be at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, while learning lines and sharpening up his improvisation skills, where Tee would pick up the pen and punch the keys of his first Mac. After writing two one-acts, Tee was invited to participate in their Writers’ Guild. At one of the largest festivals of its kind on the East Coast as his source of inspiration and research, the character of Rafe Rafton and his debut novel would take shape.

“In my previous seasons at Maryland, I had portrayed an awkward town deputy, an eccentric inventor, and a verbose actor. Now came the opportunity to play a brash, swaggering swashbuckler. Basically, a Tudor version of Han Solo. In creating this privateer, I also took a few notes from Errol Flynn in Captain Blood and Tommy Lee Jones in Nate and Hayes.

After my first season as Rafe, I knew an opportunity was presenting itself. I thought it would be for me as an actor or a stage combatant. I truly had no idea what adventure this character would take me on.”

His first work, MOREVI: The Chronicles of Rafe & Askana, a Historical-Fantasy epic written with Lisa Lee began in the most unlikely of places — an online chat room for Fantasy role players who combined various gaming rules and characters to interact between one another. It was here that Tee Morris’ Rafe Rafton met Lisa Lee’s Askana Moldarin, and the two began work on an adventure that would become a top selling title for Dragon Moon Press, an EPPIE finalist for Best eBook Fantasy of 2003, the first book to be podcast in 2005, and a Parsec Award Finalist for Best Podcast Novel in 2006.

Podcasting MOREVI led to the founding of Podiobooks.com and collaborating with Evo Terra and Chuck Tomasi on Podcasting for Dummies. It also won acclaim and accolades for his first solo title, Billibub Baddings and The Case of the Singing Sword, the podcast winning a 2008 Parsec Award for Best Audio Drama. While writing Fantasy is his passion, his journalism chops were still called upon when commissioned to write articles for BenBella Books’s Farscape Forever: Sex, Drugs, and Killer Muppets and So Say We All: Collected Thoughts and Opinions of Battlestar Galactica. He was also tapped to write All a Twitter, a definitive guide to working with Twitter. With his diverse background in Science Fiction, writing, and Social Media,Tee has hosted presentations at venues across the country and around the world including The Library of Congress, BlogWorld, CREATE South, and Te Papa Tongawera.

“I am an author. To me, this means that I do more than write what I love. I’ve been a columnist for a tech blog. I’ve been asked to write commentary for print and online publications. I’ve written several books on Social Media. It doesn’t matter what you are writing, so long as you are writing. With each short story, op-ed, or tweet, you sharpen your skills.

I also believe being an author means more than just being able to write more than what you love. It means being a marketer, a promoter, and a public speaker. You need to be versed in things other than just grammar. You need to understand networking with people, what image you portray when online or when at a convention, and know what new technology is out there and how you can make it work for you. That’s the difference between being a writer and being an author.”

Tee returned to writing fiction with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written with his wife, Pip Ballantine. he still dabbles in non-fiction, having panned with his wife Social Media for Writers and returning for the Third Edition of Podcasting for Dummies. When Tee is not creating something on his Macintosh, he enjoys a good run, a good swim, martial arts (which he will start up again, someday), and putting together new playlists to write by. His other hobbies include cigars and scotch, which he regards the same way as anime and graphic novels: “I don’t know everything about them, but I know what I like.” (And he likes Avo and Arturo Fuente for his smoke, Highland Park for his scotch!) He enjoys life in Virginia alongside Pip, their daughter, and three cats.