Growing up, my dad and I were pretty fair shade tree mechanics. (Well, I was growing up, my dad had already gone as far as he was going to.) This was before the age of electronic fuel injection, computerized valve timing, and proprietary software widgets. So, shortly after the earth cooled, but while Detroit was still hot, we’d put the car up on blocks and have at it. Often this would involve improvising the tool we needed from the tools we had readily at hand. It led to some interesting compromises. Fortunately, as writers, the only tool we really need is a chair to put our behinds in while we write. However, there are plenty of ancillary tools out there and I’m going to give you my pitch on the ones I find the handiest. Continue reading Reblog Sunday: Tools of the Trade »
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My love affair with writing started in my 11th grade English class, with an F-. Yeah, you read that right, “eff minus”. And, as it usually is with things of this nature, the grade was entirely my fault, not that I could convince my father of such a thing. He and my mother arranged a parent-teacher conference with Mrs. Jaffe, purveyor of said grade.
“I’ve seen his notebook, and I agree he earned a F,” my father began. “But, a F minus? That’s an insult!”
“Well,” she replied. “His test was insulting.”
It was, no doubt. Every day for six weeks, she waited on me to live up to my potential, and each day I waited for her to give up. I earned every bit of that F minus.
Getting this post out has been a disaster. I started with it back in August. The irony that it has taken so long is not lost on me. At one point I began to despair that I might never get to the end of it. You know the feeling; once you get behind the eight ball it gets harder and harder to get out in front of it. Of course, it is so easy to fall behind.
After all, I have the day job, kids in school (and their activities), my lovely bride, our home, family, pets, my writing group, podcast projects, etc. Then, there are the attendant emergencies. You know the drill: Life. Life intervenes. My case isn’t all that special. I started this post as a reminder concerning my tendency to over-commit my time. I do that. I want to be involved in everything. It’s all so neat!
So, how can you avoid that pitfall? There’s lots of bright and shiny stuff to attract your attention. What I have discovered is a set of tools that I use to keep me focused and on track. And, like any set of tools, how you use them determines how effective they are. Your mileage my vary. Continue reading Reblog Sunday: Commitments, Responsibilities, and Scheduling »
It’s the highly anticipated, often promised, much delayed and completely unsolicited review of Pip and Tee’s Phoenix Rising! Yup, I finally finished it, after a series of fits and starts that won’t be named here.
Grab your brass goggles, pith helmet and Webley … the game’s afoot! From their explosive first hello until the thundering finale, Eliza D. Braun (Field Agent) and Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire (Chief Archivist) deliver a crackle and spark worthy of Powell and Loy!
I consider myself something of a steampunk purist, if there is such an animal, and this tale suits my Victorian cup of tea quite nicely. Set in a London that never was (sometime between March/April 1894 and January 1901), we have airships, a madcap coach chase through the downtown streets, a secret society bent on world domination, a series of Lovecraftian deaths and steam powered cyborgs!
I wish I’d had the time to sit down and read this all at once! It is extremely well written, with fully realized characters and engaging situations. This is no surprise as both Pip and Tee have rather impressive personal publishing pedigrees. I’m not really sure this qualifies as a freshman effort, even if it is the first book they have co-authored.
Continue reading Reviewed: Phoenix Rising By Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris »
Journey back the universe of The Gearheart. In this prequel novella, agents Augustus Elsworth and Isabelle Carriker battle wise guys, betrayal, nefarious powers on high and each other, while attempting to unlock the secrets of Augustus’ mentor and harness the full potential of a hybrid mechano-alchemic engine before its power is unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Just so you know, I hadn’t intended for this to become the Alex White month of reviews, it just worked out that way.
We get to see Augustus in a completely different light in this story. In The Gearheart, he was much a follower. In this tale, he is a rebel; loud, cantankerous and proud, not at all the shy and retiring Elsworth we were used to. And while this tale is clearly about the mechanic, we also get to see another side of Isabelle; one where she isn’t defined by her relationship to Jonathan.