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Interview: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

The Janus AffairTo give you all of you some idea of my summer, I started the process of this interview with Pip & Tee back in May. MAY! They got back to me in June and then my summer-itis hit and its been parked ever since. Hopefully, our two agents from the Ministry will not hold the delay against me.

For those of you not acquainted with Pip & Tee, there are a slew of links at the bottom of the interview. Please feel free to check our authors out.

A review of The Janus Affair will have to wait. Among other things, reading also got put on the back shelf this summer. It’s on top of my TBR pile (Is it a pile if it in your Kindle?) and I hope to get at it soon.

On to the interview, without further adieu.

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The Interview (Request) – #MNINB Day 25

Today’s April Platform Challenge is to request (important – Robert didn’t say get) an email interview from an expert. I have chosen two experts, Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. If they agree, we’ll talk about their upcoming novel, The Janus Affair; writing with a partner, creating a sequel, and stuff like that.

Their new book hits stores May 29th. Mine is on pre-order. This blog is still too all-over-the-place to warrant an advanced copy. Perhaps by the third installment.

This is going to be a bit of a homecoming and a bit of stretch for me. I used to be a pretty good interviewer way back when I worked in radio. That’s the homecoming part, the stretch is I haven’t conducted an interview in almost 25 years. I’d almost like to do this as a podcast except, my studio is in pieces, I have a raging head cold (and sound it), and there is a little trepidation being unscripted after that long. Of course, it’s all moot if their schedule is too full. We’ll have to wait and see.

Twitter Addiction, Podcastitis & NaNoWriMo in 5

image You really don’t know what effect you have on people, especially people you barely know.

Let me get this out in the open; I have a compulsive personality. It’s a quirk, to be sure, but it’s one I fully embrace and own. So, when presented a new and shiny toy, there is a great likelihood that I will wear it out; for instance, my current infatuation with Twitter. That’s really a half truth, I’ve become somewhat enamored with all social media, from the cotton candy favored confection that is Facebook to the more sophisticated and professional LinkedIn.

Competing with this overwhelming need to comment on everything is a secret love that I have hidden away, lo these many years. That love is air-time. I’m not talking grabbing some sky on a half-pipe. No, I’m talking about talking; platters spinning, cans on and mic hot. You see, for the first thirteen years of my professional career, I was a broadcaster.

I did voice work at many of the radio and television stations in and around the Richmond area. To be honest, I’d forgotten how much fun it was. That is, until I met (virtually) these four guys: Tee Morris, Odin1Eye, Richard Green & Jeff Hite. To be fair, they probably had no idea what was about to happen … probably.

Jeff is likely wondering how he wound up on the list. Well, it’s Odin’s fault. Wait for it, we’ll get there. Jeff put out a call, on Twitter, for bit parts in the Pirate’s Cove rendition of Treasure Island. I sent him a quick read of the first couple of paragraphs of Little Fuzzy. He replied “with a voice like that there are going to be a lot of people after you.” Yes, I know he could have meant that in many ways. Hopefully, DHS will not come knocking. It was a little compliment, but it meant a lot to me, having not stood in front of a microphone for any extended time in over a decade. Thanks, Jeff!

Nice as it was, that alone wasn’t enough to get me motivated. Cue Odin1Eye, who put out a call for promos for his podcast, View from Valhalla. It got me to thinking (never a good sign, especially when breakables are around). I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year anyway and I had been toying with the idea of podcasting for a while (due in large part to Tee; yes details  later), so why not promote my idea as a Project! A Project that had thought and stuff behind it! I cut Odin a promo and he used it in VfV Episode 93. That gave me the courage to try out for the bit parts in Treasure Island. See, told you I’d wrap it back.

Okay, so I’m going to do this podcast thing. I thought I’d lost my stealth-like, ninja assassin voice. Evidently not. And the project, the carefully considered, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project; I’ll be doing that too. Again, I’m sure that Jeff  and Odin had no idea that just encouraging me would provoke this kind of response. So don’t blame them … entirely.

Richard’s contribution was even more innocuous; he listed me as a source in The “Geek Out!” Daily for the Japan’s Defense Ministry Would Like to Introduce You To Their Little Friend story. I had no idea anyone was taking me all that seriously on Twitter. He probably didn’t intend for me to feel so validated, yet I was and fired up enough to take completing the NaNo challenge seriously.

Which brings us to Tee. Frankly, the more I find out about his accomplishments, the more intimidated I am. He’s an award-winning author and podcaster. He is also a really smart guy when it comes to operating in the social media arena. (No, I don’t call anyone a guru, but if I were to call anyone a social media expert, Tee would be the guru to see.) In fact, it was his Podcasting for Dummies books that I used as a foundation to build my studio. He is one of the most effective communicators I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. In short, he’s doing many of the things I want to be doing, except he’s doing them well. And younger. I’d like to say we’re of an age. I’d like to say it, but it wouldn’t be true.

Naturally, in what should come as no shock to those that know me, I got competitive. Perhaps I should have said, inspired. Clearly, I’m behind the curve. Audio has changed a lot in the past ten years. All the editing is done digitally now; no more adhesive tape, grease pencils and razor blades. No more open reel tape recorders or having to hand wind your cartridges. No more dinosaurs roaming the Earth. Time for me to study up, buttercup.

Not content to just do NaNoWriMo, I’ve obligated myself to podcasting the finished product. No, I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into; but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m about to find out.

I’m still working on the back story, history and story outline together. I’ll update the Project Mjölnir page as I get the tasks completed. This Project and all the shenanigans associated with it are due, in large part, to the encouragement from these kind people, who (whom? gets me every time) I’ve never met IRL. All they did was take a little time and acknowledge my interest. Many thanks to you four, whether you realize it or not, you’ve given me a great deal of motivation. As it turns out, that’s exactly what I needed.

With all the excitement of NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to forget what this is all about; raising money to benefit writing programs for children and adults. NaNoWriteMo is a marathon and like a marathon runner, I am seeking sponsors to help me raise $2500 dollars.

With massive cutbacks in liberal arts funding to public and private schools, now is the time for organizations like The Office of Letters and Light, creators of the National Novel Writer’s Month, to step up and bridge the gap. A $10 donation, the price of a single lunch, can help provide needed instruction and foster a life long love of writing in a child. This donation is fully tax deductible.

I’m also giving a private reading of selections from the novel in January for those who donation here. (If you can’t attend, I’ll be recording it and I’ll be happy to send you a link to a downloadable copy.) There will also be a Q & A session after the reading where you can find out about my creative process.

Thank you for your support!

Reviewed: Phoenix Rising By Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel 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 »

A Brand New Start

Welcome to the relaunch of “A Dark & Stormy Night”. It was time to give the place a makeover. It’s been over a year since I posted an entry, so I figured I’d better repurpose the page or return the storage so someone else could make better use of it.

I’m going to be adding bits and pieces as I go along in addition to (at least) weekly posts. A buddy of mine got to give me an “I told you so” after my initial effort petered out. I think that was in large part due to the lack of anything remotely resembling a plan. To prevent him from being able to snicker up his sleeve at me again, I’m going to try something a little bit different.

I’ve had a project languishing in the weeds for about two years now. It’s been a challenge trying to find motivation, inspiration and plain old perspiration to complete the work. I think I’ve found my muse or rather, a helpful convergence of things that have rekindled and sparked my interest.

Continue reading A Brand New Start »

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