Monday, September 9, 2013

Games As Stories, Plus A Cultus/Cram Games/Boston FIG Shoutout

Excited to share some great news.

True, I'm a bit biased, as I kind of like game designers Phillip Schmitte and Jesus Garay. But the game also has a great story, perfectly encapsulated by flavor text and shown off with gorgeous art.

Earth Grinder

“An unorthodox sword to fight greedy earth spirits”

Enduring Confection

“Sweet ecstasy from the World Before attracts the hungry”

The premise is that, in a post-apocalyptic world, people find 'relics' from past times (shovels, well-preserved pastries, football helmets), interpret them, and build up cults around them. As the cult leader, it's your job to use influence to construct shrines around these relics, fill the shrines with devotees, and execute 'ideas' to strengthen your following. The person with the most power at the end of the game wins!

As a writer, I've been thinking a lot about the different mediums in which people tell stories. Games (whether video, tabletop, board, or other) are fascinating storytelling vehicles that often use imagery, social interaction, music, movement, and more to convey something authors attempt using only words. I'd love to explore what it's like to craft a world, plot, and characters in this way.

Can't wait to hear what happens at Boston FIG!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Writing Mechalarum on the Subway

Don't have much time for an update, but wanted to let everyone know that I'm making good use of my daily subway commute to get in some extra editing :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Insomnium Interview: Zach Bonelli Talks Serialized Science Fiction Kickstarter Thoughts

In honor of Zach's continuing campaign to Kickstart Insomnium, here's another great interview where he delves into thoughts about the art and science of writing. Hope you enjoy!

Insomnium is Latin for a "waking vision." What interests you about blurring the line between dreaming and "real life," between consciousness and unconsciousness?

The main character of Insomnium, Nel Hanima, is in a place in his life where nothing is as it should be, nothing is functional. The worst part is that he has no idea how to move himself toward something better.

The dream forced upon Nel and his friends is an inverted wake-up call, forcing them to deal with their respective situations. I think that, when we peel away the surface layers of reality, we’re forced to ask ourselves really hard questions about who we are and what we’re doing with our lives. Nel can’t do this in his waking life, so the City of Nowhere comes to the rescue.

Your story deals with multiple characters in a dream-like scenario. One of the questions you ask is, "Who is the one actually doing the dreaming?" Tell us more about how this question ties into how much of our reality and identity is formed by our perceptions.

That is the big question for most of Insomnium. Whose mind created all of this? Could it be one of us? What does the dream have to do with us disparate people, who don’t even originate from the same universe?

Put differently: why are we here? Why are any of us doing what we do? Our answers define who we are as people and how we interact with the rest of the world.

The twentieth century has created some massive philosophical questions for humanity. What is the “right” way to spend our time on Earth? In many parts of the world, we’ve solved hunger and disease, but now that we no longer struggle to merely exist, what should we be doing with all of our time?

Finding answers to these questions, I think, is the key to our identity crisis. I’ve developed an answer for myself, which I think Insomnium will make clear, but I believe it is up to each individual to arrive at his or her own answer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Insomnium by Zachary Bonelli Now on Kickstarter

I'm excited to announce the Insomnium: A Serialized Science Fiction Novel Kickstarter!

You might remember Zach from the terrific Google Hangouts interview he gave in April. If you haven't watched it yet, definitely check it out - Zach has some amazing thoughts on writing and creative and collaborative processes.

Here's a little taste of Insomnium to whet your appetite:

"Nel Hanima lives in Seattle of 2089, a citizen of the newly organized Western Union. Life has stabilized since his childhood, when he lived with his parents in the Queen Anne community bunker. Government has been reestablished, and order restored. Famine and disease no longer run rampant, and the economy has stabilized. But still, the trees and grasses grow browner. The Sound continues to rise, swallowing up neighborhood after neighborhood of Nel’s youth.

Even though life has never been better, Nel can’t help but feel his life is somehow worse, without purpose or meaning or hope.

One night, he falls asleep in his apartment and awakens in the City of Nowhere, an impossible conundrum world of inhuman citizens, where time and space are an illusion and paradoxes run rampant."

To find out more, check it out here, or by clicking the image above!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mechalarum Mini-Update

Haven't had much time to write here lately, as I'm working towards dedicating as many free moments as I can to Mechalarum. Two months might seem like a long time, but I don't want to take any chances. This is the point at which I'm realizing that putting out a novel is a monumentally enormous task, and that writing the first draft (at least for me) is only a tiny sliver of it. Luckily, I've got some great support people on my side to help keep me plugging away!

To make up for being AWOL, here's a cute picture of a puppy! Okay, so he's not technically a puppy anymore, but he is adorable :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Writing About Crowdfunding for Authors with Buckell, Sullivan, Shvartsman, and More!

I recently received an awesome opportunity to share my thoughts about crowdfunding for authors on the SF Signal blog, along with some of the most interesting people currently pushing the boundaries of publication and promotion methods.

MIND MELD: What Crowd Funding SF/F Novels Means for Authors and Publishers


"The introduction of crowdfunding is again upending the landscape, this time creating a natural vetting process; a success on a site like Kickstarter shows that an author is likely to have something other than the ability to type tens of thousands of words going for her. It’s never easy to judge how enjoyable a book by a first-time author will be, and crowdfunding provides a great tool to help good reads rise to the top."

The list of co-authors on the article really demonstrated how small the crowdfunded science fiction/fantasy author space is at the moment. I've actually been chatting with three of the eight other authors on the list, including...

Michael J. Sullivan, who recently concluded a thrilling Kickstarter campaign for his book Hollow World during which he raised more than 10 TIMES his funding target of $3,000 and blew through his stretch goals as if they were planets at the mercy of a Superlaser.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Link Roundup April 24: Phantom Tollbooth Documentary, Transcribing Interviews, and More

Just a short post for today, wanted to share some of the links I've been collecting recently. There's some useful info here for putting a recorded interview into written form, videos comparing and describing the various self publishing platforms, exciting news about a classic children's book, sweet pics captured during my Mechalarum costume promotional event, and a great forum post with tips about using Kickstarter. Hope you enjoy!

How Do You Transcribe Recorded Interviews?

Self Publishing Video Tutorials

Phantom Tollbooth Documentary Coming This Summer

Meet Emma Larkins on Take It Easy Tiger

Forum Post About Kickstarting Board Games

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Interview with Alex Shvartsman on Community Days

Welcome to another great Community Days interview!

My guest today is Alex Shvartsman, a writer and game designer from Brooklyn, NY. He's sold nearly 50 short stories since late 2010, to such venues as The Journal of Nature, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and Galaxy's Edge, among others. He's best-known for humorous short stories.

In 2012 Alex edited and published Unidentified Funny Objects -- an anthology of humorous SF/F which featured stories by Mike Resnick, Lavie Tidhar, Jody Lynn Nye, and Ken Liu, among others. It was well-received by readers and critics alike. Alex is running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the second in what he hopes will become an annual anthology series: Unidentified Funny Objects.

Tell us a little bit about your inspiration for the Unidentified Funny Objects collection. How did it reflect your previous experience as a writer and editor?

Much of what I write is humorous science fiction and fantasy short stories. I submit them to what markets appreciate that sort of thing, but there are many established and well-respected magazines and anthologies that do not. So it cuts down the list of viable professional markets from over a dozen to just a handful. I always found this frustrating and wished that somebody would create a regular outlet for SF/F humor (I firmly believe there are plenty of readers interested in such stories). So you could say that I was inspired to create the market I always wanted to exist. And when I researched humor anthologies, I found that nothing similar to Unidentified Funny Objects had been published, at least not during the course of the last decade. I became even more convinced that there's a niche need that my project could fill.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Virtual and Real-World Events Can Nurture Your Writing Career

What’s a writer got to do to get noticed these days?

Feeding your fictional (or non-fictional) passion requires more than simply creating beautiful works of words. Readings, panels, classes, and presentations (whether on- and offline) can be a great boon to your exposure – and your bottom line.

Strengthening Relationships with Fans 

Self-published authors are pretty much on their own when it comes to building a platform of zealous fans (although it is possible to contract out publicity services, as long as you find a reputable person or organization). The strongest relationships are formed when you meet and engage people in conversation – either in the real world, or the virtual one. It can take some work to get comfortable with the idea of showcasing yourself live in front of strangers, but it helps to think of the lives you can potentially touch, teach, and inspire with your words.

If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will probably be able to assist in this arena – after all, it’s in their best interest to improve your visibility. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take as active a part as you can. For example, check out Togather; it’s a great option for getting fans to commit to an event so you don’t show up to an empty room.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Interview with Janicu, Book Reviewer, on Community... 'Days

Another great guest on Community Days today! Janicu (aka Janice) has been reviewing books since 2006, and posting reviews on her blogs since 2007. Her focus is speculative fiction (an umbrella term for science fiction, fantasy, and stories in general with fantastical elements) with a good does of romantics thrown in for good measure.

You can learn more about Janicu on her Specfic Romantic blog or on Twitter. She's also got a great Tumblr if that's more your style. Hope you feel enlightened after reading her responses!

What is it that attracts you to speculative fiction with a romantic angle?

Well, I think that it's the combination of the total escapism of a world that exists in your imagination that SF brings combined with the interesting relationship dynamics you see in Romance. I don't necessarily NEED both of those together - when I was a kid, straight Fantasy was my favorite genre, but as time went on and I read more stories, I realized I tended to prefer character-driven tales that end happily. That's not always true (I good bittersweet ending can make me hug a book and sigh brokenly), but it is generally where my tastes are. When I first created my blog I didn't really think too much about what to call it. I just used my nickname (janicu) and said, "janicu's book blog". Later on I wanted to make it clearer what I reviewed so I came up with specficromantic because it explained my tastes better.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview With Zachary Bonelli on Community Days

I was privileged to host Zachary Bonelli's first Google Hangout interview!

Zack is the founder of Fuzzy Hedgehog Press, a group of speculative fiction writers who wanted to create a powerful collaboration to make it easier to spread the word about their work. You can find out more about him by checking out his website, or see what he's up to on Twitter.

In addition to spending time creating fantastic works of fiction, the authors at Fuzzy Hedgehog Press also take time to promote the work of others through their Indie Spec Fic Fund. They highlight cool-looking projects from Kickstarter and Indiegogo, helping innovative, new writers have their chance at the spotlight.

Here is a video of the interview, and below is a partial transcript. Hope you enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I've been writing for a very long time, I started when I was in high school. As I kept writing, a I latched onto a character and a world (well, actually, multiple worlds). That became a book, Voyage. I became embittered with the whole traditional publishing system, decided I couldn't get it ever published that way, and put that on the back burner. I wrote little stories over the last ten years, but basically it was stalled. And then recently, Hugh Howey and the big self-publishing thing happened. Not only did I decide now is the time for me to really write Voyage and get that out into the world, but I wanted to create a space for people like myself. My biggest worry with putting out Voyage, at least through the traditional publishing machine twelve years ago, was that my main character is gay. Someone along the way would tell me "oh, he has to be straight or it won't sell," of course that would be the end of my relationship with any publisher or editor. Even though, clearly, that's not the case today, the publishers would be more receptive to that, I wanted to create a community where anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation [would be supported].

What are the benefits of a writing collective for authors?

The different models of collectives are varying a lot. Part of the core values for me, at least, are 1.) authors owning the rights to their own work, and 2.) no one in the group will ever tell you that you can't publish "x." They may disagree with you strongly, but there's no such thing as "Oh, that's a topic that's not allowed in literature." The other major thing that separates us is, if you look at groups like the Science Fiction Writers of America, people are only allowed in if they have "acceptable publications" in "acceptable venues." We are not an exclusive group, in fact, exclusivity is totally contrary to the core values... If you have a piece of writing that you're working on, and that you intend to publish or self-publish, you're welcome.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bibliocrunch Twitter #Indiechat for Self-Published Authors: My Takeaway

I participated in a great Twitter conversation hosted by Bibliocrunch on Tuesday called #indiechat. We ended up discussing all sorts of topics, but the main conversation centered around how to ask book bloggers for reviews on their sites.

On Blog Book Tours

A "blog book tour" is an online, promotional event during which an author schedules "appearances" on a collection of blogs related to authors, writing, the subject matter or genre of his/her book, etc. It's a great way to get people talking about your work, and it can be more effective (and less expensive!) than a "real world" book tour.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interview with Nedzad Lomigora on Community Days

Welcome to the newly revamped Community Days! Now that I'm interviewing people on Google Hangouts, I realize that trying to fit all of the interviews on Fridays doesn't make as much sense as it once did, so I'm leaving the "day" part of this feature flexible.

Today's guest is Nedzad Lomigora, founder of the author promotion platform and organizer of the terrific Publishing Innovator Meetups in both Boston and New York. I recently worked with Ned to organize a Kickstarter for Authors panel, and hope to arrange more great events in the future.

Here's the broadcast as recorded from Google Hangouts. If you're interested in reading a partial transcript of the video, you can scroll down the page. But if you have time, watch the whole thing - there's plenty of good info to absorb. Hope you enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about your site, Zeeen.

It's a platform for authors that identifies, attracts, and engages readers. Our predictive analytics engine lets you set your goals, receive real-time alerts on the status of those goals, and access actionable recommendations (what to do to improve on reaching your goals). That all leads to more book sales.

What experiences brought about the idea for Zeeen?

I had a lot of experience in my past with finding industries that were going through a huge change, and publishing was one of those industries... I remember having a conversation with somebody, and asking: "This kind of tool you're using, all of the people in the publishing industry are using, right, because this would make sense. It's so easy, and why wouldn't they?" The answer was no; the publishing industry was so far behind [from a technology standpoint]. I realized the pain that authors were going through, that publishers can't help them with because they don't have the right tools or time. So you have authors left to their own devices... and they can't keep up with all the changes in technology. We decided to set up a company to focus on making the technology much easier to use for authors, and giving them tools that they need to promote and market their books in a way that takes the least amount of time out of their day so they can focus on writing.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mechalarum Kickstarter Project SUCCESSFUL!!!

It's been an amazing ride, everyone! I'm eternally grateful to all of the amazing support I've received along the way. Looking forward to bringing an amazing novel to life :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Kiellen Art Revealed, Less Than 12 Hours to Kickstart, Progress, Party!!

Wow, so much has happened over the last day or so, I'm not sure I'll be able to fit it all into one post!

First of all, I've been coordinating with the ever-talented, super-responsive Swasana Adinugraha (with help from the always-awesome Richard Laufenburger) to put together some artwork for the Mechalarum cover. He went above and beyond my wildest dreams in drawing Kiellen in her flying suit, especially given the fact that I've had trouble communicating exactly what it is I want (mostly because I couldn't come up with a solid picture in my mind). That's what visual artists are for, right? Us lowly authors just can't do it on our own :) There are still some tweaks I want to make, but I think this does a great job at getting across the idea of the suit, and how it's slowly starting to eat away at Kiellen's skin.

Second, there are less than 12 hours to go on the Kickstarter project! If you haven't shared yet, please do so. And if you have a dollar or two to spare, every little bit helps :)

Third, here's a quick update video on my progress so far. The handy-dandy Mechalarum chart keeps getting fuller and fuller!

And fourth, I'm co-hosting a party in NYC tonight to celebrate the (hopeful!) success of my project. If you're in the area, feel free to stop by!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wandering Around NYC In My Mechalarum "Flying" Suit

Building the helmet and the rest of the mock-up of the Mechalarum flying suit was fun enough, but then I got to actually put all my hard work to good use.

Yesterday, I suited up and ventured out into the city with my awesome friend Nancy Quan by my side to capture my antics in both video and photo form. We got stares, smiles, and photo requests from both tourists and hardened New Yorkers alike. I did my best to illustrate the fact that my suit *should* be able to fly, and if nothing else, it was thoroughly entertaining for everyone involved.

So without further ado, here for your viewing pleasure are the results of my latest foray into craziness!

Only a couple of days left! Check out my project on Kickstarter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bringing Mechalarum to Life in a Whole New Way

If you've been visiting my blog for a while, you'll know that I like to make homemade costumes. The parts involving fabric are interesting and all, but the stuff that really gets me going is building models of items out of a few simple and easily accessible materials.

I used this technique to create the gun for my Sarah Connor costume (and ended up crafting something so realistic, I got a little freaked out carrying it around on Halloween). It's actually based on the rapid prototyping skills I learned while getting my degree in product design - with a little foam core, hot glue, and electrical tape, you can mock up just about anything :)

Anyway, I decided that I wanted to make a stylized model of the Mechalarum suit, both because it's fun and because I figure I might drum up some more interest in my novel by wandering around New York dressed in a strange manner (though I'm sure I won't be the strangest one out there).

If you're interested, here's a bit of a look into my construction process. It's a really fun thing to do. You'd be surprised at the kinds of things you can create with some imagination and a few simple materials! Feel free to ask me questions in the comments below.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Roundup: Crowdfunding Thoughts, As Seen Around the Web

Call it laziness, or call it industriousness, but today's post is going to be a roundup of some of the stuff I've been spreading around the web recently :)

The View From Inside the Kickstarter Trenches (on the Knodes blog): I started writing about my experiences with the project to date, and it turned into a surprisingly personal take on the whole crowdfunding process. Great if you're looking for some real-time insight into my frazzled brain!

Crowdfunding for Writers: Which Platform Should I Choose? (on Bibliocrunch): You've heard of Kickstarter, but what about Pubslush,, or Pave? Before you commit to a platform for your writing project, make sure you do your research!

7 Writing-Based Ways to Fund Your Fiction (on Rob D. Young's blog): There's a whole spectrum of ways to get paid to write fiction; traditional publishing and self publishing are only two discreet points in the array. For example, ghostwriting and grants can both help to juice your creative writing coffers.

5 Reasons Crowdfunding Is Hard (And Why To Do It Anyway) (on the Knodes blog): We're developing products in the crowdfunding industry, so we certainly don't want to turn anyone away. Still, the more people get burned out from the process, the harder time we'll have trying to promote it.

6 Ways Authors Benefit From Crowd Funding by Emma Larkins (on Writer's Fun Zone): It's not all about the dollars and cents. Nurturing reader and writer relationships, generating buzz, and other great perks await the successful crowdfunder.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Telling My Story Better: Updated Kickstarter Video for Mechalarum

Finding the best way to brand your book (and yourself!) can be a repetitive process, so I hope you're bearing with me.

In this latest video, I've taken a slightly more personal approach, getting at some of the reasons that reading and writing is so important to me, and why I want to bring this universe and these characters to life.

I really enjoyed making the original interpretive dance version of the video, and I learned a lot from presenting the vision of my story in a new medium (not to mention about filming in general!) With each new version, I'm digging deeper into my universe, and getting better at speaking to my target audience.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share in the comments below :)

Like what you see? Check out the rest of my project on Kickstarter!

Also, here are some of the wonderful Tweets that I'm receiving in response to my project. Thanks guys :D
Recent Mechalarum Kickstarter articles:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Amanda Palmer vs. Stephanie Nilles: How SHOULD Artists Get Paid?

Running a Kickstarter project has inspired me to think intensely about age-old questions surrounding the intersection of art and money: what does it mean to be a creative person exchanging often intangible experiences for material wealth? Is art a good, a service, or something that transcends these simple descriptors? Do thoughts of financing an artistic career cheapen the end results, or elevate them? And, at the most basic level...

How SHOULD artists get paid?

I recently watched a TED talk given by Amanda Palmer (of Kickstarter fundraising fame), which was interesting in and of itself. And then I came across an "open letter" by Stephanie Nilles on The Vinyl District that acted as a rebuttal, and I knew this was a topic I wanted to dig into more deeply.

Amanda managed to raise a huge amount of money on Kickstarter. Over the course of her career, she's gotten good at asking for funding. And, more importantly, she's gotten good at nurturing the kinds of personal relationships that make those types of tricky asks more likely to succeed.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Recap of Launch Your Book Through Kickstarter Panel

One of the best experiences of my Kickstarter campaign, if not of my entire life, happened last night: I organized and participated in a panel to teach people how to use Kickstarter to launch their books.

Through the magic of Google Hangouts, I was able to broadcast and record the entire thing and push it directly to YouTube! Below is a recap, and you can scroll down to the bottom to see the whole video.

But before I get carried away, I want to thank the nerds of a feather, flock together blog for an incredibly kind mention of Mechalarum and my blog. You guys are the best :D And thanks to the Blood-Red Pencil blog for publishing my guest post: How Your Blog Network Will Help Your Kickstarter Succeed.

And now, back to the panel! I was honored to present with some amazing people, including: Colin Druce-McFadden, Brooke Borel, Michael J. Wyant Jr., and Amanda Barbara.

Me, Brooke, and Amanda before the panel!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mechalarum Shoutout on Fuzzy Hedgehog Press! (And Announcement)

Excited to announce that the wonderful people over at Fuzzy Hedgehog press decided to feature my project on their list of speculative fiction crowdfunding! Click on the link to see a great collection of new book projects like mine :)

The Indie Spec Fic Fund (Mar 13, 2013)

And here's some more great news: I've passed the 30% mark on my project! Statistically speaking, this means I'm five times more likely to succeed. Still have a ways to go, though - please help spread the word!

Stop by my Kickstarter page to see the progress for yourself :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Launch Your Book Through Kickstarter Panel on Thursday!

I'm super excited to announce another great event that I'm involved with this Thursday, March 14, in NYC!

I'm working with NY Publishing Innovators to run a panel on Launching Your Book Through Kickstarter. We've got a great group scheduled to speak - Colin P. Druce-McFadden, whose Kickstarted novel The Unshorn Thread is pictured to the right; Brooke Borel, who used Kickstarter to raise funds to help promote her traditionally-published novel, Suck: The Tale of the Bed Bug; Michael J. Wyant, Jr., author of Immortal (The Sundering), who chose to self-publish as a method of short-cutting the traditional publishing route; and Amanda Barbara, the development director at Pubslush (a book-only crowdfunding platform).

We're holding the panel at Wix Lounge, an excellent free coworking and event space provided by free website creation platform Wix. Check out the event info by clicking the NY Publishing Innovators link above, or the Eventbrite ticket widget below. Hope to see you there!

Want to see a Kickstarter project in action? Check mine out here!

And here's are some recent posts you might be interested in:

Monday, March 11, 2013

Interview with Tobias Buckell: Kickstarter Success Story and More!

I usually do these interviews on Community Fridays, but running the Kickstarter project has messed a bit with my schedule. So here ya go, a special Community Monday interview! Community is great, so what's wrong with having another day of it?

Today's interview is with Tobias Buckell. I originally contacted him to learn more about his thoughts on using Kickstarter to fund his novel The Apocalypse Ocean, but I learned a lot of other interesting stuff about him in the process. For example, it turns out that he's had TWO successful Kickstarter projects, and that he's taking the interesting hybrid approach (more and more common these days) of combining crowdfunding and traditional publishing.

Find information about his Kickstarter projects here and here, and don't forget to stop by his website and follow him on Twitter!

You departed from the world of traditional publishing to self-publish Apocalypse Ocean. Why?

I sat down with my editor to talk about how my book series had been doing up to that point, and what we felt the chances were for book four. We both felt that while sales would hold steady, due to bookstore orders decreasing with each book and sales online ticking up to match it, I was sort of stuck where I was with only tiny growth in readership from book to book. So we decided to stop doing the series and start fresh with a book, that just came out recently, called Arctic Rising. Near future instead of far future adventure. But as time ticked past core readers and fans of the first series kept asking if I'd continue writing the two books I'd planned to wrap it all up. After a while, I started eyeing the idea of crowdfunding the book, as I'd know then before I started it whether I'd gotten enough readers on board to make it a doable project.

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Honor of International Women's Day: Strong Heroines

It's a great day to talk about strong heroines in fiction.

It's especially pertinent as I watched this great video yesterday about the Damsel in Distress trope in video games (thanks to punkerplus on the r/GirlGamers subreddit for sharing).

This video reinforced for me why it's so important that I'm doing what I'm doing. It's easy to think, "Well, I suppose there are enough strong heroines out there, I don't really need to add to the pantheon." But the truth is, there's a huge empty space waiting to be filled by a vibrant cast of multi-layered, determined, interesting and flawed female characters. The more women we add to our fictional lexicon, the more role models new generations will have to choose from. Sure, writers like me may not necessarily create someone meant to be a shining emblem of modern feminist virtue; but simply adding to the variety of options has a huge impact.

Here, in anticipation of Kiellen's upcoming induction to the small but growing crowd, are some of the invented women who have inspired me.

Terminator 2's Sarah Connor

My love of Sarah Connor is no secret (I did, after all, dress up as her for Halloween one year and create a site detailing how to follow my lead).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Working on a New Kickstarter Video

One of the most exciting things about running a Kickstarter project is getting feedback to make the project - and the final product - much more awesome than it would be otherwise.

I've gotten some feedback that my original video wasn't conveying the message of my novel well enough, so I'm working on a new version. Here's what I've got so far:

Would love to hear what people think of this version compared to the one on the Kickstarter page! Comments welcome :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mechalarum Excerpt: Part One of Chapter One

Thought it was high time I shared some fiction writing on my blog!

Remember! This isn't the guaranteed final incarnation, so don't be surprised to see a tweak or two in the final draft :)

Part 1, Chapter 1

“They’re not going to let you graduate. You’re not going to flight-test the first Mechalarum suit.”

Kiellen, crouched on the plasticrete floor of an open platform high in the Citadel’s tallest tower, blinked at Taim as if not able to process his words. She unwound herself from her stretch and carefully rolled her shoulders in silence. Her eyebrows furrowed, and Taim cringed at the gathering storm on her face.

“I don’t understand,” she said.

Taim lowered himself to a squat and looked her straight in the eyes, willing her to believe. “It’s over. You need to get out of here. They’ll be after you soon. There’s no way they’ll let a loose cannon like you wander the Citadel knowing they’ve just trashed your dreams. And you basically have no reason to live by their rules anymore. I mean, to the extent that you did so before, I guess.”

Kiellen put her thumbs under her chin, clasped, her hands, and stared at him for a long moment. Finally, she said, “But they can’t do that. I’m the best.”

“Don’t you get it?” Taim jumped to his feet in frustration. “I’ve lost count of the times I told you to at least pretend like you can follow directions. They don’t give a damn about the height of your jumps and the tightness of your rolls if they don’t have control over your.”

“Hold on a sec,” Kiellen said as extended her left leg and leaned into the stretch. “I’m sure they know that we’re friends. If they really wanted to catch me off guard, wouldn’t they be more secretive about releasing that information to the whole Science sector?”

“They didn’t release it,” Taim dropped his gaze. “I overheard some people talking, and when they wouldn’t tell me what was up, I hacked a little in the system to find out the truth. Here’s the memo they posted.”

Taim stroked two fingers across his left wrist, and a soft light pulsed to life beneath his skin. He looked at his palm, curled his fingers to shape the resulting three-dimensional projection, then used his right hand to manipulate shapes and symbols within it. In a moment, Kiellen’s face popped up in the projection, along with the words “Top Secret” and a lengthy description, the summary of which matched Taim’s words exactly.

Taim had braced himself for Kiellen’s rage. He’d even prepared for her fear, however unlikely that emotion might be. He knew that, in her situation, he’d be terrified by the prospect of the Council hunting him down and banishing him to the will of the constant dust storm that raged just outside the protective nanofiber dome above their heads. But this taut, calculating silence of hers wasn’t something he’d expected, and he didn’t know how to proceed.

From high above them, a low keening started, and soon grew into the wail of an alarm. Taim sucked in his breath and Kiellen’s face paled in the dim glow from the light panels around them. “Are they after me already?”

Like what you're seeing? Check out my Kickstarter page to learn how you can help make this book a reality!

Want to read more about my project? Check out...

Shooting the Video for the Mechalarum Kickstarter Project

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shooting the Video for the Mechalarum Kickstarter Project

Helping to create the video for my Mechalarum Kickstarter project was the first time I'd been involved in creating a visual experience to get people absorbed in my fictional universe, so it was quite an interesting experience! Sure, like pretty much everyone nowadays, I'd messed around with taking video with my point-and-shoot camera, and laughed at how goofy my friends or my dog could be. But that hardly qualifies me as an expert in communicating through a moving picture medium.

Luckily, I had a connection through my roommate to videographer Bryan Swormstedt, who had worked on four Kickstarter videos in the past. I wanted to do something a little different with my Kickstarter video, and he really helped me bring my vision to life.

I didn't want to have people simply acting out a scene from the book, as it might give the impression that I was creating a movie, instead of a novel. And I wanted to get viewers engaged with the visceral emotions of the struggle to join with a symbiotic mechanical/organic being.

However, it turns out that the actual act of capturing moving images on camera is only a little sliver of putting together a cohesive video!

Above, you can see one of our actresses Sylvana Tapia helping set up the lighting for the dance scene. Since the first part of Mechalarum is set in the desert, we wanted to get a warm tone (and also wanted to dim the insanely bright halogen lamps I picked up at Home Depot for the purpose). You can see how the lighting really created a completely different atmosphere, even though we shot in Bryan's living room!

Friday, March 1, 2013

$1000 Goal Reached, New Art, Article Announced

Happy dance time! So thrilled to announce the reaching of a milestone amount: $1000! Thank you so much to everyone who pledged, shared, and gave me your support :) Also, just goes to show how well goal-setting works!

AND if that's not cool enough, I have some awesome preview artwork for the jewelry reward level that I'll be offering:

AND I've got an awesome new post up on Rob D. Young's blog called 7 Writing-Based Ways to Fund Your Fiction. How much awesome stuff can happen in one day?

Hope you like :) Don't forget to check out my Kickstarter page for more info!

Want to read previous updates? Check out:

Gunning for $1000 Milestone!

Mechalarum Kickstarter Launch Party Was a Success!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gunning for $1000 Milestone!

Wow, things are going great with the Mechalarum Kickstarter project! I'm already up to $975, and need just a little bit more to push it up into the quadruple digits.

It's important to have mini-goals to work towards when you're trying to reach a really big goal - otherwise, the really big goal can get overwhelming! That's why I've set a target of reaching $1000 by Friday. Every little bit helps :)

Another important goal-reaching technique is to create visual aids that will reinforce the vision of success in your brain. So I decided to mock up a little progress chart for my project. Of course, I couldn't just draw a regular ol' thermometer-type design, so I went ahead and used my (somewhat limited) artistic skills to create a Kiellen-like character flying up into the sky, with some little swirls of flying-ness radiating out below her.

Here's how far we've come in only a few short days!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mechalarum Kickstarter Launch Party Was a Success!

First things first: my Kickstarter project is live! You can see all of the lovely details here:

Mechalarum: A Science Fiction Novel (on Kickstarter)

I can't believe that I raised more than 10% of my goal on my first day! Can't wait to see who is going to push me to the $800 mark.

I want to give a big thank you to everyone who came out to the project launch party! I was honored to see how many wonderful people I've met over the last year. It's hard not to get a little teary-eyed when I think about how amazing everyone in NYC has been to me.

Everyone who attended was awesome, but I have to give a special shoutout to the Astoria Newbies for pretty much being the life of the party :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lots of Great Crowdfunding/Writing Goodness

I've got some great new publication news to share! Read on if you want to learn more about crowdfunding, crowdfunding for writers, and a great place for general fiction writing tips.

First up is an article that I recently wrote for the Knodes Knows blog called 5 Reasons Crowdfunding Is Hard (And Why To Do It Anyway). Yeah, it's kind of a funny title as we're trying to ENCOURAGE people to use sites like Kickstarter and Rockethub. At the same time, I discovered a lot of pain points during my last couple of months spent researching the industry. I wanted to address them so that I could give people a better idea of what it takes to succeed.

Next is Crowdfunding for Writers: Which Platform Should I Choose?, which I wrote as a guest post for the great folks over at Bibliocrunch (a site for connecting self-published authors with editing, design, art and other professionals). This comparative look at the platforms from a writer's point of view is a good resource for sorting out which site will work best for you - an important early step in the crowdfunding process.

And finally, I'd also like to give a shoutout to the "Prentious Points" section of the Awkward Pegasus blog. Funnily enough, I met the owner of this blog at a New York Gaming Meetup, and he provided some fascinating insights into the similarities between storytelling for games and storytelling for, well, stories. I've been following along for a while now, and I always find tips that help me in my own personal fiction-writing journey.

Image source: Flickr.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Interview with Rob D. Young on Community Fridays

So I've actually had this interview sitting around for a few days, just getting around to putting it up now. Rob D. Young graciously agreed to not only participate in Community Fridays, but also to be the guinea pig for a new format using Google Hangouts to broadcast and record the session.

Although Rob was absolutely fantastic, this first experimental run ended up having a fairly major hiccup: namely the fact that I didn't realize for a big chunk of it that I had to press the big, red "start broadcast" button in order to record. And I call myself a techie... Luckily, Rob was awesome enough to repeat a lot of the great stuff he said on the first run-through.

When you're done watching, I highly recommend signing up for the Creative Writing Collective so you can subscribe to Rob's fascinating thoughts.

Video is below! Watch Rob riff on writers' feelings about getting paid, how writing affects the brain, and more.

And here's the tail end of the first chunk of the interview:

I was originally going to transcribe part of the session, but didn't want to put off this post any longer. I am, however, including links to the people in the industry doing cool things - specifically, performance poetry!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mechalarum Kickstarter Launch Party Scheduled!

Have some free time on Monday, February 25th between 6:30 and 9:00 pm? Live in or around the New York City area? Like to hang out with fun and interesting people, especially if it means getting out of the cold and enjoying a good beer?

You're invited to the launch party for my Mechalarum Kickstarter project! I've also got a special guest author friend who will be relaunching his novel, so there will be plenty of opportunities to learn about crowdfunding, writing, and the ins and outs of self-publishing.

The event is free and open to the public, and will be held at Chelsea Manor in Manhattan. For more info, check out the Eventbrite invite, or use the widget below!

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Goals for Early 2013 and a Great Goal Infographic

Well, now that I've let the cat out of the bag with my big self-publishing/Kickstarter announcement, I'm excited to share my rough overview for the year. It's always interesting to post these things publicly, and then to come back and see how time and work reshape them.

Without further ado, here are my Goals for 2013:

1. Get better at recognizing (and accepting) failure. In the past, I've been scared to admit when something doesn't work out according to my plan, instead hoping that no one will notice. But you can learn a lot by owning up. I've already got a start on this - last summer, my ambitious Prancing Laggard video game humor project fizzled unceremoniously, and I'm working on passing on the reins.

2. Get better at celebrating (and rewarding) victory! Success is great, and sharing it with the world makes it just a little bit sweeter. The people in my life WANT to be a part of my big wins. I should let them!

3. Give - and accept - help. I've been pretty good at lending a hand when asked, but when it comes to my own projects I sometimes try to go it alone when working with a team would make things so much better. I want to not only accept offers of assistance where it makes sense, but also take initiative and ask for a hand.

4. Crowdfund and self-publish my first novel, Mechalarum. This one will involve a billion and one mini-goals and mini-steps to achieve. It's daunting to even try and keep the whole thing in my brain at one time. But as long as I keep focusing on one little piece at a time (like, say, this blog post), I'll continue to make progress.

5. Make wonderful products with the Knodes team. Writing fiction is awesome, and I'm excited that I'll be bringing my novel into the world soon. But that doesn't mean that I want to give up my inspirational, new day job. I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll always have more than one big thing going on in my life. It's invigorating - and overwhelming - to have so much going on at one time.

6. Figure out how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while living in the city. This might be the hardest resolution of all to keep. I do get some exercise just by walking around the city, but it doesn't quite balance out all of the time I sit staring at a computer screen. I'd love to multitask some of my socialization time to make sure this gets done.

7. Have fun!
I like that I have a mix of concrete tasks and conceptual goals to work towards. However, this only covers what's going to happen until around June - after that, I have no idea where my life will take me.

And finally, here by way of, is a great infographic for helping you work on your goals. It's a great representation of why writing your future vision down is so important.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Five Years Later... Time To Publish?

In February of 2008 I published my first blog post, in which I talked about getting ready to write my very first fantasy novel.

Five years, five (drafts of) novels, and several very long hiatuses later, I'm finally ready to come full circle. Yep, that's right - I'm going to self-publish for the first time, and officially get some of this written stash out into the world at large!

But wait, there's more! I've decided to use Kickstarter to fund the publication process. I'm committing fully to this endeavor, and I don't want to leave anything to chance. I'm raising money to hire an awesome editor, get some great visual talent on board, and really make as big of a deal of this as I'm able to.

Crowdfunding a novel is not an easy task, but luckily, I'm not going it alone. I'm already building the foundation for a great team, including some awesome people who are going to be helping me put on local events in New York and hosting me on their sites and blogs over the course of the project.

Interested in climbing on board? Head over to my website and drop me a line on my contact form.

As if that weren't enough fun news, yesterday I got "chucked" by the wonderful team at Knodes. You can read about it - and see me mugging for the camera in our office - here: Emma Gets Chucked :D

Stay tuned for lots of exciting stuff to come! And if you're in or near the NYC area, keep February 25 open on your calendars. I'll be posting info for the launch party here soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Welcome to a Very Exciting 2013!

Well! There have been some amazing changes around here, all within the last month, and I'm really just trying to get a hang of it all. Here's to 2013 starting out with a bang!

First of all, I left my job at YourTango, more or less in a leap of faith out into the unknown. Through a series of amazingly fortunate events (largely inspired by my hectic scheduling of networking events since moving to New York), I wound up as an "Internbusinessdataanalyst Person" at an awesome startup called Knodes. I'm happy that my first foray into Silicon Alley turned out to be so successful!

And that's not all. I've got a hugely exciting announcement to make (which will be of special interest to authors, bloggers, editors, artists, creatives, and anyone who likes speculative fiction/science fiction). I'm not quite ready to spill the beans yet, but stay tuned here for more good news.

As part of my upcoming project, I'll be looking for people of the above types (and more) to partner with. If you're interested, go to my About Me page to find my contact info and send me a message. Or wait to get more juicy details in a post soon to come!