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!