Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Next Big Thing

I've been tagged by author Beth Barany to post about my Next Big Thing (here's her post). So, this is what I'm working on:

What is the working title of your next book?
Super Sargasso

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It's a collection of three stories: one novelette and two shorts. Two have been previously published, and I've been wanting to put the third out there for a while now. 

What genre does your book fall under?
Supernatural horror.

How long does it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Hard to say! I tend to write story drafts much more quickly than novel drafts, which makes sense. So, total first-draft time for all three together would be, maybe, two months?

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The first story, All Hope Lost, has some similarity to Charles Stross' Laundry Files books, but with a less lighthearted tone. The second story features the writings of Charles Fort, and is inspired by him. The third has more of early Stephen King vibe.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I'll go with the novellete, All Hope Lost. Janelle Monáe would make a fantastic Dana Cay.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I love reading and writing about paranormal phenomena and the Lovecraft mythos. All three stories are informed by that love.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The stories pay tribute to noir fiction, pseudo-Lovecraftian creeping horror, and Charles Fort's wonder at the world's paranormal happenings.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Three stories of supernatural horror, paranormal weirdness, and pretentious dog owners: All Hope Lost, Recondite Curiosa, and Purse Dog Apocalypse.

Tag, you're it!  Next week, check out Missy Lynn Ryan for her Next Big Thing.
EDIT: Now Shelby Patrick is in on the fun, too! I'll post again next week when Missy and Shelby have their "Next Big Things" up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New monthly feature, and other news

Good news: I've been asked to write a monthly column for Writer's Fun Zone on Writing and Fitness. My first column, Dealing with Winter Blues, is up now.

In other news, Beth Barany tagged me for The Next Big Thing. You can read more about that here, tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Roasting Coffee!

The husband and I are both coffee drinkers. He introduced me to the bean years ago, and I've been hooked ever since. While we've always bought whole-bean roasted coffee and ground it ourselves (he's a bit of a coffee snob, and he introduced me to that as well), we decided to take it one step further. So now, we're dipping our toes into roasting coffee ourselves.

Turns out it's a fairly cheap hobby to get started on. All you really need are a popcorn popper (this is the one we're using), some green (unroasted) coffee beans, a metal colander and some Mason jars for storage.

We ordered our beans from Sweet Maria's. Since we're just getting started and don't know our coffee preferences yet, we ordered the 8 lb. random sampler. About a week and a half later, we had a box full of 8 lbs. of unroasted coffee from varying parts of the globe. Eager to dive in, we picked one of the one-pound bags and got started:

It's hard to read, but this is "Java Sunda Pitaloka"
What's nice about Sweet Maria's is that you can visit their site and find out where your coffee came from. So, we measured out a little under a half a cup, per the Sweet Maria's instructional video, popped it in the popper, and started roasting.

According to their directions, coffee starts to be drinkable after approximately three minutes of roasting, once you hear the "first crack". Total roasting time, even for dark roasts, isn't supposed to be much longer than five minutes. We decided on a slightly darker roast, browning the beans until "second crack", which occurred after about three and a half minutes. We took it a few seconds longer, to about three minutes, forty seconds. Then we poured out the beans into a metal colander, shaking them to separate the chaff (and there was quite a bit of chaff). Once they cooled to room temperature, we placed the beans into a Mason jar to sit overnight. You're supposed to let the roast sit for several hours to bring out the flavor.
The final product

Next morning, Tom ground and brewed the coffee before I awoke. (Side note: apparently electric grinders, like the kind we have, are the worst for grinding coffee. They don't provide the desired uniformity of pulverization. If we progress in this hobby, we'll be investing in a burr grinder.)

What surprised me was how light/weak the roast was, compared to what we buy at the store. Granted, you're supposed to measure the grounds and water precisely, which we didn't, so I'm not sure how far we were from the "ideal" mark. The coffee was drinkable, but far too light. Next time I'm going to take the roast to about four and a half minutes and see what that does. Another fun fact: roasting coffee for different lengths of time brings out distinctive "flavor notes". I'm interested to see what a darker roast does for the flavor.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Karate and Writing

I'm guest blogging over at Writer's Fun Zone today, talking about what karate taught me about writing (and vice versa). Stop by and have a look, if you're so inclined.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Broad Universe Sampler now available

For a couple of years now, I've been a member of Broad Universe. BU is a writing community that promotes and highlights speculative fiction written by women authors. They've got a pretty impressive membership roster, consisting of both established veterans and talented newcomers.

BU has just released its 2012 Sampler. This is a collection of stories and excerpts from a wide array of Broad Universe authors. Check out the sampler and see what we're all about!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

National Novel Research Month

So, every year when Nanowrimo rolls around, it seems like it falls at the wrong time for me to do anything about it. It sneaks up all unsuspected, while I'm in the midst of another project, and I'm just not geared up to start writing something new.

Such was the case again this year. I decided, "Well, I can use this month to finish up a project I've been working on." Awkward: I just this evening finished the project. (Well, finished a dreadful draft, anyway. I have a feeling this one will never again see the light of day.)

I do have another project in the works, one I've been looking forward to for some time. Challenge: it's a historical fantasy. I know next to nothing about the historical period (or any historical period, really; history is one of my weak points). And the story involves two historical figures, who I'll be fictionalizing massively. Granted, they are fascinating figures I want to learn more about and can't wait to write about. But I'm going to have to do a ton of research before I can lay down Word One.

Inspiration strike: for me, this will be National Novel Research Month. I have a pretty good book list to guide me and am looking forward to every book on it. So my challenge for the month is to lay out my research for the new book in preparation for writing.

Stay tuned to watch my progress!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Signing at the Book Loft!

Ladies and gents,

Please join me tomorrow night for a mass author book signing at the famous Book Loft in German Village! From 6 to 8pm, I'll be signing copies of my book, Slideways, along with these other awesome folks:

Denise Verrico
Ren Garcia
Gary Wedlund
Anne Lutz

Come out and see us. We'll be handing out goodie bags!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Context 2012 schedule

Once again, the fine folks at Context have invited me to be a panelist this weekend. Here are the panels I'm part of this year:

11:00 Surviving Revisions and Edits With Only a Few Tears
4:00 Books We Read as Kids That Influence Who/What We Are Now
8:00 How Far Can You Go in Writing Before it's Porn?
9:00 Young Adult Fiction: Not for Kids Anymore

I think this is the first time I've had an all-Saturday panel schedule. On the one hand, I like that I have Friday and Sunday free to roam and soak up wisdom from our other attendees. On the other, I have a feeling I'll be feeling pretty rough by 10:00 Saturday night.

Big plus, if you just want to pick up a day pass and come out Saturday, you won't miss any of my panels!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Story Starter Sunday 6/17/12

Time for this week's Story Starter. I'm still recovering from Pride yesterday. Our group had a small float and a section behind for marchers. A couple of friends wanted to ride the float, so I decided to hop on with them. Beats walking two miles in the heat, right? Nope. For future reference, standing inside a reflective metal box in blistering sunlight for an hour and a half is no less miserable than walking in it. But we had a great time.

So, today's Story Starter. Here's what I rolled (please ignore the sideways-ness):

And here's what I came up with:

Tommy Big Oak knows that most people's shadows follow them, not the other way round. But his shadow's always leading the way. When Tommy follows close, he finds a number of mysteries: fish who teach him to open locks, and the secret code on his cell phone that can switch any light on or off, or even a whole city! And when he follows Shadow to the remnants of a fallen star, he finds a bigger mystery--a starlit path from Earth to the Moon.

Anyone else want to give it a go? It's fun!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Story Starter Sunday 6/10/12

So, this past Christmas I got a fun gift from my good friend Brian. They're called Rory's Story Cubes, and they're used for...well, lots of things. Each of the cubes (dice) shows an image, and you try to create a story from the images.

I had decided to use them as an icebreaker brainstorming exercise. Then I figured, why not share the fun? So every Sunday I'll post the arrangement of Story Cubes I've rolled this week, along with my story idea. If you come up with a different, better, funnier, etc., idea, please post it in the comments! And if you manage to get a story published based on a cube arrangement, I'd love to hear about it!

So, without further ado, here's this week's arrangement. I've already formed the cubes into idea clusters, but please don't limit yourself to my pairings:

Okay, so here's my story idea for this week: An elderly optimist who can calculate advanced mathematics using an abacus forms an unlikely friendship with a pessimistic firebug with a compulsion for destroying light bulbs. When they discover the Turtle of Chaos has a scheme to take over the world's postal service, they band together to fight the foe.

What did you come up with?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blog post and NEWS!

Two bits of news today.

First: The lovely Laura Bickle is hosting me today over at her blog, Salamander's Tales. Please stop by and share your thoughts on the relationship between reading and writing.

Second: As some of you know, my YA fantasy novel Slideways is *now available for sale*. You can purchase the print book at Amazon, B&N, and my publisher's website. You can also purchase the ebook via Smashwords.

Billy Mays Mode: In addition, I have a limited number of copies that you can purchase directly from me! I'll autograph a copy for you, your dog, Ebay, whoever you want. All for the low, low cost of $10 (plus $2 S&H). For details, shoot me an email (listed in my profile) or comment here. Note: supplies are limited, so act fast.

/Billy Mays

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cover Love!

I can finally share the preliminary cover art for Slideways! Here we go:
I love this cover! It illustrates one of my favorite scenes from the book, when Reva first connects with Darlene and discovers the truth about slideways travel. I am totally excited!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Million Short

What a cool idea for a search engine! When you type a search into Million Short, it cuts out the top million most popular sites on the web when pulling results. That way you can see what exists for your topic beyond Wikipedia. The creators describe it as more of a "discovery engine" than a search engine. One of my co-workers said it reminds them of what it was like to search the web around 1999 or so.

You can also adjust the filter so you're only cutting out the top 100,000, with levels down to cutting the top 100. Great time waster if nothing else. Anyone find anything good?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tor/Forge goes DRM free

Another publisher has realized the wisdom of removing DRM from their ebooks. According to Publisher's Marketplace, Tor/Forge is the first of the "Big Six" to make the move. Here's hoping the others follow suit.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Here are a list of my appearances so far for this year. Stop by and see me!

Millennicon: March 16-18, Cincinnati, Ohio
Marcon: April 6-8, Columbus, Ohio
Context: September 28-30, Columbus, Ohio

Millennicon's just around the corner. Also there will be Denise Verrico, head of the Central Ohio Broad Universe chapter. This will be my first year at Millennicon, so I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Slideways coming out soon!

I've been sitting on this news forever. My first novel, Slideways, will be released with Samsdot Publishing next month. I'll be posting cover art soon. So excited!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My response to a literary fiction writer

I just finished reading Andrea Grassi's post on literary writers and selling out over at Little Red Umbrella. Grassi makes the well-worn point that if literary writers want to attract more readers they should focus more on storytelling and not run away from genres. Of course, I agree with her on this.

She also points out how literary minded authors have more access to grants and seem to rely on them to finish their work. Oh, to be a writer who could rely on a grant...but I digress. Anyway, I posted a comment with my thoughts over there if anyone cares to read it.