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Posts Tagged ‘Tee Morris’

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It was too good to be true… a copy of Dawn’s Early Light in my own hands… I had it for all of a few seconds before my son snapped it up out of my hands. With a stern demand in my tone and a promise to return it to his hands when I was done reading it, I soon had it back. And in my hands it stayed until I’d finished it. And smiled… and smiled… more.

The third book in the series, Dawn’s Early Light has been highly anticipated in my household and it did not disappoint! From the very opening, we are treated to action and adventure with our favorite duo, Books & Braun! Even in transit to the Americas they can’t seem to catch a break and have some peace and quiet. But if they did, they wouldn’t be our favorite agents… 😀

Arriving in America they make quick work of finding their American counterparts and getting to know one another. But of course for these two, the simple act of meeting “Wild Bill” and Felicity is entertaining and promises more fun before the end of the book. More than national pride separates the agents, competition is high, and there’s still the emotional confusion welling up within our Ministry agents. It’s all good!

Another exciting facet of the novel, the ‘tech’ in this new ‘Ministry’ book doesn’t disappoint. Wellington’s tinkering and inventive mind certainly make me smile. His continued interest, even so far away from home, was a joy! Add to it a number of other scientists we all know and love… and some perhaps on the other end of the spectrum, and the game is on!

I really appreciate the way the parallel story lines are presented. It’s easy to follow along with all the characters in the adventures covered in this volume. Even with the additional characters that are part and parcel with changing the setting in a series of books, no one seems left out or plays the part of an ‘extra.’ All the characters live and breathe within this brave ‘new world’ of Book Three!

The pacing of the book is another plus for me… the action moves things forward, the relationships and interactions of the characters move the plot along. It’s a satisfying read that clips along and builds excitement not just for the happenings in Dawn’s Early Light, but continuing on in the series.

That is one of the delights of this series. I always worry when the first two books of a series are great… I’ve been let down a few times before with other authors and other genres. So, I was very happy to read this book and know that this is a series that just keeps getting better!

Eager for more information on this amazing series, I sent a few questions to the author’s of the book.

TSD

click on this picture to visit their writing website

Q & A with the authors of Dawn’s Early Light

Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Q: Finally, the third novel in the series! What prompted the change to America instead of other places Books & Braun may have traveled?

A: Dawn’s Early Light picks up shortly after the end of The Janus Affair. Eliza has been reinstated as a Field Agent while Wellington has been “promoted” (at least on paper anyway) to be Eliza’s partner. They have been sent, strictly as advisors, to the Office of the Supernatural and Metaphysical who are on a case that has stumped the agents there. So we join our Ministry agents on a coast-to-coast adventure.

Q: Creating characters can be both exciting and stressful, taking the setting out of England, what challenge did those barbaric Americans create for you?

A: Our adventure invites the brave agents of the Office of the Supernatural and Metaphysical (OSM, or agents of “awesome”) along for the ride, and really, Felicity Lovelace and “Wild Bill” Wheatley were a joy to write against Eliza and Welly. Felicity and Bill are mirror reflections of the two of them, and sometimes Eliza and Welly don’t like what is staring back at them. It was a challenge digging deep into the American agents and poking fun at our own world personas. We had a blast mixing it up with our agents from opposite ends of the Atlantic.

Q:  Personally, I’m thrilled that Wild American West is the locale for your newest book. Wild Bill is a nickname given to a number of personages in that period of American History. Is your Wild Bill focused on one in particular, an amalgamation, or did you pull him from thin air?

A: The name “Wild Bill” I’m sure will conjure images of Bill Hickok but our “Wild Bill” is more of an appropriate reputation for a loose cannon in the Intelligence Community. Bill Wheatley is similar to Eliza in that he likes to make an impression with as much firepower as he can muster. I believe there is a bit of method to Bill’s madness, and in the end I think Eliza and Wellington both grow to like him…after a fashion.

Q: In our family, your Ministry books are shared between two generations. What do you think is key to your multi-generational appeal?

A: Spies are cool. Period. Whether it is James Bond, James West and Artemis Gordon, or the crew taking care of Warehouse 13, spies are appealing to all ages. It could be the gadgets. It could be the action and adventure. It could be the intrigue and the lifestyle, but there is something about spies that keeps all ages engaged. When you see the lines at the International Spy Museum, you really see all kinds of people anxious to see the toys and soak in the history. It’s the cloak-and-dagger that draws everybody in.

Q: Do you have plans for beyond book 4? Are there any hints you’d care to share?

A: I can’t go too much into what we’re working on with Book 4 but I will tell you this: bring a flashlight. We’re going dark.

Thanks to Pip & Tee for taking the time to answer some of my questions! Now… all I have to do is somehow WAIT for book Four.

Wait.  *tapping fingers* Hmm… *bouncing my knee up and down underneath my computer table*  “Is it done yet? Huh?”

From Ray Dean: Howdy from Hawai’i, folks! I’ve been a guest blogger on Steamed! on several occasions, but thanks to Suzanne who gave me the opportunity to do this on a regular basis. So the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month you will be subjected… err… entertained(?) by my blog posts… YOU WILL BE ENTERTAINED, I said… *cough*

Anywho… A hui hou (Until we meet again) – Ray Dean – www.raydean.net – My Ethereality

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Today we welcome writing team Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris.

Philippa Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order series with Ace- Geist and Spectyr out now, and Wrayth (2012) and Harbinger to follow. She is also the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series with Tee Morris. Phoenix Rising debuted in May 2011 and The Janus Affair will be out in May 2012. She also has the Shifted World series with Pyr Books, with the first book Hunter and Fox coming in June 2012.

Tee Morris began his writing career with his 2002 historical epic fantasy, MOREVI The Chronicles of Rafe & Askana. He won acclaim and accolades for his cross-genre fantasy-detective Billibub Baddings Mysteries, the podcast of The Case of the Singing Sword winning him the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Audio Drama. Along with those titles, Tee has written articles and short stories for BenBella Books’s Farscape Forever: Sex, Drugs, and Killer Muppets, the podcast anthology VOICES: New Media Fiction, BenBella Books’ So Say We All: Collected Thoughts and Opinions of Battlestar Galactica, and Dragon Moon Press’ Podthology: The Pod Complex.

Collaboration: An Art within the Art

By Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

People are fascinated by how the two of us managed to write Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair, as well as pen several short stories for our podcast series, Tales from the Archives. The questions range between “How did you manage to keep your continuity straight?” to “How did you two manage not to kill one another?” Collaboration is a risk for publishers and, sometimes, for readers as the end result can be jarring when switching from one chapter to another. The running complaint for many collaborative works tends to be that the two-featured authors cannot effectively mesh their styles.

Somehow, we manage to avoid that pitfall. Exactly how do we do that?

We begin with an understanding that this book will not be a novel by Tee Morris and not by Pip Ballantine, but a novel written by the both of us. That means the style might have moments of Pip and moments of Tee, but a voice and a style completely different. This hybrid style is born from trust. If you were to talk to other collaborative teams, you will find that alongside communication, trust is an essential ingredient in a successful collaboration. We trust each other, not only in the way we write but in the way we plan and the ways we want to progress our plots forward.

From the trust also comes the faith in giving each other’s work a good, hard editorial eye. This is when the hybrid style matures. After Pip writes her scene, Tee steps in and begins an edit for not only grammatical and typographical slips, but also peppers throughout his own trademarks and touches. The same rule applies for Tee’s work when it comes under Pip’s red pen, and between each of our passes, this new voice emerges and the story begins to unfold.

Communication is also key in a successful shared story. To use a steampunk analogy, harbored grievances between authors are a bit like boilers building pressure. If you don’t release that valve, even slowly, you have a bomb on your hands; and when it blows, the damage isn’t pretty: Plot twists and characters flaws strewn across the furniture, and cliffhangers that — no matter how hard you clean — will never come out of the carpet. Yes, maybe relieving the tension is noisy and uncomfortable but in the end, that essential communication can save a story and (in some cases) a writing relationship. When collaborating with friends, family, and loved ones, keep the communication solid. If your communication falters, your trust soon follows.

These factors are all part of a successful collaboration, but they are also building blocks for any creative endeavor, whether you are sharing a byline or flying solo. How so? At the time of this posting, we are about to head up to Pennsylvania to shoot our book trailer. This time around, our trailer is calling on the talents of a cast of six, the resources of Brute Force Studios, and the filmmaking talents of our friend, Linc Williams. The brainstorming, the writing, and—across four days—the visual creativity of Linc, Thomas Willeford, and the two of us will come to fruition through six actors who have never worked together before and, in a few cases, never worked on camera before. We’ve been swapping emails, tweets, and text messages for weeks now; and in the final two weekends of April, it’s all coming together.

Trust.

Communication.

Faith.

Sound familiar?

Collaboration can yield amazing things, and while you may have a book under one person’s name, don’t forget that within those words, within those chapters of narrative, struggle, drama, and revelation, there is an editor offering an objective look, a proofreader attempting to catch any of the typos that may have missed the editorial passes, a designer that gives the book’s interior a flair and a polish, and a cover artist that makes people stop to look. It may vary from publish to publisher, but we believe that The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels have been—from the beginning—true success stories from the beginning. From our writing, to the editorial and creative staff of HarperVoyager, to the marketing team of HarperCollins, to the amazing writers invited to podcast with us in Tales from the Archives, to the filmmaking talents of Bald Groove, The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences may have taken its first steps with us, but became a flash mob of epic proportions through trust, communication, and faith in some truly inspiring individuals. Consider the words of actor, producer, and director Kenneth Branagh when he was asked what his secret was in creating successful films: “Surround yourself with people more brilliant than yourself.”

We did, and now we’re headed up to Pennsylvania to step through a steampunk looking glass.

Shall we dance?

–Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com/

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Tee Morris began his writing career with his 2002 historical epic fantasy, MOREVI The Chronicles of Rafe & Askana. In 2005 Tee took MOREVI into the then-unknown podosphere, making his novel the first book podcast in its entirety. That experience led to the founding of Podiobooks.com and collaborating with Evo Terra and Chuck Tomasi on Podcasting for Dummies and its follow-up, Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies. He won acclaim and accolades for his cross-genre fantasy-detective Billibub Baddings Mysteries, the podcast of The Case of the Singing Sword winning him the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Audio Drama. Along with those titles, Tee has written articles and short stories for BenBella Books’s Farscape Forever: Sex, Drugs, and Killer Muppets, the podcast anthology VOICES: New Media Fiction, BenBella Books’ So Say We All: Collected Thoughts and Opinions of Battlestar Galactica, and Dragon Moon Press’ Podthology: The Pod Complex.  When he is not writing, Tee enjoys life in Virginia alongside Philippa Ballantine, his daughter, and five cats (3 female, 2 males). Considering the male-to-female ratio in his house, Tee understands how General Custer felt near his end.

 

Foggy Goggles:  The Problem with Steampunk Sub-genres

by Tee Morris

When reading a recent blogpost from the Parasol Protectorate’s Gail Carriger, I felt my hackles rise. They stood a hint taller when I followed a link to The Steampunk Scholar who gives an in-depth look at what I believe to be the silliest trend currently running amuck in steampunk. The gist of both posts is that Gail’s New York Times bestselling series really shouldn’t be considered “Steampunk” but a softer cousin of the genre — “Bustlepunk.” Gail, as she is a class act, opens her commentary on this as follows:

I tend to not weigh in, Gentle Reader, on the controversial subject of bustlepunk, and prefer to let the experts argue amongst themselves as to whether my books are officially steampunk… Since Soulless came out in 2009 I have obeyed to the letter the old Internet adage “do not engage.”

I admit—I’m a new kid in the community. I know this. It was only in March of this year when I (with Pip Ballantine) stepped fully into the fray. Our first steps into steampunk were with the launch of a steampunk podcast anthology. We followed this first step with our second step — the book, Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel, now just over two months old.

And yet, reading both of the earlier cited columns, I’m asking the same question:

Bustlepunk?

Seriously?

Seriously?!

With the accomplishments Gail has achieved with the Parasol Protectorate series, I’m stunned that there are Steampunk SMOFs (Secret Masters/Mistresses of Fandom) who believe she doesn’t write steampunk on account of — as described by Gail herself — her books being unabashedly frivolous and fun. “Of course that can’t be steampunk!” these SSMOFs trumpet from pulpits on high. “We must give it its own classification — bustlepunk! Yes! That’s it! Bustlepunk! The softer side of nitty, gritty, icky, grimy, and dirty steampunk!”

Yes, I’m the new guy, but I’m just going to say it — Enough with the sub-genres!

It’s not just bustlepunk (and yes, every time I say that word, a kitten dies) that I speak of. It’s all of these contrived sub-genres that are cropping up in order to distinguish themselves from “true” steampunk. I first discovered this segregation when explaining to a curious bystander what steampunk was. When asked for some examples from film and television, I went with a favorite example: Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang.

One of the steampunks in our group turned to me and said:

 “Well, Tee, Chitty Chitty, Bang Bangis more dieselpunk.”

Not only was the steam-curious furrowing his brow at that, so was I. Dieselpunk? What the hell is dieselpunk?

The hair-splitting continued, particularly at WorldCon 68, when I heard bandied about the other “just-like-steampunk-but-different” sub-genres:

  • Sailpunk
  • Sandalpunk
  • Ricepunk
  • Atompunk
  • Teslapunk
  • Stonepunk (No kidding — Stonepunk. Think The Flintstones.)

To those in the mainstream struggling to understand what steampunk is, dropping sub-genres like these only muddy the boiler’s water, making for a really poor performance and a bad stink coming from your analytical engine’s exhaust.

So if this rule of “a case of the whimsies” applies and Gail Carriger therefore doesn’t write steampunk, then you better tell Kaja and Phil Foglio they aren’t writing steampunk either. And someone call The League of S.T.E.A.M. They are having their steampunk card revoked, regardless of their delightfully witty writing and artistic direction.

And while you’re at it — best proceed with caution when reading Phoenix Rising. Between the explosions and intrigue, our whimsies are strong.

Part of what appeals to me (and, I imagine, outsiders of the steampunk circles) with this Science Fiction sub-genre is the passion, wit, and downright cleverness and creativity of “what could be.”  From the possibilities K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock first envisioned back in the late-1980’s came a “future-that-never-was” along with a wide definition of what steampunk is all about. When Pip and I attended The 2011 Steampunk World’s Fair, we were struggling not to gawk and gape at what people defined as steampunk, but never did I hear anyone describe someone’s outfit as being a great ricepunk outfit or how their elaborate cannon and teapot was an amazing dieselpunk creation. And when I saw rayguns of Grordbortian inspiration, never did the term retropunk ever bandy about people’s lips. What we were a part of was a celebration of ingenuity and do-it-yourself technology with style. It wasn’t about the niche you fit into, but what you as an artist were defining as steampunk.

Now as steampunk begins to approach mainstream in its appeal, we as writers, costumers, and artisans of various media should stop and ask ourselves how wise it is to search for that magic genre we fit in. If we are not edgy enough are we merely writing bustlepunk? (And there goes another kitten…) If we decide to set our steampunk in Calcutta, have we ventured into currypunk? What if our steampunk traces its true origins back to the earlier era of the Restoration? Do we dare explore the possibilities of powderpunk?

How silly can this hair-splitting get?

Steampunk is more than an era, more than Victorian London, and far more than the technology of Babbage taken to a higher plane. Steampunk is a celebration of what you can accomplish when your heart and your imagination is behind it. It is adventure. It is wonder. It is, as Nathan Fillion’s Richard Castle so eloquently puts it, “…a subculture that embraces the simplicity and romance of the past but at the same time couples it with the hope and promise and sheer super coolness of futuristic design.”

Not ricepunk.

Not retropunk.

And certainly not bustlepunk.

This is steampunk.

Let’s keep our sights on what we do together, not searching for our own little niches. That way, we are better artists, a stronger community, and an artistic movement that changes perspectives.

-Tee Morris

http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com

http://teemorris.com/

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First off, we have three copies of Tim Akers Horns of Ruin to give away. 

Gail Gray

Giada M.

Tina

Congrats!  Please email me at suzannelazear (@) hotmail to claim your prize.  Didn’t win?  We still have up for grabs a book by YA author Ren Cummins, a prize pack of goodies including a copy of Blameless and a fan autographed by Gail Carriger, and your choice of one of Leanna Renee Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful books. 

Today we welcome Steampunk author Philippa Ballantine. 

Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the co-author with Tee Morris of Phoenix Rising: a Ministry of Peculiar Occurrence novel coming out soon from Harper Voyager. It contains airships, archives and large amounts of derry-doing. Find out more at ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com

 Steampunk and gadgets and gears. Oh my!

By Philippa Ballantine

One of my favourite quotes about our upcoming book is from Warp Core Sci-Fi If James Bond wore a corset and drank Earl Grey it might be something like the adventures in Phoenix Rising.

The joy of gadgetry that can be found in the Bond movies is something that my co-author Tee Morris and I wanted to include in our series—after all we too are writing about a government organization, even if it is one in the nineteenth century rather than the twenty-first. So the tech support that Q gave the secret agents in MI5 might well be found in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—but powered by boilers and steam. Interestingly, since the term boffin wasn’t coined until much later, we invented a term for those that make gizmos—we called them clankertons.

Steampunk is a rising genre in fiction that can be dark and dystopian, or fun and optimistic. It can be set in the Victorian age, or on a distant planet—it doesn’t really matter. Steampunk is about many things, but above all its trademark is technology powered by steam—often fantastical and improbable. One thing that is constant however is the gadgets. Some are be used to keep humanity oppressed, others are just loads of fun.

For example a steam-powered listening device is in the Ministry’s arsenal. It’s larger than our own modern devices, but looks a lot more amazing, with valves and brass. It’s also far larger, which gives our agents some difficulty getting it into the opera.

A joy of working in steampunk as an author, is that you can get inspiration from things that might have been and imagining what might of happened if they had been made. A particular favorite machine in the genre is Charles Babbage’s difference engine. This device was made in the first half of the nineteenth century and was a mechanical calculator. However, one device that Babbage never got the funding to build was the analytical engine. This would have been a mechanical general-purpose computer, and could have been revolutionary for Queen Victoria’s empire.  Steampunk often takes this particular device and plays with what the resulting social and political change might have been. In our novel, it is used by the Archivist of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences to keep track of the files…and also to make a spiffing cup of tea.

Research into the time period often throws up remarkable inventions that you might not know even existed, and giving them just a little ramp up. Before setting forth on this adventure I was not aware that there was in fact something called a steam-powered motor-bike. The sequel to Phoenix Rising has our heroine racing through the English countryside on a souped up version of what actually existed. Indeed, the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can be counted as steampunk because of that particularly amazing car.

Finally, as an author you can just let your imagination take flight in steampunk. Just create devices out of wild and fun imaginings. Automatons, of the clockwork or steam variety, are a staple gadget of the genre. For example Paul Guinan’s Boilerplate is about a steam powered robot and his adventures with famous people of the era. Inserting this comical looking robot into historical pictures eventually lead to it becoming a book and optioned by JJ Abrams to be a movie. Not bad at all for a collection of pistons and boilers.

Gizmos, gadgets, the wild and the possible all embroider the steampunk world of fiction. They provide a vital ingredient of ‘what if’ and twist the history of the Victorian era into all kinds of interesting shapes. They can also be jolly good fun!

 

 ~Philippa Ballantine

http://www.pjballantine.com/

What are your favorite Steampunk gadgets?

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