Friday, October 21, 2011

New Interview with The Red Penny Papers

The publishers of my latest short story "Iron Jack" - The Red Penny Papers - recently interviewed me for their site. It's a brief, mini-size Q&A, and a large part of it covers how I approach songwriting as an opportunity to tell stories.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Be a Blockhead

A million years ago - more like 15, but who's counting? - I used to do some work for theater groups, mainly graphic design and sound stuff. Being around productions exposed me to a lot of physical methods of making writing come alive (which of course is what a play is).

One of the terms I still carry with me from those days is "blocking".

A play is largely dialogue, so to prevent each scene from becoming a series of "talking heads", each person should be assigned an action or a change of stage location. In essence, the director of a play blocks out the movements of each actor to keep things dynamic. It's literally, "You say this line over here, then pick up this object and move over there. In the meantime, the soldiers will enter from the right and draw their swords. Then you'll approach them and begin your speech." The set and stage are used as much as possible to convey the dialogue and keep the audience's focus moving and engaged.

Now once the scene is blocked, the actors need visual reminders for each position. Directors will have their stage managers apply multi-colored tape markers on the stage, a stagecraft technique called "spiking". These provide visual "marks" on the otherwise black stage floor which actors use to know where to move or stand. Ever heard the term, "Hitting the mark"? You can thank spiking in part for its popularity.

This overall concept can easily be applied to writing fiction. When I write, I try to envision myself as that play director. I have actors, I have a script, and I have a setting filled with any prop I can conjure up. How do I take advantage of all these elements? How do I make them all work together to get the message across and allow the reader to visualize this scene.

Example: I just thought up a brief two character dialogue scene set in a kitchen. How do I make use of the surroundings?

Well, I think about one thing people usually do when they work together in a cramped kitchen: they pass things back and forth. First, the passing will make things a little more energetic. Second, whatever they're passing has to spur the dialogue along.

Here's a possible take on the scene, stripped to just action and dialogue in a play-like format.


Sarah (chopping veggies): "Yeah, I can't believe he's going out with that... that... her."
Lisa: "I know, right? Hey, pass me that cleaver."
Sarah (grabs the cleaver from the knife block, but before she passes it on, starts talking and waving the thing around in exasperation): "She's just such an insufferable, manipulative bitch. I swear to God, the next time I see her I'm going to-"
Lisa (eyebrow cocked): "Sarah."
Sarah: "What?"
Lisa (holds out her hand): "The cleaver. I'd rather not have to testify at your trial."
Sarah (eyes the cleaver, and then meekly passes it on): "Uh, yeah. Good idea."
Lisa (starts hacking away at the meat, shaking her head): "You know the ol' saying: Friends don't let friends go to prison for murdering insufferable bitches."


I thought about the knife block, and how angry people shouldn't handle knives. What to do... what to do... Oh yeah! Put the biggest knife available in the hands of an angry woman. :) And the rest of the example kind of wrote itself.

So, turn on the lights, draw the curtains, whip out the gaffer's tape, and cue the actors. Go set your stage and throw some actors on there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

'Iron Jack' Published in Red Penny Papers

It's a pleasure to announce my newest steampunk story "Iron Jack" has been published by The Red Penny Papers. Their first anniversary issue includes five new tales of horror and fantasy, and is available online by clicking the cover image below.

The story itself is a dark, sexually-charged tale about a Victorian man whose life is upended by a machine.

I'd love to hear what you think of it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

'Steamlust' animated film released!

Nikki Magennis has created a terrific short animated film promoting a steamy new anthology of steampunk erotica titled "Steam Lust". The film is equal parts cheeky and charming, and is slightly NSFW due to some of the naughty bits.

I especially enjoyed the caravan at 1:00. There's so much going on. I love how the trapeze artists get… stuck. :)

I was honored that she chose my song Marrakesh off the album Bring the Rain for the soundtrack. She uses it to wonderful effect.

The film was put together using paper cut outs and a light table. For a detailed look into how the film was made, visit Nikki's blog at: One look at her workstation gives you an idea of just how much work was put into this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dragon*Con Highlights!

So many amazing people. So much fun. It's hard to put it all into words, so I'll just hit the highlights.


  • Being on the Mechanical Melodies panel with Hellblinki, Frenchy and the Punk, Valentine Wolfe, Clockwork Cabaret, and Doctor Q. We had a great audience that asked some very pointed questions that kept things going.

  • Frenchy and the Punk laying down the law at the Time Traveler's Ball.

  • Shatner. Nuff said.

  • Meeting Felicia Day and giving her a copy of "Until the End".

  • The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's performance, especially their interpretation of Lovecraft's "The Music of Erich Zann" featuring the otherworldly live music of Ghosts Project.

Below are some of my photos from the 8 different bands I saw.

For the full sets, click here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dragon*Con: I'll be on These Panels

Dragon*Con 2011 approaches! This year I have been invited to be a panelist on three separate discussions on the Alternate History Track - aka The Steampunk track. And I'll be attending many of the other panels as well.

Thank you to Cindy MacLeod for putting this all together!

I hope to see you there!


9/2/11 Friday 2:30 PM - Applied Science of Steampunk.
Steampunk is largely about our interaction with technology, and in this panel we’ll discuss how to use that technology in your props, sculptures, or vehicles to make things that really work!

PANELISTS: Austin Sirkin (moderator), the League of STEAM, Mark Rossmore


9/3/11 Saturday 5:30 PM - Mechanical Melodies: A Steampunk Music Roundtable (Atlanta EFGH Ballroom, 7th Floor).
Join a salon of musicians & DJs as they debate what makes a band or song steampunk and discuss the music scene of the subculture’s past & future.

PANELISTS: Abney Park, Hellblinki Sextet, Frenchy and the Punk, Emmett Davenport, Mark Rossmore, Doctor Q (moderator)


9/5/11 Monday 10 AM - The Victorian Spacesuit.
Was the steam age technology of Victorian England capable of producing a working spacesuit?

PANELISTS: Hugh S. Gregory, Richard Jakiel, Mark Rossmore


I will have CDs on hand if you'd like to purchase one directly.