From Writer to Author: Brass Automaton

brass-automaton-front-3Brass Automaton, which I wrote with the inestimable Mark Gardner, is going to be published on Amazon this Tuesday! (With a paperback edition to follow too!) Believe me, I will update you when I have the details on both. And, while I have a lot to say about this, before I do, there’s some context needed. If you want to skip the naval gazing, I mean context, feel free to scroll down to the the bolded section break: “TL;DR” (Spoiler alert: I’m ridiculously excited by this!)

I have been a writer far longer than I have actually wrote, which isn’t nearly as oxymoronic as it seems. I enjoyed writing in High School and College, and was always going to be a Writer “someday.” Then a whole lot of Life happened. There weren’t just months but years when I either wrote very little- or not at all. The dream of being a Writer continued, and was always just around the corner. All I would have to do is finish this one thing, take care of that other thing, and then work on this wholly other thing. Then, then I could write! As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, there is always something to do, always one more thing to take care of, always one more responsibility to attend to; always. So it was always far too easy for writing to fall by the wayside. (Along with exercise and good eating habits too, but that is another post entirely…)

Then about seven years ago I registered a domain through blogger and tried my hand at becoming a Writer, or at least what I imagined a Writer to be. While it was a decent effort, I ultimately let it go to seed, and started over here, with a little better organizing, and a far more realistic vision of what I wanted to do. While I write significantly more now, and significantly better too, I still have long dry spells since, “Life, ah, finds a way1.” And since my day job involves litigation2, often times my time, quite literally, is not my own3. This also often lead to situations that when I did finally have time to write, I was physically, mentally, and emotionally spent. So while my schedule (finally!) allowed for writing, my brain did not.

Ultimately, I managed to forge a mental barrier from this since I felt that when I did have time, I had to use it. Instead of it being an outlet then, it became “one more thing;” another stressor vying for dominance amongst a bevy of others. Fortunately, my Therapist recommended not too long ago that I reframe those thoughts into, “I get to write.” While a single word change may sound like a silly solution, it has made a huge difference. Indeed, despite of my schedule and stress, I have been far more productive of late than I have in years. I’ve also had more fun, and work has been significantly better too. (In hindsight, the Writer in me should have known the power of a word change in the final draft!)


Mark helped me get through many of the mental barriers I had to writing, not just through encouragement, but by challenging me to write with him. He started the Brass Automaton as a mashup between Terminator and Snow White, then asked if I wanted to join him in the telling of the shiny, but malevolent, mechaninations journey. After saying yes, I soon found myself writing with reckless abandon. Even though it was a helluva lot of fun, I was initially only doing one of my chapters a week. Then, within days, if not hours of my posting, Mark would drop his chapters, and I was once again in the hot seat.

Soon enough my productivity improved, not just from the friendly pressure of matching his pace, but from the challenges we were throwing down to each other with every chapter drop. The writerly equivalent of saying, “Oh yeah!? Top this!4” While I’m happy to say we were both up to each other’s challenges, it wasn’t easy. I’d think about the story as I was falling asleep thinking, now how in the Hell am I going to top that… Indeed, I was thinking this would be a nice neat story lasting about 12 chapters. I set up a nice little climactic battle and invited Mark to finish it off. Instead it became a pivotal turning point in the story and The Brass Automaton lived to fight another day. (Technically continuing to fight for many days across many time periods, in several different timelines: after all, it’s not just the Brass Automaton’s initials which are Bad Ass!) In fact Mark and I built a pretty amazing world for ourselves that’s steeped in Magick and the ramifications that follow from mucking about with time travel. (All the more when said travel includes a remorseless killing machine in special, limited edition Brass Automaton styling.)

So now, after all that fun and excitement, after all the challenges and chats I had with Mark, after overcoming doubts, negative self thoughts, and getting out of my own head; the story is complete. Not just complete, but mere days away from being published. In my own head I have always differentiated between being a Writer and being an Author. A Writer, well, Writes, but an Author, an Author sells their work. The Brass Automaton is my first foray into being an Author, and while it’s certianly not going to be my , I know it’s not just doable, but that I will do it again. Soon5. Even more importantly, I have the help of Mark’s experience, patience, and sagacity, without which it would not have happened.

Finally, while some of my giddiness has manifested itself here as silliness, my praise, and gratitude, for Mark cannot be more genuine. I really am indebted to his awesomeness, and cannot say thank you loud enough. THANK YOU MARK!

1- Tyrannosaurus Stress and the Velociraptors of Tomorrow’s Deadline would be a great, if longish, name for a band. (Seeing as how Defendant’s Seventh Amended Exhibit List and the Pterodactyl’s in limine is already taken.)
2- I may not be a lawyer, but my legal career is now old enough to drive! And, don’t tell anyone, but the drinking might have already started too…
3-I like to think of myself as Scotty; with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy metaphoring for my attorneys, opposing counsel, and the court in varying degrees and times as circumstances dictate.
4- Trust me gentle reader, you do not want to know the writerly equivalent of, “Hold my beer and watch this,” for it is never pretty, having already given us such cultural abominations as Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Donald Trump.
5- Literally. I’m doing final edits on my WIP, Time in Service, and will be querying it before the year is out! (I’m also going to be looking for some beta readers too. Ping me if you’re interested, it is SciFi Adventure and approximately 25k words.)

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