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Friday Link Pack 05/22/2015

It has been a week in the Alexander household and I am so glad today is Friday! That means it is time for the Friday Link Pack where I share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…


To Win Big, You Have To Enter The Race
I thought this was a fantastic bit of encouragement for anyone who is struggling with their writing. The quote from Kevin J. Anderson really rang true to me: “If you want to attract lightning, be a lightning rod.” Work hard and keep at it, you got this.

The Master Outline
What do the YA novels Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone, Twilight, and The Hunger Games have in common? The Better Novel Project lays it out in this enormous outline that somehow works for each of them. [Thanks to Christine for finding this, very cool.]

Pros And Cons Of Being An Indie Author
Novelist Joanna Penn lays out the good and the bad of going it on your own. If you’re unsure of the direction you want to go, I recommend starting here.

Red Litten World Cover Reveal Is Coming June 4th
Hold on to your butts. The cover for the third installment of my Bell Forging Cycle is being revealed in a few weeks. Those readers who subscribe to my newsletter will get to see it a few days before it’s posted. Make sure you sign up today →


The Art Of Syd Bee
Seattle-based painter and illustrator Syd Bee, is doing the cover for my upcoming fantasy novel (which I am still being coy about). However, I want to introduce her work to my audience and what better way to start than using the link pack! Check her work out and expect to see more around here in the days to come.

Classic Art Heroes In Modern Day Situations
Artist Alexey Kondakov takes characters from classical paintings and photoshops them into scenes we tend to take for granted. The result… well, you’ll just have to find out…

Poll Finds 1 in 25 US Citizens Unsure If They Own Art
Question: Do you own any paintings, sculptures, or other art works?
Answer: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


In Flight
In this article from the New York Times, we get a pilot’s perspective en route from London to Tokyo. A great read.

23 Brilliant Life Lessons From Anthony Bourdain
I love Anthony Bourdain, I like his honesty, his candidness, and his no-nonsense approach to life and writing. (If you haven’t, go read Kitchen Confidential you’ll thank me later.) So yeah, I think these little bits of wisdom are great.

When The Victorians Used Microscopic Photography To Look At Porn
But yeah, the headline. Victorians hid naughty imagery viewable only with a magnifying glass inside random gadgets. This was a thing they did. [Warning: Saucy Victorian Nudity.]

NASA Captures Best Photo Yet Of Strange Lights On Dwarf Planet Ceres
Something shiny is on the surface of Ceres, the tiny dwarf planet that orbits with the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. But what could it be…

Random Wikipedia Article of the Week:

Rural Purge [Nice find from my friend, Jedrek.]

“The “rural purge” of American television networks (in particular CBS) was a series of cancellations between 1969 and 1972 of still popular rural-themed shows with demographically skewed audiences, the majority of which occurred at the end of the 1970–71 television season.”

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Little Glass Bottle
A short story that serves as an illustration showing us that that not every idea is a good one.

Gif of the Week:

Friendship. :' )

Friday Link Pack - 11/14/14

Friday Link Pack – 11/14/14

Friday is here! That means it’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know! All right, let’s get to it.

Old Broken Road:

Happy One Month Birthday Old Broken Road!
My latest novel, Old Broken Road, is now one month old and it’s getting great reviews. Pick up your copy and tell your friends!

What Are Readers Saying About Old Broken Road?
Reviews are starting to come in and they’re looking really good. In this post I highlight some of my favorite quotes. I’m flattered and really happy to hear everyone is enjoying it so much.


Amazon & Hachette End Dispute Over Online Book Sales
Finally! Let’s all get back to writing rad stuff now. Okay?

Amazon Beats Google & Wins Rights To The New gTLD .Book
Amazon now controls the generic top level domain .book and I’m curious to see what they do with it. It’s an interesting turn of events, but not that surprising based on Amazon’s positioning.

Who Said It, James Joyce Or Kool Keith
My friend Evan shared this with me and it’s not only hilarious but way more challenging than I expected. I ended up getting 6/10, my friend Dawn got 9/10! How’d you do?

Killing The Sacred Cows Of Indie Publishing: I Have To Sell Books Quickly
In this article author Dean Wesley Smith talks about book sales and speed and expectation vs. reality. Totally agree with him but it’s nice to be reminded. (Thanks to Lauren for sharing.)


The Work Of Christian Rex Van Minnen
Take a dash of realism, a bit of Salvador Dali, and part Pablo Picasso and you’d be close to describing the work of Christian Rex Van Minnen. It’s very very cool, and somewhat disturbing. (Thanks to Kari-Lise for the tip.)

This animated video from Rino Stefano Tagliafierro takes classical paintings and adds subtle pans and animations. The result is… well, beauty.

Illustrated Famous Movies With One Letter Removed
Illustrator takes famous movies, removes a single letter, and illustrates the results. The result is fantastic visions of cinema like Obocop and Aging Bull.


Rosetta Photo Gallery
This week humanity landed a probe on a comet, which itself is an incredible feat. Now we’re just now starting to see what a comet looks like up close. The Rosetta mission has this incredible photo gallery showing what the Philae probe is seeing.

The World’s Worst Playgrounds Are Where Fun Goes To Die
Ummm… so these are terrifying.

Ghostly Ship Graveyards From Around the World
Last year io9 gathered these haunting and eerie photos of ship graveyards from around the world. After looking through these images I feel like I need to re-up my tetanus booster.

10 Commandments For Con Men
Lists of Note shares notorious con man “Count” Victor Lustig’s advice for the up and comer. (Thanks to Steve who shared this with me forever ago.)

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Descendant
This story fragment follows the “harmlessly mad” Londoner who is confronted with a copy of the Necronomicon.

Gif of the Week:

Despite all my rage, I am still just Nicholas Cage.

Exclusivity Is Bad: Why My Books Won’t Be On Kindle Unlimited

You won’t find The Stars Were Right as a part of Kindle Unlimited, at least not for now. Currently, for indie authors to be able to offer their books through Kindle Unlimited the book needs to be enrolled in KDP Select which requires exclusivity with Amazon (you can see Amazon’s FAQ on KDP Select here). I recently wrote at length on the benefit of remaining platform agnostic; it’s something I fully believe in and I will continue to do what I can to make sure all my readers have full access to my books on the platform of their choice. So, until the requirement of exclusivity is lifted, no Kindle Unlimited for me.

I could write more on the topic, but instead of repeating what others have written I’d rather direct you to these fantastic articles by a few talented authors who sum up my feelings pretty well:

[UPDATE] Since there’s been some confusion I’ve gone ahead and added a few inline comments. I want to make sure I clarify my stance on KU and why I linked the following articles.

  • Hugh Howey: It’s 2011 All Over Again
    [!] I agree with Mr. Howey that there isn’t anything to fear from KU. It’s simply another channel Amazon is trying. However, I still believe that exclusivity is bad for the reader. Hopefully Amazon will lift the KDP Select requirement for KU like they did for the Lending Library.
  • Chuck Wendig: To Kindle Unlimited, and Beyond
    [!] My knee-jerk reaction was to initially compared this to Spotify as well, but Mr. Wendig is right, this isn’t Spotify. I did think Wendig’s thoughts about author’s gaming the system were good ones and something to consider.
  • Michael Sullivan: Kindle Unlimited’s Two-Tier System Makes Some Authors Second-Class Citizens
    Mr. Sullivan goes into details about how authors are able to get their books into KU, including KDP Select, special author’s who are allowed to enroll without the “exclusive” restriction (Howey), and specific licensing deal (Happy Potter.) I also found it interesting that there were a few books enrolled without consent (Hunger Games.) I felt Sullivan’s thoughts about this potentially creating a tier system among indie authors were valid and should be shared.

[!] I hope these updates have helped clarify my position. I’m not worried about KU upsetting the balance of indie authorship or effecting the changes we’ve been seeing in publishing over the last few years. I do find it unfortunate that Amazon is forcing most indie authors into exclusivity for the sake of acceptance into a new (and potentially lucrative) sales channel. In my mind that’s not fair to readers.

Friday Link Pack 07/18/14

Happy Friday! It’s time to share a few interesting links I have found throughout the week. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know!


Interruptions Are Even Worse Than We Thought
We’ve suspected it for a while, but researchers are discovering proof that interruption is bad… and it’s especially bad for writers.

July 2014 Author Earnings Report
The always fascinating report from the crew over at AER. Worth a read. Loads of info: DRM vs. non-DRM titles, the myth of the bodice ripper, and more.

Are There Still Pros To Traditional Publishing?
Writing coach and author Brooke Warner discusses 5 pros for sticking with traditional publishing, everything from the partnership, to the end product’s quality, to distribution benefits.

Are There 5 Reasons To Stick With Major Publishers? No, There Are 0 Reasons
Ghost writer and author Michael Levin takes on the reasons laid out by Brooke Warner in the aforementioned article and makes his claim as to why there are actually zero reasons to stick with major publishers.

The Good Stuff Stays
In case you missed it make sure to check out this 2012 Q&A session with Stephen King. Some really good insight into his process, his ideas, screenwriting, Lovecraft, and a lot more.


You love the summer. You love monsters. Kaijuly is a month for monsters! All this month comic book artist Josh Montreuil and friends have been posting daily illustrations for a project they’re calling Kaijuly. Make sure you check out the tag on Tumblr and Twitter.

Kiddie Arts
Dutch muralist Telmo Pieper takes adorable drawings that he drew as a 4-year-old and recreates them. The results are equal parts fascinating, adorable, and terrifying.

Is Fan Art Illegal?
The short answer: yes, and comic book artists should be wary. However, we have seen time and again that brands that crack down on fan art actually hurt themselves in the long run. (When it comes to my own work, please fan art away. Make that Waldo Bell fan art. Sell it! I think it’d be awesome. I am totally 100% okay with it. I will never ask anyone to stop. Also, let me know when you do! I even highlight it on Pinterest!)


Buy A Lighthouse
Looking for a cheap getaway to avoid interruption and work on your book? Why not a Lighthouse!? (It might need a bit of work.)

The Cargo Ship Whose Hull Is A Giant Sail
A Norwegian engineer redesigns the cargo ship to utilize it’s hull as an aid to propulsion. The future is awesome.

The Lost City Of Heracleion
6.5 kilometres off Alexandria’s coastline lies the submerged Egyptian city of Heracleion. The Ancient Egyptian version of Venice perhaps?

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Colour Out Of Space
A meteorite crash lands in a rural Massachusetts farm. Shortly thereafter strange occurrences begin: vegetables grows to enormous sizes but are tasteless, animals are deformed into terrible shapes, and ever so slowly the residents go insane one by one.

Farewell Gif of the Week:

Doin' The Pigeon

The King Ain’t Dead

The King Ain't Dead
If anything tragic has come from the Hachette/Amazon fight it’s been the fracturing of the writing community as a whole. While neither side is disclosing details we know the argument is centered around e-book pricing. As far as I can tell Amazon wants to charge what it wants at retail, and Hachette is demanding they follow their MSRP. Amazon has responded by inserting artificial purchase delays into the book buying process, and as a result Hachette will see a slump in sales. The LA Times has a good (if not somewhat biased) write up on the whole situation, if you’re not caught up you can check it out here.

Among authors new lines are being drawn in the sand. Some folks are calling for unions. Others are filling out petitions. We have authors like David Baldacci, Donna Tartt, and James Patterson taking sides with publishers and indie powerhouses like Hugh Howey, J. A. Konrath, and Barry Eisler siding with Amazon. Recently Amazon has tried to sway the Hachette authors by offering them 100% of their ebook commissions while the dispute continues—an offer Hachette rejected. This offer was quickly dismissed by Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild because it “encourages authors to take sides against their publishers.” Even Stephen Colbert is getting involved. Long story short: the whole thing is a mess and it’s getting messier.

Because, Reasons

Obviously we can all see where everyone is coming from: the authors we see choosing sides have skin in the game. Hachette and other big publishers have helped make Baldacci, Tartt, and Patterson very successful through traditional avenues while Amazon has allowed guys like Howey, Konrath, and Eisler to reach their audiences in new and exciting ways. The reasoning from each side makes sense and there’s a knee jerk reaction in all of us to defend the platform which has empowered our success. But author’s joining sides in a fight over positioning and distribution seems like a waste of time when, in reality, the platform doesn’t matter, it’s content that does.

Content Is Born Platform Agnostic

At our core author’s are content creators, and content reigns supreme. The beauty of our creation is it can (and should) live anywhere. With the arrival of eReaders, smartphones, tablets, and print-on-demand services it has only gotten easier for our readers to access the content we produce in a format of their choice. If one distribution channel disappears there are literally hundreds of other ways for readers to get ahold of the content they want, and there are more opening every day. It’s important to do what we can to embrace those new platforms, after all do you care how a reader reads your book? No. You just want them to read it and enjoy it.

Problems arise when an author isn’t the sole owner of their content, when they allow another company to control distribution, and that company refuses to be platform agnostic. Sometimes this is advantageous for the author: they get a big advance, they don’t have to hire a freelance editor, they don’t have to worry about cover art, and someone else handles promotion, etc. If that’s what they want, then by all means go for it, there’s certainly a lot to be said for removing all those extra distractions and focusing only on your art but making that decision does come with a cost. We’re seeing that cost first hand in the Amazon/Hachette dispute.

Long Live The King

Unfortunately, this fight isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon, and this won’t be the last time this happens. These sort of disputes have happened before, they’ll continue to happen. Locking oneself into one camp or the other feels like a mistake. If you’re willing to do the work try to remaining as agile as possible. It is beneficial for not only you, but also for your readers, and the content you create.

Those of us on the sidelines who aren’t getting involved, who are focused on our craft, and watching this all play out without picking sides, we’re the real winners. Platforms change, and there’s always something new that we don’t see coming. Amazon is a significant portion of my own sales, but Hachette and Amazon could disappear tomorrow and I know something else will step in and fill the space they’d leave behind. History sides with those who are prepared to take advantage of whatever is next.

In the end your book doesn’t care where it lives, and readers rarely care how they get your book, they just want to be able to acquire it as easily as possible. Who ever wins this fight won’t matter because, in the long run, as Bill Gates wrote in 1996: “content is king.” That puts content creators in a good position, so, long live the king.

The “Old Broken Road” Cover Reveal!

Let’s cut to the chase; as promised here’s your first glance at the cover for Old Broken Road, the sequel to The Stars Were Right:

Old Broken Road

Caravan master Waldo Bell faces a new horror, one year after his experiences in The Stars Were Right. Wal and his friends make a desperate decision that sends them on a journey down the Broken Road, where death and madness await. There they fight for sanity and survival as a crawling chaos hunts for new victims.

I am really proud of this one. There’s a lot of similarities between this and The Stars Were Right and a lot of subtle nuances that help set it apart. As a result it helps unify the series while still keeping each individual story separate. They also look really good next to one another.

Once again, a huge thanks to Jon Contino for his help with the lettering. Jon is a master at hand lettering and has done work for Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, The National, and brands like Ford, Jameson, and Nike. I’m honored he was willing to help me out with these covers. In my opinion, his lettering is what carries the tone. You should check out more of his work over at his site.

As with The Stars Were Right I’m using an old etching by Gustav Doré as the background. I have always been a fan of Doré’s work. His attention to detail is amazing for etching. There’s something masterful in his approach. If you want to see the full piece: “Rizpah’s Kindness toward the Dead” you can check it out over at Wikimedia.

Let me know what you think of the cover in the comments! Old Broken Road is due out later this year and will be available in trade paperback and on all eReader devices. Sign up for my newsletter and be one of the first to know when it launches!