Friday Link Pack 12/04/2015

Friday Link Pack 12/04/2015

It’s Friday! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack, my weekly post covering topics such as writing, art, current events, and random weirdness. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you 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…


The Most Misread Poem in America
Everyone knows Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken, and everyone (from commercial marketers to college professors) heralds it as some anthem to self-assertion and individualism, but that isn’t what the poem is about at all. Unsurprisingly, everyone gets it wrong.

Are We Alone?
In his short talk UC San Diego, Author Jeff Vandermeer explores the ideas surrounding the stories we tell as we search for something alien outside of humanity and how fiction and science approach such speculation. [Big thanks to Steve Toutonghi for sharing this with me. Loved it.]

[NSFW] Bad Sex Award 2015: The Contenders In Quotes
Every year the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction celebrates the worst in purple prose, and they’re always hilariously bad. Also very not safe for work, so read at your own risk. This year’s list includes the likes of Morrissey (yes, the one from The Smiths), Erica Jong,  Lauren Groff, and more.

NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?
My piece from last year discussing your options as a writer now that you have finished your NaNoWriMo manuscript. Where do you go from here? What should you do with you 40k words? I offer some ideas.

The State Of The Cycle
In which I discuss where things stand with my series, The Bell Forging Cycle, and where things are going as I move forward.


Kari-Lise’s Annual Art for Everyone Sale
My incredibly talented wife and partner Kari-Lise Alexander is having a sale. From now through Christmas she has original works and studies, prints, jewelry, and even ornaments available. It’s some really wonderful stuff. If you’re looking for something beautiful and unique, I encourage you to check out her store. (I also featured one of her pieces as today’s header image.)

The 15,000-Year History of a River in Oregon Rendered in Data
Cartographer Dan Coe has taken thousands of years of data on the shifting flow of the Willamette River in Orgon and rendered a map that is educational and absolutely beautiful.

New Animated Portraits by Romain Laurent
I love when a technology becomes an art form, and we’ve been seeing it with animated gifs for a while now. In these animated and looping portraits, Romain Laurent takes still images of people and applies fun animations to specific areas. It’s fun stuff.


When Social Justice Isn’t About Justice
I think most people are in support of equaklity and justice. But what happens when our intentions become so corrupted that we reach a point where we have begin to dismiss other’s rights we hold dear. What happens when we form cultures of victimhood, and justice erodes the very values that found it? An absolutely fantastic piece.

The Case For Bad Coffee
I live in Seattle, arguably the coffee mecca of the United States, and I have been accused of being snobbish about my coffee preferences. However, after reading this, I a half tempted to go buy a jar of Folgers.

You’ll Never Guess What The First Thing Ever Sold On The Internet Was
Were in the middle of the Holiday Season, and like every year the number of people who purchase online is bound to grow. But, what was the first thing ever sold on the internet? Fast Company gets to the bottom of that question.

Our Year Of Living Airbnb
A couple decides to streamline their life and explore the neighborhoods of their city by using AirBnB and using short-term rental options. The result is a unique adventure. [Thanks again to Steve for sharing this.]


Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion
“The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion was a television signal hijacking that occurred in Chicago, Illinois, United States on the evening of November 22, 1987. It is an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. The intruder was successful in interrupting two broadcast television stations within the course of three hours. The hijackers were never identified.”

Make sure you watch the video as well:


The Nameless City
“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”


all day every day

Friday Link Pack - 09/25/2015

Friday Link Pack 09/25/2015

Friday is here! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack. Some of these links I’ve mentioned on Twitter this week, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you 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…


The Red Litten World ARC Giveaway
In celebration of the launch, I am giving away five signed advanced review copies of Red Litten World to five very lucky winners via Goodreads. Signing up is easy. Winners will be selected on October 2nd, a few days before Red Litten World arrives.

First Look: Red Litten World Paperback
Over the weekend, I received the last proof of the trade paperback edition of Red Litten World. It looks absolutely fantastic. Check out some photos and watch a video of the unboxing.

The Red Litten World Instagram Countdown
I’m posting Red Litten World inspired art and exclusive lines from my upcoming novel on Instagram. Check out the first two posts and follow me on Instagram to see more!


Gravity Basics For Sci-fi Authors
Are you writing a sci-fi and want to get the facts around gravity right? Well, author and scientist Dan Koboldt has put together a great post covering the basics of gravity. Nice resource to have. [Thanks to Ben Vanik for this excellent submission.]

Writing Begins With Forgiveness
We have all heard the same advice, “Write every single day.” But what if that advice is actually… wrong? What if the challenge isn’t finding time to write every single day, but actually the discovery of your own writing rhythm. [I’m usually really good about remembering who shared an article, but I cannot for the life of me remember this one. If it was you, contact me and I’ll get you the proper credit.]

72% Of Writers Struggle With THIS
Ideas are cheap, it’s the follow-through that is the toughest. Some great advice from Joe Bunting on what it takes to finish that manuscript. [Thanks to William Munn for sharing.]

NaNoWriMo Cometh – Four Early Tips To Enhance Your Novel Writing
We’re over a month away from the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepping for success. In this article, I give you four simple tips you can use to give yourself an advantage before you begin.


The Art Of Kirokaze
I’m a big fan of pixel art, I have even dabbled myself in a past life. So when I saw these amazing pieces by DeviantArt artist, Kirokaze, I knew they’d show up in this week’s Friday Link Pack. Great stuff, both the static and animated versions. My favorite piece right now, probably Red City. (It’s also the featured image at the top of today’s Link Pack.)

With Smiles On Our Lips
The toy company 3A is having an enormous show in Japan right now, headlined by artists like: Ashley Wood, Phil Hale, William Wray, Amanda Visell, and more. There’s a lot of really engaging work from figurines, sculpture, some great prints, and original pieces.

The Art Of Lisa Wright
UK based artist, Lisa Wright, paints figures but the tone in which she paints them carries with them a disconcerting nature that makes each piece hard to pin down. The result is a selection of work that is engaging as it is challenging and ultimately beautiful.


The Cultural History Of The Hoodie
I am a big fan of the hoodie, maybe it’s my PNW roots, maybe it’s my love of autumn and the winter, but in my opinion there’s not a better garment. This video from Gary Warnett goes into a lot of detail about this garments history and the baggage associated.

New Discoveries Could Explain What Happened To Roanoke
The lost colony of Roanoke might be one of America’s biggest mysteries, but a recent archeological dig referred to as Sight X could hold the clues that will help unravel the mystery.

The Coddling Of The American Mind
“In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.” Great piece from The Atlantic.

Wherever You Go, Your Personal Cloud Of Microbes Follows
Sorry introverts, as it turns out, we’re never truly alone. You can thank your personal cloud of microbes.


Alien Hand Syndrome
“Alien hand syndrome (AHS) is a rare neurological disorder that causes hand movement without the person being aware of what is happening or having control over the action. The afflicted person may sometimes reach for objects and manipulate them without wanting to do so, even to the point of having to use the healthy hand to restrain the alien hand.”


Supernatural Horror In Literature
Not a story this time but a long essay on the state of supernatural horror and the gothic novel during Lovecraft’s time. The essay has its list of critics (M. R. James being one) and its champions (David G. Hartwell, Edmund Wilson). Even if you end up loathing it, it’s worth a read, just to get at the core of Lovecraft’s feelings on horror.

Hey, Red Litten World is coming. I don't know if you noticed, but notice.

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo Kicks Off Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the beginning of the summer session of National Novel Writing Month: Camp NaNoWriMo! If you’re new to writing or just want to try out the lifestyle, I highly encourage you to attempt a NaNoWriMo at least once. It’s a fascinating experience. It’ll help you discover your creative process and understand how you work as a writer.

Since the kickoff is tomorrow, I figured it’d be helpful to share some of my previous NaNoWriMo posts with everyone. Hopefully, you can glean something useful from my advice.

  • NaNoWriMo Is Here
    I offer a few simple steps to getting your writing project complete, from spending time researching, to actully writing those 1700 words a day, to getting involved in the NaNoWriMo community.
  • NaNoWriMo Cometh – Four Early Tips To Enhance Your Novel Writing
    While most of these require some preparation ahead of time, I find that these four tips are very helpful in aiding any author. I have four every single one of these critical to my own success.

and when you’re done…

  • NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?
    Save this one until August 1st. I break down some thoughts on where you can take that freshly finished manuscript.

Oh, since you’re starting out, do yourself a favor and watch this video. It’s still the best (and most encouraging) little videos for anyone starting something new. (It’s also a bit NSFW, so consider yourself warned.)

Good luck campers! Have fun, we’ll all be here on the other side ready and excited to read your finished masterpieces.

Friday Link Pack 12-05-2014

We’re back baby! 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.


Here’s One Genre That Could Replace Post-Apocalyptic Stories
My favorite io9 writer, Charlie Jane Anders, discusses the potential in colonization science fiction as opposed to the doom and gloom of post-apocalyptic fiction. It’s a good idea.

Amazing Times
New York Times Bestselling Author Russel Blake talks about the broad reach within the literary market. Never before has someone been able to reach an audience so broad. It’s cool to think about. He’s right. We live in an Amazing Time.

Booker Winner Ben Okri Nabs Bad Sex Prize
Oooof… but to be fair, it’s real bad and potentially offensive if this sort of thing offends you, but really it’s more hilarious than offensive. I mean, “She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body.” C’mon man.

NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?
You finished your 40k word project in a months time! Awesome! You should be excited. You should celebrate. But what do you do when NaNoWriMo is over? Here’s some ideas.

Old Broken Road Giveaway
I’m giving away five signed copies of Old Broken Road on Goodreads. Signing up to win is easy. Giveaway ends January 6th. Tell your friends!


Photographer Kevin Horan takes beautiful portraits… of sheep and goats.

Artist Charles Young is building a giant city out of tiny paper models. Follow along.

Motion Exposure
Long exposures of light combined with activities like canoeing and kayaking. The results are as beautiful as they are serene.


Typeset in the Future: Alien
Okay, I think I found another favorite blog. Typeset in the Future explores typography in science fiction movies. This article on Alien is incredibly deep and is a must read. The articles on Moon and 2001 are also great.

The Ice-Skating Waiters Of Switzerland
Serving drinks and skating never looked so classy. (Thanks to Steve for the tip.)

Really Awesome Old Maps
My love of maps is no secret. Recently my friend Jazmine shared this link and I absolutely loved everything posted. Mapophiles rejoice!

Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind
Here you go luddites! Even Hawking is afraid of robots!

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Green Meadow
“It was a narrow place, and I was alone…”

Gif of the Week:
your mileage may vary


NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?

NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?

So NaNoWriMo has come to a close. You did it! You bested the holiday and fought through the distractions and emerged victorious! You probably learned a lot in the process: how you work, what time is best for you to write, and what it takes for you to power through a challenge like NaNo. It’s a good exercise. Now you have 40k words sitting there, and it’s time to do something… but what exactly? Here’re six tips for moving forward:

1. Set Your Manuscript Aside

You just spent a solid month with your book. That’s a lot of time and often it’s difficult to pull away and see the whole picture. If you’re anything like me, odds are there’s a lot of work to go before your manuscript is ready to shop. Giving yourself time away from the manuscript will allow you to return with fresh eyes and a clear head. So what do you do in the interim? Start your next project (see point six), relax a bit, read someone you find inspiring: just get your mind off that manuscript so later you can give it a solid and honest revision.

2. Think About How You’re Going To Expand

Unless you’re writing middle-grade most publishers won’t want a 40k word novel. Even YA tends to be around 50-60k minimum. Adult novels range from 80k-90k words, and sci-fi and fantasy can get into the 100-110k word range. (Check out Chuck Sambuchino’s great post on word count here.) None of these are hard and fast rules, but it’s always good to shoot for the average range within the genre you’re targeting. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to expand, and I’ll cover some of that in point three. If you’re going to publish independently, you can ignore this completely. There are no set rules for independent publishing. Just make sure you’re telling the best damn story possible.

3. Revise, Revise, Revise

Stage one is done, you’ve let the manuscript rest for a time, and now you’re ready for revisions. It’s time to go through your manuscript and tackle all those things you ignored to hit that word count by the target date. Trust me, they’ll be there. I tend to find that as I revise, my book grows and shrinks. As I mentioned in point two, odds are you’re going to need to expand. So, if you’re worried about your overall length don’t worry. As Tolkien said, “this tale grew in the telling.” He’s not wrong. I find that there’s usually a lot I left out in that first draft, and I find it’s not difficult to find myself adding significant portions to a story. When you’re finished with your first revision, go through it again! There’s no set number of revisions, just make sure you get the book to a point where you’re comfortable sharing it with alpha/beta readers and eventually editors.

4. Get Some Eyes On That Thing!

Ask some friends who are willing to overlook your typos and grammatical errors to read your manuscript. This isn’t an edit pass. You want folks who can look past errors and focus on character development, plot, pacing, and world building. Listen to their feedback and incorporate or ignore it as you see fit. It’s good to gauge what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot of good advice on finding and working with alpha/beta readers, three great posts I’d recommend:

and specifically for readers:

5. Think About Your Go-To-Market Strategy

The manuscript is finished; it’s time to consider your choices. You can shop the manuscript to publishers or take the self-publishing road. Neither are bad decisions, but you need to find what works for you.

  • Traditional Publishing

    You’ll need to find an agent, which means synopsis and query letters and rejections. Once that’s done the agent will need to find an editor which means more rejections until you find one. However, once you find a publisher willing to take you on they’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting. They’ll handle promotion and cover design and provide you with an editor. They’ll also throw an advance your way as well.

  • Independent Publishing

    To me, this is a lot more than just throwing your manuscript online and letting it go. I think doing independent publishing properly requires a small business mindset. You need to start thinking like a publisher. You need to be honest with yourself about your skillset. Most folks will need to hire an editor. You’ll also probably want to hire a designer for the cover and perhaps figure out how to do the layout for your printed publication. There’re some services to help you: Amazon’s CreateSpace has layout and cover design packages and recently Nook has launched their own line. It’ll require some initial investment, but your readers will appreciate the attention to detail. Once that’s decided you’ll need to consider marketing. With independent publishing, you’re essentially deciding to become a small business and that is daunting to some people. There’s a lot to that, but I think it’s best saved for a future blog post.

6. Start Your Next Project

If you want to be a writer you have to keep writing. So start your next story! Maybe it’s a sequel, perhaps it’s something completely different, maybe something you left out or something you didn’t have the ability to explore might work better as its own stand alone book. It’s important to keep working and honing those skills. Live every month like it’s National Novel Writing Month.

Finally, and most important, congrats on finishing. Forty-thousand words is an immense accomplishment, and you should be proud! You have done what a lot of people only dream of doing. You’re a writer! Now get out there and share your work with the world.

What advice would you give your fellow NaNoWriMo participants? Has anyone ever shared some advice that has stuck with you? Leave a comment and let us know!

John Green

Permission To Suck

Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or not this year. This 2009 video from John Green is a good one chock-full of encouragement and should be watched.

Keep at it writers! You’re certainly not alone in this and don’t stress too much. The journey is a part of the fun.