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Independent bookstores are alive and well in America

Friday Link Pack 09/12/2014

You made it. It’s Friday! That means it’s time to share a few interesting links I’ve 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!


Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations
Writers rejoice, rumors of our audiences demise has been greatly exaggerated.

NaNoWriMo Cometh – Four Early Tips To Enhance Your Novel Writing
Participating in National Novel Writing Month this year? Here’s four things you should be working on now to make sure your NaNoWriMo is a success.

Independent Bookstores Are Alive And Well In America
That’s right, don’t listen to the hype. Not only are Indie bookstores doing well, in the last five years their numbers have risen. (By double digits!)

Are Authors Running Out Of Book Titles?
The Guardian looks into the recent occurrence of several popular authors recycling book titles used by others. I mentioned the blog Spending The Stephen King Money in a June Link Pack. I recommend checking it out.

Publishing Advice I’d Give My Younger Self
Indie author J. A. Konrath offers up advice he’d give to himself. There’s a lot of good straightforward advice here. Worth a read no matter how established or successful you are.


Emily Blincoe’s Arrangements
Objects arranged by color and photographed. Beautiful.

Typewriter Artist
This human interest piece from 2004 looks at Paul Smith, an artist with cerebral palsy who uses a typewriter to create art. (Thanks to Kari-Lise for sharing this.)


Look Down If You Dare: The World’s Scariest Stairs
If you’re scared of heights, you might want to skip this slideshow showing a number of dizzying climbs from around the world. (Thanks to Brittany for one.)

The Yeti
An online exhibit exploring the validity and legends surrounding the mythical yeti, the alpine cousin of the Pacific Northwest sasquatch. Are you a believer? (Thanks to Sky for submitting this.)

Space Station Earth, A Map Skin
I have mentioned MapBox before, but their latest map skin is incredible. Space! Check out my hometown here.

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Doom That Came to Sarnath
An ancient people conquer the mighty city of Ib defeating its strange inhabitants and bringing about a defeat of their own.

Gif of the Week:
Next time on Star Trek: The Next Generation...

NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo Cometh – Four Early Tips To Enhance Your Novel Writing

So, we’re well into the second weekend of September. Which means NaNoWriMo draws near. I know it still feels early, but if you’re planning to participate now is the perfect time to start thinking about your project! Below you’ll find a list of four things I do before I dive into my writing. Addressing these early can help you spend more time on prose and racking up those daily word counts.

1. Start outlining.

If you’re the type of writer who doesn’t work from an outline—George R. R. Martin calls you gardeners—then you can ignore this step. However, for the rest of us, now is the perfect time to get an outline complete. They don’t have to be long, nor are they some hard-and-fast document you need to follow to the letter. Instead, it’s a good way to get yourself thinking about the project as a whole and get your thoughts down on paper. It’ll give you a feel of your plot, your characters, and make the other three steps easier. Personally, I found outlining critical in finishing manuscripts. Consider reading my post on my own planning, I go into details on how I outline, how I use my outline when I write, and I even share an excerpt from the outline for The Stars Were Right.

2. You should be researching.

In my early attempts at writing this is often one of the biggest slowdowns. I will be working along and come to a part in my story where I need to spend a little time learning. This would lead from article to article, from book to book, and I’d end up spending more time distracted by the research instead of writing.

To avert this I have begun noting things I should research in advance within my outline. That way I have a nice list of subjects before I go into the library or start looking for books on Amazon. If you’re someone who doesn’t outline, consider the themes/genre/style of what you want to write. I bet you could come up with a list of topics to research in no time.

It’s never too early to start researching and I know you’ll find it exceptionally helpful for tackling a challenge like NaNoWriMo. Removing that extra distraction of having to look something up can mean a world of difference on those tough days.

3. Get to know your characters.

Now is the perfect time for you to start getting to know your characters. There’s a million and one ways to do this. Some folks have worksheets, others have systems, some writers create D&D characters and use those as a base. There’s no right or wrong way. Just find a way that you’re comfortable with and allow yourself to explore those characters.

Think of this preparation as sketching. You really just exploring an idea. Nothing you come up with will be permanent. I often find that I want to write a character a certain way, but when I start telling their story they take me in a completely different direction. That’s okay (and part of what makes writing fun!) What’s important is being comfortable with your characters so when you’re telling their story you can do it to the best of your abilities.

4. Work out those ancillaries ahead of time.

Finally, think about anything else you need to include, especially those things that might get in the way with your writing. Often, especially for genre writers, these are things like maps, lists of slang-terms, glossaries, location lists/descriptions.

I cannot tell you how many times I had distracted myself from writing to go draw a map or design a logo for a faction or write a timeline of history. I once spent half a day coming up with the ranking system for a military that I never once used in my story. (I wrote a post about that as well.)

When you’re trying to hit 40k words in a month you need to keep focused on your words. 1400 words a day isn’t insurmountable but it can be overwhelming. Any extra distractions you can remove will help you focus on hitting those numbers.

* * *

I love NaNoWriMo. I am a big supporter of its mission, and it’s what got me interested in writing in the first place. It’s a great experience for any writer, aspiring or otherwise, but it can also be a little daunting. I think you’ll find—as with most things in life—some early preparation will make the whole experience better. Good luck!

My #NaNoWriMo Debrief

487th Bomb Group Debreifing
487th Bomb Group Debriefing – via

It’s now December 2nd, which is weird because we just had Thanksgiving in America and usually it’s a week or so before December hits. So my mind is struggling to come to grips with the fact that it’s the last month and the end of the year is fast approaching. We’re now two days past the NaNoWriMo deadline, so I figured I’d give a report on my own outcome:

Like every year, I failed at achieving the NaNoWriMo. That’s okay! It’s not like the project I was working on is dead. Far from it! Every month for me is novel writing month, but NaNoWriMo holds a special place in my heart for jumpstarting me towards finishing a manuscript. It’s good practice. It’s why I participate. I went into NaNo with under 5k words and emerged with 22k words in the new project. Not a bad step in the right direction. It’s not (obviously) where I wanted to be (always moar!) but that’s nearly a quarter of the way towards my projected 100k words. A solid start.

The Stars Were Right also got a lot of attention this month. Sales have been trending pretty steadily, and the reviews keep coming in strong. I re-learned how to lay stuff out in InDesign, and the trade paperback is getting really close to release. Hoping to have an announcement for that VERY soon.

Old Broken Road is getting close to the point where I’ll hand it over to my editor for editin’ — I was hoping to do this at the beginning of November; however being a part-time writer means my time is limited, and it’s resulted in delays. I still think I am on target for an early 2014 release. Really like the place, it’s in.

I finally finished a beta-read of a friend’s novel. Other books, personal projects, work, basically everything had delayed me, but it’s done. It’s also one of the best books I have read all year. I’d be very surprised if a publisher doesn’t jump at it.

Oh! I also have started messing with Scrapple. I’m really liking it, but I am going to save my thoughts for a later post.

So that’s where I am at! I went into NaNoWriMo with almost nothing and emerged having learned some new software, finished a beta-read, came out with an edited manuscript, almost have a nearly released trade paperback, and I’m 22k words into a new project! All-in-all: not a bad November.

Writing, Editing, Updating…

The Stars Were Right - by K. M. Alexander
National Novel Writing Month is in full swing, and if you’re participating I hope everything is trucking along for you. Those first few days are fun. Stick with it, even when the going gets tough. I know when I first participated I learned a lot about how I work and what need to do to be successful – that said, I have never “won” NaNoWriMo. You know what? That’s okay. The important thing is I am writing.

As with the years before I am participating. I’m working on a new title (it’s the unnamed one in the right hand tracker) I had a bit of a jump on it, but I was able to complete 6300 words over the weekend. Not as much as I wanted but sizeable and it puts me on course to finish the 50k word goal at the end of the month.

Things are still going great for “The Stars Were Right” sales are steady. With the exception of Nook (which has become a huge thorn in my side) the book is now available in every major eBook store, and is getting great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. So if you haven’t bought it yet, pick your poison!

Physical copies of Stars are getting real close. I am real excited. I have a pretty cool promotion worked up, I think you all will love it. More to come on that a later. I will also have some updates on “Old Broken Road” coming soon. Until then it’s back to work!

NaNoWriMo is here

Today is the beginning of National Novel Writing Month or as it’s known by it’s street name “NaNoWriMo” one of my favorite days for the writing world. It’s an awesome event, and I encourage every writer to try to get  on board at least once. I have participated twice (succeeded only once) but I learned a lot.

My brief tips for success:

  • Write Every Day

Seriously. Don’t make deals with yourself. Write. Every. Day. There’s only 30 days and it’s amazing how fast they’ll sprint past you. Buckle down, set aside some time and just write. 1700 words is a lot of words and you’ll need to average that every day to finish. If you tell yourself you can wait or hold off and write extra hard the next day it’ll just become a slippery slope. Sit down. Write.

  • Research, Plan & Take Notes

Bulk loading a lot of your research upfront is a good way for you to get past the Wikipedia articles and into the prose of your manuscript. If you haven’t researched don’t fret, just don’t sweat the small stuff. You have words to put down. Write what is in your head and make a note of it, then you can go back when it’s all over and massage it into place.

  • Get Involved

It can be tough to go it alone. So get involved with the community. Find a NaNoWriMo partner, join a group of writers, meet weekly with some friends and get involved on the NaNoWriMo forums, tweet about it, keep a blog. Keep yourself accountable to someone, anyone. Why? Accountability. When your 25k words in, exhausted and twitchy from too much coffee, and things look bleak… you’ll have someone to encourage you to keep going.

  • Have Fun

This is a given but is still important. Don’t kill yourself over your manuscript. In a lot of ways NaNoWriMo is a perfect way to see how you – as a writer – writes. Maybe 50k words a month IS too much. Maybe 1700 words a day IS impossible. (That’s totally okay.) The important thing is that you’re writing and you’re having fun doing it.

Good luck to all the NaNoWriMo participants, and as I said on twitter, I look forward to someday reading your books!