This Week's Writing Links

This week’s writing links feature the sci-fi writing prompt for the week, a best blogs for writers to read in 2012 list, 6 tips to resuscitate a dying author blog and a review of Elmore Leonard’s new book Raylan.

The art included in this week’s post, which was designed by Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe for Joe Vasicek’s e-book Desert Starscomes from io9’s sci-fi writing prompt for the week. Their prompt tasks you with creating a story based off the featured concept art. It’s a really nice piece of art and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time checking out the sites for both the artist and the author, which I would really encourage people to do if they have a couple of free minutes.

In other news, there has been a lot of rabble recently that it’s only a matter of time now before Amazon finishes off all the remaining bookstores on the planet, creating a storeless utopia where disenchanted souls mindlessly impulse buy romance novels to pad their already backlogged Nooks and Kindles. Amazon’s response to this charge? They added more networks (MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon) to their streaming service (which I happen to be a member of) and continued to deliver all my packages in a timely and generally satisfactory fashion.

I wish Amazon could give me more reasons to hate them, but other than the complete and utter wastelanding of brick and mortar bookstores, they haven’t given me much ammo. As penance for my notable dependence on Amazon to deliver 3-D Imax blu-rays about space to my doorstep, I have made a resolution for the coming months to do my best to go out of my way to support brick and mortar bookstores, whether they be Barnes & Noble or some of the Chicago locals. Maybe if we all do our piece, we can give them a second wind.


– Concept Art Writing Prompt: Night At The Edge Of The World (io9)

– Best Blogs For Writers To Read In 2012 (robertleebrewer)

– 6 Tips To Resuscitate A Dying Author Blog (writersdigest)

– Av Club Reviews Elmore Leonard’s Raylan (avclub)

– The 10 Best Charles Dickens Characters (flavorwire)

– Frazen And The Ebook Bubble (jakonrath)

– Sf Signal Reviews Mind Storm By K.M. Ruiz (sfsignal)

– 7 Ways To Get Freelance Gigs Flowing (makealivingwriting)

– New Agent Alert: Dawn Michelle Hardy Of Serendipity Literary (writersdigest)

This Week's Writing Links (1/27)

This week’s writing links feature an 80/20 rule for self-promotion, George R.R. Martin’s Hugo recommendations (other than his own book), a potential reunion for the Monty Python cast in a sci-fi film and four techniques for creating believable villains.

There are definitely some good links this week, but how can one not get excited about a possible sci-fi Monty Python movie? It will be interesting to see how this project develops, but if they can coax everyone into showing up, it sounds like ‘Absolutely Anything‘ will be a cool fusion of Monty Python and Douglas Adams elements. It will surely be one to keep an eye on.

Also, just a quick update on the release of my book, ‘The Exiles of the New World.’ In the end, the release date is going to be shuffled a bit. We’re going to get some pre-release copies out in January/February (for reviews and kickstarter backer preorders), but the actual release for the hardcover is probably going to end up being in early spring (April/May). There is a possiblity of seeing the ebook version available a little earlier than that as part of a “soft” release, but the hardcover release in stores is more than likely going to be a spring affair.

I was really hoping that this would make the Christmas/early January release window, but since that was just barely missed, it works out to wait a bit for the Holiday stock to sell before you get things into stores, hence the spring release. I’ll keep people appraised on hardened dates if they get set, but enough nonsense about my own stuff, let’s get to links!


– Amanda Hocking Is Still An Exception To The Rule: Self-Published Authors And Big Book Deals (io9)

– Debut Author Kerry Schafer Inks Deal With Ace Books After Discovery On ‘Book Country’ (usatoday)

– George R.R. Martin’s Hugo Recommendations (grrm)

– Monty Python Members To Reunite On Sci-fi Flick ‘Absolutely Anything’ (stumbleupon)

– Paula Margulies On The 80/20 Rule For Self-Promotion (paulamargulies)

– 15 Beautiful Homes Of Famous Authors (flavorwire)

– Av Club Reviews ‘A Universe From Nothing’ By Lawrence M. Krauss (avclub)

– 4 Techniques For Creating Believable Villains (writersdigest)

– Agent Advice: Nicole Resciniti From The Seymour Agency (guidetoliteraryagents)

– SF Signal: A John Carter Primer (sfsignal)

– The Cosmic War Between Ancient Starburst Galaxies And Supermassive Black Holes  (io9)

– JA Konrath: The Myth Of The Bestseller (jakonrath)

– ‘Virga’ Book Set Sweepstakes (tor)

This Week's Writing Links

This Week’s Writing Links feature some clever logo branding for the Milwaukee Public Library’s new ad campaign, 10 common mistakes writers make at conferences, 10 legendary bad boys of literature and a video of soccer prodigy Lionel Messi when he was being an amazing (and classy) 10-year-old, because why not?

I’m always happy to support a library branch, especially while our own city branches weather some harsh budget cuts. Although Milwaukee is certainly utilizing a clever approach with their campaign, you have to wonder if using popular social media branding may ultimately just remind kids that they need to check twitter. Here’s to hoping that’s not the case.

Also, SF Signal, a site I’m a big fan of, just underwent a design update, so make sure to stop by and check it out. In other news, links.


– Milwaukee Public Library’s New “Social Media” Ad Campaign (mpl)

– How To Avoid 10 Common Conferences Mistakes That Writers Make (writersdigest)

– Io9’s Books To Read In 2012 (io9)

– AV Club Reviews Roberto Bolano’s ‘The Third Reich’ (avclub)

– 10 Legendary Bad Boys Of Literature (flavorwire)

– Nominees For The 2011 Phillip K. Dick Award Announced (tor)

– JA Konrath Interviews Editor Susan Tunis (jakonrath)

– Seven Princes: An Epic Fantasy That Doesn’t Hold Back On The Epic (io9)

– Book Publicity: Working With Bookstores (sfwa)

– Genre Resolutions For 2012 (sfsignal)

– How Your Characters Write Themselves And Why You Have To Listen (jarrethdak)

– Soccer Prodigy Lionel Messi At Age 10 Being Amazing (youtube)

This Week's Writing Links

This first week of 2012 should see everyone with a renewed sense of vigor as the dormant publishing industry finally awakes from its slumber to bring us brand new books. This is also the week where all the writers out there hunker down with their firm resolutions to get those thousand words out every day, no matter what nostalgic television series just got added to the Netflix Instant Queue.

In this week’s writing links, we have a nice piece on the 25 most beautiful college librariesadvice on how to deal with self promotion as a debut author without going overboard on the “self” part, 7 great practices for building your online platform, AV Club’s best books of 2011, some cool vintage Tolkien covers from around the world, reminders about reading and much more.

I’m a big fan of the 25 most beautiful college libraries segment, especially the picture of the Yale library included in the post, which I actually got a chance to see last year when I was in the New England area. I feel like I would have spent more time in the library in college if my library looked like that. Admittedly, I also would have wasted a great deal of time looking for old dusty tomes that held clues to the location of the Grail or secrets of the Davinci Code, but such grand pieces of architecture can’t help but distract and conjure up such escapist fantasies.

Now, for some links!


– The 25 Most Beautiful College Libraries In The World (flavorwire)

– How To Deal With Self Promotion As A Debut Author (sfwa)

– AV Club’s Best Books Of 2011 (avclub)

– Science Fiction And Fantasy Grand Masters (kirkusreview)

– Vintage Tolkien Covers From Around The World (flavorpill)

– 13 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Reading (professor)

– 7 Practices For Building An Online Presence (writersdigest)

– The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Of 2011 (io9)

– Sf Signal Reviews Martha Well’s ‘The Serpent Sea’ (sfsignal)

– Most Anticipated Books Of 2012 (flavorwire)

– 25 Science Fiction Movies And Fantasy Movies To Watch Out For In 2012 (io9)

– New Photo Of Noomi Rapace In Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ (comingsoon)

– Av Club Review’s Carrie Fisher’s ‘Shockaholic’ (avclub)

– 10 New Must Reads For January (flavorpill)

– New Images From ‘The Hunger Games’ Movie (io9)

This Week's Writing Links

This week’s writing links feature weird writing habits of famous authors, Flavorwire’s best debut novels of 2011 (including Karen Russell’s ‘Swamplandia!‘), famously outrageous opening lines in literature and a picture of the typewriter I got for Christmas.

So, my girlfriend was cool enough to get me a Remington typewriter for Christmas and I have been mildly obsessed with the thing since receiving it. I have been typing up a poorly spelled often incoherent storm, but enjoying myself nonetheless. So far, the typewriter’s best feature? No internet connectivity. This means there are minimal distractions while typing on it. A seriously underrated feature for the often distracted writer.

As backwards as it sounds, I have found myself writing more since getting a typewriter. Even though I have to transcribe whatever I write on the typewriter back into a word file and lose out on efficiency in the process, I still find myself writing a greater volume at a quicker pace. I’m not about to go full-on Cormac McCarthy, but I know that I will continue to use it to punch out some pages now and then. It’s a lot of fun to have around.

Also, it should be noted that December 26 – January 1 usually operates as an odd period of limbo for productivity, or well, really a virtual standstill for anything other than consuming leftovers, buying lottery tickets and returning that second snuggie/third pair of e-tip gloves gifted to you. It’s certainly fine if you want to take it easy until New Year’s, but I also feel that there’s no reason not to try to be productive in these couple of niche free days if you really want to get some forward momentum going into 2012. You’ve already got yourself a fresh snuggie and the number to Peapod’s delivery service. So, it’s time to conjure up your reclusive writerly best. Get going!


– Weird Writing Habits Of Famous Authors (flavorwire)

–  Top 10 Most Outrageous Opening Lines In Literature (alternativereel)

– Best Debut Novels Of 2011 (flavorwire)

– Av Club Reviews ‘The Life And Times Of Dave Grohl’ (avclub)

– Do You Even Need A Publisher Anymore? (writersdigest)

– Sci-fi Cover Smackdown (sfsignal)

– Concept For The Wachowski’s New Movie ‘Cloud Atlas’ (io9)

– Nebula Awards Interview: Jack McDevitt (sfwa)

– January Releases In Science Fiction (tor)

– KC Shaw’s Cover For Her January Novella ‘Goldie’ (knottedthicket)

– Suzy Turner: Indie Cover Love (suzyturner)

– 10 Science Fiction Movies For People Who Think They Don’t Like Science Fiction (io9)

– A Picture Of My New Typewriter (twitter)

Look For 'The Exiles Of The New World' In January

‘The Exiles of the New World’ has officially been deemed a January 2012 release. When I signed my publishing contract in the summer, there was some hope that it might be out in time for Christmas, but the Holidays are the death knell for productivity in the publishing industry and the book is going to end up as a January release. It would have been nice to see it this month, but I am actually looking forward to it being a 2012 release.

Why am I looking forward to the January release you ask? Are there any advantages to releasing a book in January opposed to Christmas? Sure.

Really? I think you’re lying, what are they? Uh, let us pause while I make them up.

Well, for starters, if you wrote a book in a very obscure genre and it is the first entry of the year in that very obscure genre, you are afforded the privilege, however temporary and undeserving it may be, of being the best book of the year in that niche by default. So, for a handful of days, you can occupy the title of ‘Best Weight Lifting Murder Mystery’ or ‘Best Twilight Cookbook’ of the year until some competition comes along. It’s just a shame they don’t compile too many mid-January ‘Best of the Year’ projections, but you are still entitled to bragging rights for a couple of days.

Also, it’s cold outside and people don’t want want to go outside and socialize. To the best of my knowledge people generally just drink gin/hot chocolate and watch football/read in winter, so that also puts you in good standing in an odd way. People who do venture out, may take shelter from blizzards in the book store you’re doing a signing for, therefore creating unexpected foot traffic with a lot of time on their hands and a need for companionship/food.

Are any of these reasons legitimate? No. No, they’re not.

I can’t even fabricate especially compelling reasons for a January book release, but I was born in a January blizzard in the south, so I’d be more than happy to welcome my first book into the world in the same frigid, gloomy month that people generally associate with hypothermia, frostbite and aborted New Year’s resolutions. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, look for ‘The Exiles of the New World’ from Iconic Publishing in January, 2012. With my book’s 300 plus page hardcover girth, you can leave it in your car and it can double as a snow shovel in case you need to dig yourself out of any particularly comprising weather situations (E-book versions may be useless in such situations).

What Would The Soundtrack To Your Book Sound Like?

For writers, music can be a great aid to the creative process. It can evoke a certain mood, set the scene for the story and even bring out new emotions in your characters. Chronicled in an earlier post, what music you listen to while writing can greatly influence the overall tone of what your book becomes.

However, today’s post addresses the topic of music entering into the actual reading of a book. Certainly, the union of music and reading can have its problems, as reading requires a great deal of concentration which can be easily disrupted by an influx of lyric heavy music. It is absolutely not necessary for reading to have an auditory component. I pose this more as a hypothetical. I know plenty of people prefer to be left alone with their thoughts and the words on the pages, and that’s absolutely fine.

But that doesn’t mean reading with a soundtrack can’t be done and isn’t done quite frequently. I mean, just look at the woman in this picture, she seems to be totally on board with it. That, or the stock photo people paid her to look like she’s having a good time.

Either way, I must ask authors out there, for those readers that enjoy reading while listening to music, what would the preferred soundtrack to your book sound like?* What would play during the action? What would play in the heart wrenching moments, like at the end of your book when your protagonist must release his trusty domesticated ocelot back into the wild? What about the funny scenes? If you know your soundtrack, let us know what it would sound like.

*Note: Claiming it would sound like a Wes Anderson movie might be a mild copout.

'The Exiles Of The New World' Picked Up By Iconic Publishing

Today, I signed a contract with Iconic Publishing that will in theory distribute my book to major retailers, small bookstores, online retailers, schools and libraries in North America, Europe, Australia and the UK. Needless to say, I’m really excited about this.

I know I haven’t talked much about my road to publication, but it’s been a strange one. I finished writing my book about two years ago and after a healthy wave of revisions, I jumped into querying agents. I was lucky enough to gain interest and a verbal commitment of sorts from an agent fairly early on in the process. The agent in question told me they weren’t signing clients at the time because they would be leaving the agency they were at, but would be interested in taking me with them to the new agency.

This relationship would eventually span about fifteen-months. Said agent never moved onto the new agency, never submitted my manuscript to any publishers and really maintained a spotty correspondence at best. The situation turned into a complete quagmire. Every time my emails would go unanswered for a month or two, I would write the agent explaining how I was going to move on and of course, then and only then would I finally receive a response and an assurance that things would turn the corner soon.

Eventually at the fifteen-month mark, I finally broke off this correspondence and ended the relationship. Certainly, some of the blame is placed on me for going along with this for so long without anything in writing or any sort of firm commitment (I was bright eyed, bushy tailed and without better prospects at the time). I could have bowed out at any time, but I stuck it with. And I don’t blame the agent either. They did provide some helpful feedback and in a way washed away any naïve notions I had with the publishing industry. I felt like it was paying my dues in a way.

But I left the situation feeling fairly defeated. I shelved the book and didn’t write or read at all for about three or four months. I knew I would return to writing at some point, but I honestly didn’t think I would ever do anything with this book again.

It wasn’t until I started reading about Kindle success stories like JA Konrath, John Locke and Amanda Hocking, that I thought about trying again. The prospect of putting out the book on a medium growing in popularity with minimum expenses involved was an enticing idea. I wasn’t expecting any sort of success, I just thought it would nice to actually put it out there and maybe get a handful of people to read it. So, I dusted off the manuscript and set about trying to get it on the Kindle along with a print-on-demand paperback run.

But before I did that, I knew that I would have to commission a book cover and pay a number of people to do some last proofing and editing passes. I knew this would require a bit of money, so I decided to put the project up on Kickstarter, a popular fund raising website, to raise the funds.

I really owe Kickstarter a lot. It was on Kickstarter that I managed to raise the funds I needed and at the same time garner interest from publishers who had seen the book on the site (an unexpected side effect of posting the project). Iconic Publishing contacted me very early on during the fund raising process and asked if they could consider the book before I put it out independently. I agreed to let them consider it as long as I could still honor my Kickstarter backers and today, I received an offer and signed a contract with them to publish my book.

It seems very odd to me that it was only when I had given up on traditional publishing and wasn’t seeking it, that it came knocking on my door. I think if anything this demonstrates the changing publishing market and the power of social media sites.

Either way, I’m really excited to work with Iconic Publishing. They’ve been nothing but prompt, open and attentive with me, which is a completely different interaction than what I had previously experienced with people in the publishing industry. I couldn’t be happier with the situation and of course, I cannot thank the people who supported me through this process enough. I hope everyone has a great Holiday weekend.