Art Appreciation 101: The two rules of awesome SF/fantasy art

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Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy Art Appreciation 101. (a.k.a. SFF Art). The fabulous folks here at io9 think I’m qualified to give you this little overview because, as the Creative Director of Orbit Books, I’ve created hundreds of covers for books in the genre, and have been a fan of SFF Art in all of its forms as far back as I can remember. Plus, I’ve logged more hours working in comic book stores than I care to admit.

Read the rest over at i09.com!

A Quick Tip for Adding Conflict and Tension to Your Scenes

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Agent Donald Maas once said, “You can never have too much conflict.” He’s not alone in this thinking, and “not enough conflict” is a common reason manuscripts get rejected. Even novels with strong plots and solid core conflicts can earn a, “sorry, not for me,” because the conflict comes in dribs and drabs and there’s no tension on every page or in every scene.

But there’s an easy fix for this.

Check out the rest of this mighty fine article over at Fiction University!

 

Holiday Schedule

Our last meeting of 2014 will be December 16th, and it will include our end-of-the-year traditions (so please note that critique time will be shortened that week). We will not be meeting on December 23rd or 30th.
After that two-week break, our meetings will resume a normal schedule starting January 6, 2015. As always, we’d love to have you there.

6 Must have tools for writers this Fall

I think they call this 'unorganized'?

Fall will be upon us soon and National Novel Writing Month (NanoWrioMo) after that. Now is the best time to get organized before the holidays hit. Here are 6 must have tools to help.

1) Evernote

Ideas hit us when we’re waiting in the long line at the grocery store. Maybe you finally figured out that plot twist or a cool character idea right before bed? Either way you can’t always get to your laptop right away, Evernote to the rescue! You can download Evernote on all your devices and sync the updates all at once. You can create binders and notes and tag them too for better searching.

For example, if you want to see all your notes for your Sci-Fi Opera world building you could tag them, “Opera” and in an instant you can view them without having to click around. They would be accessible from any of your devices.

You can try Evernote Premium with my referral. 

2) Focus at Will

Let’s face it, it’s hard to stay focused with all the ever-increasing technology and entertainment. Music’s great, but sometimes a song can be distracting because it’s too loud, too slow, or too good to stay still too. Nothing breaks a good writing sprint like spontaneous dancing. Focus at Will changes at that.

The music on their site is designed to hit that sweet spot of concentration that gets you focused and keeps you on track. I’ve been using it all summer and have loved it! Right now they are offering a 30-day free trial on their website. 

3) Scivener 

Scrivener is the most recommended writing software ever! There’s a good reason for it. It will revolutionize the way you write. As a self-described pantser, the thought of organizing my novel seemed both daunting and stifling. How do I keep track of how many times my side character is in scenes? How do I keep track of Plot Point A and B? How do I notate that I’m done with this scene? How do I move scenes from one chapter to another without a whole lot of copying and pasting?

Now, Scivener is not for the faint of heart. There is a learning curve, but it’s well worth it. You can have index cards for plotting and there’s a distraction free screen option as well. And in the past, NanoWrioMo winners have received discount codes for Scivener. Go check it out!  

4) Duotrope

Duotrope is a great submission site for primarily poetry and short fiction. It’s an awesome search site to find all kinds of markets for your work. You can also track your submissions too.  Initially this was a free site, but a few years ago, they turned into a small fee site because of the amount of work it takes to keep the site running. They do have trial period you can use to see if the site will fit your needs. Plus, they send out a regular newsletter to let you know of new additions to the site.   

5) Ginger

Spell checking software usually falls flat whether because it often doesn’t look at a sentence, it looks at it word by word. Ginger is different, it looks at the context and makes suggestions based on that. Their free version is great and of course their paid version is even better. Give it a try. 

6) Wiki’s

Keeping up with fantasy worlds is a tough job, especially when dealing with multiple characters and lineages. If Scrivener isn’t for you, then creating wiki’s for your novel might be just what you’re looking for. Now these are a little on the technical side but they could really help keep track of your world building and characters. Zim and TiddlyWiki. 

Honorable Mention:

Dark Room – Distraction free writing

Website recommendation: 

Anne R. Allen’s blog posts with a massive list of writing organizational tools. 

Share with us your favorite tools and tips in the comments below.

 

Spring into Marketing

As you can see this week we’ll be discussing marketing for self – published authors.  I couldn’t resist the pun.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing your novel there’s lots and lots of things to consider. Self publishing is not for the faint of heart. Actually anything to do with any sort of writing and publishing takes real guts. And time.

Jami Gold’s website has a great guest post called, “The Newbie’s Guide to self-publishing.”  Great checklist of things to consider.

Another awesome writer, Janice Hardy, has several posts about self-publishing too. Her site recently had a cool name change. It’s now called, “Fiction University.”

Her site also have a guest post from Patricia Cruzan entitled, “Becoming a self-published author.”  Really informative.

CNET  has a “25 things you need to know about self publishing.”

Livehacked.com has a marketing guide.  Long, but worth the read.

Self Publishing Team is a AWESOME website for self-publishing info and tools. Check out their free monthly planner. This is useful for writers who are going traditionally published as well.

Have a favorite website, book, etc for self-publishing tips? Leave them in the comments below.