Book Trailer for Argentum, My Online Serial Novel

This is the first time I’ve delved into producing video. I’d appreciate you providing me with feedback if you have the time to check out this short book trailer for Argentum, Book One of the Violet War series I’m writing.

Visit Me at OddCon During These Panels

From April 24th through the 26th, I will be appearing at Odyssey Con 2009, a small science fiction and fantasy convention held here in Madison, Wisconsin. This will be the first convention I’ll be speaking at this year, and I’ve taken on quite a few panels in order to share my thoughts with you and promote my work. Unfortunately, my new short story that will appear in the Buried Tales of Pinebox, TX anthology may not be released just yet. I’ll bring along a few copies of the Tales of the Seven Dogs Society, though. Here are the panels I’ll be appearing on:

  • Networking at conventions (15)
  • Worldbuilding – Some Necessary Background (31) Waiting Confirmation
  • GAME FICTION: The Good, the Bad the Ugly (89)
  • SF and Horror (91)
  • So You Wanna Be A Freelancer? (107)

In addition to the OddCon panels that I will be appearing on with Guests of Honor Patrick Rothfuss and Sarah Monette, you can join in the fun! Be sure to check out the fiction writing contest and come to network with other writers and fans of the genre. Also on hand will be Emma Bull Guest of Honor, Matt Forbeck, novelist and game writer, Michael Damien Thomas and Lynne Thomas, Jeff Preston, Illustrator, Matt M McElroy of the Flames Rising Horror and Dark Fantasy Webzine and several other wonderful guests!

Hope to see you there!

Content Saturation and its Effects on Your Writing

According to this article about amazing web stats from January 2009, there are an average of 900,000 blog posts published within a twenty-four hour period. Even if the average reader would skim through each post at a rate of one per minute, it would take approximately 1.75 years to read every one.

With this amount of content added on a daily basis, the web is rapidly approaching a point where content is becoming heavily saturated. Content aggregators that point to other people’s content are increasing in popularity, even though the demand for original content is not slowing down.

Content saturation is a challenge that every content creator (i.e. writer) must face sooner or later. There are a few effects of content saturation that are becoming more and more apparent each day, and I’d like to point these out to you:

  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the original source of an idea. All great journalists are taught that citation goes a long way toward establishing your credibility as a writer. Because there are so many blog posts created every day, the “original” post may get lost in a noisy sea of words and links.
  • Content saturation fosters plagiarism. When you have 900,000 blog posts created every day, it is very easy for any writer to fall into temptation. After all, if they take one person’s blog post or idea and re-formulate it as their own, who would find out?
  • A writer’s credentials are less important than the post’s or website’s content. In more conservative times, a writer’s background was as important as the content they were writing about. If you were writing about finance, for example, you either had a background in finance or you interviewed people in the field to ensure you got the details correct. In today’s environment, there is little-to-no differentiation between one writer or another, even if that writer has no background or experience in what they’re writing about.
  • It is harder to tell the difference between opinion, observation and fact. Many writers vie for stronger prose to express their point more authoritatively. “Top 10 Marketing Tips for Your Novel” for example, is one topic I’ve been reading up on. Not one of these articles provided proof of concept (e.g. case studies, real life examples) to show how or why these tips were important. While one of these articles might be more factual than another, without citations or credentials, it’s really easy for any author to get confused.
  • A reader’s attention span is nonexistent. Over a decade ago, this article talked about how readers don’t read the web, they scan it. This lack of attention span is forcing writers to write less words for any particular topic, not more. In fact, I did the math after reading this article about the change to WordPress.com’s homepage and found that, on average, each blog post was only 250 words.
  • It is more challenging to write on “original” topics. With that amount of content created each and every day, it’s quite possible that multiple people could be writing about the same topic of conversation at the same exact time.

In an upcoming post, I’m going to show you some techniques that you can use to combat content saturation to spruce up your writing and reading skills. For a different take on content saturation, read: Warning: The Internet is Almost Full.

Genre Fiction and Why I Can’t Look at a Piece of Pie

As a writer, I’ve found that I really enjoy experimenting with different themes in fiction. My personal preference is to write in the horror, dark fantasy and science fiction genres because of the freedom and flexibility they provide. The settings I create (or write for) offer me the chance to explore heroic and villainous characters in new and interesting ways. You won’t find me writing a lot of gore or stories about “abuse.” I’m more interested in that little bit of light that resides in all of us — even the characters you least expect to see it in.

As an online marketer, I feel that sociology is part and parcel to what I do every day. From how people are (or aren’t) using specific tools to integrating online networks into your personal life, there’s no doubt that the internet has a profound and significant impact on our lives. I find that my own writing is influenced by popular trends and culture, which is why I tend to explore three-dimensional characters in my fiction rather than plots. Yes, plot is extremely important to my stories, but I prefer to write about the villain that will move mountains for the cute kittens or the hero who doesn’t like eating his peas.

My latest story will be published in just a few months for an anthology called Buried Tales of Pinebox. Dubbed “Pie,” this is a horror short story about a Skinwalker (i.e. an evil creature who skins people to assume their identity for a limited time) who is trying to help the FBI find a murderer in town to save her own skin. Literally. In this horror story, I had specific themes that I wanted to play around with. First and foremost, the main character is a villain, she’s just not “the” villain in this particular plot. Secondly, since Pinebox is a small town in Texas, I wanted to write a story where I ignored the “small town” tropes and focused on using the mundane to add in a horrific element. Even though I only reference it once or twice in the story as part of the subplot, I grossed myself out to the point where I can’t even look at a piece of pie.

What’s next for my writing? I just wrote an article for the Flames Rising horror fanzine about the origin of horror tropes, which is a prelude to writing a monthly column featuring a different strong female character in horror. I’m researching a fight scene for my free urban fantasy novel, but I’ve also got a lot of other things in the pipe including five big events between now and Labor Day. As soon as I get an idea of what panels I’m speaking on, I’ll update you with a schedule.

Breaking News: Using Facebook Pages? Log in ASAP

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up who is using Facebook “fan” pages. Yesterday, Facebook changed those pages to look more like profile pages, and added some new functionality. 3rd party ads are now more visible, you can provide a status update and they look more like a personal page. (Additionally, there is no ability to update your status message automatically by adding an “app” to connect with Twitter, either.)

However, if you have an existing account this new functionality is a hindrance rather than a benefit. The profile information that you had filled out to go underneath your logo is shifted to a new tab, and most of your customization has shifted.

If you’re using a Facebook page, I recommend logging in to see if this works for you. Otherwise, you can join me today while I dig around and see how I can make mine look better.

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