Today kicks off Book Expo America at the Javitts Center in New York City. BEA is the largest book convention in the country, though this year is smaller than others.
This year’s vibe, I’m told, is going to be somewhere between “we’re effed” and “where do we go from here?” Interesting discussions will hopefully happen and break ground for new business models in publishing.
You can follow the chatter on Twitter by watching the #BEA09 hashtag.more »
OK, so the latest version of IE isn’t too bad, and as far as customization goes, Microsoft’s browser of choice is greatly improved from its past versions, but still. All the cool kids are using Firefox. Don’t you want to be using what all the cool kids are using?
There are tons of browser options out there: IE, Chrome, Opera, Safari. But Firefox will always be my baby because of its amazing range of add-ons.
Add-ons are kind of like accessories in Final Fantasy games. Ribbons protect you from status ailments, sprint shoes help you move faster, that sort of thing. If you aren’t using add-ons for Firefox, you’re seriously missing out on the best you could have.
Here are some of my favorite add-ons:
SearchStatus will give you the Google Page Rank and Alexa Rank of every page you visit so you can tell what’s an awesome site and what’s lame.
There are tons of Twitter clients but... more »more »
Writing on Teh Internetz. We all do it. You may not want to call it blogging, but whatever.
Today, I bring you profiles of some of the more ubiquitous blogging tools. You know. In case you wanna get in on some of that easy blogging money!
(Caveat: There is actually no easy blogging money.)
Speaking of, these are all free services. Unless you want to get fancy, you can run a blog on these platforms for no money at all.
Blogger is the blogging platform that’s owned by Google. You know it; you’re looking at it right now. It’s Fringe’s platform of choice, and it’s fairly easy peasy. If you’ve got a Google account (also known as a Gmail account, though it does more than Gmail, people), then you can log in to Blogger.com and get started right now. However, there’s not a ton of room for fancy personalization.
A favorite among the slightly tech-savvy, Wordpress sports a clean, streamlined look that can be calibrated to your personal tastes with lots and lots of options. It started life as an open-source blogging service at Wordpress.org, but now it’s got the balls of corporate backing. A favorite in my line of work because... more »more »
As you should all know by now, we’re smack-dab in the middle of National Poetry Month. Oh, poets! You will never make any money.
But don’t worry, poor prisoners of verse. There are ways to celebrate digitally.
DailyLit, a service that will e-mail you books in manageable installments or provide them on your RSS feed, is offering free bite-sized chunks of poetry throughout April. Their Masters of Verse collection is a nice way to remind yourself of all those stanzas you had to memorize in high school. And it will give you a chance to LOL at the title choice of Good-By and Keep Cold by Robert Frost (because everyone knows the original title was STAY FROSTY).
If you’re struggling to write your poetry but can’t concentrate because your roommate’s new girlfriend squeals like a pig and the walls in your apartment are paper-thin (for example), maybe you need a distraction-free text editor like WriteMonkey. I’m pretty sure Byron used something very similar.
And hey, do you remember the slightly scammy old Poetry.com? Well, now it’s been bought by Lulu.com, the Print-On-Demand (POD) company, and they will apparently give poets money sometimes.
So April is totally not the cruelest month. I mean, it’s... more »more »
I don’t often do book reviews for Fringe. I leave that to my colleagues who are down with the learnin’. But guys, as a hardcore interweb nerd, I cannot help but force my bookish opinions on you when it comes to Quirk Books’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. If you’ve been living under a non-nerd rock, then maybe you haven’t heard how awesome it is. The original text by Jane Austen is melded with added scenes and twists from Seth Grahame-Smith, who I am now stalking on Twitter (@sethgs).
What you might call an exercise in ridiculous pop culture trend-huffing is probably the best book ever made. Let me repeat that: THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER MADE.
Fans of Jane Austen might balk at an old, beloved story being turned into mindless entertainment complete with explosions and Kill Bill-esque swordfights. But those fans can go to hell. You had your chance, Austen fans. You took the original story and turned it into a thousand and one incredibly boring... more »more »
Hello, Fringe-philes. Today I bring you a bit of blogging with heart and soul, for today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day to commemorate the achievements of ladies in the field of computing, engineering, innovation, and general awesomeness.
I love making ladies holla, so I jumped on the Ada Lovelace Lovefest ship at the first toot of its smokestack horn. But then I realized, holy crap, I don’t know any awesome lady computing superstars! Except for myself. And I think this day is supposed to be used to recognize ladies who have invented useful things, not lame YTMND pages.
So I dove headfirst into some Wikipedia research. Yeah, that’s right. I didn’t go to my local library or scour an old folks’ home looking for aging female inventors hungry to share their life stories.
And it doesn’t matter that I did this half-assed. Because I learned something. You know Hedy Lamarr? Silver screen starlet during Hollywood’s Golden Age? Running gag in many Mel Brooks movies?
Well she was also a scientist, y’all. And she patented frequency-hopping spread spectrum instruments. Do you even know what that is? I SURE DIDN’T.
But without this innovation in the use of radio frequencies, originally... more »more »
Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.
What can I say that is more poignant or true than what Twitterer extrodinarie and all-around role model to the geek Stephen Fry says about Twitter and all social media being a threat to the media as we know it?
What uses of Twitter could I point out that you couldn’t easily Google on your own?
Yes, I know. It’s the Next Big Thing that all the hipsters are doing, so it sucks. And it seems stupid and useless to most of you, and 140 characters (not words, characters) can’t possibly help a human being communicate a successfully nuanced thought. And of course you’re angry about what this all means for the future of language.
So I’m going to ignore all that. Because you can argue about all that on Facebook, which, if you recall, lots of people resisted with vigor and stubbornness when it first arrived. But I won’t mention that either!
I’m going to tell you a story about the power of Twitter.
It’s a cautionary tale, an urban legend that I... more »more »
As I continue to yammer on about how to write and use the internet at the same time and how the internet can help you write instead of edit, I bring you yet another online tool in the constant battle of the Word Count.
Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die is a tool that a few of my fellow WriMos used during November. The idea is simple: you type into the Write or Die box, and if you don’t, you’re cyber-smacked on the backs of your hands in various ways. The worst and most effective way? If your stream of words cease, the application begins deleting what you’ve written so far.
It’s like water-boarding for writers!
Dr. Wicked, the app’s creator, says:
This is aimed at anyone who wants to get writing done. It requires only that you recognize your own tendency towards self-sabotage and be willing to do something about it. If you’re sick of saccharine writing advice that no one could honestly follow and you want a real method to getting work done.
I agree with this dude completely! I’m done being a pansy writer, sitting around waiting for mah muse. Give it a shot next time you’re stuck or on a deadline.... more » more »
Several weeks ago, two days before my twenty-fifth birthday, I was struck by a case of appendicitis and had to undergo an emergency appendectomy at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. I had never been hospitalized before, had never even broken a bone before (though I suffered a nasty sprain resulting from a too-spirited game of Wii Tennis).
Before you get all freakily concerned, I’m fine. Appendectomies are like the bean burrito of surgeries: you can’t really mess one up, and the professionals have probably done thousands of them in their careers. Going under the knife (or rather, the tiny little instrument they now use) didn’t bother me as much as the fact that everything was taking place, in my mind, in sort of an abstract sense.
I experienced it not as, I think, a normal person should experience an illness. Or maybe it is and I just never had a chance to find out before now. But my mind was stuck seeing things as if I was jotting down mental notes for Chapter Five of a best-selling memoir. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what the name of my nurse was or who I had given my insurance card to... more »more »
Most of my writing friends decry the internet as a huge time-waster when they should be focusing on their writing. But Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing recently wrote a column about how one can write in the age of internet distraction. (By the way, if you have taken my advice and set up a feed reader, you should add BoingBoing, as it is the repository of all that is right and wrong online.)
Here’s a little snippet from the column:
The single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time and wouldn’t help my writing. This advice was wrong creatively, professionally, artistically, and personally, but I know where the writer who doled it out was coming from. Every now and again, when I see a new website, game, or service, I sense the tug of an attention black hole: a time-sink that is just waiting to fill my every discretionary moment with distraction. As a co-parenting new father who writes at least a book per year, half-a-dozen columns a month, ten or more blog posts a day, plus assorted novellas and stories and speeches, I know just how short time can... more »
As I emerge into a new world where I guess we’re going to get a real president and stuff, I can’t help but feel nostalgic about my NaNoWriMo experience. As I shared with you weeks and weeks ago, I participated in an online push to write 50,000 words in 30 days. And I did it. Whee, confetti.
This was the first time I had done NaNo, and it was a crazy month. My days were full of hurried writing. I took my new teeny tiny laptop everywhere I went. I wrote in coffee shops, in wine bars, in grocery stores, in Union Square, and on the subway. I wrote during lunch breaks and before work and after work and on the weekends. I wrote lots and lots and lots of stuff.
Maybe 20% of what I wrote is actually usable.
The structure of NaNo is unique because you get so worked up about hitting your word count, you’ll write anything. You go from day to day, trying to dig yourself out of the hole you created yesterday when you decided to watch House instead of write. You’re throwing in adjectives and adverbs and flashbacks and background information just to stretch the words out.... more »more »
As I said before, I am deep in the trenches of writing a novel in 30 days or less, or the whole book is free. So this post comes to you from the sort-of distant past. I write this one day before the election, so I am still beautifully in the dark. I can still worry about silly things.
My nerd and language hero, Stephen Fry, has just written a new blog post about the nature of language which is a must-read for any writer. Especially writers who (whom? no, no, I think it’s okay) are freaking out about vomiting up a minimum word count every day, regardless of whether it’s grammatically correct or even makes any sense.
It’s a beautiful argument against Language Nazism, and a lovely mantra to keep in mind as you attempt to break through your block to get words down on the processor. Here’s a snippet:
Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to bother with language in public today bother with it in quite the wrong way. They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other people’s usage and in which they show off their own... more »more »
This post and my next post were written far in advance and set to post automatically. As I shared last time, I am deep in the throes of NaNoWriMo and cannot be bothered by things like blogging and eating.
So as I write to you from the distant past of October 29th, when we still don’t know if the election is going to have a “hiccup” or not, if Palin will suddenly grow bat wings and attack elite gay socialists, or if the war in Iraq will ever stop, I bring a sense of charming naivety.
Today I will discuss very small laptops, because I just bought one and I sort of want to gloat about it? In order to maximize my on-the-go writing time, I decided to invest in an ACUS eee PC. Mine is green, like the one pictured, weighs 2 lbs., and runs on Linux. For the ungeeky, Linux is an open-source computing platform. It’s like Windows except free and crowd-created and moderated. It doesn’t do everything that Windows or a Mac could do, but it is pretty nifty. And since I’ll just be using this as my ultraportable, I don’t need it to do much besides connect to the... more »more »
This year, for the first time, I will be doing NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. This year will be its 10th anniversary.
The point of NaNoWriMo is to create an online support system that challenges participants to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. It’s a grueling task that only a small percentage of participants complete, but apparently it’s supposed to give you the same feeling of accomplishment as running a marathon.
Just…you know…with words instead of actual steps.
Though I’ve never tried doing NaNoWriMo before, here are some tips that I’ve been told might help when attempting to write a novel in a month. They might end up being good general writing mantras.
- 1. Do not edit or censor as you type. Just barf those words onto the word processor.
2. Make a calendar with specific word count goals for each day.
3. Create an outline to work from so you stay focused.
4. Procrastinate by checking British National Treasure Stephen Fry’s Twitter feed every few seconds.
5. Use NaNoWriMo.org to meet up with other NaNos in your area to bitch, mainline coffee, and participate in write-ins.
The point of writing a novel in 30 days... more »more »
Stupid, un-web savvy n00bs, I chortled. God, who uses yahoo e-mail anymore anyway?
Then, a few days later, I got totally hax0red.
A personal blog I had kept since I was 15, chronicling my every teenage honey-nut angst-morsel and drama-ridden spinach-puff, was hacked and wiped clean of all information. Sure, it wasn’t as horrifying as, say, compromising government business or releasing personal contact information of hundreds of paid subscribers, but it still sucked big time. Luckily, I had a content backup system and I was able to contain the damage, but that is no excuse. I should have had a better password protection system in place.
As writers, you will hopefully be keeping digital archives of your work along with important e-mails from your (god willing) agent and/or publisher. Consider this a friendly reminder to stop using “password” as your password.
Lifehacker has a great article here about how to keep your password safe.
- 1. Don’t answer your security questions in a clear-cut fashion; obscure the answers.
2. Choose passwords that are complex.
3. Use... more »
If you’re a writer…
No, scratch that, if you are ANYONE living in the world today, you must start using an RSS feed reader if you haven’t already. In a nutshell, a feed reader will take the content from a web site (usually when you click on the nifty orange button with the radio waves in your toolbar) and FEED that content into an interface that is controlled by you. Feed readers enable you to view, organize, share, tag, and keep tabs on your favorite sites without checking each one every single day. It will change the way you browse, certainly. But do not be afraid.
Most people, my stubborn past self included, don’t like the idea of switching to a reader for their online needs. They whine: “Oh, but I like visiting my sites! I like seeing them for myself! I like wasting time and being inefficient for hours and hours on end.”
Fine. Suit yourself. But the rest of us fly honeys are going to be rocking our readers.
For writers, a reader can help you keep track of your favorite author blogs, organize news feeds, and stay on top of sites that are helping you research that next great American novel... more »more »
Hello writers and other assorted lovers of the written word,
You may look at the heading of my humble blog post and say, “Internet! P’towie!” (”P’towie” being the sound cartoon characters make when they spit; if you can actually spit while making this noise, please record it and e-mail it to me. I would be most delighted.)
Anyway. I understand your spitting anger.
The internet represents to many of us the fast-paced tide of time, a death march whose tempo is meted out by that annoying hamster song, a flurry of hyperlinks and hyperactivity. This new future we find ourselves in appears to be devoid of art, love, beauty, and most distressingly, well-written novels published to deserving nationwide acclaim. Children don’t read anymore, you might cry. No one cares about books, you might groan. They only care about cats with captions and the myriad ways failure can be captured on camera and then blogged about.
To you I say: don’t despair, Negative Nancy. The internet is content, and content is your product! Writers and teh series of tubes go together like lions and the circus (minus the cruel abuse in most cases).
I may be biased because I’m an online/interactive book marketer (which is a... more »more »