Friday, August 30, 2013

Freaky Friday Fun Facts #4

Mulluane | Friday, August 30, 2013 | Be the first to comment!

A little Wow! A bit of Whoa! A tad of Neat! And of course another bonus link at the end but remember, no skipping ahead!

1
~~~SFF Goodies~~~


From io9:


You could live in this NYC apartment that looks like a 1960s spaceship

*Blurb* There is some hot-ass retro spaceship design going on inside this New York City apartment. For only 14.95 million, this blast from the past (but straight into your future) could be yours.

2
~~~Science/Nature~~~



From Today:


Wild! Sperm whales adopt dolphin with deformed spine


(Again this is not new, article is dated last January, but it is further proof that fact is often stranger than fiction. Besides that, it is also a very heartwarming story.)

3
~~~Writing~~~



From io9:


9 Scientific Breakthroughs That Killed Science Fiction Subgenres

*Blurb* Science fiction looks to the future — but sometimes the future catches up to you. Sometimes, an idea generates tons of great science fiction stories — until science reveals the truth, and kills it dead. Or technology surpasses it. Here are nine scientific breakthroughs that destroyed science fiction subgenres.


4
~~~Archaeology-History~~~



From Discovery News:


Oldest Rock Art in North America Revealed


*Blurb* On the west side of Nevada's dried-up Winnemucca Lake, there are several limestone boulders with deep, ancient carvings; some resemble trees and leaves, whereas others are more abstract designs that look like ovals or diamonds in a chain.


5
~~~Humor~~~



And for today's humor section


From The Website of Brent Weeks:


Sam Sykes Intros Brent Weeks


(This is hilarious!)


Bonus!
~~~Kirkus: 80 Days of Giveaways!~~~


In Celebration of their 80th Birthday


*Instructions*


1. To get your daily update and winner notifications, 'Like' Kirkus Reviews on Facebook and follow @KirkusReviews on Twitter.

2. Each day, follow the link in the post, and submit your answer below.

3. One lucky book lover per day with the correct answer will win a FREE New York Times best-selling book. And every time you submit a correct answer, you get an entry for the GRAND PRIZE: a new iPad!

Today's Question:

 What 1951 J.D. Salinger novel about a troubled teenager, was —and continues to be— one of the most controversial and challenged books in American schools and libraries?

(Have Fun Ya'll!)





Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday This or That #2

Mulluane | Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | 2 Comments so far

My second edition of this feature once again asks the question "Which cover do you like better? But, this time I am also asking, "Which title do you like better?"  Because poll asked 2 questions, multiple answers are allowed.


Which cover art/title do you like better?



 #1 or #2



~~~ Vote Here! ~~~



Notes: Depending on the device you are viewing this with, pictures may be stacked. So to clarify: #1 will either be on top or to the left. #2 will be on the bottom or to the right.

Also, my last attempt to add a poll directly to a post looked really weird in Feedly. I am hoping this attempt does better but if it doesn't, you may need to visit blog to view or vote.


Additional Fun Facts for Art Lovers: 


Book Cover #1 was done by Geoff Taylor and you can buy the painting by following the link.

Book Cover #2 was done by Keith Parkinson who sadly is no longer with us.

So there it is folks. Don't forget to vote, and/or comment! Inquiring minds wanna know...


Friday, August 23, 2013

Five Freaky Friday Fun Facts #3

Mulluane | Friday, August 23, 2013 | Be the first to comment!

A little of this, a bit of that and a couple of something else entirely. Oh an another bonus link at the end but remember, no skipping!

1
~~~SFF Goodies~~~


From Voyager Online:


Geekileaks

*Blurb* Welcome to Geekileaks, a brand new weekly webcrawl where Voyager brings you the coolest, geekiest things scurrying around on the interwebz. Because loving SFF means never having to be bored when you’re procrastinating online. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice: most everyone’s mad here.

2
~~~Science/Nature~~~



From NBC News:


Diver who saved dolphin: 'He swam right up to me'


*Me* This is not a new story and I do not remember where I first read it but I remember it blew what little mind I have left. So I went looking for it so I could share.

3
~~~Writing~~~



From humanitysdarkerside:


The Oatmeal: Easy and fun explanations of some grammar rules

*Blurb* I wholeheartedly recommend The Oatmeal to those authors out there who sometimes have questions about their proper use of grammar. Their presentations are elegant and fun.

*Me* Oh I need these, badly! And they are comics too!

4
~~~Archaeology-History~~~



From Discovery News:


Medieval Poison Ring Used for Political Murders

*Me* Thought these were a Fantasy prop? Think again.

5
~~~Humor~~~



And for today's humor section


From The Blog of Peter V. Brett:


Bio Contest


*Me* Peat ran a contest for fans to create a new Bio for him. Seems he was bored with his old one. I chose to link to his "contests" search label so you could easily locate all 4 posts. Contest is closed but the entries are absolutely priceless.


Bonus!
~~~From Pat's Fantasy Hotlist~~~

Win a Copy of David Hair's Mage's Blood!


*Blurb* There is a definite buzz surrounding the release of David Hair's Mage's Blood, the first volume in The Moontide Quartet. And I have a copy up for grabs, compliments of the folks at Jo Fletcher Books!


*Me* You skipped ahead again didn't you. Sigh. I knew you would. Well come back once you entered the contest. I'll wait up for you.





Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On Blogging and Reader Engagement Part Two: Pinterest.

Mulluane | Wednesday, August 21, 2013 | Be the first to comment!

Ok, so it isn't a Wacky Wednesday Interview but while I work up my nerve to ask some poor soul to do another of those I felt the need to broach a different subject. Namely what I have learned since I returned to the exciting world of blogging. Granted this article may be of more use to my fellow bloggers then my fellow book readers but there is a little something here for both. Besides, you too may decide to blog one day.

Things have definitely changed in the years I was AWOL.

  • Google Reader - Gone.

  • Feedburner - Dying.

  • Blogs full of broken links - Sigh

  • Goodreads - Massive amount of followers

  • Twitter - Insane amount of users

  • Facebook - boggles the mind

  • Self-Publishing - everywhere I look

When I left all of these things were either going strong (Google Reader) or just getting started (Twitter) or very rare (Self-Publishing). And to be honest, I never thought FB would last this long. I never trusted it. Still don't. But is is a necessary evil  when it come to blog promotion. Or so I've heard.



In addition, there were other changes:

  • Google's switch to the infamous "Penguin Search Algorithm" (aptly named since it must have been dreamed up by somebody with a frostbitten brain.)


  • SERPs (sounds like some kind of secret government agency doesn't it.)


  • FTC disclaimer rules. (Really? Like we make any REAL money doing this. Maybe the check got lost in the mail.)


  • Data Markup. (Ummm, sounds like another way to confuse the heck out of the various browsers. They can't decide how to render simple html; can't wait to see how badly they mangle markup.)


  • Google Plus. (Don't get me started on what I think about this forced invasion of my privacy.)


  • Feedly. (Not bad. Especially now that I've figured out how to make it act like Google Reader, sorta.)


  • Tumblr. (what the heck is microblogging? Oh! It is like Twitter only without the 140 character limit. That is kinda cool.)


  • Pinterest. (huh, wait, WTH is Pinterest!)


That discovery may prove to be my downfall. I have discovered and fallen in love with Pinterest. Which is nuts. I am on dialup. Dialup plus graphics equals a need for IV valium. And yet, I spend an inordinate amount of time pinning, searching, repinning, and making new boards just so I can pin new stuff. I have even gone so far as to start replacing all my old fuzzy amazon images with nice big pinnable HQ images! Well, there are all those dead links to replace. I could blame it on that I guess.

So, the main subject of today's article is actually.
"What I have learned about Pinterest!"


When I first ran across Pinterest it made no sense to me. I knew it was right up there with the big two, Twitter and Facebook, but for the life of me I didn't get it. Why were a gazillion people interested in looking at a bunch of pictures. And what about the risk of running afoul of copyright laws? Aren't most images copyrighted? Confused I dug deeper. I mean I was seeing Pin IT buttons everywhere, including in Feedly.

Here is what I discovered.

Fair Use Laws. While yes, images are copyrighted, there are instances and rules that get around this. You can google that term for specifics but basically, you can use an image as long as A) it is attributed to the original source and/or B) you use it to make a comment, review or as a promotion. Take book covers for example. Read the legal stuff on a Publisher's Website and it clearly states that copyrighted book covers may be used to promote the book. The original source in this case can be the blog/website doing the actual promotion. Or you can simply link directly to the Publisher's image and make a comment, like "This is my favorite book ever!" Either way you are covered by Fair Use.

What NOT to do. Don't just pull images off a google search, they may be in violation of copyright laws. Don't download images to your computer then upload to Pinterest as this hides the original source. Original pins need to link back to a source which is either utilizing them in a Fair Use manner or owns the actual copyright.

If you aren't sure, don't risk it. If, for example, a book cover artist has an online gallery with copyright warnings written all over it, look elsewhere. However, if he/she has a Tumblr or Pinterest account, then they obviously want the pictures they have posted there to be shared. Otherwise they wouldn't post them on those platforms.

When possible, find the pin you want on Pinterest and repin it. Never pinning anything but your own stuff is generally frowned on. Besides, everybody looks to see who repinned them. That is the main method of getting new followers.

But Mulluane, why use Pinterest anyway? We already have all these lovely book covers on our blogs. Besides, Pinterest is now No-Follow and they strip affiliate links.

Well, I am gonna tell you why Pinterest rocks.

The first thing I discovered. Was, unknown to me, I was already on Pinterest in the form of pins directly from my blog. Sweet! Wiggles with delight! Free publicity and I didn't even know it existed! I figured I might be onto something here. Especially when I discovered that companies like Random House Publishing have their own boards.

So how does it work exactly? Well, think of Pinterest as Twitter or Facebook only in eye-catching picture form. There are literally too many "I Love Books" boards to count. Which basically translates to "what a great place to connect with book lovers!" You can like, comment, share. Sound familiar?

All those pinners need pins for their pretty boards. So people do a search for a book or a genre, run across one of my boards or my blog, (depending on how they search) sees and likes my big pretty book cover picture of their all time favorite book (which happens to link to my review of said book), repins it to their "I Love Books" board. Then all of their followers see it, and hopefully repin to it their "I Love Books" board and all their followers see it, and so on. Suddenly you have new people dropping by your blog.

Oh but it gets better. One thing I firmly believe in is sharing the love. I KNOW how hard everybody works on this hobby of ours so I promote anything and everything SFF related. Since I have more or less mastered Feedly (that's another post for another day) I comb through literally 100s of feeds a day. Some I buffer to Twitter and FB, some I save for posts and some I pin. Cover reveals, book reviews, artist interviews, even movie posters get pinned to my boards with a direct link back to the blog where I found them. And now that I have a substantial number of "pins" I am starting to see repins with increasing frequency.

So what is the catch? Well, there is a tiny one. Literally. The catch is, bigger is better. If you are using tiny images or Amazon iframes, I can't pin it. Well, actually I could but it would look lost next to large images and therefore unlikely to get repinned. Also the smaller the image, the further down the page it gets pushed. The other drawback? It is addicting. And beautiful. And at times hilarious. And infinitely entertaining. I never imagined there was so much, breathtaking Fantasy art out there. At times I find myself simply mesmerized by it all.

*Tips*

Don't pin from feedly. I know they make it easy to do so but I discovered the "source" link ended up being feed proxy and that is not what I wanted at all. I want the source link to be direct and that means pinning directly from a blog/website. Besides, everybody loves an actual visitation. We work really hard to make our blogs all pretty. Kinda nice if company drops by so we can show it off.

Highlight the text you want shown under your pin before you hit the Pin It button. I discovered this by accident. Whatever you highlight on the source page becomes the pin's description. (BTW, this works for Buffer too.)

Don't have time? Don't want to setup yet another account to keep track of? Have multiple authors for your blog/website? No problem. You can have multiple pinners on a single account. All it takes is granting them permission. If you are one of my fellow SFF book bloggers we can even discuss sharing mine if you'd like.

But what if you mainly use a feed reader for your surfing needs? It is not well known but there is a manual RSS for that.  For example mine is http://pinterest.com/mulluane/feed.rss or to follow a single board it would be, http://pinterest.com/mulluane/fantasy-book-and-art-lover/feed.rss (in other words just add /feed.rss to end of url.)

You can also share pins. Connect your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts and when you pin you can check a box to either share to FB and Twitter, or uncheck to not share. Can set up for a FB account or a FB page.

*Conclusion*

I think this resource is being underutilized by the book blogging and reading communities. Both as a self promotion resource, sharing resource and as a discovery resource. There are many venues to explore. For example, Kate Elliott and Trudi Canavan both have boards as does Random House and lots of artists. Of course there are other uses. I hear it is the go to place for things like recipes and even writing advice. But for my purposes, I focus mainly on books, and art. Well there are the quotes too, sometimes really funny ones. The possibilities are endless.

Now, before you go blind reading this rather LONG post, I will bid you adieu. For now. But I'll be back....



Friday, August 16, 2013

Five Freaky Friday Facts (#2)

Mulluane | Friday, August 16, 2013 | Be the first to comment!

This week most of these are from io9 and range from freaky to interesting to funny. There is an added bonus link at the very end but no skipping!


~~~Technology~~~

From io9:

Go to space for $2,000 and never ever get back.

Talk about going out with a bang...


~~~Science~~~

From io9:

In case of apocalypse, here's how to make penicillin in your kitchen

Ewwwww!

~~~Not really a Wow! More like a Cool!~~~ 

From io9:

Discover the grade level of your current beach read


~~~Archaeology-History~~~

From Discovery News:

Dig This: Badger Unearths Medieval Treasure

Maybe it had badger dreams of someday being a dragon? Finding a treasure to horde is a good start.

~~~Humor~~~

And last but not least. this one made me giggle.

From Reuters:

Lying about its lion, Chinese zoo closed for going to the dogs



And guys and gals! As an added bonus a Sweet Giveaway Notice!

Brandon Sanderson Books Giveaway! International!


You skipped ahead didn't you. I saw you! Sigh. Well come back after you enter the contest and read the rest of the stories. They will still be here patiently waiting for you...




Thursday, August 15, 2013

Trident Thursday (#1): Defining Epic Fantasy

Mulluane | Thursday, August 15, 2013 | 2 Comments so far

Welcome to Trident Thursday where I ask 3 pointed questions like "What is a pointed question anyway?" No, no no! That was not the actual question! Well not this week anyway.

First a disclaimer. The following subject is not new. Like the proverbial horse it has been beat to death in many posts and articles but I have yet to find answers that satisfy me. Besides, the only opinions I care about are yours.

The Problem in a Nutshell. As some of you may or may not know I adore Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy or Sword and Sorcery with a dose of good old fashioned Dark Fantasy thrown in for giggles. But the more I read the more I am becoming confused as to what exactly those terms mean.

I frequently see Epic Fantasy also called Sword and Sorcery. I see High Fantasy called Epic Fantasy. And Dark Fantasy is showing up across all the subgenres.

In a world where writers are busy trying their best to break the mold and stand out from the crowd (don't blame them mind you), their efforts are confusing the heck out of me. It is not a huge problem really. Just a labeling/shelving/SEO nightmare. (SEO = Search Engine Optimization for you non-bloggers)

My Mission has always and will always be to read and review those three types of fantasy, though I don't mind a bit of crossover into dark, alternate history or even a tiny speck of Sci-fi. The people who share my tastes are my target audience and I want to provide them with an honest spoiler free review while adding in as many other sources of information as I can find.

But...

I frequently find myself closing the book and wondering exactly what category it falls in. How in the world am I going to label it? This leads me to go looking. What did the cover blurb accolades call it? The publisher? The author? Other reviewers? (I hate resorting to reviews, I try to avoid those at all costs so MY review remains untainted.)

And what do I find? More confusion. This one says it is the best Dark, that one the best Sword, Epic, High, Fantasy they have read in years....

Guess what else I find. Basically everything across the board is being called Epic Fantasy.

Well, my definition of Epic differs. Look at the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. Small cast of characters with magic and wielding sharp pointy things. Yes it is good vrs evil, but they are pretty much contained in one city at a time and not engaged in broad sweeping epic world changing conflict. And yet.... it is called Epic Fantasy. Personally I call it Sword and Sorcery but am I wrong? *Note* The conflict does broaden out by book three but that just makes it more confusing not less.

*(Not picking on you Brent, just the first example that popped into my head.)*

To Clarify. I am not asking about Urban Fantasy or Science Fiction. If the storyline crosses over into THIS world, normally I won't read it. My goal of escaping this world and my suspension of belief are both defeated if there is urban scenery in my fantasy. And the future, quite frankly, scares me. There are however, exceptions to even that rule. Pern comes to mind. Oh and I do not object quite so much if it is a part of YA Fantasy since I left that scene behind a long time ago. Confused yet? Yeah. Me too. But I digress...

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is three pronged. (Go ahead and roll your eyes, you know you want to.)

1. Do you have your own definition of the various sub genres of Fantasy? I know what the official explanations are and those are not helping me. I want to know what yours are.

2. Should I include them all?  If it is a broad sweeping, earth shattering, fantasy with a main hero bearing a magic sword, along with his friendly dragon and elven girlfriend, taking on a horde of blood drinking demons bent on world domination AND set in a undefined or secondary world but obviously based on Celtic history, sorta, what the heck do I call it?  A Dark Epic Sword and Sorcery Heroic High Fantasy Alternate History? (I'm out of breath now. Did I just set a record for run-on sentences?)

3. Or, what do you think about this idea? I have seen it said that if the book/series contains any combination of the elements listed above, it is Epic Fantasy. All of the other categories are sub genres. Do you agree? Maybe I should start a new trend, pick the top two and come up with my own terms. Epic High Fantasy, Epic Dark Fantasy or Epic Sword and Sorcery for example. (That would throw SEO out the window.) What do you think?

Discuss, share, tweet, comment, like, but mainly comment! I am looking for an Epic response here!

Oh and in anticipation of the ensuing deluge of opinions, THANKS!







Friday, August 9, 2013

Five Freaky Friday Facts (#1)

Mulluane | Friday, August 09, 2013 | 1 Comment so far

I did not run across too articles this week that made me go wow! but here are a few that prove fact is often stranger than Fantasy. (or fiction, whichever you prefer.)


~~~Technology~~~

From Reuters:

Fish-inspired vessel joins Brazil offshore oil boom


~~~Science~~~

You have to see to believe this.

From io9:

Behold, the Clearest Photo of a Sunspot Ever Taken


~~~Not really a Wow! More like a Cool!~~~ 

From Paperback Writer:

Texterize It


~~~Archaeology-History~~~

From Discovery News:

Coffin at King Richard III Site Holds...Another Coffin

Now if it took 8 people just to lift one lid. I wonder how many it took to carry 1 or both coffins. Talk about built to last....

~~~Humor~~~

And last but not least. this one made me giggle.

From Reuters:

Dead shark found on New York City subway


Not sure if this was a tribute to Shark Week (honestly I think Discovery is being paranoid) or a dig at Sharknado (I find this to be more likely) but either way somebody had a bit of fun. Yes I know, the poor shark. I love animals as much if not more than most people and I'm sorry for the shark, but I still think it is funny.







Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday This or That? (#1)

Mulluane | Tuesday, August 06, 2013 | 3 Comments so far

My first edition of this feature you can blame on 2 things. Pinterest and Amazon, in that order.

The time wasting beauty of Pinterest has given me a whole new love and appreciation for, of all things, book covers. But, at the same time, it has shown me that not all covers are the same. There are HQ covers, often found on publisher's websites. There are old covers and newly designed covers. There are also different covers for different regions of the planet. I have also discovered an intense dislike for the fuzzy, out of focus covers provided by Amazon that I have unfortunately been using for years. Trust me. Now that I know better, I won't be using those anymore.

But, beauty is often in the eye of the beholder so I am going to give you 2 examples of a cover for the same book. One from the US and the other from Australia. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to cast your vote (and if you so desire, leave a comment with your thoughts) on which cover you like best.

So without further ado....


Which cover art do you like better?

The Pool of Two Moons by Kate Forsyth - The Pool of Two Moons by Kate Forsyth

~~~ Vote Here! ~~~



Notes: Depending on the device you are viewing this with, pictures may be stacked. So to clarify: #1 will either be on top or to the left. #2 will be on the bottom or to the right. 

Also, this is my first attempt to add a poll directly to a post. I am not sure how well it will work in feed readers. You may need to visit blog to view or vote.


Additional Fun Facts for Art Lovers: 


Book Cover #1 was done by Daniel R. Horne who doesn't do book covers anymore but specializes in Monster art.

You can read an interview with Mr. Horne here: Art of the Genre: Inteview with Daniel RHorne - Black Gate

Book cover art #2 was done by Spike Wademan. Mr. Wademan also has a gallery of his work here: Artist Insite 

So there it is folks. Don't forget to vote, and/or comment! Inquiring minds wanna know...


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Upcoming Featured Content

Mulluane | Saturday, August 03, 2013 | Be the first to comment!
The Plan: so I pondered and thought and pondered and considered. Got a headache. Stayed in bed for a day. Got up and pondered some more and here are the content ideas that I came up with.

Monday's Muse: reserved for reviews. This way you can spend the whole week admiring my lack of grammar, poor spelling, abysmal punctuation and bad habit of run on sentences. Oh and an awesome review of the latest book or series I've read. Review might be here or there.

Tuesday This or That: I am going to give you a choice between one thing and another thing. You will be able to vote for one or the other or both. Can even comment on why you picked what you picked. Note, I do moderate comments but I rarely sleep so your comment will show up sooner or later. As long as it isn't spam. If it is I'll have it for lunch instead.

Wacky Wednesday: it is Wacky Interview day! What is a wacky interview you ask? Well look up top and click on the Author or Reader Interview tab and see for yourself! Look like fun? Want to be interviewed? Just let me know. I'm sure something can be arraigned. Mahahahaha....

Trident Thursday: where I ask 3 thought provoking questions. Usually stuff I really want to know but the mighty google does not answer to my satisfaction. And so I'm looking to you for some answers... Scary isn't it.

Freaky Friday: as I comb my feed readers each week I often run across odd, strange, or freaky facts. Could be related to science, nature, news or history. The type of stuff that makes me go Wow and I wanna share! (BTW, wanna is another of those legitimate southern words like ya'll.)

Now this does not mean I will be posting every day. It only means that if and when I do post on a certain day, I will remain true to the above format. And as an added bonus this still leaves me with Saturday and Sunday for, well you know, stuff. (Notice Saturday = Stuff, Sunday = Stuff... didn't see that coming did ya...)

Now I'm not locked into these ideas. If you come up with a better one, or 12, please share. I may even change things up myself. It will all depend on what works and what falls flat. But for now this is my plan. We'll see how it goes.

Oh and one more thing. The success or failure of this venture rests solely in your hands. Yes you, over there, behind the curtain... you know who you are.... but no pressure. Honest.




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