Tag Archives: community

#NoBadMaps

#NoBadMaps

I am a firm believer that creators should help other creators. I don’t look kindly on folks who refuse to share process, advice, and experience. The world is already a savage, selfish, and cutthroat cesspool, and dragging that attitude into the creative sphere is counterproductive. It doesn’t matter if it’s writing strategy, musical tips, painting advice, or one’s approach to performance; we should—as a rule—lift each other up. Make the world a better place.

Enter: #NoBadMaps. My next venture into doing just that.

For much of my life, I’ve been a designer. I’ve worked for companies large and small and I love it. It’s offered unique challenges, it’s changed the way I’ve viewed the world, and it’s made me reevaluate how I see others. (Plus, it made it a lot easier to release my own books.) But not everyone is a designer. That’s okay. We have strengths and weaknesses and we should use our strengths to help others.

#NoBadMaps

Recently, many of you have noted my release of Photoshop brush sets designed for the creation of fantasy maps. There is a reason for this and it harkens back to focus on helping others. Within the realm of genre fiction many readers, myself included, are keen on maps. They can help us see a world more fully and they go a long way to enliven the text with a sense of place. Are they necessary? Not always, but much of my own reading has been enhanced with the inclusion of a map. I want to pass that experience onto others as well.

We’re nearly two decades into the 21st Century and we’ve seen the rise of indie publishing and along side that enormous growth in genre fiction. It’s no surprise that many authors—traditional and indie—want to make their own maps. But, it can be a struggle. Fantasy cartography is a skill set that takes time to hone, most writers want to write and don’t want to put in the effort to learn map-making. This is why I started #NoBadMaps—my goal is to make it easy for authors to create high-quality maps for their novels and do it in a way that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg. While there is no substitute for professional illustration, I want to do my damnedest to help writers get as close to professional as they can.

#NoBadMaps

Using my brushes is easy: you load them in Photoshop, create a document, and place what you want where you want it with a few mouse clicks. Point-and-click. There’s very little drawing, no scanning, nothing complicated. In fact using any of my brush sets you can make super cool maps in minutes. That’s intentional. The end result is to empower authors to create better maps that fit the style of their books.

Of course, I have rules.

  1. The brush sets will always be free. This is key, after all the goal is to help others. If I charge for this stuff it feels predatory. All of the work I am using is in the public domain, all I am doing is making the style more accessible. No sense charging for what is already free, ya dig?
  2. The brush sets will always be royalty-free. I want to see people use my brushes for both personal and commercial projects. The maps are already public domain, no reason why the brush sets shouldn’t be as well.
  3. The brush sets will always be varied. One of the things I want is to help recreate that feeling of hand-drawn maps. That means I will do my best to capture and share the imperfections found in ink-on-paper maps. If you want machine-made creations, look elsewhere. We’re going for authenticity with #NoBadMaps.
  4. The brush sets will connect to history. I think this is vital. It’s why I name the sets after the engravers when possible and like to include a brief history on the map and the maker. I think it’s important to recognize the creators and in a way, this helps their creations live on.

With Monday’s release of L’Isle, I’ve now shared five sets in total and I have several more on the way. I’ve gotten enough questions that I felt this post was necessary to address concerns from my readers. Let me make this clear: my focus is still on writing, it will always be on writing, but I want to share my experience and empower others to create great maps. My brushes are a way of helping other authors create something beautiful.

A few people have asked how they can support this work. My first rule is very clear: these brush sets will always be free. I’m not planning on starting a GoFundMe, nor do I want to manage a Kickstarter, and—if I’m being honest—I cringe a little at Patreon. (A subject for another post, providing Patreon lasts that long.) If you want to support me and my work: buy what I create. In my case, it’s my books. Buy ‘em. Read ‘em. Tell people about ‘em. Leave honest reviews. Give them to friends. They’re good. They get positive reviews. They’re wonderfully weird.

That’s it. That’s how you can support me. It’s simple.

Going forward I plan on doing a few things:

  • Keep writing. I recently put up some big numbers in Gleam Upon the Waves and I have updated the tracker in the side bar. No ETA on launch, but I’m moving along.
  • Release more brush sets. I have at least three that I’m finalizing. So expect more to come. I’m really focused on finding variety. There are thousands of old maps, and making sure each set remains unique is key.
  • Write some more.
  • Tutorials! I want to share tips, tricks, and ways to best optimize the brush sets for your projects. This might include expanding beyond the typical map elements of landforms, flora, and settlements.
  • Write. Write. Write.

#NoBadMaps will continue for the foreseeable future. If you have questions feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. There’s a lot more stuff to come, and I am excited to share it with everyone.


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Friday Link Pack 11-13-2015

Friday Link Pack 11/13/2015

It’s Friday! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack, my weekly post covering topics such as writing, art, current events, and random weirdness. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

WRITING:

The New Intimacy Economy
Lately, Facebook, Uber, and many other startups try to infer a close intimacy with their users. Meanwhile, Hollywood stars also dabble in the ‘intimacy valuation market’ feigning at friendships. In this great write-up, Leigh Alexander explores the concept that in reality,  every content creator is now a community manager.

World Fantasy Award Drops H.P. Lovecraft As Prize Image
As a guy who writes cosmic horror inspired by the creations of Lovecraft, my feed lit up this week when this news broke. Some people were upset; others were ecstatic. In the end the reality is: it’s not a big deal. This decision doesn’t effect Lovecraft’s popularity, influence, or legacy anymore or any less. If anything, as author Anne M. Pillsworth pointed out on Twitter, “I think no one author can comprehensively represent a genre, any genre, so I’m good.” I’m good, too.

Can You Promote A Book Without Making Yourself Miserable?
Eventually, everyone has to promote their book, that goes for both indie and traditionally published authors. The process is time-consuming, exhausting, and it can be miserable. To that end, Jane Friedman explores the question we’ve all been wondering.

Genre Snobbery Is A ‘Bizarre Act Of Self-Mutilation.’
In this interview with Wired, author David Mitchell discusses how books transcend genre despite people intentions to pigeon hole them, the influence of Ursula K. LeGuin on his writing, the creative boon of Dungeons and Dragons for writers, and the future.

Signed Copies Of Red Litten World Are Back!
Yep! If you’ve been waiting to get a signed paperback of Red Litten World, your wait is over. Signed copies are back in my store.

ART:

The Art Of Katharine Morling
Working in ceramics Morling’s work takes simple two dimension sketches and renders them in the third dimension. Excellent pieces, I especially love the matchbook.

The Art Of Oscar Gregeborn
The detailed digital art of Gregborn looks more like some intense and complex watercolor. His work explores strange landscapes that look as vibrant and detailed as it does alien.

Marc Da Cunha Lopes’ HPL Series
Influenced by Lovecraft, this beautiful series of photographs reflect his work, but with a twist. I love the last photo; it reminds me of a cephel from my series. (It’s also the image featured at the top of this post!)

RANDOM:

The Abandoned Buildings Of The Eastern Bloc
Explorations of abandoned and crumbling buildings of the former German Democratic Republic left after the Soviet’s reign. Haunting and strangely similar to the world of Fallout 4.

Living La Vida Loca In Japan
A cartoonist documents his friends trip to Japan. Wonderfully charming.

MIT’s Weird Snake Bot Could Be The Future Of UI
A transforming robot that can mimic the touch points of any interface and become whatever its user needs on a whim. Strange but… oddly cool?

Stefano Boeri’s “Vertical Forest” Nears Completion In Milan
There has been a lot of exploration in the vertical garden, serving various needs. Stefano Boeri’s take combines the mass of trees one would find in one hundred acres and lays them out vertically. Love seeing stuff like this, I hope this works out.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Loveland Frog
“The Loveland Frog (aka the Loveland Lizard) is a legendary humanoid frog described as standing roughly 4 feet (1.2 m) tall, allegedly spotted in Loveland, Ohio. A local man reported seeing three froglike men at the side of the road in 1955, and a police officer claimed to have seen a similar creature on a bridge in the city in 1972.

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

What The Moon Brings
In this very short story, (like… it’ll take you two minutes to read) the narrator takes a peculiar walk under an even peculiar moon.

GIF OF THE WEEK:

Argh!

The Weather Diaries

Friday Link Pack 11-21-2014

Friday, Friday, FRRRIIIDDDAAAY! That means it’s time to share a few links I’ve found over the last few days. Some of these I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Let me know! All right, let’s get to it.

Tanzania:

Community Starts With You
My friend Brandie Heinel is moving to Tanzania to build an orphanage, foster home, and community center. She needs your help. Instead of buying that coffee or a beer today, please take time and donate.

Writing:

Burying The Coin By Setsu Uzume
Do yourself a favor and listen to the latest short story from my friend Setsu Uzume over on PodCastle. If you’re looking for a steampunk romp with a little more punk, then you won’t be disappointed. Not only is the writing great, Amanda Fitzwater does an excellent job with the reading.

‘Am I Being Catfished?’ An Author Confronts Her Number One Online Critic
Strange tale of an author seeking her biggest Goodreads critic. This was making the rounds for a while, but it’s worth a read if you missed it. Thanks to J. Rushing for suggesting I add it. Oh, and I should add, never, never, never do this.

The Book That Writes Itself
In which Hugh Howey asks the question: when will machines start writing books? Don’t think it could happen? Think again. It’s an interesting exploration on the advancement of artificial intelligence and humanities future.

Grimm Brothers’ Fairytales Have Blood & Horror Restored In New Translation
You’re probably aware that the old fairy tales were much different than the ones we know today. In the mid 19th century they were cleaned up for children and deviated significantly from the original stories. Well, good news! In the latest edition, those tales have been restored to their terrifying glory, and now I know what’s going on my Christmas list.

Art:

Thierry Cohen’s Darkened Cities
In this series photographer Thierry Cohen explore landscapes we rarely see. Modern cities usually alive with artificial light, lit only by the stars.

Surreal Pencil Drawings Of Lips By Christo Dagorov
Switzerland-based illustrator creates fascinating imagery and landscapes within the texture of human lips.

The Weather Diaries
A book and short film made to celebrate Norwegian Fashion Week that goes above and beyond. Surreal and haunting imagery that is stunningly beautiful. Thanks to my own favorite painter, Kari-Lise (who else), for sharing this.

Random:

Norway’s Sleek New Passports Contain A Surprise Design Feature
As I said on twitter, I think Norway is going to win “Best Looking Passport.” Is that a thing? We should make it a thing.

Cory Doctorow: Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free
I debated putting this in writing, and opted here, because information is much broader than just the written word. Anyway, Doctorow makes a case that digital locks are worthless and access is better in the long run (and people will pay for it.)

Ancient Egyptian Handbook Of Spells Deciphered
Here’s your fascinating archaeology news of the week, a 1300 year old manuscript deciphered. They claim it contains spells to cure possession by spirits and various ailments, or to bring success in love and business but let’s hope no one conjures up a First, eh?

Lovecraft Story of the Week:

The Book
“As I hurried home through those narrow, winding, mist-choked waterfront streets I had a frightful impression of being stealthily followed by softly padding feet.”

Gif of the Week:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Community Starts With You

Community Starts With You

Hello friends and readers! Today I’m asking you to join me in taking part in something pretty extraordinary.

My friend Brandie Heinel is moving to Tanzania to build an orphanage, foster home and community center. The construction of these buildings will help create over 100 new jobs, educate over 600 new students and leave a positive impact in both of these communities for generations. Brandie is overseeing the construction and working alongside the school’s administration to ensure that the project is completed and the community’s needs are met with utmost care and support.

I’ve been following her progress via http://mamahope.brandieheinel.com, and the partnership between her and the community is inspiring. I want to spread that inspiration. She’s already raised over $8,000 of her $40,000 goal, but she needs your help!

The holiday season is a time to give thanks – a time when we show others how grateful we are for our own great fortune. What better way to begin the season of giving than to give the infinite gifts of health and education?

So please, visit her fundraising page at http://mamahope.brandieheinel.com. Please DONATE there and help her give the children of Tanzania the opportunity to live happy and healthy lives in a campus that is dedicated to their future. The $10, $20 or more you might spend on a shirt, lunch, or beer this week could instead go towards sustainable and necessary community-created care for brilliant children. Help to be part of a community building an orphanage, foster home and community center. Brandie only has 42 days left to reach her goal of 40k. What could be better? Please donate and tell your friends!

#TheStarsWereRight

The Stars Were Right Print Proof

Roaders, miscreants, friends, and readers! First, thanks for taking the time to read The Stars Were Right, thanks for the emails, the posts, and the kind words about the book, and for spreading the word. Ya’ll are awesome.

I have one quick request: If you’re posting about the book on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) please hashtag it with #TheStarsWereRight. Not only is it a great way to keep building this little community of ours. It also makes it super easy to organize, explore, and share thoughts/opinions/ideas/art with one another, and allows interested readers to see what other folks have thought of the book.

Oh! One last thing. You’ll notice there is a new menu item as well. I figured it was time to launch a teaser site for Old Broken Road. It’s simple and straightforward but I think it’ll help set the mood and excite folks for what is coming. Enjoy!