chriswlester

Landscape Journals: What’s in YOUR Noggin?

For the last few months I’ve been participating with my partner Melanie in the Montana Artrepreneur Program (MAP), a business course for artists who want to make money doing what they love. I’m attending the workshops both as Mel’s business partner in her photography career and in the hope of learning things that I can apply to my own business as a writer. There are a number of business tools that must be completed in order to finish the course, and one of these that I think is particularly valuable for writers is the Landscape Journal.

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Posted by chriswlester in Writing

Interview with Lauren “Scribe” Harris

authorPhoto_laurenScribe_harris_604x403I first met Lauren “Scribe” Harris at Balticon in (I think) 2011 or 2012. Since that time I have gotten to know her through her voice acting and her hilarious round-table discussion podcasts with Abigail Hilton. Earlier this year she became an Assistant Editor with Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, one of the most popular online magazines for speculative fiction. I sat down to talk with Lauren about her new job and her perspectives on the world of SF/F publishing. Continue reading →

Posted by chriswlester in Publishing
The Lost and the Least: Unidentified and Unclaimed Persons

The Lost and the Least: Unidentified and Unclaimed Persons

This is the second post in a monthly series about the origins of the next Metamor City novel, The Lost and the Least. In this series I examine the real-life tragedies that are overlooked by the news media: the unseen suffering of the forgotten.

Jane Doe, Alsip, IL, 1980

Jane Doe, Alsip, IL, 1980

On September 23, 1980, at approximately 12:19 pm, the body of a Black female was located in the Cal-Sag Channel in Alsip, Illinois. The victim was face down in the fetal position and was naked from the waist down. The victim had six stab wounds to her back and two stab wounds to her chest. The victim’s hands were bound with an electrical cord, and a neck tie around her neck which also bound one hand to her upper legs. Her face was covered with adhesive tape. The victim was found wearing a blue wool sweater, a dark floral blouse, and a beige bra.

– From the FBI ViCAP database

In 2014, the FBI received 876 new reports of unidentified persons: recovered bodies whose identities could not be ascertained. This was actually a light year; in most years since the FBI began keeping records, the number is over 1000. In 2007 there were an astonishing 1788 new cases.

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Posted by chriswlester in The Lost and the Least

Publishing on a Shoestring: Open-Source Software for Self-Publishers

Step into any big business office and you’ll find lots of software with big names attached: Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, Intuit QuickBooks, Adobe InDesign, and many more. These software packages have a long history behind them and a huge installed user base. Many people learned to use them in college and have continued using them throughout their professional lives.

For a do-it-yourselfer trying to get started in self-publishing, however, they have a big disadvantage: they’re all expensive as hell. Even if you have access to them through your primary employer, you’ll probably be violating some terms of service if you use them for your own for-profit work. Getting yourself into murky legal waters is the last thing you want when you’re trying to get to market as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Fortunately, there are a number of excellent tools available that can do everything the big-name software titles can do, but which are completely free or very inexpensive. Here are a few that I couldn’t do without.

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Posted by chriswlester in Publishing

The Lost and the Least: The Genesis of a Story

I’ve mentioned before that the next Metamor City novel will be called The Lost and the Least. I haven’t spoken very much in public, though, about where this story came from, or why it needs to be written. This blog post is the start of a new series, which I plan to add to roughly once a month, in which I’ll explore the real-life roots of the story and why they matter.

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Posted by chriswlester in Culture, The Lost and the Least, Writing

2014 Sales and Earnings Report

Tax season is once again upon us, and that means it’s time to take stock of how my adventures in self-publishing have progressed this year. Several of my fellow authors in the Podcast Fiction Tribe have taken the lead in disclosing their sales numbers and earnings from self-publishing (hat-tips to Abigail Hilton and Matthew Wayne Selznick), and in the interest of transparency I’m going to do likewise.

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Posted by chriswlester in Publishing
Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse

On January 17th I had the pleasure of attending a special exhibition by the Benevolent Order of Mountain Artists (BOOMA), hosted at The Danforth Gallery. The show was called “Exquisite Corpse”, which sounds rather morbid, but the concept behind it is actually quite fun and the end result is extremely cool. More details after the jump…

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Posted by chriswlester in Podcasting/New Media, Writing

Late Arrivals on the Westbound Train

It’s after 1 A.M., and the ghosts are awake.

I’m walking westbound down Cavendish Street, from the residential neighborhood toward our few little blocks of downtown. It’s blasted cold and the wind is howling like the demons that used to plague this place, but I’m out here because the dog needs to go to the bathroom and it takes her a good half-a-mile walk to get her bowels loose. God only knows why she won’t go in our nice fenced-in yard, but I guess when you’re a twelve-year-old retired ranch dog you’re bound to have picked up a few eccentricities. Whatever her reasons, a walk is the only thing that will do, and loving a senior animal means you do these things because at this point you’re just not going to change them.

The dog trots down the pavement on her too-short little legs, her back end bouncing with every step. With her plush double-coat she laughs at winter, while I cinch up the mouth of my hood and wrap my scarf tighter around my face. If it were only the cold, it wouldn’t be so bad — she and I have braved colder nights than this together — but the hood and the scarf cut off my peripheral vision, and that’s not a welcome thing on nights like this.

As I said, the ghosts are awake. Living people don’t belong outside on nights like this, and everyone but me and the dog seems to know it.

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Posted by chriswlester in Rants and Ramblings