An Inexperienced Photographer’s Guide To Taking Your Significant Other’s Author Photo

When Blair Thornburgh asked me to take the author photo soon to be featured on the back flap of her debut novel, I was quite flattered. Up until now, my only real photographic qualifications I had were being some chump with a film camera and an Instagram account that happens to hang out with her a lot. But, what better way to learn how to take a proper portrait than by diving headfirst into the shallow end and knocking some knowledge into my brain case.

This is your step-by-step guide to taking you taking your significant other’s author photo without completely mucking it up, ruining your relationship, or damaging their career before it has even taken off. (If you’re looking for proper photography tips, please see step one and disregard the remaining steps as they will be of little to no use.)

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20 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Clickbait Headlines You Won’t Believe!

This tweet from Fran Wilde caught my attention:

She used a clever little generator to create some blog topics based off of her input and interests. I started to think, who needs technology when you have good ol’ fashioned brain power?!

So, below are some SF/F clickbait headlines for your enjoyment or use.

  • A Xenomorph Met A Kitten And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!
  • Top 10 Genetically Enhanced Cats That Are Perfectly Safe to Own
  • 5 Swankiest Post-Human Hangouts
  • Top 10 Uses For a Flux Capacitor That Don’t Involve a Younger Family Member Trying To Smooch You
  • 8 Ways To Unstick That Pesky Control Lever While You’re Hurtling Towards The End of Time
  • 5 Romantic Weekend Getaways On Exoplanet Wolf 1061c
  • Here’s What You Need To Know About Raising Changeling Wolf Children
  • 50 Uses For A Frozen Tauntaun Besides A Fleshy Sleeping Bag
  • Magic Rings of Power: What You Need To Know
  • These Soylent Green Recipes Will Blow Your Mind
  • Cyborgs Getting Hit Right In The Power Pack [Video]
  • Top 5 Toys For Your Pet Yog-Sothoth
  • 10 Inspirational Quotes From Our Dark Lord Cthulhu That Will Reaffirm Your Faith In The Old Ones
  • Little Green Men From Mars Touched Down At A Rollerskating Rink and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next
  • Dream Of Becoming A Centaur? Check Out This New Miracle Product!
  • 8 Ways To Subjugate Those Pesky Wizards And Keep Control Of Your Kingdom
  • 5 Apps To Keep Your Internet Connected Coffee Maker From Gaining Sentience and Rallying Your Other Household Appliance into Destroying All Humans
  • 5 Apps For Your Internet Connected Toaster To Help It Squash Any Kitcen Appliance Uprisings
  • 5 Apps To Prevent Your Phone From Passively Aggressively Posting to Your Social Media Because You Won’t Charge It Regularly
  • Tips For Taking Back Your Blog From The Bored AI That Keeps Making Lists Of Inane Clickbait Article Titles [Slideshow]

Have some SF/F clickbait headlines of your own you’d like to share? Pop ’em in the comments, I’d love to read them!

The New Generation of Traditional Animators

I forget where I stumbled across Monocle Magazine. I assume it was a half-asleep late night click around one of my news feeds. However I found the site, I’m very thankful that I did. It has been a constant source of thought provoking stories on music, style, architecture, and art. The articles are  and the videos impeccably produced.

It was one recent video that really grabbed my attention.

I’ve always loved the look of hand-drawn animation. Its imperfections and quirks make it feel organic and full of happy accidents that come with being alive and without control over every variable. The video highlights three animators from the Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Southern England who have taken traditional animation to new heights of complexity and craft.

One sets her stories inside cardboard miniatures, another animates by painting on glass, and the last works with life-sized props and murals.

So, have a look at the latest crop of award-winning and brilliant people innovating in animation.

Painterly Cyborgs and Distant Horizons: A Conversation with Julie Dillon in the January 2016 Issue of Clarkesworld

cw_112_700It’s a new year and with it comes the very first 2016 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine! Just look at that gorgeous cover by the brilliantly talented Julie Dillon. It touches on all the hallmarks that really makes her work stand out:

-engaging use of color
-flowing organic shapes
-gazing off at a distant horizon
-circles (seriously, check out the interview below)
-super cool cyborgs

Her work as an inviting warmth and mystery to it that always makes me want to dive into that world, live, and find out what’s going on with each of her subjects. What is this pharaoh-like bot doing? What’re those glowing orbs floating in its palms? Can I wear that hat? Will I become a cyborg if I wear that hat? Why am I so caught up on that hat?

I had the good fortune to interview Julie Dillon for this issue of Clarkesworld. In addition to being talented and driven, she’s simply an awesome human. Neil Clarke also interwove a bunch of her artwork to the article making it an absolute visual, in addition to cerebral, delight for your eyeballs. So if you want to learn more about Julie and the wonderful body of work she’d done for Clarkesworld, make sure you check out the interview!

Thanks Julie and Neil!

This issue features some wonderful stories from:

The Algorithms of Value by ROBERT REED
The Abduction of Europa by E. CATHERINE TOBLER
Extraction Request by RICH LARSON
Everybody Loves Charles by BAO SHU
The True Vintage of Erzuine Thale by ROBERT SILVERBERG
Old Paint by MEGAN LINDHOLM

Also, in the non-fiction section you can find articles like:

Our Future is Artificial by SOFIA SIREN
Painterly Cyborgs and Distant Horizons: A Conversation with Julie Dillon by CHRIS URIE (HOLY CRAP IT ME! *flails arms, passes-out*)
Another Word: Let’s Write a Story Together, MacBook by KEN LIU
Editor’s Desk: The 2015 Reader’s Poll and Contest by NEIL CLARKE

A Tiny Philcon 2015 Recap

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Philcon 2014 was the first Sci-fi/Fantasy convention I ever attended. I was fortunate enough to have interviewed some lovely local and legendary authors who then proceeded to brow beat me into going. It was worth it. It was intimidating, frantic, exciting, and inspiring.

Philcon 2015 was more of the wonderful same except that I was a little more weathered, a little more prepared for the frantic rush between panels, making hard choices between seeing authors discuss ancient computers or story structure, and snagging drinks with friends at the bar.

Since I’ve tumbled into the wonderful realm of short fiction, I organized my day at Philcon around panels on that subject. I spent time listening to incredibly talented writers and editors speaking about their philosophies, processes, and tastes. It was enlightening and entertaining.

But I will say, the highlight of my time at Philcon 2015 was lunch with new and old friends. I got to catch up with some excellent writers I’m honored to call friends and an esteemed editor who has taken a chance on some fool with the last name of Urie and gave me a chance to contribute in my own small way to his legendary magazine.

For now, Philcon has been my only experience with SF/F cons and it’s been wonderful. But, with other con warriors prodding me along, I’m sure, before long, I’ll be heading to Dragoncon, Readercon, World Fantasy Con, and maybe even Helsinki!

Some Quotes and Lessons from Philcon 2015

“Don’t take a dump in the foyer.” – Jon McGoran, on exposition dumps at the beginning of a story.

“Do not send me zombie stories. This is NOT a challenge.” – Neil Clarke, Editor of Clarkesworld on what NOT to submit.

*Fake Weeping* ”Someone just made a sale!” – Ty Drago, Editor of Allegory on reading emotionally charged slush.