The False Intimacy Of Media

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Earlier I posted on how there’s two different ways to connect to Media. I summed it up roughly as follows:

  • Known Connections: A fiction reaches us as it triggers existing associations, such as tropes.
  • Created Connections: A fiction makes us see things anew, creating new associations and ideas.

Today I’d like to focus on the Known Connections, those cases where a media gets us interested because it contains known content, common ideas, and so on. I believe these kinds of metal associations with the media we consume explains one reason people get so addicted and defensive about their comics, books, movies, etc.

Consider how it feels when something “pushes your buttons” (in a good way) when you consume media. It feels good, it feels right, it feels as if it’s “for you.” Connection to a piece of media is an intimate experience.

Now, consider how media can throw Known Connections at you. That kind of story you can’t put down. That kind of character you always like. That obvious twist you still crave. The right media can pile on things you’ve seen before – and still get you to consume it because it’s the right pile of things.

Or in short, we all know that we will read the biggest mass of repetitive, unoriginal, done-it-all-before stuff if it hits the right spots. We might not want to admit it, but we will.

That explains, in part, why some people get so defensive of certain media that are, bluntly, pandering. It’s all the stuff they like, in a mass, wrapped up in a bow. They might not even be aware of how they’re pandered to, as that piece of media feels so right.

(And no, you’re not immune to this. I know I’m not.)

But there’s something else going on here. I think this love of media that pushes our buttons also leads to a sense of intimacy with the creator(s) and the people involved.

When we discover a piece of media that hits all the right spots (even if those spots have been hit a lot before), we also feel a sense of connection. Someone got all our focuses and loves right. Someone gave us what we wanted, even if we sort of have had it all before.

When you have that feeling, it’s a feeling of intimacy, of connection. It’s too easy to assume that this intimate feeling is, well, real. You probably don’t know the author. The media you chose, bluntly, is not that original (or is just pandering). Still, that connection feels right.

Looking this over, I think I understand why some people get obsessively protective of some media, authors, and actors. It does everything they like in the way they like. It feels intimate, it may even feel like it’s just for you.

It’s not, of course. But perhaps this explanation can help us navigating having discussions with people so attached to a piece of media.

Steven Savage

Connecting To Fiction

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

While thinking over fiction writing, it struck me that fiction is something that we feel a deep connection to. We read a story or a book, and some of the concepts strike us, the associations come together, and we feel the story – we experience a Connection (with a deliberate capital). These Connections exist in fiction no matter its quality – we can be intimate with something awful or we can connect with something sublime.

Think of how you see an idea that just seems right in a story or right to you. Think of how something just viscerally strikes your gut and you get it. Those are the connections fiction creates. Those are what we want as authors.

Then I realized that we connect with fiction in two ways:

Known Connections: A fiction reaches us as it triggers existing associations, familiar things. Familiar and beloved tropes are prime examples.

Created Connections: A fiction makes us see things anew, creating new associations and ideas. This is the experience of seeing something new or experiencing an idea in a different way.

These are simple, perhaps overly simple, classifications, but useful ones. Fiction evokes previous Connections of ideas or builds a new one. These experiences may be negative – one may experience a painful realization – but let’s focus on the positive and analyze it.

Or, perhaps the seemingly positive. Stick with me here. With this useful tool to classify fiction, let’s examine my ideas deeper.

Known Connections

Known Connections occur when a story or movie or whatever contains familiar elements. We like these because they are familiar, and often they run very deep in our minds. We all have some character or archetype or genre trope that just gets our attention.

These come from existing cultural infrastructure. Look at how people will instantly take to a familiar superhero or a genre trope – even if they’re overdone and tired. If you’ve ever wondered why some people prefer the familiar, it’s because it is familiar.

These Known Connections we experience in our fictional media are also powerful as they’re shared. How many people will bond happily over yet another remake of the same thing, or sigh together over a fictional heartthrob? Familiarity also has a social component.

I don’t wish to lionize these Known Connections. They’re often overdone in mainstream media and can be used in exploitative ways. At the same time, I don’t wish to discount them – humans like familiarity and common ground.

However, I will note they can get stale and lead one to unoriginality. Pursuing media with only Known Connections can leave one dissatisfied, empty, lacking a kind of “mental nutrition” – as we all need Created Connections.

Created Connections

Created Connections are what we experience when fiction gives us something new, and concepts knit together in a way we’ve not seen before. It’s that flash of insight, the realization of a new truth in an intimate way, the just plain cool idea we obsess about. We’ve all had that story or movie where we go wow and just feel we’ve experienced life a bit differently.

Fiction that builds connections is something we’d probably call “original,” though I’m not sure there’s a one-to-one-mapping here.

Note that Created Connections of ideas have to build upon familiar, Known Connections. Without having something already in your mind to build on, there’s no way for you to process or relate to new ideas. Created Connections literally rely on old, perhaps even stale, concepts and ideas to help you experience them.

Created Connections are vital for us to really experience fiction – and life. We need new ideas, diverse experiences, and so on for our well-being. To only experience the same thing over and over again limits us, stagnates us, and drags us down.

Why Is This Important?

So with this theory, what did I learn? Well, beyond the fact I’ll probably keep exploring this, I think I got some crucial insights on fiction and what it means for people. Let me share what this theory helped me think through.

First, this model helps me understand why people consume trope-heavy or outright pandering media. It’s known, and a good author can push all the right buttons with the skill of a conductor or surgeon. If it’s what you want and/or someone uses Known Connections right, you’ll get an audience.

Secondly, I understand why people who want something new get deep into some things. Those Created Connections hit hard, burrowing into our minds and building upon existing Known Connections while making something new. I get why people must experience the new.

Third, it’s a reminder to balance your introduction of familiar and new. You need to play on Known Connections to get attention and have Created Connection to get the rush of the new. It’s your balance of these elements that will determine how people connect with the innovation you’re working on.

Clearly, I’ll explore this more. I just had a Created Connection I need to process . . .

Steven Savage

Steve’s Creative Resources 5/16/2019

It’s been awhile since I posted my list of creative resources (which I keep at Seventh Sanctum) for your use.  Please reblog freely, and suggest new ideas.

Art Sources

Free

  • Pixabay – A source for art that is free as well as royalty-free. There’s a lot here, and much of it is professional.
  • Unsplash – A source for photos that are free as well as royalty-free. The quality is very high.

Royalty Free

  • Canstockphoto – A great source for royalty-free art, photos, and more. Has a subscription system and a pay-more-get-more credit system.
  • Shutterstock – The classic source for royalty-free art, photos, and more. Has both monthly and specific purchases available.
  • The Noun Project – A fee or membership-based site for downloading a huge selection of royalty free icons! Once you pay for it or download it, it’s royalty-free! Useful for all sorts of projects

Book Covers

Premade

  • Go On Write – Premade covers for books – pick one that looks right and the artist will change the title and author appropriately. A great bargain, and even has series of covers at discount! Will do custom work to.

Services

  • Paper and Sage – A reliable source of both premade and custom book covers.

Tools

  • Canva – Book cover creator, though you will want to provide your own art if you don’t want to pay for rights to their stock photo. Also has other services.

Book Reviewers

Review Sources

  • Midwest book review – Will review books for free, but it’s a matter of choice.
  • Self Publishing Review – A classic paid review service (where a pool of reviewers is available) for books. Not always a guarantee of the best reviews of course, so you take your risks . .
  • The Indie Review – A large, constantly-updated list of indie book reviewers.

Color Tools

Collections

  • Color Tools – Plenty of useful online color tools.
  • HTML Color Codes – Useful color tools, with a focus on web-focused colors.
  • Material Palette – Useful tools for desginging palettes, finding icons, and locating specific colors

Color Schemes

  • Color At Adobe – A color theme creator that lets you create schemes, or even get one from a picture, and has a powerful interface.
  • Color Calculator – A color scheme creator that also has useful advice and guides.
  • Colormind – A color theme creator that creates schemes with simple clicking, or get one from a photo.
  • Colors at Halfpixel – A simple palette creator (with a mobile option) with intuitive controls.
  • Coolors – A useful and powerful color palette creator that’s easy to use and powerful.
  • Huesnap – A palette repository and creation tool

Contact Management

Mailing Lists

  • Mailchimp – Mailchimp may have some restrictions, but it’s the go-to for easy mailing list management, which is perfect for authors and artists. It also integrates well with other tools.

Professional

  • LinkedIn – The classic business networking site, and pretty unavoidable for most professionals.

Generators

Generator Sites

  • Chaotic Shiniy – A diverse source of generators in a variety of styles.
  • Darkest of Nights – Fantasy-oriented generators.
  • Donjon – Generators for a variety of genres and game systems, some of which provide graphics as well!
  • Dropping-the-form – Generators for various settings.
  • Eposic – Generators – among other imaginative efforts.
  • Fantasy Name Generators – And there are a LOT of them here. About anything you could want, and a few you didn’t know you needed.
  • Feath – Generators of various types, conveniently categorized.
  • Generator Blog – Links out to many other generators.
  • Generatorland – Lots of generators and generator tools.
  • Mithril and mages – Generators for a variety of genres.
  • Name Pistol – Band name generators.
  • RanGen – Random generators, from fantasy to helpful writing tools.
  • Serendipity – A generator site with some setting and name generators.
  • Seventh Sanctum – A gigantic collection of generators founded in 1999, with a focus on writing and RPGs.
  • Springhole.net – A site of generators and other creative tools.
  • Squid.org – Home of a complex name generator with many, many options.
  • The Force – A powerful name generator with multiple options.

Graphics

Graphic Tools

  • Art Rage – A painting-oriented digital art program supporting many operating systems, tools, and formats.
  • Clip Studio – A comics, painting, and illustration tool with many options and features
  • Mediabang – A comic and painting application that’s free and multiplatform!
  • Paintstorm – A low-cost digital painting program with many advanced features.

Graphic Tools – Free

  • Gimp – Aka The GNU Image Manipulation Program. A free, open source graphic tool that will take care of almost all of your graphic needs (barring a few limits like CYMK conversion and the like).
  • Krita – A free graphic tool focused on professional workflows.
  • Made With Mischief – A quick, free sketching and brainstorming tool.
  • Sketchbook – A free sketching program.

Graphic Tools – Painting

  • BlackInk – A painting program, focusing on stylistic work as opposed to realistic

Mac

  • Pixemlator – A low-cost alternative to Photoshop for Mac, with lots of compatibility options

Helpful Tools

Relaxing Backgrounds

  • 4 Ever Transit Authority – Ride the bus through randomly generated art deco cities. A great program to run in the background or on your TV or monitor to relax you while you create.
  • Anomolies – A relaxing background display/artgame that creates surreal spacescapes, often with strange nebulas and sites that resembe anything from devices to lights to disturbing lifeforms.
  • Becalm – A relaxing journey via sailboat through surreal worlds with a relaxing soundtrack and audio. Can be run for a few minutes or in a loop and you can switch between multiple settings.
  • Panoramical – Available on Itch.io And Steam. Panoramical is an audio/visual remixer where you can tweak settings in multiple environments, turning them into audio/visual displays. Find your favorite setting, leave it on, and relax.
  • Station To Station – A simulated train ride through imaginary environments. Run it in the background or through your television while you create to help relax you

Portfolios

Services

  • Adobe Portfolio – The popular porftolio site – that comes with many Adobe subscriptions.
  • Artstation – Multimedia-focused portfolio and blog platform
  • Format – A portfolio site with store services as well.

RPG Resources

Random Charts

  • Chartopia – A site with a huge and expanding amount of charts for RPGs, easily sortable and classified.

Self-Publishing

Audiobooks

  • ACX – Amazon’s self-publishing audio platform
  • Audible – Another amazon audiobook publishing platform
  • Findaway – A wide-ranging audiobook distribution service.

Cards

  • Drive Thru Cards – Self-publishing for card games, both physical and downloads.

eBook

  • Itch.io – Itch.io doesn’t just do games – it also allows for people to publish books, and is very open-minded.
  • Kobo Writing Life – Distribute your eBook via Kobo
  • Nook Press – Distribute your eBook via Nook

eBook-Multiple

  • Draft2Digital – A service that distributes to multiple eBook platforms.
  • Smashwords – A wide-ranging ebook distribution service.

Physical And Ebook

  • Ingram Spark – Ingram’s eBook and physical book publishing platform. Wide reach, but may require some setup fees and has some limitations.
  • KDP – Amazon’s full-service print and Kindle publishing service. Warning, the eBook distribution is only through Amazon.
  • Lulu.com – A print and eBook creation and distribution service.

RPGs

  • Drive Thru RPG – Self-publishing for RPGs, both downloadable and in print. Also supports related merch like calendars.

Video Games

  • Itch.io – Itch.io is a supportive, indie-oriented game store site. It also has a lot of self-published resources for game development, as well as supporting books of all kind.

Website Creation

Services

  • Squarespace – The popular website creator with many options.
  • Weebly – Easy and simple to use website, blogs, and stores.
  • Wix – A simple And effective website source, though paid options are reccomended.
  • WordPress.com – The classic site, with free and paid options. Obviously blog-focused.

Writing Tools

Ebook Creation

  • Calibre – A free ebook creation tool.
  • Jutoh – Not only converts your book to various ebook formats, it’s a powerful enough tool that you could even write books in it.

Word Processing

  • LibreOffice – A full, free, open source office suite. Beyond the free price, it’s fantastic ad using ODT format and creating PDFs.

Word Tools

  • Describing Words – Ideas for how to describe a given word.
  • Dictionary.com – The classic online dictionary.
  • Related Words – Helps find words similar to or related to one you’re using.
  • Rhyme Zone – A tool to help you find rhyming words.
  • Thesaurus.Com – The classic online thesaurus, with plenty of useful options and displays

Writing

  • Scriviner – A writing tool that combines note taking, tracking, and writing into one application.

Writing Checking

  • Grammarly – A pricey but powerful service and software for checking grammar, spelling, and even plagarism if you need. There are free, limited options.
  • Hemmingway – A grammar checking tool with both web and desktop versions.
  • Pro Writing Aid – A subscription-based writing checker service/tool.

Indie Authors Versus The Money

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Right now you want to sell your books.  Maybe it’s a future career.  Maybe it’s a hobby that pays (like mine).  Maybe you’re just trying it out.

Either way, you want to sell.  As I noted in There’s No Honor In An Unread Book, your goal is to reach the right people.

And to do that, you’re up against many things, but one of those things is money.  Namely money other people have and spend to sell their books.  If you have a lot of money, well then good on you, but this isn’t for you (except to say, hey use that cash to help out others too).

You may think “wait, I’m up against other indies and self-publishers” with cash and worry about that.  Let me ruin your day further by noting it’s also you being up against publishers and marketing departments and everything else companies large and small have at your disposal.  When you’re trying to promote your works, you’re up against organizations older than we are.

It sounds overwhelming.  But we’ve all seen and heard of success stories out there.  Sure there’s a ton of survivor bias there, but there are people to learn from.  People who inspire us and give us hope.

Right now I’m not going to focus on that inspiration, I’m going to focus on what people are throwing money at to sell their books and such.  You can either throw money at those things, or if you’re like most folks coping with the world today, how you work around your limits.  Forewarned is forearmed, so roll up the sleeves on those forearms and get to work.

Here’s where money is getting spent.

Advertising

It’s easy to throw money at advertising on Google, Amazon, and More.  You can, with dilligent research, at least break even at advertising if not make a profit.  It’s just other people and companies can buy advetising at a loss if they need to in order to drive up sales and get reviews.

Advertising also has a feedback effect.  If you advertise your book or product and people buy it then it gets into reccomendations.

My cheap suggestion?  Study up on advertising and aim to get to the break-even point at least to get your book out there.

Book Tours

Publishers can send people on book tours.  It’s a great way to get attention on authors.  Other authors can send themselves and do their own book tours at indie book stores, conventions, and more.

Book tours are mixed bags in my experience – some sell some don’t.  Do them if you want.  It’s just to do it cheap, you’ll want to line it up yourself with local stores.  I like the idea, but I’m also the kind of person that likes to meet people.

The only challenge is that a lot of Indie stories are fussy about what they carry – usually amazon print books are a no-no.  That leaves Ingrahm Spark or Lulu for print.

I also do a lot of public speaking at conventions and libraries.  I use that to meet people and network.

Covers

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a good book cover can wrap many, many more up in a single image.  Good covers sell, as I have found the hard way.  People can throw money at a good book cover.

If you’re not going to do that your options are to learn to do it yourself (which is useful), get someone to help you (which is nice but can be exploitative), or use a premade cover service (like GoOnWrite, which I adore).  I find you can do pretty well with these if you’re careful.

Giveaways

You’ve probably seen newsletters like Bookbub that promote book giveaways – for a fee.  I can’t speak directly to how effective they are, but they keep going and I hear good thing.  It’s just they cost – you guessed it – money.  Also they usually only promote if there’s a discount.

It’s hard to top these for sheer volume.  You can of course give away books to friends and newsletter subscribers, or use things like ProlificWorks.com (which still costs but not as much).  It won’t get you a huge blitz, but still.

Reviews

Book-wise you can pay for reviews.  This may sound unethical (and there’s debate about it), but the model is simple – companies or publications keep a staff of reviews around and farm out entrants to them if they’re interested.  Similar models have existed for decades.  I’ll leave you to decide on the ethicalness of the situation.

But people are using this.  You can throw a few thousand dollars at a review service and get a lot of reviews.  So guess what, you compete with that too.

The cheap solution of course is to get as many reviews as possible.  Ask friends.  Ask family.  Ask fellow authors.  Go to sources of reviews and review sites and ask for reviews.  Offer free copies of your book.

Some people are throwing money at reviewers.  If you can’t or won’t, it’s time to get tactical.

In Summary

People are going to throw money at promoting their books.  If you don’t want to do that, can’t do that, or disagree with some of the approaches, you need to work around that.

One thing I can definitely suggest is to team up with your fellow authors.  Share tips.  Promote each other.  DO giveaways together.  One thing that’s free is friendship.

You’ll probably make some pretty awesome friends and you can plot together.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 5/13/2019

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Here’s our latest sprint roundup! Definitely prefering these two week sprints.

So what have I done since last time?

  • Way With Worlds: The Fashion Book close to completion! I hope to get it to the editor next week with a drop in early January.
  • Seventh Sanctum Book: I’m through the toughest part, and am on to the rest of the book. I think I’ll have it in editing mode (for myself) in June and to the editor in July.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Working on the eventually python migration and completed the Fantasy Romance Generator.

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: Finishing up the Fashion book and getting it to the editor (and maybe starting the next)
  • Seventh Sanctum Book: Writing as usual!
  • Seventh Sanctum: Launch the fantasy romance generator!

Steven Savage

There’s No Honor In An Unread Book

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

We write for many reasons, but almost always a writer wants someone to read their work. The reader may be themselves because it’s pure self-expression. The reader may be given a book as a gift, as the writer had targeted an audience of friends and family. The reader may be “whoever may like it.”

But either way, writers want their book read, even if it’s just “hey someone liked it.” That means we have to make books findable, it means we have to market them, it means making sure the right audience gets them.

I meet people who avoid marketing their books – not for the lack of time or money (which I understand). Some feel it “lowers” themselves, or is less artistic. Others fear turning into self-promoting jerks or being obsessed with marketing (fears I myself have had before). There were people I’d meet that had these fears about marketing, often a mixture of misguided principle and fear.

I have come to this conclusion.

There is No Honor In An Unread Book.

Books exist for reading. A book’s goal is to record, inspire, interest, help, thrill, whatever. The purpose of a book is to be read by someone.

Your goal is to find the someones and make sure they get it. It could mean buying a hundred copies for your friends so they have your memoir. It could mean a sophisticated marketing campaign. It could mean just throwing money at Amazon ads. But the goal of a book is to be read, and you do yourself no favor as an author not trying to get it into the right hands.

There’s nothing to be afraid of in marketing. Trust me, if you’ve seen what gets published “professionally” you’re probably better than you think. In fact, a book may be not-good but still right for some people.

There’s nothing gained from avoiding marketing, no principle embodied or morality followed by avoiding getting your book into people’s hands. There’s terrible methods, bad ideas, but the basic idea is fine.

I want people to read my books. To be helped, to be thrilled, to learn, to grow. I want to reach out to them and help them. If my writings have flaws, I want to learn.

There’s no honor in an unread book. There’s plenty in reaching your audience.

Steven Savage

You Ain’t Getting Rid Of Politics In Media: Part 2

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Last column I discussed how getting politics out of media was not just a fool’s errand, but was literally impossible. As an example, I used the guy-from-our-world-in-a-fantasy-world take on Isekai – one that, to do well, would require one to acknowledge politics.

The Isekai ‘transplant” genre would require addressing politics of the world and the “savior-from-another-reality” elements for it to make any sense. Else one is merely stringing together tropes – which is a politics all of it’s own (namely the politics of pandering).

Leaving politics out of something is basically bad worldbuilding. That’s something that, as you obviously noted, I’m very much against. It’s not just a personal thing, but that good worldbuilding leads to good fiction, and expands our horizons – even if our horizon is just “hey let’s have some fun.”

But what happens if you’re dedicated to certain tropes? What if you want to explore them? What if you have audience expectations? What if you like a good sword-swinging fantasy or space opera that has a lot of common beats? How do you explore those – and their politics – while still keeping some of the beats you want?

I am actually all for working with tropes (but not stereotypes) and exploring them. Some of the best work out there, like Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld or Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence starts with certain assumptions – then runs with them. Those series are remarkably political – which is why they’re so good – yet have so many recognizable elements.

And that’s the key, whether you’re a hopeful Pratchett (who is one of my major influences, I won’t lie), or you just want a space opera with lots of explodey drama. Take the tropes and elements and things you want to work with and run with them. It may be obvious in the case of people like Pratchett and Adams, or it can be more subtle (I’d point to Grant Morrison’s work on Doom Patrol and his twists on superheroes).

Want to have space opera with all sorts of human drama while not getting bogged down into too-much technospeak and fiddly economics? Then maybe your universe has so much automated manufacturing economics is an afterthought, and the human factors matter more than shipments of uranium. In fact maybe the universe is so automated that politics has become almost petty . . .

Maybe it’s time for a good sword-swinging monster-mashing fantasy, with elves and dwarves and kingdoms. But we all know that fantasy politics grafts romanticism on top of some honestly crappy medievalist and occasional D&D murderhobo derivations. Then why not do your story where all these tropes collide, so big-hearted adventurers are trying to cope with inbred royalty and the inevitable disappointments of finding how awful everything is? It becomes both real and inspiring.

You don’t do good fiction and good worldbuilding by avoiding politics. Instead you jump in with both feet, wide awake, and start the balancing act of expectations and extrapolation.

And yes this will be surprising. This will take one’s work in unexpected directions. Good – that’s when you’re really writing.

That’s also when your audience gets to be surprised as well as getting certain plot beats you want.

Sure, some people might get angry that you didn’t check every checkbox of what they want or do exactly what they said. But those people are going to be angry anyway. if they’re not angry at you, they’ll be angry at someone else.

At least, because you’ve been honest in your writing, they’ll look stupid being angry at you – and they might just see how good your work is and enjoy it and learn a bit.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Current Book List 4/30/2019

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Here’s a complete list of all the books I have available for folks interested in creativity, geekery, worldbuilding, and careers.

Fiction

  • A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: A Tale Of Dead Gods And Living Stories – KindlePrint

Culture

  • Her Eternal Moonlight: Sailor Moon’s Female Fans In North America, An Unauthorized Examination – PrintKindle

Worldbuilding – Core

Worldbuilding – Specific Subjects

Creativity

Job Search And Careers

Geeky Careers

  • Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers – PrintKindle
  • Focused Fandom: Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers – PrintKindle
  • Convention Career Connection – PrintKindle

Free Stuff

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 4/29/2019

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Here’s our latest sprint roundup! Definitely prefering these two week sprints.

So what have I done since last time?

  • Must Read: If you’re familiar with Agile and any of my work. Check out this article on the infamous Five Whys, and why it’s actually not that good a technique. Heck, if you have to ever review work or like to ask what happened, read this.
  • In General: Well caught a cold, then re-hurt my back. But things aren’t quite as bad as it sounds. Though man, I have got to do more stretching exercises.
  • Way With Worlds: The Fashion Book continues. I’m upping the pace slightly, because I don’t always write every day. Still expecting 5-6 a year depending. This one is going great, and I hope to have it out start of June.
  • Seventh Sanctum Book: I am grinding through the examples section which is, ironically, the least fun part of it. It’s a good section, but having to tie it all together is really a lot of effort.
  • Seventh Sanctum: I did a lot more tech review for the future rewrite and had a real breakthrough with the Python. Feeling far more confident. Now I just have to finish that romance title generator (I need to budget time better).

What’s next?

  • Way With Worlds: As you guessed, keep writing!
  • Seventh Sanctum Book: The Example section should be done soon (hopefully by next Sprint). Then I get on to a few more sections on construction.
  • Seventh Sanctum: Keep u the Python practice and . . . hOK maybe really finish that generator, darn it . .

Steven Savage

Making Friends As An Adult

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I saw this fascinating Tweet thread when @itsashleyoh asked how people make friends as adult. This is something that’s often troubled me after college, and is an issue in ever-busy Silicon Valley.

Its hard to make friends past a certain point. You get busy with work. Some of your friends have kids and some don’t. Some of you are married and some aren’t. So I read the Tweetstream and added a few suggestions of my own. Think of it as my own way of combating some issues of loneliness all face.

Most of these are face-to-face, but a lot of this applies to online.

Here we go. Please add your own.

Hobbies

  • Have a hobby and follow it. This is good for you personally, and of course makes you more interesting.
  • Use that hobby to meet people with similar interests and go to meetups, drinks, dinner, etc.
  • Help people get into the hobby.
  • Hobbies also keep you from being boring and work obsessed.

Clubs

  • There are all sorts of clubs out there you can find via meetup, game stores, hobby stores, etc. Find some and go try them out.
  • When you can, help out at your club.
  • Take a position at a club.

Causes

  • Get involved in good causes, and help out. This is also good for you mentally and emotionally.
  • If you get involved in a good cause, you may want to be “on staff” – that means reguarly meeting people.

Conventions

  • Go to conventions and socialize.
  • Speak or run events at conventions.
  • Get on staff at conventions.

Go to places and hang out

  • Start hanging out at coffee shops, the library, gymns, etc. other places people gather. Sure you can write and read, but also its a chance to meet people.
  • Many places have regular events, bands, etc. Look for those.
  • Places you hang out may also have event boards, where people post different things going on.

Events

  • If you go to events, go early so you can meet people in line, getting drinks, etc.
  • If you go to events reguarly, help out.
  • Go to events people you know throw and make new connections.

Specific events and organizations

  • Many pubs and places have trivia events and other great social opportunities.
  • Game nights are popular at various establishments, including game stores, bars, and meetups.
  • Libraries have lots of events, including book sales that you can go to or help out with.
  • Museums have events and need volunteers.
  • Writing groups and various creative groups often do a lot of events.

Throw events

  • Throw open houses, writing meetups, etc. If necessary, used Meetup.com.
  • Do events for your club, church, work to nextwork with people you know.
  • Start your own Meetup.
  • Try doing “creative jams” at your place or nearby, where fellow writers/artists/musicians socialize.

Work

  • Your job may have events that connect you with others, not just those at work.
  • Find people you like at work and hang with them if you’re comfortable.
  • Places of work often have charity connections that you can get involved in.

Pets

  • Pets are a common shared interest. There’s parks for animals, clubs, and more.
  • There’s often social events for pet lovers.
  • There’s charities focused around pets to get involved in

Be prepared

  • Have business cards or “social cards” to connect with people.
  • Choose the social media you use to connect with people so you can network.
  • Meetup.com is invaluable.

Psychology

  • Be ready to reach out to people.
  • Rejection is OK. It happens to all of us.
  • If you’re seeing a therapist for whatever reason, they may have advice.

Be a good friend

  • Take an interest in others. It’s not all about you.
  • Help people out (don’t be used, just lend a helping hand)
  • Invite your friends to things. even if they don’t always show up, it helps.
  • Remember some people are in the same boat as you.

I hope this helps out.

Steven Savage