Concept Maps: A Tutorial for the Writer’s Most Colorful Tool

Concept Maps: A Tutorial for the Writer’s Most Colorful Tool


Several years ago, I started making something I call a “motif mural” or “concept map,” a kind of freeform visualization tool that helps me track the recurring themes, ideas, and interests in my stories and writing. While the practice is similar to writing a reflection essay on your work or going through a portfolio, the concept map is a more organic meditation piece. It uses handwritten notes and pictures to make a concrete illustration of the common threads and topics I recognize in my stories, like a physical representation of my literary mind.

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Hugos 2016: O Joyous Day

Hugos 2016: O Joyous Day

Today, I bring you a tale of a battle between good and evil, the forces of justice aligned against a self-proclaimed Dark Lord.

Yes, the 2016 Hugo Awards.

In the past few years, the Hugos have become an ideological battleground between hate-slurping trolls and everyone else. For the purposes of this post, the story began with the Sad Puppies, a group of relatively-conservative science fiction and fantasy writers and fans who believed that SFF awards were being unduly distributed to the ever-present specter of the “social justice warriors.” Believing that the Hugo awards in particular were being doled out based on Political Correctness and not on merit, the Puppies organized voting slates to take the genre back to its middle-class-white-man roots.

But things got nastier when the ever-lurking, loud-shouting, goblin goon of hatebloggers, Vox Day, stepped in to organize the Rabid Puppies. The Rabids, as you might guess, are fueled almost entirely by externalized self-loathing. Famously, Vox Day was kicked out of the Science Fiction Writers of America when he referred to Hugo-nominated African-American woman N.K. Jemisin as a “savage.”

This year, the Puppies – the Rabid ones,  that is – were back in force, with their own hand-crafted voting slate, cleverly designed to get a few legitimate titles nominated. Counter-slates popped up from Puppy Detractors (sometimes referred to as Puppy Kickers) in response; these counter-slates sometimes adopt a scorched-earth policy of voting to award no Hugo in any category where a Puppy candidate might take home the rocket.

All these factions and slates came to a head in the 2016 Hugos, and I’m here to walk you through it.

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Under Armour’s “Rule Yourself” Olympic Ads Are Visual Gold

Under Armour’s “Rule Yourself” Olympic Ads Are Visual Gold



If you are a copywriter, producer, filmmaker, or anybody working in media, then this article should be old news to you. If not, then you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past six months.

According to Under Armour, the “Rule Yourself” campaign seeks to highlight one’s dedication to health, wellbeing, and—in an athlete’s case—his or her sport. Recent additions to this campaign include stories for US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and the US Women’s Gymnastics Team, featuring Olympian Madison Kocian. The ads were conceived and produced by New York ad agency, Droga5. Under Armour’s latest Olympic spots hope to emphasize not only a sense of dedication, but also a sense of sacrifice and elation.

It’s a universal feeling, really: that through hard work and gritty determination, you’ll achieve your dreams. (I just call it Rocky-ism.)

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4 Ways to Level Up Your Cosplay Look 

Replicating your favorite character’s flawless skin and airbrushed look may take a little bit of makeup – or a lot, if you’re cosplaying Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. And for newbie cosplayers, makeup can be daunting.
But weirdly enough, cosplay can be a great way to dive into makeup. Cosplay is all about learning new skills and techniques – and in a way, so is makeup. So while I’m no guru, here are four simple ways I think you can level up your cosplay look. These tips are general and can apply to any character. Try them out before your next con!

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The Last Unicorn Graphic Novel Review

The Last Unicorn Graphic Novel Review


Like most people my age, my introduction to Peter S. Beagle’s beloved classic fantasy The Last Unicorn was the 1982 animated film (for which Beagle wrote the screenplay, thank goodness) that I first pulled off a Blockbuster shelf above my head because of the brilliant unicorn on the cover. When I was a child, modern unicorns were generally fluffy beasts with glitter in their manes, colored in pinks and rainbows and frolicking around clouds and butterflies. This unicorn was clearly engaged in some epic battle with a frankly Satanic-looking, burning red bull, and despite knowing nothing else, I was convinced it was going to be awesome.

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Harry Potter and MERLIN’S PANTS

Harry Potter and MERLIN’S PANTS


Just a disclaimer to say that while the views below are my own, J.K. Rowling has been my writing guru since I was six, and I’m sure that Jack Thorne and John Tiffany are wonderful human beings. I mean them no disrespect in any way, no matter how vehemently I dislike this iteration of their work. No bitterness toward the people; only the thing. Capisci?


The spoilers were true.

I’m not entirely sure what to say about that, but I will attempt some sort of effort. For Craig Bowker’s sake, you see.

(That was a joke. I don’t give a fig about Craig Bowker. And what kind of a name is Craig Bowker? The name of a Bachelor contestant, that’s what. The kind with badly-placed facial hair and sunglasses surgically fused to his face, and not for sun sensitivity reasons. Certainly not a Jo Row name. Where’s the Latin? Where, I beg you, is the Latin?!)

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