Jason Lewis – Author

Jason K. Lewis is the author of ‘Empire Under Siege’ and ‘Phoenix Rising’, as well as the short stories ‘Paradise’ and ‘The Bloody King’, which is free until the end of the month everywhere except Amazon. These are his good good things.

Good things to read.

Empire magazine. Great for keeping up to date on what’s new in the world of cinema- and that’s important for me as a cinephile.
The chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson. In my view one of the only series of fantasy books to come anywhere close to the complexity or scope of Lord of the Rings. The author has been writing them on and off for over thirty years and the cycle is now complete with ten books. Quite an achievement!

The Adarna chronicles. A shameless plug here! My meager attempt to come up with a fantasy series. No where near as good as Lord of the Rings or even the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere!

Good things to watch.

The Almighty Johnsons. This is, quite simply, the best show to come out of New Zealand. Ever. It may actually be the only show to come out of New Zealand. I cannot praise it enough for its quirky, loony brilliance. There are three seasons on Netflix and (very sadly) it looks like no more will be made (although they should be!). Unlike many series, it does have a satisfying ending though. Would highly recommend it.
Game of Thrones– Say no more… This is good as a show. Is it better than the books? Probably not, but just as Peter Jackson managed what everyone thought was impossible with the Lord of the Rings movies, the guys over at HBO have done a brilliant job of translating George R.R. Martin’s epic to the small screen. Now, if only G.R.R.M. would finish A Song of Ice and Fire.
All those old shows that you loved as a child that are now available on Netflix. Currently watching The A-team! I love it when a plan comes together.

Good things to use.

ScrivenerThis little piece of software, which is available on PC and Mac is quite simply the best tool in the world for creating complex documents. Less a word processor and more a publishing house on your own computer, it can basically do nearly everything you need to do in order to self-publish a book (apart from write it for you, of course!)
iMac. I spent a long time deriding Macs as being ridiculous and expensive toys for those who insist on being non-conformist but actually conform to another ‘norm’ (if you know what I mean). Then I got one. It’s eight years old and it does everything I want it to do (including running ‘Scrivener’ as the version on the Mac is much better than the PC version). It also starts up in next to no time and is as stable as mount Everest. What more could you ask for.
Createspace– This is a self publishing platform that allows you to create, publish and to a certain degree market your own paperback books. It is a brilliant platform for those of us who do not have traditional publishing deals or do not want to seek them.
Connect with Jason on Twitter, @JasonKLewisWrit

Colin Wright – Author, Blogger, Minimalist

Colin Wright is an author, blogger, entrepreneur, traveler, co-founding publisher and minimalist.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Ender’s Game.  I consider this to be gateway science fiction; the kind of book that is accessible enough for those who couldn’t care less about lasers or spaceships, but can relate to great characters, feeling like an outcast, and striving to be the best.

Sex At Dawn.  An excellent exploration of the roots of human sexuality and relationships, including a lot of stuff that will be uncomfortable to hear, though potentially encouraging for those who feel out of place in the typical marriage track.
Guns, Germs, and Steel.  A book with a few problems (easily found with some Google searching), but that paints an amazingly detailed picture of why some civilizations had advantages over others. Was somewhat perspective-shaking for me, and I look forward to things that rattle my foundations, as that’s where you find growth and positive change.

Good things to watch

The Newsroom.  It’s incredibly idealistic and characters sometimes present monologues that would be out of place in real life, but the wit is quick and characters are hilarious. I wish the real world of journalism had more of this kind of idealism.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.  One of my favorite movies, the (supposedly true) story of an unpleasant human being turned successful businessperson turned celebrity turned CIA assassin. Lots of famous people involved, and directed by George Clooney, believe it or not. Beautiful cinematography and great story.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.   A modern classic, in my mind. A musical made for the internet by some clever folks in LA during a writer’s strike, showing that good work could be made on a small budget and in non-traditional formats. Arguably the work that brought a few celebrities back from the dead and got a few more started on the fast-track. Damnably funny and heartbreaking.

Good things to use.

Scrivener.  Has saved me more time and money than I care to try and compute. Intuitive and polished. I’ve told so many people to buy this program that I should be working for Literature and Latte (the small company that built it).
Grid-It.  Made by a company called Coccoon, the Grid-It is the only reason my carry-on bag isn’t a tide of tangled cords, chargers, and other gadgetry. Brings order to chaos, smiles to faces.
Uniball Jetstream 101 Pens.  I’m a recent convert to these from Pilot G2 Minis, which were my former favorite because of their clean lines and small size. The Jetstream is better for lefties like me, though, because of how quickly it dries, and the lines are just as crisp and clean as the G2. If they make a mini version of these, I’m done for.
Connect with Colin on Twitter, @ColinIsMyName.

Emma Newman – Author

Emma Newman is the author of the Split Worlds series published by Angry Robot Books, a podcaster and an audio book narrator, these are her good things.

Good things to read.

I’m currently reading The Scar by China Miéville. I say ‘reading’, I should say I’m currently ‘madly in love with’ The Scar. I adored Perdido Street Station and this is just as immersive and imaginative.

I’m also reading the YA novel Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve which is damn good. The world-building is gorgeous and I find a new delight on practically every page. It’s the first part of a trilogy forming a prequel to the Mortal Engines books. Highly recommended.

I recently read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s one of those books which is very simple on the surface but plumbs great depths at the same time. It’s also one of those books that you read as a writer and think, “damn, I may as well give up now”. Funnily enough, I felt exactly the same way when I read American Gods. Oops, that’s four.

Good things to watch.

I’ve started to watch Legend of Korra (about 7 episodes in) and I think it’s fabulous. I loved the Legend of Aang (don’t mention the film) and was concerned Korra would have too much to live up to. The writers have done a fantastic job on several fronts; the world is fascinating and feels wonderfully different to Aang’s setting. It’s more politically complex. But most importantly (for me anyway) is the fact that the lead character is female and doesn’t fall into so many of the traps we see in film and TV. She’s rounded. She’s strong and afraid. She’s not sexualised (hallelujah). In episode 6 there was a battle fought between two women and various attackers and my goodness, it made me so happy I nearly burst. The female fighters were tough, capable, proactive and worked together beautifully as men stood by and watched. There was no damsel rubbish, no “Oh please fight while I stand and watch with adoring doe eyes”. They just got on with it. I want more please.

I’ve recently binged on the first three seasons of Mad Men. I love it. I think the first season is the strongest – having such a mysterious protagonist at its centre really fascinated me. The acting is superb and I have a raging lady crush on Joanie.

I feel almost redundant saying this, seeing as practically everyone I know has been telling me this for years, but please, watch The Wire. It is simply the best television I’ve ever seen. It’s complex, elegant and beautifully constructed. Idris Elba is delicious in it too.

Good things to use.

I was tempted to talk about good manners online, but hell, I’d be pissing into the wind. Instead, I’ll talk about the three things I use when writing novels whilst travelling.

Scrivener is the best thing that happened to me since… since I learned how to use a computer. Seriously, it has removed all of the time-wasting agony of Word and is well worth the investment (small) of time to learn how to use it. Even though it provides templates for screenwriting and other things, I’ve only used it for novel writing, so I can only speak about that. The other things that are great about it? The man behind it is a lovely chap and the support is excellent. Oh and it’s very reasonably priced too.

Plaintext, a very simple app that I use on my iPad when I’m travelling, which I’ve done a lot of this year. It’s free with ads but such a tiny cost to remove them that I happily did so. Coupled with a ZAGG flex keyboard I can happily bash out a few thousand words without feeling irritated by not being at home in front of my PC.

Dropbox is the third pillar of splendid. Plaintext can sync directly with it, so when I get home it’s easy to bring the stuff I wrote on the road into my Scrivener project. That’s in addition to the back-up facility that I primarily use Dropbox for and it’s very easy to use.

Connect with Emma on Twitter, @emapocalyptic.