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By Eric Cross

There is a famous quote that alludes to the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, while agreeing with this quote, it is essential to state that a well taken photograph is worth much more than a thousand words. Indeed, an excellent photo has the ability to not only express beauty, but also store the fondest of memories. Photography is an art which requires skill and technique. To help you gain the necessary skills, here is an article outlining 5 basic ideas for photographers.
    Red squirrel interested in a camera
    photo: Peter Trimming
  1. Acquire the best camera
    It is quite hard to talk about ideas for photographers without mentioning the camera; for it is the device through which photos are taken. Cameras come in various sizes, shapes, color and most importantly resolution powers. There is no doubt that technology has revolutionized the photography industry because it has spearheaded the manufacture and production of high resolution cameras which have the ability to shoot crisp-clear photographs. Therefore, the first and most essential idea to great photography is to ensure that you are equipped with a powerful camera.
  2. Detail
    Taking a great picture is about capturing that particular detail which will make the difference. Every photo should be taken with absolute creativity to ensure that all the details are captured. Even when there appears to be no outstanding detail, try to look closely and you will certainly find one. Just like drawing a picture to represent a thousand words, creativity goes a long way in delivering a memorable photo.
  3. Light
    Cameras directly depend on sufficient lighting to produce excellent shots. While this is not to say that photos cannot be taken during the night or in dark places, it is important to confirm that light is an integral element of photography. If you intend to take photos in locations where natural lighting is alien or limited, you have to use an artificial lighting source such as electricity to increase your chances of taking a beautiful picture. Although technology has brought us powerful cameras which are capable of independently taking photos in dark locations, you have to keep in mind that the trick here is to shoot great pictures with these 5 great ideas for photographers.
  4. Background
    Almost always, a great photo has an amazing background. Here, two aspects of photography come into play; instant and selective. There are times when you have to take photos without having the option to change locations or backgrounds for that matter. A case in point is when you are taking photos of people attending a certain ceremony. You are required to make use of your creativity and alertness to produce high quality picture, but when you have the freedom to choose from various backgrounds, be sure to go with smoky or watery backgrounds as they bring the best out of a photo.
  5. Photo framing
    Of these 5 ideas for photographers, photo framing is definitely the easiest to implement. This is largely because framing the photo adds a touch of creativity and design to it. Different photos require different frames for them to be great. You need to exploit the use of various frames to determine the most suited to fit on a particular photo.
In conclusion, there are numerous tips, but the outlined 5 great photography photo ideas will give you a perfect start to taking awesome pictures! Once you master these basics you can start looking towards more advanced techniques like trick photography and special effects.

Author Eric Cross
Eric Cross is a budding photographer who balances his time taking photographs with time spent writing about taking photographs, putting together a free tutorial guide for everyone wanting to learn about trick photography and special effects. 

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Naomi Bradleigh
What inspired the name of your series "Starbreaker"?

I stole the name from a song by Judas Priest, from their Sin After Sin album. It sounded suitably badass for a weapon capable of killing demons from outer space - instead of just destroying their avatars.

Like I said in part one of this interview, "Stormbringer" was taken. I'm already too close to writing "Elric on a Harley" for comfort.

What's your typical writing session and environment like?

I'm a lunch break novelist. I bring a laptop to work with me, and drive down the street to a nearby pizza parlor to eat a slice of pizza and belt out a scene. On a good day, I manage between 500 and 1500 words of raw text in about an hour.

I'd love to be able to write at home after work, but I rarely manage it. After a full day as a software developer, my brain shuts down once I come home. I'm more likely to curl up with my wife and read, play video games, or mess around on the net than I am to write.

When I'm writing, I put on headphones and try to find music that suits the scene and character I'm trying to write. My playlist usually includes music by Iron Maiden, Iced Earth, the Blue Oyster Cult, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Bruce Dickinson, Iced Earth, Nightwish, Without Temptation, Delain, Nemesea, Blind Guardian, The Worshyp, The Protomen, Savatage, Black Sabbath, Therion, Joe Satriani, Megadeth, Dream Theater, Coheed and Cambria, Ayreon, Symphony X, Nobuo Uematsu, and Shoji Meguro.

I tend to turn off wifi when writing. I don't think much of Jonathan Franzen's fiction, but I suspect he might be right about the difficulty of writing good fiction while jacked in.

The Milgram Battery

Tell me about influences, if any:

I'd have to be especially arrogant to claim complete originality, free of any influences. However, when you ask any novelist to name their influences, you impose upon them a nigh-irresistible temptation to claim a part in the literary traditions of the authors they most admire, while omitting any mention of authors they despise.

I'd love to claim that I draw upon European Romanticism and the daring SF and fantasy for which such authors as Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, Stephen Brust, Robert Heinlein, C. J. Cherryh, C. S. Friedman, and M. John Harrison are justly famous. However, I might not have proved as successful in escaping the shadows of Tolkien, Donaldson, Jordan, and Goodkind as I hoped.

An accurate account of the influences on my work is a task better left to critics, and not to novelists seeking to promote their own work.

What is the most unexpected reaction you have had to your writing?

My writing is how I've met every woman with whom I've been intimately involved, including my wife of nine years, who I courted for four. Catherine and I met on a Yahoo! forum for aspiring fantasy writers, and started out by reading each other's work. It's a long story, and perhaps beyond the scope of this interview.

Do you have any regrets pertaining to your writing?

I sometimes suspect I picked the wrong trade for a day job. Software development gave me valuable technical skills, as well as experience I used while writing Starbreaker, but it's a bad trade for writers. The demands on one's time and intellect often leave little time or energy for writing, even when I avoided working in Silicon Valley and in start-ups in favor of taking jobs involving government contracts which should only require a forty hour workweek.

Aside from that, I have no regrets. I needed to do something with my life, and writing gives me a sense of purpose. It allows me to indulge all of my nasty little control-freak tendencies without actually hurting anybody.

What plans do you have for future work?

Without Bloodshed, the first Starbreaker novel, comes out in about a month or so. Curiosity Quills Press is currently doing a new cover. I'm working on The Blackened Phoenix, as well as a short piece called "Tattoo Vampire". For Christmas, I've started kicking around some ideas for a story called "Cardigans" in which we'll see a young Morgan Stormrider knitting. I'm thinking of expanding a novelette, Steadfast, into a full-length NA science fantasy novel starring Naomi Bradleigh called Silent Clarion. I also have to plot and eventually write the last two main-sequence Starbreaker books: Proscribed Construct and A Tyranny of Demons.

After that - let's just say that chronicling the life and crimes of Imaginos could be a lifetime's work. I could write a Michener-style epic about Nationfall, the social/political/economic collapse that sets the stage for the rise of the society in which Starbreaker is set. I can do with Starbreaker what Tolkien did with Middle-Earth, only I cheat by taking our world and screwing around with history.

What is the best advice you want to share with aspiring authors?

This first bit should be obvious, but for the love of all the demons ever venerated by humankind, READ. Read your chosen genre. Get acquainted with its tropes and cliches. Figure out what readers expect, so you can screw with them if you want to. Once you're done reading within your genre, read outside it. You might find ideas and elements you can import into your chosen genre, and exposure to different styles and voices will help you develop a richer style of your own.

Half of what you hear about building an author platform is arrant nonsense, but I can't tell you which half. I've had people tell me Google+ is a waste of time, and that I should use Facebook and Twitter instead. I ignore them, because I've tried Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is the men's room wall of the internet. Facebook is how the Daleks will justify our extermination. Google+ is where I found my audience, which is currently about 18,000 followers. Maybe a tenth of them will bother to buy my book, but nobody builds an empire overnight.

Some people will tell you that fanfic is a good way to develop your technique, but I don't agree with them. I think working with an existing setting and existing characters makes it harder for writers to learn how to develop settings and characters of their own. Instead, I recommend the pastiche. Instead of taking Kirk and Spock as is, and working around them, use these characters as templates for new characters of your own creation if you lack the confidence to start from scratch.

I'd suggest learning a bit about computer programming. You don't have to do it for a living, and I lack sufficient sadism to suggest that aspiring writers take on software development as a day job. It's thankless work, and frequently makes writing unnecessarily difficult. However, learning to code requires learning logic, which serves writers as well as it does mathematicians, scientists, and programmers.

Be ruthless in pursuit of your art. Defy everybody who opposes you, and never give them time to discourage you. The converse is also true: acknowledge and treasure everybody who has ever supported you. If you're lucky enough to have a lover or spouse who's willing to help you, don't screw up that relationship.

How do you promote your work both on and off the internet?

Christabel Crowley
I've focused the vast majority of my promotional efforts online, especially on Google+. I got my publishing deal by posting bits and pieces as I wrote them. Afterward, I'd talk about the plot as I worked on Without Bloodshed. I'd also post dialogue stripped of narrative context using hashtags like #ShitMyCharactersSay.

Since I'm a metalhead, and music is incredibly important to my writing, I also make a habit of posting YouTube videos of songs that helped me develop some aspect Starbreaker, and discuss why these songs matter to me.

I worked with artist Harvey Bunda of Gunship Revolution, commissioning portraits of several of my major characters. I use this character art in posts about my work and characters.

I help promote other independent writers and musicians, recommending their books and music. Sometimes they ask, and sometimes I come across them, check them out for myself, and decide they're worth mentioning.

I also comment on current events, especially if they apply to the Starbreaker setting for some reason. For example, when Google Glass was first announced, I linked it to Witness Protocol, a technology in the Starbreaker setting that allows people equipped with implanted computers and the appropriate software to record everything they see and hear.

What are your favorite writing tools?

My laptop runs CrunchBang Linux, and I tend to write my drafts in plain text files formatted with a markup language called Markdown, which I can convert to HTML and other formats using freely available tools like pandoc. When I'm ready to submit a piece for editing and publication, I use LibreOffice, which can cope with Microsoft Word's formats and includes "track changes" functionality.

I also run a dict server on my laptop, which allows me to get definitions and synonyms by typing a command into a shell prompt, such as "dict bazooka". Because I write my drafts in plain text, I can use any text editor I choose, even heavy duty programmers' editors like vim and emacs. I currently favor an app called PyRoom, an open source clone of Hog Bay Software's WriteRoom app for Mac and iOS. It's a full-screen plain text editor, which allows me to focus on my writing without distraction.
Claire Ashecroft
Because I run a Unix-based OS, I can use the OS itself to organize my work. I have a documents directory, just like you Windows and Mac users. In it, there's a "starbreaker" directory. In that "starbreaker" directory I have directories for each story using the Starbreaker setting. For novels like Without Bloodshed, the directory consists of a file containing the title named "" (.md for Markdown files); a "scenebreak" text file consisting of a blank line, a line with three asterisks, and another blank line; and a directory for each chapter, named so that the OS orders it for me: "01.theunforgiven", "02.norefugebutaudacity", etc. In each directory, I have another "" for the chapter number and title. I also have a file for each scene whose name is based on the order in which the scene occurs, and the viewpoint character's name, such as "", "", etc.

I can then put it all together using a small shell script written so I can use it to convert any story I write into a single file for conversion to standard formats. It uses the "cat" (concatenate) command. If I want word counts for scenes, chapters, or the entire story, I can use the "wc" (word count) command. If I need to do a find, I use "grep". If I need to do a story-wide find/replace affecting more than one file, then I use "sed".

I started using Linux in 1999, after my first computer (an secondhand IBM PS/ValuePoint running PC-DOS 6, if anybody cares) died by my hand. I was trying to swap out the hard drive when my cat bit my toes to get attention. This startled me, and I ruined the computer by driving my screwdriver straight through the main board. I had to build a new one, I didn't want to keep running DOS and writing, I didn't want to pay a hundred bucks for a copy of Windows 98, and I couldn't afford a Mac. So I bought a copy of Linux on CD (Red Hat 5.2, if anybody cares), installed it, and alternated between writing and tinkering.

Since my day job involves software development on Windows, I trust Microsoft's offerings as far as I can throw them. Macbooks are nice, and I used one from 2006 until 2012, but overpriced for the hardware you get inside the pretty case. And if George R. R. Martin can keep using WordStar 4 on DOS, why shouldn't I use Linux?

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I think you and your readers are thoroughly sick of me by now, but you might also be interested in interviewing some other independent authors whose work I enjoy and recommend: Michael Shean (the Wonderland sequence), Lynda Williams (the Okal Rel saga), K. H. Koehler (the Nick Engelbrecht series), Charity Bradford (author of The Magic Wakes and Stellar Cloud), and Michael Reeves-McMillan (author of Realmgolds).

However, if I might beg your indulgence a bit longer, I'd like to mention that while Without Bloodshed is not yet available, I do have a story entitled "The Milgram Battery" available in the Curiosity Quills Primetime charity anthology. Five bucks gets you twenty short pieces of weird fiction, and ten percent goes to reputable no-kill animal shelters across the United States.

How to find Matthew Graybosch online...
author in new york, matthew graybosch
Available on Amazon:

You can also try conjuring me, but the last person to try squiggled a line that should have been straight while drawing his summoning circle. The poor schmuck ended up as a chew toy for the Hounds of Tindalos. So it goes.

So you may have heard about the Free Art Friday Movement and now you are wondering - what is the point? Aside from just being nice, why do artists do this?  Here is what I have gathered from those I know who have participated.

It is an opportunity to share art with others removing the financial and time constraints from the transaction. It allows people who would not otherwise be able to spend money, or who are perhaps unable to make it to local art shops or shows, the chance to still own a piece of art. The connections of the local artist with their local art lovers and the ability to bring them together in an unimposing public space are a reward in itself. 

The accessibility is unconditional. When the internet is incorporated there is the magic of bringing the artist together with their locals initially from and then away from the internet which is another great connection. It is not unheard of for a public hand-to-hand Free Art Friday transaction to occur either. An artist can strike up a conversation and talk about their art and if they see the other person have a true interest, offer their free art piece. 

copper rings intwined my world your world inside background pier and copper railing
My World Reaches by asboluv

For the most part, it is simply FUN. And at the end of the day both parties are happier for it. The artist knows that something they created has a home with a philanthropic association. It makes for a great story, so the art and artist are going to be talked about. It is much like a free sample. It serves as a fun activity, like a game, which gets you out and about searching for art-treasures hidden in public places. 

To find out more about this art movement in your area, I suggest doing a search for “free art Friday (name of your city).” This movement has rippled all over the world, and sometimes involves a group decorating a public area together all at once or sometimes it is held on different days. "Free Art Night" is about as popular as Free Art Friday. It is NOT an exclusive group or movement - Anyone is welcome to join in. 

To learn more about the Free Art Friday Movement Click Here.

Brainwave entrainment or "brainwave synchronization" are methods aimed to induce brainwave frequencies to fall into step with a stimulus with the same frequency. Alpha, theta and delta are slow, and in the slower frequency ranges the right-brain and left-brain communicate better. This would allow both macroscopic "big-picture" and detail-oriented thought processes equal consideration. It can also bring harmony to ideas of logic vs. emotion. When awake and alert, a pure theta state is not possible, but there are ways to get the brainwaves to alpha and theta together both relaxing the brain and turning it on.

Illuminated image of a person's head  By: Carol & Mike Werner
Illustration by: Carol & Mike Werner

Binaural beats or isochronal tones are a highly regarded sonic form of brainwave stimulation. Music with steady beats, especially with layers of pulses will tune brainwaves to theta. This is possible because the brain has a "frequency following" response to aural provocation. There are also visual stimuli that can create specific brainwave response. For instance here are combined audio-visual entrainment video examples on Squareeater - for theta waves I would recommend trying out the Lucid square. Use headphones.

Sensory deprivation tanks, or float tanks, allow for an extended theta state experience. Letting go and exploring a different state of consciousness can be a way to let the mind truly wander, completely withdrawn from sensory input. Up until the age of six our primary mental activity is done in theta which explains flashbacks to early childhood memories occurring while in the float tank. If you opt to try sensory deprivation, take a means of recording your immediate ideas that result as you may not hold onto them for long similar to the difficulty of recalling a dream once awake. In our daily lives we are bombarded with overwhelming sensory agitation so a float tank is the opposite extreme that can help to open the mind to internal instead of external ideas. Of course you cannot actually practice artistic endeavors while in the tank; the benefit you get is the state of serenity and the ideas that you hold onto directly after.

Runner's high or the sense of elation felt during vigorous athletic activity or physical exertion is another way to experience a theta state. Other examples of ways to achieve theta are with self-hypnosis and practiced meditation. Although meditating helps people find long periods of theta, this can take the better part of a lifetime to learn how to accomplish.

Illustration Showing the Attributes of Left and Right Brain Activity in Humans
Illustration Showing the Attributes
 of Left and Right Brain Activity in Humans
by Carol & Mike Werner

With the aid of the theta brainwaves we can break outside of the limitations of the physical senses and expand or shift our perception of reality. Everyone can train their brains to awaken a latent ability and believe in boundless possibilities. In doing so, creative people can surpass their mental blocks and pick up the tools of their trade and materialize something inspired from the realm of the imagination.

To read more about how theta brainwaves affect creativity Click Here.

Today I am so excited to introduce you to Helene Ruiz, an acrylic painter based in the United States. At the age of 57, she is not certain the exact moment she began to use her medium of choice - acrylic paints. She does recall this story tracing back to her childhood:

"My father always taught me to think creatively and he himself was an artist. When I was a kid and wanted colors I extracted colors from comic strips, nature, coffee, teas, etc. My first painting kit was not actually purchased until I was about 11 years old when my father took me to Pearl Paint in Chinatown, Manhattan and bought me watercolors and brushes, of which I still have some of the brushes for memory's sake. I played with them until I discovered oil paint, which I found each time I used it - I would get sick.  Apparently I am allergic to them. So then, when I used acrylic for the first time, I fell in love with them. They were perfect for me! The fact that I paint a lot and live in a small space makes acrylic a perfect match for someone like myself, since they dry so fast." 

Acrylic painting on black background with two clowns dancing around sad face balloon with heart hanging in center
Send in the Clowns, © Helene Ruiz

Jester or fool garbed sleeping or dead character reposed in yellow bathtub with heart outside of chest on black background
Expired Fool, © Helene Ruiz

Helene is working on a collaborative project with artists all over the world, that I find so very fascinating. This interview will delve into that in detail since it is an event taking place Now.  If you are an artist who wants to participate, find out how by reading on. First, let's get to know Helene Ruiz, the artist, a little better - she assures me there is an entire book's worth of uncharted stories within her...

Would you tell us about your most memorable artworks? 

I have used so many materials... it is actually difficult to say which would be my most memorable pieces. I suppose those are the ones I do to try and show what is unseen. I try to express my take on life and how I perceive life's take on others as well. Anything can trigger me... environment, politics, love, pain, illness, etc

What has been the most unexpected thing that has happened in relation to your creating art? 

Funny, I find this question here, especially now at the end of April 2015. Because just about a month ago, on March 28th, I almost lost my life and was rushed into emergency surgery. I am still recovering and doctors say it could be six months before I actually do recover fully. I have another surgery to go through in June to put me back together again so I can feel human. So, this experience, right now, is the most challenging of all life's events thus far!  Only today have I attempted to begin to sketch out a painting... it will not be easy. I will be forced to do it in small steps, but it will be the first since March 28th. For me, I usually do at least two or more pieces per month, so this has been a long spell of not creating art for me. 

[GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The aim of these five tips is to help you talk about your artworks, and sell them. Artists anxious in regards to speaking about their art should definitely pay heed to these ideas presented in this article. Many artists find it is not easy to discuss the meanings and themes within their artworks due to the personal nature of the artistic process. However, it is the artist’s own story that is most compelling and intriguing when it comes to their own art. So, in order properly promote you own artworks it is imperative to keep in mind that buyers wish to understand the art they add to their collections.

  1. If you hope to effectively speak about your art, first write down what your art is about. The exercise of writing forces one to articulate what goes on in your creative minds. Include whatever is important to you processes. If you feel that your story must tell how you came to work in your current medium, what your primary techniques are, who influenced your work, if you use themes, what your art education is, or who has taught you methods and skills that you use now then include these things and anything else that comes to mind when thinking of your art.  Putting this information down on paper will help you find what points you wish to emphasize in telling the story behind your work.