Category: Around the Web (Page 2 of 6)

MMI Revolution: A Personalized Children’s Book

This. Is. Incredible.

I advocate, fight for, and bleed the mixed-media, interactive revolution, but I seem to always think of this as a digital-only field. It’s not. By definition, MMI is all kinds of media, and this digital-only thinking hinders the very revolution we are trying to spark.

One of my favorite MMI projects is The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home, a “magical, personalized storybook.” The user (a parent) inputs some basic information about the child, and orders a personalized picture book about a trip through the universe. Each trip is personalized, including finding the child’s name in a constellation of stars.

This really is worth checking out — for the revolutionaries, and especially for anyone who has children in their lives.

What to Ask After An Offer of Representation (by an Agent)

Here’s a great problem to have! You’ve poured your soul into your manuscript and you’ve stayed up nights working on the perfect query package. Now, an agent has bit and offers you representation. What do you do now? Here’s some of the industry-standard advice you MUST consider.

Glorious Heaven, light is shining around you and music is playing in the air and angels are dancing and it’s the most beautiful moment because AN AGENT WANTS YOU.

But now what? Do you just say yes and hope they’re the best fit for you? Maybe you better ask them some questions first. While I’m sure you’ve done your homework about agents and submitted to ones you already would feel relatively comfortable with, there’s only so much research you can do without actually talking to the agent him/herself. It’s also good to know if you two will be a good fit for each other.

All right. You’ve got them on the phone, they’re interested, so what do you ask?

Here are suggestions: (Pro tip: Don’t ask all of these. Find the ones you like or the ones you need and ask those. You don’t want to overwhelm them or yourself.)

About your project

  1. What does the agent like best about your project?
  2. Does the agent feel that the project is ready for submission to publishers, or will she require revisions before submission? Are they small tweaks, or does she want a major plot or character development change?
  3. Which publishing houses does the agent believe would be a good fit for your book?
  4. How many editors does she plan to pitch in the first round of submissions?
  5. Will the agent consult with you on all offers from publishers? Does the agent make any decisions on your behalf?
  6. Does the agent forward rejection letters to you?

Read the rest (there’s a lot more)…

Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at

Resources for Artists: Be More Productive

We’ve all been there, needing that extra nudge to actually get something good done. Twitter and Facebook can suck you into a vortex and never let you go. We, as artists, need inspiration, tools, resources, and help with things we may not do so well (like social media marketing).

The good folks over at Creative Shrimp have put together a wonderful, catch-all list of 19 Useful Resources to Help You Get More Productive at Art. I use several of these regularly. You should really check it out.

Resources for Educators: Open Educational Material

When at all possible, let others do the work. Yeah, that may sound lazy, but I prefer to think of it as efficient. Truth be told, there is a LOT of quality educational material out there that is free to use. A lot of it is for more advanced users (college courses and the like), but some of it is perfect for any age.

Here are a few of my favorite Open Educational Material sites

Open Stax

This initiative from Rice University provides dozens of best-of-breed college courses free for the public.

MIT Open Courseware

From MIT, another exceptional site. This one includes actual MIT courses that are streamed. You can interact with other students, ask the professor questions, and even do the assignments


Udemy is a commercial site where users upload courses on every topic imaginable. There are a lot of these kinds of sites, but I chose this one to post about because it has high quality standards and a wide variety of courses


The Holy Grail of free online courses from top-of-the-line Universities. Some are always open, others run at the same time as the class on campus. Interact with students and professors and even take a credited route.

What have I missed? Share your favorites in the comments.


Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

We all remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories where you had to flip around the book every time the character was faced with a decision. I know they’ve fallen out of favor recently, but I think they are right for a reboot. With digital technology and apps, there are a million ways to bring this fun to modern readers. is one contender. This charming site allows users to create “story games” and readers to enjoy and review them. While the design is somewhat lacking and the functionality limited, there are plenty of stories to choose from.

And, it goes to show what can be done with MMI, if only we let our dreams take flight.


Obscure Folklore and Inspiration

One of my favorite quotes goes something like, “a writer is just someone who has trained his mind to misbehave.” I love that. Storytellers take bits and pieces from all the things we know and mash them around to create something new and cool.

For those of us who write fantasy, this means we have a wide buffet to choose from. Still, it can take some work to find those little-known bits of awesome. I’ve done some of the legwork for you. Here are a couple articles about obscure fairy tales and mythological creatures.


Share your own in the comments below.

Writers’ Groups

Writers groups, or critique circles, are pivotal in becoming a professional writer. Thriller writer Nicole Wilson shares her thoughts on the importance of these groups, what makes a good group, and how to get the most out of the experience.

One of the most important steps a writer can take to help their craft is to join a writers’ group. It’s literally a collection of people who are experiencing the same struggle you are, and it can be incredibly encouraging.

How They Work

A small group of people meet at a predefined location, usually a bookstore or someone’s house. Everyone is a writer, so it’s a safe zone to express your successes, frustrations, and everything in between. Also, each person is at a different stage in their writing. Some are already published, others are agenting, and others are working on their first manuscript. Normally, there’s a set page limit, so all of you bring, say, ten pages a week every Thursday night at 7 PM. Each person either reads their piece aloud or has it read aloud by someone else in the group. Then the group takes a few minutes (some are stricter and time it) to discuss any big-ticket items.

My Experiences

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two great writers’ groups in my writing career. A friend – who later became my husband – invited me to tag along to his group. The first time I went, I had no clue what to expect. We were meeting at a Barnes & Noble, and, when I walked in, there was this small table toward the back where eight or nine people were sitting. I found Michael and was immediately welcomed with open arms in the group. I made several friends that, three years later, I still keep in touch with. As for the structure, each person picked someone else to read their five pages. We went around the circle and gave short feedback. The author was not aloud to speak until the feedback was complete.

The second writers’ group I’ve loved (which I’m currently in now) is also amazing. We meet at one woman’s house and sit around her dining room table. Everyone reads their own ten pages out loud, then whoever has a comment speaks and the group discusses. The author is allowed to comment with the group. It’s a loving community of 8-13 people (depending on the week), and we share food and life as well.


There are many benefits to joining a writers’ group.
1) Simply put, you have access to a support group. These people either know what it’s like to go through what you are now or they want to know, so they encourage sharing stories, both successes and failures.

Read the rest…

Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at

Benefits of Multimedia Education

I preach Educational Storytelling and the mixed-media, interactive revolution. But, the two are not separate. In fact, my ultimate goal is to help create a platform for interactive and personalized curriculum design using a multimedia platform.

Just to “test the waters” as it were, I have collected a few “stater” posts and articles about the benefits and use of multimedia in education.

  • Benefits of Using Multimedia in Education is an overview for a graduate level course on multimedia education.
  • This report, “Multimedia Transformation,” examines the many ways multimedia tools are transforming teaching and learning as schools work to raise achievement and prepare students for careers that require increasingly sophisticated uses of technology.
  • The last is a list of software and applications that can be used to create multimedia educational resources. As with everything in technology, the list can be a little outdated, but still valuable.

I will dig deeper into all of these as time goes by. For now, I just wanted to get them out there.

Please add your own to the comments.

(Writing for fiction) Research, Research, Research

As an author of technology thrillers, Nicole Wilson does a lot of research before she ever pens the first word. Here is a great article about her research process.

So there’s this funny thing called “research” that creeps up on unsuspecting writers. There are two sides to this: Some want to write without having to do any research (cough cough me). Others have to limit themselves on how much research they’re allowed to do or they’ll get carried away. Regardless of which side authors fall on, research is a necessity for most.

How much research is necessary is dictated by the book. It varies by genre, setting, situation, etc. But, for the most part, it’s important to get the facts straight. Readers pay attention, and it throws them when something is almost right, but there’s one thing off. It takes them out of the book. They’re no longer immersed in the story, which is the exact opposite of what writers want.

Writing in the thriller genre, I work in today’s world. Therefore, I need to know the basic layout and feel of cities (even if I do end up butchering it; then I can claim it was “for the book”). I need to get whatever the topic of my book is straight so I can figure out where to stick to real life and where to deviate. My books have a lot of technology in them, so I need to know how that technology works. For historical fiction, it may seem obvious that research is pivotal. Readers pick that book up partially so they can experience what 12th century villages were like. Fantasy may not seem so obvious. “They can make up their world so what do they have to research?” However, a lot of fantasy has basis in the real world, or some basis in our scientific principles (e.g. how physics works, gravity), so they need to research in order to create their own realistic imaginary world.

When to do the research is a matter of preference. Some authors do it before plotting, some do it before writing, some wait until they’re in the moment and need information. I (now) do mine early on, though I usually do some research throughout as I come across things I didn’t think of in planning.

Read the rest…

Nicole Wilson spends her days planning for disasters and her nights writing about them. She lives in a small apartment with her husband and two cats, all who contribute to her writing endeavors. Nicole has written many books and short stories and is at work on more. Three of the short stories have been published online, which you can find on her website at


Graph Database Crash Course

I am one of the lead architects for Spider, a php-based graph database abstraction library similar to Eloquent or Doctrine. In getting ready for the first truly functional release, I thought I would share some great links to a crash course in Graph Databases as a whole. You can also check out by graphs tag for other posts about graph databases and php.

Some great resources:

The real purpose of this post was to repost this incredible breakdown of the top contenders for graph databases in 2015


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