1. This week, I’m proud to announce the pre order and release dates for my novel. Fragments: Alora’s Tear, Volume I will be made available in three stages.

    Pre Order: August 12th, 2014
    iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and Paperback at Barhamink.com

    Digital and Paperback: August 18th, 2014
    Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and Paperback at Barhamink.com

    Mass Market Paperback: TBA
    Amazon and other large physical book retailers

    If you’re interested in the publishing process, see the longer post on BarhamInk.com for details.


  2. Barham Ink

    Earlier this week, I officially announced that my novel Fragments: Alora’s Tear, Volume I would be published this summer. In the same post, I also promised more information shortly. The response I’ve received so far has been wonderful. Thanks for every share, like, favorite, retweet, and comment that you sent along. Each one means a lot.

    In the process of creating the necessary files, researching proper book design techniques, and generally learning about self-publishing, I established Barham Ink: the company name under which all of my personally published works will appear. Along with that, I spent a great deal of time and care creating an online home for Barham Ink and the books that will soon appear there.

    One of the things that I found incredibly important in making this site is that it include more than just gigantic links that help direct readers to places where they might purchase books (there’ll be some of those, too). Specifically, readers should be able to find information about writing, the process of creating and publishing one’s own work, and of course, information about the world, characters, and details of the Alora’s Tear series.

    So without belaboring the point too much, today I’m announcing BarhamInk.com. Much of the aforementioned material is available on the site already (day one!). And anything that doesn’t appear there is only left out because it might compromise the upcoming story (no spoilers!).

    My two current favorites are the back cover text for Fragments and the excerpt from the Fragments Prologue. I highly recommend checking them out first.

    Please, take a moment to have a look around. I’d love to hear your comments. Twitter’s great for this sort of thing. Find me there @natebarham. Also, the contact form on BarhamInk.com would be a great way to test one of the shiny new website features.

    Special thanks to Benjamin Brooks for his notes on the site design, Isis Sousa for the brilliant artwork (no cover reveal just yet, but the world map is there if you look for it), and my brother Alex Barham for some of the site’s stunning photography.

    Next up, cover art.


  3. A Long Expected Party

    Three years ago, I decided to take my opinions about gaming and tech to a public, published place on the web. Big-name writers like John Gruber inspired me. Along the way dozens of others have kept me going. Think Critical was a leap, a bet that an audience existed on the internet who would read the semi-clear thoughts of a guy from Idaho who more than anything just didn’t know anyone personally who cared about this sort of thing.

    Today, the leap goes on.

    Those paying close attention will have noticed my mentions of the novel I’ve been working on for the last several years. I try to refer to it only occasionally, as it’s not necessarily what an Apple blog reader or a videogame podcast listener signed up for. Now, I can hint at it no longer.

    Earlier this year I made the decision to self-publish the work that I’ve poured enormous amounts of time and effort into for far too long. It was time for me to take control of the book’s destiny instead of hoping for destiny to sweep it off its feet and into some publisher’s hands in New York. I immediately hired an editor and booked a cover designer (both of whom were my first choice). Since then, I’ve been working harder than I’ve ever worked on any single project to bring the book to market.

    In the coming weeks, that plan goes into action. Today is the beginning: this very post.

    I am ridiculously excited to announce that the book’s release is now only weeks away. Written in the epic fantasy tradition, and inspired by all the genre greats, Alora’s Tear, Volume I: Fragments will be available on iBooks, Kindle, and in paperback by the end of the summer!

    If you’re reading this, thank you for following my writing here. I sincerely hope you continue to do so. Keep an eye out on this space for news concerning the book. Like I said, this is just the beginning. There’s more, a lot more, and it will be here sooner than you might think.

    Or, if you’re the RSS type, subscribe here (it’s a special non-Think Critical feed). You’ll get the updates as soon as they go live.


  4. Internet friend o’ mine and all around interesting guy, Linus Edwards has started up a new site he’s calling The Otherside. He also calls it an experiment, and maybe it is, but what it sounds like to me is the culmination of his thoughts on writing for the web over the last six months to a year.

    There’s no date system in the design, no endless most-recent-first articles list, no comments. It starts with two sections: Ideas and Stories. The first takes you to writing that resembles an ordinary blog, but unlike many other sites (this one included), you’ll find no linked-list items, just thoughtful, full-length articles. The second section is even more interesting. Beyond the Stories link, you’ll find Linus’s short fiction.

    At the moment there are three short stories, each with a clear personality that helps to set the tone for the site in general. The current crop ranges from an introspective videogame protagonist to a dystopian orphanage resident, each thrumming with atmosphere and a looming sense of unease.

    I’m intrigued to watch this new site grow. And though I’ve always been a fan of the articles Linus writes on VintageZen, I’m eager to read more of his fiction. It’s always good to see writers pushing their own boundaries and stretching the expectations for content on the web.

    Check it out. Even the longest of the Stories only requires a few minutes.


  5. Over the last week or so, the conversation around podcasts turned to the question of ads and editorial integrity. I’ve stayed mostly out of it, but then I read Jaime Ryan’s impassioned piece from this weekend. In his own words:

    Much of the conversation centred around podcasts and whether or not the host(s) of a podcast would be able to freely discuss a topic that may potentially paint a sponsor in a bad light. As far as I’ve seen this is all still hypothetical because nobody actually has a solid example of where this has already happened.

    As he explains further, I don’t have any skin in the game insofar as Critically Speaking doesn’t run ads, but I do in the sense that I record a show every week, consider my audience, and hope some day to generate income from my online content creation efforts.1

    For me this argument is not, and never has been, about editorial integrity. Audiences are difficult to acquire, difficult to maintain, and extremely fragile. The trust a writer builds with his or her audience is possibly the most important factor in creating a successful online presence. Betraying that trust is very different from when similar conflicts happen in other media. Often in such cases, show hosts, reporters, and columnists have massive audiences maintained by the monolithic, old-media outlets for which they produce content. Unless the whole audience (or at least an enormous segment) is offended, these producers have little to worry about. This is not the case on the web, especially with podcasts.

    In podcasting, the audience shows up every week for the particular voice of the host(s). And not just in the physical sense. The best shows, the ones that not only make it onto my devices but those that actually get played, have a personality and connection to the audience unlike any other medium I’ve ever experienced. In addition, aside from a few massive shows, the audience numbers are much smaller overall with podcasts, so each individual is more present as an audience member than with other forms where the subscriber count is higher.

    So what does that mean for ad-driven podcasts vs. ad-free? It boils down to this. It is my opinion that some people simply hate ads. They spoil site designs, add elements of unpredictability from a user (and sometimes creator) perspective, are often repetitive or only loosely connected to the content of the show, and generally represent the established, click-obsessed web. The question of integrity is merely an additional item in this list, another reason for certain creators to keep ads at arms length—especially when they hate all of the others listed above.

    In the end we’re dealing with a question of user experience. As a content creator, podcaster or otherwise, do you want your audience to hear a handful of (sometimes overlong, sometimes repetitive) ads in return for a viable monetization strategy, or do you want to preserve the (perceived) cleanness and clarity of an ad-free production while somehow generating money through other avenues or by producing your show for free? Either way, the acceptance of ad revenue does not implicate any sort of editorial bias. It does create the possibility, just as it creates the possibility of a listener dropping the show on account of ad fatigue. And, it does not mean that the ad-free show chose to stay as such solely because the host is afraid of having their editorial voice placed in jeopardy (whether they claim it or not).

    The possibility of bad behavior does not guarantee its inevitability. Both models are design choices and, as long as the producer has the audience in mind (and the importance of audience trust only further ensures that it will), both can provide great material.

    1. All things I assume we have in common, though he is already generating revenue.