Untappd: A Social Network for Beer Snobs

I’ve been wanting to do app reviews on Imagine That! Studios alongside my bits of social media advice appearing there, but the first app I wanted to review really seemed more appropriate for my personal blog on account of the subject matter: beer. More to the point — living the lifestyle of a beer snob.

IMG_7501Untappd is a social network for those who love beer. It’s not just for beer snobs like me but for lovers of beer on all levels. Whether you are happy and content with your Budwiser or Miller Lite, or if you are an adventurer in sampling unique brews from across the country and around the world, Untappd connects beer lovers, breweries, and ice cold brewskis. At the core of the app are the reviews. When your first round arrives, you search for your beer in the Search bar across the top. Once you tap your beer, you select “Check-In” and are offered a field where you can type in a brief review (140 characters), add a photo of either what you are drinking (or who you are drinking with), rate your brew (and the slider allows for 1/2-star reviews), and add in your location. If you sync up your Twitter and Facebook feed with Untappd, you can send out your review and photos by tapping the Twitter and Facebook icons. On tapping “Confirm Your Brew” your review is shared online. The more reviews you share, the easier you can connect with friends on your respective social media networks.

UPDATE, 20 April, 2013: Untappd also recognizes cider and mead, so if you are more into those libations, you can find them in Untappd, or create your own custom entry. Continue reading

STEAMPUNK GOES MAINSTREAM…and other things for geeks to panic about. Again.

First off, I’m sorry everybody. It has been far too long. Where in the name of clocks, gears, and cogs have I been?

Let me drop a few quick teasers as to what has been going on in my life:

  • Got a new job. Social Media Coordinator. And the best part, it’s very close to home with telecommuting thrown in as a bonus.
  • After a month, got a promotion at the new job.
  • Then, conducted interviews for the job that I was originally hired to do. (Being on the other end of the interview table? Woah…)
  • Got a new car. I’m driving a Nissan LEAF right now. LOVE IT!
  • Jumped back on to the Medifast train. My weight was out of control again.
  • Christmas.

Some of these things I intend to talk about later on this blog. (Stop laughing. Seriously. I am!) I also have to keep in mind, though, I have a novel to finish. I’m still on board with a steampunk reboot of MOREVI, so Rafe Rafton will be returning to the oceans this year.

It is this very subject — something that, I’ll admit, people are coming to me more and more about for an opinion which feels pretty good — from where this rant finds its core. So let’s turn back the clock to January 15, Tuesday, 10 a.m. At my new day job, a friend sends me a link to AdAge about IBM’s fascination with steampunk. I ran the article on my Facebook page as this truly was the convergence between my day job and my writing career. IBM is tracking “steampunk” in order to find patterns between trends and fads. I also posted it on the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Facebook page and between the two, I got a whopping 6 shares. So maybe it wasn’t as cool as I thought.

Continue reading

Dragon*Con 2012: Booksignings, Parsecs, and Unabashed Geekgasms

Yep. It’s here. Dragon*Con.

Tomorrow morning, Pip and I hit the Interstate system of the Mid-Atlantic, heading to the grand event where tens of thousands of geeks of movies, television, books, costuming, and just about anything else you can think of descend on the unsuspecting city of Atlanta. We’re facing our busiest Dragon*Con ever (see what happens when you go a few years without hitting an event like this — they make you work!), and the breakdown is here:

Thursday

  • We check in. We see whatever we can. We party a bit with Alex White.

Friday

  • The Retro-Cast: Steampunk Podcasting & More – 8:30pm in Westin Int’l BC (Main Room)

Saturday

Sunday

  • Steampunk Author Roundtable (Part 1) – Sunday 1oam in Westin Int’l A (Roundtable Room)
  • Book Signing, Larry Smith Books, Sunday 12:00-1:00 in Marriott Booth 309
  • Book Signing, The Missing Volume, Sunday 1:30-2:30 in Marriott Booth 614

Monday

  • Social Steam: Steampunk, Social Media, and Making It Work – Monday 10am in Westin Int’l A (Roundtable Room)
  • Steampunk 101 — Monday, 11:30 a.m. at Hyatt Embassy D-F
  • How Do You Take Your Steampunk — Light or Dark? – Monday 1pm in Westin Int’l A (Roundtable Room)

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

Let’s see exactly what kind of trouble the two of us can get into this weekend. Pictures to come…

Stranger on a Train XXIII

I was planning to nap, but my brain really won’t power down. I blame NASA and this incredible photo of Christina Hendricks I saw Facebook.

It still blows my mind that we are on Mars. Again. This time, using a means of entry that resembled something the Coyote (Eatibus Anythingibus) purchased from ACME in order to catch the Road Runner (Hotrodius Diggus-Outtus). When I saw the animation on how they were going to get Curiosity on the Red Planet, I thought “That’s nuts!”

Put one in the WIN column for Super-Geniuses.

This week Pip and I head for New Orleans. Not necessarily planned, this trip; but then again, 2012 hasn’t really gone to plan. I feel very much in transit, particularly with other friends hitting crossroads in life. Things could be worse, sure, but if you were to ask me to describe the year in a word: uncertain. I don’t know what it is about this year, but there it is in a nutshell.

NASA however taught me last night a whole new degree of uncertainty. Think about it: The reason (okay, ONE reason) they went nuts early this morning was on account of uncertainty. Beyond the insane amount of time and precision in the entry, there was the fact that Curiosity would get to Mars and fail hard. A camera could have jostled out of whack, a board could have failed on touchdown — even if you got redundancies in place, a thousand and one things could go wrong, and still you have to worry about that other variable that could make it one thousand and two. NASA faced their uncertainty with incredible resolve, and now we’re back on Mars with a probe that is state-of-the-art and ready to rumble in the Red.

This is what we all have to do: face it. Face it head on. We do that, and we will come out the other side. Stronger. Wiser. Ready for more.

If you were expecting the shot of Christina, that’s on my Facebook page. This one’s for NASA.

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Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Four)

And here we are — the final part of the mini-series blogpost! (See? Aren’t you glad I broke this up into segments?)

Now as I mentioned, I have saved the best tip for last; but before getting to what I believe is the most imperative thing you can do in planning out a book trailer, let’s quickly recap those previous 10 tips from Parts 1-4:

  • Know what you’re shooting. You’re shooting a book trailer, the emphasis on trailer. Not book.
  • You don’t have to understand the process, but take time to understand the process. A book trailer doesn’t just happen in your basement one weekend afternoon. There’s steps to follow and processes to adhere to.
  • For your first book trailer, keep it simple. You might want to go full-on epic for your first book trailer. Don’t. This is your first step. Think smart.
  • Set up a budget. Best way to avoid going broke.
  • Figure out ways to stretch the budget. Did I mention “avoid going broke” earlier? Yeah. I did.
  • When the trailer needs artwork, imagery, or music, make a financial investment. When it is time to spend money on your trailer, particularly in stock audio and video, do’t flinch or take shortcuts. Do it.
  • Be patient and understanding with your talent. Cast and crew. Especially if they are giving of their time and talents, roll with the challenges and make things work to the best of their abilities.
  • Make sure your cast and crew understand their responsibilities. Remember though that your trailer is the top priority, not hanging out or chilling out. That happens after the work is done.
  • Trust your editor, especially if he or she has a track record. Sometimes the toughest thing is to surrender your work to an objective party, but it also the best thing you can do in order to make it shine.
  • Never forget: It’s YOUR trailer. Don’t let others render your vision so blurry that it’s no longer yours. It’s your book’s first impression. You make the final call.

It’s all been leading up to this one key piece of advice I’ve been sitting on since Part One. You all have been patient and (for this, I am really thrilled!) attentive on what makes a good book trailer happen. Now comes the most essential thing you need to know before making that jump from the printed word to a visual medium in order to help your book sales reach a wider audience.

Are you ready? Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming A Book Trailer (Part Three)

So, two weeks ago, I started this mini-series of a blogpost. Honestly, I thought I could encapsulate everything I wanted to say about this experience in about 1000 words, maybe 2000 if I was feeling eloquent.

Yeah…um…Part Four will drop next week and wrap everything up. I promise.

No. Seriously.

Stop laughing.

The thing is this blogpost is a lot like the book trailer itself (which, if you look up in the right-hand corner of the blog, you will see it there…). This is the biggest blogpost I think I’ve done since ending my two-year job hunt. This mini-series blogpost is epic…but so was the education I received on the set. There were a lot of lessons I walked away with this time, and already within the trailer’s first 24-hours on YouTube I have people asking me about what it takes to make something like it.

So, let’s continue with these 11 tips I’ve been sharing, starting off with one that I think is essential when marshaling your creative troops together to make magic happen… Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Two)

Two days before previewing the trailer at Balticon 46, I began a series on what has been my life for the past seven weeks: The Janus Affair book trailer. While there has already been a lot invested into this project and critics dismiss book trailers as trendy gimmicks that hardly sell books, I truly believe that it has been a worthwhile and educational ride.

The crowd reaction this weekend to the preview was payback, indeed.

But what is it about book trailers that make authors, agents, and publishers so skeptical? I got a few ideas, and a lot of those ideas came from this project, this idea that has evolved into a glimpse at a fantasy realized: Adapting a book and making a movie. Look, I know something like that is a longshot, especially having an idea of how things work in Hollywood, but it is still pretty neat to see this coming to life.

So far my own experiences between Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair have taught me a few things in making a book trailer; and in what I thought was going to be a three-part series (but is probably going to go to four), I thought I’d pass along a few ideas to keep in mind when deciding to shoot and produce your own book trailer. Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part One)

With The Avengers topping the box office for the month of May, it’s easy to forget the long road paved for Joss Whedon. As I mentioned in a previous blog, this title was a real gamble for Marvel Studios as there has never been a film hyped for four years, using other films to — more or less — ride shotgun for each other, one film feeding into another to build up to this superhero epic. So with S.H.I.E.L.D. bringing it hard to the movies, it can be easy to overlook some of the previous milestones we’ve enjoyed.

If there is one guy I don’t want forgotten in this journey (apart from Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and the amazing storytellers that made all this awesome possible), it’s this guy…

Kenneth Branagh has been my hero for decades in many respects. He made Shakespeare cool. He was in his twenties an accomplished stage actor, but with films like Henry V, Hamlet, and Dead Again, he established himself as an accomplished screen actor as well. While British media found the project beneath him, Branagh made his own gamble, stepped up, and directed one of The Avengers’ cornerstone pieces — Thor. This film consequentially gave those critical haters back in Old Blighty 449.3 million reasons to suck it.

I’ll go on and say it: I have an extremely unhealthy (borderline obsessive) man crush on Kenneth Branagh. (Author Chuck Wendig coming in at a close second.) And right now, I’m getting a glimpse at what it’s like to be him.

As creepy-scary-stalker-boy as this sounds, track with me… Continue reading

INFOGRAPHIC: Geek Vs. Hipster

I’ve been called a hipster before, and each time I flinch. I find the whole “hipster” movement to be a pimp slap in the same vein as the Grunge movement felt when Grunge suddenly found itself going mainstream. I remember how odd a fashion statement bred of thrift stores was suddenly finding itself in upscale malls and European catwalks, and I find equally odd the hipster movement.

I believe there is a fine line between a geek and a hipster, but leave it to Geeks Are Sexy to come up with an infographic that shows that line being so fine that — in some instances — it just isn’t there.

Geeks vs Hipsters
From: BecomeCareer.com

Drawing these lines in the sand is nothing new to Geeks Are Sexy as they ran an infographic on Geeks Vs. Nerds. Funny thing — right now, Sonic Boom is digging on calling her dad a “Nerd.” Not sure where it is coming from, but there it is. Between the three, I prefer “Geek” if you feel the need for labels.

Granted, if you’re going to use labels, call me Tee. That’s the best one of all.

Skylanders: Where Gamer Girls (and Their Characters) Kick Butt Too!

Roughly six weeks ago, as you might have heard on a recent episode of The Shared Desk, a friend of ours — Lisa-Anne Moore — introduced me, Pip, and Sonic Boom to the new Activision game Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures. Sonic Boom was intrigued by the concept of this game, that concept being that at any point you can swap out characters within a game, all dependent on what you need at that moment. The Boom perked up, however, when she heard about a character named “Sonic Boom.”

Imagine her elation when she found the character of Sonic Boom was a girl.

From the Skylanders Portal Masters’ website, here’s Sonic Boom’s story: Continue reading