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All of the following sites are independently owned and operated and not affiliated with BillSmithBooks.com.
Star Wars Pro Links. Star Wars sites including the writers, artists, actors and others who bring the movies, novels and comics to life!
Star Wars Resources. News, search engines and other major Star Wars resources.
Star Wars Fan Sites. By the fans, for the fans.
Science Fiction Links (General). Non-Star Wars but still science fiction links.
Ebooks Links. Ebooks vendors, news and message boards.
Writing Links. Sites with resources for aspiring writers.
Stock Car Racing Links. One of my other great passions is stock car racing.
Tech Links. Technology and other cool stuff.
Paranormal Links. Ghosts, UFOs and other strange but fascinating stuff.
Paranormal Podcasts. Some of my favorite paranormal podcasts.
Misc Links. Stuff that I personally find of interest and general computer geekery.
StarWars.com. The offical Star Wars site by Lucasfilm/Disney.
Del Rey Books. The official publisher of the Star Wars novels.
Dark Horse Comics. Publisher of Star Wars comics.
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Roleplaying Game. The newest version of the roleplaying game, from new licesee Fantasy Flight Games.
Star Wars: The Card Game. From Fantasy Flight Games.
Hasbro. Speaking as someone who owns several hundred Star Wars action figures, these guys rock.
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Aaron Allston. Author of numerous Star Wars novels.
Mike Stackpole. Phenomenal author of too many Star Wars and Battletech novels to count...and one of the coolest, funniest people you'll ever meet. One of the "good guys" in publishing.
Kevin J. Anderson. Kevin J. Anderson. Star Wars, Dune, X-Files, the novelization of Rush's Clockwork Angels novel (Rush is my favorite band)...Kevin has just about done it all. His perserverance in getting started in publishing and going on to be one of the best-selling authors in the industry should be an inspiration to us all.
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JoeCorroney.com. An outstanding Star Wars artist. Visit his site to see (and buy) his amazing artwork!
MattBusch.com. Another great Star Wars and science fiction artist! Eye-popping artwork!
Star Wars Artists Guild. A great amateur and semi-pro community for Star Wars-themed art.
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TheForce.net. The latest Star Wars news, fan films, and much, much more. Outstanding message boards and community, with fan fiction, art -- a great hub for all things Star Wars.
Wookieepedia. The online Star Wars encyclopedia edited and maintained by the fans.
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Rebel Scum. Star Wars toy customization and collecting.
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Wampatown. Star Wars fan community.
Jedinet. Fan-run Star Wars news.
T-Bone's Star Wars site. A pretty professionally run Star Wars news nad commentary site.
Jedi News. UK-based community site.
Club Jade. Star Wars news and commentary site run by a group of female fans with a particular emphasis on the Expanded Universe.
The Tantive IV. Fan collecting and community site.
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SFSignal. My favorite daily science fiction news and commentary site, with daily posts linking to free stories, podcast and articles and blog posts. Lots of great special features. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
io9.com. A great daily sci-fi news site with lots of commenters and community elements. It would be even better if their owners, Gawker Media, would stop breaking the site's design every time they refresh it with an eye towards upping page views and ad revenue. Also, many featured articles that are only tangentially related to science fiction...although lots of interesting stuff.
Tor.com. The official website and blog of Tor books -- they have lots of great content commenting on the entire field of sci-fi, including film, television and comics, making it a really worthwhile community.
Slice of SciFi, featuring news, columns and a great regular podcast.
Suvudu, the official site of Del Rey and Random House's sci-fi and fantasy publishing imprints. Some very good content although it is much more directly promotional for their products.
SyFy.com. Official site of The SyFy Channel.
Blastr.com. The official newswire of The SyFy Channel. Not as good as io9.com, but still worth visiting.
LocusMag.com. Locus magazine, the magazine of record for science fiction, fantasy and horror publishing.
Science Fiction Writers of America. The Science Fiction Writers of America. Despite their prejudices against independent authors, they have great content and resources for writers.
MarsCon. Held every January in Williamsburg, VA. A very nice "Relax-A-Con" featuring all sorts of science fiction, gaming, dealers room and much more. Small and very friendly.
StellarCon. A very nice regional con held every March in Greensboro, NC.
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All of the following retailers are DRM-free, so you can just buy and download your books and store them on your computer with no hassles. Because these books are DRM-free, you can make backup copies and convert to other formats using software like Calibre. All of these vendors sell Epub format, which is the industry-standard format and used on the Nook, IPad, Kobo and many other readers. Many of these publishers offer Mobi format (for Kindle) and PDF.
One of the nice things with DRM-free books is that you can download and read them on any software you want. In addition to my love for Calibre, I like to use Epub Reader, a Firefox add-on, or the Epub Reader App that works in Chrome and Internet Explorer. I also like FBReader, which works on almost every operating system including Android, Windows, Linux and Mac -- really everything except iOS, which has the built-in IBooks reader. FBreader can read Epubs and Mobi (Kindle) files.
Smashwords. The leading retailer of indie ebooks, Smashwords carries over 90,000 titles, including many major authors' backlist. All titles are sold DRM-free and available worldwide. Every book is sold in Epub format, but many are sold in other popular formats like Mobi (for Kindle), PDF, RTF (word processor) and plain text. Their "read on the web" feature works on almost every browser, even old, out-of-date browsers. (Unlike the "read on the web" options offered by Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, all of which want relatively new browsers and tend to be crash-prone.)
Book View Cafe. An author's collective featuring a great selection of fantasy and science fiction.
Robot Trading Company. The ebook seller for Angry Robot Books, one of the leading small sci-fi and fantasy publishers. Some great content and fair pricing.
Baen. The first major publisher to sell ebooks online and proud to be DRM for many years, Baen has an outstanding selection and really fair pricing. Lots of free books are available in the Baen Free Library.
Weightless Books. Weightless Books carries many small publishers and magazines and has a great selection of sci-fi and fantasy books.
DragonMount. The official website of best-selling author Brandon Sanderson, the DragonMount ebook store carries all of Tor's DRM-free ebooks. Great selection.
Rebellion store for Solaris Books. Another small sci-fi publisher, solid selection.
Drive Thru Fiction has a great selection of fantasy and science fiction, most of it game related. They also sell role-playing games at DriveThruRPG and comics at DriveThruComics.
Phoenix Pick has a solid selection of backlist science fiction and fantasy from major authors.
Black Library sells all of the fiction for Games Workshop's Warhammer and Warhammer 40K universes. Some great gritty, gothic fantasy and space fantasy.
Closed Circle is a small ebook cooperative for C.J. Cherryh, Lynn Abbey, and Jane Fancher.
EpubBuy. A small site run by the creators of the wonderful Epub Reader Firefox add-on. At this time the site only appears to be carrying titles from Double Dragon Publishing, although Double Dragon is one of the largest ebook publishers out there.
Books for A Buck. A small, pioneering ebook publisher run by Rob Preece, famous for offering a wide selection of titles at reasonable prices and being proud to be DRM-free before it was cool.
Plus the traditional ebook sellers:
Amazon requires you to use an approved Kindle app or device or use their "Cloud Reader" feature. Many books are sold with DRM (the publisher gets to choose whether DRM is used). If you want to make sure you only get books without DRM, look for in the Product Details "Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited." Alternately, some books will have in the book description, on the last line, "At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied."
Barnes and Noble has produced some great Nook devices. Their Nook app supports Windows but not Linux. The "Read on the Web" feature only works on Windows, not Linux. They will not tell you if a book has DRM. and you must register a credit card to buy a book -- when the credit card expires, you lose access to all of your books unless you give them a new, updated credit card. So, basically, you lose access to your books if you are not careful. There's no reason that Barnes and Noble shouldn't be a viable competitor to Amazon, but they manage to fumble the ball in every way concievable. Just a shame. Some companies deserve to struggle.
Kobo. Kobo used to be fairly progressive, but now they insist on you running a dedicated Kobo app and their web reader is crash-prone. They no longer tell you if a book has DRM or not. As a Linux user, they simply don't want my money. Destined to fail at this rate.
And lots of free books at Feedbooks (they also sell DRM-books for devices that can read Adobe DRM), ManyBooks and Project Gutenburg
Kboards.com, formerly Kindle Boards, is a great place to find out about new books, ebook news and interact with ebook authors. A great's Author's Cafe board for aspiring and established writers.
MobileRead.com is also a major board covering ebooks in general, with news, commentary, book promotions and author boards.
Amazon.com Kindle forums, the general message board for Kindle users.
I visit several ebook news and commentary websites, including Teleread, The Digital Reader, The Passive Voice and Good Ereader.
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Writing takes a combination of natural talent and skill that comes from experience, inspiration and lots and lots of perspiration. Here are some websites that will be of interest to budding J.K. Rowlings and Stephen Kings:
WritersDigest.com. Excellent resources for new and experienced writers.
I also read several blogs by authors, including Joe Konrath, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith and Michael Stackpole.
The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn's blog, has a wealth of resources for writers on marketing, networking and the writing life in general.
I also like to listen to The Self Publishing Podcast, Writing Excuses and I Should be Writing.
Diane Duane is a superb fantasy writer with a great blog. She sells her ebooks directly to readers.
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Yeah, yeah, I know. "It's just cars going in a circle." You really gotta go sometime to understand. Trust me, the NASCAR dog-and-pony parades on TV are NOT what real racing is all about. Real racing's hollowed grounds are places like Knoxville (IA), Eldora (OH), Williams Grove (PA), Lincoln (PA) and Lebanon Valley (NY).
My local tracks are:
Airborne Park Speedway, Plattsburgh, NY, a big, fast 4/10-mile paved oval featuring DIRT 358 Modifieds and Sportsman.
Mohawk International Raceway, Akwesasne, NY. A very fast 3/8-mile dirt track running on Friday nights, MIR has some great racing featuring DIRTcar 358 Modifieds and Sportsman. I announced here in 1998, promoted in 1999 and returned to announcing in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Cornwall Speedway is a high-banked quarter-mile just over the border in Cornwall, ONT, running on Sunday nights with DIRTcar 358 Modifieds and Sportsman. Amazing racing, great people. My favorite show of the year is their Fireball Enduro, which normally draws over 300 cars.
I go to several racing message boards, including Dirt Track Digest and South Jersey Dirt Racing.
Brockville Speedway in Brockville, ONT is a high-banked quarter-mile dirt track running on Saturday nights. Very similar to Cornwall Speedway.
Area Auto Racing News. Fantastic weekly newspaper covering local racing all over the East Coast. I used to write a weekly column for AARN.
Grandview Speedway. Bechtelsville, PA. NASCAR-sanctioned one-third mile dirt track near Allentown and Pottstown, PA featuring 358 Modifieds. Home of the legendary Freedom 76.
Hagerstown Speedway. Hagerstown, MD. Home of the Late Models! This big, very fast dirt half-mile was voted by USA Today as the best dirt track in the nation. I announced the races there from 2002 to 2004.
Susquehanna Speedway Park. Newberrytown, PA. I announced at SSP in 2004 just before moving back home.
Linda's Speedway. Jonestown, PA. A quarter-mile dirt track featuring Micro Sprints and Slingshots, Linda's Friday night shows have some of the best racing to be found anywhere. I was one of the scorers there in 2004 and really enjoyed working for the Batz family.
Fulton Speedway. Fulton, NY. Home of the Outlaw 200, perhaps the best Modified race on the East Coast.
Lebanon Valley Speedway. One of my favorite tracks, located just outside of Albany, NY, the "Valley of Speed" reminds me a lot of Bristol (TN), but covered in dirt, the way God meant race tracks to be.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Flourishing with Lebanon Valley promoter Howie Commander in charge, Albany-Saratoga is once again "The Great Race Place."
Jayski. The best source for NASCAR news and rumors on the Net (even better than NASCAR.com).
Two of my favorite tracks in Pennsylvania include Lincoln Speedway (New Oxford, PA) and the legendary Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA). Both feature the PA Posse 410 Sprint cars and every show is a great one.
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Puppy Linux. I have used Puppy Linux as my main operating system for about five years now instead of being dependent on Windows. I run it as a "Live CD" from either a CD or USB stick and I haven't had to worry about viruses or any other nasty spyware. Puppy is free and it runs on all kinds of computers -- great to use if you have an older computer that won't run newer versions of Windows.
Slashdot is a tech news website. I also like to visit TechDirt and TechMeme.
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Okay, the paranormal. "Woo-woo." Cue the X-Files theme and all that. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Now, take a deep breath. Do I believe in "all of that crazy stuff"?
No. An awful lot of paranormal material is "woo-woo." A lot of it. One has to be pretty discerning when dealing with the parade of charlatans and liars, well-meaning people who ascribe "paranormal" causes to ordinary phenomena and people who are simply out of touch with reality.
That said, I have had some bizarre experiences that our culture, for lack of a better term, calls "ghosts." Many family members and friends have told me about odd experiences of one sort or another. I know that they aren't all crazy. I believe that many -- most -- so-called "paranormal experiences" do have an ordinary explanation. And honestly, a lot of the "believers" do a lot more harm than good by being too eager to believe just any old story and not using their critical thinking skills.
At the same time, there are some really weird and strange things that happen to credible, intelligent people. I don't pretend to know what exactly is going on...but something unexplained is happening to lots of people. The debunkers try to dismiss all of these events, grasping for any explanation to ignore them. They ignore and distort the facts to dismiss these stories, as if they were afraid that people might actually examine the evidence and discover there is some truth to these stories. And if they can't discount the story, they mock the people who have had these experiences. The scientific establishment won't investigate for fear of being labeled woo-woo and crazy. But millions of people -- including me -- have experienced extraordinary things that no one can explain.
And besides, as a writer, some of the ideas and theories are just too interesting to ignore. There are some great stories that come out of paranormal lore.
The Anomalist. A daily paranormal news site.
The Daily Grail. Another excellent daily paranormal website.
The Gralien Report. Micah Hanks, the "Mouth of the South," runs a fun paranormal news site and hosts an interesting weekly podcast.
Mysterious Universe. A great Australian paranormal news site with a wonderful weekly podcast. I find the hosts, Benjamin Grundy and Aaron Wright, to be not credible, discerning and very intelligent, but they are also extremely funny with their snarky sense of humor. Highly recommended!
The Debris Field. Leslie Gunther maintains a great paranormal news and stories site.
Ghosts of Gettysburg. Gettysburg, PA, site of the largest battle in the American Civil War, is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in America (in addition to being a charming tourist town in beautiful Central Pennsylvania). Take the battlefield tour during the day to see history up close...but at night take a guided ghost tour. For the 2002 season, I was a "Ghosts of Gettysburg" tour guide and I can personally attest to the fact that some very strange things happen there from time to time....
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DarknessRadio. A great weekday podcast hosted by Dave Schrader and Tim Dennis. They are a great team that combines humor and sarcasm with a serious, discerning look at paranormal reports. When confronted with stories that...ahem, stretch credulity...they are polite but probing.
Mysterious Universe. The weeky podcast out that complements the news site. Interesting and very funny, Ben and Aaron apply some sharp critical thinking skills to the field.
Paranormal Podcast. Jim Harold hosts two great weekly podcasts, the "Paranormal Podcast," featuring interviews with authors and researchers, and the "Campfire," where guests phone in and tell their paranormal stories. Fun stuff.
GralienReport.com. Micah Hanks's weekly Gralien Report podcast. Micah is insightful and well-informed and has some great guests.
BinnallofAmerica.com. Tim Binnall has some of the most interesting guests on his ongoing podcast. Tim is a master of the patient interview, where he gives his guests plenty of time to tell their stories and explain their ideas.
Exploring Unexplained Phenomena. A long-running weekly paranormal show broadcast on KZUM in Lincoln, NE and hosted by Scott Colburn. I find Scott to be a great host -- he sometimes accepts stories at face value that I might not, but he has good intentions and does some great interviews.
Skeptiko.com Host Alex Tsakiris hosts some mind-bending interviews and discussions on human consciousness on his Skeptiko radio show. A scientific approach to extraordinary subjects.
BehindtheParanormal.com. The father and son hosting team of Paul and Ben Eno host two weekly syndicated podcast shows that explore paranormal themes. Paul has strong opinions on the paranormal that differ from the conventional wisdom within the field, but he and his son are thought-provoking and interesting.
RadioMisterioso.com. Long-time paranormal researcher and commentator Greg Bishop hosts a semi-regular podcast/radio show that is always entertaining and interesting. Greg has a great, probing sense of humor and irony and has been in the field for a long time.
Paul Kimball's Other Side of Truth. Paul Kimball is a Canadian documentary filmmaker and paranormal researcher, as well as the nephew of legendary UFO researcher Stanton Friedman. I think Paul is very thoughtful and offers some very intelligent commentary and research into this sometimes very bizarre field.
Speaking of Strange. Joshua Warren's weekly paranormal radio show out of Asheville, NC.
FutureTheater.com. Bill and Nancy Birnes, publishers of UFO Magazine and Bill, famous for being a co-host on the show UFO Hunters, host a weekly paranormal interview and commentary show. Bill and Nancy sometimes ramble a bit, but a fun, interesting show worth listening to.
UnknownCountry.com. Dreamland is a weekly show hosted by Whitley Streiber, best-selling author of Communion (which first popularized the "Grays" alien archetype) and The Coming Global Superstorm (which was the basis of the movie, The Day After Tomorrow). Whitley interviews some of the most visible and controversial members of the paranormal community. I personally think Whitley is a little too credulous about many subjects, but the show is interesting nonetheless.
NightwatchRadio.com. A weekly radio show hosted by Todd Sheets that covers the paranormal, horror and science fiction movies, comics, and books. Some of the shows are hit-and-miss for me -- I'm not a fan of horror movies -- but Todd also covers comics, Star Wars and lots of other really cool stuff. Todd is a warm, genuinely friendly host and he has some outstanding guests.
The Paracast. Hosted by Gene Steinberg, a long-time personality in the paranormal community, and Christopher O'Brien, author of Stalking the Trickster. Another show that is hit-and-miss -- some episodes are outstanding and outhers just lose me. Unfortunately, the show is syndicated by Alex Jone's GCN Network, so there are lots of fringe survivalist and conspiracy advertisers on the show. They crank the crazy up to "11" and hearing many of the ads makes me cringe.
ParanormalRadioNetwork.org. Perhaps the most "down the rabbit hole" collection of shows that I'm listing here, Joe Montaldo's Pararnormal Radio Network carries a lot of hard-core paranormal stuff. Really hit and miss for me...some shows are outstanding, others come across as just silly.
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My list of regular visits for news and commentary include:
Drudge Report despite me being opposed to most of Drudge's conservative beliefs.
Fark, featuring news and humor, often off-color.
Huffington Post has some good content despite being slow and buggy and trying to cram as much advertising as possible into each page. Slideshows...ugh.
Reddit is my favorite online community, with great sub-boards devoted to science fiction, comic books, fantasy and science fiction art and other cool stuff. Reddit has come on really strong after Digg and Delicious ruined themselves and became useless and irrelevant.
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Copyright Notice: BillSmithBooks, Outlaw Galaxy, Outlaw Galaxy Tales and Imagination Forge are trademarks of Bill Smith. Copyright 1998-2013 by Bill Smith. Please respect my copyright. Please don't copy, post on torrents or otherwise duplicate my stories without my express permission. Copyright infringement makes me sad.