2011 – One Down, Many to Go

I realize there’s still another day remaining in this year, but the likelihood of me actually writing something here tomorrow is so slim that I figured I’d just go ahead and do it today. It’s not that I can’t wait to do it, but I thought I should post a little update just in case anyone is wondering what the status of various projects are. To recap 2011, I went from being somebody that almost everyone had never heard of, to someone slightly-less-than-almost everyone had never heard of. It’s not so bad, really. This is what I figured would happen based upon what I’m comfortable with doing. Quite simply, I don’t want to promote, promote, promote for the next several months, so instead I’m just writing. That, of course, means that I’m usually too busy to do the things that would get me name recognition now, but all in good time. I’m a patient Padawan. Anyhow, 2011 saw Omni‘s¬†release, the first book in the Debate Team series. I’d be lying if I told you the Debate Team has more than three books planned, but I think more is possible. However, the story arc is a relatively small one, and three feels right, so that’s what I’ll be writing. (I reserve the right to change this somewhere down the road, likely around the time of writing book three.) Book two in the Debate Team series is moving along quite well. The focus on the first book was fairly narrow, and for specific reasons. There’s a lot of information that’s left to the reader to inuit, and more that’s simply not...

Kindle Direct Publishing Select? No thanks

Forgive me if you’re not a writer because this will only be partially interesting to you (if at all). If you haven’t heard, it’s all the rage in the last couple of days. Amazon, well-known and loved (I suppose) for its ease of allowing folks to publish, is endeavoring to make it easier for books to reach a broader market. How? By allowing authors to enroll their works in the KDP Select program that allows Kindle owners to “borrow” books from Amazon’s library. (We’re going to ignore the inanity of attaching physical world ideas to a digital world.) There’s a few problems with this, but for those who don’t know or for people who would wonder what Amazon is offering ¬†authors to entice them, here it is: money. $500k to start, with a $6m allocated for next year. Yes, that “m” means million, as in, $6000000. That’s a lot of money, right? Here’s the catch: you only get a percentage of the pie. Well of course you didn’t think Amazon would give all of it to one person, right? But to earn anything beyond a few pennies (admittedly, the numbers remain to be seen), you have to have your book “borrowed” more than pretty much everyone else. Here’s where we begin to discover why I won’t be participating in this, and why you will still have to buy my books (Kindle loaning and piracy aside): I’m never going to have more books borrowed than Stephen King. Or Dean Koontz. Or Stephanie Meyer. Or James Patterson. Or… and so it goes. I’m fine with that, but if that’s the case,...

Kindle Fire Impressions – Insert Bad Pun Here

Yeah, you can make the bad joke yourself because I really don’t want to go there. That said, for anyone who isn’t interested in reading a few paragraphs of observations, I’ll save you the trouble and cut to the chase right now: the Amazon Kindle Fire is a good deal for $200, but it’s by no means the best tablet available, or even the best Android tablet (never mind that Amazon tries to hide that it’s Android). So with that out of the way, let’s dive in a little bit and get into some of the meaty bits. Amazon’s overall design of the unit is good, except for the placement of the power button. Stereo speakers are on the top of the device, the back of it is textured and grippy and says “kindle” (nice and subtle… sort of), and a headphone jack, micro USB port, and power button are on the bottom. There’s no SD card (or micro SD card) slot any no other connections. However, as stated initially, the power button (a small, circular thing) is in a terrible location. You’ll hit it accidentally while reading, browsing the web, watching video, basically while doing anything that involves holding the Fire in your hand. And you’ll do it over and over again. Interestingly enough, there are no other physical buttons on the Kindle Fire. In a RIM sort of move, Amazon doesn’t have a single button on the front of the device, and instead uses soft buttons (read: on-screen buttons) for all controls. It gives the device a nice polish and a clean, uninterrupted look. It feels good...

Finding My Waze

If you’re a Rush junkie like me, you may have noticed what I did there. Or else you may have noticed, but also thought, “Waze?” Either way (or if you’re not a Rush junkie, now’s a good time to start), Waze is something I’ve been playing with for the last week or so. Aside from being a writer, I’m something of a GPS nerd. I’m not a level 10 by any stretch, but I do enjoy a good GPS, or as is the case here, a good GPS app. Waze, however, is not just a GPS app, but a social one. Before I get to Waze, I picked up MotionX-GPS some time back because Google Maps is, quite frankly, unreliable for navigation. While it’s certainly useful, and can quite often lead you exactly to where you wish to go, I’ve lost count of the number of times it has led myself or someone else astray. After a particularly vexing experience with it about a month ago, I figured I should go ahead and spring for a “real” GPS app for my phone. Thus, MotionX. I have to admit: I haven’t used it yet. By all accounts, MotionX-GPS is quite solid, and I think the nominal charge for turn-by-turn directions (something the iPhone isn’t natively capable of) is fair, especially if it works. But why pay when you can use something that does it for free? Thus enters Waze. I’d seen Waze a couple of times when looking at the app store (Apple is going to be mad I didn’t capitalize those two words since they’re trying to trademark the...

The Joys of Deadlines

At least when a deadline is self-imposed, you only have yourself to disappoint. And perhaps anyone else you may have let in on your deadline that is interested in what you’re doing. Oops. About that: sorry! As it turns out, waiting until a couple of weeks before you’re finished with the final revision of your manuscript to hire an editor (at least a well-known one (or ones) with a good reputation) is all but impossible, especially with the holidays looming. You see, much as you might want to delude yourself that you’re the only one aiming to get a book ready in time for Christmas, chances are reasonably strong that someone else is, too. Of course I know that I’m not the only one who’s been trying to hit that deadline, but I really did drop the ball on my timing of everything. It’s easy to say that life has gotten in the way, and while that’s true to a degree, it also comes down to planning. Then again, this is still a new experience for me, so I haven’t quite gotten the hang of how far in advance I need to be booking people. However, as noted above, more than two weeks notice is definitely required. My first go-round, it was a little different. I’m intentionally doing things differently now because I learned a fair amount with my first book. However, for as much as I learned with that experience, there’s still a lot more to learn. I can only assume this will continue to be a learning experience for quite some time. Because things are bound to...

Steve Jobs

I sometimes find it crazy how the death of someone you didn’t even know, let alone never met, can hit you so hard. I’m speaking of Steve Jobs, of course. Maybe it’s because I’m such an Apple fanboy, or maybe it’s because I understand where he came from with his design philosophy, or maybe it’s because I appreciated his minimalistic design aesthetic, but it’s a painful loss. For me, personally, I’m fine and I’ll be fine. I’ve always been able to roll with the punches where death is concerned–call it a bit of a curse, realization, understanding, and acceptance that death is an inevitable component of life. But for others–his family and friends–they likely aren’t in that same position, and for them, I’m sad. I’m also sad for us, those who didn’t know him but have been touched by him. It’s not overstating it to say that he changed the world. Don’t believe me? Look at every phone that has come out since the iPhone. There were predecessors, you say? Yeah, but did they have anywhere near the same success? Steve Jobs was a genius. I don’t know if his IQ would have placed him in MENSA, and frankly it’s not important. His genius was in seeing into the future, in seeing how and why a product would be useful and be desirable. He was also a hell of a marketer, but that doesn’t take away from the absolute fact that his decisions, his inventions, his vision has shaped the world. iPod. iPhone. iPad. Oh, and that little thing called the personal computer. Remember that? You can thank Steve...

Omni Now Available on iBooks

It took a few weeks (I’m not sure why, but at this point I don’t much care), but Omni is now available on iTunes via the iBooks store. Woo! Omni on iBooks. Now back to your regularly scheduled program. For me, that means revising my next...

Reading, Writing, and Never Enough Time

There was a thread going through the Kindle Boards this week about writers who don’t read. It linked back to an article on Salon about an author who, essentially bragged about not reading. While the discussion about the quality of journalism and of making assumptions based upon a single source was interesting, I don’t really care about that. If you’re a writer, you read. It’s that simple. A writer who doesn’t read is like a chef who doesn’t eat. So while the article (and resulting discussion) was amusing, I was left with was a realization (reminder?) that I’ve been spending so much time writing that I haven’t set aside much time to read lately. To be fair, writing is a lot of work which, especially for an indie, encapsulates a whole host of tasks, but that’s beside the point. I have a handful of authors who I follow and will read anything they write, and seeing as I’m behind in their catalogs, this is unacceptable. There used to be a time when I could get through a book a week. It didn’t happen all of the time, but a two-week maximum for reading was fairly common. I know there are going to be people out there who can and do get through things much faster (I remember a former coworker who could get through a book so fast it was almost laughable–we’re talking about an hour or two, and with full comprehension), but for a guy with a regular job and a family, and all of the responsibilities that come with that (have I mentioned the dog and cat...

Free Proofreading Technique: Listen to Your Manuscript

So this’ll be quick, and the good part is that everyone should be able to do this. (Caveat: if you’re running Linux, it becomes a little more difficult since you’ll need to do a little googling for appropriate software, but for Windows and Mac folks, you’re golden!) So you just finished the final revision on your novel and it’s time for proofreading. This technique won’t catch everything and isn’t a replacement for a professional proofreader, but you may be surprised to find just how much it does catch. What’s the technique? Text-to-speech. Seriously, text-to-speech. If you’ve heard of the technique of reading your manuscript aloud (I covered this in a previous blog post, Crossed the Finish Line), then the next logical step is to get someone to read it aloud to you. (Okay, maybe it’s not the next logical step, but it’s a good one.) While reading your text aloud is certainly a good technique, and one that I intend to continue to use (it’s especially good for dialogue because you really get the flow by speaking it aloud), your brain is still liable to do things you don’t want it to do. At this point in your revision process, you’ve likely read over your text several times, perhaps a dozen or more, and you know what you mean when it comes to damn near every last sentence. While reading it aloud forces a different part of your brain to engage, it’s still your brain and it can and will be influenced by your memory of the project, be it actual or envisioned. A computer, however, can only read...

Omni, Book 1 of the Debate Team Series, Now Available

At long last, Omni is now available! Omni is a thriller with a fantasy twist. It’s a story of action, intrigue, and cool powers. When reality fails to follow the laws of physics… Ryan Sutter is an average guy who finds himself in an impossible situation. What should be a regular day at work becomes a struggle for survival as Ryan finds himself thrust into a dark government underworld where mystery and intrigue are the norm. Death lurks around every corner, nothing is as it seems, and government agents wield powers that defy the laws of physics and reality. Omni is available now at the following stores (this page will be updated as additional stores/versions become available): Amazon Kindle Store Smashwords Barnes &...